Planner systems are meant to change a lot to adapt to your needs, to follow the changes in your style, and to absorb any changes either internal (new phase of your life) or external (new stuff on the market!) My personal planning system didn’t involve washi tape until only recently, but has been quite Post-It dependent well before any of my friends were into sticky notes!
An essential part of having a good planner system is to make sure that it is useful to one’s planning. This sounds really obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people—and how often—a planner system does not answer one’s needs. And the most elemental question I have found that helps me figure this out is to ask myself: is my planner system making my life easier or harder? Just a few weeks ago, I realised that the planner system I have used since 2010—which used to make my life soooo much easier—had become a source of constant, daily confusion, and I set out on a path to figure out how to make it efficient again.
But adapting my current planner system in a sustainable way is an ongoing concern. What do I mean by this? Well, personally, I don’t like waste—so one of the major challenges I have when it comes to changing my system is to not end up with a pile of unusable planners, notebooks, notepads, etc. that I thought were going to be useful but ended up not being so.
Some of my friends are into building their own planner system, and I think it’s a great idea, but one that I personally have decided not to embark on—I would rather pour my creativity into my writing. Instead, I test different systems for 2-3 weeks at a time using printables I feel best suit my personal needs. That way, I only print a couple of extra pages at a time and, if/when they have proven themselves useful, will commit either by buying a planner with a similar layout, by custom ordering a planner with such a layout, or by taking the time to resize the printables to my planner.
So here are in no particular order the five planner printables that really came in handy while I was looking for a new system. Obviously they haven’t all made the cut for personal reasons, but I hope they end up being of as good use to you as they were to me. For a look at all the printables that I have either considered or tested, check out my Pinterest Board on Planner Printables.
Small Paper Things’ Minimalist Monthly Calendar
For a simple, minimalist, but pretty monthly view of your plans, Kate offers a free download that covers all of 2016 here. I personally like using this for particularly hectic months—I’ll print out that month only and pay around with my schedule using sticky notes. That way I can make sure that I spread myself out strategically rather than overload myself at the beginning of the month only to crash and not be able to finish up all my monthly goals.
Packmahome’s 2016 Planner (and Poster!)
Packmahome’s 2016 planner can be downloaded here for free. The 23 page PDF includes an inspirational cove page, a page where you can list your goals, an annual planner—the whole year on one page—a monthly view from January to December, a page for notes, a weekly planner, a menu planner, a daily planner, a page to list all birthdays, another to list all contacts, yet another to list your passwords, and an end cover page.
Let me start by strongly opposing the use of the password page; software like KeePass are a much better (and SAFER) idea. Other than that, this planner is a great way to figure out what you prefer having: yearly, monthly, weekly, or daily views—or a combination thereof. I personally didn’t like the layout, but I loved having so many options and made very good use of them in figuring out what I needed (turns out that I need different views for different projects, but that’s a whole other post to be written on another day.)
This download comes with a caveat; you have to sign up for Lena’s newsletter. But she does further sweeten the deal with three versions of a page to list your goals and three versions of a 2016 yearly view calendar.
Designer Blog’s Ultimate Blog Planner Kit
This one is just gorgeous. Yes, it’s more for bloggers, but I’ve also found great use for it in other areas of my life. The monthly calendar, the Yearly and monthly goals, the contact page, the to-do list, and the blank page (which I use for notes) are all gorgeous and useful. And if you are a blogger, you will probably fund other pages just as useful as I did—I personally made really good use of the sponsors, affiliate programs, and advertising tracker pages. To get the download, you will have to sign up for their newsletter (ah, that one tricky caveat) but the blog is filled with such pretty and useful things that it’s well worth the while.
Scattered Squirrel’s Monthly Planner Printables
I love these! For each month, Alli has created a simple sheet on which can be listed one’s monthly focus, special dates, goals for the month, top three things, and home keeping tasks. There is also a large section for random notes. These can be integrated into any planner system by a person who is lacking focus and are a great tool to keep track of one’s goals. Each month is downloadable separately here, and can be resized as needed.
My Planner Envy’s Black, White, and Gold Sticker Sample
This last one is actually not quite a planner printable as much as it is a free printable for stickers you can use to glam up your planner. Jessica’s black, white, and gold inspirational quotes, reminders, notes, and the such—which can be downloaded here—come in quite handy and quite pretty!