When it comes to getting things done, we trust our planners to hold every to-do list, habit tracker, and deadline along the way to fulfilling our goals. Planners are as personal as your style, and we’ve covered all kinds of planners in our search for the perfect one. But if the way you plan defies pre-printed options, a DIY custom planner could be the answer to your troubles.
A DIY planner is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a planner that you make yourself. Whether you want a planner to double as a journal, have dozens of tasks to complete in a day, or simply want to use up your stash of notebooks, a DIY planner lets you include everything that might not have a place in a premade planner. Read on to see our favorite DIY planning tools, including stamps, washi tapes, and more.
DIY Planning Tools
Best Stamping Supplies for DIY Planners
Stamps are an excellent way to add repeating details throughout your planner. If you find yourself drawing a schedule or habit tracker over and over again, use a stamp instead to save time. To ink our picks, we recommend Tsukineko VersaMagic Dew Drop Ink Pads.
If you’ve never tried clear stamps before, you’ll wonder how you ever used anything else. Each set of BGM Clear Stamps
includes a variety of handy designs that can be used to add task lists, schedules, and more to each page.
To use these stamps, mount them to an acrylic block (sold separately). The stamps cling securely to the block but can be easily peeled off afterwards. The stamps and block are clear, so you can position each stamp exactly where you want it. Plus, unlike bulky rubber stamps that come attached to a block, the clear stamps have slim profiles which make them a cinch to store.
MU My Icon Clear Stamps
are another great clear stamp option for planners. In addition to delicate decorative designs, they offer basics that are perfect for planner layouts. Months, days of the week, and day numbers are all available in a classic serif font. Combined with the texture of stamped ink, they create a vintage effect that’s still clear and readable.
This line of stamps also includes acrylic cylinders in addition to typical square blocks. These cylinders can be held like the handles of some traditional stamps. For small designs like individual numbers, they enable perfect placement.
We love the no-nonsense, minimalist look of Mizushima
stamps. Whether you want to add habit trackers, timelines, or to-do lists to your notebook, these stamps can be easily incorporated into the way you plan.
The C. Ching Rubber Date Stamp
has a large handle for a comfortable grip. This vintage-inspired stamp lets you change the date by turning the ridged wheels to the sides of the days, months, and years. Twist the knob on the side to add a statement like “Good Luck!” or even a line of bunting.
A convenient alternative to traditional stamps, Midori Paintable Stamps
come pre-inked. Their black oil-based ink resists smudging from water-based pens and markers. Designs range from the practical, like habit trackers
, to the adorable
(yet still useful for page organization). Before you use them in your planner, we recommend testing these stamps on scrap paper to figure out the right level of pressure for a clean mark.
Best Stickers & Sticky Notes for DIY Planners
Sticky notes and some stickers are removable, so you can move them from one page to another. Sticky notes are especially handy if you have tentative plans or repeating tasks—rather than spending time rewriting, you can simply move a sticky note where you want it.
Most stickers tend to be decorative rather than functional, but in this section we recommend some useful stickers we like to use in our planners.
Midori Journal Sticky Notes
are a handy way to add to-do lists and events to your planner. We especially enjoy using the Habit Tracker sticky notes on daily pages. Rather than flipping to a specific page to track our habits, we can move the monthly sticky note from one spread to the next.
Who said adorable stickers couldn’t be functional? Midori Planner Stickers
are a great way to add fun designs to your planner while also letting you keep track of moods, achievements, and more. Some of these stickers are removable, so you can reuse them or move them from one page to another.
These Stalogy Calendar Stickers
help save time while making monthly overview pages. Each sticker covers an entire sheet and has gridded space for notes. Plus, the stickers are removable, so if you use multiple notebooks throughout the year you won’t have to fill out a new month. Just move a sticker you’ve already filled out to its new location.
If you prefer using fountain pens and other inky pens in your notebook, try the Midori MD Diary Stickers. They’re made from the same fountain pen friendly, cream colored paper as Midori’s MD notebooks. There’s even a dated version so you won’t have to write in every day of the month.
Stalogy Circular Washi Tape Patches
are made from the same paper and glue as washi tape, making them easy to remove and reposition. They can also be written on with most pens. Use them for bullet points, checklist markers, habit tracking, or cheerful decoration.
Another surprisingly practical pick, Dailylike Diary Removable Stickers
will brighten up your planner pages. Their designs are slightly larger than Midori Planner Stickers, and every sheet is removable and repositionable. Unique stickers like skincare animals
and aerobics bears
will add impeccable charm to your habit trackers, or you can use cafe stickers
to highlight plans with friends.
