My favorite FREE planning (and habit tracking and goal getting and academic success) tool

My favorite FREE planning (and habit tracking and goal getting and academic success) tool

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posted by AJ - April 23, 2024

Goal setting/getting and planning has been a keystone in my personal development practice since I was very young. (You will be not at all surprised to know that I am a Virgo and an oldest child.) Goal getting and planning can feed into perfectionism and some not-so-healthy mindsets. But, when used responsibly, they can also be practices that help us craft a life that is closely aligned with our core values. 

I am a HUGE fan of paper planners and always have been. Over the years I’ve cycled through quite a few (Passion Planner, Commit30, Panda Planner. I even designed my own planners in Moleskine notebooks for a couple years). Many worked well for me for a time, but always needed something different as my life and needs changed. 

But there’s one planning tool I come back to again and again. This tool has helped me run a marathon, get through multiple graduate degrees, and start a business (just to name a few key projects). Oh, did I mention it’s also free?

My #1 favorite planning tool? 

Now, some of you may be thinking, really, AJ? A PDF calendar? That’s the #1 tool? To which I would reply, yes. But not just any PDF calendar. 

What’s so special about this calendar?

The absolute best thing about is that you can create calendars with many weeks on a single page (I think the most I’ve had on 1 page is 20 weeks, when I was training for long distance races consistently). You can also customize things like the calendar start date, the first day of the week (and not just Sunday or Monday!), and page orientation. 



Bonus: it’s super easy to use. Just head over to, select the 12-weeks per page option, then set your parameters using the various drop down options. The options I tend to adjust are: 

  • First week must include date
  • First day of the week
  • Number of weeks per page (this will always generate a 1 page calendar, so if you want multiple pages, you’ll need to generate each one separately)
  • Page orientation

Then click “download PDF calendar” and like magic, it appears. 

Quarterly Planning

I really do love my planner, but sometimes I want to see more than just 1 month at a time. At the moment, I’ve found that seeing a full quarter/3 months has been a good stretch of time for me to plan out my goals. There’s also a lot of evidence that suggests 90 days or 12 weeks is the sweet spot for productivity and goal setting. So for this year, I created 1-page pdf calendars for each quarter of the year and taped them into the back of my planner for reference. 

Seeing a full three months in one glance has been a life-saver when I’m scheduling craft classes in multiple locations, managing project deadlines, and trying to hold space for rest and recuperation. I still over schedule myself occasionally, but it’s a lot easier to see when I am about to book myself for too many weekends in a row. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked at a single month in my planner and thought, I could add something in here, only to turn to the next month and realize I just filled up my only free weekend for 6 weeks. With my quarterly plans on one page, I’m seeing those potential pile-ups sooner and blocking them off for myself. 

Project Planning and Tracking

The other thing I LOVE using my 1-page calendars is project planning and building out project timelines. With PDF calendar I can create a calendar for exactly the time I need, no extra pages because the deadline is the first Tuesday of the month or whatever. 

Having everything all on one page really brings home the amount of time available for a project and helps clarify the backward planning process for setting project milestones. 

PDF calendar has also been my go-to tool for creating and tracking habits. I used these 1-page calendars almost exclusively when I was setting up training plans for 5ks, then 10ks, half marathons, and finally a marathon. I’ve also used these to track other workout plans and challenges with good results. 

I could also see these calendars being incredibly useful for things like the 100 Day Project, tracking info for daily crafts like temperature blankets or “quilt your life” projects. 

Academic Success Planning

Ok, one last plug for the 1-page PDF calendar. In my day job, I run a tutoring center at a local university. I introduced the 1-page calendar to my tutors and they love it too. I actually first discovered the PDF calendar site in college and it changed my life. One of the trickiest things about college is keeping track of when all your exam and assignment due dates are. Many students look at their calendars course-by-course, without necessarily understanding how their exams or assignments line up across classes. 




A 1-page semester calendar makes it easy to see at a glance if there is going to be a week that is particularly heavy with assignments or exams (or if a major assignment is due that Friday you were planning to head out of town with your friends), so you can plan ahead and start studying early. 

And because it’s a PDF, these calendars work well whether you’re a pen and paper person or prefer to work digitally. So many of my students rely on their tablets and digital planners, so having a PDF that they can make entries on digitally is a must. 

What will you use it for?

Alright, have I convinced you? I hope so. This personalized pdf calendar has more than paid for itself over and over in many different ways (I mean, it's free, but the ROI is still HUGE). Is the only tool I would ever use to organize myself? No, but it’s the one tool I never feel completely organized without. 

What in your life could use a little planning boost? Where do you see yourself using a 1-page custom pdf calendar? 

  • Habit tracking
  • Project planning/timeline
  • Long-term goal getting
  • Academic success planning
  • Content creation planning

Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear how you plan to use your custom pdf calendar. 

And let me know if you have planning, organization, and goal getting questions that you’re struggling with. I’ve been testing out tons of organization tools and systems for the last 20+ years and I love to talk about all things planning and goal getting. 

P.S. Co-Create Studio is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by I just love this free planning tool and want to tell people about it! 

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