Introduction: Make Your Own Planner Pages

Picture of Make Your Own Planner Pages

For several years I used a paper planner.  Each day had two pages.  One page was for the usual appointments and tasks to complete.  The other was for notes I wanted to make on any subject.  These could even be where I had put something for storage, or the details of a conversation.  The system I was using used an indexing procedure so I could find those notes later.

The reason I made my own pages was that I write with my left hand.  Most planner pages are designed for a right-handed person.  The binder rings really get in the way if you are left-handed.

Step 1: Page for Notes

Picture of Page for Notes

The left side page in my binder used dots (the period key) to make a faint line on which I could write.  My pages were half of a sheet of 8.5 x 11 inch paper, or 5.5 x 8.5 inches.  Holding down the period key causes the page to fill with dots very quickly.  Because this page was on the left side of my binder, I left the right margin a bit larger than normal to make room for binder ring holes--about 0.70 inch.  I placed two planner pages on one sheet of paper formatted for Landscape rather than Portrait.

Step 2: Right Side Page

Picture of Right Side Page

This is a screen shot of my right hand page.  Again, I used the Landscape format.  The appointment items are at the left side of this page because I made only a couple of entries in this column each day.  The binder rings gave me minimal problems.  I needed more space for my hand when writing in the tasks column because I often wrote things in this column.  It is at the right side of the page.  

The appointments column began with "Early" for events happening before 8:00 AM.  "Late" appeared at the bottom of the column for events scheduled after 7 PM.

One key on the computer keyboard yields a vertical character.  I used this to make two narrow columns to indicate a task was completed and to indicate the priority of the task: A, B, or C. 

See the next step for a description of the universal calendar.

Step 3: The Universal Calendar

Picture of The Universal Calendar

The top line of the page contains the month and year, in this case: February 10 or 2010.  I used Right Margin Flush to push it to the far right side of the page.

On this page the left margin is 0.70 inch to make room for binder ring holes.

For the universal calendar, set up thirteen (13) tab settings from left to right 5/16 inch (8 mm) distant from each other.

On the first row abbreviate the days of the week.  In the USA calendars begin with Sunday.  In much of the world calendars begin with Monday.  Either way will work on this calendar.  I used two letter abbreviations for the days of the week: Su, Mo, Tu, We, Th, Fr, Sa.  I was able to use a single letter abbreviation for three of the days.  The days of the week are named differently in other languages, but a two letter abbreviation for the names of the days would work in those cases, too.

On the first line of the calendar, leave the first six tabs blank.  Begin with 1 on the seventh and number consecutively through "7" on the thirteenth tab space.  On the second line, number consecutively "2" through "14".  On the third line number "9" through "21".  On the fourth line number "16" through "28".  On the fifth line number "23" through "31".  On the sixth line number only "30" through "31".  

The red line represents the cursor.  Determine what the first day of the month is.  In February 2010 the first day is a Monday.  Use the Tab key or the Backspace key to move the days of the week as a block to the left or right until the correct day of the week rests over the "1".   

Step 4: Mark a Few Things by Hand

Picture of Mark a Few Things by Hand

February has 28 days this year.  At two pages per sheet you need fourteen copies of your calendar pages, which you will cut into two halves for 28 pages.  Do not forget to copy the lined pages onto the back of these pages so you can make notes for the next day after you turn today's page.  I visually separated the numbers for a given month from the rest of the numbers in the universal calendar by drawing two vertical lines to the left of Sunday and to the right of Saturday.  Then I circled "1" on the first page, "2" on the second page, "3" on the third page, and so on through the end of the month.  Since February has only 28 days in 2010, I would cross out "29," "30," and "31." 

You can also see how I would make entries in the appointments and task sections.

Step 5: Holes to Fit Your Binder

Picture of Holes to Fit Your Binder

Many planners come with binders that have an unusual number and arrangement for the rings.  If you are making your own calendar pages, you need a special hole punch.  You can make your own with a piece of 1/2 inch plywood and a standard hole punch like you see in the photo.  Cut the plywood to the same size and shape as the planner pages.

Step 6: Marking Holes

Picture of Marking Holes

Use the rings in your binder or a commercially printed piece of paper from your planner system to mark the hole spacing on your plywood.  The hand punch is 7/16 inch wide.  Drill holes 7/16 inch in diameter set in from the edge the correct amount for use in your binder.  For my binder that was about 3/8 inch.  A fence jig on a drill press gives good consistency of results.  If you are using plywood, you will get less chipping out of the top and bottom surfaces if the grain on the surfaces runs parallel to the short edge of the paper. 

