For planner lovers everywhere, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Planner set up time!
There is nothing like cracking into a brand-new planner, and putting pen to paper about your hopes, dreams, and plans for the year ahead. It’s hopeful & inspiring.
Timing (You Gotta Set the Mood Right)
There’s not a perfect time to set up your new planner, although most people do it in November/December.
It’s not a matter of the date, but more a matter of time to devote to it. Setting up your planner for the year is a sacred process. Maybe that’s a little far-fetched, but is it? Nonetheless, it’s a special time and should be set up like one.
Pick a time when you can devote 1-2 hours to setting everything up. This can be broken out over time, but it's also fun to be in the flow and plan in one sitting.
Choose a place where you feel inspired, creative, and not too distracted. For the last couple of years, I did it at my favorite coffee shop with headphones in. If you do it at home, you can really up the vibes with a candle, blankets, and whatever else gets you most comfortable.
Here’s what you’ll need (or want to have handy) while you set up your planner.
Your 2024 Sprouted Planner*
Your favorite pen (maybe a pencil too)
Your 2023 planner (if you had/used one)
- Decorators - washi, stickers, etc. (optional)
*The daily planner, weekly planner, and hourly planner (including the daily planner inserts and weekly planner inserts) all have the same prep pages.
If you have a planner that’s different from a Sprouted Planner, you can still follow along. The prep pages are highly specific to Sprouted Planner and won’t easily translate to other planners. However, the concepts may still be relevant (i.e., identifying what’s important & how you want to live those out (values & intentions), things you want to do in the year ahead, plus your hopes & dreams).
WHAT TO EXPECT
This setup guide will be largely divided into two different sections:
- Completing the front prep pages
- Filling in your calendar (birthdays, anniversaries, pre-planned stuff, etc.)
We’ll be walking through it in that order, but you can approach it in the opposite order if that’s better for you. The 2 sections aren’t exclusive to each other.
The first section - the prep pages - will be broken out into subsections for each prep page in your Sprouted Planner.
Let’s dive in!
SECTION ONE: THE PREP PAGES
Cracking open your new planner, you will find the planner pocket on the left (except for the hourly planner, which has the accordion pocket in the back), and the title page on the right.
Write your name on the line below the ‘belongs to’ line, along with how someone can get a hold of you (in case you lose your planner).
Be warned, this is the most stressful part. Writing your name nicely and centered on your line is intense.
Flipping past the welcome letter, and how to use your planner, you come to the first prep page.
On this page, you’ll identify your values and create intentions around them. If you are a goal setter, your goals will then flow from your intentions.
I understand someone telling you to identify your values sounds glib, but this is a valid process.
Now, more than ever, we are being TOLD what our values should be. It’s vitally important to know what YOUR values are, and what YOU believe in, outside the influence of society.
Since this planner was created on the foundation of intentionality, the most effective way to use intentions is by tying them to your values.This is where your life magic happens. When you are operating out of your values, you are spending your time on the things that matter most to you.
It will also help you make decisions about what is important and what needs to be eliminated or pushed back for a different season.
The flow of intentions will look like this:
IDENTIFY YOUR CORE VALUES
Now it’s time to identify your 5-6 core values. Not all values have to be hard-core and serious. It’s worthy to have a value of, say, JOY as part of your core.
If you don’t even know where to begin, I have a helpful little workbook for you. It walks you through the whole values, intentions, systems, reflection process. You can grab thathere.
CREATE YOUR INTENTIONS
Do you remember when an actual dictionary was included on your school supply list? Different times, man.
If you look up “intention” on dictionary.com, you’ll find 3 definitions. My favorite one is this:
“An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.”
In other words,you make up your mind about the actions you’ll take.
Oftentimes, we aren’t consciously aware ofwhy we are doing what we’re doing. Typically because they are habits, or prompted by another person or a ping in our environment (text message, dryer buzzer, etc.).
