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It’s hard, isn’t it? You don’t want to keep it simple. You go in Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook and you see all these stunning planners. They are color coordinated, lined with beautiful stickers and washi. Some may feature beautiful handwriting and doodles. A few others have watercolor. It’s absolutely inspiring and you want to copy them.

What about some of the spreads you see? Elaborate trackers, detailed collections, every box filled; whoever made it definitely has their stuff together. Why wouldn’t you want that?

You’re inspired and itching to make the next greatest planner. So you break open your planner and try to emulate them. And, at best, your attempts are mediocre. At worst, you’re so frustrated that you want to give up for good.

Let’s face it. You aren’t an artist. You’re new to the craft of planning. You don’t have a lot of supplies yet. You feel frustrated that your planner isn’t pretty or perfect. Why can’t you maintain your full, two page tracker?

Honestly? When you are starting out, these things shouldn’t be your main concern. It doesn’t mean that you can’t attempt to decorate your planner. If it’s relaxing for you, or you actually ARE an artist, then go for it.

For more elaborate pages, it doesn’t mean that you can’t track or start a collection. Just start small and work your way up.

Now, this is all easier said than done! I’ve provided some suggestions below for your journey. If you feel like what I suggest is still too much, keep reading, and I’ll break it down to simplify further.

How to Keep it Simple

-Start with one planner. Once you hit a groove and you know what your needs are, you can buy other planners. But for now, it’s going to be extra to keep up with. Start with a general daily planner first. You don’t want to be so overwhelmed with maintaining two that you give up.

Note!! If you are just using a planner for a specific reason, such as a wedding, blog, or school planner, you don’t need to start with a general planner. Buy a specific planner that will meet those needs. Add more if you want to once you hit a groove of maintaining it.

-Don’t buy lots of extra stuff. At least, don’t buy a lot of planner supplies immediately. First, new supplies will maybe only provide about a weeks’ worth of motivation. Soon it will become intimidating clutter.

If you really want to try something new, arrange a swap with a fellow planner. Or, have a planning party and encourage your friends to bring their materials. You’ll have the opportunity to try some new materials without committing to buy them. And if you do happen to find materials that you think you would use consistently, you should go ahead and buy them without guilt. Maybe just stick to one at a time.

Plus, most of the craft store coupons only have 40% off one item anyways!

Make no more than one habit change per month when you start out. Just take it slow. You are in no rush. Like most things in life, change takes time and patience. Statistics say it takes 21 days doing something consistently to develop a habit.

Once you get a feel for your ability to adjust and add habits to your daily schedule, you may try adding additional changes. If you start struggling, I’d highly recommend prioritizing what is important and drop it back down to one.

How to Keep it Simpler

Still feel a bit overwhelmed? A few additional ideas to keep it simple.

Start with a structured planner. I actually started with a completely blank bullet journal (no lines, no dots). It had a little sheet with graph paper and I utilized this tool with a ruler to structure my first planner. I personally made it a goal to finish what I started instead of tossing it aside, but honestly, this made bullet journaling a lot more time-consuming than it already can be. If the thought of having to hand draw lines with a ruler makes you cringe and sounds like drudgery, I would recommend more a structured planner (Happy Planner, Erin Condren, Recollections).

-Use the basics for support tools, and only buy what you don’t have.

To summarize, here are my starter recommendations to have with your planner:

-A metal ruler (12 inch if you plan to keep it at home, 6 if you plan to bring it with you)
-A small pack of colored fineliners.
-One nice black pen if it’s not included in your pack of fineliners.
White Out Tape
Double sided tape
-Either one small roll of washi tape OR one small pack of stickers (based on preference).

How to Keep it Simplest

This is how to keep it simple. REALLY, REALLY simple. About as simple as you can go with planners, that is!

Buy a planner kit. Kits generally have everything a beginner needs. It may have some stickers, post-its, and washi tape. There is generally a consistent theme, too, so it will match your planner. It helps with keeping a consistent color scheme as you try to figure out what you like. It’s a great way to keep it simple while still getting to have a little bit of fun. Just, you know, don’t continue buying more beyond what’s in the kit! 

For example, this Happy Planner Kit has exactly what you need! It’s beautiful, fun, and creative. It includes some accessories and stickers, which should serve you exactly what you need for a long time. What’s even better is that there is more than one style, so you can select the one you like best!

If you have a pen and a notebook, just get started with what you have: I’ve seen some beautiful planners started with only a notebook and a black pen. I’ve also seen some fabulous spreads with Crayola Super-Tip Markers borrowed from children.

If you have a printer, download and print free printables: There are literally printables for everything planner related. If you don’t know what a printable is, long story short, it’s a pre-made page that already revolves around a specific topic. Some people will use these solely and put them in a binder. Voila! You have an instant, handmade planner.

Don’t know where to start? The Scattered Squirrel has a ton of free planner printables!

Another great use for printables is that you are easily empowered to trial a system. If you see a system you want to try, but aren’t ready to fully commit to it in your planner, you can print out a page or two of somebody’s system that you like. If you’re able to commit to it for a set amount of time (2 weeks is a great gauge), then go ahead and make it part of your planner system.

How do you keep it simple in your planner? I’d love to hear your planner experiences in the comments!

Until then,