How To Make The Perfect Planner For You

How to customize and make the perfect planner of your dreams for you and all of your responsibilities - The Confused Millennial planner hacks

At the start of the year, I had planner fever! (Who didn’t??)

The last few years I did everything 100% digitally. However this year, I decided to move back to paper for my planner because there are SO many more moving pieces to my business than before.  Especially with the blog, I got to a point where I needed to get rid of all the windows on my computer screen and physically pick up a planner to see it all laid out clearly.

I was shocked to see how much planners have evolved since my college days! The covers are so cute and the inserts and options for inside are endless! While the gorgeous designs pulled at my heart strings, the price tags did not. Seriously, I kept finding cute planner after cute planner, only to freak out over the $50+ (no joke, I found some that went up to $200!) price tag! When did planners get so expensive?!?

Having not used a planner in a million years, I had no idea what would actually work for me and decided to keep my money in the bank and make my own. The Insta-story I did on this got such an awesome response, that I am thrilled to partner with Samsill for this post and walk you all through creating your very own custom planner as well!

1) Choose a binder.

Getting a good binder is key. After all it’s going to hold all the contents of your precious planner! You’ll want something that will hold up, but also feels light & smooth while flipping pages and opening and closing.

You have a couple of big choices when it comes to bonders: cover & thickness.

COVER:  There are plenty of gorgeous printed planners out there:

Cactus  |  Candle c/o   |  Binders


Or you can get the kind that allows you to insert your own cover.  Generally, I prefer this kind, that way I can change up the look/branding of it all as my style changes over the time.

I love the Samsill biobased binder (pictured above)! It comes with a lifetime warranty and is built from renewable resources, and I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways to reduce my carbon foot print! Plus all of there binders are built right here in the U.S.A!



You can go with 1 inch thickness all the way up to 5 inches thick (personally, I don’t like to go wider than 2 or 3 though).

Pros to the 2+ inch:

When I first put my planner together, I was all about the 2 incher. I could have everything in one central place and used dividers between sections. The first part focused on annual goals, monthly stats, my pitch list, and financial tracking; the second part was monthly goals and maintenance, and daily planner sheets (I would put the sponsored sheet before the day it was due sheet), and the last section was legal stuff (business documents, partnership agreements, etc).

Cactus  |  Candle c/o   | 1 inch Multi Binders  | 2 inch  Biobased Binder


However, I recently realized that one super thick binder has some serious downsides and am considering making the switch to the 1 inchers!

You see, I don’t need all of those sections every single day. And keeping the super thick 2 inch binder on my desk can feel overwhelming at times. With the multi-pack of 1 inchers, I can make one binder solely dedicated to legal, one solely dedicated to annual and monthly goal check ins and stat sheets, one just related to household items, and one related to my actual day to day planning.

Truly consider your own needs for a planner. Things like, where you plan to store your planner (because lugging around a 2 inch planner in your purse seems pretty annoying, amiright?)? Do you have different businesses you are trying to create separate planner sections for each? Are you left handed (a 2 inch planner is dang near impossible to write in if so!)?

Really think about what works for you and what you prefer in terms of look and feel.

Cactus  |  Candle c/o   |  Multi Binders  |  Biobased Binder


2) Choose your branding

(may be reversed with #3).

If you planner is primarily for a blog or business, you may want to carry in branding elements from there.  I knew I wanted to customize the pages with TCM green and keep my fonts standard from the blog graphics to my planner. Which is how I came up with these sheets:

You can download these at the bottom of the post!

Otherwise, think about what you are attracted to and create something unique on Canva. Creative Market is also a good resource to get different design elements (that’s where I got the succulents at the top of the page).

3) Get some stickers or customizable goodies.

You can do this step before the last one if you prefer!

Hit your local Michaels or craft store and get some inspo from planners that have lots of stickers, sticky notes, or fun insert sheets that are multi-color. You can reverse engineer your branding based off of the elements you are drawn to and pick up some useful goodies to personalize your planner while you’re there. Folders  |  Biobased Binder


4) Make a list of pages you would like in your planner.

Do you want a monthly overview? A weekly overview? Daily?

Do you want themed sheets for shopping lists, travel, exercise, gratitude, cleaning schedule, or something else?

