woman writing with her Bible and laptop nearby

How to Start a Planner: Tips and Steps!

I’m ridiculously excited about teaching you how to start a planner. It all began with the brain fog I experienced this summer. The low-key fun of our unscheduled days started out feeling spontaneous and relaxing, but ended up feeling just plain confusing. It turns out I really need to stay on top of my life even when it’s supposed to be the season of going with the flow.

Well thankfully, creative planning has become a thing, not just for lots of ladies around the country, but for ME too. I’m a newbie myself, but here’s everything I think you may want to know if you’re interested in starting out too.

three colorful planners by MAMBI, Erin Condren, and Dayspring with text overlay reading How to Start Planning and Choose a Planner tips and steps

Why Using a Planner is Pretty Awesome

Here’s what I love about it:

  1. It’s functional and helpful to have one place for scheduling your life, taking down important notes, and making lists. Because I’d write things down in different places, sometimes putting things in my phone, I was often confused about where things were or when things were. Trying to go all e-calendar did not work for me, especially because I find myself naturally writing things down and I love to see the big picture all at once. Having control of how my schedule looks is huge for me.
  2. It’s a creative outlet that’s only at “artsy” as you want it to be. I was always big into stickers as a kid, and now I get to let my inner elementary schooler loose! I also love to doodle, so that’s helpful too. Even if you don’t feel all that creative, don’t be intimidated! If you enjoy things like pretty washi tape and colorful pens, you’ll be just fine.
  3. These planners are designed for you to customize them to your needs. The sky is the limit with what you can do with a planner. Use them to plan as well as to do a bit of journaling (like writing down the funny thing your kid just said), tracking your fitness goals, recording your verse of the month, and the TV show you’re binge watching. When it comes to customizing, you can do a lot or a little.
  4. A planner that I design myself helps motivate me to use it. Instead of glancing at a blah calendar on my phone, I now look forward to sitting down with my planner and taking a few minutes to write out my schedule for the week, plus a few fun extras, and dive into my stickers! I not only love creating my weekly layouts, I love looking at them, and that means I’m going to stay on top of my schedule.
  5. At the end of your year, you have a keepsake that will serve as a reminder of what life was like for you and your family. But it’s a low-pressure “keepsake” because it’s functional and not, you know, the ONLY way you’re going to document and remember your wedding, for example. (umm…that scrapbook of mine is still unfinished, 15 years later.)

So if that sound intriguing, here’s how you can get creative with planning!

Steps to Start a Planner

1. Choose Your Planner

I love several different kinds of planners. Here are my faves.

Happy Planner with weekly view layout

A Happy Planner, by Me and My Big Ideas. I’ve tried both an undated kit that allows you to jump in at any time, and a dated planner. I found that for me, a dated planner is best–it helps me stay on top of holidays and things like Daylight Savings easily!

One thing I love about MAMBI Happy Planners is the price point! I happened to grab mine on sale and only spent $20 on it. You heard me right. They usually run at about $30, which is still a great price.

Happy Planners have pages that can be removed easily and inserted. They’re so easy to work with and they make me just plain happy!

Erin Condren Life Planner weekly vertical layout in colorful - blank
Erin Condren Life Planner – vertical weekly layout

An Erin Condren Life Planner, for those who want to dive in deep. You can customize the cover (with pics of your family!), set goals, take monthly notes, look at the year at a glance, next year at a glance, and fill it in with pen and stickers to your heart’s content.

These are really high quality, customizable planners that are known for helping women achieve their goals. Choose between a vertical weekly layout (pictured), horizontal, or even an hourly layout.

a Dayspring agenda planner opened to a weekly horizontal layout
Dayspring Agenda Planner, weekly layout

A Dayspring Agenda Planner, for those who love to write as they plan. These planners include plenty of space to write out your schedule for each day, note pages, monthly and yearly at-a-glance views, pretty monthly tabs with Bible verses, and a set of stickers.

Each planner features a lined horizontal layout. I can see these doubling as a prayer journal, quiet time journal, and more.

2. Customize Your Planner with Extras

Popular Planning Supplies

Think about what you want out of your planner, and go from there. A few favorite supplies include:

I absolutely love the extras like stickers, notepaper, pens, and dashboards for keeping everything visually organized. If it’s pretty and functional, it makes planning SO much more fun!

Washi Tape

Washi is a great way to add designs and color to your planner, and it’s a more affordable way to decorate. Plus, you can use it on any other cute paper crafts. (Seal envelopes with it!)

Repeat after me: Washi tape does not need to be expensive. You can look for sales, combine coupons, or grab some from Amazon. I got this pack for $15.99, so each roll is about $1.25. Yay!

