How to Set Up a Planner: the Method to My Madness

Is your home filled with sticky notes and random scraps of paper? Are annoying little thoughts of things you have to get done constantly floating around in your head? Do you ever wonder, “how the junk am I going to get all this done?” Then you *dramatic pause* need a planner. My planner is where I schedule out all the tasks I need to get done, so I don’t have to worry whether I WILL  get them done. It’s where I write things down that I want to get out of my head. It’s where I plan out all the fun stuff I want to do, so I can see them and get excited. It’s where I map out all my dreams and goals and top secret non-evil plans. It’s my personal therapy for my jumbled up and noodle headed mind, and if I didn’t have one I would be way crazier than I already am, which is saying a lot.


Before we get into discussing the actual method to my madness, I am going to tell you what I believe are the essential materials you will need to set up your planner listed below.

How to Set Up a Planner: The Method to My Madness


Ok, first things first, you need to choose a planner that perfectly represents you. For me, I chose a bright pink A5 Filofax planner that came with timed weekly planner pages. Usually something like the Filofax would be WAY more than I am willing to spend on things, but 1. I really love planning, 2. I chose one of the cheaper options available, and 3. it was a Christmas present, so I didn’t buy it. I would personally recommend some sort of binder type planner, because you can add and remove pages to customize it to fit you, you can keep useful things inside of it, and they are just way more awesome. If you would prefer the traditional bound planner, then why are you reading this? Stop reading this. If you’re actually cool and want an awesome planner, then continue on.

Planner paper


In addition to your dated planner pages you will want some cute paper to plan out all your dreams, and plans, and weird stuff you don’t want anyone to know about. I personally prefer bright and colorful paper for mine, which I bought from the Etsy shop Kiddy Qualia for my Filofax planner, but I’m sure you can find plenty of other options on Etsy or Office Depot, etc.


Every good planner has to have dividers, and I’m not talking about monthly dividers. My planner is basically my brain in paper form. How would I ever find anything if I didn’t divide it out into sections! Luckily my planner came with dividers, but if yours doesn’t have any, then look some up on Etsy. They have plenty of cute options. You could also research some do it yourself tutorials on Pinterest if you’re more of a crafty chick.


Of course you must keep your absolute favorite pens in there. Mine is called Le Pen. It’s similar to a Sharpie pen, and doesn’t bleed through the paper, plus it’s adorable. I keep several colorful options at all times. When I’m writing out my schedule I use a different color for different things, such as blogging, my job, church, personal, etc.

Zippered Pouch


I have to have a pouch in order to store my different pens, stickers, sticky notes, stamps, and cute little things I like to look at. You can find one on Amazon to fit whatever planner you choose. Beware of packing it too full of stuff though, because it can make your planner way too bulky and a little annoying.

Setting Up a Planner: the Method to My Madness


As mentioned above I like to keep stickers in my planner to decorate my pages when I’m feeling it. I usually purchase all of mine from the Dollar Tree, but I seriously love the printable ones from this blog. I’m just a little too lazy to cut them out myself. I also keep a large stock of Washi tape for decorating or for blocking out time in my schedule for things I have planned. You can purchase Washi tape from Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Target, the Dollar Tree, lots of places. Other things you can keep in your planner include, cute sticky notes, cool shaped paper clips, coupons, pictures, meaningful cards or letters, whatever you feel!


Now, on to the set up. It took me months and months to finally get my planner how I wanted it. I designed a lot of the stuff myself, because I couldn’t find anything that exactly fit my needs. I divided it out into five sections, which you can read about below (side note: if you already have a planner I would love to hear what sections you keep in yours). CAUTION! You are about to step inside my brain. Make sure you keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, and enjoy the ride.

2016 Collage


Every good planner needs to have an adorable cover page. Of course in the front of mine I keep a picture collage of what I want my year to look like. Behind that I have a list of my goals and vision for the year, as well as written goal plans for each goal. If you want to learn more about these sorts of things, then read my post on the Ultimate Guide to Planning the Most Awesome Year Ever.

Planner pages


The first section of my planner is for scheduling. Basically the most important part of any planner. I designed my own planner pages and calendar, because 1. I couldn’t find any for sale that were exactly what I wanted, and 2. the only ones that came close weren’t cute at all. I like having a week laid out on two pages, so I can see everything I have planned at once for the week. I also must absolutely have a timed planner, because ever since I was a small child I have obsessively planned out my day hour by hour. It’s a soothing therapy for me, especially when I’m stressed, and have a buttload of stuff to do, or if I just want to have a really awesome day, and I don’t want to sit around thinking, “hmm, what should I do today?” It also features a personal and work to-do list section, a place to write out what we are having for dinner that night, and a section to write out what I’m grateful for each week, because I really need to work on that. They are pretty much the perfect planner pages for me, because they just have everything right there. No more fumbling around to find this or that. Also, some sort of page marker is a must to find what week you are in easily. Luckily mine came with a cute removable ruler from Filofax. I actually use it to measure things more than I thought I would.

Monthly calendar

I keep a monthly calendar at the front of this section, which I didn’t have last year. I realized I needed one, because it’s a lot easier to look at my schedule quickly to make sure things aren’t conflicting, and see what awesome events are coming up, like meteor showers. I also included a section to write out my goals for that month.

Daily schedule

The final thing I keep in this section is a printout of a stock daily schedule that I drafted to keep me on track. I like routine, with random (well thought out and extensively researched) adventures thrown in, and having this in there really helps me out when my mind is spaghetti, and all I can think to do is curl into a ball and binge watch Netflix.

To Do List with Hearts To Do List Planner


The next section in my planner is for all my lists. I keep a list of wardrobe pieces I want, things I need to buy, things I need to do around the house, design plans for a room in my house, my passwords, etc. I got the adorable to-do list with heart shaped bullet points pictured above from Kiddy Qualia on Etsy. I also keep a bunch of my spaghetti head lists in this section for when I’m stressed out. If you want to know what spaghetti head lists are then read my post on the Cure for Chronic Spaghetti Head. I make TONS of lists for everything. Before I had a planner I used to just have random pieces of paper with lists scattered all throughout my house. Having them organized into a planner is so much better.

Fun list ideas

I also like to keep a fun list in this section for quick reference when I’m looking for something to do. It includes a list of things to do instead of watching TV on the front, and a list of restaurants, and things to do in different cities on the back.

Produce season schedule


My next section is for meal planning. I keep a list of what produce is in season, and a list of the dirty dozen and clean fifteen, so I know when the best time to buy produce is, and what I should be buying organic.

I have a list of menu ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for quick reference when I am planning out my meals for the month, as well as a meal schedule I planned out to make it easier and quicker to plan my meals (i.e. pasta on Mondays, pizza on Wednesdays, international foods on Thursdays, soup on Sundays, etc.)

Menu planner
I also made these cute menus pictured above for meal planning, which I like to keep a stack of so I can plan out all my meals for the month. I heart them so much. They make my life so much simpler. It has a week on one page, and a section for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can make your own, or look up some cute ones on Pinterest.

Bucket list


The next section is where I map out my goals and aspirations. I keep a list and drawings of my ideal life, my bucket list, a map with all the places I want to travel and have traveled marked, house plans, etc. It’s pretty much just my fun life dreaming sparkly section. This section is also top secret, so that’s all I’m really going to say about it.


My last section is a work in progress. It’s basically for anything blog related. I keep a pretty mission statement for my blog at the front, I have a list of blog post ideas, and I have a daily blog checklist to keep me on top of my game. I would love more suggestions of what to keep in here from all you blogging and planner gurus.

So, what are some weird and wonderful things you like to keep in your planner?