I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get around to organizing a planner of my own!

Organizing My New Inkwell Press Planner (Tips From A Planner Rookie)

I have been a huge Google Calendar user for years. I love having a digital calendar that syncs across all my devices, sends me reminders and can handle recurring events with ease. But after oggling others’ pretty planners all last year and realizing I could use one central place to organize my to-do lists and weekly schedules, I decided to try out a paper planner in 2017.

I haven’t used a planner for a long time, probably since high school actually. I’ve liked the idea, but have struggled with how to utilize a planner most effectively when I already have a great digital system in place with Google Calendar. I had always thought it was an either/or question, either a paper planner or a digital calendar. But after investigating planners and seeing how others use theirs, I realized there was a way to use both!

It’s no wonder planners have become so popular recently – they are very sophisticated, with a multitude of layouts and tons of extra features like meal planners and goal trackers. And they are all beautifully designed! After a ton of research and recommendations from friends, I chose an Inkwell Press planner for 2017.

Now that I’ve been using my new planner for a full month and have found some systems that are working for me, I thought I’d give you a rundown of how I’m using my new planner along with some tips for organizing a planner of your own. I’m still a planner rookie, so I’d love to hear any other ideas you have for getting the most out of a planner!

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

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This post contains affiliate links to planning products I personally use and love. See my disclosure here for more information.

Why I Chose An Inkwell Press Planner

Before I share my tips for organizing a planner, I should probably tell you a bit more about the one I chose. There are so many beautiful planners out there, all with amazing features! I ended up choosing the Inkwell Press Classic A5 LiveWELL Inserts paired with this classy black and white striped binder.

Here’s a list of the features I looked for in a planner:

  • Small and portable so I can carry it in my purse to work and meetings
  • A weekly layout with enough space to write all of my to-dos for each day
  • Beautiful design with high quality paper so ink won’t bleed through (Inkwell Press excels at this!)
  • Flexibility to insert additional printables and pages of my own, like gift trackers and workout routines (why I went with binder inserts instead of a bound planner)
  • An emphasis on goal setting
  • A complement to my existing Google Calendar schedule
  • Something that could combine all of my personal and professional schedules and to-dos into one place

I chose this Inkwell Press planner because it met all of my criteria and I heard rave reviews from friends. Now that I have my own, I will totally vouch for their company any day! This planner is amazing! (You can get $10 off your first Inkwell Press purchase through my affiliate link.)

If you are shopping for a planner, I suggest making your own list of criteria before you begin browsing. The planner world is super overwhelming! Deciding some basic things like the size and layout you want will help you narrow down the options, and your list of criteria can be a litmus test before you click “order.”

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

Organizing A Planner – What’s Currently Working For Me

Time Blocking

I chose the classic layout from Inkwell Press, which gives me vertical space for each day of the week. I use thin washi tape to divide the day into three parts: morning, afternoon and evening. Sometimes I completely time block my day by treating each line as an hour. Other times, I like to have that mental separation between the three sections of my day, but don’t feel the need to time block every hour. Just having tasks divided into those three sections gives me a great plan for the day.

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

Appointments & Meetings

I am using either Sunday afternoons or Monday mornings to plan for the week ahead. I still use Google Calendar to keep track of all of my meetings and appointments, and then I write the upcoming week’s appointments into my planner. This gives me a great look at the week ahead, and I make sure to note any to-dos that I need to finish before those appointments/meetings.

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

Special Events

I also use my planner to track special events like holidays, birthdays, weddings and family gatherings. I put all of these items into Google Calendar, which is nice because I can set up special dates like birthdays and anniversaries to repeat annually and I can keep track of far off dates like weddings and such. I’m aiming to write these special events into my paper planner at the beginning of each month.

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

To-Do Lists

I’ve added a few minutes of daily planning time into my morning routine, and it’s become something I look forward to. I sit down with my planner and decide what I need to do that day. Since I’ve already written in appointments and meetings for the week, it’s easy for me to look at the day and see how much time is available for tackling projects and tasks. I use the remaining lines in my planner to assign tasks to either the morning, afternoon or evening. I keep my planner near me while I work so it’s convenient to check tasks off as they are complete, which is oh so satisfying!

I always have tons of to-dos on my mind, way more than I can realistically complete in a day. In an effort to keep my planner pages looking neat and pretty, I wanted a place to jot down random to-dos as I think of them. I now add a blank sticky note to my weekly spread for collecting the to-dos that come to mind.

