Welcome to my newest addiction!
I’m a total list person; write it down, mark it off = Total happiness. But I like to keep track of other things besides tasks, like appointments, bills that are due, spending, important school dates for my kids, and just little reminders throughout the week. For some people, their phones or calendars on the computer work great. I’ve just never been able to commit to technology for my planning needs. Something about writing it down, having it always out in front of me, just seems to work better for me.
I can attribute all that to being a “physical planner”. I also like to be that typical girl, and decorate it up! A plain white planner just doesn’t do it for me. Stickers, washi tape, colors; it all gets me excited, and keeps me committed to the things I need to do in the week.
I’ve recently discovered that there’s a whole community of people who are just like me, and are planner crazy. Just about every time I post a picture of my planner on Instagram I get a ton of questions about it. So I decided to share with you all, from the planner novice to the planner expert, a few tips on how to successfully initiate this life-changing journey!
So, let’s get started!
If you’re relatively new to the planner community, you might’ve seen posts on social media and other websites with words & phrases you may not recognize. I’ve listed a few of the more common ones below to help you on your way to “planner savvy-ness”!
- Bleeding – how much of the pen ink is visible on the back side of the page. No bleed pens are obviously preferable. Sharpies, Triplus Staedtler 1.0mm, and other thick tip markers are prone to bleeding.
- BUJO – bullet journal; a method of planning, journaling, and note-taking that uses bullet points as the core structure.
- Daily Log – things you did and/or need to do today (and other observations); usually used in bullet journals.
- Dashboard – usually the first page of a planner that is often laminated and has a pretty pattern, photo, or illustration; some planners like to place post-its or page flags here.
- Disc-bound – Round discs that can be used to create a custom notebook. They require a special punch but can be used to create re-positionable pages for a custom notebook. They’re my favorite binding style for planners!
- Dividers – these are used to divide the sections of your planner; usually laminated and/or made out of scrapbook paper.
- Dream Planner – a specific planner someone would really like to own one day.
- Fauxdori – based on the Midori Travellers Notebook; ‘faux’ versions are available in many different fabrics and options.
- FC – Franklin Covey; a popular brand of planners available in the USA.
- FF – Filofax; another popular brand of planners available in many styles and sizes.
- EC or ECLP – Erin Condren or Erin Condren Life Planner; a brand of customizable coil-bound planners.
- Full Box – refers to a sticker, stamp or other planner supplies that fits 1 box of the Erin Condren vertical life planner (which has 3 boxes per day).
- Future Log – year-at-a-glance calendar where you can put events and short-term and long-term goals; usually used in bullet journals.
- Ghosting – when you see a small amount of pen ink on the other side of the page.
- Half Box – same as above, but fits half of the box instead of the entire box.
- HP – Happy Planner; a range of disc-bound planners from me & my BIG ideas.
- Index – a table of contents that you update as you go; usually used in bullet journals in the front pages.
- Inserts – the pages within the planner (for example the calendars, notes pages, health trackers, chore lists, etc); available in an abundance of options and sizes.
- Key – a list usually kept in the front or back of your planner or bullet journal where you track what all of the symbols you are using mean.
- KIKKI K – popular Australian stationery brand that has stylish glue bound and ring binders for smaller size planners (such as personal size).
- KS or KSW – Kate Spade or Kate Spade Wellesley; the Wellesley planner is a very popular personal-sized planner available in a few different colors.
- MAMBI – ‘Me and my big ideas’; the company that created the Happy Planner.
- MO2P/MO1P – “month on two pages” / “month on one page”.
- Monthly Log – traditional monthly calendar; a list of things you need to do that month, and things you did not get accomplished the prior month; usually used in bullet journals.
- Passion Planner – this is a popular brand of planners available in different colors and sizes (this happens to be the planner I use & LOVE!)
- Pashfam – this is a hashtag commonly used among Passion Planner lovers.
- Planner Peace – when you find the planner and/or layout that means you’re reaching for your planner regularly, and are actually using it; when you no longer feel the need to change anything about it!
- Printable – inserts (see above), worksheets or other files that can be downloaded and printed from home; can be free or paid for.
- RAK – acronym for ‘Random Act of Kindness’; in the planner community, this can mean sending somebody, an online friend, or even just somebody that needs cheering up, a small gift (doesn’t even have to be planner-related).
- Rapid Logging – jotting down quick notes using symbols, numbers, pictures, etc. instead of writing long sentences.
