At the end of last year, I was on the hunt for the perfect planner. I must have searched through dozens of planner options online searching for the planner that would fit all of my requirements for planning paradise.
A few of my must-haves were a checklist, a calendar for each month, and full pages for each day. The one I’m using right now, the Day Designer, met those needs perfectly with the cutest layout and cover options. But, since I was using the bullet journal system, I still decided to incorporate more ideas that I had seen online.
We’re an affiliate for Day Designer. If you use our link to get one, we’ll receive a commission. We never recommend anything we don’t love.
I use a Day Designer to plan my day and it includes a lot of the elements below. I hope you find these creative ideas useful, no matter what planner you choose for your year.
A highlight & lowlight
I love reflection and I believe that reflecting daily on the best and the most challenging aspects of the day is beneficial to self-improvement. It’s a concept that’s used in the Five Minute Journal. You spend the last few moments of the day running through what went well and what could have gone better, so you can start the next day with a clear mind.
Oh water, we can’t live without you, but we often don’t consume enough of you. You can doodle little water cups and cross them out or simply write a reminder to yourself. Your planner is a great place to remind yourself to get that H2O in your life.
Do one extra thing daily that gets you to where you want to go. This can be in any area of your life. You can write little reminders to yourself daily that say “+1” to encourage you to pick something that gets you slightly out of your comfort zone but closer to your end goals. One a day can be a big deal; they add up after all.
On the other side of things, try to give up one small action or even actual physical products that weigh you down. Whether it’s complaining and spreading negative energy; spending too much money on food; that pair of jeans you haven’t worn in years, choose one thing you’ll give up that will bring you closer to your goals. You don’t need that excess baggage.
Whether it’s a meal you’re cooking or picking up food, write in your plans for dinner. You’re less likely to eat unhealthy food or feel overwhelmed with decision fatigue if you plan ahead.
Self-care of the day
If self-care is a struggle for you, then make little notes on what to focus on for that day. Maybe it’s a little reward that you can give yourself after a day of hard work. Or maybe you’ve been meaning to do something special for yourself for awhile, but never seem to get around to it. Treat yourself!
Love letter / Affirmations
We all need reminders that we’re awesome, because we tend to be really hard on ourselves. Whatever reminders you need to have an optimal day, write them down. If you need to hear that you’re a badass, shout it out on your page. If you’re lacking courage, tell yourself how courageous you are. Let it out so that you can get those confident feels all day long.
I’m not in school anymore, but deadlines still arise in my life and I’m sure they do for you too. I love that the Day Designer has a slot for due dates on the daily pages. I recommend going through the week or even month and filling out the daily pages (if you have them) with deadlines.
Whether your due dates are bills and rent or exam dates, preparation is everything. You can even make mini due dates like “study time” or “meet with boss to discuss promotion,” etc.
I like to make due dates for little things I’d like to do but often forget about. An example could be, “send I love you note to best friend.” Seeing it as a due date makes it feel more legit and you’re more likely to remember to do it.
One of the lovely elements of the Day Designer planner is the little gratitude section on the daily pages. It’s always a great reminder to say your thanks for the day. If you don’t have this on your planner, add it to your tasks for the day. Say a little thank you to something or someone in your life. There’s always something to be joyful about.
Intention of the month
The calendar for each month in the Day Designer has a little section for notes on the side. That’s where I’ll include my intention for the month. Some intention ideas could be: productivity, clarity, joyfulness, patience, or exploration. It’s nice to spend some time on the monthly calendar section of a planner to set some goals and intentions for how you want to feel for the upcoming month.
Quotes or memories of the day
My memory fails me a lot, so it’s nice to sometimes write down memorable moments and quotes that come up throughout life. If you don’t keep your planner on you 24/7, you can always write them in your notes app when they’re happening and transfer them over to your planner later.
I love the “Top 3” section of my planner, because after I write down all my to dos, I want to prioritize them. There’s always an order for things that need to be done, but I find that if I don’t physically write in their order, I can look at the big list and get too overwhelmed with everything that “needs” to get done. Making a top three list makes it seem more achievable. And the reality is, not much more than that has to be done in one day.
Books you plan to read / currently reading / have read
I love creating lists with post it notes that I can move around to different sections. You can do this with any kind of list but books are a good one. Write each book on a separate small post it and move it over to “currently reading” when you start reading it. It’s a fun way to keep track of your reading throughout the year. The Day Designer has a section like this in the front with three columns – making this super easy to do.
What better place to keep a list of things you’d like to do and see than in your planner? Make sure it’s someplace where you view it often so you can check things off it constantly.
At the beginning of the week, look online for what the weather will be for the week. Write in the degrees or draw a little sunshine for sunny days and rain clouds for rainy days. It’s nice to be prepared for the weather. Most of us have probably experienced the feeling of going outside to find that your t-shirt and shorts aren’t really appropriate for the cold, rainy weather outside.
Get some photos printed and washi tape in some moments from the month that you want to remember. At the end of the year, you can browse through your planner and have visual reminders of the fun moments you enjoyed.
I use the words “coffee budget” loosely, because coffee may not be your vice. But if you have something that you’d like to limit yourself on weekly or monthly, write down your budget daily. And don’t just write the budget, write reminders of why you’re limiting your budget. For example: saving for London! or reducing caffeine intake for better health. It’s one thing to tell yourself that you’re on a restriction, but another to remind yourself about how it’s going to help you achieve your vision.
Washi tape bookmark
I use a piece of washi tape to keep my place in my planner. I find that it’s a cute way to save my spot.
I’m about to make my first sticker purchase just for spicing up my planner. I’m so excited to make better use of the monthly calendar view by including stickers that say “date night” and such. It’s a simple way to make planning more fun.
No list and Yes list
Make a list to remind yourself of what you want to spend time on and what you reject (or what you’d like to say no more to.)
No to Netflix marathons.
No to mindless social media browsing.
No to anything that doesn’t align with your values.
Yes to sunsets on the beach.
Yes to social invitations (that you want to attend.)
Yes to anything that aligns with your values.
Check marks for intention
If you have a calendar view in your planner, at the end of each day write down whether or not you made some intentional choices. Did you choose to take care of your body? Did you say no to things that don’t matter to you and yes to things that do? It’s one way you could hold yourself accountable for living intentionally, because don’t we all love checking things off? A whole calendar of check marks would be a beautiful thing. Though, of course cut yourself some slack for the days where it just didn’t happen. Because you’re human.
Let us know in the comments below what you include in your planning routine.