Can you believe I did not have a planner during last year – at all? Crazy I know!
I did draw a grid of some months in my diary instead, adding tabs to find them between all the writing. This system has worked for short term planning but not for goal-setting or getting a proper overview of time. And my schedule is increasingly busy now, with meetings and job appointments, so I need to better handle time each week.
I have been thinking about doing my own planner for years now. There is something so compelling about making your own planner to me, having the power to tweak size and look, adding features, doing the page design and personalizing each compartment.
You already know I am a notebook geek, so no matter how pretty the calendars in the paper stores are I can’t find one that is just perfect for me. There is always something missing. I guess it’s because a planner is such a big thing during a whole year, always there as you are planning your days. It is a part of your everyday life and a creative tool in many ways. And tools should be special. And I am happy to report that the one that I now have finally created is a great tool in many ways.
Just look at it:
I’m sure I will change some things about it when I’ve used it for a while, add or remove tabs etc, but for now I really love it a lot. Finally I made my own DIY planner! What a great feeling it is to do something you’ve been wanting to try and thinking about for such a long time!
Previously I’ve tried all kinds of planners and also made new covers for bought ones to “personalize” them (once a paper collage and later a fabric cover for a calendar that I ended up never even using), but never been really happy with those for many different reasons. The reason it took me so long to make one is that I have several requirements that needed to be filled. I want my planner to be a good size, not too small and not too big (needs to fit into my small handbag). It should be customizable too. And I want to be able to change things up as I go along – so a bound book or spiral bound would not work. I want to be able to take papers out, and put new ones in!
When Size Matters
The debate (in my head) has been bouncing around between the choices. What paper size would be most manageable? Fold the standard size A4 of 210×297 centimeters (8.27×11.69″) in half (to make what is called A5) or make the planner a quarter of an A4 paper, making a printable design that you cut in four parts? But after experimenting with both I know I don’t like these sizes!
I think A5 is too big for a bag-able planner and A8 (quarter) is way too small, especially with the printers margin leaving a lot of blank space on all sides. So I have stopped myself there, because those set sizes felt the most convenient, even though they are not appealing to me. Because I am not comfortable with them I needed to think outside the box and cut the A4 paper into a more perfect size for me to use!
After printing several different sizes I found that I like the half A4 if I cut away stripes to make it smaller than A5. So that’s it. It does create more papers for the recycle bin, but the forest will have to live with that for now. I mostly use recycled papers anyway. The actual size of each page is down to about 12×16 centimeters, and a spread looks like this:
Each paper is two weeks that I cut apart, the yellow part is what I cut away. For now I will pencil in the dates and week numbers by hand, but I will add the name of the month as I print the pages. So far I’ve printed months until June, and so far I am really liking the initial design. A lot!
Each day is separated into two columns. The left part is empty at first, and this is the place where I write what I want to get down that day. What I plan to do or think about. This week for example I have planned to do yoga twice so I write that in there. If I have a set appointment with a exact time, for example a meeting, I write the time and place on the right upper part of each day. In this way I can separate personal wants and ideas from absolute must-be-there-appointments.
Good daily habits
Using this calendar daily is part of my yearly goals. Tracking good habits is one part. So I have added a little row of words to each day (written in 7 pt). I circle each word if I have managed to focus on them that particular day. Right now they are: diary writing, computer writing time, create, meditate and exercise!
Some days non are circled, most day at least two of these important to me activities are squeezed in. Most often I circle create because this includes embroidery, drawing, painting, collage and other favorite activities. Exercise includes workout, walking and yoga right now. When I circle create I am reminded that I did not do any meditation and some nights before sleep I have therefor sat for 10 minutes and it feels good. I could also write not surfing on the web as a desirable action, or floss!, but the list shouldn’t be too long either. These words might change in the future. I like this list for now, it is very “me”.
How to Make Your Own Planner
All that said, I have also shared a tutorial on how I finally created my DIY planner with more images and ideas! Find my tutorial here:
DIY Calendar resources
- I have been very inspired by Amanda Hawkins of Ahhh Design and her great tutorials on DIY Planners, revisiting them many many times. I ♥ the Bee planner – she made, and the very cool re-purposed book binder!
