Get Organized for the New Year With Me! : How I Set Up My Planner

How I Set Up My Planner


I am using a planner combo – my Starbucks 2015 Planner which I Unboxed and Reviewed and this planner that I got from Ensogo (it was P99, but ended up costing only P49 including shipping because I had P100 credit and additional 11% OFF, but only blue was in stock).

Let’s call this my Daily Planner:
Daily Planner 2015

The past few years of trial and error have taught me one thing – I needed a daily planner because I liked dumping everything on the planner. If I don’t write it down, I forget it. And I need space to write it all.

How I Set Up My Planner - Daily Planner Inside Page Full Blank

But the daily planner is not a good space to put my goals and plans – it’s not easy to visualize your week or your month when you have a one page a day planner. So I am going to use my Starbucks 2015 Planner as a “planner” planner where I put in my goals, tasks, appointments, reminders, basically anything that is planned ahead.

I am going to use the daily planner as my daily log – every morning, I am going to check my Starbucks 2015 Planner and see what I have scheduled for the day, and put that into my daily page, blocking out and scheduling appropriate times, adding any to-do lists for the day, any random stuff or request that comes up, and random notes. Trust me, these won’t fit into the puny space provided by weekly planners. I also like this because this gives me a nice log of what I did, and keeps random notes all in one place. For example, if I called PLDT tech support because our DSL is acting up again, I’d write the reference # they gave me on the daily planner. If I had to call back to follow up, it’s going to be easy for me to look for the reference # because it’s just a few pages back. I’d be able to provide the actual date I called, and the reference number. No need to go hunting for post-it notes that could easily get lost – because all my notes are in my daily planner. I also note down stuff I did – like if I saw a movie with somebody, what the movie was and where we were. Or where we had lunch or dinner. Or if there was a typhoon and it flooded. Even if I did nothing but just spend the whole day reading a book – I’d note it down. Sort of like a diary. If somebody asked me when we did what, I can just check my daily planner and give them an answer. For some odd reason, being this “together” makes me happy.

An easier way to think about this is:

STARBUCKS 2015 PLANNER – planned items
DAILY PAGE PLANNER – what actually happened; what was actually done

You don’t have to follow my planner style. Do what works for you. The important thing is, you must have something like a planner as a reference or guide for the following year. Trust me. I’ve had years when I thought that I’d just wing it and not make a real, actual plan for the next year, and those years turned out to be less than productive.

Why am I using a paper planner?

Opening my planner and writing is just faster than typing and tapping things on my phone… And it’s never low-batt. Using FriXion pens, editing and erasing entries are not an issue anymore, and I don’t have that many recurring appointments to make me want to have them automated. Writing things out makes them stick in my memory more, too.

The bad news is, it’s not stored in “the cloud”, so that means I have to make sure I never lose it.

Here is how I am setting up my Starbucks 2015 Planner:

First, I am going to note down the non-negotiables into my planner. These are holidays, birthdays, anniversaries – things that are set in stone.

Transfer any still relevant notes from last year’s planner. For example, I keep a running list of things I need to do in 2015, 2016, 2017, etc…

This is for things like:

  • driver’s license renewal (every 3 years)
  • passport renewal (every 5 years)
  • domain name and website hosting renewals (for website), etc…
  • car registration (every year)
How I Set Up My Planner - Upcoming Years

In case you are wondering, not all of them are my cars – I am just the one who keeps tracks of things like this for everyone else 🙂

Since there is no exact day when I need to renew my passport (as long as it’s within 6 months before expiration), I just stick a post-it reminder. For example, if my passport will expire in Sept 2015, I’ll put a post-it note on the January 2015 month page to renew my passport before end of Feb. Just in case I fail to do it on January, I can easily move the post-it to February.

If you are in business, feel free to include any relevant dates and must-do’s for various government transactions and permit renewals, document filing deadlines, etc…

If there are ongoing promos and expiring items you have, you might want to take note of them too – such as when your Shakey’s Pizzanatic Supercard will expire, when you need to use up your earned credit card points, and if you purchased deals online, when the vouchers will expire. I also note down when my prepaid load will expire, so I can reload before I lose my credits. No need to clutter up your monthly view – some things you can write on the weekly page.

I decided on the following:

MONTHLY PAGE – major stuff like holidays, birthdays, vacation days, major plans, major appointments, whole day events I am a part of, parties; things that are due like bills; release dates for movies / books that I am really looking forward to; events I am interested in attending like 3-Day sales, bazaars, conventions (in pencil only); Goals & Tasks that I need to finish; sticky note reminders that I need to prepare for XYZ – for example, if someone’s going to have their birthday soon, I put a sticky note reminder two weeks before that I need to buy a gift for them.

How I Set Up My Planner - January Monthly Page

As you can see, I put a highlighted line between Friday and Saturday so I can easily tell when the weekend starts. Sometimes if there’s no delineation between weekdays and weekends, I tend to think I have more time in the week than I actually do.