- Spread – this could be a daily, weekly, or monthly spread; basically refers to the setup you’re using to plan, so a weekly planner may have a 1 or 2-page spread.
- TN – travelers notebook; a portable type of planner that’s thin and usually stapled together or stitched; compact and perfect for on the go planning; smaller than regular page size.
- Tracker – this can be used to track anything you like. Essentially a habit tracker such as cleaning the house, water intake, getting 7+ hours of sleep per night, etc.
- Unicorn – this usually refers to a planner somebody really wants but it’s either sold-out, discontinued, or very rare; it could also be a planner that somebody would really like but doesn’t have the budget for.
- Washi – ‘washi tape’; Japanese tape made from paper (similar to masking tape) that comes in many, many different styles, patterns, and designs. Usually used to decorate planners or cover mistakes.
- WO1P/WO2P – “week on one page” / “week on two pages”.
COMMON PLANNER PAGE SIZES / QUICK REFERENCE:
- US Letter size = 8.5” wide x 11” high (used in the USA) [Passion Planner “Classic” size]
- Half letter size = 5.5” wide x 8.5” high (used in the USA) [Passion Planner “Compact” size]
- A4 = 210 x 297mm (used in Australia & the UK)
- A5 = (Half A4 page size) 148 x 210mm (used in Australia & the UK)
- Classic (medium – popular planner size) = 7” wide x 9” high
- Personal = 95mm x 171mm
- Pocket = 81mm x 120mm
So now we’ve got some of the lingo out of the way, let’s get down to what can be the most overwhelming part – figuring out where to start. But no worries, that’s where this page comes in; to ease your worries and get you on your way to planning passionately!
WHERE DO I START?
Starting can be the part of planning most people find difficult. You may feel that there are just way too many options, which can sometimes make it harder to choose what planner works best for your needs. I find it best to first RELAX! Then sit down with a blank piece of paper and a pen, and really just dump all of your thoughts and work from there. Only you know what you need from a planner, and how it will best work for you. I know some people who prefer bullet journalling, and others just like to see an overview of their weeks on a 1-page spread.
There are a few key areas you need to define before diving into layouts and planners though. You really need to break down what you need from your planner first. Here are a few questions to get you started (This is a good time to use that pen & paper to jot down your thoughts):
1. WHAT DO YOU NEED YOUR PLANNER FOR?
In other words, what areas of your life do you need to work on? What goals do you want to achieve? What are your daily, weekly, & monthly work AND personal responsibilities? Here are a few ideas:
- Track to-dos or make notes
- Cleaning tasks
- Meal planning
- School/class schedule
- Fitness tracking
- Bible study/journaling
- Wedding planning
- Pregnancy planning/tracking
There are so many possibilities! Remember, it’s all about what YOU need though.
2. HOW OFTEN WILL YOU USE IT?
Are you actually willing to sit down once a week, or daily, to plan? Or are you just looking for a simple diary or wall calendar that you can just write on/in when things pop up?
3. DO YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO CUSTOMIZE IT?
What I mean by this is, do you want to be able to switch it up if you need to? With coil or book-bound planners, you don’t really have the options to swap out pages, etc. And some of those types of planners can be pretty expensive (although I’ve found that the Passion Planner is VERY reasonably priced! 😉 With ring or disc-bound planners, however, the options are endless in terms of inserts and swapping out pages. You can add pages, switch them up, and take them out, as often as you like. Be mindful that this too can get quite expensive, depending on what brand of planner you go for, and if you change the setup quite often. Don’t let this put you off though, as it leads to my next point.
4. WHAT KIND OF BUDGET ARE YOU WORKING WITH?
Before you jump heart-first into all that the passion planning has to offer, you need to figure out what kind of budget you have for this. Planners, again depending on what brand you’re exploring, can run from high-end, to mid-range, and to the lower end of your planner budget.
- Think of the areas you want to plan/organize.
- Write them down by “brain dumping” on to a blank sheet of paper.
- If you want a customizable planner, go for a ring or disc-bound style planner.
- Have a budget before you dive in!
NOW, HOW CAN I GET STARTED?
Once you’ve brainstormed ideas, the next thing you need to do is consider how you need your planner to be structured to fit your needs. The final step is to then actually set your planner up (which we will get to in the next section)! To do this, you need to consider:
1. HOW MUCH PLANNING SPACE WILL YOU NEED?
Will you just need an overview of the week, or do you really need to break each day down into more detailed blocks of time? Do you want in-depth tracking for areas such as health, fitness, and/or goals?