- Vintage Book Planner a tutorial by Cathe Holden on a cover for your bought planner
- New calendar new year – article by me at the Wish Studio (moved)
- DIY Planner templates – download, print, assemble (I love love love this site but again, never found a perfect layout for me so I had to create my own thing!)
- DIY Planners group – find planner images on flickr
- A filofax love affair – I get that, sure, it’s super pretty and easy to fill up. If you don’t want to make your own calendar, a Filofax is a great choice though I am not a fan of their bulky covers.
- Create a command central binder – ideas on how to simplify your daily life
You can also Get iHanna’s Planner Pages here
I, too, have struggled with planners. Not only do I, like you, have very specific requirements, those requirements have changed through the years. For example, during grad school I found it very beneficial to have a PDA that I could sync with my computer, had a built-in to-do list for long-term assignments, and repeating events (like classes and meetings) were easy to add. (Before I got it, I forgot to go to class on a couple of occasions. Whoops!) For a few years after graduation I was quite happy with a month-view planner, but these days I’ve found my small Moleskine planner to be working out quite well: the left page has the week and the right is plain lined, which I use for notes and to-do lists. And it fits in my purse. :)
Wow – awesome Hanna! I’m trying to use a calendar to plan this year instead of reacting to whatever I find out in the blog-o-sphere.
Funny all my lists and dates were also randomly entered in one of my art notebooks too!
Well done by book-making friend…tj
Thank you so much for posting this! I still have yet to get a planner organized for the year and this means I can actually make one instead of just randomly piecing together papers in my purse.
Thanks for commenting!
Melydia, I’ve tried digital options too, but never ever loved them as much as pen and paper where I can use different pens, colour, doodle etc etc. :-) This one is just printed on one side so it is similar to yours with a blank left page for notes and list. Very hand!
TJ, how is the plan working so far? Good I hope, better than my lists/plans I hope! ;-)
Amy, I hope my tutorial will be helpful, at least a bit. I’ve used a recycled file folder for mine, it works great.
Isn’t Amanda awesome? Her art’s amazing, too!
Your binder reminds me of my R+H one. It’s little like that, with great planning pages and so many things you can put in it to expand it. This year, though, I bought a ring-bound planner with monthly and weekly spreads…and haven’t used it much. I wonder if I should go back to that little binder so I can have tabs for projects and such. Will explore your links for ideas!
Kira! Do you have online images of your calendar? I would love to see it. I have started lots of calendars through the years but they are seldom filled… I hope this one will last me a year – or more. :-) Though I tend not to look at the other tabs for projects etc. I need a routine for that too! :-)
Great post, Hanna. I’m a planner girl, too, and love my small 6 ring notebook that I bought over 20 years ago in Hong Kong. The leather feels so good and it’s the perfect size for me now that I’m retired… was too small for a few years there. Like you, I need to make many of my own pages though I buy some from Franklyn Covey, especially the monthly calendars. I like your idea of dream planning vs set appointments.
Hanna, thanks for all the cool links!
You’ve inspired me to try to make my own planner…thank you for the tips!
[…] After the introduction to the why of my DIY planner I thought I’d continue today with the how to, a tutorial to inspire you and some facts on how I finally created my own Planner for 2011, in a format that I can continue to use for many years to come! I created the layout of the weekly pages in Adobe InDesign, as well as a few other layouts for my planner, but I won’t go into that here. If you are not into design you could make yours by drawing and taking copies of the original for example. Or check out my previous post, there are many cool designs available for download online! […]
Thank you Hanna for this – i am pretty disorganized and have tried many different planners……lately i’ve been drawing a weekly calendar and filling it in in colour. But i like your idea!
p.s. thanks for the fabulous links too!
Ty for all that great infos & links dear! IŽll check all and your tuts too.
[…] started at Hanna's blog, with a pair of posts (a personalized DIY planner; how to make your own planner), and followed a list of links she'd curated. Before long I was […]
[…] of guy) I do understand that different people have different needs. Check out IHeart Organizing or Hannah’s Blog for information on creating your own planner and […]