For those of us who like to write things down--especially to-do lists--planners are an absolute godsend. Whether you use a bullet journal, a store-bought agenda, or a blank notebook, they give us a means of organizing our daily tasks and even our entire lives in a presentable and logical fashion. However, they don't just have to exist for the purposes of productivity--you can definitely use it to display your more artsy side. Not only could it serve as an outlet for creativity, but making your planner look especially nice will also motivate you to use it more. So, without further ado, here are ten different ways to make your planner look cute!
Perhaps the quickest way to give your agenda a pop of color is to use a color-coding system. In addition to giving your planner a new look, it is also an excellent organization method (especially if you are a visual person) as it allows you to classify different types of tasks at a glance. Personally, I like to use a color-coding system on my assignment tracker spread in my bullet journal, in order to differentiate between homework, classwork, tests, quizzes, and projects.
Color-coding doesn't just have to be limited to categories, though. For instance, you can also use it to distinguish between tasks of different priorities, or you might use colors as a method of tracking your mood each day. Whatever it is, color-coding can mean the difference between a messy notebook or an orderly one, and it can add some aesthetic appeal all the while!
2. Sticky Notes
Sticky notes are also another fast way to make your spreads a little less bland. But aside from helping mix things up in your planner a bit, sticky notes are also very versatile which lends to their practical purpose. For instance, if you have a few specific tasks that are repeated on a regular basis, you can write them on a sticky note and move it around as you see fit, instead of needing to rewrite the same mundane things over and over again. The same goes for other repetitive things, such as shopping lists and meal plans. If you are one who keeps a bullet journal instead of a normal planner, you could consider attempting to make a spread with sticky notes instead of drawing everything out. Also, this versatility provides some flexibility to the otherwise inflexible nature of a paper planner. If you run out of room on a page or a specific section and would prefer not to continue writing on another page, a sticky note is there to save the day!
3. Stickers & Washi Tape
Stickers are a fun way to make an otherwise bland spread much more lively. If you are someone who likes to have a specific theme or color palette in their planner for each month, then stickers are an easy way to go about decorating the spreads for that month. For example, as we are currently in the month of April and in the midst of springtime, you might find it fitting to incorporate stickers of flowers, plants, birds, and the like. Washi tape can be used in much the same way. Washi tape, especially patterned and textured ones, can be used to decorate the edges of your pages or to serve as a divider between sections.
However, these don't have to be purely ornamental. There are endless possibilities for their practical purposes as well. Stickers are an alternative to color-coding for categorizing your tasks. You can use stickers to indicate the specific nature of a task, or how urgent/important it is. Another idea is if you have stickers of checkmarks, you can use them to mark off finished tasks (although that is certainly much less sustainable then just checking them off with a pen). Washi tape comes in a variety of colors, so it can be used much like colored highlighters or pens when it comes to a color-coding system.
4. Watercolor & Paint
There is something awfully therapeutic about watching watercolor pigments slowly spread across a piece of paper. The same can be said for acrylics, or whatever type of paint you would like to use. Although this option does not have a practical side to it (at least not one that I can think of) it is definitely a solid way to provide some aesthetic appeal to your planner. However, it should be noted that this typically works better with bullet journals, particularly those with thicker pages that can withstand watercolor. So, if you have a normal planner, be sure to exercise caution before you decide to bring out the paintbrushes.
5. Binder Clips
Binder clips come in many different shapes, colors, patterns, and sizes, so they also provide good opportunities for decorating your planner. As for practicality, they can be used for easy navigating. After using a planner for a while, it can get pretty crazy flipping through those past spreads every single time in order to find the page that you're looking for. So, use them to bookmark the spreads you are currently using or pages that you refer to frequently. Or, you can use them to separate sections of pages in your notebook from each other.
Quotes are a foolproof way to liven up your spread--but it's also important to pick them wisely. Whether it's a quote of a famous historical figure or one from your favorite TV series or book, or perhaps a verse of your favorite poem, be sure to choose quotes that you find inspirational or that bring you joy in some way or another.
There are also endless possibilities in the way you write said quotes. Whether you do it in cursive, calligraphy, or bubble letters, quotes will definitely provide a way for you to exercise your penmanship. Or, if you prefer, you can print them out in one of your favorite fonts and then paste them into your planner.
7. Treat It Like A Scrapbook
Like I mentioned in the previous step, it is important that you keep mainly positive influences in your bullet journal so as to ensure your motivation isn't reduced as a result. These positive influences don't necessarily have to be in the form of the written word. Another option is to print pictures off of the internet or cut them out of magazines and glue them into your planner. You could make entire collages out of these pictures, or simply glue one or two on the corners of pages.
These pictures can be of just about anything that brings you joy. They don't necessarily have to be pictures, either--a pretty piece of scrapbook paper or a newspaper cut-out can go a long way.
Whether it is your favorite animal or the protagonist of your favorite film or simply a patterned piece of paper, incorporating other things that you like into your planner will help give your planner some personality and customization. It will make it feel like it is truly yours, and it will be all the more pleasant to use.
8. Record Your Memories
This step is heavily related to the previous one--but this time, the idea is to use your own pictures. Whether the photos are taken on an instant camera or a digital one, use them to enhance the accounts of your daily experiences. Incorporate pictures of interesting places you went that day or the loved ones you spent your time with. You might paste pictures on your daily spreads or you might dedicate a specific spread for displaying your photos, as my friend has done in the picture below. Doing so will transform an otherwise normal planner into a piece of sentimental memorabilia, a time capsule for you to look back on when you are older.
A well-drawn border can make a page look very well put together. They can simply be straight lines or you could try and experiment with shapes or doodles if you would rather go down the creative route. If you're not feeling particularly motivated to draw something extremely detailed, you could definitely use washi tape as a border or, as a particularly artsy friend of mine suggests, you could go for a plant or flower vine.
It might look a bit time-consuming and difficult at first glance, but in reality, it is anything but. For the most part, all you have to do is draw a line and upon that line, incorporate leaves and flower petals as you see fit. Here is an example from my friend's bullet journal:
10. Doodles & Stencils
Channel your inner artist by drawing random doodles wherever you have space on your pages. Just like pictures and color, doodles also do a great job of making a planner spread look all the more dynamic and appealing. If you prefer, you can also use stencils, which may be easier, quicker, and provide a foolproof method of drawing the perfect doodles without the added risk of messing up.
With all of these tips in mind, it's important to remember that your planner, bullet journal, or whatever you like to use does not always need to be perfect or aesthetic by any means. At the end of the day, your planner is supposed to help you organize your thoughts and keep you focused, and it certainly won't help if you are stressed out about making it perfect. Seeing all of the picture-perfect planners and bujos online can certainly make it very easy to fall into that trap, but the key thing to realize is that organization and flexibility come first in a planner. You should feel comfortable using it to its full potential and with making it messy from time to time. The creative and artistic aspect that I speak of in this article is merely a form of self-expression, and self-expression is not meant to be flawless.