A (Wo)man With a Plan

Over the years, I have used just about every organizing system known to man - I had my first Day Runner when I was nine.  I loved that ugly grey vinyl planner.  Let's be serious, at nine, I really didn't have that much going on, but I did write down my school assignments, my friends phone numbers and their birthdays.  Little did I know then, I was setting myself up for a recurring theme in life - I'm a #plannernerd.  In more recent years, I had at least three Palm Pilots, a few early Windows phones and the like.  Most of my planning has gone electronic - and that's works out pretty well. My work calendar is still kept in Outlook, supplemented by Todoist and Microsoft OneNote.  My home life is governed by Evernote and Google Calendar, and many of these things sync across one another.  My memory isn't what it used to be, and it doesn't have to be -  I can depend on these elaborate systems to keep me in the know, and in the right place at the right time.  

When I decided to be serious about style consulting and blogging, immediately I began to look for solutions for an editorial calendar.  Editorial calendars help keep your posting game up and keeps your thoughts and ideas organized in a way that will be conducive to publishing more, and more consistently.   I found CoSchedule, which I absolutely loved, but a) I couldn't utilize all its capabilities since my blog isn't on WordPress (been there, done that, didn't work for me.)  and b) the cost to use the most needed capabilities was prohibitive.

But Why Would You Want to Use Paper?

Every year I get a new paper planner and I use it with a modicum of regularity, but I was going through a few things on my desk and came across my old Louis Vuitton pocket sized planner.  The size is perfect for putting a few cards and cash in and tossing into my bag and it can go with me everywhere.  It seemed like the perfect solution to keeping my editorial needs/ideas in an easy to refer to place.  I'm generally go-go gadget girl, but lately, I am finding myself overwhelmed by technology (yes, says the woman with the Apple Watch) and enjoy the simple sensation of writing things down (and also better retaining them because of it.)  

Plus, I can't resist the appeal of pretty paper - see nine year old me with the ugly Day Runner.  Paper has the attraction of ease (take out pen, jot), speed (have you tried to put an appointment in your phone at the doctor's office?) and simple organization - things easily get lost in the digital void, but the tactile nature of paper makes organization a snap.

It's next to impossible to find inserts (unless you want to pay LV $80 for some paper...girl, bye.), but Kate Spade does carry pocket sized inserts and that is what I've used in the past.  You can also make your own inserts as I have. 

my current pocket size setup

my current pocket size setup

I'm often on the go, and truth be told, jotting things down with pencil and paper is way easier than thumbing it out on my iPhone.  I started searching for pocket-sized inserts and  I stumbled upon the community of planner nerds who sticker-fy and plan their lives into oblivion.  I need a bit more spontaneity in my life rather than to plan every single moment, but for me, an organized life is a happy life and I suffer greatly without it.  

While I came across tons of great resources, it still didn't get me what I needed (most agendas are in the A5 or larger size).  However, I got tons of great ideas on how to set up my planner the way I need it to work for my lifestyle and make it look great.  I designed exactly what I wanted and made my planner a reflection of who I am, what I do, and also a practical tool for getting things done.  The pocket size is a smidge small for my tastes and I can see myself moving into a personal size (by the time I finished this post I actually cobbled together a personal size using the rings from my old 1990s DayRunner and a zippered notebook cover), but it is currently taking care of my needs with a few tricks.

Need inserts for your pocket-sized or personal agenda?  You can pop over to the Shop page and grab digital downloads (PDF) of my today pages and trifold monthly calendar sheets.  

Planner Goodies

Planners can be straightforward and used to take care of the essentials - calendars, to-do lists, and notes sections are perfect examples, but there's a ton of other pages/inserts that you might find helpful.  Calendars have a lot of flexibility including daily, weekly, monthly and yearly styles.  Personally, I use a monthly style for quick appointments, a weekly to plan out what's going on in life for the week and a daily style to take care of my day to day tasks.  Since I design my own dailies, I cover my spiritual needs (daily intention, daily gratitude), physical needs (food, exercise, water, clothing), and my work/task needs (to-dos, reminders, blog ideas, to buy, chores).   You can easily adapt a daily list to your needs or buy/download any number of templates for your use.   A great resource is Philofaxy - you can download tons of customizable inserts there.

People seem to deviate into three basic camps when it comes to planners: traveler's notebooks- a journal cover with elastics that hold several small notebooks, popularized by Midori; Happy Planner/Erin Condren spiral-bound life planners, and ring-bound planners like Filofax and FranklinCovey.   Each has its own advantages, depending on your needs.  Midori (or fauxdori) is great if you retain everything and want a portable, shorter, wider stack, the Happy Planner or Erin Condren is perfect for a desk planner that's not going to move much, and the personal sized Filofax/Kate Spade/FranklinCovey compact is perfect for those who like to change inserts and want something between a pocket-size and desk planner.  If you are stressing over sizes, Sarcasm and Sweet Tea has you covered.  


