How to Use Your Own Planner Layout Ideas to Create a Perfect Spread

Last Updated on July 3, 2022 by Stephanie

If you are reading this post it means you are searching for your own planner peace. There are planner layout ideas in your head that you know will cause you to have the most productive year in the history of ever. Well, I’m here to tell you that there really is no such thing.


No, really. There is an ongoing joke in the planner community about how many planners different people buy each year and how often people switch. Have you read my post about checking your systems? It is normal to change planners and planner layouts (within reason) more than once or twice a year.

The Perfect Planner Layout; How to use your own planner layout ideas; creating time for life; picture of planner

Why You Might Need to Change Your Planner Layout or Planner

Things happen and things change. If you want to actually use a planner for your productivity, then you need to review it often. When I say review it, I don’t mean that you need to look at it. Duh… I would hope you are looking at your planner regularly. I suggest you should think about it through the lens of if it is helping you reach your end goals or not. Maybe something needs to change if it isn’t. This is easy for you to do if you have your own planner layout ideas!

Reasons you may want to look into a different layout or planner altogether:

  • It takes you too much time to fill it out.
  • It makes you guilty when you look at it because you aren’t using it.
  • When you are creating spreads, you are covering the majority of it up with other things.
  • You find yourself annoyed that it doesn’t have ______ (fill in the blank) every time you use it.
  • It isn’t easily accessible to you.
  • You’ve changed jobs or times in your life (new baby, teacher summers, big project during the month)

Do not stick to using the same planner if the above happens to be you. Work smarter, not harder.

Do Your Research

There are a MILLION different planners and layouts available. Whether they are digital or paper, they are out there. If you searched planner layout ideas online you will find a LOT of information and options. By joining a planning community Facebook group, you will see people asking for help finding these different “unicorn” layouts and planners.

So do some targeted research for what you are looking for in a planner. Facebook groups are really great for this because there will be a lot of different people pointing you in great directions. If you are looking for specific people to check out for digital planning, read my post about 5 digital creators that you should follow. These guys are my go-to for digital planning inspiration.

If you’re reading this and wondering about digital planning, check out my post about digital vs. traditional planners and notebooks. That gives some pros and cons of each.

I Can’t Find What I Want!

A lot of times, you can’t find what you need. This is often the case and it is okay! I am a hybrid planner so I use a digital planner from Passion Planner for my personal stuff and goals and a paper planner from The Happy Planner for my business stuff. I don’t use either of them as intended.

In my digital planner, for example, I loved that it had the times, but I needed more. The to-do list was awesome during the school year, but I don’t need it separate during the summer. I don’t really need an errands list either. So I covered those up and I created my own. It was sooooo easy to do.  Check out the side-by-side of what the “out of the box” layout is, and what I used this week.

My paper planner was the same thing. I found myself wanting almost a decorative vision board or encouragement section, a place for the one thing I wanted to get done, and a spot for lots of to-dos. The vertical layout worked for a bit, but then I ended up covering a lot with papers and stickers. Out came Canva and I created the layout you see below.

Planner Layout Ideas: Out of my Head and Onto My Planner

You can do this a couple of different ways and it depends on your comfort level as well as what you are using (paper/digital).  If you aren’t comfortable with creating your own things, that’s cool. 

The Easiest Option – Paper or Digital

An easy option for you is to find something close to what you want and modify only the parts you don’t like. This is essentially what I did for the above spreads. I said that I liked certain parts and covered up the ones I didn’t. After I covered things up, I thought about what I still needed and added that in.

For digital planners, it is as simple as creating a white box image to cover different parts of the planner. The links on the side will still work, but you can create different layouts. With digital planning, you can also cut and crop from .pdfs and other templates to paste them on your spread.

Paper planners, get out the glue stick and some scrapbook paper or stickers, and go to town. I admit that this got annoying to me and took too much of my time. I ended up creating the layout in Canva and printing it out instead.

Another Easy Option – Widgets for Digital Planners

So many digital creators, myself included, create widgets for planners. Widgets is a really fancy word for a functional sticker. These stickers typically have something for you to do with them like write on them or tick off some habits. Click on the image below to see some of my Summer Watercolor Goal and Productivity Widgets.

Summer Watercolor Goal and Productivity Widgets

I have seen people use a digital planner base, cover up most of it, and then cover it in all the widgets they want. Widgets offer those functional items that you want with your planner and allow you to resize them to fit the space you want them to occupy.

The More Creative Option – Paper or Digital

If you have planner layout ideas in your head that are just itching to come out, go play on Canva. No, seriously… go do it. Canva is a wealth of creative goodness. There are even some planner layouts already in the template section that you can use as a base.

Paper planners can just create the layout they want and print it out as I did. All of you excellent digital planners can export the .pdf or even export it as a transparent .png to put it into your digital planners. Here is a side-by-side of a typical vertical layout and the one I created for myself in Canva.

Mess around to find what you like. I wanted a space of random and a large to-do list section. I also wanted a spot to write my accomplishments of the day and my One Thing! You make it work for you!

Give it Some Time

Whatever you do… do it for a couple of weeks at least. That is something I think drives people away from planning and changing how they plan. We are all searching for what will make us the most productive. Give yourself some time to settle in with your layout and your planner before you decide you need to change things around.

There are times though, that you just know. If you are frustrated beyond frustrated when using something right off the bat, just abandon it. That’s okay! Don’t throw the whole thing out if there are just a couple of things that bother you. See if there is a way to make the things you don’t like, work for you.

Final Thoughts

I hope this post gave you something to think about. My goal here at Creating Time for Life is to help people realize their potential. Sometimes we get in our own way and need someone to give us permission to change what we are doing or abandon something that isn’t working. I give you that permission right now!

Review your planning system to see if it is really working for you, change it if necessary, reach out if you need help, and go do something extraordinary today!

If you’ve got any questions or comments, please reach out or leave a comment on the post!

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