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Are you a beginner planner hoping to start your planning journey but are unsure how? No need to stress. These planner tips for beginners will tell you everything you need to know about how to start using a planner!
So you are starting to use a planner. Woohoo! First off, congratulations! Learning how to start using a planner is one of the best steps you can take to see massive improvements in your productivity and overall success.
Secondly, understand that it is normal to feel a bit overwhelmed with planning when you first start! Learning how to be an effective planner, finding the best beginner planner, determining what beginner planner supplies you need… it can all feel like a lot to learn!
But there’s really no need to stress. These beginner planner tips will help guide you through all the questions you may have and help prevent you from making the most common beginner planning mistakes (aka the mistakes I wish someone had told me about when I was learning how to start using a planner)!
Think of this as a guide for: How to Use a Planner for Beginners.
These tips will teach you everything you need to know and have in order to start a successful planning journey (and we all know a good plan is the secret to success!).
Let’s get started on these beginner planner tips!
This post is all about the top planner tips for beginners.
Top Beginner Planner Tips
Tip 1: Find Your “Why“
So, you’ve decided to take on planning. Yay!
Welcome to the planner club where we discuss time blocking, planner sticker sales, the best highlighters that don’t bleed through, and fun colored pens. You are going to love it here. 😉
In all seriousness, choosing to start planning is a big step in the right direction for your organization and productivity.
When I fully dedicated myself to learning how to start using a planner, I saw my success skyrocket. I was no longer forgetting meetings, missing due dates, and overbooking myself!
For the very first step in these planner tips for beginners, you are going to have to figure out your why and set some goals for your planner usage.
Are you trying to become more organized?
Working on being more productive?
Trying to boost your grades in school by keeping track of assignments?
Making sure you are doing everything you need to be successful at work?
What is your motivation behind pursuing planning? Start with a solid backing for your planner goals and you will not fail!
Tip 2: Find the Best Beginner Planner
I won’t lie, this is probably the trickiest and most overwhelming part of learning how to start using a planner. The commitment of finding the best beginner planner is overwhelming. Totally understand!
I have 3 separate planner recommendations here that will make this way easier on you depending on what you are looking for in a planner.
Best Beginner Planner for the Planner Basics
These are the best beginner planners for just overall planning needs. They really include all the basics of a planner and have a super functional layout.
This planner includes:
- monthly spreads
- weekly spreads (with daily sections for planning/to-dos)
- yearly goals
- contact lists
- holiday list
- year overview of important dates
This next planner by Day Design is roughly the same but has a bit more structure in the daily planning areas. There are actual laid-out checkboxes for to-do lists, a place for the “weekly top 3” priorities, extra weekly notes, and weekly gratitude. These are all things I personally prefer in a planner but may just be unnecessary space if you are not looking for these elements! Total personal preference!
I’d say these are probably the best overall planner for beginners’ basic planning needs. There is a place to keep everything organized without being totally overwhelmed with unnecessary pages and planning sections.
Best Beginner Planner for Intense Day Planning:
If you are a beginner planner looking to jump right in (good for you!), this is the best beginner planner for you! Sugar Paper has a planner that offers a ton of extras for planning, without being too overwhelming!
I have a full Sugar Paper planner review that I recommend checking out before buying!
This planner also has lots of other cool extra elements for planning such as:
- weekly goals
- weekly to-dos
- monthly goals
- monthly to-dos
- important date reminders
- monthly notes pages
As you can see, this planner is a bit more advanced than the first ones. If that is something you are looking for, this is the perfect planner for you!
Best Beginner Planner for Students:
Calling all students! This is the planner for you. HOLY COW is it a good one.
Eric Condren is the QUEEN of planners. This academic planner is NO JOKE. She seriously has thought of it all in this one.
This planner has:
- monthly quotes
- monthly notes/planning pages
- class schedule pages
- project and exam tracker
- deadline trackers
- monthly and weekly spreads
- LOTS of extra notes pages!
