I realized that before I do a step-by-step planning post there are a few other items I wanted to discuss – mostly because I’ve spent a crapload of money on them and didn’t need to.
To help you avoid a few pitfalls, let’s talk about fun accessories and what I do, or don’t, do with them.
You will hear a lot about washi tape. A kind of Japanese masking tape that comes in a billion designs, washi can be used for both practical and decorative purposes. It gives an instant shot of color to your page, and if you have a planner without a lot of divisions built in, you can use it to create sections on each day for whatever you like. You can also use a strip of washi to mark off multi-day events on your monthly calendar. You can write on many kinds of washi – permanent markers are usually recommended but experiment with other kinds as well.
It’s so hard not to go nuts with the washi! There are dozens of Etsy shops that sell it, and you can find it in any craft store and even the Target Dollar Spot (dear God do we planner people love the Dollar Spot). If you want to play with it, find a couple of rolls in colors you love, and try using it for the next few weeks. You’ll be able to tell pretty quickly if you’re going to use it enough to be worth amassing a collection.
I’ve posted about the craziness of my sticky note collection before, and you’ll be gratified to know I gave away at least half of that stack. I was setting up my new Plum Paper Planner and figuring out where to put stickies when I realized that the truth is I use maybe three kinds in my planner at a time. I certainly didn’t need a full stack of each – a full pad will make it impossible to close the planner. There were some things I’d never even opened.
Stickies have the same problem as washi – they’re everywhere! They’re pretty cheap! They come in every color! Now that retail chains have caught on, you can find fun stickies in all the office supply stores, not to mention all the creative varieties you can find online.
I for example like to have a regular sized square (3×3″), something smaller than that in the 2×1″ range, and one set of page flags. It’ll take me years to get through what I’ve already acquired.
Other Things You Don’t Really Need (But You Might Want Them Anyway, Hey, I’m Not the Boss of You)
1 – Wacky paper clips. Paper clips and binder clips are useful for a lot of things, and even the weirdly shaped ones (bows, bunnies, hearts etc) are good to have on hand. But those handmade clips that stick up 2-3″ above the top of the planner? If you keep your planner at home, they’re fine, but for most people, those big crazy paper clips are mostly good for making your planner look fabulous in Instagram photos. They’re awfully cute, though.
2 – Tassels/planner charms. I still don’t get these. I had a really adorable charm I kept on my Erin Condren, but it was constantly getting stuck in things, snared in fabric, bits of it getting lost. I’ve seen gigantic yarn tassels in subscription boxes and such. Again, they do make for pretty pictures.
3 – Planner covers, bookmarks, dashboards and such. Fact: If you’re in a coil-bound planner, you’re going to get bored with its cover eventually, just as people with binder-style planners regularly redo their dividers, dashboards, and even the binders themselves. There’s nothing at all wrong with making or buying more (just like with anything on this list), but they’re not necessarily things you need. Still, far cheaper to buy a couple of new covers than a whole new planner. When you go to order from an Etsy shop, double check the shop’s reviews to make sure the seller knows her way around a laminating machine.
4 – Pens and markers. This one is partly a necessity – you do need to write in your planner, after all. Do you intend to color-code? Or do you just want to use fun colors? Does the pen you already use bleed through your planner’s pages? Does it dry fast enough that your hand won’t smear it? Do you plan to doodle or are you all business? Do you like fountain pens, gel pens, ballpoints? Most of the time when people end up with dozens of pens it’s because they’ve been trying to find what works. But if you know you’re unlikely to use anything but a blue pen, there’s no point in buying the full color set of Papermate Flairs – the nice thing about pens is you can try a couple without having to get all the colors.
So, here’s the takeaway from all three of these stuff-to-buy posts: Know Thyself.
1 – What do you need your planner to do?
2 – What would you like it to do on top of that?
3 – How would you like it to look?
You’re not under any obligation to do anything a certain way or with a certain kind of product. And you don’t have to do everything at once! If you’re not sure where to start, give yourself a budget of, say, $20 if you have it, and don’t buy anything else until you’ve used whatever you got with that 20. And if you have a mountain of crap you bought, like I did, you can always find people to give it to, especially in planner Facebook groups or on Instagram.
There are two things that matter in this whole planner thing:
- Your life is more organized or at least feels less stressful
- You’re having fun.
If either one of these criteria isn’t being met, you need to take stock again. You don’t have to go in for all this pretty stuff. And even if you do, there’s only one way to do it right: your way. It’s your life you’re investing in. Your goals. Your peace of mind. All the stickers in the world won’t help you with any of that if they don’t work for you.
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