Tips From A Planner Addict On A Budget

Learn how to feed your planner addiction while staying within a budget.


Don’t get me wrong, I love perusing all the planner accounts on Instagram, but I’ve always been the kind of person to do my own thing. Especially when I’m doing said thing on a budget. I’m a part-time librarian, so we really rely on Husband’s full-time job. But, just because we keep our purse strings pulled a bit tight doesn’t mean I can’t decorate the hell out of my planner.

It all really comes down to reusing things most crafters already have in their supply. I do buy things on rare occasion, but I also rely heavily on my local public library (also coincidentally my workplace). A library?! Oh, yes! Read on to find all my juicy tips, tricks, and suggestions to help you strengthen your planner game!


Your Planner

My planner goes everywhere with me. Work, meetings, the grocery store- everywhere. So, it matters to me that my planner will stand up to being tossed into my tote bag (and under my desk, and under my rolling desk chair…). The second stipulation is customization. If I can’t completely change it then I will get bored of it fast. I love to add flare to my things, but not when the planner sets me back $60.

My solution: I simply use an A5 three ring binder!  It’s simple, clean, and serves it’s purpose well. I can add my own covers, and decorate literally every inch of it while trusting the rigid structure to protect my ideas. It’s perfect!

The Takeaway: Planning shouldn’t be about what brands you use. It should be all about your brand.

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Crafternoon: Create Your Own Transforming Ninja Star

The best part of my job is having the opportunity to work with some amazing kids. Yesterday, one of middle schoolers spent a chunk of his afternoon teaching brand new sixth graders how to create a transforming ninja star. I loved watching the kids learn from each other; they all left with a new understanding of what libraries can offer them, which is always fantastic.


Learn how to make your own gorgeous transforming star after the cut! If you’re a librarian, or just curious about programs and maker activities, don’t hesitate to connect! I’m always looking for new ideas and different ways to accomplish more with my kiddos.

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How to Generate 20 Ideas in Twenty Minutes

Listen, I can hear your doubt way over here. It’s possible. I know it’s possible, because librarians live off surprise, spontaneous deadlines. You’d think we’d all be too busy shushing people, right? Nope.

This is how I create a year’s worth of viable programming options. But, first, you have to understand something about creating.

  1. No one creates in a vacuum. Not Picasso, not Bach, no one.
  2. T.S. Eliot once said, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”
  3. Originality may not even be attainable any more.


Take yourself out of your environment. Find what inspires you. I like to immerse myself in sci fi visuals and set my soundtrack. Google Play gives music recommendations based on activities, and sites like ArtStation and Digital ArtLords offer searchable galleries from professional CG artists. My favorite distraction is ambient sounds; I prefer looped Star Trek noise layered over vocalless music. I’d also suggest searching the ASMR tags on Youtube. Autonomous sensory meridian response is a sign of low grade euphoria, and is usually triggered by everyday sounds (like someone writing on paper, for instance). If you are the kind of person who gets easily distracted, there are even apps to limit your time on certain sites.

Google Play is definitely one of my first go-tos.

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Awesome Magic: Circuits @ Your Library

Take a deep breath. Before you start, throw your inner critic into a corner. Circuitry might seem technical and difficult, but it’s actually quite simple. Me and my history degrees are proof positive of that. Well, me, my degrees, and Bob. Last September I built a fully functional game of Operation, named Bob, out of a “life size” cardboard box. I had no training, just helpful people that helped me grasp the basic concepts. Now, my department of me has conductive tape, sewing thread, and pen ink. My message: if I can do this, you can too.

Start here:

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Computer-less Coding, Take One

Often times, good ideas sound good until they’re tested. Which is why I test my ideas…on kids. Dun-dun-dun!

Like many, our fair city has a charter school. Unfortunately, our charter school doesn’t have it’s own building. Part are farmed out to the local high school, while others are placed at an elementary school not far from the public library. It’s these lucky 5th through 8th graders that get to be my guinea pigs.

*Disclaimer: When I say test, I just mean practice run. I didn’t actually “test” anything on my young volunteers.

I have this idea for summer school (thanks to these brilliant scientists at Stem In Libraries), but before I commit woman-power to it, I want to make sure it will work. If the idea won’t work on 20 kids, there’s no way it will work for more than a hundred kids.

Behold, my experiment! You can totally picture sparks and lightning back lighting my evil genius grin, you know, if you want.

Continue reading “Computer-less Coding, Take One”