While there is no shortage of productivity tools these days—from online to-do lists to digital calendars and apps—putting pen to paper and seeing everything laid out right in front of you still has real advantages. The right personal planner not only keeps you organized but also enables customization, so you can fit your planning to your life, or try out unique productivity tools like bullet journaling.
“Putting a plan on paper can help you remember it more clearly since it’s less automatic than typing,” says Holly Chapman, head of global public relations for Papier. “It can also be a great space for self-reflection, plus ticking off a to-do list feels good, too.”
We searched for planners that are comprehensive, customizable, useful, and fun. Our favorite is the Legend Planner, which comes with unique tools for both short and long-term planning. Plus, it's got stickers. But we have a number of other recommendations that might fit your life and planning goals even better.
Comprehensive planning pages
Extras, like stickers and bookmarks
Heavy duty paper
May be too structured for anyone looking to use a custom planning scheme
This one comprehensive planner comes in nearly 20 colors, so you’re sure to find one you like. But it’s not just pretty to look at. An un-dated 12-month planner is a versatile option for nearly everyone since it features both weekly and monthly spreads for both shorter- and longer-term planning. It even has a pocket for storing important documents, as well as over 100 colorful stickers and ribbon bookmarks.
The Legend Planner is unique, in that it's designed for both concise daily planning and expansive life goals work. Its weekly planner pages are undated, so you can use it anytime, instead of just for one year. You can track habits over time, set weekly goals, and easily track to-do items. Plus, it has sections and checkmark boxes that actively encourage you to reward yourself and have a little fun along with your self-growth. There's even a section for writing out your dreams and mind-mapping them on to a more concrete life goals structure.
The Legend Planner has a faux leather binding and bleed resistant, 120 grams per square meter (or GSM) paper, which is about as thick and durable as light cardstock.
Price at time of publish: $25
Blue Sky 2023 Weekly/Monthly Planner
In-depth monthly pages
Not a lot of room for daily entries
Our favorite budget planner takes a different approach to planning than our top pick Legend Planner. Tied to the upcoming calendar year, the Blue Sky 2023 Weekly/Monthly Planner is a 8.5-by-11-inch planning calendar featuring both monthly and weekly pages. There's plenty of space—particularly on the weekly pages, which divide seven days over a two-page spread—for both tracking your daily doings and for longer, more detailed entries.
This planner also has pages for contacts, yearly goals, important dates, and notes, plus a reference page listing major holidays. The Blue Sky 2023 Planner is spiral-bound, so it lays flat, and has coated tabs that make it a breeze to flip to the right spot. It's also available in a wide range of color and pattern options.
Price at time of publish: $26
Format: Monthly pages | Pages: Not listed | Dimensions: 8.50 x 0.5 x 11 inches | Weight: 1.19 pounds
Best for College Students
Class Tracker Ultimate College Student Planner
Has goal-setting pages
Page for class schedule
Monthly, weekly, and daily spreads
Different options for different school ages
No tab dividers for each month
Every student needs the perfect planner to keep track of test dates, assignment deadlines, extracurricular meetings, and so much more. Send students off to high school or college with the Class Tracker planner to ensure they stay organized and on top of assignments. The academic planner tracks daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and events, with enough space for jotting notes during class.
Developed by an academic planner, the Class Tracker even has spots for students to write out their goals and the necessary steps to reach them. While we love this option for busy college students, the brand also has options for middle school and high school, and undated options to use any day of the year. The sleek design comes in tons of colors and is the perfect compact size to slip into your backpack for daily use.
Price at time of publish: $29
Best Financial Planner
GoGirl Budget Planner & Monthly Bill Organizer
Comes in two sizes
Has a special holiday budget section
Binding can be a bit flimsy
Take control of your finances in the new year with this budget planner from GoGirl. The detailed planner helps you track your expenses, organize monthly bills, set goals, and track your progress. There are plenty of pockets to keep all of your bills and receipts organized and in one place. The multiple spreads include a monthly calendar to track important dates, a monthly budget, a budget review, and a spending analysis.
You can even track your savings and your debt with helpful organizers. The end of the year even includes a holiday budget for extra spending during special occasions. All the months and days are undated, so you can start taking control of your finances any day of the year. There are even 190 included stickers to make financial planning a little more fun. While the whole process may seem intimidating initially, the planner includes an easy-to-follow introduction guide to help you get started.
