Wondering how to start planning? Getting started with planning can be overwhelming. If you have never had a system of organisation before, or if you have relied on other methods, it can take a little time to adapt and find your groove.
If you’re anything like I was, you probably don’t know where to start when it comes to using a planner. I was never very good at keeping track of my schedule or remembering important deadlines, so the idea of using a planner seemed daunting at first.
But after doing some research and experimenting with a few different planners, I’ve found that using a planner can be a game-changer when it comes to staying organised and on top of things.
If you’re thinking about using a planner but don’t know where to start, this guide will help you choose the right planner, accessories and system to suit your planning style.
How To Start Planning When You’ve Never Used A Planner Before
With so many pretty planners on the market, it can be hard to know where to start when you’ve never used one before. If you’re new to the world of planning, you might grab the first planner that grabs your attention, assuming they are all the same.
But this is far from the case! There are all sorts of different planners out there, designed for different people with different needs.
So before you go and buy the first planner you see, it’s worth doing a bit of research to figure out what kind of planner would work best for you.
To help you get started, here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a planner:
- What is my budget?
- How big or small do I want my planner to be?
- Do I want a physical planner or an electronic one?
- What features do I want in my planner?
- What kind of layout do I prefer?
- Do I want an undated or dated planner?
There are hundreds of thousands of planners to choose from. And an even bigger variety of planner accessories.
Who knew you would suddenly need that sticker collection or those particular pens to complete your planning tool set… but do you really need them?
Let’s start with the basics!
Choosing a Planner Format
Choosing a planner isn’t as simple as grabbing the first one you see in the local office supply store.
There are different types to suit different needs. Layouts can include one page per day or per week, in daily blocks or strips, or even an hourly schedule with times down the side.
If your day involves a lot of appointments or time blocking, the hourly format may be ideal. If not, you may be better suited to the less structured format. Check out a few styles before you pick your planner.
Most popular planner manufacturers, such as Erin Condren or The Happy Planner have more than one format to choose from, and of course, your local stationery supply store will have a variety of options too.
What is really cool is that many planner companies offer a printable trial page of their planner pages to give you a chance to try before you buy. This is a great option if you’re not sure what format you will like using. The Erin Condren website even has a quiz to help you work out your perfect planner!
Some planners include your basic daily to do action items or appointments, while others have sections for gratitude, journalling, meal planner, exercise, mood tracking and much more.
You can also get printable planners if you are less worried about having your own planner system that is premade. You can check out my printable planner pages here.
It really helps to know which of these things are important to you before you start planning.
Types Of Planners
As mentioned above, there are several types of planners on the market, each with its own set of features and benefits. Here is a quick overview of some of the most popular types of planners:
Daily Planner – As the name suggests, a daily planner is designed to help you keep track of your day-to-day schedule. They typically have a single page for each day of the week, where you can write down appointments, deadlines, and other important events. Daily planners are good if you want a life planner to keep track of everything from home life tasks, to work tasks, and more.
Weekly Planner – Weekly planners are very similar to daily planners, but they provide a bird’s eye view of your week, rather than each day individually. They usually have a week spread across two pages so you can see the full week at once. This can be helpful if you want to see everything at a glance.
Monthly Planner – Monthly planners are designed to help you keep track of events and deadlines that are further in the future. They consist of monthly calendars with a daily box that you can write in.
Some companies, such as Purple Trail, also allow you to create your own perfect planner, deciding which pages you want to be included in your planner.
There are other specialty types of planners available too, such as quarterly planners, teacher planners, content/business planners, wedding planner, self-care planner and exercise planners that each focus on more specific parts of your life, such as work rather than personal life.
Finding Your Planner Personality
Before I had my first planner, I figured everything was pretty straightforward. You write the things you need to do in there and away you go. Then I fell into the void of glam planning, planner stickers and all things bright and shiny. Uh oh!
Planning can be simple and functional, but it can also be fun and fabulous! For some, it’s more about creativity and share-worthy layouts. I’m somewhere in between.
