3 Steps to Design & Print Your Own Custom Planner for Under $10

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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.

Related: 4 Productivity Hacks to Turn Wasted Hours into Quality Time

I decided I’d create my OWN 2015 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.

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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 2015 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.

Related: Boost Your Productivity in Real Estate With These iPhone Applications

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 in 2015, and we are only 15 days into it. 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!

About Author

Anson Young

Anson is a full time real estate investor and part time adventure-taker. He is a wholesaler and flipper currently who daydreams of landlording. Anson lives in Colorado with his wife and son (who join him on the aforementioned adventures), he plays in a band and is way too into cold showers.

38 Comments

  1. I would like to see it!!! Looks like a great idea. I would like to have one made for myself. I am a day planner idiot. I have been looking for a day planner to suit my needs for years, and years. Send or post anything you can to show me… Please???

    • Anson Young

      My original post submission had a link to a youtube video with my planner in it. I didnt go into details of what my daily pages look like, more of what the first 5 pages were and how that was beneficial. Mainly because its for me, and what works for me most likely wont work for you and vice versa. This was more about the process of going from frustration to excitement from not finding anything to making my own. I fixed the video and Allison should be posting it with this blog hopefully today.

      Daily was:
      schedule on the right broken down in blocks of hours
      notes
      on the left I have 2 sections for goals (write them out morning and then at night), quote of the day, daily goals/targets, successes (I can go through at night and write out what went right), what I’m moving to the next day, and then overall weekly goals I can put in there as well.

      First 5 pages:
      1. Picture of my family, big picture why statements
      2&3 -Goals
      4&5 – daily readings/affirmations/whatever you want to call it

      • Hi Anson!
        Love your post. I have a completed 170 front/back total pages annual planner. I went on blurb and uploaded it as PDF. However, mine came back at $21.99. A few questions.
        1. Did you print as a Trade Book?
        2. What weight paper?
        3. Are your pages in color or all black and white?
        4. How many front/back pages?

        Just trying to figure out how your cost was only $9. Thanks for your help!

        Tasha Johnson

    • Anson Young

      My original post submission had a link to a youtube video with my planner in it. I didnt go into details of what my daily pages look like, more of what the first 5 pages were and how that was beneficial. Mainly because its for me, and what works for me most likely wont work for you and vice versa. This was more about the process of going from frustration to excitement from not finding anything to making my own. I fixed the video and Allison should be posting it with this blog hopefully today, so check back if you can!

      Daily was:
      schedule on the right broken down in blocks of hours
      notes
      on the left I have 2 sections for goals (write them out morning and then at night), quote of the day, daily goals/targets, successes (I can go through at night and write out what went right), what I’m moving to the next day, and then overall weekly goals I can put in there as well.

      First 5 pages:
      1. Picture of my family, big picture why statements
      2&3 -Goals
      4&5 – daily readings/affirmations/whatever you want to call it

  2. Scott Moyes

    I am the president of the largest and most successful REIA west of the Mississippi (Utah / Wasatch Area Real Estate Investors Association). The reason I mention that is because I find that articles like this one are essential for our member’s success in creative real estate investing. I constantly draw from BiggerPockets to help educate our members with truth, not fiction or hype, from late night t.v. gurus and weekend hucksters.

    This Thursday Night we will start our 15th year as a REIA. This article couldn’t have come at a better time as it will give me an outline to follow and pass on to my members to Get Them Started AND, in the Right Direction without all the hype and pitches.

    When anyone asks me what is the best way to get started in Real Estate Investing, I always tell the to join their local REIA and Subscribe to BiggerPockets.

    Thanks BiggerPockets!

    • Anson Young

      Eric, thanks for taking the time to read this! I chose not to show my system because honestly, it wouldnt work for everyone. Just like if you came up with a personal system, it likely wouldnt work for me. This was more about “this can be done, and this is how I did it” than “my system”. I’ll break down whats in the daily pages, there are sections and in future revisions, I’ll make them a bit more separate maybe drawing a box around each section:

      RIGHT PAGE:
      Date
      schedule broken down in blocks of hours (6a-9a, 10a-1a, etc etc) with 6 lines for each block
      notes

      Left Page:
      I have 2 sections for goals (write them out morning and then at night)
      quote of the day
      daily goals/targets
      successes (I can go through at night and write out what went right)
      what I’m moving to the next day
      overall weekly goals

      • Eric F.

        I worked up a sketch of what I am going to go with today. I am going to think about it throughout the week and make one for Feb/March as a tester.

        I’m thinking 2 morning pages. One with actual lists (goals, ideas, a quote, etc.) and the other just a journal page. Although your idea of writing a quote in must save a lot on creating the journal. I missed that the first time I read it and thought you picked a quote out for each day before making it (a lot of work)

        My evening 2 pages will be 1 with a gratitude list, reflection list, things that went well, things that did not, etc. and another journal/notes page.

        The reason I am going 2 pages per day is so I can lay the morning flat and have both and same with the night.

        What is the turnaround time from when you had your template ready to the book arriving?

        • Anson Young

          I procrastinated on getting it ordered, so I opted for the fastest ship option. That even put it at Jan 9th (I wasnt to happy, but it was my fault I waited so long to order). I ordered on Dec 27th.

          It showed up Dec 31st – just in time for the new year!

          I’m so happy that even just ONE person took action on this and did it. Mission successful!! Let me know if you need anything else Eric!

  3. Jean Bolger

    Whoa!! I love the custom planner, and I can think of a bunch of other things things I could use blurb.com for. I knew about the fancy hardcover printers, but they’re expensive. The trade paperback and magazine options really open it up. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Eric F.

    Anson,

    I set up and ordered my book. It ended up being 22 dollars shipped. Mine was about 250 pages (I did 60 days and each day was 40 pages. I had an upcharge for 6.50 for a matte finish I could not figure out how to opt out of. Thanks for the idea.

    Eric

  5. Christy Greene

    Anson, Thank you so much for sharing a tip that we all struggle with on a daily basis which is Time Management. You went above the “Lemming Mentality” and sought to find a system that works for you. AWESOME!
    Thank you for sharing! : )

  6. Anson,

    I love the idea of creating a custom planner. I’ve been working on my own but I’m having a lot of issues getting the format correct using the BookWright / BookSmart. I’m interested in doing what you did and getting someone on fiverr.com to create the template. I was hoping you could refer me to the designer you used. Thanks in advance for you assistance.

    Dan

  7. I have been searching for 2 years for the perfect planner. I even bought a filofax thinking i could make my own pages for that. But it is way to expensive to upkeep with the specific paper size and what not. This is BRILLIANT! What type of paper did you use? I want to make sure my markers will write on it and not smudge!

  8. This article was EXACTLY what I needed! I’ve had ideas in my head for three separate planners (that I want to sell) for almost 9 months and didn’t know how I could do it! Blurb was just the resource I needed! Have a wonderful weekend and here’s to making YOUR dreams come true!

  9. Chazz McCullough on

    Hi I’m a college student and this sounds great for what I am trying to do! Im still creating my designs but what exactly should I look for on fiverr.com? Am I looking for a graphic designer?

  10. Thank you! I designed a format for myself at the beginning of 2016and I’ve used it in a 3 ring binder. The format is fairly ugly and I’ve been wondering how to get help. This opened my eyes to affordable ways to make it happen.

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