How I Use My Planner + Favorite Supplies

A little before Christmas last year, I got sucked into the planner world on Instagram and decided that a customizable ring binder planner was perfect for me. I had tried to create my own planner in the past, but designing calendars and sourcing materials was difficult. I often had to settle for less than perfect solutions. Needless to say, those planners didn't last long.

While I wanted a Filofax, I couldn't bring myself to spend that much on a planner, even as a paper planner lover. I knew that I would use it for multiple years and could customize however I wanted, but I couldn't justify that expense. Then I stumbled upon Kikki.k planners. They are also ring binder planners with a similar clean aesthetic, but a bit cheaper. I held off on buying one, just incessantly talking about planners to Courtney. My 'patience' paid off and the A5 size I was interested in went on sale about a week later. Even though I had a practical (and still good) Mead planner from Target, I couldn't resist for any longer. A little over $50 later, a gold A5 sized ring planner was on its way to me. I had it shipped to California so that I could play with it when it arrived (I went home for Christmas). Since it was coming from Australia, I had a bit of a wait.

Finally, it arrived and I was planner obsessed for the next couple of days. I printed out inserts and went to Michael's and purchased grey glitter cardstock to make dividers. I used silver glitter stickers to label the dividers. I settled on the following sections: calendar, planner, blog, fitness, and misc. I also made bookmarks for the calendar and planner sections from 8.5 x 5.5 inch plastic dividers from a failed DIY planner. Essentially I chopped off the holes, then cut the entire thing in half, repunched 6 holes on the side without the tab, and taped the leftover (and cut down) tab to the top. A tiny bit hack-ish but it works!

The calendar section is filled with month on 2 pages monthly spreads. I used the blank ones that came with the planner because they were ready to go and simple enough that they could be made to fit my needs. When I say they were blank, I really mean it. I have to fill in the month/year/dates for each month, which kind of bothered me at first. I understand why they are blank and after thinking about it a bit, I do appreciate that. I know that if I want to switch to a different calendar layout or style, these will still be useful in the future (I fill them out as I go). 

At the beginning of the quarter I added all my assignments and work schedule to the monthly spreads. I chose a loose color palette or theme for each month and used coordinating page flags and post-its. I wanted to keep assignments moveable as due dates can change.

I also keep my monthly goals in this section. I typically write them out on a post-it or other decorative paper and stick it to the bookmark, either with washi tape or a decorated paper clip.

The planner section is filled with week on 2 pages inserts. They were a free printable, available here. Figuring out how to print them was tricky at first, but I used my mom's laser printer (when I was home) and printed them 'booklet style'. I printed them on letter sized paper and then cut them in half. That means these inserts are slightly smaller than true A5. So my planner pages are a bit smaller than the calendar pages, but since they are in completely different sections separated by dividers, you can't tell so it doesn't bother me.

Since I am a student, I knew I would need significant room to include tasks, assignments, meetings, work, and running. I also knew I wanted something simple that would be a clean slate each week as I knew I wanted to add decorations myself.

3 // BLOG
Knowing I like to keep a blog, I added a blog section to my planner. It didn't need to be fancy since I'm not dealing with affiliate links, sponsors, giveaways, etc. I settled on a free printable blog calendar, available here. Again I printed 2 per each page (letter sized) and cut in half. It works well for me because I write small, but there is a lot of wasted place on the top/bottom and sides of the page. Plus, the calendar only includes Monday through Friday, so in the future I will probably use a calendar that includes the weekend. Maybe, this one.

When I decided on my sections I was trying to get back into running, so I included a 'fitness' section. I was hoping to include a running schedule as well as a strength training schedule. I used a free calendar printable, again printed on letter paper and then cut in half. I write down my runs each month, crossing them off as I complete them. At the end of each week I calculate my mileage and then again for each month. It helps me see my overall training plan as opposed to by week in my planner section. As of now, I haven't added or followed a weight training schedule. I plan to do so soon, so I'm not sure how to add that in. It would be nice to have my whole workout in one calendar, but I don't think my running calendar is big enough to include runs and strength training.

5 // MISC.
The 'misc.' section includes notes and other information I want to keep on hand. Lists, my measurements for clothes, etc are all included here. There is also some lined paper that came with the planner. Technically in this section, is a page protector type thing divided into 4 sections with page flags.

One of my favorite parts of this type of planner is decorating it. My dashboard, the first divider (calendar section), is a place to keep bits and bobs. I use cards, gift tags, project life cards, and quotes to decorate. Because I like to be able to change things out easily, I typically use paper clips to affix things. It's fun to turn them into little paper clip flags by adding washi tape. Because there are lots of decorations, I added another clear divider on top to keep everything in place.

I'm not into decorating the inside pockets as much, but I do sometimes stick in pretty cards. In the big pocket I keep a couple of sheets from my favorite paper pads. I like to make lists of general things I need to do and then slip them into my weekly spreads. Depending on the size of the paper I washi tape them to my book mark or just stick them between the pages. At the end of the week, I just washi tape them to the pages.

Because I'm such a paper lover and the love of office supplies runs in my family (no joke!), I had a stash of post-its, stickers, and other goodies that could be used to decorate my planner. Now I also save cute cards, gift tags, and pretty bits of paper to use in my planner.

The Target DollarSpot is one of my favorite places to get planner supplies. Some of the popular items are hard to find, but some of the fun is the hunt. Their page flags are cute and especially useful for adding assignment due dates and events to my planner that might change.  A couple months ago I asked my mom to check her local Target for some goodies I wanted, so now every so often she'll send me the things she's found. That's always a nice surprise!

At first I was using Staedtler Tri-Liner Plus 0.3 pens, but the tips blunted quickly and they bled through the thin paper. They are still great pens and I use them for underlining and adding color, but they just don't work as an everyday pen. Then I switched to 0.3 Microns, then 0.2 Microns. They were okay, but I'm not a huge fan of the felt tip. Finally I found 0.38 Muji gel pens and they are my favorite by far. They have a nice pointy metal tip and create a nice smooth line. I use them everywhere in my planner.

Courtney's uncle hooks Courtney up with lots of Staples Rewards and since she shares with me, I get a lot of planner supplies from Staples. They carry Scotch washi tape, which makes up the majority of my collection, so I always check for new patterns.

I try not to buy too many extras for my planner because I truly don't need them and it forces me to be creative with what I have. I do love when my mom sends me things though!

Every Sunday I sit down and decorate my weekly spread. Some weeks are more elaborate than others. I add in all the tasks and events I have planned so I know exactly what I have to do and what my week will look like. This helps me avoid any surprises or leaving assignments to the last minute. I don't write every little thing in my planner because I remember my day to day activities.

At the top of my planner inserts, I add my running schedule for the week so I can truly see everything I have to do. 

I don't carry my planner around with me when I'm out and about, but I will occasionally take it to class with me. Mostly it's to keep me organized at home and on top of my homework, which I usually do at home.

// Lauren

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