Imagine a beautifully thought out planner with just the right color scheme, colorful washi tape bordering the pages, and eye-catching stickers in just the right locations. But when you open the planner, all you see are indecipherable scribbles across the pages. If this sounds like your planner or journal, it might be time to learn the art of simple handwriting style penmanship.
In other words, it’s probably time for a crash course in simple handwriting style.
Let’s see if we can improve yours.
A Brief Simple Handwriting Style History
If you love planners, paper, and all that comes with it, hand lettering style differences probably intrigue you. You might be interested to know that each hand lettering style has a unique place in history.
For instance, in the eighth century, monks used a hand lettering style called Carolingian script. It was bold and featured letters that were easy to read.
Then a hand lettering style called black letter came into vogue during the medieval times -- but it was almost indecipherable. So, the Italian scribes in the Renaissance era returned to the Carolingian hand lettering style, but they prettied it up by adding a slant to it and connecting some of the letters with lines. This hand lettering became known as “Italic.”
In the 16th century, a hand lettering style called copperplate came into existence. It was called that because students used copper plates to practice their writing. This hand lettering style had a lot of loops and flourishes and made use of capital letters. This is the hand lettering style used in the Declaration of Independence.
Then the skill moved to America
As Americans become more literate, a man name Platt Rogers Spencer taught a hand lettering style that eventually turned into what we know as cursive. He used nature to teach his students. For instance, he pointed to the waves found in lakes to teach the lines that connect letters and smooth oval stones to teach students how to write the curves found in the letters.
In the years that followed, hand lettering styles slightly changed, but all use Spencer’s style as the foundation.
But then, in the 1900s, typewriters and computers came into being, causing printed text to dominate. Many schools stopped teaching varied hand lettering styles in favor of the text standard.
And that’s what brings us to this lesson.
If you’re going to have a beautiful planner or journal, you need to up your hand lettering style ability.
Here’s what an expert says about the history of and importance of cursive:
How to Improve Your Hand Lettering Style
Now that you understand the fascinating history of hand lettering style penmanship, are you motivated to try and improve yours? After all, you want your planner or journal to be not only beautiful, but functional.
And if you can’t read your simple handwriting style, it’s not going to help you organize your time.
Here are some steps you can take to help improve your hand lettering style.
Let it flow
If you’re going to improve your hand lettering style, you need to write with a quality pen. Don’t frustrate your efforts by using a pen that skips or leaves ugly splotches on the paper. Instead, find one that easily flows while you’re writing.
No white knuckles
Next, you need to think about your grip. If you hold the pen too tightly, it will cause the muscles in your hand to cramp, and that’s no fun for anyone.
Instead, relax the muscles in your hand and hold the pen loosely. This will allow the letters to flow freely and your hand lettering style will dramatically improve. Your pen should rest on your middle finger and your thumb and index finger should hold it in place.
You’ve got to start someplace
Next, you need to begin practicing your hand lettering style. If you learned to handwrite in school, think of this as a refresher. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones who were never taught the hand lettering style, it’s time to learn it.
After all, who wants to see a planner lined with nothing but block letters?
Start out by looking for a hand lettering style course book that teaches American cursive. You can use it to practice and that will help improve your handwriting.
You can also practice with a free cursive worksheet at thepostmansknock.com.
Hold it down
To master hand lettering style perfection, you need to think about the paper placement. When the paper is in the right position, it will allow you to achieve the proper slant with your simple handwriting style. However, the desired placement is different, depending on which hand you use to write with.
If you write with your right hand, the paper’s top right and bottom left corners should line up with your nose. Use your left arm to hold the paper in place.
If you write with your left hand, the opposite is true. The top left and bottom right corners of the paper should line up with your nose. And you’ll use your right arm to hold the paper in place.
Whether you’re right-handed or left-handed, your letters should slant 35 degrees. If they don’t, adjust the position of the paper until you achieve that angle.
Here’s an excellent illustration of how to slant your paper:
Stay in the zone
When practicing your hand lettering style, you should concentrate on keeping your hands in the writing zone. This area is the four to six inches between your hands as you’re writing.