Best Washi Tapes for DIY Planners
Washi tapes are especially useful for filling in repetitive information, like quickly listing all of the days of the week at once. Because they’re slightly translucent, washi tapes with white backgrounds will blend into the color of the paper for a seamless look. They’re removable too, so if you make a mistake you can always shift a piece of tape afterwards.
These Mark’s Maste Perforated Washi Tapes
are a bold way to create daily or weekly spreads. The tapes are perforated between each design so you can use them like stickers—just tear off the pieces you want to use and stick them to the page. The rolls come in coordinating Date
versions so you can mix and match to your heart’s content.
With features carefully chosen by JetPens’ in-house designers, the JetPens Kanso Writable Washi Tapes
are a no-nonsense addition to any collection of planning tools. Unlike most washi tapes, you can write over them with your favorite pens. Inks dry quickly and don’t rub off. Our favorite designs are the checkboxes
and the abbreviated days of the week
. The translucent background of the tapes nearly vanishes on the page, leaving only crisp, clean markings.
Livework Washi Tapes
add retro flair to a planner spread. With designs including numbers
that count from 1 to 31, months
, and even weather choices
, they’ll make creating a spread quick and easy. We like that they’re colorful without being cutesy, perfect for when you want a simple spread that’s still fun.
Narrow mt Slim Washi Tapes
can divide a page without eating up valuable planning space. Whether you feel festive
, your spreads will end up neatly organized. These tapes come in sets of three, so you’ll have plenty of options to decorate your pages with right off the bat.
Whimsical Bande Washi Tape Sticker Rolls
have all the charm of stickers rolled into a convenient, portable format. Each roll contains several variations of a sticker theme, so every new sticker is a little surprise. You can use them to emphasize big events and decorate headers, or treat them as prizes for finishing to-do tasks. Since they’re made with the same repositionable adhesive as regular washi tapes, they can be removed and rearranged with no damage to your planner.
Best Accessories for DIY Planners
There are a variety of tools that can make setting up your DIY planner a breeze. We recommend items that are also slim enough to carry in a pencil case so you can plan on the go.
Midori Chiratto Index Tabs
let you locate specific pages or organize your planner by month. The colored tabs are designed to stick out 2.5 millimeters from the edge of the page so they’re protected by most notebook covers while still being easy to grip.
If colorful tabs don’t quite fit your aesthetic, the Midori Chiratto Index Clips are an upgraded option in two classy metal shades.
It’s important to keep a ruler on hand when you’re drawing layouts in your DIY planner, and the Midori Multi Ruler
is a compact option that you can carry everywhere. It can be used while folded to measure up to 15 centimeters or extended to a full 30 centimeters. The rotating hinge has degree markings so you can use it as a protractor. It’s available in two materials: colorful plastic
and sturdy aluminum
These Midori Clip Bookmarkers
are sure to make your planner a little more fancy. The clips hold tightly to the page without making creases or marks, and can be moved where you need them. The bookmarks feature special designs that can be stenciled, like lunar phases or weather icons. In a pinch, you can use the edges of the bookmarks as straightedges.
If you’re looking for a bookmark that can do double duty, check out the Nakabayashi Magnetic Bookmark Ruler. This flexible ruler is made from a magnetic strip so you can fold it over the page.
Fix miscounted squares and typos with Kokuyo Dual Head Keshipita Correction Tapes
. The movable head flexes gently so it stays flush against the page, preventing torn correction tape. We especially like that the Keshipita comes in three tape widths, so you can match it to the size of your writing or notebook ruling.
Some writers around the JetPens office have handwriting as delicate as a gentle spring breeze. Everyone else appreciates writing boards. A shitajiki
stops a pen wielded in a heavy hand from denting the pages underneath. Furthermore, if you have pages in your planner you often flip back to, such as yearly overviews, writing boards give you a smooth writing surface even if other pages are crammed with stickers and scraps. They’re especially helpful for delicate paper like the pages of the Maruman Croquis Diary Sketchbook
or the Stalogy Editor's Series 365Days Notebook
Now that you have all your DIY planner supplies, you’ll need somewhere to use them! The most exciting part of DIY planning is that you can use any of the supplies you already enjoy using. If you have a specific notebook and pen combination in mind, you don’t need to compromise on any of the features you like. For DIY planner newbies, we’ve gathered some of our favorite notebooks and pens below.
Best Notebooks for DIY Planners
We suggest using notebooks with 5 mm line spacing so there’s enough room for you to write without feeling cramped. If you will be drawing a lot of layouts (such as for making monthly calendars or weekly spreads), dot grid or graph paper makes it easier to draw straight lines. Otherwise, standard horizontal ruling in any line spacing works well for simple task lists.
