How I made my individualised Year Planner (and what's in it)

At the beginning of every year, during the school holidays I start thinking about the work year ahead, and I get a burst of righteous intentions.

This year I'll be more organised/ stay more focused/ be on top of things, etc, I think to myself. And when I start back at my desk in February, for a month or so, I do a reasonable job at it. By the end of March, I'm a mess, and by June, I'm missing meetings and skipping phone calls and working entirely by whim rather than plan.

It is Not Thus, in 2018.

Because, tan-tan-tara, this year I created a personalised, individualised Year Planner. Do such things exist, I hear you ask? Well, they do now, in my little universe. And wow, they make a difference.


The idea came about as I was going through my usual patch of frenzied January-plan-making. I have known for a while that a $2 exercise book scrawled through with random notes on random pages in my notoriously bad handwriting* isn't the best way to try to a run a home-based freelancing business, but I didn't know what to replace the notebook with.

I'm a pen and paper kind of person. I've tried online organisers and calendars, but they just don't do it for me. I thought about organised people I know, and one in particular came to mind. She carries a planner wherever she goes, and writes everything down. The word 'planner' stuck in my head, got a little bit excited, and then took me on a wide-ranging journey through the wilds of the internet looking at planners and Year Planners and Passion Planners and Creative Planners and Authenticity Planners and all the rest of it that's out there. 

I liked a lot of it.

But there were things in those planners I didn't like. More importantly, there were things that I didn't need. I don't need a space to write down the outfits I'm planning, week by week. I have a pared-down wardrobe with few options, exactly so that I don't have to think about that stuff. I don't need a meal-planning page: I buy what's cheap at the supermarket and you eat what gets put on the plate, mate

And there were things I do need that weren't in the planners. Like the right amount of space to write down my freelance hours. Planning space for some social media campaigns. A way to keep track of my freelance income and quotes. Some of it came close, but it wasn't quite right.

Suddenly my brain found a new exciting, frenzied track to race down. There were lots of things I'd like to keep track of. My exercise and eating habits, for one. And my monthly cycle, for two. And how many times I stood up and stretched, so my posture didn't get bad, and what my important tasks were for the week, and the day, and my overall mood, and my overall health. Plus I'd like to have a Bible verse for the week in front of me, and have prayer points easily visible so I can pray, and somewhere to record answered prayer. Plus a massive space for a to-do list, and monthly review pages, and brainstorming pages, and and and...

{head explodes}

Suddenly it seemed so obvious! I needed a Year Planner that was specific to me! Why would someone else's planner be perfect for what I need? 

I'd have to make my own.

I won't bore you with details about how many times I made lists of things to keep track of, and ways to plan the pages, and how I sketched the layouts, and then how I put it together in InDesign. What I ended up with though, was a PDF file that had spaces for all the things in my year that I wanted to record. I took it to a large office supply store with a printing and binding facility and had my book created within half an hour. 

Here's what's on the weekly pages. 

grahpic for weekly pages.jpg

The monthly pages look like this:

month review.jpg
cecily journal2.jpg
month review2.jpg

I'm reaching the end of March now, and I've used my personalised planner for nearly two months. I can tell you that while it's not perfect, and next year I'll probably tweak the layout a bit, it is a game-changer for this disorganised, unreliable, wanna-be business woman. I am staying on track. I am getting more done than before. I love it.

What do you think of my personalised Year Planner? I'd love to hear your experiences with planners and organisation. Leave me a comment.

*By the way, you can't change your bad handwriting too easily, but you can get a better pen. I purchased a fountain pen and some bottles of black ink. Not only do I write a little more carefully, I also don't lose the pen (it was expensive) and the little pen thieves in my house don't use it because it leaves ink on their fingers.

Interested in your own personalised Year Planner? I'm trying to figure out how to make it work for other people, not just me. Sign up if you'd like to hear about my Planner plans, if and when they get off the ground. (Don't worry - I won't send you anything else... just planner stuff.)

Name *
What would *you* like to see in a personalised planner for you?