Starting a New Planner

2015 is almost upon us, which means it’s time to start planning, and setting up a new planner is in order. Now, calendars in smart phones and tablets are great, but for me a good old paper planner is still a must. Here is how I do it


1. Choosing a planner. There are a few things to consider when choosing a new planner- the look, the weight, the layout. Basically,  you have to like your planner to use it. For me it’s important for a planner not to be too bulky, yet it has to be  roomy enough to accommodate all my tasks. I prefer a layout that allows me to sketch my day the way I want to see it- as a timetable, as a list, as a flowchart. Price is another thing to consider. There is a wide variety of planners available- spiral bound, book bound, one can just print pre-made pages from online sources such as pinterest or graph a simple notebook. The choices are endless and they allow everybody to find a planner according to their personal preference and needs.

My personal choice is Moleskine Daily Planner . It comes in two formats- large and pocket, I prefer large, my husband prefers pocket.

mine and husband's new planners side by side

mine and husband’s new planners side by side, his is regular pocket and mine is Limited Edition Le Petite Prince, large

There is a  regular edition, which comes in a variety of colors and has tabbed pages insert and extra stickers. Limited edition follows a theme, it also has themed stickers (usually less than regular edition), but no tabbed pages. Why I like this specific planner ? The large planner is a size of a small book, it has a hard cover (so it lies flat), it’s light enough to carry. There is “year at a glance” section in the beginning of the planner.

year at a glance

year at a glance

It has elastic strip to hold it close and a bookmark. Another feature I really enjoy is a pocket in the back of the planner. It’s roomy enough for important receipts, but not too huge to stuff it with unnecessary things. And I like the design, plain and simple. The price ranges from $15 for regular edition to around $25-27 for a limited one. It’s widely available online and in stores. There are free printable templates on Moleskine website (registration is free).

The layout is simple and unaffected. I like to change the way I present my day to myself,so  having just times marked on a page is very convenient. The lines are light, my eyes don’t get distracted.

sometimes I do boxes...

sometimes I do boxes…

sometimes I don't

sometimes I don’t

2. Choosing Extras

I like to have a variety of materials on hand to color code, embellish and mark important events. Colored pens and highlighters get used a lot. I like to use a pencil for events that are not firmly fixed. I highlight tasks that are completed. I underline activities in different colors. Another tool that gets used a lot is stapler, for flyers, business cards and receipts. Another important item that is always on hand is sticky notes for lists and reminders that can be moved around. I carry a small bag of pens with me at all times, and a few sticky notes are always  in the back pocket of my planner.

a pencil case for necessities

a pencil case for necessities

I love to use stickers, stickers make my planners cheerful and it’s easier to see an important task or event at a quick look if there is a picture next to it.

korean stickers plannerLocal craft stores usually carry a variety of stickers, but  I prefer getting Korean stickers. Why Korean? They are cute, they are smaller than your typical scrap-booking stickers, they are affordable (usually around $3 for a 4-6 sheets). Usually there are stickers for all occasions, so we use them in planners and diaries. These stickers are available on ebay and etsy, just type in “korean stickers” and possibilities are nearly endless.

my sticker box

my sticker box

Washi tape is another thing that I use for making tabs or headlines. I also draw and doodle, anything that makes a page more eye-catching or pleasing.

pretty page motivates me to get things done

a pretty page motivates me to get things done

3. How I use my planner

Besides its direct uses such as scheduling and outlining, I use my planner as a diary to write in good things that happen during the day, kids’ progress, outcomes of phone calls,  I also do meal planning (that is when sticky notes come in handy- to write down ingredients and shopping lists, I then just stick a post-it on the back of my phone and go to the store). This way it’s all at hand and at the proper date if I need to recall it.

I actively use my planner throughout the day, but when I first started, I had to form a habit of checking it at least twice –in the morning for a list of things to do and in the afternoon for the future tasks. The most recent habit is to compare and coordinate calendar on my phone and my paper planner, putting additional reminders in both. It takes a little bit of extra time, but one does not have to do it too often and digital reminders help. Comparing calendars with my husband (our digital calendars are also synchronized) helps schedule events so they are convenient to both of us.

D. (9 y.o.) started to use a planner this year too, he got a simple weekly one, but it definitely helps him keep track of his studies, classes and books to read. He knows I have it all written down as well, but the sense of being responsible for his time helps him use it wisely.

My planner served me well in 2014 🙂

my friend and companion

my friend and companion


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