What happens is this: When you move your hand to the left, right, or bottom of the page, your hands leave the zone. That causes you to strain and put pressure on your muscles to keep up the pace.
Not a very comfortable writing experience.
Instead, use your other hand to move the page to the right, left, or down as you write. For instance, if you write with your left hand, move the page to the correct position with your right hand as you write. And use the opposite hand if you’re right-handed.
The goal is to keep your hands in the zone. Do this by moving the paper with your non-writing hand each time you need to access different areas of the paper. This will eliminate the strain on your hand and result in a prettier hand lettering style.
Don’t give up
If you want to improve your simple handwriting style so that your planner or journal is readable and beautiful, you’ll need to practice the craft. Write in cursive at least a little every day until it comes naturally for you. You can do this with regular practice sessions by setting aside 20 minutes a day. Or you can practice your hand lettering style throughout the day as you write grocery lists, checks, and yes, in your planner or journal.
Three Extra Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Simple Handwriting Style
In addition to all the methods we listed above, here are a few tips and tricks that will result in a beautiful hand lettering style.
1. Take it easy
Don’t press down too hard with the pen — otherwise, you’ll experience hand stain and your simple handwriting style won’t be neat and pretty. Instead, keep your hand loose as you write. And if you use visualization in conjunction with this, you’ll improve even more. Think about free-flowing curves in your mind as you create those loops and capital letters.
2. Get your move on
In addition to your daily practice, you should also spend some time each day doing writing movements. You don’t necessarily have to set aside time each day to do this, because you can do them while you’re talking on the phone, waiting for a meeting to start, or any other time of the day when you have some downtime.
Here’s a great video that shows which writing movements will improve your hand lettering style the fastest.
3. Be smart
When you only use your fingers when writing, it’s easy to become tired and experience hand strain. But there’s a secret that will help you write longer and more comfortably.
When you’re writing capital letters, use your entire hand. Move it up and down the page gracefully as you create the letter. Then, when you’re writing lowercase letters, only use your fingers.
That simple trick will allow you to write in your planner or journal longer and more beautifully.
Hand Lettering Style Made Easy
At first, the idea of learning a hand lettering style may seem complicated and difficult, but as you can see, it’s not. All you have to do is find the right pen, learn to position your paper the correct way and start practicing. Before you know it, you’ll use your hand lettering style to create a beautiful and unique journal or planner.
Have you recently updated your simple handwriting style? If so, we would love to hear about your experience in the comments below. Was it difficult, or did you quickly become a handwriting superstar?
If you’re a fan of planners, chances are you’ve heard about free printables for planners. These freebies can help you customize your planner in a way that you will never get from a store-bought planner. For instance, when is the last time you found a planner that included meal plans? How about one with a debt payoff planner?
Chances are the answer is never. If you want to customize your agenda book with free printables for planners, read on!
What’s the Big Deal About Planning?
Many people say you’re either a planner or you’re not, but I don’t necessarily agree. I do believe that some people are innately born with a “planning” gene, and others aren’t. But I also think you if you’re not, you can learn the skill — and come to love it.
Here are a few reasons why planning is so darn cool.
- It helps you organize your days, weeks, and months
- Planning allows you to create important lists, so you don’t have to keep track of the details in your mind
- When you keep a schedule, you can easily determine whether to say yes or no to a request for your time
- It’s fun!
Should You Mix and Match?
There is a lot of discussion about whether you should mix and match the pages in your planner. Some people like to have the same paper and design on every page of their planner, while others prefer a more eclectic and freestyle look.
The choice is yours. But if you want to add free printables for planners to your book, you will have to come to appreciate a mix and match planner style.
5 Ways a Planner Can Change Your Life
If you’re one of the few who haven’t yet figured out the absolute genius of using a planner in your daily life, here are five ways doing so can change your life.
Yes, I know that sounds dramatic, but seriously. A planner can Change. Your. Life.
1. You get the big picture
When you try to keep everything in your head, it can get confusing. And too many times, that can lead to missed appointments and trying to fit too much into a day.
But keeping a planner changes all of that.
When you can see the big picture, you will know exactly what’s going on every day, week, and month in the foreseeable future.
