How to Use a Planner in a World of Stickers, Bullet Journals, and More

Last Updated on April 13, 2022 by Stephanie

Have you ever walked the aisle at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s and looked at all those colorful planners and thought, “I want to plan everything… it’s all so pretty?” Maybe you’ve even grabbed a brand new planner and a couple of packs of planner stickers and got super excited. You’ve done this before, but this time it’s going to stick. Every planner sticker in that pack is going to be used. I’m going to sit down every day and my life is going to be so freaking organized!

Two weeks later you realize that you wrote in it for the first three days of the first week you had it, and you never opened it up again.

Welcome to the majority!

This post is really more about sorting through your thoughts before jumping into planning. We will dive into why you want to plan. Then, we are going to talk about how your time, effort, and money come into play when deciding what to do next on your planning journey. I also tell you a bit about my personal planning style and finish with some final thoughts.

Now, let’s dive into the world of planners and combat this problem.

Ask Your Why First

I love the idea of starting with why. In fact, Simon Sinek wrote an entire book entitled Start With Why because it really is so important. So when you stroll through that aisle, what draws you to the planners? Is it a drive to organize your life? Is it wanting to create beautiful planner spreads? Is it a new productivity tool for you?

I think we all get excited about new things, and if you were to scroll Instagram under the hashtag #plannercommunity, you will see amazing things in planner life. You will see people that devote entire rooms of their houses to planning. As a member of the #plannercommunity, I can tell you that I am NOT that person. I have two-ish planners in my life, but I will talk about that later. My point is that some people just like to have a separate planner for everything, and that is OKAY! This just causes procrastination from your goals and achieving more for some.

Yes, you read that right: Planning can be a HUGE source of procrastination for many people!

The Most Important Why – Productivity

Honestly, unless you are using this as a memory-keeping tool like a scrapbook (called a memory planner), chances are you want to use a planner to help you organize all the crazy going on in your brain. Let’s figure out the best way for you to do that so you don’t get lost in the land of planner stickers and bullet journals as mentioned above. I could (and probably will soon), devote an entire post to all the different types of planners out there. This is more to get you to realize the time, effort, and money you have to devote to your planning.

Next, I want to talk about these ideas of time, effort, and money. These are what will determine the best route for you in your planning journey.


How much time you have to devote to your planning endeavors is probably the biggest factor in if you are going to use a planner effectively. 


If you already have a solid routine down and can give yourself between 15-30 minutes EVERY DAY to check in with your planner, including a weekly and monthly review, then you could absolutely do some type of daily planner. A daily planner will have a “spread” (pages devoted to something) for every single day of the year. Often these daily pages have a timed-out schedule for you to fill in with to-do lists, etc. Daily planners are probably the most time-consuming and are great for people with a LOT of things that they are juggling every day. One quick glance at your daily spread and you know what’s going on and your priorities for the day.


If you don’t have a lot of daily time, then a weekly spread might be great for you! This is my personal go-to in both planners, and I’ve put a picture below of my digital weekly spread for you to see! This also has timed out daily schedules. Instead of filling it out every day, I put a few things in for my week and I use my calendar on my phone to really keep track of my meetings and other things. I put my goals for the week on here and I do glance at it every day, but I only check-in for about 5 minutes of my day instead of spending more time writing lists, etc. I have a running to-do list on my Todoist app for all of that.

Digital Passion Planner with digital planner stickers.


Effort and time go hand-in-hand. However, sometimes they can be independent of each other. For example, I might need a daily planner and have the time to do it. I don’t have time to decorate it and plan it out every day. So to keep my effort minimal, I’m going to find a planner that has everything laid out nicely for me that is aesthetically pleasing to my eye. All I want to do is fill in the writing. Someone else might not want a minimal page like that and want to decorate it to the nines and create their own beautiful daily page… wow… lot’s of effort and lots of time.

What I love about social media and the planning world is that there are examples of all the extremes and everything in between. 

Bullet Journal

If you are artsy and love creating beautiful things, maybe you would like to create a bullet journal for your planner. You make this your own by creating what you need. You create artwork or decorate it with different papers and stickers. There is a lot of thought and creativity that goes into this. There is also a very wide range of materials that you could use for this as well!

Planner Stickers

Maybe you are creative with layouts but not so much with the hand-drawn art… enter the glorious world of planner stickers. You can find a plethora of planner stickers and ephemera stickers out there. Online there are a million different awesome shops to buy stickers from. If you love to create with stickers, yay! One company I do love in this regard is The Happy Planner. They create a lot of really cool designs for planners, notebooks, and stickers. You can find great coordinating patterns and a lot of different layouts and things for different needs.


