How to Hack a Basic Planner

Planners can play such a big role in getting yourself organized. And fancy “bells-and-whistle” planners are popping up all over the place. You need a planner? There is one for you out there! But do you really need the fancy planner? Can you get by with a simple, basic planner?

basic planner hack

I love my Simplified Planner! It’s been the first pre-done planner I’ve stuck with longer than a few months. But I also spent about 2 years creating and tweaking my own planner, so I know what features are important for me.

I went out and bought 2 inexpensive planners, both under $10, and did a few customizing hacks to get the features of the fancy planners I love, without the fancy planner price. The first is a Day Designer that I found at Target. There are SO many different layout options to choose from you’re bound to find something that works for you. The second is from Blue Sky, purchased on Amazon. This is as bare bones as you can get, but it gets the job done.

Since there is such variety out there in planner land, there is bound to be a planner just for you. If you are drooling over an Erin Condren, or a Kate Spade, or a Passion Planner, but have limited funds, then don’t worry! I am sharing my favorite hacks to make a basic planner function like a fancy planner, without extra money.

hack a planner

Color Code | This may seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how often I forget this tip. Color coding is especially helpful when you’re looking at a whole month. Use blue for appointments. Highlight special events, like holidays or birthdays. Use pencil to map out your blog posts (because they can change). When you’re scanning your whole month, all at once, important things can easily get lost. Color coding means you won’t overlook that important appointment when you begin mapping out your week.

Weekly To Do List | I have yet to find a decent planner, expensive or inexpensive, that offers sufficient space for a long to do list. This is how my brain operates. I like to have a running list of to dos for the week, and choose each day what needs to get tackled on that list. When I find that I need more space, I grab extra large, unlined sticky notes. They easily hold a lengthy list, and can stick right on my weekly page layout. They are also cheap… so I don’t feel bad starting a fresh list later in the week.

hack a planner

Decoration | I’m not a huge decorator. But for some that’s a big bonus of a planner – those adorable stickers and washi tape! Who says you can’t do that with a basic planner? Use washi tape to outline special days. Pick up stencils to highlight important stuff. Why not?

Customize Your Layout | Did that planner come with a spot meant for evening appointments, but you rarely do anything past 5pm? Then use it as a spot to jot down your meals. Or how much water you drank. Or even a quick list of must dos for the day. One of my favorite ways to customize a layout is to split a day spot in half. I use the left side for appointments, the right for a to do list. Just play around with it!

hack a planner

Margins! Margins! Margins! | Planners have a TON of white space around the layouts. Don’t let that go to waste! I often use the tops of each day to write my cleaning tasks for the day. I use the spaces at the bottom of weekly page layouts for blog posts and that night’s meal. Use the margins on your monthly page view for bigger goals for the month! Or jot down a favorite quote. Or decorate like crazy. Don’t let that white space go to waste.

Note Taking | Why can’t every planner come with a large section of lined, blank pages for note taking? I love lists, mind mapping, and brain storming. I was pleasantly surprised that the floral Day Designer planner had a great section, but most do not. When you crave note taking space, pick up an inexpensive notebook (my favorite is the Moleskine Volant) to serve as your brain dumping spot. If it’s the same size as your planner, you can easily tuck the notebook inside your planner.

Do you have any ways that you customize your planner? Do you even use a planner? I’d love to hear from you!

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One comment

  1. Ruthie Gray says:

    Such a great post, Katie, wonderful tips! I’m still looking at planners (secretly hoping someone gets me the Erin Condren for Christmas)!

    This was so well done. Nice pictures, too. 🙂

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