12 Tips For Happy Planner Newbies

So you bought your first decorative planner! If you are new to the decorative planning world, I’m proving 12 tips for Happy planner newbies.

12 Tips for Happy Planner Newbies

12 Tips for happy planner newbies

Make It Your Own

There are no “rules” when it comes to using your planner. These days there are literally hundreds of Facebook groups and thousands of Instagram feeds with beautifully curated spreads. Ultimately, your planner should reflect you and your personality. It should be functional and actually help you get organized. It’s okay if your handwriting is terrible or if things are crossed out or highlighted. Your planner is yours and no one else’s! Don’t copy or compare yourself. Find your own planner “voice.”

Start Slowly

Confession time: I own every sticker book made by The Happy Planner ®. In fact, I even have duplicates. But then, I’ve been a Happy Planner since 2015. I’ve had a long time to acquire them. When you first get your planner it’s tempting to go a little overboard and buy every sticker book and accessory on the market. But I can tell you, it gets overwhelming for a lot of newbies. Most sticker books have around 1,000 stickers in them. Some people are overwhelmed by spending time flipping around sticker books looking for that one sticker they want. Start slowly. Buy two or three sticker books to start with. You can build your collection slowly (if you choose) over time.

Find Planner Peace

With the October release last year, I was so excited to get the Super Mom planner. After all, I’m a stay-at-home-mom, right? I should rock this thing! Until then, I had always used a vertical planner. This planner was a dashboard layout, meaning it grouped tasks into categories for you like errands, shopping lists, phone calls, etc. Four months into it and I couldn’t make it work. I struggled to decorate it. Then I suddenly realized I needed things by the day, not by the task. I went back to my vertical planner. The one that was tried and true. My point is, don’t be afraid to change what’s not working for you. Don’t hold onto it because you spent money or invested time into it. If something is stopping you from enjoying your planner or staying organized, switch things up. Find what works for you.

Decorating on a Budget

No one says you have to fill up your page with stickers. Some people use washi tape, highlighters, and markers to decorate. Washi tape is a Japanese masking tape. It’s colorful, but it’s also very inexpensive for how much you get on a roll. It comes in all different thickness and some even come with foiled metallic designs or glitter. This makes it a very inexpensive decorating option. When first buying washi tape, I recommend starting with basic colors. The Happy Planner has their own washi tape which coordinates well with a lot of their stickers. But Michaels, Joann, and Hobby Lobby all sell tubes and single rolls of washi tape.

Washi tape
Photo by Mary Lentz

Decorating Ahead

I love to decorate 3-4 weeks ahead. I basically plan for the current month. This is easy to do since my life is very routine oriented. But for some people, they’re a little fearful about planning in advance. Others like to stay within the current week because their decorating corresponds with their current mood. That’s fine. As I said earlier, your planner is yours. However, your planner is also supposed to be functional. One thing that helped me, is using sticky notes as placeholders for future events. If you are worried about plans changing between now and a future event, sticky notes are a great solution. If something changes, you can easily remove or adjust without losing any real estate on your planner.

Scheduling Planner Time

Using a planner is about creating a habit. For people who have never used a planner before, it might be hard to remember to open it up. I recommend scheduling time to plan. For me, I make time on the weekend, typically on a Sunday. I sit down decorate and go over all my goals, appointments and tasks I need to get done. I found I have to prioritize planner time. That sounds silly, doesn’t it, but it’s true. Making time to plan has to be just as important as an appointment or anything else I have to remember. I’ve also found that it helps to keep it open on my workspace. For me as a stay-at-home mom, it’s my kitchen. I keep it open on the counter and refer back to it all day long to make sure I accomplish things.

I Bought A New Planner But I Can’t Use it Yet

So perhaps you purchased a planner, but it doesn’t begin until July or January. Fear not, if this is a classic planner, you can buy a monthly extension pack to start right away. The extension pack is available in the classic vertical and in the hourly formats. The pack comes with six months of undated sheets (date stickers included).

Do I Need More Than One Planner

Technically, no you don’t. The beauty of the Happy Planner is that you can do everything from one planner. Wellness, fitness, budgeting, faith (bible study) can all be done from your planner by using stickers as your guide. However, there are definitely people, myself included that prefer more in-depth planner help.

For example, I own a Wellness planner. I really needed some self-care after giving birth to my son. I use it to schedule me time, things that bring me joy, and even use it as a journal to pen thoughts and work through emotions. If you want a look on how to use it, see my post How to Use the Wellness Happy Planner. Truth be told, I own 5 planners that I use on a regular basis. (One to run this blog, my everyday, my teacher planner, my wellness and my faith planner which I use for bible study.) Other people want a large focus on fitness or budgeting. If that’s the case, there are options for you, but it certainly isn’t necessary.

Wellness planner

Dashboards

I’m a little surprised by this one, but I often hear, “what are dashboards and how do I use them? Dashboards are effectively bookmarks. They are placeholders you can use to easily flip to your monthly or weekly spread. One thing, I also like to use it for is sticky notes! I love to place sticky notes on them as little reminders for things that don’t actually need to go in my planner. I know some people use it as a dry erase board. The choice is yours.

Dry Erase Boards

Which leads us to the next topic. Over the last year, the Happy Planner (MAMBI) has come out with dry erase inserts. Lots of people love the idea. I picked up as many as I could find. However, after they first came out with it, people complained that the dry erase smudged from opening and closing the planner. I highly recommend using wet erase markers like Vis-a-Vis.

New Releases

I always get asked, “when does Happy Planner come out with new product?” The Happy Planner actually has a pretty easy schedule to follow. The new year for Happy Planner actually begins in the fall, normally October. This is when the Happy Planners for the upcoming year start hitting store shelves. In the Spring, often around March or April, there is another release of sticker books, accessories and 18-month planners. These planners begin in July and continue from January to December of the next year. Later in the summer, the Teacher and Student planners and accessories are released. In between the seasonal releases, Happy Planner has started to release few other limited edition releases such as the Be Happy Box.

Planner spread

What Is the Happy Planner Squad

The Happy Planner Squad is a group of Happy Planner enthusiasts (fans like you and me). Using their Instagram accounts, they promote Happy Planner products by illustrating their designs and ways they use Happy Planner in their every day life. These ambassadors are hand selected by the MAMBI (Me and My Big Ideas – makers of the Happy Planner) team. Once a year, they accept submissions and the rules and guidelines will be on the Happy Planner site. All are encouraged to apply, but competition is fierce. Currently, the ambassadorship commitment is one calendar year.

Before You Go

Don’t forget to PIN this post, 12 Planner Tips for Happy Planner Newbies, for later or share it with a fellow newbie. Also, don’t forget to check out my other Happy Planner posts:

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