Step 7: Mark and Cut to the Edge

Picture of Mark and Cut to the Edge

Use a square to mark lines that are tangential to the edges of the holes you drilled.  With a fine saw, manual or power, cut out to the edge as shown.

To use, align half-a-dozen pages with the plywood.  Hold over a wastebasket.  Push the end of the hole punch into each of the holes in the plywood and punch.  when you are finished, you will have planner pages that fit your binder, no matter how unusual its ring number or pattern is.   


DsrtGypsy (author)2016-01-08

I thought that the article would have setting information which is what I was looking for.

Phil B (author)DsrtGypsy2016-01-08

I am not quite sure what settings information you want and did not find, i tried to give enough information about margins, paper sizes, tabs, and other things so that someone could set up their own pages,

IvoryPearl (author)2015-12-15

I still love to write my schedule down in ink....something very therapeutic in putting ink to paper.

Phil B (author)IvoryPearl2015-12-16

I have used paper planner pages, a PDA, and an iPhone calendar. I like that I do not need to copy things forward to a new paper calendar when I use the electronic calendars. But, when I had to get a newer phone, some things disappeared from my calendar. The Palm calendars were easier to use than the iPhone calendar. Engagements end up in the wrong place too easily on an iPhone calendar, fortunately, I am retired now and there are fewer engagements to remember and do.

kramesh4 (author)2015-10-01

Is this using Microsoft Word? I don't have Word, do you have any other suggestions on programs? Thanks!

Phil B (author)kramesh42015-10-01

I do not have MS Word, either. I have been using OpenOffice for quite a few years. It is free and can be set to save in Microsoft formats as the default. Further, users of Word can open your documents with no problems. It even handles -.docx files,

CraftyCraftyBook (author)2015-05-30

Nice "puncher" idea. I'm thinking about making my own pages (work related) .Your instructables is very inspiring. Thanks for sharing

Phil B (author)CraftyCraftyBook2015-05-30

Thank you for looking. The homemade punch worked very well. A friend who used the same day planner had me making some for him to give away to associates who began to use that planner. In fact, it worked better than plastic punches that were supposed to put seven holes in a single sheet simultaneously.
Since the advent of electronic calendars on PDAs and cell phones, I have abandoned my paper planner.

CraftyCraftyBook (author)Phil B2015-05-31

I was time when i abandoned my paper planner but after few "electronic desisters" I decided that I'm old school girl :)

Phil B (author)CraftyCraftyBook2015-05-31

I understand. Sometimes there is nothing like a volume in paper resting on your hand. I regularly work through the New Testament in Koine Greek. I have it on a Kindle, and that works really well for traveling. Still, there is nothing like holding one of the editions in my hand that is well used and rests there like an old friend.

3366carlos (author)2015-05-30

Nice job. I never liked "custom" hole punchers, so eventually, I came up with the idea of always replacing the custom ring spines with a regular 3 ring spine. They are simply attached with rivets to the planner, so just drill them out and get a cheap 3 ring binder, remove the spine and attach to your expensive leather or what not planner.

Phil B (author)3366carlos2015-05-30

Thank you, and good idea on your part. A few years ago I saw some binders for day planners in office supply stores which used the standard three rings. But, I checked on the Internet and the brands I remember are now using 7 rings in their binders. I did once make my own binder with sheet aluminum covers and metal piano (continuous) hinge. I stole the rings from a 3 ring vinyl binder costing 99 cents.
Thank you for looking and for commenting.

KEUrban (author)2009-12-27


Just a suggestion on your hole punch. I supervise duplication services at work. Take a big stack of sheets, sandwich them between two of your plywood forms with light cardboard (like on the back of a pad of paper) as the first and last pages of the stack, and then use a drill press to punch the holes. Except for the plywood forms (we have stops set up on the hole punch), that's how we punch hundreds of pages at a time.

Once the drill press is started, and before drilling, hold a block of wax against the bit to lubricate it. Then, drill away.

Phil B (author)KEUrban2009-12-27

I know print shops have special drill presses with a tubular bit to make punch-outs.  I used the sandwiching technique on a dozen pieces of cardstock in a previous Instructible  Without a tubular bit my results from drilling a compressed sandwich have always left the holes a little rougher around the edges than I like.

