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Big Plans: The Official Laurel Denise Blog

Jan 2024

6 Tips to Help You Get Started with Your Planner

Is there anything more exciting (and maybe scary) than putting an actual pen to that perfect little planner baby you just purchased? I mean, yes, but also - and I mean this earnestly - no. I get it, I really do. Even I, the honored owner of Laurel Denise, who has access to as many planners as I could ever dream of, hesitated before actually writing in and setting up my planner this year.

You're panicked thinking of all of the perfect planners you've seen online, you want it to be just right because that means your life will work just right this year, and you just really, really, really can't handle a mistake right now. I've always said that there's so much hope in a planner purchase and that can be beautiful and encouraging and inspiring and also super heavy and filled with pressure. 

You are not alone, my friend. And you are not silly for not wanting to make a mistake. We are planner people; we get it.

I am here to (hopefully) help lighten the load as you embark on this journey with 5 of my favorite planner move-in hacks, tips, tricks...whatever to get you starting putting pen to planner this year!

Planner Set Up Tip No. 1:
Before you write anything into your planner, use our STICKY NOTE SLIDE PUZZLE method/game (if we call it a game, it sounds more fun, right?).

  1. Write all of the things you want to include in your planner on separate sticky notes - birthdays, appointments, deadlines, meals, habits, to do list, don’t forgets, etc.
  2. Move those sticky notes around on your planner layout to see what can fit where. Keep moving them around until you find something that gives all of your items a home, feels realistic, and works for your brain!
  3. Start writing your information into the sections you’ve chosen in your planner!

pro tip: save these sticky notes on one of your back pages in case you want to switch up your layout in the future!

Planner Set Up Tip No. 2:
There are a lot of ideas out there and that can feel overwhelming, especially with our brand of planners. Check out our How to Use our Planners Page that features some of our favorite layouts. Do a quick sketch of those layouts on one piece of paper so that you can look at them at the same time. Compare them all together and pick the one that feels like home.

This tip is simple, but the magic of seeing everything in the same space is sort of a core belief system of mine and, even though I know it sounds overwhelming, I promise it helps you to be able to take a big picture view of things to make choices less worrisome.

Planner Set Up Tip No. 3:
Remember that nothing is permanent, especially if you. use erasable pens. 
You can find my favorites here and my favorite tools in general right here.

Planner Set Up Tip No. 4:
We always say that your planning style is allowed to change and filling in all 12 months at a time can be a lot to commit to. Try our 31 FLAVORS STICKY NOTE METHOD (I’m naming these on the fly...can you tell?) that helps you make plans, but not commit to a layout for the entire year. In other words, this tip
 helps you make and keep plans and be aware of your future schedule without the whole setting up your year in one session pressure. 

  1. Grab a long or a large square sticky note and write 1-31 on the far left side, leaving space to write next to each number.
  2. Plop that sticky note into each month of your planner and, when plans come up, jot them on that sticky note instead of in your planner spread.

Planner Set Up Tip No. 5:
Join our private Facebook Group. Seriously, it’s the actual best place on Facebook and the encouragement and ideas people give to each other is second to none. Even if you don’t have Facebook, because I get it, I would join just to be a part of this group.

Planner Set Up Tip No. 6:
Look at last year's planner! The easiest way to do something new is to look at the past. Start with January and work your way through your previous year - what did you do, what birthdays and anniversaries happened, what projects were you working on, what did you track, what did you forget - that you'd like to include the year? Even if you don't have a layout yet, just jot this stuff on a sticky note and put that into each month (man, I sure do have a thing with sticky notes, don't I?!). You can decide where to put that information later.

For more tips, check out this YouTube Video - How To Move Into Your Planner.