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There are few productivity tools that are as irreplaceable as the planner. And having one that’s customized to your needs can go a long way toward helping you keep your resolutions Best Tools to Help You With the Top 10 New Year's Resolutions Best Tools to Help You With the Top 10 New Year's Resolutions Read More and meet your goals in 2015. It’ll remind you of what your goals are, help you track your progress, and give you the resources you need to do your best work.

Instead of using Google Calendar 10 Awesome Google Calendar Features That You Should Try Out 10 Awesome Google Calendar Features That You Should Try Out Read More or a pre-packaged planner from Moleskine 5 Ways To Kick Your Moleskine Notebook Up A Notch 5 Ways To Kick Your Moleskine Notebook Up A Notch Over the years, the Moleskine notebook has become a trademark staple for anyone dabbling in creative endeavors. In fact, the Moleskine is almost as iconic as the Apple laptop, the hipster glasses, and the daily... Read More or Franklin Covey, why not create the perfect planner for yourself this year?

Semi-Customized: Filofax And Circa

filofax-personal-organizer

Both of these companies make high-quality planners that come with default pages and can be easily customized with refill packs that you can buy from the company. For example, the Filofax original planner ($104) comes with a year’s worth of week-on-two-pages planner pages — but you can add a wide range of other pages, from to-do lists and meeting planners to sticky notes.

To customize the planner to your liking, it’s easy to buy an assortment of these pages and mix them. You could have a year calendar at the front to track your long-term goals, and a month calendar at the beginning of each month for short-term ones and calendaring. Two pages of weekly calendars could be followed by a number of to-do list pages or blank notepaper. Whichever pages are most useful for you can be ordered how you like.

The Circa smartPlanner ($44) comes with a sampler pack of “apps” (what Levenger calls their other types of sheets) that includes to-do and take-with lists, meeting notes, a travel sheet, and a brainstorming sheet. You can buy refill packs of the pages you like, and combining these various types of pages allows you to create a planner that works with your style.

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Well Customized: Bound Custom Journals

bound-journals

Bound makes hard-cover journals and lets you choose every single one of the 140 pages. There are 19 categories of pages, ranging from lined and to-do formats to music scales and food-focused ones. There’s even the sought-after Cornell format. To customize the journal, you add exactly the pages you want to.

There’s no yearly calendar available, but most people will be more likely to use monthly and weekly ones anyway. By combining these calendars with note and to-do pages, you can create the perfect combination of calendars and utility pages that will help you keep track of your goals, mark your progress, and be productive. You could even write in your goals ahead of time so they’re set down in ink.

Bound-Customize

Unfortunately, there’s currently no option for going beyond 140 pages. This means that, unless you just want weekly calendars and some notes pages, you’ll need more than one of these books to make it through a year. And at $35, the cost will add up. But the fact that you’re getting a customized hardcover journal that helps you meet your goals might outweigh the cost!

Fully Customized: DIY Planners

diy-planner

If the above options don’t cut it for your passion planning How To Plug Passion Planning Into Your Digital Routines How To Plug Passion Planning Into Your Digital Routines It's time to become a passion planner! Don't consider pen & paper an adequate tool for managing your schedules and tasks? We show you how to plug analog passion planning into your digital tools. Read More , or you don’t want to shell out a couple hundred bucks over the course of a few years for planners, your best bet is probably to take matters into your own hands and build your own planner. It sounds intimidating, but you might be surprised at how useful of a planner you can make on your own, or with a little help.

The first step in creating a DIY planner is to come up with a design that works for you. Fortunately, many people have trod this path before and have left templates in their wake; all you have to do is find them!

If you run a search for “diy notebook page templates,” you’ll come up with tons of options. Here are a few of my favorites:

Also, look into the Office Templates gallery and Google Doc templates for public planners you can customize.

All you have to do is combine sets of different pages to make your perfect planner. If you’re going to be using your planner to help you stick to your resolutions Have New Year's Resolutions? Here Are 5 Inspiring Pieces To Keep You Motivated Have New Year's Resolutions? Here Are 5 Inspiring Pieces To Keep You Motivated If you’ve been preparing a New Year’s resolution list and need a little push, there are many sites that can easily inspire and excite you. There are also numerous inspirational blogs that you can take... Read More and meet your goals Use Excel & Google Tasks to Create the Best Goals Management Tool Ever Use Excel & Google Tasks to Create the Best Goals Management Tool Ever Lately, I've started to realize that I'm working very hard, but if someone asked me whether or not I feel that I'm working toward a larger purpose, I'd have to say that I really don't... Read More for the year, I’d recommend starting out with a yearly calendar to note your long-term goals, a monthly calendar for each month to note your shorter-term goals and time obligations, and adding a couple pages after each month to take notes on your resolution and goal progress.

Beyond that, it’s up to you! Include the kinds of pages that you like — weekly or daily planner pages, checklist pages, isometric grids, unlined, dot grid, or any other sort of page that you like to work with. Once you’ve come up with a design for your planner, you have two options for getting it bound and turning it into a notebook.