When I used this paper planner, I found I often needed to punch holes in just  one or two sheets for inclusion someplace in the planner, as in a reduced copy of a letter or a document I wanted within reach later.  

The tip about the wax is interesting and useful.  Thank you.   

pfred2 (author)Phil B2011-06-14

You could probably make your own tubular bit out of a sharpened piece of metallic brake line tubing.

rimar2000 (author)2009-12-27

I'm also a lefty, Phil. Maybe I should copy your idea, because even though I carry my journal, I'm very disorganized with my designs: without exception, thay have lying around in loose sheets.

pfred2 (author)rimar20002011-06-14

You and me both. I have piles of papers lying around with notes, sketches, lists, etc. on them. Anymore when I get done with a project I toss out most of the associated paperwork that went into making it. I figure the project is its own documentation.

I have a thing for spiral 3x5 memo books, though I use some 3 ring binders as well, sometimes backwards, as I'm left handed too.

Left handers are the only ones in their right mind!

Phil B (author)rimar20002009-12-27

I viewed your recent Instructible on your annual journal.  So much depends on the user's needs.  I really liked making lots of notes on the left side page when I used this planner.  There will come a time when I do not need so many notes and do not need to remember as many things as now. 

AngryRedhead (author)2009-12-26
I adore this level of commitment to organization and correcting flaws in common things that righties take for granted.  Kudos to you!
Phil B (author)AngryRedhead2009-12-26

Dear "Red,"

Thank you for your comment.  I was using a commercially available  fully-integrated paper planning system before electronic PDA's became inexpensive enough to afford one.  It was so well done that it made the conscientious user "bulletproof."  There was a real feeling of power and control.  Since that time I have adapted what I learned from the paper system to my electronic PDA.  

What I have described could easily be configured for the right-handed person who prefers to make his or her own rather than be at the mercy of a commercial firm.  There will always be people who continue to prefer the look and feel of paper.

I went to a one-room rural school K-6.  It was the only time a left-handed writing desk was provided to me.  Since that time I have had to adapt numerous things for my left-handed ways. 

mslaynie (author)Phil B2011-03-25

You're very lucky. My father-in-law went to a small Catholic school, and the nuns actually tied his left hand down to force him to write with his right hand. I've also heard stories of liberal application of a ruler across his left knuckles also. He's got lovely penmanship now, but I don't know if it was worth it.

Phil B (author)mslaynie2011-03-25

My father (born 1910) was forced to write with his right hand rather than follow his natural inclination to write with his left hand. Born 36 years later, I was allowed to write with my left hand. My father attended a small Lutheran parochial school. I did not hear stories about a ruler across the knuckles, nor about hands tied behind his back. I attended a one-room public rural school. It was quite common at one time in all schools to force left-handers to switch over to the right hand. I am not sure how well I would have done at being forced to switch.

Jake_Rider (author)2010-07-01

Cool, dude!!

Phil B (author)Jake_Rider2010-07-02


greybunny (author)2010-03-03

 I don't know what kind of planner you use, but doesn't this waste more time than it would cost? I am very picky about my planners (I use disposable as I don't have the space or money for a large one) and tried to make one before but after working on it for days I still couldn't get it to come out right - meanwhile wasting many pages every time i thought I had it right. And without a dual sided printer it takes so long. I understand this is instructables, about do-it-yourself, but sometimes you have to decide if something is worth your time and energy. How long did this take you?

greybunny (author)greybunny2010-03-03

 A few months ago I got a planner I liked well enough for $3, that will last me till the end of fall semester (around Christmas). The only things I'd change about it would be having an extra page after the week (one week is 2 pages) for notes (I have to write in the margins now) and the font and cover. 

Phil B (author)greybunny2010-03-03

My main reason for making my own pages was to make more space for my left hand when writing on the notes page, which I did a lot.  Printing the pages off did not take too much time.  Going through an circling consecutive dates for each day took some time.  Setting up the calendar on the computer and double-checking to make certain I had the first day of the month under the correct day of the week took a little time.  It took some time to make my pages, but I could not always buy the pages locally and I liked having them made up just the way I wanted them. 

blodefood (author)2010-03-01

I found a planner at a thrift shop that had a week on two pages but there were no day or month numbers so one could write them in.  It just happened that the pages were about the size of a half sheet of letter (north america) sized paper.  So I scanned them and printed out a bunch and slit them.  There were only three holes so I could use a regular paper punch and adjust the position accordingly.

