Hi guys! This is a bit of a new post, but lately I’ve noticed that “planning” is becoming a really big thing. If you know me, this new “hobby” has always been a huge part of my life as it grew to be an incredible coping mechanism for my anxiety. Writing lists and seeing everything on paper truly helps me with stress, especially when school is in session. When everything is already planned out, it lifts a HUGE burden off my shoulders and makes me feel like I’m in control of whatever has me stressing out. It truly makes me feel a lot better, so it is great seeing everyone pick it up.
I’ve been using planners since middle school, and I’ve been through just about every make and model out there. What’s great about that is that, over the years, I’ve really got to learn what I like and what I dislike when it comes to planners. The downside to this is that I am SO picky, that there is NO perfect planner for ME on the market. Therefore, this year, I decided to spice it up a little bit and make my own. Seems pretty crazy, I know. But I am absolutely in LOVE with my customized planner, and I just wanted to share my journey while making it so that maybe if you’re fed up with not finding the “perfect” planner, you can learn from my mistakes//tips! First, let me list you the things I wanted in my planner:
- A monthly & weekly layout that started and stopped when I wanted them to (I don’t have the patience to wait until my old planner dies out before buying a new one, nor waiting to use my new one!)
- Weekly layouts split into two sections with headers (school & personal sections)
- A vertical layout across two pages (I may have been inspired by the Erin Condren planner!)
- A notes section during each week and month so that I could jot down ambiguous notes that I needed to see right there
- A reflection section during each week (I stole this idea from the Passion Planner, which has a whole two pages for reflection at the end of each month. I also use the passion planner for more personal goal making, but wanted to incorporate the reflections weekly somewhere else! I will probably end up doing a review on this planner in the future!)
- A blank spot for doodles/quotes/whatever artistic flavor I wanted to add to the week
- A weekly to-do list.
- Note pages in the back
- 8.5″ x 11″-ish size. I have really been liking the larger sized planner. When my notebooks & planner don’t match up, it starts to really bother me. I appreciate it when they are the same size for easy carrying purposes.
- A spiral bound so that I could bend the planner onto itself. I love the book-bound look, but the convenience of being able to turn the pages all the way around is worth it.
- A SIMPLE design. I’m a pretty simple person. I like to dress up my pages (as every other planner-addict), but with my personality, each week might be different. Therefore, I really wanted a simple layout and design so that I could dress my planner up however I feel like it, without having to worry whether or not the colors or designs “matched” or not.
Here are a few things I specifically didn’t want/pet peeves of planners:
- A contact list: I, personally, don’t want to put any contact information of my friends/family in my planner. I just feel like if I lost my planner, anyone could pick it up and figure out where my friends/family live and that just weirds me out—I’m sure I’m just paranoid, but I was never comfortable with it.
- A birthday list: I feel as though this page is super redundant. I’m going to put them where they go, of course. Why would I need it separately in a list? Maybe to see whose is next…but still…pointless. That’s just me.
- Huge girly designs: I’m getting pretty sick of Chevron and Lily Pulitzer…just being honest! I enjoy the fact that my planner is unique to others.
- Daily time stamps: I can see how this could be very convenient if you have a lot of appointments/meetings, but I don’t. And I don’t like time-stamping everything because most the time, I don’t know the exact time I will be doing something or how long it will take.
- A list of my medical information and vehicle information: This is too much for just a daily planner that I plan on carrying around everywhere! My policy number? What?
- Monthly days cut in half: You know when a month starts on a saturday or sunday and it has 31 days in it, and the planner essentially runs out of space so they “slice” a day in half to make it 2 days? Can’t stand that.
- Three sections: Other than cost, this is one of the reasons why I didn’t get an Erin Condren planner. I love her planners and everyone else seems to love them to, but if I wanted a planner that was truly “customized” for myself, I thought I would just make my own. Although, I am very glad she did away with the morning/day/night titles!
- Password Saver: Paranoia level 100.
So, anyhow, I spent maybe 10 hours working on my planner in Microsoft Word. I’m sure that there is much better software to use for this task…but I’ll be honest, I am on like…expert level when it comes to working with Word. After a year a journalism, I know how to win in a “person-to-microsoft word war.” I was incredibly confident that I could do what I wanted in Word because my ideas were very simple. Of course, if you want to make a more complex planner…some more software might need to be involved. I simply worked on maybe 3 main layouts in Word and then just had to switch the names of months, some colors, and numbers. It took time, but I didn’t want to buy any new software for such a simple project. Page by page, I ended up with a 140-page PDF file, then went on to proofreading. And then printing.
Now, for printing and binding, you have several options: You could print at home, or print at a store. You could simply hole-punch your planner and place it in a 3 ring binder, or you could have it bound professionally.
I took the easy route and just sent the PDF straight to UPS and got it printed/bound all in one as a “presentation.” From my research, UPS charges much much less than Staples, The Office Depot, and FedEx. I printed 140- two sided pages in color with a clear cover, vinyl backing, and a spiral bound for about $30. The cost of Staples, The Office Depot, and FedEx to do these things was about $80-90…which I thought was RIDICULOUS! I wasn’t about to pay the price of three or four professional printed planners for my customized one. Most of that was for printing service, of course. If you want to print at home…I think you can get it bound for maybe less than $20. (Back to UPS) I uploaded it online using a PDF and it took a single day before I sent Eric to pick it up at the store. It came out exactly how I wanted it to, and exactly as the proof online! (I made sure to link everything, so feel free to click on the names of the stores to read more on their sites about their binding services!)
Eric took his friend, “Kirby” (did I mention he’s single LOL) with him to pick up my planner and I forced them to take photos of it—I am so impatient, I know!
After I got home, I just some Avery tabs that I found at Walmart on clearance for $1.50! Online they are about $6, so I got a really good deal on those. I always encourage stalking the clearance isles at stores…
I am so excited to get started on making this planner my own. I love that it has every aspect that I wanted in a planner and I am so incredibly pleased with its outcome. Not to mention, it costs about the same or less than other planners! Even if you’re not quite ready to design layouts, but still want a low-cost planner, there are TONS of **FREE** printables online that you can print off and place in a binder.
If you really like my planner layout, let me know and I might just send you a PDF of it so that you can print your own! Here are some samples to view:
Also, I will DEFINITELY be back to show you some of my weekly spreads after I make them my own. (I have stocked up on washi tape and pens…trust me!).
Thanks for reading,
Did you like this? I’m thinking really hard about finding my blogging voice through organization, so let me know if you love/hate it!! Please leave any comments or questions below; I’d love to hear them 🙂
*Sorry for blurry pictures! Something is wrong with my camera quality…I have yet to figure it out…