When I’m planning my day, I refer to the sticky note and decide what is most important to work on based on how much time I have available to me. Having a running to-do list on that sticky note makes it easy to move it over to the next week if I don’t complete everything.

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

Daily Top 3

The Inkwell Press planners have three small boxes for each day that can be used however you wish. I looked at a lot of examples and people use them to track all sorts of things!

I’m still finding what works best for me, but right now I’ve decided to use the top box to write down my top three goals for that day. I choose these each morning and it helps me stay focused on the few items that are most urgent or most impactful. I don’t always complete everything else on my to-do list for the day, but I really try to at least accomplish my top three.

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

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Daily Wins

I’ve been using the second small box to record daily “wins.” I’m hoping this will help me slow down and reflect on what I accomplish each day. I’ve been aiming to celebrate three wins per day, and they are usually a mix of personal and professional things.

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

Routine Tracker

I’ve written a lot about the value of following routines because I swear by them! When I’m creating my weekly layout and daily plans, I consult my ideal weekly routine as a guide. Since I switched jobs a couple months ago and am now primarily working from home, my morning routine has changed quite a bit. I’m currently trying out a new routine in an effort to use my mornings more intentionally. I wrote a checklist for my new routine on a small sticky note so I don’t forget any of the steps, and move it from week to week so I always have it handy.

Related Reading: Read about how I organize my week for maximum productivity and focus here.

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

Goal Setting

The key to setting goals is carving out regular time to work on them. That’s why I suggest incorporating tasks related to your goals into routines and your weekly schedule. As I’m planning the upcoming week, I always refer back to my current goals and make sure I have some time set aside for them.

Inkwell Press planners place a strong emphasis on goals, which I love! There are a few pages at the beginning for yearly goals. And then the front of each month has a page for your monthly goals. This is a great way to break big goals into manageable monthly chunks, and having them written at the beginning of the month makes it convenient to flip back and review them when I’m creating my to-do lists and schedules for the week.

Related Reading: Learn more about my 90-day goal setting process and download the free worksheet here.

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

Habit Tracking

I’ve been creating a mini habit tracker for each week. Using a small sticky note, I write out my habits with circles behind each to signal how many days of the week I hope to follow that habit. Right now, I’m tracking workouts, reading and walks with my new puppy. You can track all sorts of things! Look back at your goals for ideas of related habits.

Related Reading: Reading my tips for forming new habits and download a free printable monthly habit tracker here.

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

Blog Posts

One thing I was iffy about was how to use my planner for my blog. My blog involves so many to-dos every week, and I didn’t necessarily want to clutter up the pages with a bazillion blog related tasks. I keep track of all of my blog tasks, projects and editorial calendar in Asana, which is great for project management. A couple specific blog tasks usually get added to my evening to-do lists, while all of my ideas and long term plans stay organized neatly in Asana.

I manage my editorial calendar in Asana, but have started using the monthly layout in my planner as an editorial calendar as well. I’ve been using small sticky notes to plan out blog posts for the month, and then I remove the sticky note and write the post title in ink once I’ve written it. I also jot down ideas for my Saturday newsletters on this monthly view, and also track any guest posts being published on other blogs.

It’s nice to have a place for my editorial calendar right within my planner so I can refer to it quickly. The sticky note method is also helpful because I usually have a fairly solid plan for posts for the entire month, but I am often rearranging the exact dates they are published. Having the little sticky notes reminds me of my post plans, while giving me flexibility to move things around as needed.

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

Notes & Lists

I added lined paper to the back of my planner binder and tucked some sticky notes into the front pockets of the planner. These are great for keeping track of other random ideas and lists. I’ve started one page for my reading list, where I write down any books I hear recommended that I want to check into later. I’m sure I’ll use my notes section for all sorts of things during the year! The sticky notes are also handy for making shorter lists that can be added into a specific weekly spread.

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

I love paper planners! This is a great tour of the Inkwell Press planner and how she's using it to stay organized. Time to get organized with a planner of my own!

organize-your-week-free-course-promo-bar

I hope this post gives you some ideas you can use in your own planner! What tips do you have for me? Any must-have supplies? I’ve barely dipped my toes into the huge world of planner stickers and extras. Is there a certain planner brand you swear by? Leave a comment with all of your wisdom for organizing a planner!

Happy planning,

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This post contains affiliate links to planning products I personally use and love. See my disclosure here for more information.

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