Did you order a planner during all the Black Friday sales? Are you staring at all those blank pages wondering how to get started?

You are not alone. Everyone struggles to put pen to paper in their shiny new planners. There is no wrong way to plan and part of the journey is finding what works for you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t read blogs and watch videos to get ideas on where to start.

So, grab your blank planner, some sticky notes, and get ready to plan!

First step is deciding what you will use your planner for. Some people have one planner for everything and some use multiple planners for different areas. Do you want your planner to be the keeper of everything or do you prefer compartmentalizing your life?

What are some things you can use your planner for?

  • Budget/Bills
  • Fitness
  • Content Planning
  • Work tasks
  • Family events

If you are putting everything in one planner, you could color-code each category. Budget and bills could be green while your kids are purple and your workouts are orange. It makes it easy to see what is going on each day with a quick glance. I color code my Google calendar so I can see what I have going on when I’m out and about.


Once you’ve decided what your planner is for and if you are color-coding, you can start setting up your year. A lot of planners use sticky notes to get started. Most planners have a lot of blank places you can fill. I use The Content Planner and Erin Condren. They both have dashboards for each month and then the monthly spread. EC then goes into the weeks or days, depending on which layout you have. (Links are affiliate links and I may receive a small commission when you purchase through my links).

You can use sticky notes to figure out what you will use those dashboards for. This allows you to move things around or change them before you put them down in a more permanent way. You can search google, Pinterest, and Instagram for inspiration. Or check out how I set up my dashboards in my fitness planner for 2021 here. Once you decide on a plan, start adding stickers, pens, and whatever else you want to make it your own. You can either set up all your monthly dashboards now or do them the month before. Personally, I prefer doing them the month before because I like to try new things.

Next up is your monthly view. Grab those sticky notes and add anything important like paydays, birthdays, and appointments. Before 2022 starts I like to go through and put sticky notes for any birthdays and appointments I know of for the entire year. Then as things come up, I add it with a sticky until I get to the month. Things change and I’d rather be able to toss a sticky note than deal with white out. You could also use pencil.

Finally, the weekly or daily spreads. This is where we get down and dirty. What do you need to do each week/day? What are your top priorities for each week/day? Put your sticky notes down first. It is really helpful to see what your obligations are each day. If your day is packed with taking your kids to appointments will you really have time to clean the entire house, meal plan, and take Fido to the vet? Probably not.

Planning is like the rocks, pebbles, and sand in a jar analogy. You start with the rocks (dashboard/monthly) then fill in the pebbles (weekly) and finally the sand (daily).

Also, there are many sticker shops that do dashboard, monthly, and weekly kits. You can go all out or stick with only pen. You can add a few decorative stickers or use only functional stickers. You can highlight when a task is important or highlight to mark a task complete. Planners are so personal. You really need to play around and find what works for you. And it can change from planner to planner! Don’t be afraid to play! If you think you’ve messed up, you get another day, week, or month to try again. Planning should be fun and a stress reliever.

How do you plan your year? Let us know in the comments, maybe you will give someone a great idea! Then head over and subscribe to my YouTube channel to see my 2022 set up video!

Categories: Planning


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.