Sometimes to find our most organized routine, we need to take it back to the basics. But what is essential for planning? In this week’s blog, we’ll explore what “planning essentials” may look like for you as well as the tried-and-true basic planning tips that elevate planning to its most effective. 

Brown planner on desk


What exactly is needed to start planning? Here are the simplified basics:

  1. Space to plan
  2. Tool(s) to plan

That’s it! So, what does this mean for simplifying or refreshing your routine? We’ll need to establish a solid foundation to ensure that our planning routine is actually effective in relieving mental load and making life easier.

Start by establishing the “space” that works best for you. Answer these questions:

Which size planner is most comfortable for you?

Do notebooks or notepads work better for you than planners?

Does digital planning work better for you than physical?

When it comes to your planning environment, do you feel most comfortable at your desk, in your car, in bed, at a cafe, or somewhere else?

What time(s) do you feel most inspired to plan?

Then, the tools you need to plan:

Which writing tools do you need?

Any organizational necessities?

What brings you joy in planning?

What are your absolute favorite planning items?

What parts of your planning routine relieves mental load and brings you organizational relief?

Consider if there are certain accessories that bring you focus and joy in planning. “Tools” can include inspirational photos, videos, and vision boards – or even making your planning routine a social event. 

For example, I function best with sticky notes nearby at all times, along with a folder to organize stray documents. So, my planning basics include: a planner, a pen, a folder set, and sticky notes. These basics are the items that are required as part of my routine each day - I literally would not be able to plan without them.

Now, evaluate your answers to the questions above. Take those answers and file them under two sections:



Empty white planner



Size: HP Mini

Prefer physical planner with discs

Plan best at an empty desk

Plan best at lunch time, after taking medications


I need sticky notes for quick jots

I need folder sets for stray documents and when I don’t have time to organize

Joy in planning: “mini” aesthetics, creative + alternative journaling

Fav products: chunky pens, dashboards that can layer, and unique accessories

Part of planning that relieves mental load: having accessible checklists

Now, I pair methods/products with my answers:


Physical planner in HP Mini size with discs: HP Mini Planner

After taking medications, on lunch break, I’ll plan at my cleaned desk


Sticky notes that allow me to create checklists: Memo Sticky Notes

Making my checklists accessible and organized: Sticky Note Holder

Folders for organizing: CEO Folder Set

Organization method: using “To Be Sorted,” “Inserts,” and “Personal” tabs to fit planning needs; CEO Label Stickers

Can journal creatively with customizable layout: Espana Spiral Notebook | CP Petite; very portable; note to take time to find journaling ideas on Pinterest and FB C&P Insider

Prefer “mini” aesthetic: Mini Shape Sticker Set + Clear Ruler Journaling Card; keep clipped in planner rather than in a holder

Chunky pen: Zebra Sarasa Dry Airfit Grip Pen

Layering that fits my style: “Humanism” Renaissance Dashboard under Crystal Clear Inbox Arch Dashboard, and Assorted Journaling Cards between; layering goals: elegant but inspirational

Unique accessories that bring me joy: Leché Cloth & PaperClip, Artisan Paper Tape, Kokuyo GLOO Roller Tape; minimal accessories that fit my aesthetic but are also functional

HP Mini Planner 

And that completes an essential planning kit with a basic routine! I’ll have a full HP Mini Planner to start planning, sticky notes with their holder for my daily checklist, a folder set to organize my desk, a space dedicated to journaling, along with accessories that complete my routine: stickers, journaling cards, a paperclip, and layered dashboards for the front of my planner. I like to call it my capsule planning collection: it has the essential, most necessary items I need to feel organized, joyful, and relieve “mental load.”


Now that you have an outline of what you require for your essential planning needs, it’s time to transform your planning supplies and routine to fit that. If items/ideas come to mind while answering the earlier questions, note them. Take a look at blogs, YouTube videos, Instagram posts and browse the website to see what sparks your interest (while fitting with your planning needs). For example, you may realize that you plan best with notebooks, but can’t decide which one is best for you. In this case, Choosing Which Planning Notebook is Perfect for You would be a great resource! Or, if you’re having trouble finding which dated calendar design you work best with, the 2024 Dated Insert deep dive video is perfect!

You may have worries about this process, such as: “I’ve created my essentials list, and it’s a lot! There’s nothing 'essential' or 'basic' about 20+ planning items!” In this case, go back through your list. Consider with each item: will this elevate my planning routine? Is it essential to creating space? Is it essential as a tool? If you’re still left with 20 planning items after answering these questions, that is your essentials list!

Planning accessories

Take time to engage with what truly moves you – that’s what will matter most when you’re planning. Your planner is a symbol of manifestation; you are building – manifesting – what your life, goals, and achievements look like. That’s why planning, while fun, is also very personal, and a powerful tool for elevating your present so that you’re prepared for an even greater future.

Still having trouble establishing your essentials or perfecting your routine? Schedule a Planner Consultation with one of our experts and they'll assist you in creating a personalized dream planner!

September 08, 2023

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