Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Customizing your Day Planner - making a good planner into the perfect planner!

I have a confession:  I'm absolutely addicted to day planners, calendars, to-do lists ~ you name it....pretty much anything in an office supply store.  I walk through Staples the way a little kid walks through Toys R Us at Christmas (and, wonder of all wonders, my fiance has the same irrational love of office supplies that I do!  What are the odds?!?).  At the end of every year I make my pilgrimage to Barnes & Noble (my preferred day planner store) to pick out my day planner for the next year.  I wander around, get the lay of the land, gather up a half dozen or so day planners, find a comfortable chair that I can lounge in and start the heart-wrenching comparison process.  There are so many features that go into picking the perfect day planner - size, color, design, adequate space for appointments and notes, whether or not it comes with cool event stickers.  The sad fact is that I rarely find one that has everything I want; the great design has sub-par room for appts, the great stickers come with no month calendar at the beginning of each month...you know how it goes. 

Last year, I found my dream day planner - a gorgeous pink leather one (for breast cancer awareness) with pages for notes, a two-page monthly calendar at the beginning of each month, two-page weekly calendars, pages for phone numbers, plastic card holders and a zip pocket - you name it, this baby had it.  What it also had was a $60+ price tag.  That was NOT going to happen; $15 is pretty close to the top end of the price range that I'm willing to pay for a day planner.  I sadly gave up my dream of owning this lovely leather day planner.  Until one beautiful summer day in 2013 when I happened across one at a yard sale....for $3 - YEAH, $3!  Not only that, but I asked her if she would take $2 - and she did!  I could barely contain myself....I was giddy with joy.  After I gleefully paid for my beautiful new day planner, I climbed back into the truck to check that baby out.  It was brand new!  It was from 2011 but the calendars didn't have numbers on them so I was able to set them up for 2013 with no problem. 

Despite the fact that it was my dream planner, there were still some items that I wanted that hadn't come with it.  The first thing I did was to sit down and make a list of things I might want to have in my dayplanner; these are some of the things I came up with:  I like having my monthly budget close at hand - that way I know, every week, what bills I need to pay.  I take numerous meds (I was injured and recently had surgery) and have a very hard time keeping track of when I'm due for a refill so I wanted a tracking system for my meds.  A list for gift idea tracking and sizes, grocery list, meal planner, pain log, craft ideas, blog ideas, workout log, etc.  Next step was to narrow down my options and decide which ones I couldn't live without. 

Ooooooooo, nice, right?!?
After I made my choice, I opened MS Word and made a template for my documents. It's important to know what size you need your sheets to be so that they fit well with the rest of the pages.  If you've never created a custom-sized page, it's very simple:
1)  Click on the Page Layout tab
2)  On the Page Layout tab, click on the drop down arrow that says Page Setup
3)  When the Page Setup dialog box opens, click on tab labeled "Paper"
4)  The first option is to adjust the paper size; The first drop-down box will default to Letter 8.5x11in so you need to change this to custom size.  Once you've changed the default, you can enter the dimensions you need (my pages needed to be 5.5 inches wide and 9 inches tall so that's what I use)

Now you just need to make a table that fits your needs; for me, I set up a standard table that I was able to modify slightly for each of my pages.  Again, if you haven't made tables, it's pretty simple:
1)  Click on the Insert tab
2)  Click on the Table box - a dropdown will appear (this will consist of several boxes across and several down - as you mouse over these boxes, you can choose how many columns and rows you need)
3)  Adjust the size of your rows and column to your own need.
4)  Add titles to your columns
5)  If necessary, change the margin width so that your table is clear of the holes (I set my upper, right and bottom margins at .5 and my left margin at .7 to allow for the holes)
This is what my Bill Payment Schedule looks like:

Due Date

After printing and saving this one, I made some minor changes to create my other pages:

Recipient Name

You get the picture.  I made several and used my scrapbook paper cutter to get nice uniform pages and used an existing page to get my holes set where they need to be.  So, basically, I'm pretty thrilled with my "new" day planner....the only sad thing is that I won't need to shop for day planners anymore (for a while) but I still get to order refills and buy fun stickers ;c)

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