How To Start Using a Paper Planner

This post is mainly for the paper planner newbie or for those who are contemplating on getting a paper planner but do not know where to start. *cough* my mum *cough* It can seem rather overwhelming for someone new, especially when there are so many interesting options out there, not to mention the myriad of planner types and formats available.

plannerbug - start using a paper planner

So, where do you start?

plannerbug - start using a paper planner

If you’re thinking about using a planner for tracking reminders and tasks, I’d recommend a open ring-bound planner. Something that is flexible so you can switch your inserts and move things about to fit your needs. It doesn’t have to be a Filofax brand, which can be an expensive purchase here in Malaysia. You can find many affordable ring-bound planners at your local bookstore. Most places now sell the 2015 planners and it’s a good time to start looking.

Include dividers and inserts that will suit your requirements.

plannerbug - start using a paper planner

There’s no point using a planner that is not useful to you. My planner mantra is to only include dividers and pages that will compliment my lifestyle and that actually helps me plan. I’m not working now so a Week On Two Pages (WO2P) format is enough for me. But I will definitely use a Day On Two Pages (DO2P) if I were still working because it provides me more space to plan a busy work schedule.

In my current planner, I only have Monthly, Daily, Master To Do, Future Blog Topics, Notes, Expenses Tracker and a few Information pages. I find myself adding new categories nearly every week though because I’ll think of something that I may need in my daily planner. My system is still evolving and the beauty about having a ring-bound planner is that I can add or remove things as I go along.

A couple more extras.

plannerbug - start using a paper planner

I have a dashboard at the front where I’ve stuck sticky notes that I can jot things down quickly and stick them onto my daily pages if required. The narrow sticky notes are used for tasks that require some highlighting or prioritisation, or for events that I’m unsure of at the point of writing them. The bigger sticky note is mainly used for lists, such as things to buy or ideas that I need to transfer at a later date.

I have a household cleaning checklist that tracks my daily cleaning chores month on month. I also have a zipped sheet (not sure what it is called) on the front where I’ve chucked in a few planner related stickers. Nothing too bulky though because I do not like writing on a bumpy background.

What about stationery?

plannerbug - start using a paper planner

Well, pens are probably the most useful stationery to stick into your planner. I usually “decorate” my pages the previous week or month and review my tasks in the evenings when I’m at home. Anything that needs an extra stamp, sticker or washi tape will get included then. I don’t find it necessary to carry too many different stationery on a daily basis.

Have fun planning your planner!

Last but not least, a planner should be a space where it not only helps you be more productive but also helps keep you on track in completing your daily tasks. It’s serious stuff but you need to have fun planning too! So don’t be too concerned about achieving the right system on the get-go but just start by enjoying the process of planning. And try to include realistic daily goals. There’s only so much that can be done in day and I find being over-ambitious with your tasks can suck the fun out of planning.

I hope this post has helped provide some insight on how to start using a planner. Do let me know if you are thinking of getting or using one. Or if you’re already a planner nerd, pop in and share some of your tips for the newbie-planner (myself included!) too.


  1. Havok says:

    On the same note finding one that is useful to you, be aware of the size of the planner. For me, no matter the size of the pages in say, a personal sized planner, its just too small. It feels too cramped, and I write too messy for it! Even if you feel you don’t have a lot to write, a week on one page in a larger planner may suit you better than a daily page in a personal planner.
    Havok recently posted…Week on 2-Page Insert ReviewMy Profile

    • lyn says:

      That’s a good point! Planner size is important depending on how you need to use it. For me, a personal size is sufficient for now but I definitely prefer an A5 for work purposes.

  2. Jo says:

    It’s such an exciting time when you’re starting out on a planner adventure, all the different makes, models and colours to choose from. I’d say take your time before deciding what size, and style would suit you best. There’s loads of videos on You Tube where you get a real feel for the planner you’re looking at.
    Jo recently posted…Autumn In The ParkMy Profile

    • lyn says:

      Excellent suggestions, Jo! I agree that research is a must-do especially if someone is thinking of investing in an expensive planner. When I chose my first Filofax, I already knew what I size and style I wanted, so it helped make the selection a lot easier.

    • lyn says:

      Hi Linda, Thanks for dropping in and I’m glad you found the post to be of use. It’s always exciting to get a new planner and I really hope you enjoy using it 🙂 What did you get?

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