Option 1: Have It Printed and Bound Professionally

This is the easier of the two options. Most print shops (like FedEx or Staples) offer at least a few different ways of binding your planner — you can go with whichever method suits you best. I like coil bindings, because losing pages is quite difficult when they’re secured by a coil. D-rings, strip bindings, and staples are all viable options, as well.

Once you’ve decided on a binding method, you just have to print your pages! Talk to someone at the print shop about the best way to get the prints done—whether you should send a PDF or a series of files, which types of paper are available, and so on. I recommend going with a high-quality paper for the best printing How To Pick The Best Printer For Your Budget & Workload How To Pick The Best Printer For Your Budget & Workload So much for the paperless office! The integration of information technology has seemingly increased the amount of paper printing we have to do. So pretty much everyone with a computer needs a printer at some... Read More , as you’re going to be using your planner all year.

Option 2: Bind It Yourself

The other option is to bind your planner yourself. You can still have the pages printed, or you can print them out on your own (though you could find yourself spending a lot of money on ink How To Keep Printing Costs As Low As Possible How To Keep Printing Costs As Low As Possible Let's get this straight - printing emails and documents is primeval! Not only does it cost money, it also wastes resources, storage space, and time. In fact, half of all pages printed are never used!... Read More  if you print a lot of planner pages). There are a number of ways to bind your own planner, and instead of trying to give you tutorials, I’ll link to a few good methods here:

There are probably other methods out there, but one of these five will get you started. Once you’ve chosen one, bind away, and your planner is complete!

What’s Your Favorite Planner?

With these three methods at your disposal, you should be able to create a planner that contains exactly the types of pages you need to be productive, stay organized 4 of the Best Personal Wikis to Keep You Organized 4 of the Best Personal Wikis to Keep You Organized What if there was wiki software designed to help you out on a personal level? You could use it for anything, for example to outline your novel, keep track of home improvement projects, or plan... Read More , and meet your goals this year. Setting reasonable goals SmartGoals for Android Helps You Set Realistic Goals, Measure and Attain Them SmartGoals for Android Helps You Set Realistic Goals, Measure and Attain Them While your smartphone can't make your dreams come true, it may be able to help. Read More and putting motivational tools 10 Motivational TED Talks To Help You Chip Away At Your Mental Blocks 10 Motivational TED Talks To Help You Chip Away At Your Mental Blocks The valuable lesson from the lives of achievers is that they chip away at their mental blocks more consistently than others. Ten TED Talks underscore one simple thing – it’s all in the mind. Read More in place are important, but going through the effort to make a custom planner that perfectly suits your needs will help you have a productive, successful year.

Do you use a planner to stay organized and help you be productive? Do you use it to help you meet your goals? Have you ever tried a custom one? Share your thoughts below!

Image Credits: luxury executive leather personal organizer (edited) via Shutterstock, Ahhh Design.

  1. Michael
    January 25, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Sadly the website DIYPlanner seems to have stagnated and no one there seems to be in charge.

    Darned shame since they have a lot of good stuff there.

    I've had to pull my old organizer out of mothballs and start to use it again.
    I like the feel of paper.

    • Dann Albright
      January 26, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      While I was researching this article, I came across DIYPlanner, and I thought it looked fantastic, but you're right—it's not getting much attention anymore. It looks like there are quite a few good resources there still, but you have to dig a bit for them. Maybe someone'll bring it back someday!

  2. Gene
    December 31, 2014 at 4:55 am

    I bought a bluesky planner at Office Max. That way I don't have to plan time for making a planner.

    • Dann Albright
      December 31, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Yes, that's definitely an option. The Bluesky products look pretty nice—which one did you go with?

  3. Tushar kansara
    December 30, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    last para is flexible

    Size is not mentioned

    • Dann Albright
      December 31, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Not sure what you mean by "last para is flexible" . . . could you clarify?

  4. Melanie Vonfange
    December 30, 2014 at 5:28 am

    I use the ARC system and the Levenger Circa System. Basically a combination of the two. I have different notebooks for different projects. I use printables from Miss Tiina on Etsy, both her 2015 planner and her UnPlanner pages as well as other printables that I use, as I need them. World Label has a Harmonious house printable binder set that I love for taking inventory.

    • Dann Albright
      December 31, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      The ARC planner looks really nice, and Miss Tiina's pages are absolutely gorgeous! I would imagine that it could get expensive to get them printed on high-quality paper, though. Could burn through a lot of ink if you do it yourself. But I'll definitely be keeping those pages in mind when I (inevitably) look to re-organize my system.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Fred Blue
    December 30, 2014 at 5:10 am

    I am going to try out the Spark Notebook. A kickstarter project.

    • Dann Albright
      December 31, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      I had never heard of that, but it looks awesome! I wish I could get my hands on one before next year's Kickstarter. Do you know of any way that I could do that?

      Thanks for sharing this!

    • rhys_h
      January 1, 2015 at 6:27 am

      Your comment just made me search and see that I missed the deadline.

      The Spark looks great but seems they are not selling anymore outside of Kickstarter.

      Do you know if the PDF is available to download anywhere?

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