by Linsay McGarva, Design Team member


If you’ve been in the planner world for any time at all you may have seen the debates regarding functional or decorative planning with some believing you can only be one or the other. Me? I think both!


Let me preface this post by saying all opinions in it are mine, this is my take on planning. I think that if something works for someone then they should absolutely do it and I don’t believe there are right and wrong ways to plan.


Let’s take it back to the very beginning and for me I used shop bought diaries with pens and my own colour coding system complete with icons, dots for tasks which I ticked or crossed off, lines through for anything cancelled. I didn’t own stickers, washi or fancy pen, just plain ol diaries and pens which worked really well for me.


Now that I HAVE found stickers i’ve found ways which work for me that I’d say are functional but also pretty and decorative too. For me functionality doesn’t mean just pen and paper, it means having a system that works for you, that helps you plan, helps you to stay organised and on top of everything. For me functional stickers are anything which help me to remember something, a signifcant event, an appointment - that could mean a half box that I write in which highlights to me there’s something happening, it could also be a Penguin Joe doing laundry to save me writing laundry and also to add some deco to the page.


Here are some spreads i’ve done which show how I plan before i’ve added in all of my weekly plans and also how my spread end up after a full week of use:


Erin Condren planner


1. Pre planning in my Erin Condren colourful vertical, I no longer use this planner but this is how i’d start off each week and then add in plans either on the Sunday or daily.




2. A week in my b6 travelers notebook, this week i’m at work so i’ve left my days off empty as i’ll plan each day and add in any tasks I have. For me this is purely functional as I don’t have much in the way of decoration other than a washi strip and a full box.




3. Another week in my b6 TN, this week has lots of lovely celebrations including my kids birthday and my friends wedding so i’ve used pretty stickers to highlight those, i’ve also added some extra decorative banners and full boxes but again left the empty days for any tasks.




4. And finally a completed week in my b6 TN, things can get quite messy but I quite like seeing how the week turns out at the end. For some this it too much and for others there’s lot of white space that they’d have to fill. For me this is just about right.


And that’s my take on functional vs decorative. Some weeks I use one or two stickers, other weeks I could use a whole sheet on one page, I think they’re pretty to look at but also functional for me, they remind me when I have important tasks and I can focus on what needs done when.

What do you think? Are you a functional or a decorative planner? Or, are you like me and don't believe the divide is as wide as some may have us believe?

Linsay xx


About Linsay
I’m 31, mum to boy/girl toddler twins and a nurse in critical care living in the West of Scotland.
I’ve always been stationery obsessed and a new school year was my favourite time because, well,  pens and notebooks! 
I found the planner community in about 2014 and have thoroughly enjoyed exploring all sorts of planners and accessories although my bank probably doesn’t agree. It’s taken me a while to find my style and to stop trying to be like everyone else but I’m finally happy with my planning style. I’ve recently started a YouTube channel to capture how I plan and what I use. 
IG - @PlannerPod
YouTube - PlannerPod 
Functional vs decorative planning