7 Simple Steps to Start a Paper Planning Habit

7 Simple Steps to Start a Paper Planning Habit

Starting a paper planning habit can seem overwhelming at first, but with a structured approach, you'll find it can quickly become a powerful tool for organization and productivity. If you’re new to planning or looking for a fresh start, this guide will walk you through seven simple steps to build a lasting paper planning habit.

1. Understand Why You Want to Plan

Clarify Your Planning Purpose

Before diving into planning, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my primary goals with planning?
  • Do I want to improve productivity, track habits, or manage appointments better?
  • Am I seeking a creative outlet through journaling and planning?

Set Clear Objectives

Knowing your purpose will help guide your planning journey:

  • Productivity: Create structured to-do lists and schedules.
  • Goal-Setting: Develop a vision board and set long-term goals.
  • Wellness Tracking: Monitor habits, moods, or fitness goals.

2. Choose the Right Planner

Understand Planner Types

  • Daily Planners: Focus on daily schedules and tasks.
  • Weekly Planners: Provide a week-at-a-glance view.
  • Monthly Planners: Great for long-term planning.
  • Combination Planners: Include both weekly and monthly spreads.

Layouts Matter

  • Vertical Layout: Each day is shown as a vertical column.
  • Horizontal Layout: Days are laid out as rows.
  • Bullet Journal: Fully customizable, allowing you to create your own structure.

3. Set Up Your Planner

Start with Basic Information

  • Index/Key: Organize symbols or color codes.
  • Personal Information: Add your name and contact details.

Add Calendars

  • Yearly Overview: Mark key dates like holidays and birthdays.
  • Monthly Calendar: Plan high-level goals for the month.
  • Weekly Layout: Outline appointments and tasks.

Define Your Goals

  • Short-Term: Goals for the month or quarter.
  • Long-Term: Goals for the year or beyond.

4. Create a Planning Routine

Daily Planning

  • Morning:

    • Review your to-do list and set priorities.
    • Note any appointments or key tasks.
  • Evening:

    • Reflect on what you accomplished.
    • Plan tasks for the next day.

Weekly Review

  • Review your accomplishments and unfinished tasks.
  • Set new weekly goals and update your calendar.

5. Personalize Your Planner

Add Creative Elements

  • Stickers and Washi Tape: Decorate your pages with colorful stickers and washi tape.
  • Quotes and Affirmations: Add motivational quotes for positivity.
  • Color Coding: Use colored pens to categorize tasks.

Trackers and Inserts

  • Habit Trackers: Monitor daily habits.
  • Expense Trackers: Keep track of your budget.
  • Health Trackers: Log exercise or meal plans.

6. Experiment with Different Planning Styles

Task-Based Planning

  • Focuses on to-do lists and prioritization.


  • Breaks down your day into dedicated time slots.

Bullet Journaling

  • Offers flexibility with completely customizable layouts.

7. Stay Consistent and Adaptable

Building the Habit

  • Start Small: Begin with just a few minutes a day.
  • Find a Routine: Plan at the same time every day.
  • Reflect Regularly: Weekly reviews will help you stay on track.

Overcome Common Challenges

  • Planner Overwhelm: Don't overcommit with too many tasks.
  • Planner Guilt: If you miss a day, don't stress. Simply pick up where you left off.
  • Changing Needs: Adjust your planner style or layout as your life changes.


Starting a paper planning habit can greatly improve your productivity and organization. By following these seven simple steps, you'll be well on your way to building a consistent and fulfilling paper planning routine. Remember to be patient and flexible as you refine your planning style, and soon you'll see the positive impact it has on your life.

About Jane's Agenda

Founded in 2013, Jane's Agenda is a planner brand dedicated to helping people become more organized and efficient through the use of paper planners.

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