How To Set Up a DIY Planner That Fits You

A planner must fit your lifestyle 100% – otherwise, you simply won’t use it.

Researched, written by
Updated on January 26, 2023

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If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’m a planning addict. Planning is an amazing habit to master! It helped me get my life back and supported me while I took small, anxious steps in my early twenties.

That time was hard for me and I knew I had to do something (read about it here: How to beat negative thoughts and restart yourself.)

I’ll be straight with you – if you want to stop being lazy, get your life together or finish hoarded tasks, you need to start a DIY planner today.

It is a simple, reliable way to change anything you don’t like. Why?

Because planning is like writing instructions to yourself.

Ever tried assembling IKEA furniture without instructions? It’s possible, but it’s straight-up cruelty!

It takes much longer, you have to redo things… and at the end, you still have extra bolts left (“Wait…these should be IN the furniture!”).

But that’s exactly what you’re doing every time you try to achieve things without a plan.

Trying this, trying that…

Doing one week, skipping another…

Missing things, forgetting things, ignoring things, cursing things, and basically living a hot mess of a life.

It’s so much easier to work by directions instead of doing things randomly!

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Set Up a DIY Planner 101


Why You Need a DIY Planner


A good, well-fitting DIY planner can help you to:

  • bring back the peace of your mind.
  • regain the feeling of control.
  • finish big and boring tasks.
  • stay motivated and keep going.

It is also very helpful if you struggle with anxiety because it eliminates the fear of forgetting things!

Also read: How To Use Planning To Relieve Your Anxiety

The reason I recommend a DIY planner is because it’s the only way to completely personalize the planner to fit you and your lifestyle perfectly. Store-bought planners usually look great, but lack of options to adapt the planner to your needs (it’s harder to find planner refills as well).

So, all you need to start planning your life is a perfect DIY planner.

I will help you to create one today!


How This DIY Planner Guide Will Help You


After reading this guide, you will learn:

  • How to create a DIY planner that fits your personality, level of activity and needs.
  • Which sections to include in your DIY planner.
  • How to quickly DIY a planner you’ll love.
  • How to accessorize your new DIY planner.

So grab a glass or a bottle of Rosé (I don’t judge) and become a #plannerbabe with me!


Ways To Set Up a DIY Planner

There are 4 ways to set up a DIY planner.

Each one has its own perks & downsides:


1) Using a store-bought notebook for simple, handwritten planning:

  • Perks: The fastest way to write a plan. You only need to buy a notebook and start writing.
  • Downsides: May lack variety.  It becomes complicated if you need to plan & track a lot of things.


2) Using a ring binder or document holder with printed planner pages:

    • Perks: Fast, relatively cheap, and practical. You can find a binder you like and fill it with premade templates that look good and can be printed many times.
    • Downsides: A binder might get a little heavy if you use a lot of pages or print on extra-thick paper.


3) Using a clean notebook to set up a bullet journal:

  • Perks: Bullet journaling is great if you are creative and love to draw. In a bullet journal, you are designing & painting templates yourself.
  • Downsides: If you don’t like to draw or prefer a cleaner look, then bullet journaling will not fit you at all.


4) Using a store-bought, pre-filled binder:

  • Perks: These are pretty and come with a sturdy cover (usually with pockets too).
  • Downsides: Expensive, not many ways to personalize, and requires looking for new inserts once you use up the ones inside.


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Sections To Have In Your DIY planner


I recommend having these sections for a nice & uncomplicated planning system. Everything from the “Main Sections” is the core of every DIY planner. You can paint the layouts yourself, use a store-bought planner or get printable templates (which I recommend the most).

P. S. If you need visual inspiration, or if you want to try a printable planner, check any listed section to see a fitting product at the ShineSheets store


1) Main Sections


These planners control your time, calendar, tasks, health & finances – the main things to plan if you need more balance & order in your life:

  • Daily planners.
  • Weekly planners.
  • Monthly planners. (By the way, if you haven’t yet, get a free monthly planner I designed for my VIP subscribers! Join to get yours here )
  • Calendars and calendar planners.


2) Health-Related Sections


  • Meal planners.

Health trackers, like:


3) Note Taking + Lists


  • To-do lists.
  • Note page templates


4) Additional Sections


Add these to control: self care, mental health, productivity, goals, and anything else you want to take care of! Such sections can be used as an expansion to the main DIY planner or used separately for focused planning.

Both ways are awesome and keep you moving forward – that’s the most important benefit of planning habits overall.

Goal planners and their additions like:


Best Paper For a DIY Planner


Always look for thicker paper for your DIY planner. It prevents paint bleed through and is more durable.

An added benefit – it feels more pleasant and almost luxurious to the touch!

I like to use 160gsm paper for the “Use And Throw Away” kind of planners. You use up daily planners or shopping lists quickly so there’s no need to use thick paper.

But, if you’re printing something for repeated use (like Finance Tracker), you can go up to the whooping 250gsm! Your planner will feel like A BOOK.

Another reason to use thicker paper is if you’re printing the planner to gift. Print it on thicker paper and it will look incredibly attractive and professional.


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Best Times To Use Your DIY Planner


I’ve found that having a planning time system can help you to stay consistent with your planning habits. Here are the best times I recommend for planning:


  • Planning on Sunday. Sunday evening is perfect if you want to concentrate on your next week without distractions. Write a weekly plan & meals to create a backbone for the whole week. You’ll know what & when you will do and how you’ll get the energy to do it. It also gently introduces you back to the work mood.


  • Planning every day in the morning. Early morning, a nice cup of coffee, a ray of morning sunshine, and a pretty, personalized DIY planner. It sounds fun and it is fun! Planning in the morning creates a backbone for your day. The key here is to choose a healthy amount of tasks. Do as much as you can, but if you feel tired or even exhausted, make sure to include more self care activities!


Pro Writing Tips For Your DIY Planner


  • If you use slimmer paper, don’t use wet pens or markers as they may show on the other side and even transfer on your table (yikes!).


  • Have you ever thrown away half of a notebook because you couldn’t write a pretty headline? Guilty 🙁 If you’re a perfectionist, using a pencil instead of a pen is way better – you can always erase your mistakes.


  • If you think pencils are too light, ask for the darkest pencil at the stationery store (and yes, there are pencils that are blacker than the regular black!). I like to use a 9B pencil, which is VERY BLACK.


Accessorizing Your DIY Planner


The fun part! You can make your DIY planner prettier and more fun to use by adding extra thingies. Go crazy with:

  • Sticky notes.
  • Paper clips.
  • Planner stickers.
  • Planner dividers.
  • Washi tape.
  • Clip-on decorations.

Here are a few for your inspiration:

I hope you found a lot of helpful DIY planner ideas in this guide. Setting up your first DIY planner can seem a little daunting, but it definitely pays off in the end. With a good DIY planner, you can be more organized, motivated, and punctual – who knew there was so much power in a sheet of paper?

If you like these tips, scroll down for more!

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