In other words, when a friend asks you to dog sit for them, you can whip out your planner (with all of those free printables for planners tucked inside) and quickly know if it fits into your schedule.
2. Make up for lost time
When you go about your day doing things as they come to you, you waste a lot of time. Or sometimes, approaching life that way doesn’t allow you the time to get everything done that you want to. For example, if you plan to write that book you’ve talked about for years, you might actually get it done if you schedule it into your day.
And you can use free printables for planners to help you save time. You can customize your own, or find free printables for planners to fit your specific needs.
A book-writing planner anyone?
3. See what’s up
When you use free printables for planners — or even a store-bought planner — to log your time and daily activities, you quickly learn what you spend your time on. And that can help you live an overall better life.
For instance, if your spouse or kids complain that you don’t spend enough time with them, you can check your log. If you find out that you’ve been working 18 hours a day, you’ll see that it’s time to pull back and spend more time with your family.
4. Find those hidden needs
Another way using a planner — and those free printables for planners — can change your life is to use it to find out what’s missing. For instance, when looking over the past weeks, you may realize that you failed to schedule in time to exercise. Once you know that, you can begin to schedule exercise time into your days.
Often, we get so caught up in our routine that we don’t even realize when something is missing in our lives.
Except for that little nagging feeling we can’t quite identify.
But your planner can save the day and show you at a glance exactly what’s missing in your schedule.
5. Become a time superstar
When you organize and plan your day, you can get more done than if you approach it on the fly. For instance, if you know you have seven things to accomplish in a day and can clearly see what they are, chances are you knock them off one-by-one.
On the other hand, if you begin your day with a vague idea of what you need to accomplish, you won’t have that clear insight necessary to push you along.
And don’t forget that absolute thrill of getting to cross off each task as you complete it!
5 Tips for Making Your Planner Work for You
Buying a planner and never using is not going to help you organize and plan your day. I know — that sounds obvious, but it’s exactly what many people do.
Instead, you’ll need to optimize your planner so it works best in your life. And while adding free printables for planners that are customized to your needs is an excellent way to do this, you should also think about taking these steps to make the most of your planner.
Functional or pretty?
Depending on your personality, you can either have a functional planner that simply does the job, or you can decorate it and make it pretty. Either way, you’ll have a planner to help organize and structure your day.
But some people are motivated by pretty while others just want a plain and simple planner.
Choose the type of planner that will best fit in with your lifestyle.
Think about the view
Some people like to organize their time by the day, while others like a monthly view. When buying your planner — or using your free planner printables — think about which view best suits your life.
Do you like to think about your time in days, weeks, or months? Once you decide, use free planner printables to organize your planner that way.
And don’t forget that some people like to have multiple planner views. You may decide that you want a weekly view, monthly view, and a year at a glance. That’s okay! You should organize your planner the way it works best for you and your life.
Color me scheduled
To help you keep better track of your events and schedule, think about color coding your planner. For example, you could use a red pen to write down all of your meetings, a green pen to log family events, and a purple pen to write in the personal things you want to include in the schedule.
An added bonus: all those colors help make your planner beautiful!
Out with the old? Not so fast
Looking back over the past years can go a long way in helping you remember the progress you made on your goals and the accomplishments you achieved. And if you save your old planners, you’ll have a record of all this greatness.
Instead of tossing your old planner at the start of a new year, designate a box to keep them in. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll use one of your old journals to show your child exactly what you had scheduled the day they were born!
How to Find Free Printables for Planners
Now that you understand how a planner can change your life, you’re probably wondering how to find free printables for planners. After all, a planner that someone else put together and sold can only go so far.
Your life is unique and so is your schedule. And that’s why most serious planners use free printables for planners. It helps you customize your planner so you can make the most of it.
Here are some places you can look for free printables for planners.
People love to share their free printables for planners, and one of the place they do it is on social media. For instance, you can find them on Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter.
Here are a few great places to look.
- Happy Planner Free Printables to Share Facebook Group
- Plan Ahead Printables Facebook Group
- Instagram Weekly Planner on Pinterest
- DIY Printable Planners board on Pinterest
- Cozi on Twitter
- Happiness Planner on Twitter
Think about the web
In addition to finding free printables for planners on social media, you can also find an abundance of useful (and sometimes beautiful) printables on websites. Bloggers may post them as well as businesses that want to make them available for anyone who needs to use them.