When it comes to notebook sizes, be sure to pick one that fits your lifestyle. If you travel often or plan on the go, an A6 or B6 notebook is compact and fits easily in small bags. A desk planner can be larger (such as A5 or B5), so you have plenty of space for planning and note-taking.
are one of the most popular options for DIY planning, and for good reason. The off-white paper works well with a variety of writing instruments, including gel pens and water-based markers. Each notebook has numbered pages, an elastic closure, bookmark, and back pocket.
are filled with 90 gsm fountain pen friendly paper in soothing cream. Their dot grid page style helps planner enthusiasts create neat layouts, and year-at-a-glance and index pages at the start of the notebooks help you stay organized. They offer a whole rainbow of cover colors, all of which are held closed with an elastic band in Rhodia orange.
Midori MD Notebooks
were practically made for the minimalist. The clean aesthetic of the notebooks is accented by mindful textural and visual details, like cheesecloth binding tape and a debossed logo on the front. The paper performs well with gel pens, fountain pens, and more. You can pair the notebooks with covers to protect them from accidental spills or creases.
If Midori MD Notebooks are a little too freeform, the Stalogy Editor's Series 365Days Notebook balances functionality with simplicity. Each off-white page is printed with a vertical hourly tracker and perpetual calendar in an unobtrusive gray. You can ignore the features or incorporate them into your planning style as you like.
Maruman Croquis Diary Sketchbooks
combine organization with a blank canvas for creativity. They open with undated calendars, then provide plenty of empty pages. The subtle grid texture of their woven paper helps keep writing neat and place straight washi tape dividers. If you incorporate art into your planning, we recommend these sketchbooks for dry media, light washes of wet media, or collaging.
Leuchtturm1917 Softcover Pocket Notebooks
have the great paper quality and organizational details of full-size Leuchtturm1917s shrunk into a sleek and portable size. You might not be able to fit a whole week on a spread, but you can take these notebooks everywhere with you without inconvenient bulk.
Best Pens for DIY Planners
Choosing the right pen could be the difference between neat plans and a smudged mess. For example, those who jot down tasks on the go should pick a fine-tipped pen that dries quickly, like a ballpoint pen. Planner users who have multiple ongoing projects might feel the need to color-code with the wide variety of hues that gel pens come in. If you're not sure what the difference is between ballpoint and gel pens, check out our guide to learn more.
The Uni Jetstream
is one of our favorite ballpoint pens. The low-viscosity ink has the flow of a gel pen but dries almost instantaneously. It’s an excellent pick for those who plan on the go, as you can close your notebook without worrying about ink transfer.
The Zebra Sarasa Clip Gel Pen
boasts a huge variety of tip sizes and vibrant colors, so it’s perfect for color-coding text or the occasional doodle. It even comes in specially formulated options: the Sarasa Mark On
resists smudging under highlighters, while the Sarasa Dry
is smear-free in seconds.
If you need a pen that is sure to pass the test of time, reach for the Staedtler Pigment Liner Pen
. The ink is archival quality, fade resistant, and waterproof. The long metal tip makes it easy to see exactly where you’re drawing when paired with a ruler or template.
To add some cheerful color to your planner, we recommend the Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Dot Double-Sided Markers
. They’re designed with a fine bullet tip on one end and a wide, squishy dot tip on the other. Stamping them right down on the page is deeply satisfying. One of our favorite uses for them is marking days on a habit tracker, but you may also find that they unlock your inner pointillist artist.
We must warn you that when you apply pressure to create a broader line or larger dot, the ink of the Kuretake Dot can bleed through a page to the other side. If you want to “highlight” text or create bold calligraphy, we recommend Tombow Dual Brush Pens instead. As you decorate, be aware that both of these options are water-based and will smudge most gel pens.
Highlighters are a useful way to draw attention to important events, but not all highlighters work well with different writing supplies. The Zebra Justfit Mojini Line Highlighter
takes away the guesswork with a specially formulated ink that greatly reduces the chance of smudging water-based ink (such as gel pen ink). The special chisel tip flexes against the page for neat lines.
How to Make Your Own Planner
Make a weekly spread with stamps and sticky notes.
Lay out a minimalist future planner.
Stickers and sticky notes make a weekly spread lively and fun.
We used the Date
Mark's Maste Perforated Washi Tape for Diary to divide up the page and add visual interest to special lists. Midori Journal Sticky Notes
let us add habit trackers that we can follow through the month. A set of Midori Chiratto Index Tabs
makes it easy to flip to other pages that we visit often.
Art challenges encourage daily creativity.
Create a compact pocket planner.