If you’re a blogger, do you want sheets for sponsored content, a pitch list, financial tracking, blog post ideas, blog maintenance, and other goals you may have?

There are tons of resources on-line for what sheets to include (a lot you can download for free too!). Think about what aspects of your life you are trying to develop or grow in and try to tailor your planner to those areas.

For my planner, I really focus on daily sheets (the sheet at the bottom center above). I prioritize 3 major goals I need to get done that day and then have a running to do list on the the opposite side of the page. As an entrepreneur, there is always something else I can be doing, so I try to give myself a pat on the back and an out for the day when I finish those top three things. Anything else I do beyond that is just icing on the cake. I then have a schedule view where I schedule out my day. The right side of the page also has places for: a daily affirmation, meal plan, exercise, and a running shopping list. My daily sheets are my life lines.

5) Putting it all together & revamping.

One thing I will tell you, if you are creating your own sheets (which I strongly recommend), you will likely want to change things out, so only print about a weeks worth initially. I changed my planner sheets each a few times until I figured out the exact flow and content that I wanted in them. Keep re-working things until you find the perfect system for you! Folders  |  Biobased Binder

Have you ever made your own planner? What tips do you have?

If you buy your planner, which is your favorite and why?

Grab my planner sheets seen in this post here:

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  • CecesCorner
    March 27, 2017 at 8:48 am

    This is awesome! I have always been obsessed with planners, this is going to save me a ton of money! Thanks!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      Haha happy you liked it!

  • Corey Wheeland
    March 27, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Every year I get a planner but there always seems to be something missing from it. I love the idea of making your own. I think I may need to try this next year!

  • Kristine Circenis
    March 27, 2017 at 9:51 am

    I also am designing my own planner, but in the form of a bullet journal. I’m loving the experience so far. Like you mentioned, being able to completely customize my planner has been really great and makes me feel like I’m getting the most bang for my buck. I can’t believe some planners run upwards of $50!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      Love your bullet journal posts! It fascinates (and overwhelms) me haha

  • Chelsea
    March 27, 2017 at 9:52 am

    This planner is seriously so gorgeous! I love anything that is pretty…bonus points!!

  • Summer @ Coffee With Summer
    March 27, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I love this, Rachel! Maybe this is what I’ll have to end up doing. I like my planner now, but I don’t love it. Designing my own will definitely be way more worth it!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:59 am

      I bet yours will come out beautifully!

  • Alexis Schroeder
    March 27, 2017 at 10:59 am

    This is awesome! I’ve never made a planner myself, and I’m not sure if I’m even creative enough to do so, but you make it look so easy!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:59 am

      Haha it takes a little patience and trial and error, but it’s not too rough!

  • Kim Montray LaCoste
    March 27, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Such a comprehensive guide to making a planner…love all the details and the printable!!! Bonus:)

  • hal
    March 27, 2017 at 11:54 am

    this is such great advice – and it feels good to know I’m not the only one who has moved back to a paper planner – it just works better for me for some reason!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:59 am

      So many people have actually! It’s really surprising to me!

  • Cara Owens-Kindly Unspoken
    March 27, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Love this DIY! Most planners these days are cute but they have a bunch of stuff you don’t really need, which is why I definitely like the idea of creating one yourself.

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:58 am

      YES! what is up with that?!?

  • Britney
    March 27, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    I have considered using a planner that encompasses everything. I can barely keep up with my daily and budget planners. I love the colors you chose and the daily sheets are very detailed! Pinning, for when I can get my life together! Lol

  • Adriana
    March 27, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Oh my goodness I LOVE this!!! So genius! I cannot wait to try your planner sheets out! One of my biggest problems with using a planner is that although I love to be as organized as possible, no one planner fits ALL of my super specific needs, haha!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Haha thank you! It’s impossible to get them to fit all aspects! and then a lot of the lines are too small for my liking!

  • Hannah Stein
    March 27, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    These ideas are AMAZING. I’m totally with you on using the one inch binders rather than a huge one because it definitely feels more overwhelming with one giant one! This is some serious organization genius and I need to do this! I’m so bad with planners. I tend to keep everything in a notes app on my devices, but that’s just not very good for lots of stuff.

