Creating a Custom Personal Planner – Assembly

December 29th, 2011 by Angel | Print Creating a Custom Personal Planner – Assembly

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas holiday! Last week, I managed to get all of the planner templates updated for 2012. Since there’s only a few more days to go before you can use them, I figured I might as well make a quick tutorial on what to do with them, in case you’re new to the world of DIY planners. With just a few tools that can be purchased at your local office supply store, you can create a unique and functional planner that allows you to keep everything you need (and nothing you don’t) at your fingertips.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started…

  • Notebook Shell – This can be anything from a regular 3-ring binder to a beautiful leather Circa, whatever you have on hand and fits your tastes.
  • Printer Paper - It’s best to use a higher weight paper for your planner (I used inkjet 26lb paper) since you’ll be flipping through it often and regular copy paper can tear easily. However, if you have plain copy paper on hand feel free to use it.
  • Colored Card Stock – Technically, it doesn’t have to be colored, but since we’re using it for the dividers, I suggest color to make it stand out from the regular content. I also suggest having at least 2 colors, as using a different color for the page finder makes it easier to quickly find what you’re looking for.
  • Hole Punch – The hole punch you use will obviously need to match your notebook style. You can get a normal three hole punch at any office store, or if you’re using a disc system you can usually get one from the same place you got your notebook (or eBay if you want to save a few bucks).
  • Adhesive Labels – I personally use the printable labels, but if handwritten labels are more your style by all means use them. Also, you can purchase whole dividers and skip buying this (and the card stock if you don’t want to make a page finder either).
  • Pocket Dividers – This is just a personal suggestion, as a lot of things we tend to put in our planners are best left unpunched (in my case, scholarship applications, resumes, and things of that sort).
  • Writing Paper – This can be just regular notebook paper or any scrap paper you’d like to keep for notes and extra bits of information. I personally use Circa Annotation paper because I can organize my notes easier, but someone who does a lot of mind maps might be better off using plain white or graph paper.

Before you continue with the tutorial, go ahead and make a list of things you’d like to use your planner for. With that list, decide what types of content you need. If you’re using it to keep track of finances, you’ll need a bank register and budget worksheet at minimum. For weight loss and diet tracking, you’ll need a calorie or exercise diary. Once you’ve decided on what you need in your planner, go ahead and pop over to my Get Your Own page and download the templates you like. If you need something I don’t have, try DIY Planner. They have templates for nearly every occasion, so you’re sure to find anything else you might need there.

Now that you have all the tools you need and have your content figured out, let’s get started with the assembly…

Here’s the shell I’ll be working with for the tutorial. It is a black and gold woven Circa Notebook from Levenger. Unfortunately, this particular style is discontinued, but you can sometimes find them on eBay or you can get a similar style Circa from Levenger’s website.

As you can see, I’ve already added my dividers and blank paper. I keep two dividers: one full letter size for documents like scholarship applications and resumes, and one junior size one for receipts and pay stubs.

Here’s a shot of the divider tools I’ll be using. As mentioned earlier I prefer the printable tabs as they give a more refined look. I also use metallic card stock that matches the gold and black cover. This particular pack comes with copper, gold, silver, and bright white colored card stock. I use the gold and silver for the planner, then keep the copper and white for other occasions.

Earlier, you decided the content you wanted in your planner. Now you just need to decide what sections you want to divide the content into. I keep nearly everything in it’s own section so I can flip to it quickly. Once you have your sections figured out, you can either use blank card stock or print section names on the card stock like I did in the photo above. These will be the dividers.

After you’re done making the dividers, create a tab for each one and adhere them to the edges. It might take a while to get them spaced correctly, and as you can see in my picture above, it might not end up perfect. Just do the best you can, you can always move it later if it bothers you.

While you have the card stock out, go ahead and print your page finders. The ones I provide here are meant to be printed three to a page, double sided. I’ll talk about how to make this sheet into a page finder later. Right now, we’re just working on getting everything printed and ready.

Last thing to print is the content. You can print them however you like, but I prefer to print nearly everything double sided to save paper. I also print my budget worksheets on the back of my monthly calendars. Decide which pieces of content go into which sections and divide them up accordingly.

You might also notice I have a few bills in my stack above. That’s one of the great things about making your own planner… you can add and remove temporary things whenever you need to. I keep my bills in the same section as my calendar (a section I call “This Month”) so I can easily edit my budget as they come in and I can keep up with what I’ve paid and what I haven’t. Once they’re paid, I move them to the back (to a section I call “To Be Filed”), so everything in the calendar area is awaiting payment.

Let’s get ready to RUMBLE! Okay, there’s no fighting involved… But you will be doing some punching in the next step. First, punch all of your dividers and add them to your notebook shell. Once all of your sections are set up and easy to find, punch your content. With the dividers already in, it’s not a challenge to find where to add the content into the notebook.

