How to Make a Personal Planner

A DIY Project to Keep Yourself Organized and On-Task

overhead shot of a personal planner

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Deciding which personal planner to use can be difficult. You may know what features you need and which you don't and have probably looked at every model out there. If you can't find one that's a perfect fit, you can still have the perfect paper planner if you create it yourself.

A DIY planner can reflect your personal style, be customized for your schedule and common tasks, and help you get organized and accomplish what you need to. No two people are the same, and neither are their daily schedules!

When designing a personal planner, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Customize an Existing System

One easy way to customize your own planner is to go with a system that’s designed to let you build your own. Three similar and popular options are Martha Stewart’s Discbound, the M. by Staples Arc System, and Levenger’s Circa. Each of these has the same disc binding but offer different aesthetics and options that are a nice starting point.

This type of planner lets you mix and match the components you want and leave out those you don’t need. If you purchase a special hole-punch and additional discs, you can also print your own pages or add any existing documents to your planner.

adding pages to an existing planner
The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Use Printables

Many sellers provide calendar pages and extras that are designed as nicely as those in fancier pre-assembled planners. Some are even free. For example, IHeart Organizing Daily Planner Printables offers daily schedule pages, blank task pages, and all sorts of helpful organizing tools.

With printables, you download and print the pages yourself. Since you’re picking the paper, your choices of color and quality are far wider than they would be with a regular planner. You can also bind them however you like. Punch the pages and add them to an old-school binder, or have them bound at a copy shop.

If you like the scheduling function of planner pages but don’t want to lug around a heavy book, you can simply keep the current month’s pages handy. Place only what you need on your desk, fridge, or clipboard, or tuck them into a notebook or folder you’re already using.

a variety of free printables
The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Cut and Paste

If you enjoy getting a bit crafty, cutting and pasting together parts of two or more existing planners will give you lots of options. This is a good method if what you want is relatively simple. It also doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

For some people, looking at all the fancy planners is fun. Yet, it's possible that all you really need is a blank notebook with month-at-a-glance calendar pages throughout. If this applies to you, all you really need may be an affordable planner from the store. Then, you can paste some of it into a pretty notebook and get an instant custom design that helps keep you on-task.

pasting items onto a planner page
The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Make Your Own Pages

If you can envision exactly what you want in terms of layout and text, you can start with a blank book, a ruler, and a pen, and simply draw what you need. Or, you can use a template (or your computer skills) to design your own pages and print them out.

A similar option is to use a blank journal to derive your own method for keeping track of your daily activities. If that seems daunting, borrow someone else’s. The Bullet Journal, for example, started as one man’s daily routine and grew into a system others loved, too.

person designing a blank planner with a ruler and a pen
The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

Get Creative

If you find many different planner options acceptable in terms of layout, but you want something more unusual or attractive, you can always personalize a plain planner. There has never been so much patterned tape, such a wide variety of stickers, and such a huge choice of colored pens or pencils available as there is right now.

Any craft or art store will be full of the tools you need to turn a boring calendar or blank page into your own unique creation. For ideas, look to the legions of people who document their dedication to planner decoration on Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube.

a person placing stickers onto the page of a planner
The Spruce / Ana Cadena