Sometimes, your creativity needs to run wild and regular ole planners just won’t cut it! Other times, you just want a simple plug and chug system where you create your own rules with some structure. Regardless of what your ‘why’ is, planners have become another DIY category, in more ways than you think. Keep reading for 10 DIY planner ideas to make your planner your own!
10 DIY Planner Ideas
If you’re anything like me, you love bits and pieces of different planners. And sometimes, you wish you could create a hybrid of all of those littles pieces to make this one giant planner masterpiece. Well, spoiler alert, you can. These 10 DIY planner ideas will not only allow you to literally create whatever you want, but they will also give you some insight into some really cool free digital tools and systems that can help you organize your life way better than any store bought planner can. Let’s hit it!
This is an easy one, and you can go two different routes here. First, you can create your own templates OR you can download a ton of free ones online. However, before you start googling “free printables,” think about what kind of planner you want to build and what templates are the most useful to you. For example, my priorities are: workouts, meal prep, and a weekly to-do list. Therefore, I will focus my Google/Pinterest search on those templates. Passion Planner has their own printables available for free on their website which is really cool! After you have printed your templates, you can put them in a binder of your choice, or staple, paper clip, or put them in a folder. Many options to choose from!
2. Keynote + GoodNotes
GoodNotes is a note taking app as well as a PDF reader that people use to not only take notes, but also to interact with amazing digital planners! You could spend hours going through the #goodnotes hashtag on Instagram and get inspired to create something amazing of your own. Learning GoodNotes is not super challenging, and there is so much you can do to make your planners come to life. The tool that I use to actually create the digital planners to use in GoodNotes is Keynote (PowerPoint is also an option!). The opportunities are endless to DIY your very own planner templates that you can then export to a PDF and open in GoodNotes! There are tons of resources online if you are interested in this.
3. Gmail & Google Calendar
Another digital resource to DIY your own planning system is to use your Gmail and Google Calendar apps. This is a great way to never miss a beat if your priorities are events, appointments and to-do lists. I wrote a separate blog post here that explains how I tailor these apps for my own life!
4. Your Favorite Blank Notebook
This is probably the most popular DIY planner that people are familiar with. Again, browsing through the #bulletjournal or #bujo Instagram hashtags will open up a whole new world 🙂 People are attracted to the flexibility of bullet journals because you can use any blank notebook or notepad and create your very own paper planning system filled with unique layouts, spreads and trackers. These journals can also be as fancy, creative, or minimalist as you would like them to be.
THIS APP! This app changed the game for me. There is too much to go into to fully describe the capabilities of this website and this app, but out of all of the planners and organizing systems that I have used over the years, this one has been my favorite. I have transitioned to being fully digital and this system allows you to create any type of template that you want, filled with embedded databases, to-do lists, links, project timelines, etc. The capability that sold me is the widget that I can put on my iPhone home screen. Check Notion out here and see the magic for yourself! (PS: it’s free!!)
I think Excel is so underrated! I love using formulas and creating my own spreadsheets and templates, and it is such a great tool to DIY your very own planner. There are even a few premade planner templates in Excel that you can edit as you see fit. Also, believe it or not, there are all kinds of Excel planners being sold on Etsy that you can purchase for pretty cheap, and also customize to your liking. If you are already an Excel super-user, or are just really curious, I highly suggest trying this option out for your daily planner!
7. Any.do App
I am going to be honest here and say that this is a brand new tool for me! However, it reminds me of Notion and I love having these types of planning apps accessible on my phone. I am constantly checking my calendar as well as my to-do lists for each day, and this app seamlessly combines both of these things in one location. Easy peasy. Check out their website here and give it a try!
8. Categorized Brain Dump
There is something special about organized chaos 🙂 This type of DIY planner system is something that I have used in the past when I was in between planners and just needed to get all of my thoughts and projects onto paper. Essentially, each week I would create different buckets or categories for things I was keeping track of (ex: fitness, work, social events, personal to-do’s, etc.) and spend time dumping everything I could think of within those buckets that I had to do that week, or that month. Then, I would go through each task and assign a due date to them and schedule deadlines on my Google calendar. This is a great DIY planner idea for those of you that thrive in a more freeform lifestyle, but still want to visually see some structure within your calendar.
I love ClickUp! This is another app/online system that is more of a project planner than a simple daily/weekly task list. This is another system that I could go on forever about, and there is so much content online to help you navigate this system, such as this post by Jessica! I think ClickUp is perfect for those of you who are juggling a full-time job with your side hustle as well as your personal life. This system organizes all aspects of your life simply and efficiently. Not to mention, there are SO many templates and capabilities that there is truly something for everyone to create their own completely unique space.
10. Get Crafty
If you do want to utilize your creativity but still crave some structure around layouts and templates, a fun DIY planner idea is to actually purchase a standard, inexpensive planner that meets your basic needs and sort of repurpose it using really fun stationery supplies. One of my favorite stores to go to (pre-pandemic) was Paper Source. I could spend hours in there just dreaming about all of the stickers, stamps, pens and markers I wanted to buy. There are tons of fun supplies you can find in stores online and wherever is open in your area to spruce up a plain old planner into something customized for you and your life! You can also easily insert printables into these planners as well to make it extra special.
Whichever option you choose, give yourself some time to really explore and try out these DIY planner ideas! With any new system, it will take some time for you to decide whether it really works for your routine and your lifestyle. And, the great thing about a DIY planning system is that the initial investment is pretty low and you can switch it up as needed! Have fun 🙂