Now your custom planner is almost complete! Doesn’t it look great? Just a couple more things to do…

Of all the planner templates I’ve created, and all the many forms in each, the one thing I hear people talking about the most is the weekly to-do page finder! I must admit, it’s a pretty smart idea. :)

I told you earlier we’d cover how to cut and punch the page finder. So first, we need to get the full page down to three. You can use a cutter like the one I have pictured, a guillotine, or plain scissors… whichever you have handy. Cut the three pieces as evenly as possible. If they’re not all the same size, do not worry! You will only be using one at a time, so no one will ever notice.

Punching the page finder is the crucial part of this lovely little tool. You want it to stick just above the rest of your pages, but you don’t want punch holes visible. You also want to make sure that it does not stick so far out of the planner that it will get bent and torn. Lastly, the difference between the top punch hole and the top of the page finder shouldn’t be any more than between two punch holes, because if you want to keep extras in the back of your planner you want to be able to store them down in the rings or discs until you’re ready to use them.

I try to keep enough page finders at the back to last me through the month, so that I don’t need to do any more printing or punching until I get ready to print the next month’s content. You can see in the pictures above what the page finder looks like both inside the content of the planner and stored in the back.

Congratulations! You’ve now completed the assembly of your customized personal planner! Now you have all of the things you need in one convenient place, ready to help you get organized and manage your time wisely. Your important documents now have a safe place to stay when you need them on the go and your bills can always be near your budget and bank register.

The best part? Anything you want can be added or removed anytime! So if you get a monthly work schedule *shazam* you can add it to the front. This semester’s class schedule and book list *pizzap* added to the reference section. That spreadsheet that contains all of your nail polish *pow* it has a place where it can reside with you to reference anytime!

I know that 2012 is only days away now, and many people are making their New Year’s Resolutions right about now. Whether you have been stuck on an organization system in the past or your resolution is to get a system that you can actually stick with, I hope that this tutorial can help you to organize your life and day-to-day schedule. A new year is a great time to start new habits, and this particular good habit happens to be something that is based on starting on  January 1st! What better time to start?

Do you already have your own customized planner? Have you followed this tutorial? If so, I’d love to see pictures of what you’ve come up with! Feel free to email them or leave a link in the comments for me. Of course, I’m obsessed with any sort of organization, and planners happen to be my particular weakness, so I love to see what others use.

Here are some tools I suggest to help you get started creating your planner:

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and manage to stick to your resolutions! Happy New Year everyone!!



  1. Thank you for the .pdf files of the DIY planner pages you made. They are great! I’ve been making my own planner for a few years and this year I was too lazy to design pages myself :) . I like the sparkle paper you used for dividers! I have a Franklin Covey half page binder and hole punch that I use. I’ll just scale the full page templates you use down to half pages and they will work beautifully…thanks again!

  2. Kano

    Thank you for the planner templates, both static and editable versions, and these instructions. I got here via diyplanner and as it turns out I like your Dallas theme more than anything on diyp! I added some matrix pages from diyp core package. Here’s what I love about Dallas:
    — size
    — sharp black lines that are not too thick or overwhelming; just the right balance of darkness, thickness and sharpness
    — inspirational quotes; love this!

    If you have time and care to, please write a post about how you make your planner pages, i.e. some basic instructions on how we can make our own. I’d really like to make vertical monthly calendars for Dallas, two pages to a month so I don’t have to turn the planner to use them. I’d also like to make 3-4 days per page Day Pages. Do you use just Word and Tables in Word or is it more complicated than that?

    Thanks for the awesome and simple templates!

    • Thank you for your feedback, Kano! To answer your question, I do use tables in Word to create the templates. I also use a few wordboxes when necessary, but he majority of the templates are created using tables. Simple, yes, but I like it that way because more people are able to edit to their own needs that way.

      Also, thank you for the suggestion of a tutorial on making the planner pages. I hadn’t thought of that, but will definitely get to work on it. I have also considered making the two-up vertical calendar that you suggest. Maybe I will use the creation of this for the screenshots of the tutorial… :)

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the Dallas templates!

  3. Betsy M

    Angel, I just wanted to say that these pages are wonderful. Thanks so much. I am trying to get more organized and did not feel like spending lots of $$ on a planner system. You have exactly what I was hoping to find! I will be sending some of my friends to your blog who are trying to get a planner system working as well. Thanks again.

  4. Beth

    Love, love, love this! Just printed some of my own simply silver pages and I am so grateful to you for sharing! :D

  5. Eve

    Thank you so much for your hard work. I think you are very talented and all you’ve posted here is definitely going to help me create my own planner for the first time.

  6. Hi Angel. I have pinned your Custom Planner Assembly tutorial from here, onto Pinterest and it is getting a LOT of repins! Very popular! Hope things are going well for you!


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