This is the time of year when people are getting their new 2016 planners ready and for some, it also means a change in planner styles. If you are debating about what style is best for you, here are a few things that have helped me decide over the years.
If you don’t count the decorated notebooks and journals I used as a kid, my first real planner was a Franklin Covey planner about two decades ago. Since then, I’ve gone through just about every size – large, classic, compact, personal and pocket. It changed as my life changed from single to married to married with one kid to married with four kids.
How will you be using your planner?
Will you be using it mainly at home? Do you want something larger with lots of writing space? Will you be carrying around your planner? Does it need to fit into your purse or diaper bag? Size and portability alone will help narrow your decision.
If you aren’t sure if a page size is too small or too big, make a mock up to give it a try. When I was debating about going from a standard paper sized 8×11 planner page to a smaller Erin Condren, I cut a few sheets of paper into the size of an EC planner page. I used a ruler to make similar boxes. I used the mock up for a week to make sure I could adapt to it before actually spending money on a new planner.
The next biggest issue is price. What is your budget? If you can’t afford the $100 Filofax, don’t tempt yourself, no matter how cute it is! Whether you can afford the pricey leather planner or only a spiral notebook in the Target $1 bin, it is more important that you find something you will actually use. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive.
If you like the style of a binder, check out different brands and styles to see what is available in your budget. Popular brands include:
- Filofax (their non- leather planners are less expensive),
- Kikki-K (They have a sale running until tomorrow 12/13/15)
- Franklin Covey
- Check out the planner aisle in Target, Staples or Walmart for other affordable options.
Spiral or coil bound planners are great. Many planners, like the Erin Condren, have special tabs that allow you to add pages to your planner. However, if you need to add more than the occasional sheet, then you might want to look at a binder or disc bound planner that allows you to add and subtract freely. You also have the flexibility of creating your own sheets or purchasing digital planner sheets and printing them off.
If you are interested in a binder system, Toni at A Bowl Full of Lemons has an excellent post that will help you compare the different sizes and brands – Choosing A Ring Bound Planner.
If you are interested in a Discbound style, you can read my post about how I set up my previous Discbound Planner.
Knowing how you want to view your day or week will narrow down your options.
What eventually led me to an Erin Condren spiral bound planner last year was the gorgeous design. I loved the patterns, the changeable covers and the colorful pages. It just delighted me to use my planner! I hated the plain black and white planner! (For more info how I set up my Erin Condren, see my post here.)
Photo Credit: MochiThings.com
On the other hand, my sister would go crazy looking at a planner filled with stickers, washi and doodles. It’s just not her style. She wanted plain and streamlined so she purchased the Medium Monthly Planner from MochiThings. It suits her perfectly and is beautiful in its simplicity.
What is your style? Do you need to have colors and decor? Do you prefer simple and streamlined?
There are some who want a planner that does more than tell them where to be each day or have a list of To Do’s. They don’t necessarily need the pre-printed calendars and daily appointment schedules. They want a planner that allows them a lot of wiggle room to be creative and keep track of more than their schedule. If that sounds like you, you may want to check out a traveler’s notebook or a bullet journal.
A Traveler’s Notebook is basically a cover (that can range from expensive leather to a fabric Etsy creation) that holds various small notepad inserts – calendars, lined paper, graph paper, blank paper. You can build your notebook to include everything from appointments to drawings to journal entries. The possibilities are endless.
There is a great overview from JetPens.com to get you started – Midori Traveler’s Notebook: A Comprehensive Guide.
I purchased this Travel’s Notebook cover from Crafty Girls x 2 on Etsy. There are so many cute covers at various Etsy shops!
- Ruled (refill 001)
- Grid (refill 002)
- Blank (refill 003)
- Monthly Diary (refill 017)
- Weekly Diary and Memo (refill 019)
- Traveler’s Notebook Inserts and Accessories
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Another popular planner style is the Bullet Journal.
The system was created by Ryder Carroll as “a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.” (Picture it as a catch all for numerous post it, lists, notes and ideas floating around in your world.)
Ryder’s website BulletJournal.com has a detailed explanation and video explaining the bullet journal system.
Although there is standard format, people have adapted the bullet journal to reflect their creativity. Just search bullet journal on Pinterest to see numerous versions. Or visit my favorite Bullet Journal user Kara at Bohoberry.com for inspiration.
Pictured – Leuchtturm Medium in Lemon Yellow
A bullet journal can easily be done in an inexpensive notebook, although the most popular notebooks are either a Moleskin or Leuchtturm 1917 (my personal favorite.) Kara has a great comparison post about the Moleskine vs Leuchtturm.
Last month I switched to a Bullet Journal and I explain why and how here – How I Use My Bullet Journal.
There are planners created with a specific audience in mind, such as homeschoolers, bloggers, Christians, etc. Since the bulk of my readers are Catholic, here are a few planners created for those who want to incorporate their spiritual life into their daily planner.
Blessed Is She Liturgical Planner by BlessedIsShe.net
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Catholic Through the Year by Catholic Sistas.com
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The Best Laid Plans by Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.org
The Catholic Daily Planner by Michele Quigley.com
Specialty Planners: Goal Orientated
Photo Credit: PassionPlanner.com
UPDATE (12/26/15) On my instagram, Nikki commented that she loves the Passion Planner. Someone else mentioned to me how much they liked it. I looked over their site and I love the concept behind it. Creator Angelia Trinidad explains:
I decided to make a tool that helped people clearly define their personal goals and dreams and put them at the forefront of their attention, and a planner was PERFECT for this. Passion Planner helps people break down their long and short terms goals into more actionable steps and gives them a place to incorporate these steps into their daily lives.
I wanted people to use this planner as a compass they could use to guide their daily decisions. It’s simple. You ask yourself: is what I am going to do today going to get me closer to my goals? Yes? Do it. No? Don’t do it.
I wanted to make a tool that encouraged people not only to start thinking about their goals, but make taking action towards them a part of their daily lives. And that’s how Passion Planner was born.
Whether you are already goal orientated or not sure where to start, it is definitely worth checking out.
As much as I love planners, I was disappointed to learn this truth – a planner will not magically make you more active and productive. You can decorate and accessorize all you want but the real magic doesn’t start until you get your butt in gear and start actually doing those things on your lists.
A planner can be an awesome tool, but like a hammer, it won’t suddenly build a house by itself. You still have to do the work. So don’t stress over finding the “perfect” planner. Just pick the one that closest suits your needs and give it a try. More than likely your planning system will evolve as your life changes but don’t worry, that’s half the fun. 😉
What is your favorite planner? Do you have a planning tip to share? Do tell!
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