Intention is deciding ahead of time what you’ll do and how you’ll act. It’s bringing awareness to your decisions and the reason behind them.
For each core value, write down 3-5 regular actions youintend to do to align and boost these values in your life.
SET YOUR GOALS (if that’s your thing)
Admittedly, I am not a goal setter. Sometimes I like setting tiny little goals about fitness or obscure money saving challenges. One summer, my goal was to make it across monkey bars.
You laugh, but have you tried to go across monkey bars lately? It hurts. If your hands don’t fall off first, your shoulders will. Don’t let those little 7 year old monkey children fool you into thinking it's easy.
Beyond that, goals aren’t my thing. But I’m not against them. They can be great fuel to propel you forward to where you want to go. I also believe you can skip goal setting and still follow/do what’s important to you through your values and intentions without the pressure of achievement.
If you do set goals, have them flow out of your intentions. Since goals focus on an outcome, make sure they are specific and measurable, with a timeline attached to them.
Here’s an example to get the juices flowing:
Intention: Create natural and lasting energy through my eating
Goal: Eat savory, vegetable packed breakfasts 6 days of the week
Intention: Sleep is my superpower and I will prioritize it
Goal: Be in bed, with lights out by 9:00pm every night
Back to your planner. If you are goal setting, create them from each intention you set.Keep the S.M.A.R.T. goal method in mind to keep them solely in the GOAL category.
If you need more room, there are 2 dot grid pages, and 2 lined pages just before the month of January. There are also blank (lined) pages in the back of your planner.
Good news: this isn't a practice you'll create and immediately forget. Each monthly spread in your planner has a reminder to check your Values to ensure you are staying true to what’s important to you, and plan for any goals you set.
Now pat yourself on the back. You just did the most mentally taxing portion of this entire planner setup.
Turning the page, we arrive at people. Our people - our home team - to be specific.
Relationships are integral to our well being.
In our fullness of life, we can sometimes (a lot of times for some of us) drop the ball on our relationships *uncomfortably avoids eye contact since hi, it's me*
In truth, we only have so much time and bandwidth to devote to our relationships. If we're not careful, that precious attention may not go to the people that actually matter the most to us.
Enter: the home team. Shauna Niequest (author) was the first to introduce me to this concept. It'sessentially identifying your top people so you make sure your energy is being invested into them, and not the acquaintance that keeps texting you.
It may seem silly to write down your closest relationships, but this will help keep you focused on your intention of connection with the right people.
IDENTIFY YOUR PEOPLE
In your planner, on the right-hand side of this section, is a gridded table. This is the place to write down your home team.
Thinking about your sphere of connections, decide who is most important to you and your relational investment. This is not limited to significant others, family, and friends. This could also be dear neighbors who always have your back, or your work BFFs, fellow volunteers, etc.
Side note on family: just because you're related doesn't mean you need to make them part of your home team. You get to decide the boundary.
Write the name of those people in the gray head boxes.
DECIDE YOUR CONNECTION INTENTIONS
Once you have your list of VIPeople written down, decide how OFTEN and HOW you want to regularly connect with them. If your mom is on your home team, maybe you want to talk on the phone once a week and get together in person once every month.
Just like your values, each monthly spread in your planner has a reminder to check your People list and plan the connections you need to.
Now it’s time for some fun. That might be a bold statement, but fun to us planners.
We turn the page to Reminders.
This is the pre-game section before you commit things to your monthly, weekly, and/or daily plans.
There are two different sections you can utilize: seasons and monthly. You could also relabel these - to quarters, for example.
There’s no rules of what to do with this section but here’s some ideas.
- Planning out projects
- Seasonal chores
- Goal setting
- Reminders of openings/registrations
- Renewal reminders (*side eyeing Amazon Prime*)
- Wish/idea lists, such as seasonal fun things to do
- Focus themes (such as decluttering in January)
Personally, I’ll use mine to plan projects and note when registrations open for camping this summer, and to sign the kids up for summer camps. I'll also use the seasonal parts for some key activities I'd like to do as a family. Seasonal bucket list, if you will.