This is most important for ring-bound planners.  Most spiral bound planners already have the inserts built in and you can buy travelers' notebooks that are dedicated to planning to put in your Midori.  The most basic inserts you want in your planner are calendar inserts. There's a lot to choose from: yearly, monthly, weekly (on two pages or not), and daily.  I use a combo of monthly on two pages or monthly on one folding sheet, a weekly on two pages, and a double-sided customized daily.   Again, check out my shop for personal and pocket-sized dailies or if you need something more generic, Philofaxy or Etsy both have you covered.  You can also hop on over to your local office supply shop and see what they have or make your own from scratch.


Inserts can range from the basic to the obsessive - there's a world of choice out there that includes check registers, password logs, fitness trackers, tv show trackers and more.  I think a calendar, a to-do list, and notes pages mostly have you covered, but maybe there's some special things you'd like to track that deserve their own pages - for instance, I keep a wine list with the wine, the vintage, and space for a few notes about it, a book log to keep track of books I'd like to read, and a section specifically for this blog.  The sky is the limit, but it's best to keep only what you are going to actually keep track of.  

Other inserts include dashboards, which are mostly decorative inserts to protect the paper in the rest of your planner, and a variety of pockets and holders to store your crap.  Personally, I use the front of my dashboard to hold pads of sticky notes and the back to store my personal information in the event that my planner is lost.  I have a credit card holder that I keep business cards in and a small zipper pocket to hold stamps, cards of washi tape, and a few clips.  I also keep a few small coin envelopes to hold odds and sods like stray stickers.

Stickers and Fun Stuff

This is where things really get crazy (and kind of fun).  There are four basic decoration resources for planners:  washi tape, stickers, die-cuts and these things called Project Life cards which feature inspirational sayings on small, colorful cards.  Truth be told, you can use anything to customize your planner and its pages.  I like to cut the inspirational messages from my Yogi Peach Detox tea and save those.  There are tons of resources on Etsy and beyond for planner stickers.  I like to use a few stickers to denote appointments and stuff on my calendar, but planners like the Happy Planner are all about stickers.  You can create elaborate layouts on which to plan your days with just stickers.  Since I design my dailies and they are printed with decorations, I focus more on the functional aspects of planning, but I do like to use washi tape to reinforce my paper and add a little pizzazz.  

Washi on cards and stickers.

Washi on cards and stickers.

Dailies in action on my personal setup.

Dailies in action on my personal setup.

Tips and Tricks

The number one thing is to use it. Make it a part of your daily ritual.   I have come to enjoy spending time in my planner.  In many ways it connects me to how I spend my time, which in itself is invaluable.  I enjoy the decorative aspects of it as well, punctuating my days with stickers and doodling in my appointments.  It also helps to keep me focused by pull all the disparate sections of my life into one common place. Digital life is inherently decentralized and I like that my planner is my home base.

You don't have to go overboard with buying lots of inserts and stuff to get your planner started.  Use what you have around you and build on that.  Incorporate your creative side by designing your own dashboards and reuse common materials like window envelopes from junk mail or pages out of a magazine to make a collage.   You can make your own dividers out of manila envelopes or other heavy cardstock.  Use your imagination.

Only include what you will use.  I've seen some pretty chunky planners out there, full of multiple dashboards .  The planners are pretty but not conducive to staying organized.  The beauty of the planner is that you can switch out items at any time and change the look to your heart's delight.  

Recycle.  You can make your own cute planner clips by tying grosgrain ribbon from a gift around a jumbo paper clip.  Voila!  Envelopes can be made from sheets of paper.

Color Code. Washi is great for this - create visual cues by color coding tasks or things to do.  And speaking of washi, instead of carrying around tons of rolls of tape, wrap some onto an old gift card or hotel card to make it transportable. 

If you're really committed, Invest in a paper cutter and a hole punch.  



There are zillions of planner resources available online.  Who thought such a Luddite-leaning activity would have a dedicated digital following.  


Planner Love - Franklin Covey

Planner stickers and fun

KateBeee Designs - I love Salty Sadie
Love, Charmaine
Paper Source
Washi Gang


Cori, the Reset Girl
The Rach Mark
Kate Beee Designs
Alexis aka MIssTrenchCoat


Annie Plans


Jet Pens
Pilot Coleto pens
Ban.do pens