If you're anything like me, having a system to stay on task is a necessity when you have LOTS of dreams, goals & aspirations in both your professional and personal world!! So a planner can be a pretty essential tool for keeping life organized and on track. However, finding the PERFECT planner that suits each of our individual needs and goals can be a challenge!!
Fortunately, there are ways that you can customize your planner to help you create a personalized planning routine that works for you. Having spent so much time creating a system that has worked for me & speaking with others to figure out what has worked for them as well, I was able to come up with a few tips on how to customize your planner to suit YOUR individual needs and goals:
Determine Your Goals
The first step to customizing your planner is to determine your goals. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, what tasks or projects you need to complete, and what deadlines you have. Are you looking to increase productivity, manage your time more effectively, or track your progress towards a specific goal? OR all of the above?! Having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish will help you tailor your planner to meet your needs.
To determine your goals, start by writing down a master list … or as I like to call it a ‘brain dump’ of everything you’re looking to achieve over the next few months in a notebook or on a piece of paper. This will help you see your goals more clearly so you can start to prioritize them. Once you have a list of goals, I like to chunk mine into categories to begin narrowing down the areas in my life in which I need to focus on most. This way, you can start thinking about how to incorporate these categories into your planner.
Choose the Right Planner
Once you've determined your goals, it's time to choose the ‘right’ planner. The good news is that there are a variety of planners available. You’ll find everything from super basic & minimal planner, to ones with highly detailed & specific layouts. There are SO many planner systems available from digital to print, but I personally enjoy putting pen to paper and being able to physically flip through the pages … plus it’s WAY easier to get super creative and customize a physical planner!!
The system that has - without a doubt - worked the best for me is through my Daily Grind Planner. Mainly because it offers tons of flexibility of a bullet journal but the structure of a goal setting planner. I also love that there’s no date restrictions & interchangeable pages so nothing goes to waste… hallelujah! Plus there are SO many different accessories to choose from to customize my Daily Grind Planner as I wish. So, you’ll want to consider what features are most important to you. So you know where to start, ask yourself the following questions … Do you prefer daily or weekly spreads? Do you need a good amount of blank space for notes? Would it be helpful to have customizable sections in your planner? Trust me, choosing a planner that meets your needs will make the customization process easier & way more fun.
Another tip on selecting a planner is to consider your lifestyle and the type of work you do, especially if some of your professional goals are at the top of your priority list. For example, if you work in a creative field, you might prefer a planner with more space for sketching or drawing. If you have a lot of meetings or appointments, you might want a planner with an hour-by-hour, detailed schedule section. Take into account what will help you schedule your days with more ease and go from there.
Add Custom Sections
Most planners come with designated sections, but having the ability to customize those sections can help you tailor your planner to your specific goals. One thing I love about my own planner is that it also has a ton of BLANK pages so I can create my own custom lists, mood trackers, habit trackers, cleaning to-do list, etc. If you're looking to increase productivity, it would probably be helpful for you to have a daily page where you can track your habits & get a little more granular with your scheduling. If you're working towards a specific goal, it might be helpful for you to have a section for tracking progress or setting mini-milestones.
Use Color Coding
Color coding is another great way to make your planner visually appealing, organized, and just plain old PRETTY! Assigning different colors to different tasks or categories, such as work, personal, or fitness, can help you quickly identify what you need to do and when. You can get creative by using colored pens, highlighters, or stickers to color code your planner.
When choosing colors, consider what you like best and what works for you. I absolutely LOVE being able to theme my planner pages based on the season, upcoming holidays, my mood, etc. I utilize my daily sticker kits along with some decorative stickers and theme my pages each day. It's SO much fun and really gets my creative juices flowing. It’s also super cathartic to incorporate creativity into my planning routine! My advice would be to get yourself a range of colors for your highlighters, pens & stickers so you have a plethora of options to choose from. Some people prefer a bright, bold color scheme, while others prefer more muted & neutral tones. You can experiment with different color combinations until you find one that best fits your style.
Personalize Your Planner Cover
Now THIS has been a game-changer over the recent months for me with my own planner. Having a discbound planner system means you can change out your planner covers & discs anytime you need a fresh look. This feature alone has opened up a whole new world of creativity and fun for my own planning routine. Usually, when you buy a planner you’re stuck with the same cover until you fill it up & need a new one. Now I can switch out and mix & match as I choose. WHAT?! Personalizing your planner cover is such a unique way to make your planner your own and reflective of your personality. If you choose, you can also use stickers, washi tape, or create a custom design using your favorite photo or artwork. A personalized cover will make your planner stand out and make it more enjoyable to use.
Use Stickers and Washi Tape
I know we’ve touched on this a bit already, but using functional & decorative stickers along with washi tape are other great ways to add personality and visual interest to your planner. You can use stickers to mark important dates or events, track progress, create a theme for each week or month, or add decorative elements based on season, holidays, special occasions … whatever you want to do. The sky's the limit! Washi tape can also be used to divide sections, create borders, or add visual interest anywhere you need it.
I also love using my ‘mantra’ stickers to incorporate inspirational quotes into my planner to help me get my mind right for the day & keep me motivated & inspired. You can add these little mantras or other custom quotes to blank pages, tab dividers, or any open space in the daily, weekly, or monthly pages. Choose quotes that resonate with you and your goals!!
Incorporate Mindfulness Practices
Incorporating mindfulness practices into your planning routine can help reduce stress and even increase your focus. You can add a section for daily gratitude or different mindfulness exercises. You can also use the blank pages in your planner as a journal to look back on your days, weeks, & months to practice the art of self-reflection.
I always recommend doing an end of the day review on what you accomplished, what you didn’t & how you can improve on the next day as well as identifying what needed to be shifted to tomorrow from the current day. You don’t have to plan your entire day the night before, but just a simple scan of how the day went & what could make it flow a little better the following day can be helpful! I find I sleep a little better having some sort of notion of what tomorrow will look like by reviewing the day that has passed & prepping my brain for the next day.
Keep It Simple
While customization is fun, it's still important to keep it simple & functional. The whole purpose of utilizing a planner is to help simplify your life, not make it more complicated or add stress! Too many customizations can feel a bit cluttered or overwhelming and make it challenging to use your planner effectively. There may be a bit of trial & error as you figure out what works for you best, but once you do choose a few customizations that work for you, stick with it!!
I have seriously fine-tuned my own planning routine through MAJOR trial & error over the years .. so I really hope that these tips & tricks to customize your own planner can be helpful for you too! Customizing your planner is a great way to make it more personalized, functional, and enjoyable to use. By determining your goals, choosing the right planner, adding custom sections, using different color coding methods, incorporating inspirational quotes, and personalizing with the use of pens, highlighters, stickers & washi tape, you can create a planner that PERFECTLY suits your individual needs and goals!! Plus, it makes it WAY more fun. Remember to not be afraid to review and adjust your planner as needed on a regular basis to ensure it continues to work for you. With a customized planner that fits YOUR individual habits & lifestyle, you'll be better equipped to stay organized, focused, and productive, and achieve those ‘DREAM BIG’ goals with greater ease.