How to Organize Your Day Planner

How To Organize Your Day Planner ~ 

The Situation:

I love to plan my day using a day planner that I designed myself. I am pleased to share with you how to organize your day planner! This article is a continuation of the articles How to Organize Your Personal Calendar and Tips For Using Your Personal Planner. If you haven’t read them yet, you may want to check these out too!

How To Organize Your Day Planner - Time With Thea

I previously wrote that I work with a lot of technology and a couple of different digital calendars in my day job and I have tried going totally digital when it comes to my planning. But I have to admit that I use the tech version as my back up and I prefer to use the hard copy version for my yearly and day-to-day planning.

I also previously wrote about how I organize my personal calendar and now I want to share with you how I organize my personal day planner to stay on top of everything I need to do.

Most of you know that I have worked as a teacher for a long time. Teachers are very skilled at making lots of different kinds pf plans including day plans indicating how the instructional day will go. It has been only natural that I create day plans to help me plan and organize my personal daily life as well. I also have to admit I quite enjoy planning because it gives a sense of control and confidence for how my day is going to be.

The Problem:

I have tried a number of systems over the years ranging from purchasing day planners with all of the times listed in a column for each day, to a basic notebook or a large binder filled with loose leaf pages where I filled in all of the content.

I have finally settled on a system that really works for me. However, there is a bit of a start up cost. Let me explain.

The Solution:

At Staples I bought the Avery® Mini Durable Binder for 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ Pages with 2″ Round Ring (Product #27275), three packages of blank lined pages, one package of dividers for each month, plastic dividers and plastic pockets. The cost was around $20.00 by the time I bought all of the pieces. But my only cost now will be replacing the lined pages and I don’t have to buy a whole new day planner every year.

I decided to go with this small binder for a number of reasons. It is lightweight and I like the size because it will fit in my workbag or purse if need be. Most of all, I can organize this little binder in a way that works for me.

Here Are The Instructions For How To Organize Your Day Planner…

The first section is for things that need to be remembered and tasks that need to be completed. I organize my tasks by the following categories: Phone Calls, Emails, Errands, House Tasks, Craft Projects, Blog Tasks, Shopping, Groceries. Each category gets a page. As each new ‘must-do’ or item comes up I just add it to the corresponding page and as they are completed I cross them off. There is something therapeutic about crossing off things when they are completed.  I don’t record a completion date for any of these tasks or items here because I list this information in the day plan section.

How To Organize Your Day Planner - Time With Thea

The next section is for my day plans. The photo below shows how I write two dates per page. I also underline each date with a pencil crayon using a ruler. The colour coding system is the same as what I use in my year planner.  I use green to indicate days off, pink for weekdays, blue for important dates and purple for special celebrations.

Then underneath each date list anything that will help you be and keep organized. I list things like what I am going to have for breakfast (B), lunch (L) and dinner (D), and other personal things I need to take care of. I don’t include my work tasks because I have a separate planner at work but when my children were young I also included their various activities.

How To Organize Your Day Planner - Time With Thea

Another little handy trick is to clip the corners of each page as each day passes. This saves a lot of time looking for the current date.

How To Organize Your Day Planner - Time With Thea

I like this system because now it is a perpetual calendar. As each month ends I just move it to the back of the binder and add dates for the next year.

I use the plastic pouches at the back of the binder to hold things like notes, cheques, stamps and coupons. I have extra dividers at the back of the binder just in case I need to use them to make a new section.

How To Organize Your Day Planner - Time With Thea

I have my personal calendar open to the corresponding month while I am planning in my day planner. I like having the two planners because I don’t have to flip back and forth from the month page to each of the week or day pages, which would be the case if I were using one agenda.

How To Organize Your Day Planner - Time With Thea

I leave my day planner and personal calendar open at the breakfast table every morning. You guessed it! As I eat my breakfast I check both planners and mentally get organized for my day.

Here is the most important thing to remember. When working with your day planner, try not to over plan. Planning isn’t about seeing how much you can get done in a day but more about how you can effectively use your time.

The system that works for me may not totally work for you. But hopefully, I have given you some ideas and tips to help you be more organized with your day planning.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this system or other ideas that you may have that work for you! I invite you to leave a comment and share your thoughts!

This blog has also been one of the most popular posts for 2014. You are invited to check out my other Best How Tos And Tips From Time With Thea For 2014 by clicking on the pinnable image for more great organizing ideas.

Best How Tos And Tips From Time With Thea 2014 ~ Time With Thea

This idea for How To Organize Your Day Planner was featured on the Hometalk Facebook Page!

I so appreciate you reading this article and spending ‘Time With Thea’!



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  1. says

    I try to keep everything on my phone, but I do miss seeing it all laid out in front of me, flipping the pages, getting to cross things out…I may embark on trying to find a planner that can easily fit in my bag :) Thanks for the great suggestions!!

  2. says

    Man, you are so well organized! I feel like the bohemian here lol! I use the big fridge calendar for activities and important dates and lists for everything else… Unfortunately they are scattered all over the house. I tried using the note pad in my iPad but it’s not quite working 😉 calendar in the iPad is used when i need an alarm to remember something. Thanks for sharing your tips Thea!