Here are a few websites where you’ll find free printables for planners.
Your home is your castle
If you want to find free printables for planners for your home life, AllAboutPlanners.com has a large library filled with printables. You’ll find recipe planners, grocery lists, weekly tasks, exercise planners, and even printable stickers.
Know the Word
If you love your Bible and want to use it in your planner, BibleJournallingDigital.com offers free printables for planners that are Bible-based. You’ll find spiritual gift prompts, Bible mapping printables, and forgiveness prompts to attach to your planner.
Get the holiday spirit
If you’re looking for free printables for planners during the holiday season, you’ll find them at threelittleferns.com. They offer free printables for planners for Valentines Day and Christmas.
You can also find holiday-themed free printables for planners at ninjamom.com. There, you’ll find holiday coloring sheets for planners as well as a cool New Year’s Eve planning sheet.
Don't get stuck
If you want to add some stickers to your planner, check out mylifepplanners.com. It offers free stickers on most Fridays. You’ll get to download stickers that help organize your yoga routines, tea times, and it even has stickers to help you remember National Donut Day.
Now that’s a sticker I would love to include in my planner!
Here’s how to print and cut all those cool stickers:
If you’re looking for free printables for planners to help you dream big, PinkBowsTwinkleToes.com has you covered. There, you’ll find printables like a summer bucket list, a goals planner, and a thank you notes planner.
Plan it at home
If you need some free printables for planners that revolve around your family life, coachmmorris.com has it all. You’ll find kindergarten homework planners, meal planners, and workout planners, including a measurement tracker. The site also offers a goal manager, habit tracker, and water plan tracker.
It’s a seasonal thing
If you like to decorate your planner around the seasons, Luckicharms offers free printables for planners that are based around them. For instance, you’ll find stickers for every season to help make your planner beautiful!
You’ll also find floral and panda stickers, along with a few holiday stickers.
For the practical you
If you prefer a practical planner without a lot of fuss, you’ll love the free printables for planners found at PlannerFun.com. There, you’ll find daily notes, year-at-a-glance pages, compact monthly pages, and time blocks.
And here’s the thing: they’re all no fluff. If straightforward printables are what you’re after, this is the website for you!
Make Your Own Free Printables for Planners
Maybe you can’t find the exact printables you want, or perhaps you need a page for your planner that is so unique you’ll never find it.
Here’s the deal: you can make your own. Check out the following video that shows you how to make your own printables for your planner.
Did You Find the Free Printables for Planners You Want?
As you can tell, you can find free printables for planners in a lot of different places. In other words, if you want to customize your planner with free printable for planners, it won’t take a lot to do it. Whether you buy a planner from a store or create your own bullet journal, downloading free printables for planners is the perfect way to ensure that your planner works for your life.
Do you use a planner and know about some free printables for planners that we didn’t list? If so, please leave the information in the comments below so other readers can take advantage of the offer!
If you’re a lover of all things organized, then you’ve probably already heard about the bullet journal. And if you haven’t, do I have some great news for you. A bullet journal allows you to create your own journal and customize it just for you.
Ready to learn how to make your bullet journal? Let’s get started.
What Is a Bullet Journal?
How many planners have you had that didn’t quite fit your life or schedule? Most of us who use planners have to tweak them to make them work for our lives.
And that’s the magic behind bullet journals.
A bullet journal is a planner that you create for yourself. It perfectly aligns with your needs because only you know what your planner should look like. It doesn't just help you plan, either -- a bullet journal helps you keep track of your past, schedule the now, and plan for the future.
In other words, it a traditional planner on steroids!
Here's a good video that explains the concept:
Here’s the best thing: It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to make a bullet journal. In fact, you can do it for under $10.
How to Get Started with a Bullet Journal
Before you start making your bullet journal, there are a few things you should know. After all, you’ll go from using a store-bought journal that isn’t exactly right for your life to one that is perfect in every way.
However, change is change. And to make this one successful, think about the following habits you should adopt.
