Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
— Arthur Ashe
My weird (but effective) day planning system

My weird (but effective) day planning system

I feel as though I have spent my entire life in search of my perfect planner. And I have finally…

…realized that it doesn’t exist.

I’ve tried everything. And I mean everything. I’ve tried smartphone apps, digital calendars, day planners, bullet journals – you name it, I’ve tried it. But somehow, none of it ever sticks. Digital organization tools just don’t do it for me. I need something I can hold in my hands, write on, and highlight. But, sadly, in a world filled with organization and planning tools, nothing I’ve come across so far seems to quite fit me.

So I came up with my own system.

It’s not glamorous. It’s not beautiful. But it’s easy, inexpensive, and it has worked – at least for me. Recently, though, I shared it with my husband (who is historically not a planner), and it has completely changed the way he gets through his day. This got me thinking - what if it might work for other people, too?

Whether you’re like me and you can’t find a good fit, or you’re not a planner at all (but you want to start), try this system out and see if it helps!


  • Notebook with approximately 80-120 sheets
  • A pen you love
  • A ruler
  • A calendar


Setting up the system

Open to page 1. I usually use this page to write the month range that will be included in the notebook. An 80- to 120-page notebook will easily accommodate a 3-month range.

At the top of Page 3, write the month and year, then list the days of the week and month (as shown below):


On page 4-5, create a week-long spread. I omit Sundays, because I typically don’t like to schedule any writing or any other important tasks on Sundays, but you can set the week up in a way that makes sense to you:


On the pages after my week overview, I give 2 pages to each day. On the left-hand page, I make my to-do list and write down any important notes or reminders. On the right-hand page, I use a ruler to divide the page into six-to-eight 1-hour segments:


Planning your days

I use the month-calendar to record any birds’-eye level events, such as birthdays, important meetings, etc.

The week-long spread is for jotting down deadlines or other important (but more detailed) information.

Finally, I use each day spread to plan my days. I start with an overview of everything I want to get done (left-hand page), and then find a home for each task in one of the quadrants (octants?). Each box represents one hour. If each task is written on a line, then one square typically works out to 5-6 tasks, which is, I believe, the maximum number of tasks one can reasonably complete within one hour.

Using this system helps me to keep track of my time and make sure that I get done what I want to get done. It is important to refer to your notebook throughout the day, marking off completed tasks, adding new ones that might arise, and rearranging when certain tasks don't get completed when you planned.

At the end of the day, any system that helps you stay on track is a good one! Find what works for you, stick to it, and if all else fails, don't be afraid to step out and create your own system!

Cover Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

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