Posted by: Cathy | November 28, 2012

Planning Your Planner

If you’re an organizing nerd like I am, you have already given considerable thought to your new planner for 2013. I love looking at planners in the store or online, but for the longest time I couldn’t find one that would do all I needed it to. So I started making my own!

I made my own for 2012 and I liked it so much I did another for 2013 with just a couple of minor tweaks. (See photo.) I can’t give specifics, since I “borrowed” from other for-purchase planners and I don’t want to violate their copyrights. But I’ll tell you how I did it.

First, look at your current planner and list what it does that you like and what it doesn’t have that you want. Browse around for other planners that might have what you want and see how they do it.

Here are some possible elements:
* Daily, weekly, monthly, and/or yearly calendar pages
* Timed daily slots for appointments (in times you actually use, like outside of work hours for personal things)
* To-do list or grocery list space
* Anniversary/birthday lists
* Phone/email contact lists
* Daily/weekly checklists of common actions (meditation, take vitamins, yoga class, chores, etc)
* Diary space for jotting down thoughts, brainstorming, or things needing follow-up
* Weekly schedule pages for school or workout classes
* Meal planning pages
* Project flow sheets for next actions
* Priority pages to keep in mind what your goals are for the year
* Space to track how many glasses of water you drank each day, how many words you wrote, or how many minutes you exercised
* Space to mark a star or happy face on good days, or to rank your energy or self-awareness level
* Anything else you can imagine!

Once you have a list of everything you want and some examples of how it’s done, do some rough sketches on a piece of paper to play with the layout. Do you want your week ordered vertically or horizontally? Should your weekly checklist go on the right or the left of your weekly calendar page?

After you’ve figured out in pen how you want it to look, you can build your pages in Excel. You can find free templates around the web and customize them to your heart’s content. Change the font. Add some pretty pictures of a flower or your cat. Make it personal!

The best part of designing your own calendar is that you are able to pre-print things into it. For example, I have Toastmasters every Friday at noon, so I printed that into the timed slot of my weekly calendar. I also try to do at least two things every day in the areas of mind (writing, reading), body (yoga, aerobics), and spirit (inspirational reading, Hay House radio listening), so I put in slots for those areas to write down what I did.

Making your own planner can be fun and very cheap! I printed mine on computer paper, cut to size a file folder for the cover, and used a hole-punch and string to bind it. You can get fancier and have yours printed at a copy shop with a spiral binding and plastic cover, but that’s one of the great things about it – you can make it look however you want!

Here are some of the planners I used for inspiration:
Planner Pad – the main format I “borrowed”
The Life Organizer by Jennifer Louden – a mindful way to look at your priorities each week
Tranquility du Jour Daybook – extra helpful things like checklists
DIY Planner – templates you can print and customize
Hipster PDA – this is old, from 2004, before everyone had smart-phones, but I still find these sheets useful to keep track of my grocery list and budget
Little Otsu planners – if you’re too lazy to make one, these are super cute

Don’t settle for a planner that doesn’t do everything you want! Make your own and get planning!


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