If you are hoping to use a planner for school at all, I would definitely recommend opting for this one. It is a total lifesaver when it comes to school assignments, due dates, schedules, and deadlines. I wish I had this when I first started college.
Tip 3: Utilize Planner Accessories
Aside from the obvious (your planner), there are a few additional planner must-haves that will make your life so much easier (even if you are still a beginner planner).
Some of my beginner planner must-haves:
- Colored pens
- Planner stickers
- Sticky notes
These 5 planner accessories are perfect for improving your planning experience.
I have an entire post about planner must-haves that includes ALL the best planner accessories and why you need them as a beginner planner!
Whenever I bust out my planner for a good plan session, these planning essentials are bound to be nearby.
Tip 4: Understand How to Use a Planner
How to Start Using a Planner
Now that you have found the perfect planner for you, you need to know how to start using your planner, right? Let’s dive into the good stuff.
This is where it gets fun.
We’re going to cover all the steps for how to start using a planner and then I’ll share some extra bonus planner tips for beginners, too!
Planning Step 1: Fill Out Special Occasions
This is always the first thing I do when I get a new planner. This is always step #1 because holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries don’t ever change dates. They don’t call and cancel and they don’t run late. They are solid.
One of the common beginner planning mistakes is getting too plan-happy when they finally decide to get their new planner. They get out the new pens and stickers (it’s all very exciting, I know), and they write down EVERYTHING.
Not you. You know better. 😉
That said, you can feel confident marking these dates on your planner… so go ahead and write those in!
I would recommend finding a pen color that screams “FUN!” and keep that consistent throughout this! Another option that I love is to use planner stickers to mark special occasions and events! A good sticker set will have pre-made stickers for all the big occasions (holidays, birthdays, and even Taco Tuesdays 😉 ).
Planning Step 2: Assign Colors for Color Coding
The importance of color coding is probably one of the most helpful beginner planner tips. This is something I wish I did when I was still learning how to start using a planner.
Color coding your planner is one of the best ways to keep it organized and easy to read. Not to mention, it keeps it bright, colorful, fun, and cute! (Cause that’s what really matters, haha! 😉 )
This is why I listed colored pens and highlighters as a must-have for beginner planner supplies. Color coding is a must. All you have to do now for step 2 is assign some colors to different areas of your life.
Here’s mine for reference:
- Fun = Orange
- Work = Dark Blue
- College Classes
- 1 = Purple
- 2 = Pink
- 3 = Teal
- Blogging = Light Blue
- Appts. and Important Dates = Black with Yellow Highlighter
This will totally depend on the different categories that you need for your own individual life and planner. Take a second to determine your main planner categories and then assign each one a fun color!
Planning Step 3: Set Goals
Some planners have special sections for goal-setting! If you are a lucky one with this type of planner, take advantage of it! This is an incredible planner feature to have!
When goal-setting, it’s important to take your time to truly work through your goals so they are meaningful and achievable. I have an entire post dedicated to goal-setting if you need some additional help here!
Planning Step 4: Mark Up the Monthly Spread
Now it’s time to get serious… let’s tackle that big monthly spread! Go ahead and flip to the month that you are currently on (or going into!).
Before you put pen to planner, take a second to put together a brief overview of your month. Take note on scratch paper of any big, important dates.
Pay attention to things such as:
- due dates
- work responsibilities
- financial duties/bills/etc.
Once you have your overview, go for it! Remember to pay attention to your color coding! That is where I mess up the most when planning… make sure you have the right pen color in hand before planning!
Planning Step 5: Work Through the Weekly Spread
You’re almost there!
I’m going to assume that your planner has a weekly spread (just because most do!). The weekly spread is where there is a place for you to individually plan each day.
This is where I write down the smaller things. These things don’t warrant a place on my monthly planning spread but they are definitely still important and need to be remembered!
These things include:
- grocery shopping
- emails to send
- errands to run
On top of these day-to-day responsibilities, I will add in the big stuff that I put on my monthly spread because they are important and I don’t want them to slip my mind when I am focused on my weekly spreads. (I spend most of my time looking at the detailed weekly spreads).
