Getting Organized in the New Year: DIY Planner

For years, I’ve been looking for a way to keep my to-do lists and schedules organized.  My index card book works to an extent, but seems best suited to organized individual projects and blog post planning.  But for everything else, I need a planner, and nothing store-bought fits my needs.  Trust me, I’ve tried them all. So a few months ago, I decided to go ahead and make my own, suited exactly to my life.


  • Notebook (see note below)
  • Black markers/pens (I use Pigma Micron pens)
  • Straight-edge
  • Optional: Washi tape (Just for fun and color, I use Washi tape to highlight events and travel.)

A note about notebooks: I chose to use one with a grid, just to make it easier to keep my spacing and boxes even.  I am quite picky about my notebooks, too — I like ones that are bound like books (no spiral), stay open on their own and have minimal bleed-through.  Lately my favorite is the Leuchtturm1917 Squared: I have one for my daily writing, one for my recipes and one that serves as a planner.  I love that these notebooks have a table of contents, numbered pages, a pocket in the back and a bookmark ribbon.


I begin each month with four overview pages: blog post brainstorming, dinners we ate, monthly to-do list and an overview of important dates, publish dates for blog posts and other events like book club meetings.


Then each week takes up a two-page spread. Monday through Wednesday are on the left, Thursday through Sunday on the right. I liked Kyla Roma’s idea of leaving space for weekly notes, and so chose to only fill about 3/4 of the page with daily boxes.  The space below is for grocery lists, phone numbers, notes  on craft projects, books or stories to look into and things that need to be done during the week but not on a particular day.


Each daily to-do is split into two section.  On the left are single lines of things to make, cook, write, edit and publish each day.  I find that if I tell myself to write a post one day, edit another and publish on a third, it is easier to keep on track with my blog schedule.  Otherwise, I’m bound to look at the calendar and realize I wanted to publish a certain post that day, but it is 10pm and I have no idea what I want to say.  I also have space for errands I need to run (“go”), people I need to call or email (“contact”) and workouts to do (“move”). I’m not likely to forget a planned workout or errand, but it sure is nice to cross it off the list! I use the area on the right for everything else — blog designs and HLS planning and general to-dos.

Keep an eye out for more posts on Getting Organized in the New Year, coming soon!  How are you getting organized in 2013?

For more DIY planner inspiration, check out… Kyla Roma’s Moleskine Notebook Transformation Ahhh Design’s Circa*Organizing Two Peas in a Bucket’s DIY Planner Tool Kit *This post contains affiliate links.*

Index Card Book

Index Card Booklet 1

As a kid, I loved back-to-school shopping.  Not for my “first day of school” or “picture day” outfits, but for school supplies.  I still love office supplies, and often have to talk myself out of purchasing adorable-but-completely-unnecessary striped paper clips or sweetly-colored page tags.

There is always at least one pen of my favorite brand in my purse (Pentel RSVP Fine Point, for the record). Sometimes there are 2, 3 or 4, either because I want a few color options or because I can’t remember if I left yesterday’s pen in my purse. I always have at least one notebook with me in case the inspiration to write strikes or I need to take a note. And I always, always have index cards available.

They are just the perfect little size for everything, and they are cheap. I use them for grocery lists. I use them to jot down recipes (who cares if they get sauce spilled on them once in the kitchen?). I write down driving directions. I use them to list out post ideas.  I keep track of books I want to read, cookbooks I want to get. I use them for a daily to-do list and to keep track of questions I need to ask, people I need to email.

I hit a point two weeks ago where I had so many index cards filled with notes and lists and projects that I couldn’t keep track of them.  So I corralled them into my own custom little book.

Index Card Booklet 2

I simply punched a hole in the top left corner of my index cards and put them on a book ring (like the kind you have in a three-ring binder — I bought a pack of 12 for about $2 at Staples).  I cut some pieces of scrapbooking paper to be slightly larger than the cards, with a tab notched out for a label, to divide the cards by category.  However, you don’t have to cutout a tab.  I didn’t for my “blank cards” divider:

Index Card Booklet 3

Now I can flip through and easily find the card I’m looking for, since I organized by categories: POST IDEAS (which also contains ideas for my blog design in general), PHOTOSHOP TUTORIALS, MISCELLANEOUS, and BLANK CARDS.

Materials Used:

Hole punch
Decorative paper
1 Book ring (I purchased a packet of a dozen for about $2 at Staples)
Index Cards