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.
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.
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!