How to Get Started Planning (+ free Planning your Plan Guide)

by Christina Davis

April 2017

Have you made the decision to plan, but don’t know how to get started?

First, Congratulations!  Welcome to the Planner World! I wanted to help you set up your practice planner and show you how to get started with planning.

Supplies Needed:

  • You will need a planner.  This can be a planner you already have or simply a composition notebook.
  • You will also need a pen/pencil.
  • And some sticky notes.

(Click here to watch the corresponding video!)

Let’s take a few minutes to talk before we get started.

Being able to get started planning can definitely feel intimidating, but the multitude of benefits far outweigh all those negative feelings.  At the end of this post, you will have your practice planner set up and ready to use.  You will have some content as well.

One major key to being a successful planner is to carry your planner with you at all times.  It is absolutely crucial!

Why is it so important?  In short, you will build the habit of planning and you will have it readily available when you need to write something down or look something up.

Calm the internet overwhelm from the multitude of sources.

Of course, I am sure you have been all over the internet and social media trying to figure out how to get started.  Maybe even asking yourself tons of questions and not knowing the answers.

Are you a perfectionist?

I am going to tell you that you need to be prepared because you are going to mess up.  It’s a guarantee. 

I am just being honest.  

The cool thing is that it’s ok.   Ultimately, it’s just paper; it’s just a notebook.  You are human after all, and sometimes life is messy.

The other cool thing is that there are various ways to deal with mess ups. 

Your Planner

This planner that you are going to create is a tool for you to use in your life to help you get your mind emptied and then to take action.

This planner is about you and your sanity.

Let this planner be whatever you need it to be.

Planning is a journey.  It’s about change and evolving.

One of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced is flipping back through all the pages and seeing all of the progress- not just the task items that are finished, but also, and more importantly, you will see yourself.  

Your planner can be thought of in relation to your home.  You decorate, you pay bills, it’s your space.  You live in it- You care for it- You maintain it.

Planning can be compared to your money.  In the same way that you make decisions about how to spend your money, you should make decisions about how you spend your time.

Naturally, there are tons of ways to approach the next step. I believe using some structure is the best way to get started.

Check out the Starter Kit Buyer Guide.

The purpose of beginning with your practice planner:

  • get you in the habit of using your planner
  • get to try some different layouts 
  • begin the actual planning part

The purpose of your practice planner following a modified Hobonichi style:

  • you know exactly how long your notebook will last
  • easier to determine what collections to include

How to Setup Practice Planner

Now it’s time to set up your practice planner.

We are going to walk through the process of setting up a practice planner. We will be setting up months, days, and weeks.

You may find that you don’t use all of three of the spreads, but I would recommend starting with all of them. 

To begin, I recommend setting up two months’ worth of pages as your trial run.


Whatever month it is when you are reading this is the month you’re going to start with. And then do a monthly spread for the following month.

For the monthly spread use a sticky note and write the month and put it on the page. This will serve as a placeholder for your actual spreads. The reason we are doing it this way is because it is hard to see the layout of the month on lined paper.

Month Options

The first option is to use different paper cut to size to draw out your monthly spread and then to use adhesive to put it on the page of your practice planner.

The second option is to print the monthly spreads from an online page and to use it he said to put it on the page of your practice planner. 

Your sticky notes will remind you that you need to come back to complete the monthly spreads.


For the daily pages, you will start with today and set up one page for each day until the last day of the second month. For the purpose of your practice planner write the day and the date on the top left corner of each page. Also, add the month number on the right border of the page.


For the week pages, assign one page for each week. Add the month number on the top border of each page.


Next up is to pick two colors one for each month to use as code for that month.  These two colors that you choose will only be to reference the pages easier. You can use highlighters, markers, or colored pencils.

As soon as you have your colors, go ahead and flip back to your daily pages.   For the first month, use one color to color in the month number you added on the right border of the page. In the same way, use the second color for the other month.

Now you should be at your weekly pages. Using the same color for the first month that you used on your daily pages, color in the month number for the weeks of the first month.  Finally, do the weeks for the other month.

Remaining Pages

The remaining pages you will be able to use for whatever else you need the space for.  

An important item to consider including is keeping an area for ideas, layouts, systems, etc for reference.

Planning Your Contents

Now it is time to use the Planning Your Plan Guide to help you get your content ideas written down on paper and to organize your millions of ideas.

This is the preplanning necessary for the content of your practice planner.

We are going to talk about what matters to you, what your roles are, and other ideas for content.

The second page has room for you to write down what matters to you. Who and what is important to you?  Take a moment to reflect as you answer this question.  Knowing what matters to you is a major component towards doing more of what matters and less of what doesn’t. The things that matter to you serve as a foundation for your decision-making and priorities. You may not feel that section out right at the moment but I encourage you to come back and write it down.

Next are your roles, which can also be described as the hats that you wear. You will see some examples of roles listed.

• self

• wife

• mom

• daughter

• sister

• friend

• co-worker

• volunteer

Beside each role, fill in your responsibilities and commitments.

The purpose of this section is to figure out how much time is dedicated to each of these areas.  These are areas of importance and obligation.

Adding some content on the pages

On the next page, you will find a list of ideas for content. There are a zillion items that you can include in your planner. You will go through different seasons of your life needing some and not others.These are all some basics and they are organized by where I would put that particular information.

Begin filling in what you know.

A super quick planning process:

Monthly Spread:

Use your monthly to write responsibilities with times associated with them.  In other words, anything that you must do at a specific time.  For example, appointments, work schedules, and school schedule.

If you choose to use a traditional month on one side of your spread, this will allow you to use the other side to make a list of items and goals that you want to do for the month. 

Daily Spread:

This space is where you get super specific about exactly what you want to accomplish during the day. 

Weekly Spread:

Make notes of things you need to do to prepare for the things on your monthly spread. 

Make a list of the items from your monthly to-do list that you can want to focus on for the week. 

Personally, I keep a running to-do list on my weekly spread with space beside each task to include the date it is scheduled.

Closing and Final Tips


  1. Try not to get sucked up in the ‘shiny object’ world.
  2. You won’t know anything about what will work for you until you actually begin using your planner.

A Fun Challenge:

During this two-month trial run, experiment with tipping in a page somewhere in this practice planner, try using washi tape, try using stickers, try using colored pencils, and try using a color coding system.

Special Bonus Offer

If you would like assistance from me to help you Perform Weekly and Monthly Reviews to check progress, please contact me.  I would love to help you!  [It’s absolutely FREE with no strings attached.]

Christina Davis is a SAHM who loves everything planner & planning related!  She enjoys helping beginners to get started with planning and also helping seasoned planners gain fresh insight.  It’s all in your perspective. 

You can contact Christina by:

2 thoughts on “How to Get Started Planning (+ free Planning your Plan Guide)

  • April 15, 2017 at 2:28 PM

    I love the “Its just paper”. So true. Thanks for the tips!

  • April 17, 2017 at 7:44 AM

    You make a lot of great points here! Thank you for this article!
    BTW, I tried to click the link for the video, but it just took me to the image file. :-/


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