My Planner Set Up
It’s that time of year when we start thinking about a yearly planner for the new year. Last year I created a planner from a composition book. I liked it so much that I decided to use it again. Since I’m getting a new composition notebook planner set up for 2021, I decided to show you how easy it is. If you’re a subscriber I’ve added How To Set Up Your Composition Notebook Planner Cheat Sheet to the Subscriber Only Resource Library. Subscribe below for access to this new resource if you’re not already subscribed.
The benefits of using a composition book for a planner is its great flexibility, and its low cost. The disadvantages are that some pens/markers will not work without bleeding through the pages. If you prefer to use heavy ink pens like the Pilot G-2 07, the pages are not thick enough and you will get ghosting onto the back of the page. The pages are also not thick enough for Sharpie markers. However, the pages do work well with stickers, glue sticks, tape, colored pencils, pencils, crayons, and Washi tape. Any Bic pen works great. Pilot Frixion Erasable pens work well, too. It’s also very easy to decorate the covers with whatever you want.
First, I picked a wide-ruled book, but you can use a narrow-ruled notebook if you wish. I’m using a modified Bullet Journal system for my notebook. Ruled pages appeal better to me than the dot graph pages of standard bullet journals. There are many ways of creating a bullet journal as there are people, and you can drive yourself bonkers trying to make your planner perfect. Please don’t. Make your planner work for you.
Images of my planner for 2021
Second, I used a 2021 calendar from the back of a 2020 wall calendar for my first page. You need a handy reference in order to mark the days of the week correctly without having to look them up every month. In the Bullet Journal System, these are written out by hand. I prefer using an already printed one because it’s easier.
Year At A Glance
Third is a two-page spread of the year where you can write in birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, and any upcoming appointments. I call this section Year At A Glance, but the Bullet Journal System calls it a Future Log. Dividing the page into four-space sections allows me to fit January to June on the left and July to December on the right. You may need more or less space. Adjust accordingly.
Medical Appointment Log
Next, comes a Medical Appointment Log. This includes doctor/dentist appointments, hospital stays, and when I’m ordered antibiotics.
Then comes an Index page. This makes it very easy to find things later in the year. I number every other page as I use them. So if, for example I wrote some Brain Dump pages about a particular topic. When I want to find them later, all I have to do is look at my Index page to see what pages they are on, instead of wasting time flipping through the planner.
Next, I created my January 2021 page. I like to use two columns for the dates so I have room at the bottom for my Monthly Goals and Blog Post ideas. If you need more space, you can place your goals, etc. on a separate page.
Weekly or Daily Pages
Then, come the Weekly pages. If you start Monday at the very top of the page and count 4 spaces down for each day, all 7 days will fit on one page. If you need more space for each day, there are several choices of layout. You can place the days of the week at the top across two pages, and divide the right side into time slots. Or, you can use one page per day. You can also switch it up as needed. For example, starting with my weekly layout and going to daily for busy weeks/days.
Finally, on the last page of my planner, I put a Cleaning Log. This helps me keep track of things like when I changed the air filter in my air cleaner. Or washed my car. Writing things down where you can find them is a great help for those of us with brain fog.
Bullet Journal Symbols For A Yearly Planner
Using symbols in your planner helps to shorten your entries in an efficient way. If you look at the first weekly page above, you will see an upside down V shape on Monday and Thursday’s date. This symbol is used to indicate an appointment. It’s so much easier to use than to write out the word “appointment” or “appt” each time. Once the appointment is finished I close the bottom of the V with a line turning it into a triangle.
On Monday and Tuesday above you will see a note with a dot in front of it. I use the dot to mark a new task. When the task is done, I draw a checkmark over the dot. Priority tasks are marked with a asterisk. If I decide not to do a task or if an appointment gets canceled, I draw a line through that entry. If a task didn’t get done, I draw a right facing sideways V, to indicate that the task is moved forward. Each day when I look at my weekly page, I make a note of undone tasks and either do them that day or schedule them for another day.
There are many symbols to choose from for your planner. For more ideas and images, you can read more at What Is A Bullet Journal Key?
Wrap Up Of Creating A Yearly Planner
The beauty of using a composition book for a yearly planner is that it’s inexpensive, and very flexible. A planner needs to be easy to use, and flexible enough for my changing life as a woman with multiple chronic illnesses. This year I will add Quarterly Goals pages, and I’m adding a Monthly Budget Page for each month. Create whatever pages make sense to you.
Want more inspiration? Watch this video How To Start A Bullet Journal For Beginners.
Need ideas about how to approach the New Year? Read my post A Better Way To Start The New Year.
Or this one: New Year’s Resolutions: Yes or No?
I hope this post inspires you to create your own yearly planner! I’m working on finding a Symptom Tracker to add to my planner. I’ll let you know what I come up with in a future post. If you want to see some of my other pages let me know. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you.
Till next time, Kathy