Price at time of publish: $27
Best Smart Planner
Rocketbook Panda Planner
Can transfer it digitally
Daily, weekly, and monthly sections
Need to remember to save before reusing the pages
This all-encompassing planner is divided into daily, weekly, and monthly sections, so you can choose what method of organization works best for you and go all-in on it—or, you can use all of the above, so you have a rock-solid grip on what’s on your calendar at all times.
Those who love digital tools will also appreciate this planner’s unique ability to sync with your favorite digital tools. You can save digital versions of your planner pages to cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Box, OneNote, Slack, iCloud, email, and more using the free compatible Rocketbook app for both iOS and Android.
Price at time of publish: $32
Best for Bullet Journaling
LEUCHTTURM 1917 Dotted Hardcover Notebook
Plenty of room for entries
Open-ended format might not be a good for everyone
Whether you’re well-versed in bullet journaling or just dipping your toes into the trend for the first time, this traditional faux-leather-bound journal is a great place to start. Pages are dotted to provide guidance while still keeping things flexible.
Also nice: The bound notebook is about 5 x 8 inches—plenty of room for all kinds of calendars, lists, and logs, but also small enough to tote with you. What’s more, the notebook is designed to open 180 degrees and lay flat to make journaling easier. When not in use, an elastic closure keeps everything snugly together. There’s also a pocket for storage—something most traditional notebooks don’t have.
Price at time of publish: $26
Erin Condren Metallic Colorblends Monthly Planner
Monthly productivity logs
Only accommodates planning through September 2023
Erin Condren has a wide range of time-tested planners, including their popular Lifeplanner line. But anyone looking for month-by-month planning should check out the Metallic Colorblends Monthly Planner, which covers the next 12 months (new versions are available on Amazon monthly). Thanks to its plated aluminum spiral coil, the Erin Condren Monthly Planner lies flat, providing easy access to the highly customizable layouts.
The Erin Condren Monthly Planner features a number of ways to organize your goals, events, and plans, including monthly productivity pages, two-page calendars, deadline tracking, and pages with customizable boxes for your own bullet points or lists. Each month also has 10 full pages for notes.
While this monthly planner is a fantastic way to organize your whole year, be advised that new versions are released monthly—rather than annually—which means your planner will feature the next 12 months from your time of purchase, rather than a specific calendar year.
Price at time of publish: $47
Papier Time to Shine Foiled Daily Planner
Pages are undated for flexibility
Space for journaling
Only 16 weeks
This daily planner spans 16 weeks. There’s plenty of space to write to-dos, shopping lists and schedules, set personal goals, track habits, and reflect on your growth. What’s more, there are nine extra lined pages for more detailed notes or journaling. For flexibility, pages are not dated—simply fill out the dates yourself.
Just as important as the practicality, this planner is one you’ll want to look at every day, with its fun cover design accented with little metallic touches.
Price at time of publish: $37
Clever Fox Planner
Can start anytime
Goal setting pages
Small space for daily entries
There’s a reason this planner is so widely praised. The undated weekly planner (start any time!) promises to aid in productivity, time management, and goal setting. How? In addition to space for appointments and the typical things you might log in a planner, its pages categorize your day into five key areas: productivity, passion, motivation, happiness, and focus.
It also comes with 150 colorful planner stickers to help you spot the most important inclusions, a pen loop to ensure you always have a writing tool at hand, and an inner pocket to hold important documents, receipts, and other separate lists.
Price at time of publish: $25
Golden Coil Planner
Can add an address book, a budget tracker, and more
Ability to upload from digital calendars
Can’t find exactly what you’re looking for? Why not design your own planner to meet your specific needs? With this service, you can customize everything from the cover to the pages inside. And the options go way beyond your standard planner. You can have your entire address book printed inside, choose your own start and end dates, add events from digital calendars into calendar pages, and personalize the way all of your pages are laid out. Extra page options include things like budget trackers, reflections, and more.
Price at time of publish: $70
Best Meal Planner
Papier Joy Meal Planner
Tear-out grocery lists
60 weekly planning pages
Thick, 120 GSM paper
Dozens of cover choices
Surely there are more useful reference pages to include than pasta cooking times?
If you're always scrambling to put together dinner or short on crucial ingredients than the Papier Meal Planner can help organize your culinary life. Designed for weekly meal planning, this planner includes 60 undated pages, with large boxes for writing out breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day of the week. Off to one side is a checklist, where you can write down necessary ingredients, then rip out the perforated list to take to the grocery store with you.
