The best things in life are the ones you can make

Create the perfect planner setup just for you

I have always been the kind of a person who loves to plan out every moment of my life in great detail. Whether or not I actually stick to that plan is a whole different story, but having a plan and knowing what I'm supposed to do and when gives me some peace of mind. Without an agenda, I would forget absolutely everything, constantly double book myself and never get anything done on time.

In my life time I have tried just about every type of planner out there. I'm very picky with them, since I want my planner to be both functional (it has to have everything I need, but nothing more) and I want it to look pretty. In my experience most pre-made planners either A) Are hideously ugly, B) Are inconveniently set up and full of clutter but not enough space for what I need, or C) Are always too small or too big. I also tried bullet journaling for a while, but even though the endless customization options were nice, I hated not being able to easily plan out my future, because I hadn't yet made enough pages.

That is when I found out about ring bound planners. A ring bound planner is basically a small 6 ring binder that you can fill with any inserts you like. I immediately fell in love with this system, because it allows me to set up my planner exactly how I want without having anything in it that I don't want. I can also easily take out old pages that I no longer need and add new ones too so I won't have to buy a new planner every year. I can choose to have exactly the kind of inserts I like and even switch them out if I get tired of them!

In this post I want to give you an idea of how to use and setup one of these planners to fit your needs perfectly, as well as share some tips for decorating it!

Make your planner really speak your language

First you need to choose your planner cover. The planner I am using is a medium size Kikki K, which is equivalent to what most brands call "personal size". I find this to be a perfect size for an everyday planner that you can easily carry around with you. If you would rather have a slightly bigger planner to maybe just keep at your desk, A5 is another popular size. Kikki K planners can be quite expensive, since they are handmade with real leather, but you can also find more affordable options such as Color crush.

The first step when setting up your planner is to ask yourself what are the things that you want to have in your planner. Make a list of everything you need and either head to Pinterest where you can find dozens of free printable pages, or go to Etsy, where you can buy pre-printed pages! You can also design your own pages, if you want.

Here are some examples of what you might want to include:

  • A monthly calendar
  • Weekly and/or daily calendar
  • To do lists
  • School related pages, such as course information and assignments
  • A way to keep track of your budget
  • Lists, ideas, challenges...
  • Notes pages
Got everything you need? Good, let's get started! 

First impressions matter

When you first open a ring bound planner, you'll see that most of them have a front pocket. This is the perfect place for storing little accessories that you might need on the go, such as sticky notes and paperclips. Many people (myself included) also like to decorate this part of their planner. You can fill the pockets with pretty cards, clips and other nicknacks. 

Choose your dashboard

The first page of your planner should be some kind of a laminated dashboard. A dashboard is a page, that you can use to stick notes to, or you can leave it blank. The reason why you should have one and also why it should be laminated is that it helps the pages of you planner turn easier and not get caught in the rings when you close the covers. 

I currently have a so called "shaker dashboard" in my planner. It is essentially a page made of two sheets of clear plastic with some glitter sandwiched in between. You can buy a shaker dashboard from my Etsy shop!

Behind the dashboard I have a pocket made of scrapbooking paper that I use to store some small sticker sheets and wash tape samples.

The big picture

I have divided my planner into seven different sections using divider tabs. The first section in my planner is called "calendar" and as the name suggest, that's where I have my calendar pages. I have a page with an overview of the whole year of 2017 as well as monthly pages from September to December. (I will add more as we get closer to new year)  It is up to you whether you find these pages useful or not. I like being able to see the entire month at one glance, but some people rarely find use for it.

The really fun(ctional) part

The next tab I have is called "planning". That's where I keep my weekly pages, on which I like to actually plan out my weeks in detail. These are also the pages that I love to decorate the most. You can find tons and tons of gorgeous planner sticker kits on Etsy. Most sticker kits include both functional and decorative stickers, but you can also get just one or the other, depending on your preferred planning style. 

I've also made a removable bookmark out of laminated vellum paper and some stickers. It helps me to easily find the current week.

This is what my weekly inserts look like without any decorations. I got these from a shop called Ickle & Co on Etsy, and they are perfect for standard size planner stickers. 

Make it look like your own

An easy way to decorate your dividers without making completely new ones is by adding a second layer of decorative paper (or whatever you want) and connecting it to the original divider with a paperclip. You can use a very subtle and small clip or a really boujee one like this glitter bow that I'm using. This way you can easily change up your deco without having to make/buy new dividers all the time.

The pumpkin illustration was a free printable that I found on pinterest and layered with a piece of scrapbooking paper.

Get stuff done!

Having a "to do" tab is very useful for making all kinds of lists of everything you need to get done.
You can fill your "to do" tab with just plain notepaper or you can print out some pretty lists like I did. I find that they not only look better but also help me to keep my lists organized.

In the same "to do" tab I also have some daily schedule pages. I only use these for very busy days when I need to basically plan out every moment of the day. My daily inserts are from a shop called ThePlannerEmporium on Etsy. They also come with a water tracker and a space for meal planning/tracking. I also have another removable laminated bookmark here to help me quickly find the right page.

Always stay on top of your work

Next I have a "school" tab. I use it to keep track of my courses and assignments as well as grades. This is also where I write down any important school related information. You could also use this tab for writing down your homework or planning group projects!
If you aren't in school, you may want to substitute this section with a "work" tab instead.

No more wondering where all your money is going!

The next tab that I have is called "budget". I use it for anything money or shopping related such as wish lists, shopping lists, budgets etc. 

I also have a page for tracking my online orders. I am someone who loves to shop online and sometimes I straight up forget what I have ordered! This tracker helps me not only to remember what I have bought, but also when I bought it, where from, how much did it cost and wether or not it has arrived yet. (I'm showing you an empty page, but believe me, I use this a lot)

In the "budget" tab I also have a finances tracker. It allows me to write down a rough idea of my monthly expenses and income. I don't write down every little coffee run, but keeping track of bigger purchases helps me get an idea of where my money is going each month. 

A place for meal planning, exercises, inspirational quotes or whatever you're into

My second to last tab is called "personal". In here I have things like a list of important websites and usernames, a list for blogpost ideas, party planning, challenges that I'm trying out etc, etc. 

Write it down

Finally, my last tab is called "notes". As the name suggests, it's filled with note paper and I use it for writing down miscellaneous little things and ideas that I want to remember. The note paper that I'm using is also from the shop ThePlannerEmporium on Etsy.

Don't let your pages get wrinkled!

The very last page on your planner should always be a page turner. It has the same function as a dashboard; it keep your pages from getting caught in the rings when you close your planner. 
You can easily make one by laminating a piece of scrapbooking paper and hole punching it.

For really quick notes

You may want to add a notepad or a stack of sticky notes somewhere in your planner where you can easily access it. My Kikki K came with a little notepad on the inside of the back cover. I use it to jot down things that I only need to remember temporarily, and later I can just tear off the sheet when I no longer need it. 

And that's it!

Customize and decorate your planner exactly how you like and make it fill out your needs. Have fun but remember to still keep it functional, or it'll become very cluttered and difficult to use. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this and found it useful. If anything was left unclear, feel free to comment your questions down below. 

With love,

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