“Personal” is right in the name— planners are all about what works for you
Getting started with personal planning, whether it’s in a traditional personal planner or a bullet journal (a.k.a. BuJo), can seem intimidating. The important thing to remember is that a personal planner is a tool. It’s there to help you— the aesthetics are just the incredibly fun icing on the cake.
Instead of focusing on creating a visual masterpiece, start by learning how to make your planner work for you. Once you have a good foundation, you can personalize and decorate to create a beautiful planner that’s unique just like you.
In this article, we’ll be exploring how to get started using a personal planner with 5 easy tips anyone can do.
Explore more resources to get the most out of your planner or BuJo:
7 Expert Planner Ideas to Help You Be More Productive at Work
Bullet Journal Ideas and Supplies to Instantly Boost Your BuJo
The Art of Personal Organization: How to Decorate Your Planner
1) Make a list of what you hope to achieve with your planner
Knowing what you want to achieve will help inform many of the decisions you make when setting up your first personal planner. From basics like what kind of planner you’ll need to picking out planner stickers.
Here’s a list of common goals to help you get started:
- Managing a complex schedule
- Academic planning for students
- Academic planning for teachers
- Establishing new healthy habits
- Improving time management
- Documenting experiences
- Being more productive
- Budgeting and reaching finance goals
- Managing feelings of stress
- Wedding planning
2) Decide when you want to start using your planner
The beginning of the calendar year is a popular time to start using a planner, but you’re not required to begin in January. For many getting into planning, it feels like you only have this 1-2 month window from December to January or you’ve missed it— but that’s just not true!
While most traditional planners tend to go from January to December, some personalized options, such as Plum Paper planners, can start at any month. Bullet journals are another fantastic option. They offer ultimate flexibility and can be started any time you like.
January is not the start of everyone’s journey and that’s okay. If your goal is academic planning, start in August to help you better prepare for the school year. Planning a wedding? Start your wedding planner a year before your wedding date.
3) Explore traditional planners vs. a bullet journal format
What type of personal planner you choose will depend on your needs, your planning style and your personality.
For example, if your primary goal is keeping track of a schedule, then a traditional planner with monthly calendars is probably the best type of planner for you. A monthly calendar with large boxes for each day gives you room to fill in classes, events, or family appointments.
If the idea of too much structure makes you feel overwhelmed, or you need room to write or draw out ideas, then a bullet journal is probably the way to go. Bullet journals are also great for balancing business and community if you have a small business “side hustle,” such as an Etsy shop or social club.
4) Invest in core planner accessories and fun planner stickers
Planner accessories are so fun to use. Yet when you’re just starting out with a planner or bullet journal it can be hard to know where to go or what to buy.
The easiest thing to do is invest in a starter kit (like our planner accessories box) that has everything you need to start planning. It’s basically a one-stop shop for a variety of essential planner accessories.
Our planner accessories box includes ultra-fine markers, tabs, a pencil pouch, adhesive pockets, and tons of cute planner stickers. If you’re shopping for planner supplies on your own, here’s what you need to know:
- Beware of puffy stickers! A lot of stickers at craft stores are “puffy” or raised. You’ll need flat planner stickers or labels so that your planner pages lay flat.
- Go for markers with a fine point. Wide tip markers have their place, but planner pages have limited space. Ultra-fine point markers make it easier to write in smaller spaces.
- When in doubt, tab it. Index tabs are so useful for organizing and flagging important info in your planner or bullet journal. Repositionable tabs (like our Ultra Tabs®) make it easy to index your planner and change it up as needed.
5) Decorate your planner, start filling it in and create a routine
Part of setting up your planner is decorating it. If you enjoy using and looking at your planner, you’re more likely to want to interact with it every day. Our Pinterest board for planners, notebooks and journals is a great place to get inspiration and ideas for decorating your planner or bullet journal.
If you’re using a bullet journal, set up your index, future log, monthly log, and daily log pages using tabs to easily navigate each section. If you’re still learning about the different sections of a bullet journal, check out this helpful article where we break them down.
Use planner stickers to quickly fill in recurring appointments, holidays, and birthdays in your planner. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your planner starts to feel more personal when you just get the basics on there.
Lastly, create a routine for yourself. Set aside 15-20 minutes at the top of the week to fill in upcoming items and 5-10 minutes each day to review your daily agenda. Pick a time that works for you and set an alarm on your phone if you need a reminder.
Get started with your planner now— it’s your time to shine
Getting started with planning can seem intimidating. If you focus on how your planner can help you be your best, it’s much easier to get started.
Make a list of what you want to get out of your planner, then decide when you want to start using it. January is great, but if it comes and goes, it’s no big deal. You can start using your planner whenever you want to. Remember, this is all about what you need.
Explore how traditional planners and bullet journals can be used differently. Don’t worry about forcing your preferences and personality into a specific format, pick a format that’s the right fit for you.
Stock up on essential planner accessories and fun planner stickers. Flat planner stickers, ultra-fine markers, and repositionable tabs are must-haves. If you’re overwhelmed by too much shopping, get an accessories box that includes everything you need all in one place.
Decorate your planner or bullet journal so that you’ll be excited to use it. Use planner stickers to quickly start filling in your planner and create a daily routine. Set aside 15-20 minutes at the top of the week and 5-10 minutes daily that are just for you and your planner.
Do you still have questions about getting into planning? Ask us in the comments and we’ll do our best to help you out.