(Almost) Free Monthly Planner!

Happy October! We ended last month with a quick trip to the Bahamas with friends.

It was splendid.

If you ever stop in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, you must rent a car and go to Gold Rock Beach! It is the closest thing I've ever found to Paradise (see first two photos above).

Now that it's back to reality, I decided it was time to get more organized (before the craziness of the holiday season begins!)

When it comes to daily/monthly tasks and reminders, iPhones and iPads and Outlook calendars are nice and do a great job for many people, but sometimes you just want to write things down. It's easier for me to jot things down by hand and have everything laid out right in front of me, vs having to open up a program on a device and thumb through what you need to find. There's also something satisfying about crossing things off a list by hand—it gives a sense of accomplishment.

But the method I was using wasn't so organized. I was using a random stack of notepaper to haphazardly write down notes/ideas/lists wherever I had space.

It was time for a new approach.

Have you all heard of these Erin Condren planners that are all the rage right now? They are packed with features and an equally hefty price tag (IMO), starting at around $50/ea.

I liked the idea but didn't need all the fancy extras, wasn't willing to fork out the cash, and figured I could just make my own. And then decided I could offer it as a free download for you guys too!

I spent a couple mornings designing a basic layout and adding seasonally appropriate colors for each month.

Each month has two pages, double sided, for a total of 4: 1) Cover page, 2) Sun–Weds, 3) Thurs–Sat, and 4) Notes. I added a few extra pages for Notes at the very end as well.

It was actually quite an enjoyable project and I was excited to start using it. After double checking all of my dates and details, I was ready for assembly.

Step 1: Choose your paper

The type of paper you choose is really a matter of preference, but I wanted something a bit thicker so you wouldn't see the design or my writing from the back side of the paper. I didn't have much I could use lying around at home, so I went to Office Max.

I settled on this 67lb weight cover stock for $13:

It's somewhere between plain paper and cardstock thickness with a matte texture (but you can certainly go for something coated or maybe even semigloss, but I would stay away from gloss photo paper).

The package came with 250 sheets, but I only used 34 total (plus a few extras for mistakes). You might be able to find a 50 pack of similar paper somewhere else cheaper and that should be plenty.

Step 2: Print your design

The file is built to a standard 7x9" size which fits nicely on an 8.5x11" sheet of paper.

I printed one page at a time, double sided, in the order that they would appear in the planner. This requires a decent enough printer to be able to line everything up perfectly.

If your printer isn't so accurate, you can either

a) print them out on separate pages and attach them (I'd suggest spray mount/adhesive), or

b) consult your local printer/office supply store (I like Office Max and Office Depot) to see if they can print everything for you—I'm fairly certain they can print double sided and do a good job. If anyone does this, please comment and I'll update the post with the verdict!

Once my double sided sheets were printed, I trimmed them using my rotary trimmer:

But you can also use an Xacto knife and cutting board (which is probably the most accurate method):

This process took a good couple hours, but it was worth it to have clean edges.

Here's my stack of completed pages, ready to go:

The cover reads 2012/2013 because I decided to design the last few months of this year (I couldn't wait until January to be organized!) so my planner goes from October 2012–December 2013. The pages are all separate so you can use/print/reprint whichever ones you need.

Step 3: Take to office supply store for lamination & binding

I went back to Office Max and handed over my stack of papers. I asked them to laminate the front and back covers and spiral bind the pages together. 10 minutes later it was ready to go!

Laminating both covers cost $2.20, and spiral binding was $2.99, for a total of $5.56 with tax. Can't beat that!

Two days into October and it already has plenty of use...

And there it is! My super duper cheap planner. If you have a few hours and $18 to spare (or extra paper lying around and $5), you can have yourself one as well.

I've made the PDF available for download here (Click the photo below to preview the file, and select File>Download to save to your computer). Disclaimer: Excuse any errors you may come across—I did my best to double check but didn't spend more than a few hours on the design so I apologize if anything is missing/incorrect/misspelled!

Update: If you would prefer to use just the 2013 months, I've added a 2013 cover here.

Move over Erin Condren, the Jenna Sue planner is in town.

Enjoy! :)

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