If you are just getting started with a planner, it’s easy to think that planning is just a simple pen, paper, and checkbox. But when you start to do more research, you’ll find there’s a big wide world full of different planning styles to help you use your planner more effectively. But with all these different aesthetic planners, how do you know exactly which setup to choose? In this article, we explore the different styles of planning and how you can find the one that works best for you.


Are you looking forward with your planner or looking back? Whether you’re doing one, or even both, it’s important to understand the difference between how these intentions take up space in your planner.



Functional planning is the style of planning most people think of when they first hear the word “planner.” Functional planning involves tracking the important tasks in your life you plan to do, such as scheduling appointments, making to-do lists or shopping lists, setting goals, or tracking habits. Sometimes functional layouts can feel mundane, so don’t be afraid to spice it up with some stickers! Our Functional Trackers Sticker Book is perfect for keeping your planner layout functional while adding in some color to help motivate you to tackle those tasks. 



Unlike functional planning, which involves tracking tasks, memory planning is a way to use your planner to track the things that have already happened in your life. For instance, with functional planning, you might have a list of things you want to get done, but with memory planning, you would look back on what you completed. Some common memory planning activities include using your planner as a journal, writing down daily or weekly memories, or collecting daily gratitudes. Remember that memory planning does not have to be connected to completing tasks or being productive. Memory planning can be connecting with your thoughts and feelings to create a safe space for whatever’s on your mind. 

If both of these styles sound appealing to you, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one! Many planners use a combination of functional planning and memory planning. For instance, you can use your Passion Planner functionally by putting in appointments and tasks, then use the empty spaces to journal about your day and how you’re feeling. Memory planning can also be great when you miss a week or two in your planner and end up with a blank week (which can happen to all of us!) You can use the blank pages to jot down what you did, where you went, and how you felt. If it’s been a while and you’re having a hard time remembering, you can also look through photos on your phone or browse through text messages to help jog your memory.



Just like there are different planning styles, there are also different types of planner aesthetics! 

Decorative planning is popular with the planner community, especially if you’ve been browsing Pinterest. Just as the name suggests, this involves adding decorations to your planner to make it more aesthetically pleasing. The best part is, that you don’t need artistic experience to get started. The easiest and most popular way to decorate a planner is with stickers. This is a great way to add art to your planner without having to worry about drawing it yourself. You can use stickers related to your tasks or you can stick down whatever appeals to you. There’s no wrong way to use them and for some, adding in stickers can be a relaxing practice and remind them to use their planner, too.

You’ll also find a washi tape is a popular tool among decorative planners. Washi tape – also called decorative tape – is an easy way to add borders, lines, or just general decoration to your planner. You can also use it to tape in extra pages as needed, also called tip-ins. There are lots of places to buy washi tape, like The Washi Tape Shop, which has a huge selection of gorgeous tapes to choose from.

Some may find this style can also be time-consuming or distracting. Minimal planning is another type of planning that is popular, especially if a decorative style is overwhelming. Minimal planning involves mostly pen or other writing tools, and while you can use stickers, they are often used very sparingly as to not be too distracting. Minimal planning doesn’t have to mean just black and white, though. You can use highlighters or markers to add some color. It is very common to use highlighters to color-code your different appointments (such as green for work appointments and blue for social engagements). In addition to highlighters, Passion Planner offers a variety of printable inserts that allow you to customize your space seamlessly with inserts that already match. The best part is these inserts are black and white so you can leave them minimalistic or add pops of color as you wish.



There are infinite ways to make your planning style your own. Remember, you don’t have to commit to just one style or setup. You can mix and match different styles and change your approach from week to week (or even day today!) During a slow week, you may choose to use a more decorative style, filling in your planner with stickers, and taking a functional approach to help motivate you to get your tasks done for the week ahead. On a busy week, you may stick with a more minimal aesthetic and use memory planning to reflect on how your week went.

If you don’t know where to start, don’t be afraid to practice different styles. While you can use Pinterest and Instagram as inspiration, try not to feel intimidated. Some planner users have cultivated their own style after much trial and error, so allow yourself grace to experiment and grow. No one ever has to see your planner layout; all that matters is what you think of it. It’s also perfectly okay to step away from the social media world of planning, too. If all the options make you feel overwhelmed, take a step back and focus on what works for you. At the end of the day, your planner should bring you joy, whatever that looks like. There are no planner rules to follow when it comes to using a planner effectively, and the “perfect” planner setup is the one that supports you best and meets you where you’re at in any stage of life.


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