[2024] How to use your planner

Do you want to get the most out of your 2024 planner? If you have goals to be more organised, calmer, and quietly productive, then read on to find our how to use your 2024 planner and get the most out of it.

While much of our lives are digital, there is a benefit to switching off, embracing your creative side and organising your life on paper. Using a planner helps you remember important events, keep track of to-dos, and track daily life without the distraction of technology. It also becomes a helpful reference at the end of the year – I have paper planners going back several years, including ones that document long memorable processes like pregnancy and new house building.

Focus from the beginning

From the very first page of the Balance Planner, you are encouraged to focus your year on one little word. What started as an internet trend is a powerful idea for giving focus to your year. What one word could give direction to your 2024? See which one resonates with you, from this curated list or from a huge list here:




Reflection on the past year

Reflection is a powerful method of learning. We learn from reflecting on our past experiences, mistakes and successes in order to make our future better. Reflection also allows you to celebrate the wins that you have – sometimes when we’re in the trenches of daily living we forget the awesome that’s occurred already.

Reflecting on the past year allows you to see patterns in your actions. It helps you step back and acknowledge all you have achieved that you’ve probably forgotten about! It’s also a time to reflect on your previous goals and how you’ve progressed towards them.

Use the ‘Last Year In Review’ page to reflect on the previous year’s highlights, struggles and achievements.

Setting goals for the new year

Setting goals for the new year is a fun process. You may select several main areas like the 7 life areas suggested here and set goals for what you want to achieve in 12 months within those areas. Or, you might start with a creative exercise to dream up your future self. Imagine yourself in 5 or 10 years – what will you be like, have accomplished, contributed to the world? Work backwards from there to come up with goals for this year that will step-wise get you to your dream self in 5 years.

Take advice from habit-forming experts like B.J. Fogg (of Tiny Habits fame) and James Clear (writer of Atomic Habits). Your goals alone are not enough to get you to achieve them. Will-power on its own does not achieve goals. Think about the actions you’ll need to do to achieve those goals and focus rewarding those habits. For example if your goal is to get fit, list the action of running around the block every second morning. Track, reward and break the barriers to forming the habit of that action, and the goal will naturally follow.

You’ll also find a 6 month check in on your goal progress in the middle of the year.

If you love reflection and goal setting and don’t find these two pages enough, consider the Year Compass. It’s a free downloadable booklet available in many different languages that prompts deep reflection on your past year. If you want more guidance forming better habits to reach your goals, check out the books by Fogg and Clear (see above) from your local library.

What reference pages will simplify my life?

Before getting to each week, there are several pages at the front to help simplify life.

They include:

  • A year calendar by months on one page that’s perfect as a discrete period tracker.
  • A year planner on one page that works well for recording irregular subscriptions and appointments throughout the year (like bulk toilet paper that may only be needed every 7 months, or to remember the kid’s dental appointments every 6 months or home maintenance every year).
  • grid pages that we use for go-to recipes, financial check-ins each month as part of working towards money goals, and the family wish list (for delayed gratification when shopping, and to help know what to get when birthdays come around).
  • Wellbeing strategies to support your proactive mental health. Record your selected strategies in the wellbeing toolkit and PERMA+ linked wellbeing wheel to commit to positive mental health through proactive steps.
  • reference pages for things you’re actively working on with therapists. It might be a 1-5 chart, steps to calm, a series of interoception activities… if we don’t print it out, stick it in and have it right there as reference, then we often forget to do our homework and embed strategies in our everyday lives outside of appointments.
  • the data bank. Store the things you need to remember here. Teacher emails. Subscription details. Therapist addresses.

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Planning each week to stay calm, productive and organised

We find a week to a page the perfect planner arrangement. It’s the perfect blend of overview so you can plan ahead, and deal with the nitty gritty of each day. On one page it has everything you need to pre-plan the week so you then don’t have to keep thinking about it. This frees up mental space for being creative or spending time in the moment with kids.

To get the most of out a week to a page planner:

Meal planner

Plan out your week’s meals in advance. This saves me so much mental thinking time each night when I get home from work. If I don’t have a meal plan, I waste hours staring at the cupboards not having the creative space to think of what to eat. Then we all end up hungry, grumpy, and end up getting take away.

A meal planner saves you money (so you don’t give up and get takeaway when tired). It avoids food waste as you can plan what ingredients you need for each week and not buy extra at the supermarket (also saving you money). A meal plan can help you eat healthier as you can plan well balanced meals in advance. It can also help you track a partial food diary for your kids. If they have a limited diet, or have toileting accidents, or big meltdowns, having a record of what they ate can help see the patterns in behaviour.

Daily tracking and special events

Don’t forget a single birthday, anniversary or special event. Use the dotted box at the top of each day to record special events on the left. You feel like a real boss when remembering friends’ birthdays, anniversaries and sending a special personalised message to your friend. Winning at life 🙂

The space on the right can then be used to track the things you are monitoring. This could be:

  • types and duration of exercise to build up your habits towards a fitness goal
  • when, for how long, and triggering events for meltdowns or episodes of emotional dis-regulation
  • toileting accidents, with record of when, triggering events (and linking to the meal planner to see if particular food intolerances are having an impact)
  • wake up and/or bed times to track sleep patterns and if the time it takes to settle into sleep is changing.


I find this space super helpful for recording recipes of food I’m trying out this week (but may not cook again). It may also be used to record a pertinent quote from reading during the week. Sometimes the notes are a space to jot down an A-B-C reflection on behaviour during the week. What was the Antecedent (what happened before, or the trigger), what was the Behaviour observed (and what need might that be meeting – boredom, sensory seeking, attention?) and what was the Consequence or resolution that worked.

To Dos

Do you want to be more productive with your time? Lists and to-dos are an effective way of getting things done. And ticking off the box is so satisfying. You can even try master lists to really boost your productive to-dos.

Gratitude reflection

It can be super tough being a carer, a parent, a worker. It can feel like you’re stuck in the grind and nothing’s getting easier. Drawing on positive psychology research, a gratitude journal is strongly associated with increased happiness, positive emotions and greater optimism about life. For proactive mental well-being, a weekly gratitude reflection is an easy yet long lasting action towards your happiness.

Bill tracker

If you are self-managing on the NDIS, then the bill tracker will save you lots of time managing the finances of supports. The requirements of self-managed plans links to the bill tracker in the planner. Three little tick boxes to record if a bill has been paid, if it’s been claimed through the NDIS portal, and if you’ve stored the invoice (somewhere safe for 5 years).

Cute surprises

Look out for the cute little capybaras that surprise you on random pages – bring some fun and joy into your days.

Using the notes pages (commonplace section)

Commonplace books are an old idea (they have been around since the renaissance) to compile knowledge. In the past they included notes, quotes, readings, recipes, poems, letters, and prayers. It was a collection of knowledge, rather than a diary or journal that records personal introspection.

The grid pages at the back of our planner take the place of a commonplace book. They are a place to:

  • record notes from appointments with therapists so it’s all in one place and can be referred to.
  • record lists of books to read, movies, holiday plans, packing lists, spring cleaning lists of chores, or wish lists of presents.
  • plan and draw garden redesigns, vegetable garden planting plans.
  • record notes and reflections from books you’ve read during the year.
  • anything else that you choose!

How do you use your 2024 planner

A paper planner can be a great resource to keep you organised, productive, and calm. From the feedback we’ve collected, the best planners are not too structured so you can adapt it to your needs over time. But let us know what you love about your Balance Planner and how you use yours – leave a review!

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