Not so fast
Have you ever gone back to read your handwriting when you’d written it in a hurry? If you’re like me, it’s almost indecipherable. The point of making a bullet journal is to organize your life in a way that makes sense for you.
And if you can’t read it, that kind of defeats the purpose.
So, slow down. Write neatly in your bullet journal, so all the work you put into organizing your days and weeks won’t be lost in translation.
You’ll probably flip
You will need to create an index when making a bullet journal, but many users say they often flip through the book instead referring to the index every time they want to find something. And that’s why you use larger writing and bolding. For instance, bold your headlines so you can easily find them as you flip through your bullet journal.
Seven is the number of perfection
People set up their bullet journal schedules differently, but some swear by using a weekly task list. Write the week’s dates across the top of the page and then include everything you need to do that week. You can then move all of the tasks to your monthly calendar view.
Don’t hide it
As the days go by, you’ll hear funny jokes, important things to remember, or even quotes you want to remember. If you leave your bullet journal out in the open, you won’t have to track it down every time you want to add something to it.
Stickers aren’t just for kids. In fact, when you make a bullet journal, adding stickers to it can not only make it look better, but it may also improve your productivity. Imagine using little arrows and placing them beside every urgent task. Or putting a heart next to tasks that involve your family or friends.
Get creative and use stickers in your bullet journal to make it look good or be more useful.
Box it in
When you make a bullet journal, you will probably add something to it every day. For instance, you may make another page for a special event or add some colorful writing to one of the days. To help you stay organized with your craft supplies, create a box to keep it all in.
You can store your colored pens, washi tape, and stickers in the box. That way, you’ll never have to go looking for your supplies when inspiration hits you.
Are you ready to make a bullet journal? Let’s get started.
How to Make a Bullet Journal
If you’re ready to set up your first bullet journal, I’ve got good news for you: it only takes a few minutes. Now, if you want to decorate it with colored pen and stickers, you might take some extra time to get it just right, but for the bare bones of the bullet journal?
You’ll have it done in a few minutes.
Here’s a step-by-step process.
Fold it up
Your first step is to grab some index paper. You can use square graphs, dot graphs, or any other type of paper that suits your needs. Fold them in half, so it looks like a book with two sides.
Here’s where you will begin to see the magic of a bullet journal. The index is the place where you will log all of your notes, calendars, and schedules — and then note what pages they appear on. Yet when using a traditional planner, you have to leave blank pages and try to guess how everything will fit into your planner over the month.
Not so with a bullet planner.
Your index page is fluid. You will simply write down the pages as you add them to your journal. They don’t have to be in order.
Think of it like an out-of-order table of contents in a book.
Isn’t that incredible?
For example, if you add a month-by-month calendar on pages 1-6, but decide that you later want to add quotes for each month, simply add them and then add the pages to the index. It doesn’t matter that they aren’t in order.
For now, though, write “Index” at the top of this page and then add the index to the list. You should probably make it the first two pages of your bullet journal because you’ll need room to add pages throughout the month or year.
Keeping track of future events is important, and the bullet journal makes it easy to do. On your next page, write Future Log across the top. Here, you will keep track of your upcoming events, and things you want to accomplish in the future.
Start each item with a box that you can check off once you’ve completed the task, the name of the task, and the date that it will or should occur.
That’s just one way to create your future log. People use all kinds of methods to create theirs. Here's a video looking at some different potential layouts:
That monthly thing
You will also want to track your time with each month, and that’s where the monthly log comes in. To create these pages, write the name of the month at the top of the page. Keep in mind that a bullet journal is your custom creation, so you don’t have to start with January. If you’re creating your bullet journal this month — June — start with this month.
Or, if you like things linear, start with January.
The thing is, it’s up to you. It’s your journal.
Along the left side of every month, list the dates. And then, just to make it easier, add the first letter of the day of the week so you can easily keep track of them. For example, as you write days 1-5, you’ll add M for Monday, T for Tuesday, W for Wednesday, Th for Thursday, and F for Friday.
Now add all of your upcoming events next to each date. If you have a dentist appointment on the upcoming Friday, add it. Do this for all of the events in your future.
Let’s move on and learn about the next pages.
