I pride myself on not being picky. If it’s food, I’ll literally try anything once. If it’s an activity or an experience, I’ll give it a shot. I like that about me! I like keeping a totally open mind and not being caught up in routine. I found myself at the end of last year getting really picky over a certain thing in my life, and that alone was annoying me. I’m not that guy! But what I learned is that I should start being a little more… discerning, let’s say, with certain aspects of my daily life. I’m embracing my inner fussiness, and in this case, I think I hacked my way into something really cool.
You see, I lack an organization system. I’ve tried a TON of different things, and at the end of last year started looking into better systems. I browsed every planner I could find online, every single one you can pick up and look at in Barnes and Noble or Office Depot. Sure, I have Google Calendar, and that keeps my schedule pretty straight (except for last week—sorry, investor guy I was supposed to meet for coffee!). It just has no room for the other stuff I’d like to put into planning my day.
I’m also kind of cheap, so there is that, too. The 60 day planner for $40? No way. When I started looking for a daily planner that did everything I wanted it to do and that I could take with me wherever I go, I couldn’t find anything that worked for me. I found a few things that were close, but were maybe too expensive or that I knew I would not keep up with. I needed a system for me the way I am—not one that tried to mold me into someone else. I’m a rebel like that.
Before, I had a couple of notebooks scattered about, and that is where I’d keep most of my daily planning, my notes, etc. It just didn’t work. It was inconsistent, and I was suffering because of it.
So I couldn’t FIND anything I wanted to use and commit to, and my old system sucked. After reading The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast, I decided I needed to plan out the first 30-60 minutes of my day so there would never be any questions about what I needed to get done first thing. I needed a planner and something to guide me through that part of my morning.
I decided I’d create my OWN planner that had everything I could ever want in it. Don’t get me wrong; even now, it’s not 100% perfect, but it certainly is 95% of the way there instead of 50% in a product I would be forcing myself to use. What I decided was to borrow from 4-5 systems for about 50% of it, and then just brainstorm the rest.
3 Steps to Creating Your Own Custom Planner for Under $10
Step 1: Figure Out What My Dream System Is
If I carried around ONE notebook with me every day, what would it need to have? This is certainly harder than it sounds to come up with, but I came up with this:
- In the first 5 pages, I picture of my family, my big “why” statements, all 30 of my yearly goals, some affirmations and inspirational reading. Every morning I read every bit of these 5 pages.
- After that, there are 2 pages a day. For my morning session, I write down my goals (space for 8 of them), I find an inspirational quote and write it in there, I plan out my day down to the hour of what I need to get done, set targets and basically just map out what my day looks like.
- I of course want to take this with me wherever I go, so the cover has to be awesome and something I love looking at daily.
- Throughout the day I can work from the priority lists, see what I have on my schedule, etc.
At the end of the day, I have a place to write out my goals again and note any successes I had throughout the day, then move things I didn’t get done to the page for the next day. This time of reflection and writing out goals is awesome. I’ve created a morning routine and a before bed routine.
Step 2: Figure Out How to Design This Crazy Thing
While I have some Photoshop experience, I don’t have the time or energy to design this whole thing!
Enter Fiverr.com—or more specifically, a designer I work with a few times a month exclusively who I found on Fiverr. For $5, he took my rough drawings that looked like a 4-year-old made them and turned it into a high quality template for the daily pages.
The printing site I found (see Step 3) had their own ebook maker called BookWright (free!). I uploaded my already-designed pages into it and just dragged and clicked and typed in my first 5 pages (goals, etc.), added an awesome picture of my family on page one, and designed the cover and back cover. It was really easy—if you can use Microsoft Word, you can use this.
Step 3: Figure Out How to Get My Custom Book Printed
Preferably without resorting to the Office Depot spiral bound special or spending $100 on it. Don’t get me wrong, I’d totally rock a spiral bound book, but I wanted to see if I could get a custom one made for a reasonable price. I honestly expected the worst.
Blurb.com saved the day. I ordered the 8×10 trade magazine book, 188 pages, custom covers, and I could put any content I wanted in there!
Price? I showed the final version to a BP colleague of mine and asked her to guess how much I paid for a one-off custom planner. She said $25. That is totally reasonable! I’d totally pay $25 for this. But the best part? It was less than $9.
So, a totally custom-made 90-day planning system for $9? The yearly cost is much less than some of those yearly planners out there. And the best part is if I want to change anything, I just order a new one or wait until the quarter is up and make the changes for the next one.
My productivity and daily interaction with my goals, my plans, my system, my schedule has been huge already. I never would have thought I’d be this excited over a planner, but this one inspires me and reminds me daily to get out there and kick butt.
If you were having any kind of trouble finding a system for you, hopefully this helped you see that you can create your own and do it for pretty cheap!
Interested in seeing the finished product? Check out this brief video:
Now it’s your turn to weigh in: What’s the best planner you’ve ever found? Would you consider making your own custom version?
Let’s talk in the comments section below!
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.