    • timewiththea says

      I am very organized. My family and friends eve tease me about it. When the kids were little we had the big calendar with everyone’s activities too (and of course, it was colour coded). I am like you where I tried the notepad on my iPad but it didn’t work for me. I am also like you that I use the calendar on my iPhone/iPad for the alert feature and as my back up. Thanks for sharing your great ideas too! ~Thea

    • timewiththea says

      I am so glad you like the idea of organizing tasks by categories. It really works and keeps me on top of what I need/want to do in an organized system. Thanks for your positive feedback! ~Thea

    • timewiththea says

      Thank you! It is very flexible and adaptable to everyone’s preferences and differences. ~Thea

  3. says

    You’ve given me a little nudge in the right direction, Thea. I have started to lose my thrill at keeping everything in electronic notes! I have spent about two years getting rid of paper notes, paper calendars and transferring my needs between computer and phone sources. But recently I’ve found myself getting quite confused! Ha! Sometimes the electronics don’t speak to each other in exactly the same language and I get lost in between. I’d begun to wonder if I should go back to a journal type of organization. Your post couldn’t be more timely! I’ll be at Staples almost immediately! :-)

    • timewiththea says

      I am so glad I have given you a nudge. I went through exactly the same experience and just decided to plan in a way that totally works for me. Not only was I getting confused and missing things that had to be done, but I found I was spending too much time trying to figure out what I had to do. I least with the paper version it is a quick look and then I move on. There are no usernames or passwords either! Take Care, Thea

  4. timewiththea says

    Wow! Are you ever planned. I love it. Isn’t it great there are so many options. I primarily use Apple devices and the cloud so everything synchs automatically. I use the Google calendar and Google Drive at work. No need to synch things with my husband digitally, we just chat about our schedules. I agree with you that the writing tasks work best for the ‘brain dump’ (love that term) which I do in the form of a web. Thanks you so much for sharing your preferences. My followers and visitors will benefit! Stay in touch. ~Thea

  5. says

    I am a wee bit confused you say, The first section is for things that need to be remembered and tasks that need to be completed. I organize my tasks by the following categories: Phone Calls, Emails, Errands, House Tasks, Craft Projects, Blog Tasks, Shopping, Groceries.” How do these get into some sort of to do for the day? Do you look at each page each day?

    • Time With Thea says

      Hi Sandra! First of all, thanks for taking the time to get a clarification on something that was confusing. Hopefully, my explanation makes it a little bit clearer and if not, please let me know. The front pages of my custom day planner house the tasks by category. The list for each category is like a perpetual what I call ‘Must Do’ list and also acts as a reminder of what needs to be done. I really like having things by category because I can chunk some of the tasks like errands or making phone calls together when I get them done. I don’t always refer to these pages daily but I do when I am planning for the week. I will go through the ‘Must Do’ pages and plop in the days of the week pages when I am going to do what task. As things get done, I cross them off and as things come up I add them to the perpetual list. I hope that made sense to you. This is a system that really works for me and I hope it works for you. Thanks again for stopping by! ~Thea

  6. says

    Thanks! I really need to get organized for school, especially since it is the last semester of high school and I am going on to university. My schedule is either completely empty or insanely hectic, so this will be sure to keep me busy and not stressed.

    • Time With Thea says

      Hi Sarah, First of all congratulations and good luck at university. You are so wise to be thinking about how to plan for all of your assignments and tests. I would like to suggest that as soon as you get your course outline, that you highlight the way I explained in the post the important due dates. Thanks for your feedback and for taking the time to comment! ~Thea

  7. says

    I love my paper planner too, Thea. I keep my to-do list and calendar together in this one location and it works for me. I think the secret is being very consistent with whatever method you use… write it ALL down, and keep it with you. Great to show very practical, concrete options like this for people who are trying to decide what might be best for them:)
    Seana Turner recently posted…Introducing “Polly Tries”My Profile

    • says

      Thanks Seana! I know there are so many different planners and ways to plan and I have tried many of them. This system is so low maintenance, quite inexpensive and works the best for me. You are so correct to be consistent and write it all down no matter what type of planning system you use!
      timewiththea recently posted…How To Make A Fabulous WreathMy Profile

  8. Theresa says

    I love hardcopy planners. For technology gets in the way. I get too caught up in the machinary and then wind up sidetracked

    • says

      Hi Theresa! I am like you. I tried going totally tech in my planning but found I was dropping the ball on some things so went back to the hard copy. The other issue for me was that I was tied to the system created by the application or the app and it did not quite fit my system. Creating your own just made more sense. It is nice that there are so many choices for us to work with. Thanks for your comment!
      timewiththea recently posted…10 Ways To Decorate And Organize For ChristmasMy Profile

  9. Cristina Bourgaize says

    Thank you for these helpful tips. When my two sons were at school I was organized and timely – almost with military gusto! Since they are grown up and have left home I have let things slide but have made a resolution that in 2015 I will get back to being the old organised me

  10. Cathy Chapman says

    Hi, it’s my first time visiting your blog! Love it! But, can you help a person who is not really a list maker? I need help! Lol I usually get the minimum of what I need to do done, but would like to make better use of my time and be even more productive in the New Year – yay 2015! I love papers & pencils, color coding, markers, etc., but when it comes to consistency I start out great, but then slowly taper off until I can’t catch up, any tips? Thank you so much!


    • says

      Thanks for the positive feedback Cathy about the blog! You bring up a very valid issue when it comes to planning and that is consistency and follow through. Since I had to be planned in my job as a teacher it did become a routine for me. Some tips that really helped is that I place my planner at the breakfast table every morning so I could review the day and add to it what needed to be done. I also booked a time one day a week where I planned what I knew was going on for the week. If I knew I had a busy time coming (like Christmas) I also made time for planning sessions. The positive outcome for me to use my planner regularly was that I was less stressed. The more planned and organized I was the more things ran smoothly. I would also start simple and just plan the basics that work for me. The danger in planning too much is that one can spend more time planning than actually doing the tasks. LOL! Thank you again and good luck!
      timewiththea recently posted…10 Ways To Decorate And Organize For ChristmasMy Profile