I don't know why, but finding a great planner these days hasn't been easy for me. There are a lot of excellent options out there, and even though I've recently purchased a few, they still weren't giving me what I needed. So, after supporting a few business owners by buying their products, I ended up at at a big box business – Staples – looking for solutions.
As I walked down the planner aisle and looked at the same traditional options that haven't worked for me in a long time (which is why I stopped buying planners for a while), I found myself frustrated. Then it finally hit me – I could hack together my own and make it (practically) perfect.
Here's what I picked up:
- 5.5″ x 8.5″ binder (I wanted something that would fit in pretty much any bag I carried) – 1/2in.
- Day Timer daily view planner pages (Size 4)
- 5.5″ x 8.5″ filler paper (who knew this existed?!?)
- 5.5″ x 8.5″ plastic dividers
- 5.5″ x 8.5″ binder pockets
- 5.5″ x 8.5″ Sheet protectors
- Month tabs (cheaper at Staples, but for some reason, not listed on their website)
- Post-it Pockets
- 5.5″ x 8.5″ plain paper (not pictured)
I went a little wild, but I couldn't help myself.
I couldn't tell what was in the tightly packaged Day Timer planner, so I purchased the month tabs. When I opened the pack, it did come with monthly calendars and tabs, so those month tabs will go back to the store! If you're printing your own planner pages, you'll find these tabs like these useful. Another option – Avery makes 5.5″ x 8.5″ pre-printed dividers with the months on them.
I wanted a planner that was portable, so the fact that I could get all the gear I wanted in the perfect 5.5″ x 8.5″ size was great! I wanted a daily view calendar and though I knew I could print calendar pages onto the paper I ordered, I wanted a complete planner and I wanted it NOW, so I sprung for the Day Timer.
The important things for me are flexibility and the option to have everything in one place. Filler paper can be used for notes or printing off worksheets or important documents I might want to keep in the planner (and the dividers will help me keep it all organized). The binder pockets can easily hold receipts or papers that aren't hole punched. I stuck a Post-it Pocket in the back to hold business cards, notes and other loose things I don't want to lose. The sheet protectors might go back, but they just seem like a good thing to have handy.
Some other available options that you might consider:
- Business card pages
- Avery's monthly and weekly calendar pages – If you like a week view, these undated pages are a MUCH cheaper alternative to Day Timer.
- The Next 12 Months: Weekly Planner – grab the digital download of my planner and put it in the case or binder of your choice.
Since I did buy the two-pages-per-day calendar (one page for the agenda and to-do's and the other for notes), this planner would be HUGE if I included everything at once. Since it is ridiculously easy to move things around in a binder, I'm only carrying a month worth of planner pages at a time. If I think of something for a future month, I can write it on the appropriate monthly calendar tabbed page. Doing this keeps my planner nice and slim.
If I wasn't such a freak about these things, I'd have printed off the planner pages myself. If you want to make your own DIY planner on a budget, I suggest you do that. All the other supplies combined came out to just over half of what the planner pages alone cost, so you can definitely save some dimes there.
It's definitely a shift after using my Day Designer for five months, but I'm already feeling like a weight has literally been lifted off my shoulders.
Thinking of making your own planner? What would you include?
Tips, resources, & more - in your inbox.
You'll also receive my list of great free tools for your small business.