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A Guide to Beginning Your Planner Lifestyle

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Stony Brook chapter.

Planning (or bullet journaling, gratitude keeping, habit tracking) has become a serious hobby for those who really love to keep everything organized, but in a creative, scrapbooking type way. Everyone has their own methods for the best way to go about creatively sorting out your whole life on paper, whether it’s by using a Michaels’ stockroom full of washi tape or every single color of Sharpie pens that you can get your hands on. Regardless, once you know your planning style, the results are so satisfying.

Here are some classics that you need to get started:

1. Personalized Planner or Dotted Notebook

For those who have less time on their hands, it might be easier to just buy a readymade planner, preferably one that you can customize with your name or favorite quote on the front cover. There are tons of YouTube videos out there that show you planners from different companies with different price ranges to help you get a feel for the type of planner you want. There are some that are more goal-oriented, where there will be sections dedicated to tracking progress on a particular goal that you set for yourself. Or maybe, you’re a person with a lot of projects to manage. There are planners that have entire spreadsheets and note space specifically meant for project design. If you’re more about finding yourself, there are planners that have weekly prompts, where you check in on your state of being. Want to diet, maintain wellness, or meal plan? Yes, there are those too.

Here are a variety of planner brands:

  • Erin Condren (customizable by cover, layout, and design; traditional planner)
  • Plum Planner (very customizable; additional add-ons for meal plans, gratitude, etc. available
  • Passion Planner (meeting and project based)
  • My Infinite Agenda (goal-oriented; writing prompts, reflection based)

Or if you can’t stand the idea of the same basic layout every day, or some of your weeks are busier than others, you may want to consider the bullet journal route. Bullet journaling usually starts with a blank or dotted notebook where you pretty much create your own layout, your way. Every little detail is up to you. Keep in mind that this may take up a little more time, since you are basically drawing in all the lines, dates, and everything else you want to include on your own.

Here are some places to buy good quality dotted notebooks:

  • Michael’s
  • Amazon
  • Etsy​

2. Washi Tape

Washi tape is every creative, stationery-oriented person’s best weapon. Washi tape is just decorative masking tape and can be used to add that extra colorful touch to your otherwise flat planner. Washi tape could be used in your layout design. For example, if you wanted to highlight the days of the week, adding a bit of washi tape under that space would really add color. Others use washi tape to highlight important events or birthdays to make them stand out. Usually, they’re very cheap and you can get a bundle for a decent price. Washi tape is probably the fastest and easiest way to add some dimension to your schedule.

3. Stickers or Stencils

Many planners already come with a set of stickers, so you might be getting them anyway. For a beginner, it might be best to just use functional stickers and not go crazy buying them until you know how you plan and get an idea for how your schedule is going to look on a week to week basis. Planner stencils might be a more affordable option since you can use them over and over again. They’ll usually have creative shapes that you can use to add flair. Not saying that stickers are bad, but they could get a little overwhelming and expensive, especially if you don’t know if you’re even going to use them in your decorating. Get a feel for your planning style first for a couple of weeks before you spend dozens on special planner stickers.

4. Pens & Markers

I know it seems tempting, but before you buy a billion colored markers or fine point pens, figure out if you’re really the type of person that color codes. If you’re not, a basic black or blue pen might be your go to. For some, seeing the whole rainbow on their weekly spread could become an eyesore. If you want your planner to be more functional, use the basics. When you do have that extra time to decorate, then by all means, whip out your collection of pens and get to it. But if you are a beginner, it’s best not to overwhelm yourself. You may decide that you don’t like color coding. Maybe using green for work, red for school, black for birthdays, and pink for social events is too much. Again, see what works for you first.

Here are some good quality planner pens that typically do not bleed through paper:

  • Frixon (fine point, erasable)
  • Sharpie Pens (fine point, permanent)

Planning is fun. It’s relaxing. It’s something that should take some weight off of your shoulders. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed with decorating, scrapbooking, and making everything look nice, then take a deep breath and figure out what works for you. If it doesn’t, get rid of it.

Happy planning!

Reena Khan

Stony Brook

Name: Reena Khan Year: Senior Major: English with Journalism Minor Hometown: Valley Stream, NY What does being on the Her Campus Stony Brook team mean to you?: I can work with a community of beautiful and diverse women to share our stories, raise our voices, and bring each other together through writing. HerCampus represents the unification of women and there's nothing I appreciate more! Where do you want to be in 5 years? Hopefully living somewhere tropical with a beautiful, big family! Why are you proud to be a Seawolf?: Being a Seawolf means that I'm a part of something much bigger than myself and that I have a purpose and duty to my college community. 
Her Campus Stony Brook Founder and Campus Correspondent Stony Brook University Senior Minnesotan turned New Yorker English Major, Journalism Minor