I have always had the best intentions with planners. However, they always end up in what I call, the box of good intentions. Planners can be fantastic tools to keep us organized and to be able to access what we need quick. The problem is that a lot of them are one size fits all. Let’s face it, we all have different things to track and my day will run differently than yours. Also, from month to month it can change as far as what I want to track. And then there’s the cost of some of them. I try to be frugal and smart with our money. Some are a bit much to spend on one planner that I am going to have to buy new pages for every year since they are pre-dated for the current year.
Plus, there are always little things we like in planners and that we prefer. It drives me nuts when I get a planner and it only has 4 weekly spreads for a month. Several months go into the 5th week, and I don’t like throwing the end of one month into the next. One of those many quirks of mine! And even something so little can make me give up on the planner. And, am I the only one who has bought planner stickers only to have them fall off the pages in a day or two? Ugh, that’s annoying!
Ooh, maybe a bullet journal will do the trick!
Bullet journals are perfect for being able to make your planner the way you want to. In fact, they are one way of doing a DIY planner. However, I only stuck with that for a few months. I ran into two hurdles with a bullet journal. My lack of ability to draw and make it pretty like I wanted, and most of all, TIME! While trying to juggle my jobs of Domestic Engineer and being a #BossBabe with the Etsy store and my blog, time is not on my side. Afterall, I still want to be able to enjoy time with family and friends.
And there’s this Little Man who keeps insisting on being fed and loves to spend time with me. And let’s not forget about the 20-year-old who is on her own for the first time about 1200 miles away. I get a lot of phone calls where she just wants to talk about random stuff. And that conversation can easily go on for an hour. I think someone might miss her mommy a little bit? The amount of time it took me to set up the next few weeks layouts was just too much. I have a small moving box with the different planners and bullet journal notebooks I’ve bought over the years. They are only filled out and used for a few months. The box of good intentions.
However, without a planner, I take Hot Mess Mama to a whole new level. There really is about 20 tabs open at a time in my brain. I’m good at starting one task, such as picking up in a room and then easily get distracted by something else I see that needs to get done and do it. Then I forget about finishing what I was picking up. Forgetting laundry in the washer or dryer? So many times! I needed a solution that would work for me. Especially since my tracking and planning needs can easily change month to month.
So What’s a Hot Mess Mama To Do?
The solution I came up with is a DIY planner and stickers! A printable Bullet Journal. I can add what pages I want for the month and change the weekly spread up anytime I want. I always add in weekly brain dump pages and then “close the tabs” in my brain every Sunday evening to prepare for the week ahead. Without that page, I would forget to do half the stuff I need to the following week! Time blocking has also been a HUGE help in my planner. I set specific times each day that I do certain roles, put on that hat and get it done. There is also a few different goal tracker pages I designed so I can switch those up from month to month for a little variety.
I also prefer my planners to be letter size. Sometimes my handwriting just isn’t small enough for the smaller planners, or I have too much that I want to fit on one page. I loved the doodling and coloring aspect of the bullet journal but can’t draw to save my life. How did I get around that? Doodle images put on the pages that I can color in! No drawing skills required! A search on Pinterest will pull up a lot of great bloggers who have made stickers. Quite a few offer them for free when you visit their blogs. One more way to make your planner more customized.
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How To Set up A DIY Planner!
First things first, you will need to decide how you want your planner bound so to speak. A 3-ring binder works great. I love my Arc punch for my planners and Amazon has tons of discs you can choose from in different colors. They don’t have to be the Arc brand, they can be circa or if you have a happy planner in your “box of good intentions” snag those discs off there. I treated myself to these rose gold discs.
Next, you will have to decide if you want everything in one big binder or separate ones. I have one for my blog, my health/fitness tracker, and one with my standard monthly/weekly planner with my homemaker’s section and financial section. There’s also my BUJO style pages, like Books I want to read, movies I want to watch, anniversaries and birthdays page, and so on. Making a DIY planner means that you can set it up however you want to! Add/remove or relocate pages whenever you want to!
Now go find your printable planner pages!
There are lots of resources on Pinterest for DIY planner printables, some free and some very reasonably priced. Etsy also has a lot of shops that sell them. It should be easy peasy to find ones you like. If you want to, check out my free printables page to see if they will work for you. All of my monthly spread pages are not dated so they will work year after year! There may be some months where you would rather have a vertical monthly layout than a horizontal one. Mix it up! It’s not unusual for me to change up my months every now and then. I also have different divider page designs, which is why I love the idea of a DIY planner. If I want to change a section cover page, I can easily print up a new one, laminate and punch it and replace the old one.
For my DIY planner cover, back page and section dividers I laminated them. We have used our laminator for so many things the past year. I even laminated Little Man’s Commission Chore Chart so that I wouldn’t have to print a new one every week. You can also take file folders with pretty designs on them, cut them at the fold and use the back half with the tabs for dividers.
Now grab stickers and writing/coloring tools and make it your own!
For planner stickers, you can use special sticker paper or full sheet labels. You can print them up and cut them out with scissors as you want to use them. I have started using the print & cut feature on my Cricut for the stickers, and I love it. They come out like a regular sheet of stickers that are pre-cut for you!
Now go and set that DIY planner up! Put your goal sheets in there and whatever habit trackers you want. Sometimes I use the pages that already have them on there. Other times I use sticker trackers on the weekly spreads. That’s the beauty of a DIY planner. It will have everything you want and nothing that you don’t, with the ability to change it up at any time!
What are some of your favorites pages for planners? Have you had the same luck with a lot of the planners out there that I have?