One Simple Change That Helped Me Use My Planner More


Having been an advocate of planning and writing things down for many years, you’d think I would have my planner permanently chained to my body. Not so. Although I’ve spent LOTS of money on different models over time, most of them were used sporadically. Even though I settled on a particular type and have used the same model four years in a row (that’s a world record for me), I didn’t stick with it day in and day out. I’d use it for a few weeks, then drift back to post-it notes and scribbled lists in a small notebook.

When I first found my Planner Pad, I fell in love with the clean white pages, thick paper and clear black lines. As a visual person, I don’t care for colored pages and ink in a planner. I don’t want flowers or verses adorning the pages, and I don’t want pastel paper. Just the facts, ma’am, black and white.

It’s important that your planner “feels” like you. If you love busy colored pages, by all means go for it. That makes me nervous, but no judgment here.

When a business coach advised me to schedule my days and write to-do’s in my planner, I had a hard time doing so. The crazy reason was because I didn’t want to mess up my nice new planner. The coach was incredulous. Someone else in the group felt the same way, so I guess I’m not the only crazy one. I think it had to do with a mindset issue of fear of committing something to paper because then I’d be accountable for it, but at the time I didn’t realize that.

Fast-forward. Bought the same planner this year. Realized that for business tax purposes, I needed a January-to-December version so I bought another one on clearance and transferred information to it. Since then, I’ve used this planner more than any other one, ever. And here’s the simple change that made a big difference for me.

I decorated my planner.

I’m embarrassed to admit it. You’re probably thinking “I read all the way down for THIS?” Hang on, it gets better.

The Planner Pad comes in “Seasons,” “Black” and “Green.” Seasons is colorful, so you know I didn’t choose that one. I almost fell for the pretty light green one, but visions of stains by the end of the year brought me to my senses. So that left me with black.

My wardrobe contains no black, believe it or not. A few years ago I realized that black made me look harsh as I’ve gotten older, so brown is my black.

So here I am with a sturdy, durable, black planner. That I didn’t use consistently.


I had taken a course that encouraged making a dream board. So one day it hit me–why not make my planner my dream board? After all, if I was using it like I wanted to, I’d be handling it and looking at it several times a day. Why not make it a reminder of my dreams and goals?

Armed with a color printer, wide clear tape and laminating sheets, I transformed my plain black planner into a personalized dream board.

First I added beautiful inspirational sayings, most of them from Rhonna Designs (a photo app for the iPhone):


Then the inside cover and title page became my dream board, with goals for this year and beyond:


Next I added stickers for birthdays and holidays, and seasonal stickers for months. I had used stickers before, but not to this extent. They added a nice touch of color and beauty and seasonal warmth. I’m big on minor holidays and seasonal decorating, you know.


I also started using colored pens for categories (I already used colored pencil for trips and longer appointments). I’m thinking of trying some highlighting, too.


Sharing this feels a little silly. But it transformed my feelings about my planner. I love every image I chose. I’m constantly reminded of my dreams and goals, and looking at the pictures makes me happy. At last my planner feels like home, so I’m using it constantly. Win-win.

Moral of the story: Life’s too short to live ugly. Make sure that the things you use every day are beautiful, as much as lies within you to do so. Owning a planner won’t make you organized, but using a planner will. And if a planner “feels” right to you, it increases the chances that you’ll use it.

{Planner Pads can be ordered at}

What do you look for in a planner? Do you have a favorite kind?


  1. Thank you for sharing that. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one that can’t stick to a planner. I think I have tried everything out there including the electronic version. But my good intentions fail after a few short weeks and all that money was wasted. The current one that I am using is one I designed myself and print out on the computer a month at t time. It is small enough that it fits in my purse. But ironically I still use scrap pieces of paper to do my list and the planner rarely comes out of my purse. sigh 🙂

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Yeah, Stacy, I think I never really made them “my own.” I’ve been surprised at how much it has helped to personalize it!

  2. Thank you for sharing this!! I have found my new planner for next year!! Being a stay at home mom I don’t have a lot of scheduled appointments everyday but have lots of to-do lists. I have done a similar method of planning with lots of lists and trying to keep them organized but with a “normal” planner and just tried to make it work because I liked having the book open on my counter everyday to keep track of things. This is a perfect layout! Thank You!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      I have loved Planner Pad–when I’ve used it, lol. But that tells you something that I’ve bought the same one four years in a row!

  3. Charlotte, I love these ideas! I’ve been resistant to planners; in fact the “p” word makes me quite nervous! But I realize it is a necessity in life so I bought a new planner for myself and one for each of my kids. I am encouraged by your post to decorate it and claim it as my own! Definitely going to get my own set of colored pens (but I’ll have to hide them from my girls 😉

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Have fun with it! When I do next year’s I’ll probably try to use the laminating sheets exclusively rather than the wide clear tape because it just looks nicer.

  4. Finally you’re coming to Tulsa. And wouldn’t you know it, I can’t come. I’ll be in Ohio then for a baptism of a grandson (and seeing the new one just born). Oh well. I’ll hope to get to OKC for the next one.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Oh dear! Sorry it’s not going to work out for you!

  5. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us all. I LOVE IT! I have a plain purple planner but intend on doing this. As homemakers, we need encouragement any way we can get it. Blessings sweet sis!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Glad you liked it, Denise! I think God created us to long for beauty, and every little bit of encouragement helps!

  6. I love Planner Pad too! I like how it has different areas for to-dos so I can break things down into smaller tasks and prioritize. I love how you turned the front of your planner into a dream board – brilliant! I suggest to my clients to write down their big goals in the front of the planner, but I will recommend creating the dream board too! By the way, I can not handle a black planner either so I was thrilled when Planner Pad came out with a soft green one. It’s so much easier on the eyes. Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      I’m still tempted by the soft green one–who knows, I might switch when I order the 2015 one! 🙂

  7. I appreciate this timely post! I’m wondering, do you find it useful for some of your homeschool year planning as well? I find most homeschool planners don’t allow for my personal and business scheduling and the basic/generic planners don’t allow for my homeschool planning. I’m looking for the perfect planner for the mom who wears many hats – I know you wear quite a few!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      I make “Homeschool” one of the categories at the top, and make notes of anything I need to do, the history topic of the week, etc. I like having my whole life on a two-page spread, lol

  8. I have the same struggles. Thanks for sharing! I use the personal size (when I use it). Do you mind me asking which size you use?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Lora, I use the Executive size, the 8 1/2 x 11.” I tried the Personal size (smaller one) but there wasn’t near as much room to write. It usually stays on my desk so I’m not as concerned about portability.

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