I love a few functional stickers mixed with the occasional inspirational quote or pop of colour.
Glam planning can also be a huge time suck if you don’t have much time so be careful before you dip your toes into this fun new world.
Which Accessories Do You Need
If simple is your planning style, aside from the planner itself, investing in some quality pens will be the main thing. You don’t need anything special to get started planning.
I love erasable pens. I did not even know that was a thing before I got my planner. Now I love the fact if I make a mess or need to change a plan, it’s so easy to erase and start again.
My fave is the Pilot Frixion Erasable pens. Plus the great colours make it easy to colour coordinate your planning if that is your style.
Otherwise, planner stickers can be a great way to keep your planner fresh and bold! Use different stickers and icons to mark out important dates. Or if you want to keep it easy, highlighters work well too!
Don’t feel you need all the fancy accessories if that’s not for you!
These are my favourite planner accessories:
- Erasable pens and highlighters
- Washi tape – perfect for blocking out calendars (check my guide on how to set up a planner)
- Planner stickers
What Should Go In Your Planner
For some, planners are life! Every little thing goes in there. If it wasn’t in the planner, it didn’t happen! But that method isn’t for everyone.
Planners can be a mix of life and work, or just work, or just life. Some people have two planners to separate their different worlds. Or you can chuck it all in one planner system.
I use mine for important dates, to block my calendar and to track certain things in an easy, single location. But I don’t always add my entire to-do list or I have unexpected things that pop up.
Some of the things you might like to add to your planner system aside from your day-to-day routine and important dates are things like meal planning for the week ahead, steps tracking, monthly cycle or fertility tracking, family schedules, fitness/workouts and goal progress.
Here is a list of things to add to your planner:
- Daily to do list and life tasks
- Special events
- Monthly bills
- Grocery lists
- Birthdays and anniversaries
- Morning routines
- Meal plan
- Daily steps
- Monthly cycle tracking
- Daily gratitude
- Top 3 priorities of important tasks each day
RELATED READING – HOW TO SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE
If It Isn’t Working Out As ‘Planned’
If you have taken all the steps to get yourself organised with your own planner and bright coloured pens or simple and stylish set-up, but you’re finding your planner is essentially a fancy dust collector, it’s time to take a look at why.
As I mentioned earlier, it can take time to get into a new routine, even if that routine is aimed at helping you create a routine. If you’re used to a life of chaos or if you’ve relied on digital organisation tools, making the switch takes longer.
Try to schedule a time at the start of your new week to plan ahead for the week and mark out any appointments, to-dos or important dates. Make sure you are checking your planner early in the day to see what you need to do so you don’t miss any important dates.
If that’s still not working, perhaps you need to try a different style of planning. Maybe you are better suited to monthly instead of weekly planning or hourly instead of day blocks.
Or perhaps bullet journaling appeals more to your list-loving mind.
Try a few formats until you find the right fit! There’s sure to be one for you!
Good luck with getting started with planning. There’s nothing more exciting than the fresh start of a brand new shiny planner!! And remember… don’t get caught up in the hype. Plan it your way, however, that may be because planning is as individual as you are!
Check out more productivity tips to get organised:
PIN THIS TO PINTEREST
Wednesday 1st of November 2017
I use a planner from Personal-Planner.com and I have come to realise that the simpler I keep it the more I actually use it. I am a stationery lover from way back and would love to have it all fancy and pretty, etc, but then I feel overwhelmed by it, so the simpler the better. I like the PP one because I start & end it from whatever months I want and customise the covers and pages. I also have a nice black leather cover to put each new one in so it looks a little more professional for when I need to pull it out in front of clients. I would love to get another Erin Condren one (I had one when my youngest was born) but they are just so expensive! #teamIBOT
Tuesday 7th of November 2017
I think simple works best for me too. I get caught up in wanting to make it pretty. It's overwhelming and loses its purpose until I cut it back again.
Tuesday 31st of October 2017
I tend to use my planner/diary each year as a "need to record it" space. So things like bills, medical stuff... that way I can flip back and check x or y was done.