An extra step
If you live a busy life, you may want to add a monthly task list every month. These pages can be added immediately after the monthly calendars (Or anyplace else. Remember, it’s your bullet journal!). Just title the page "Monthly Task List" and jot down everything you need to accomplish that month.
Remember, you can always add to your monthly task lists as things come up.
Do it daily
Next, you should create a daily log. Here’s where a lot of people actually start to get a little confused with their bullet journal. The daily log isn’t a to-do list like you create on just any piece of paper. Instead, it’s a log — of your life.
So feel free to mix the casual and serious things that happen in your life. For example, you might write, “Go to the grocery store and buy milk” on one line, and on the next, “Jacob’s first haircut.” It’s a combination of the things you need to do that day and the memories you make along the way.
All those things
Your next pages should be for collections. And only your imagination will limit what you use to fill these pages. You could create a page for books that you want to read, movies you want to see, telephone numbers of friends, places you want to go on your vacation, cities you want to live in one day, or gifts you need to buy for Christmas.
Be sure to add boxes next to each item you enter so you can check them off as you do it!
Once you’ve created your bullet journal, it’s time to fill it with the events from your life. And one way to keep track of those events is with signifiers.
A signifier is a categorization system that allows you to look at a page in your bullet journal and understand exactly what’s going on.
But here’s the deal: People have created a lot of signifiers. And all of that can quickly become overwhelming.
You should select a few signifiers for your bullet journal and not branch out until you’re comfortable with the process. Otherwise, you’ll get bogged down, and that will take away from the beauty of a bullet journal. Simplicity and efficiency are what you’re after, remember?
The box you used for the Future Log is a signifier. It signifies that it is something you need to do. You can use dots for things that are important, or stars for things you need someone to help you with.
Here are some signifiers to choose from. Remember to limit them when just starting!
It’s so pretty
If you’ve watched YouTube videos on decorating bullet journals, you’re either inspired or scared to death. If you’re artistic and love art, you’re probably drooling at the thought of making your first bullet journal. However, if you’re not, you may feel a little anxiety right now.
So here’s the thing: Your bullet journal doesn’t have to be beautiful. If you have the skill and desire, makes yours as pretty as you want with stickers, doodles, fancy letters, and whatever strikes your fancy. But if you’re not blessed in that department, don’t worry. A plain, basic bullet journal gets the job done as well as an embellished one.
And if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, take a peek at this video (but don’t let it stress you out).
Tips and Tricks for Bullet Journal Success
When you make a bullet journal, you have to know that it will be ever-changing. That’s because as you make it, you will tweak it to make it your own. Here are some things that will help you make it the most productive planner you’ve ever used.
Birds of a feather
Migration is an important aspect of bullet journaling because it’s how you filter the things that did or did not get done. For instance, if you had a task of buying school clothes, but didn’t finish it, you will move it to the next month when you create it.
To migrate effectively, go through the pages of the last month and look for any empty boxes, triangles, or whatever signifiers you use for tasks you need to complete. Then analyze the unfinished ones and decide if it’s worth your time to move them to the next month.
If it is, move them. If not, you’ve just saved yourself some time.
It’s sew easy
Because bullet journals aren’t put in any order, you may find that your nonconsecutive pages are difficult to keep up with. And that’s where threading comes in.
You will have all of your nonconsecutive pages written down in the index section, but threading is a way to make finding them even easier. For instance, if your pages 1, 6, 10, and 32 are all related, you can add the next pages at the bottom of each one.
For example, add a 6 at the bottom of page 1, and a 10 at the bottom of page 6. This will allow you to easily keep track of your pages.
Finally, you may decide that you want to create a yearly calendar so you can see all the months over two pages. You can do this in traditional boxes, or in lines. It’s completely up to you, and you should create yours in a way that best works for your brain.
Are You Ready to Make a Bullet Journal?
Making a bullet journal is not only fun, but it will help you achieve productivity as you’ve never experienced. It’s a great way to plan for your present and future while keeping important memories from the past. However, one type of bullet journal isn’t necessarily right for everyone. Instead, think about your specific needs and create the bullet journal that’s perfect for you.
Have you created a bullet journal yet? If so, we would love to about any tips and tricks you want to share in the comments below!