I’ve tried various printable planners over the years, and created quite a few from scratch myself. This year, I’m finally truly satisfied with how my planner is laid out and what it contains. I’m using the Busy Life Planner system, which is the culmination of those previous years of planner building. Come take a peek inside…
Here’s how I use my planner…and how I keep it really simple.
First up, I have to say that I am not a washi-tape and sticker kind of girl. While I like keeping organised, I don’t like spending lots of time doing it. So I keep my planner simple and functional. I love to look at all those gorgeous pictures of planners that are more like works of art…but that’s not the way I choose to use mine.
Mug by FlamingoHQ. Cute, hey?
Cover, Binding and Dividers
I have recently become a convert to the disc binding system, which allows you to pull pages in and out (I explain more about disc binding here). I absolutely love it! It allows me to carry just a few months’ weekly pages around at a time, which means my planner is light enough to take in my bag.
I created my planner cover by printing out one of the cover designs included in the Busy Life Planner system. I printed it on card, mounted it on another piece of colored card, then laminated the two together. This has made it nice and strong, and I can easily change to another cover if I get tired of this one.
I have a pretty elastic loop made by StudioFourteen40, which holds my planner together. It’s a very nifty loop, because it has a little spot to hold my pen.
I have a few dividers in my planner, to section off the calendar pages, weekly pages, and note pages. I don’t bother using a divider for every month, as I find that too cluttered. I just use colorful store-bought dividers, re-punched to suit the disc binding system. I am planning on making some pretty card dividers, but I haven’t got there yet.
My first planner section includes a yearly calendar, followed by the monthly calendars. I’m a kid’s party planner, so I record all of my party bookings here. It means that I can check my availability and the spread of my work load really quickly, without having to wade through the weekly pages. Because I tend to only carry around a few months’ weekly pages at a time, I also record appointments beyond those months on this calendar page. Then when I insert the next lot of weekly pages, I transfer those appointments over.
I’ve highlighted school holidays and public holidays on these calendar pages. It would have been nice if I’d used a ruler to make straight lines!
My Nifty Bookmark
I use a laminated bookmark to find the current week’s pages. I made this by laminating a strip of paper and then hole punching it to fit the disc binding. I stapled a loop of ribbon to the top to make a sticking-out tab. Now, if I hadn’t been in a hurry, I would have glued it so I didn’t have staples showing through!
Weekly Planner Section
I choose to use the Busy Life Planner system, because I love how it allows me to see absolutely everything I need to know at one glance. It includes multiple layout options, plus editable headers, so I can customize it to be exactly as I like. And because I use disc binding, which allows me to easily insert new pages, I can change the layout whenever I like. One of the reasons I only print out a few months’ pages at a time is so that I can alter my layout if I feel like it.
The Busy Life Planner has appointments on the left pages, and ‘journal’ pages on the right – which are basically a series of boxes that you can use however you want. I use a vertical layout for my appointments pages, because I find that vertical gives me the most space to write appointment addresses, and I do a lot of travelling for work.
Then I have a little section at the bottom of each day, which I use to record billable hours worked. I do some copywriting and admin jobs, so I record those hours here, and then make a little note when I’ve created the corresponding invoice. I really like that I can easily flick back through my planner to see what I worked on when. It’s great in case any clients query my invoiced hours.
On my right pages, I have the following headers:
- Must do
- To do
I tend to think up a hundred projects and to-do’s all the time, and I don’t want to lose those ideas. But I am bad at prioritizing, and then get overwhelmed by too long a list. So I’ve started breaking out my ‘must-do’ priority items, and it has really helped me get the important stuff done.
In the exercise section, I jot down what I’ve done that day. One of my current goals is to exercise each day, and I find having a place in my planner to record it is really helping me stay motivated. I picture that blank spot just waiting for me to write my exercise down, and it’s enough to get me moving.
Finally, I have a notes section, because I have always found myself jotting random stuff in the margins of my diary. This way, there’s a place for calculations, phone numbers, records of conversations and research on where to buy new carpet, etc.
I actually just decided to alter my layout, to include a ‘100 day goal’ section. I’ve found that I am no good at sticking to yearly goals, but 100 day goals really work for me. So in this section, I record a little action that I have done each day to work towards my 100 day goal. Just like exercise, I think this will really help motivate me…and I can look back on it and see how much I actually got done. Yay me!
The final sections in my planner are my blank note pages. I know a lot of people have other sections in their planners, for goals, habit tracking, to do lists, etc. But all of that is already incorporated into my weekly layout, so I don’t need anything more.
I have two note sections:
- Booking enquiries
- Random notes
I like to make a note of my booking enquiries in my planner, rather than in a separate notebook, so that I always have those details with me. Then it’s easy to discuss dates and record bookings directly into my calendar without having to look across multiple notebooks.
I have also done away with carrying around extra notebooks to workshops, networking meetings, etc. Instead, I keep extra note pages in my planner, record everything while I’m on the go, and then transfer those pages to a big binder when I’m back home, and refill my planner with new pages. I always have new ideas popping into my head, so I love to be able to jot things down on the spot, and then be able to organize it into a logical filing system later.
This printable shopping list is available to download
I use this envelope to store business cards, flyers, my shopping list. I made my envelope by purchasing a plastic envelope and then hole punching it down one side. I trimmed the envelope down to fit, and then taped the outer side closed.
So there you have it…how I use my planner and keep it really simple. No indexing, no color coding, no flipping between sections, because I really don’t have a desire to put any more work into planning my week than I already do. And the flexible layout of the weekly pages means I really don’t have to do any of those things any more. Simple!
The Busy Life Planner system is a bundle of printable planner pages that includes multiple layouts, sizes and editable headers, so you can create the planner that’s perfectly you. Find out more.