  • Courtney Drew
    March 27, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Such a good idea to make your own and save money and make it completely unique to you. I have been buying mine and you are so right they are SO expensive! I love that you have a few for different aspects of life and how they are all the same size, design and are consistent. I think that I will try this next year! Thanks for sharing!!

    Courtney Drew

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:58 am

      So expensive! You’re welcome!

  • Kiara Catanzaro
    March 27, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    I have never made my own planner but I can definitely see the benefits of having my own that works for my needs! Thanks for much for sharing this, Rachel! I’ll have to consider this when I need a new planner as well!

  • Robin
    March 27, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    I love this! There’s so much chatter out there about the perfect planner for your ENTIRE LIFE–work, personal life, blogging… It makes so much sense to make it yourself, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself! Great tips!

  • Megan
    March 27, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    I could not live without my planner! I’ve never made my own one though. but it’s such a good idea because then you can finally have the planner of your dreams.

  • Beth_Daily_Dog_Tag
    March 27, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    I have been kicking around the idea of getting a planner, but just haven’t been able to justify the cost. I really like this more affordable option and just having the things I need.

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:57 am

      YES! I couldn’t agree more with the cost!

  • Jenny
    March 27, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    This is so cute! I made a blogging binder but I have a Day Designer from Target as well 🙂

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Thank you! What’s in your blogging binder?

  • Christine Keys
    March 27, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Oh, I love this! I’m using the Mom On the Go planner this year, and so far I love it. I may need to make my own next year though, as my business grows.

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:56 am

      I never heard of that one! I’ll have to check it out!

  • Alix Maza
    March 27, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    These are so cute! Love this idea.

    Alix |

  • Sharon Glascoe
    March 28, 2017 at 9:03 am

    I love how crafty you are! I wish had the patience to make this gorgeous planner. I end up giving up and just buy one haha!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Haha thank you! I definitely don’t consider myself crafty! This was super easy, just a little time on google docs and canva!

  • Katie
    March 28, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Planners are such a great way to stay organized! I like how creating your own one like this allows you to put your own personal spin on it!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:56 am

      For sure! It really is helpful in getting all the things I need together!

  • Candy Kage
    March 28, 2017 at 10:43 am

    I have found myself going back to the paper as well and finding great satisfaction in this paper process again.

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:55 am

      YES! Love crossing things off!

  • Dyana King| Adebtfreejourney
    March 28, 2017 at 11:27 am

    This is such a cool idea! I bought a planner from Target the other day (the cheapest one) and I’ll admit that I barely use it. The space is too small!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:55 am

      YAS! That’s one of my issues with a lot of planners and why mine is so big haha

  • Sarah Jean
    March 28, 2017 at 11:42 am

    At the end of the year I am definitely going to switch to making my own planner so I can customize it for my needs!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:55 am

      I bet it’s going to come out awesome!

  • Alex Carreno
    March 28, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Such a great how-to! I usually stick to pre-made planners, but always find myself going back and forth! This is a great way to tailor it for your needs.

  • Bella B @ xoxoBella
    March 28, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    This is such a goal idea, I need to try this out.

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:54 am

      I bet you would make the cutest planner!

  • Anna Hubbard
    March 28, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    I need to make a planner like this for my blog! Like you said, so many planners out there are hella expensive! What’s the deal?
    -Anna |

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:54 am

      I have no idea! it’s crazy to me though!

  • Becky @ Disney in your Day
    March 28, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I made my own blogging binder and it’s so helpful to just put in the stuff you need!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:54 am

      For sure! what pages are in yours?

  • Bea Alvarado
    March 28, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    I love this! I’m such a planner + love how organized this all is yet still so chic!

  • Leeza Smith
    March 28, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    this is such a cool way to personalize your own binder!! love it.

    Besides blogging I also do marketing for a company called Graphique de France,
    I think you would be the perfect fit for a collab, I’ll email you for more information!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Thank you!! Excited to potentially collaborate!

  • Alexandra Hollander
    March 28, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    These are great, I love the idea of customizing and making your own planner!

  • Jordyn Upchurch
    March 28, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Great post! For the past two years, I used Erin Condren planners…but honestly, the price was getting to me. I switched over to Sugar Paper for Target this year and my wallet thanked me, and I found that I didn’t miss very much from EC!

    xoxo, SS

    Southern And Style

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Haha I had one in my cart SO many times and took it out SO many times because of the price!