Word of caution: START SMALL. Again, if your goal is productivity, it should not take you hours to create a weekly spread. Start small and find your planning groove. Check out these two pictures below from a post I did on Instagram. The first was a weekly spread from February and the next was this past week in April. I found a style that I liked and I stuck with it. I evolved after using my planner and finding out what to do.

Week of February 21st
Happy Planner with a lot of planner stickers in my business planner.
Week of April 11th


Money is absolutely a factor in planners. I don’t think that people talk about this a lot, but if you are devoted to keeping a fully decorated, beautiful with all the matching themes and all the bells and whistles planner… it’s going to cost you. Now, others may argue with me on this, but I’m just going to be honest. I do think planners, especially quality paper planners, are costly. It also stinks because if you get it and you don’t like every part of it, you are trying to find supplemental things that can add more cost.

Cheap Vs. Quality

You may be able to survive on a cheap $9.99 planner that you get at Walmart and be perfectly content. That absolutely can work. You might grab dollar store stickers as well! I’m not knocking the economical route.

If you want something that you can customize, you want to be able to add and remove pages, your eye wants coordinating items… that’s where the quality comes in. Quality means a bit more money. The good news though, is that if you are starting small…


Sorry, I had to say it again. If you are starting small, you have the ability to find out what you like and start adding to your planner sticker collection, printing out or creating printables, etc. Again, my personal favorite is The Happy Planner for planners and stickers because the paper quality is awesome, they have a lot of variations and inserts, and they are available in many places.

Paper vs. Digital

I put this in the money category because I think there is a big difference in cost between digital and paper planning. Digital planning is less expensive. You can totally go crazy just like paper planning and buy all the stickers and buy a million different planners, etc. There is also the cost of a device. If you already have an iPad or tablet, then you don’t really need to factor that in, but if you don’t, then that is definitely a consideration.

Planner with flowers and no planner stickers.

My Personal Planning Style

I am what I call a hybrid planner. My personal planner is digital and my business planner is a paper planner. Here’s my breakdown of all things:

Digital Planner

I use the Passion Planner Digital Weekly Planner. My monthly page is only for a general calendar and to write out my monthly goals. I use Google Calendar for everything else because it syncs up with everything and with my hubby. A general schedule and major appointments go on my weekly spread during my weekly review. I also use this for my weekly goals and tracking.

Paper Planner

I use my paper Happy Planner in a vertical layout to track all my business to-dos. My monthly calendar for this planner is only my daily analytics. I don’t keep any kind of appointments or anything in this. I use the weekly spreads for my daily to-do and daily accomplishments as well as some motivation.

Everything Else

If you have read any of my blog posts about productivity systems, you know that I’m obsessed with the Todoist app and use it for my main to-do list for my whole life. It is my catch-all of everything. I don’t like having my goals in there though, so my planners are all about that.

I also use a morning journal, which you can read about here. Every morning I write out my goals and reflect on what I accomplished and what works for me.

My Time, Effort, and Money

My beloved weekly review is when I set up my digital planner for the week. Saturday or Sunday during my daughter’s nap time is when I decorate my weekly spread for the next week in my paper planner. Both of these take me about an hour. Daily, I use both planners, but only ask checklists during my morning routine and my work times. I check off my habits, check-in with the tasks I listed as most important for the week, etc. 

I am a total creative, so I love decorating and creating in my planner. However, I don’t actually do the creating there. I create stickers and spreads and things as my passion here on Creating Time For Life. Luckily I can use these creations in my planners! Again, my goal is productivity, so I’m using stickers and layouts that are already made during my planning time.

Moneywise… oh boy. If I’m being honest, I am a total hoarder of crafting supplies. Like seriously…  I have pens, markers, pencils, brush pens, watercolors, stickers, and every possible media that you can think of in my craft room downstairs. Somehow though, I manage to spend random money on new stickers and markers and pens often! I’m a big nerd like that. I do also like to support other digital creators as you could see in my post about 5 digital creators that I follow. Supporting them means purchasing some of their planner stickers and other products as well. Again though, digital planning is not as expensive. I can get 500 reusable stickers for around $5, but the same in paper form is around $20… and I can’t reuse them.

Final Thoughts

I hope you didn’t feel like this title was misleading. Perhaps this wasn’t really a how-to as much as it was an overview of all things planning and how to wrap your mind around it. It is my belief that looking at others’ thoughts about things like this can absolutely help you figure out your own mess! Hopefully, this gave you some ideas about what to do and what not to do when thinking about your planning life!

Let me know in the comments what you enjoy or don’t enjoy about your personal planning life.

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