Phil B (author)blodefood2010-03-03

After a while I used a 3-ring binder, too.  A regular punch for three holes worked well, but I did make a special stop I added to position the paper.

Mehehehful (author)blodefood2010-03-01

lucky duck. n_n

Phil B (author)2009-12-31

Thank you for your comment. 

The basic two pages per day arrangement is used by several commercial planners.  The page for notes allows you to record all manner of information for later recall. 

I wanted to include a calendar for the current month on the appointments/tasks page.  I have a wristwatch with a universal calendar for the month in a window within the dial's face, and it was the basis for the universal calendar I set up with a word processor document using tab settings, and it has been a very practical solution.

I wish I could say more about the details of the system I used, but it is copyrighted and I would get into trouble if I gave away what that company sells, even though many people have been trained in it by now.

The hole punch described in this Instructable is an idea I developed and have used very well in another application.

ehmbee (author)2009-12-27

Nice instructable-while it may seem like an easy way out, I get my templates from DIY Planner. It lets you start with a pre-made, submitted template and go from there, without having to create an Excel document, etc. yourself. I need full-page planner pages for film projects (for shooting schedules, etc.), and they have plenty of those as well as Classic Size (5.5 x 8.5 in.) and Hipster PDA-sized (for 3 x 5 in notecards). Supplement these with your 'ible and the idea of dropping $20-$50 for planner pages seems absolutely ridiculous to the average DIYer.  Again, nice 'ible!

Phil B (author)ehmbee2009-12-27

Thanks for the comment and for the link.  That is an interesting site.  Were I still using a paper planner, I would make use of it.

laxap (author)2009-12-27

I have a "Time/system" planner. Due to the PDA an now the  gcal eras, I still use it but only occasionally, and mainly for sketches and quick notes.

I've been always highly annoyed by the holes arrangement and necessity to buy blank paper, or a specific punch, all sold at scandalous prices. This plywood + hole punch trick is a great idea!

How many sheets can you punch in the same time?

laxap (author)laxap2009-12-27

OK, 6 sheets, as told in step 7...

Phil B (author)laxap2009-12-27

No problem that you did not notice the number of sheets a person can punch at a time.  We are all human.  You can punch as many sheets as you have strength in your hand.  For me, five or six is about the practical limit. 

I know what you mean about scandalous prices.  Ten years ago when I knew a number of people using these planners I made quite a few plywood punch guides as a favor and surely saved some folks a lot of money.  These paper planners were great for making a few notes on an idea for a project.

Thank you for looking and commenting.

AngryRedhead (author)Phil B2009-12-27
I don't know if this would help, but I've discovered the wonderful leather tooling section where you can buy punches that you use with a hammer.  They're about $5/set and work GREAT on paper and lots of other materials, not so good on felt but meh.  It might be easier to swing a hammer than grasp a grip-style hole puncher.  Here's a step in one of my instructables where I use it on cardboard.  A bonus of the sets is that you can add holes to leather shoe/sandal straps.
Phil B (author)AngryRedhead2009-12-27

I viewed your Instructible and have a similar small punch for adding holes to a leather belt.  A larger version of my leather punch would work for planner pages.  Each hole would need to be placed in the exact right spot, and I know I would not get even results.  The plywood with the "U"-shaped openings automatically puts the punch in just the right place for each hole.  I like that part of it, even if other parts of the process may be compromises. 

AngryRedhead (author)Phil B2009-12-27
The punches get quite large if that helps.  I think mine go up to a 1/2" diameter which would be big enough for a ring binder.  Just saying in case it helps because I really like the punches and think they're a little bit of awesome.

For the record, I love your use of a jig for punching holes.  Very clever.
Phil B (author)AngryRedhead2009-12-27

It is good to find a tool that does a job well.  It soon becomes a favorite often  used in many new applications.  Thank you for the compliment on the hole jig.  It took a while to think of that and it has worked well when I needed it, as well as for others whom I gifted with a copy.  At the time the company that sold my planner supplies had a $7 cheapie made of plastic and a $40 heavy duty metal punch.   

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Bio: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying ... More »
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