Make Your Own DIY Planner at Home – with Japanese Elements

As a kid, I would go to a local Morning Glory store in Chicago to check out cute stickers, stationery, and planners. I don’t know why I needed a planner as a kid but I sure loved filling each page with notes, doodles, friends’ birthdays, and addresses.

Fast-forward to 30 something year old adult, I’m still doing the same. But now I’m searching for something that is more minimalistic compared to the ones I had as a kid. The planner now has to serve the purpose of keeping me organized with my life, of course.

I have a daily planner to track how my day goes. (If you’re interested, the planner is from Best Self) In my opinion, it’s one of the best planners to help manage my projects. I’m a visionary type of person that is constantly birthing ideas and this planner helps me prioritize and focus. The only improvements I would suggest to Best Self Co. are that they insert pages for each month and zhoosh it up a bit. The artist in me sees so much room for design improvement!

So I decided to create my own DIY monthly planner to get a bird’s eye view for each month. This is where I write everyone’s birthdays, milestones, appointments, etc. My goal was to do this in the most economical way by using the stuff I already had at home: Adobe Illustrator, printer paper, and string.

I created a template in Adobe Illustrator. The Japanese characters displayed on top of each day are elements and represent the seven celestial bodies of our solar system. I wanted my monthly planner to look simple but also have some Asian culture represented as well.

I got this idea from my recent (pre-pandemic) trip to Japan. We were at a cozy café in Shirakawa-go (白川郷) and noticed their calendar display outside. I loved how brilliant and cute this was! I knew what each of the characters meant (they’re the same in Chinese) but I actually didn’t know that they corresponded with the days of the week. I think this is more common in Japan than anywhere else in Asia.

Make Your Own DIY Planner at Home by Rayna Lo

(Of course I find this in the land of the ultra cute. Even their rock typo with the word ca-lend-ar is cute.)
  • For Sunday, we have 日 which means “Sun”
  • For Monday, we have 月 means “Moon”

The kanji characters of the other days of the week correspond to the five elements in Chinese mythology: fire, water, wood, metal and earth.

  • 火 means “Fire” and represents Mars and is assigned to Tuesday
  • 水 means “Water” and represents Mercury and is assigned to Wednesday
  • 木 means “Wood” and represents Jupiter and is assigned to Thursday
  • 金 means “Gold/Metal” and represents Venus and assigned to Friday
  • 土 means “Earth” and represents Saturn and is assigned to Saturday

Okay on a side note, I just had a big light bulb moment. I couldn’t help but think of Sailor Moon when I saw the elements with their respective planets. I now understand each Sailor Scout’s powers and where it comes from—the elements displayed on the Japanese calendar! I literally made the connection as I was writing this post and I am nerding out about it.
Make Your Own DIY Planner at Home by Rayna Lo
Okay, back to my DIY planner. I printed out copies of the PDF and fed them back into the paper tray to print on the backside. I did not print double-sided because the front and back pages were not aligned in the same direction; some of the pages would look upside down when laid out in book format.

Then I scored each page down the middle to get an even crease line. I did the same for a sheet of cardstock paper, which served as the cover. I then used twine to keep the pages together. I quadruple knotted by the way. This actually does a pretty good job at keeping the pages together. No staples needed. You can easily remove and insert pages this way too.

And here you have it. A functional DIY planner! Possibilities are endless, as you don’t have to limit yourself to a monthly design. You can create a template that best suits your needs. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions! I’ll leave this post with a quote from my former boss and friend:

“You do not follow your dreams, you follow your plan.”

Happy planning, my friends!

Make Your Own DIY Planner at Home by Rayna Lo

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