  • Kirsten Ortez
    March 28, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    I’ve never made my own planner before! What a cool post!

  • Elizabeth Johnson
    March 28, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    I love this! I find a lot of the time a planner doesn’t have exactly what I want and I end up settling. Also, love the planner sheets. They are awesome!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Thank you! I felt like I was settling when trying to find the “perfect” one or there was a lot of chaos in the planners today!

  • IG:Suetanyamchorgh
    March 28, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    This is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  • Cameron
    March 28, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Love this! I love my planner, and this is really great way to get a custom planner without spending a ton of money! While I splurged on my Webster’s Pages binder, I made sure to keep it cheap with anything inside!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Never heard of that binder before!

      • Cameron
        April 8, 2017 at 1:53 pm

        It’s an A4 size, and I love them! Leather (or fake leather idk), and they come in all sorts of colors. I actually just bought another planner kit when they were on sale so I could switch out the binders. It ended up being under $30 instead of the usual $60! And the kits literally come with everything. I actually have a few coupons for 50% off and am keeping my eyes peeled for a few more binders haha.

  • thesofieyahdiaries
    March 29, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Love this 🙂 I don’t know if I could be happy with using a binder coz of how huge it is but still loving this DIY idea 🙂

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:52 am

      You can get smaller ones! that’s the fun of customizing your own! I just like big ones!

  • Erica
    March 29, 2017 at 8:18 am

    In typical Rachel fashion…this is brilliant! The customization is CLUTCH.

    Coming Up Roses

  • Erin of Very Erin
    March 29, 2017 at 9:44 am

    These planner pages are SO cute! I’m obsessed with my planner – I definitely would not be able to get through a work day without it!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Haha thank you! What planner do you use?

  • Nicole Booz
    March 29, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Girl, you are so organized!! I have tried custom planning bullet journal style and I really just did not keep up with it. I thought I wanted all of these different pages but in the end I just used spreadsheets to track numbers, to-do lists for daily tasks, and my Google calendar for big picture things. I’m really glad you found a method that works for you!!

    Nicole |

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:51 am

      I am honestly terrified of bullet journals! They seem like SO much to learn and organize and I don’t think I could keep up with it either.

  • Rachel Golden
    March 29, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    I love this post! Agenda’s and planners are my favorite– really any stationary for that matter. I thought I was organized, but you are seriously WAY more organized! I love it!! And your theme is so pretty, too 🙂

  • Emm Dee
    March 29, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    I went the DIY paper planner route a couple years ago and didn’t keep up with it. Sometimes I think I should go back to it, but right now I like have an electronic calendar. I think that I change my mind all the time because my needs always change!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:50 am

      I fluctuate TBH! Somedays I need to write things out and other days I just do a digital to do list and schedule on my calendar. For the big stuff (financial, pitching, etc.) I keep it in my paper planner though

  • Greta Hollar
    March 30, 2017 at 12:48 am

    Your planner is so legit! It’s so big and organized and well thought out!

    Greta |

  • Ashley Mason
    March 30, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Love how your planner came out! I made the switch from digital to paper as well with my planner and it has been so helpful!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:49 am

      IT’s so rewarding crossing things off!

  • Silvia Marquez
    March 31, 2017 at 1:55 am

    Oh my gosh these are way to cute! I love how you designed it!

  • Sydney Power
    March 31, 2017 at 3:13 am

    In high school I always loved making my own planners, it was so fun to get creative!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:49 am

      I never would’ve that to make my own in high school! I always bought and lived by it! it was my life line!

  • Oby Grace
    March 31, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I have been meaning to get planner for blogging!

    Oby Grace

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Make your own! It really is the best way to customize to your blogging goals!

  • fairyprincessjord
    March 31, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I am a planner addict, I started using one in 6th grade and I’ve been obsessed ever since. I love the Erin Condren planners but the freedom of creating your own planner is SUCH a good idea. Totally customizeabke-what’s not to like??

    • Rachel Ritlop
      April 5, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Everyone loves those! They are just so expensive to me! She has printable sheets too i think to help you DIY stuff or refill the pages

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