It is totally up to you if you color code these sections too. Honestly, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. There are times where it just feels like too much work but, if you have the motivation, I totally recommend it for staying organized!
Planning Step 6: Add, Adjust, and Admire
You’ve done it! You have conquered how to start using a planner! Whoop whoop!
Now it just comes down to maintenance! I call this section: add, adjust, and admire because those are really the 3 steps for keeping a planner.
Add things to your planner as they come up. There is no possible way to know EVERYTHING about the month before the month starts, right? It’s natural for things to develop as you go. No problem! Just add ’em!
This might be an impromptu dinner date, an unexpected grocery run, or a phone call friend!
I like to take some time at the start of every week AND every day to take a quick moment to plan. This is when I fill in these things.
This is one of the most important planner tips for beginners. Learning to adjust is something that I took too long to learn when I was navigating how to start using a planner.
Plans change sometimes. That used to make me PANIC! I had already planned it… the plans could NOT change.
Yeah, that was just unnecessary stress. It’s okay to shift your plans (even if they’re in pen!).
This is where erasable pens, white-out, and cute stickers (to cover) come in EXTRA handy!
The BEST Erasable Pens:
This is where you get to sit back and enjoy the beauty of your new planner (and with these planner tips for beginners, you will never guess that it’s a beginner planner!). It will be bright, beautiful, organized, and perfect for staying productive.
Sometimes I like to take a second to flip through my planner and look at the beauty of it (is that weird?). Once you know how to start using a planner, it is so satisfying to have a planner that you LOVE and can admire.
Tip 5: Hold Yourself Accountable
Now, this final step in these beginner planner tips is where a lot of people fall off.
YOU HAVE TO CONTINUE USING YOUR PLANNER!
This is key for making your planner actually useful. It does you absolutely no good if you go through and carefully follow all these planner tips for beginners and then give up on it after two weeks. Heck no!
You have to stick with it!
This can be a tough habit to build.
Here are accountability tips for starting a planner:
1. Leave your planner where you can see it
I like to leave my planner out on my desk so I see it when I start working every single day. It is a quick and easy way to remind myself to check it and to continue referring to it/adding to it throughout the day.
2. Make planning part of your morning routine
Morning planning is such a habit for me now that I don’t even think twice… I just do it!
First thing in the morning (after coffee, obvi), I check my planner to see what’s on the agenda for the day. At that time, I will also add in anything new I need to remember for the rest of the day or week. This works so perfectly for keeping me accountable.
3. Take your planner on the go
It doesn’t do you much good if you are at work and your planner is 25 minutes away in the bottom drawer of your desk. Take that baby with you!
Work, school, when you’re running errands… any place that you are going to be needing to be productive, you should take your planner!
4. Make planning fun
Planning doesn’t have to be all business. In fact, I think my planner is more fun than anything!
There are so many things you can do to make your planner more enjoyable! As you already know, I love to get cute stickers and use bright pens to make it more fun. But you can also spice up your planner use in other ways too!
One of my favorite things to do is write in “fun” activities onto my monthly spread. This gives me something to look forward to.
Oftentimes, these are silly little things too! “Bachelor Monday!”, “Chick-Fil-A Dinner, “Taco Tuesday”, “American Idol Night”… all of these are things that I’ve written down to make my planner more personal and FUN!
5. Build a habit
Ultimately, when you first start mastering how to use a planner, it is going to take some time for it to become a habit. Most professionals say that it takes 21 days to build a habit… getting used to your new planner is no different.
Keep at it! That jump from beginner planner to pro planner does not take as long as you make think! Before you know it, you might just become a total planner-freak like me! #NoShame 😉
There you have the ultimate list of planner tips for beginners!
Wow! That little “Planner 101 for beginners” lesson was pretty intense!
There may seem like a ton of things you need to know for how to start using a planner but, to be honest, it is not as overwhelming as it may seem!
Believe me, in no time you’ll be a total plan-pro!
Keep at it! Happy Planning!