Once you've filled out your pre-plans, you don't have to worry about forgetting them. On each monthly spread, there's another reminder to check this list and schedule them in.
More than pie in the sky dreams for the year, the year list is actually a practice of intentionality.
What do you intend to do this year?
What’s important for you to accomplish or experience?
As you sit down with your blank list in front of you, say out loud: by this time next year…
Here’s some ideas to get those juices flowing:
- Special projects
- Skill development
- Feelings (peaceful, energized, present, joyful, allowing all the feelings)
- Financial markers
- Business ventures
- Places to try out
- Reading goals
- Kid goals (from potty training to college tours)
- Things to stop
There’s also a trend to create a year list with the same number of things as the year. That’s 24 to be exact for this year. That sounds kind of exhausting to me, but might be a fun challenge!
Once again, on the monthly spread, “Year List” is the final reminder on the checklist.
When I plan my month, my personal practice around this is to pick what Year List thing(s) I want to work on that month. Then, it goes onto the checklist for that month.
Hopes for the Year
Opposite of the Year List is a blank, lined page with the prompt, “what are your hopes for the year ahead?”
Judging by the number of people who declare, “this is going to be the best year ever!” I’d say most people have hopes and expectations of a new year. Write those down! Don’t edit yourself as you do.
It’s good to know what your hopes & expectations are for the year. It can help you assess if they are realistic or what actions or mindset changes you need to take to either fulfill these hopes (if possible), or shift your expectations in a life where things happen.
There’s the fine line of planning for our outcomes, and accepting that things don’t always go to plan. But hey, planners gonna plan.
2024 YEAR-AT-A-GLANCE & HOLIDAYS
The next spread of pages display the 2024 year-at-a-glance monthly calendars, and the list of U.S. Holidays (nowhere near extensive).
Maybe you typically flip past this section faster than an olympic gymnast. Look at you go!
Maybe you whip out the highlighters and go to town with big picture planning. So pretty!
Either way, you can take or leave this party. This is a great space for a high-level understanding of your year and schedule.
Using your highlighters, highlight relevant information:
- School schedule (start, end, breaks)
- In business, on-call schedules, any big launches or project times
Just be sure to write out your color code key if you’re using more than one color ;)
As for the holidays, there are three (3) lines below the list where you can write in important dates to you, that may have been missed, such as:
- National Squirrel Appreciation Day: January 21, 2024
- National Planner Day: August 1, 2024
BLANK YEARLY TRACKER
New this year, upon request, is this blank yearly tracker. Oh the possibilities!
This will make a great tracker to things you want to measure across the year. Here are some great ideas:
- Doctors visits
- Menstrual cycle
- Reading and/or devotional
- Kid stuff
You could also use it as a high level planner - mapping out vacations, projects, launches, etc.
I can’t wait to see what people do with this section!
2025 BRIDGING THE GAP
My intention for this section is to help you bridge the gap between your planners. There is inevitably a time when your plans start running into the next year, BEFORE you have your next planner.
That’s where this section comes in. Use it to write in those dates as a placeholder until you move into your new planner.
(You could also use it to plan future projects or vacations).
Blank Font Pages
There are 4 blank pages (2 spreads) directly before the January spread. One spread is a dot grid, and the other is lined. This is for whatever your little heart desires.In case you are blank with ideas (a-thank you), here’s some ideas:
- Routines (morning, evening, kids, etc.)
- Dinner ideas
- Books/movies/show to read/watch
- (or alternatively, keep track of the ones you’ve read/watched here)
- Habit tracking
- Medical tracking
- Color code key
SECTION 2: CALENDAR & SCHEDULE
Now is the time to bring this puppy home. Puppy being your planner setup. (thank you captain obvious)
Rejoice! You’ve made it to the final leg of your setup. Or maybe that’s sad…either way, all vibes welcome.