I also highlighted holidays using the brown Starbucks highlighter pen. Usually, NOTHING happens on holidays. It’s like time stops. Even I can’t get myself to be in a working mood.  I need to be aware of when they are and plan accordingly – banks are closed, offices are closed, so I need to know to call people before or after, and expect delays.

In the back pocket, I inserted some paper that I cut to fit the planner, and I put in lists like Want to Buy; Want to Read, Watch, Listen to; Notes / Random. You know when sometimes you hear a song while out and you tell yourself to remember so you can look for a copy / add to your playlist when you get home? I always forget! With these lists, I hope I’ll forget less.

How I Set Up My Planner - Lists

I also made a Bills Payment Tracker and a Monthly Task Tracker to insert into the back pocket of my planner. The details for the Bills Payment Tracker include the date it was paid, the amount and how it was paid (thru a bayad center, by phonebanking, online, etc…). I like having these details available quickly instead of just seeing a simple checkbox. If you would like to get a copy of this tracker, I am providing the tracker file for free download!

How I Set Up My Planner - Back Pocket Lists and TrackersHow I Set Up My Planner - Monthly Bill and Task Trackers

WEEKLY PAGE – all of the things on the monthly page, plus minor meetings, must-do’s, tasks, scheduled or planned blog posts, things to follow up, etc… Generally for things that are more concrete – for example, if someone’s birthday is coming up, I actually make a plan for when I will be going to the mall to purchase a gift or a cake, or if a new movie is coming out, I will actually write down in my Weekly Page when I plan to go watch it. Basically, I open this and I should see what I am going to be doing for the day, what I should think about, plan for, and worry about

Many things don’t go according to plan. Sometimes I get asked to watch a movie out of the blue, like, on Wednesday night instead of my usual weekend. But it’s all good. That’s life. Sometimes we just have to roll with it and enjoy life as it comes. But for other things, planning is still the best default mode!

Most Popular Films for 2015
DVD Release Dates for 2015

Also, please check out my post on Movies to See in 2015.

I will be using the color-coding I discuss below.

Here is how I am setting up my Daily Planner:

How I Set Up My Planner - Daily Planner Inside Page with Sample Schedule

The reason I bought this planner was because there’s a separate column for the schedule, and a separate area to write anything on. Most other daily planners only have space for the schedule and no designated area for notes.

I separated the space into Reminders, Focus, Work, Blog, Personal and Chores and color-coded them:

  • Reminders (red) – if it’s a holiday, somebody’s birthday; important notes like bills due
  • FOCUS (red) – what I will focus on for the day; there are a million things that grab my attention and need to be done during the course of the day, but defining a focus for the day will help to keep me working towards my goals and not spend too much time on trivial to do’s; how many hours have been lost that started out as just “I’m just going to call customer service for company X to fix this and that” and ended up 2 hours later googling “I hate company X! Their customer service sucks!”
  • Work (blue) – everything work-related; email this person, call that person, write this, email that, etc…
  • Blog (green) – blog-related; what post I need to write today
  • Personal (pink) – all personal stuff
  • Chores (purple) – household tasks, groceries, helping others (like helping dad set up his phone)

Now that I’ve set up the basics, next I am going to think about my goals for the next year and incorporate them into my planner.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please feel free to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you!

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2 thoughts on “Get Organized for the New Year With Me! : How I Set Up My Planner

  1. 21minute

    Very useful tips! I also have the Starbucks planner but I think I’ll be using the Calendar and Reminders apps on my iPad as a substitute to the daily planner and I’ll keep using the real planner for the important plans and goals as well as my guide to properly arrange my daily or weekly tasks. I think it should be enough. I can’t risk bringing another book in my bag daily as it’s gonna be heavy and bulky at that point. I bring with me four books every day (including the planner). One for my journal writing, one for creative ideas, and one for my novel writing (I dream to become a writer someday). I seldom bring my laptop as well and of course I have to make room for my iPad and my multiple sets of pens and pencils. Last year was really a miss and wasted chance for me. It was my very first time getting a planner (also from Starbucks) and just looking back at the pages makes me feel depressed with all those precious time wasted with no good use. But then again, I wasn’t feeling well last year. I was constantly fighting against emotional turmoil and it surely took a toll on me and my productivity. But now I’m feeling more prepared and hopefully I’ll make a good use out of this year.

    1. baratadmin Post author

      Hi there, 21minute!

      Thanks for dropping by my blog! Wow, those are a lot of notebooks you are carrying around, plus iPad, pens & pencils! What bag are you using, if you don’t mind?

      Yeah, I know how a year can be wasted if you don’t have a plan. This year, I want to work my plan too and avoid being carried away by random things and just reacting to what is happening around me. But let’s not dwell on regrets. It’s the start of a new year! Think of it as the beginning of the rest of your life. Start anew.

      I hope you are feeling better this year. What helps me is having a happy, hyper playlist. Make a playlist of songs that put you in the mood for facing the year ahead and owning it! I use “Everything is Awesome!” from the Lego Movie and even sing it in my head, like a mantra. I know I’m trying to brainwash myself, but I eventually start believing it 🙂

      Here’s to an awesome 2015!


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