All About Planning: Washi Tape and Extras

It’s All About Weekly Layouts

The creamy center of planning is the fact that you can get really detailed. Each day is broken down into columns (either vertical or horizontal) of three, so you can plan your morning, afternoon, and evening for each day. There’s one week per spread, and that’s your weekly layout.

In every planner I listed, you’ll find an inspirational tabbed month page, followed by a monthly view, and then 5 weeks of weekly layout plan pages.

The month calendar is just like any other, beginning with Sunday. The weekly layouts, though, are designed to begin on Monday. Because we all feel like our week truly begins on Monday! It might sound a bit odd, but it’s actually really helpful for me.

How to Start Your Planner

  • First, start with a new month. Some monthly tabs have a place for goals. Look at the monthly layout and add appointments, birthdays, events, or ANYTHING you want to the monthly view. Think big picture!
  • Then, begin your first weekly layout. Check your monthly layout for that big picture overview of your week.
  • Add some decoration next, leaving room for writing.
  • Write in your important events from the monthly view.
  • Add daily events where needed (I always put in my son’s school schedule, for example.) Write down meals, church events, etc. and fill it in. Think details!
All About Planning: MAMBI Happy Planner weekly layout
my first weekly layout

You should leave some space for writing in things as they come up.

As you can tell, there are lots of imperfections in my layouts…some of that is because I’m a beginner, and some of that is because I’m not the most precise person in the world. I still think crooked stickers and wrinkled washi tape look fabulous, though. Don’t pressure yourself and just have FUN.

One way I got some fantastic tips and inspiration is by watching a few Plan with Me videos on YouTube. These videos show a planner with awesome design skills go from a completely blank weekly layout to a finished weekly layout, sharing tips along the way. Here’s one of my favorites!

Wait. Do I have TIME for Planning?

The short answer is I think you do. I know that you have time to write down your schedule because it’s something you have to do one way or another. Managing your daily life and tasks takes time, but whether it’s entering details in an app on your phone or writing things down, you’re probably doing some of it already.

I find time to plan without even thinking about it. Sometimes I sit down and decorate my planner while my kids color–this is my favorite time to plan. I might pull it out for a few minutes after I’m ready for bed, or during the kids’ naps in the afternoon.

One thing that’s great about this hobby is how functional and helpful it is. You’ll compensate for the time you spent planning by remembering more, accomplishing your goals, and staying on target every day. It’s already happened for me.

And that’s proof that planning isn’t for crazy-organized ladies who have it all together. It’s for us. The moms and women who keep forgetting everything and have had it with our feeble brains. Trust me. If your current method of staying on top of your life isn’t working, it’s time to change it up.

You can do it, ladies!

I hope you have a great time getting organized, expressing your creative side, and planning your hearts out.

17 thoughts on “How to Start a Planner: Tips and Steps!”

  1. I love this! I definitely go through some phases where I get super busy and forget about my planner, but overall, I really like using it to stay organized/productive! :]!

  2. I was really excited to read this because I JUST bought a happy planner for 2018 during a Michaels Black Friday sale. I did a bullet journal this year, but this year I wanted a planner that already had layouts but that I could still be creative with. I think this one will work now and you can’t beat the price! I love how your layouts look–thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Love it! I’m a teacher and have been using planner stickers for my lesson planbook. It makes me smile throughout my day. It’s the little things!

  4. I recently bought a planner do just this with! I just need to find the time to get it started. Plus I got another one for addresses, birthday/ anniversary dates and gift lists. I am hoping once I get them going this will help me get more organized.

  5. Thanks for this. I’m been trying to think about a planner for next year. Right now I use a really basic one I have created myself but am looking at something different. The Happy Planner is on my short list. 🙂

  6. Great post! I have a Happy Planner and I LOVE it. One way to get extras for cheap is to keep an eye out for Michael’s deals and coupons – they have them all the time. I got a box of holiday themed Washi tape there for only $10 and it’ll last me for awhile if I only use it for planning, so it’s great! 🙂


  7. I need to get better at utilizing a planner. This one looks great and you gave so many amazing tips here. I’m currently reading Grace Not Perfection and her planners are great but a bit on the expensive side. That picture of you is so pretty too. Beautifully Candid

  8. Love this!! I go in phases when it comes to my planner, but it is always there. And I need more detail on washi tape. I have always wondered what it’s used for. I am so not creative!

    1. I was the same way about washi! So, people use it to add color to planners–it’s especially nice because it saves on stickers. On my layout, the glittery border and colored polka dots are washi. I love the tip from the video in this post about using a credit card to tear washi. It’s so much easier than using scissors would be! 🙂

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