Do you like a lot of space to write (like I do)? Or would you prefer a smaller planner that you can easily fit in your bag/briefcase?
2. WHAT SPECIFICALLY DO YOU WANT TO PLAN? HOW BUSY ARE YOU ON AN AVERAGE WEEK?
For me, this is mainly my to-dos. As a stay-at-home mom, and a home-based business owner, I have very few appointments or time-specific tasks in my schedule, outside of the usual dr. appts, field trips, etc. I do like to have an area to write down my schedule, just in case, though (thus the reason I love using my Passion Planner).
I also like that I have a monthly view in my planner, where I plan dates in advance such as birthdays, events, holidays, etc. So when I’m planning my month overview I can write these in my planner first, and then work around those dates when filling in other flexible plans.
Aside from this, I have also designated sections to keep track of my goals, and my health and fitness journey. At some point, I want to add a section for my blog, website, and businesses, to track stats, ideas, and important information.
So back to helping all of you amazing planner (or planners-to-be), firstly, sit down and decide what’s best for your life. Consider again what kind of week you usually have. Are you’re like me, and mainly have a to-do based schedule, or is your schedule a full-fledged school-orientated one, and/or full of work commitments? This will decide what kind of calendar inserts you need.
Then, using your brain dump from before, break down each other area you thought of into more detail.
You wrote down a cleaning schedule: How often do you want this schedule to be? You could create an annual one, a monthly one, or break it down further into weekly and daily cleaning routines.
Or what about tracking your health? Do you want somewhere to track your weight-loss journey and keep note of those yummy new healthy recipes you’ve found? Or do you need somewhere to make a note of how many, when, and which vitamins/tablets you took?
Figure out which areas you want to improve, and prioritize them. You can create sections in your planner for them or even have a separate planner altogether (if you’re one of those brave multi-planner extraordinaire!) The great thing about planners is that you can use different layouts until you find one that really works for you.
3. THE FUN PART, SETTING UP YOUR PLANNER
After considering everything we’ve talked about so far, you should now be able to make a decision on the best planner for you! So now, consider these next steps:
- Buy a planner!
- Customize it to suit your needs by finding inserts (don’t be afraid to be creative!)
- If you’re a visual person like me and like to decorate, buy stickers or find free printables to make your own. (Remember, you don’t need to decorate if you prefer less clutter!)
- USE YOUR PLANNER TO ORGANIZE YOUR LIFE!
- How much planning space do you want? Will you need a weekly spread, or daily pages?
- The inserts you choose will depend on your schedule and planning needs.
- Decide on the areas you want to plan, and prioritize them – don’t do it all at once!
- Set your planner up in a few easy steps.
WHY SHOULD I PLAN?
For many of us, planning is a great way to de-stress and create a structured day. For others, it’s just something we do to remind ourselves of deadlines and/or events. Planning is a great way to gain some control over your day; by knowing what you are doing and when you have to do it.
Planners are very personal and should be primarily suited to your individual (or family) needs. If you’re a visual person, they can be fun, and a great way to express your creativity! The planner community is huge and amazing, and a great way to meet new people! And did you know that there are actually planner meetups and planner conventions organized all over the world?! Yes, this planning thing is that HUGE!
All in all, being organized can help you in the long run to save time and money. Certain tasks, such as meal planning, can really save you money when grocery shopping! And using budget planners to keep track of how much income and expenses you have will really change your life!
- Planning will mean less stress and more productivity!
- Planners are a great way to express your creativity!
- The planner community is a great thing to get involved in!
- You will save time and money by planning your days/weeks!
There are a number of inserts available, but try not to get too overwhelmed by them all and just brainstorm what you need from your planner first.
Decide how often you really think you’ll use it if you want to be able to fully customize your planner, and what kind of budget you have.
Using your average week, decide how much space you think you’ll need and whether you’d like to be able to break your day down fully, or just have a weekly layout.
Then decide what other areas of your life you’d like to plan or have inserts for. Prioritize these areas and don’t rush to do them all at once!
I want you to remember that your planner should not cause you stress. It’s there to make your life run smoother and allow you to do more of what matters!
If you take anything away from this post, just remember these points:
- Planning may take trial and error (and that’s OK)!
- Your planner doesn’t have to be perfect, because, for the majority of us, no one will probably even see it!
- It’s all about your needs and what works best for you might not work for someone else!
- It should not be causing you stress; if it is, you need to reevaluate how you are using it!
I really hope this information helped you figure out where, and how, to start your planning journey!
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