We’re going to take a quick break from thinking, and fill out our monthly calendars with the things we know:
- Days off (including school schedules, if kids)
- On-call dates
If you are still flipping through your old planner for birthdays and anniversaries, now’s the time to grab the free perpetual planner printable. You can get thathere.
Another idea: turn a mini notebook into a perpetual planner. Label the top of the page with the month (skip every other page to give yourself more space). Number down the page (again skipping lines) for the days of the month. Voila, DIY perpetual planner.
You can find mini notebookshere.
Next, for birthdays/anniversaries only, I highly suggest picking a different color pen (or highlight). This will give your brain a shortcut to identify what these are (reminder vs appointment). Another brain shortcut is to write them in the same spot within the day (like the very bottom row of the box).
Of course, you can color-code everything to your heart's content. What do I do? Thanks for asking.
For birthdays and anniversaries, I write them in the bottom line of the day and put a sticker before I write down what it is.
Psst…my sticker book has a TON of little icons you can use for this.
For schedules, I highlight all my kids' stuff in different colors (red for school…it's their school color, blue for extracurriculars, and purple for appointments).
Everything else is…naked? Not highlighted? Then I know it pertains directly to me.
Alas, this is the end of our journey. The ceremonious passing of crap from one pocket to the next.
I’m very curious about what everyone keeps in their planner pocket. Here’s what I typically keep in mine:
- My Perpetual Calendar
- My summer reflection (used to help me plan for the upcoming summer)
- A sticker sheet or 2
- Misc invitations (birthday parties or weddings)
- Mini notebook
Take a breath, Say a Prayer
You did it! I’m so proud of you. I’m sure you’re exhausted and need a nap. Before you do that, do this:
Shut your newly set-up planner, and with your hands still on top of it, take a deep breath. Say a little prayer for the year ahead. Or say a little affirmation that whatever this year brings, you have everything in you to face it. Perhaps the serenity prayer is perfect to end with.
I wrote both out, in case you want to borrow it:
Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of another year. Our time is our most precious commodity, so I pray to spend it on the things that matter most - the things you have laid on my heart already. With anticipation and hope, I look forward, with wonder, to what the next 12 months have in store. We know many things are out of our control. So in this year to come, I pray for focus on the things I can control, and the rest I give to you.
I pray for my time to be spent on purpose, with strength and courage, without a spirit of fear but of peace, hope, and love. And no matter what happens to come, I ask for the courage to boldly face it all, feel it all, and be present with it all. Above all else, may we love you, and love your people.
I know I have been uniquely and wonderfully made to be and do the things only I can do. May I tap into your awesome power and guidance to face each day with intention, and take the time to see how it unfolded when it’s done. And lastly, while I audaciously ask for prosperity in this year ahead, I know my treasure does not lie in the outcomes of my achievements, but in my relationship with you and my people. In your holy name I pray all these things.
As I face the year ahead, may I take with me the lessons and growth of last year, and infuse them into my upcoming days. May I always be filled with hope, even if it is the smallest spark. May I approach my days with intentions of goodness, and treating myself kindly.
Similar to the Serenity Prayer, may I have the wisdom to recognize what I can control, what I cannot control, and to surrender to both. In this year ahead, may I be agile, courageous, and brave. May I boldly face every good and bad thing, for I know this is life, and this is what shapes us. May the world start to know healing, and have peace dwell deeply in our hearts.
May my relationships be strong, my finances be secure, and my entire self be healthy. May I be daring enough to ask for help when I need it, unashamed and unabashed. And lastly, may I take the time to look back on the unfolding of my days and not miss the big and small that is the miracle of our life.
That’s it, friends. If you choose Sprouted Planner to be your planner this year, I cannot express how grateful I am for that. Your support means the world to me. More than anything, I hope your new planner supports you in everything this year has to offer.