best planner

How You Can Choose the Best Planner

“Plan your next move because every step contributes towards your goal.”

Sukant Ratnakar, author, and motivational speaker

Want to find the best planner for you?

There are so many different reasons one might want to use a planner…

  • To record goals for the year, and the action plan to reach those goals.
  • As a way to keep track of appointments, events, thoughts, life.
  • A way to record and track routines.
  • As a time tracker.

Using a planner has many benefits as well. A planner can…

  • Help us manage our time.
  • Help us to be more productive.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Help us use our time more wisely.

Here are a few things to think about when looking for the best planner…

First things first…

What’s most important in choosing the best planner is choosing one that works for where we are and what we need right now.
What will you be using the planner for?
The reason(s) you are using a planner is the most important thing to consider before even looking at planners so you can find the best planner for you.

  • Are you wanting to complete some projects this year? Boost productivity? Stay focused? Here are a couple of planners you might be interested in.
    • The Full Focus Planner is this type of planner. I think Michael Hyatt’s book, Free to Focus is helpful in planning.
    • I used Planner Pads for years and loved their funnel system. It’s a no-frills, get it done planner. There is even a training guide which is very helpful.
    • How about a digital option. I love these planner sheets. I use them with the hybrid system I talk about below.
  • How about reaching goals? There are planners for specific goals, such as health, finance, weddings. However, I think a planner that contains all of your goals is easier and makes more sense.
    • The Ink+Volt planner is not specific to one type of goal which is kind of nice. For the more artsy person, they even have some accessories you might like.
  • Are you a busy parent that needs to keep track of family, friends, appointments, ideas, and chores?
  • How about a life plan?
    • This is a good one, and they even have a planner quiz you can take to discover what the best fit is for you.

Planners usually come in a few different sizes. Choosing the right size for you is determined by how you plan to carry your planner, how much extra weight or bulk you want to carry around, and how much writing space you will need.

  • Pocket sized. These are usually pretty minimal and generally come with a month-by-month layout and a few pages for notes. They are not only great for pockets but will fit in a small purse as well.
  • Medium-sized. These are usually between the sizes of 8.5” x 5.5” up to 7” x 9”. If you have a larger bag or backpack, these will fit well. They are also easy to carry in your hand. I like this size for portability and there seems to be enough room to write things I need to remember.
  • Large size. These are usually around 8.5” x 11”. These work well in briefcase-style bags or if they live on your desk. They also work well for people whose writing is on the larger side, and they are helpful for those that have a hard time reading up close.

There are generally only a couple of styles to choose from.

  • Spiral bound, which lay flat when open. However, the spirals can get in the way of your hand when writing. Some planners claim to lay flat when open that are not spiral bound. Lying flat when opened is important to me.
  • Softbound and hardbound. These are generally more of a journal type book, are less bulky, and easy to transport
  • Refillable type planners. These are nice as you can move sections around to suit your needs. I like to have the things I am working on toward the front of my planner. These are also great if you choose to use downloadable planners that you print yourself.
  • Will you be keeping track of things by the hour? These types of planners are great for those that have several appointments and tasks to keep track of. These are also great for keeping track of how you spend your time.
  • Do you prefer to see the week at a glance? Some like to see the entire week as it makes it easier to plan. Flipping pages to see what you planned for yesterday can be time-consuming and annoying. It’s a good way to test your memory though!
  • Do you need to see your month at a glance? These are great for keeping track of holidays, annual events, and birthdays.
  • Do you have a lot of recurring tasks each week? Maybe a digital planner is best for you.
Planning Style
  • A planner that comes with stickers and washi tape are not going to work for someone who is more logically inclined or prefers minimalistic design.
  • A more artsy person is most likely going to be bored to death by a minimalistic planner.
Paper Feel
  • This is a big deal for me. I love the way quality paper feels when I touch it and write on it.
  • If the paper feel isn’t a big thing for you, at least make sure the paper doesn’t allow pens to bleed through.

I have used many paper planners over the years. I have never found one that works “perfectly” for me, so I have created this hybrid system that includes both digital and paper.

  • For appointments and tasks, I just use a Google calendar. I block out time for the various recurring tasks I perform each week, and, all of my appointments go on my calendar as well. I do use different “calendars” within the main calendar to make use of color-coding. And since I have this synced with my phone, I always have my calendar with me.
  • For projects and the associated tasks, I use Evernote. I also use this for any tasks that pop into my head throughout the day.
    I am new to using Evernote and wish I had looked into it much sooner! It is amazing! This also is linked to my phone, so it is always with me.
  • For overall planning purposes, I use a purpose planner and a NeuYear wall calendar. The NeuYear has the option of a Monday start, so it’s perfect for me. Monday start makes sense to me, so that’s what I use. Give me a system that doesn’t have a Monday start, and I will always be a day off. So, basically, this is something I always look for in a planner, calendar, and system.

All in all, I don’t think there is a perfect planner. If there was, it would probably be thousands of pages. You can find the best planner for you. It just takes some thought and planning.

Action Item(s)

  1. Decide what type of planner you need at this point in your life.
  2. Purchase it.
  3. Commit to using it.
  4. If you are wanting to make your planning go as smoothly as possible, check out these posts I wrote about Planning Pitfalls.
    1. How to Prevent Planning Pitfall #1 | Untimeliness
    2. How to Prevent Planning Pitfalls #2 and #3 | Winging It & Rigidity
    3. How to Prevent Planning Pitfall #4 | Details
    4. How to Prevent Planning Pitfall #5 | Procrastination
  5. The benefits of using a planner are beyond measure. Tell me in the comments what you have found to be the best planner for you, and why. 




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