The Papier Meal Planner uses thick, 120 GSM paper, so it should hold up to splashed sauces and other kitchen hazards. It also includes a reference page with cooking times for popular pasta shapes. It's a bit of a strange inclusion—why not measure conversions, guidance on picking ripe vegetables, or other, more useful cooking references?
While we love the "Joy" Meal Planner, which has a clean look available in four different colors, Papier offers dozens of additional cover selections from a range of designers.
Price at time of publish: $15
MochiThings MYO Slim Planner
Versatile options, including daily, weekly, monthly planners
Can be used with MYO organizers and binders
Only 40 pages long
Daily and weekly planners cover less than a year
The MochiThings MYO Slim Planner is 6.61 by 3.66 inches, with a tall and narrow format that could easily fit in a back pocket. Plus, it's only 0.12 inches thick and weighs a mere 1 ounce. Featuring a clean, compact look across four different designs, the MYO Slim Planner is available in daily, weekly, and monthly configurations, plus a notebook version that has blank lined pages with space for a date on top.
This portability does come with compromises. First, MYO Slim Planners are only 40 pages long, so anyone looking for a single, comprehensive planner may want to look elsewhere. Instead, MYO Slim Planners are tailored to limited time frames and specific uses. For example, the daily planner has space for hour-by-hour scheduling, plus little boxes to make note of the weather, exercise, and how you slept that night. However, it only covers 40 days of planning. The monthly planner has a calendar grid—enough for 19 months—while the weekly planner includes more space for writing out your day-to-day, plus a goal tracking grid, but only covers nine weeks.
The MYO Slim Planner can also be incorporated in a larger system of binders and organizers, such as the Slim Button Planner or the Slim Notepad & Planner Organizer. You can take out a MYO Slim Planner in your pocket, then return it to a more comprehensive planning system.
The MYO Slim Planner is particularly useful for anyone who has struggled to build a planner habit in the past, since the easiest way to use a planner is to make sure it's on you and accessible at all times.
Price at time of publish: $4
Best for Goal Planning
Ink+Volt Goal Planner 2023
Provides multiple ways to conceive, track, and celebrate goals
Incorporates both monthly and weekly planning tools
Available in a wide variety of colors and formats
Lay-flat binding and two ribbon bookmarks
A pocket on the inside cover
Incorporates a lot of personal question prompts, which may put off some people who would rather not engage with journaling features
While the Ink+Volt Goal Planner has all of the monthly and weekly calendar pages you'd expect from a planner, its greatest strength is goal planning, with a robust set of features designed to help you keep big plans on track.
The Goal Planner begins with ideation, incorporating pages that encourage you to describe a vision for the coming year, establish benchmarks, and even draw up a timeline of milestones. Then you can dive into the nitty gritty of achieving your goal, with pages for action plan tasks, analysis, a text box for words of encouragement, and even little progress bars you can fill out. There are also pages for outlining a monthly "31-Day Challenge," weekly outlooks, and plenty of dot grid space for note-taking. There's even a page for logging and celebrating specific achievements made over the course of the year.
There's also a wide variety of colors and options. The book cloth cover version of the Ink+Volt Goal Planner is available in 14 different colors, but there are also "soft touch" and "Starlight" variant covers available with different textures entirely. You can also choose between dated and undated versions.
Price at time of publish: $49
Our top pick for planners is the Legend Planner, because it’s both comprehensive and highly customizable, plus has plenty of space for self-reflection to help with overall mood and productivity. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, we also recommend the Blue Sky 2023 Monthly Planner. The coated tabs make it easy to find the section you are looking for, and the in-depth monthly views are great for long-term planning.
What to Look for in a Planner
Just about every planner has a different format. Some are divided up by weeks, while some have monthly calendar-inspired layouts. Others are goal-oriented or arranged to follow the school year. Check out several layouts before making your decision so you can find a planner that is suited to your needs.
Planners come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small pocket-friendly versions to larger, more spacious editions. The best planner for you depends on where you’ll be keeping it—in your purse or briefcase? Or at home on your desk? Also, keep in mind how much you will need to write in it. A larger planner will be more cumbersome to tote around, but a smaller version won’t give you much room to record your day-to-day activities.
If you want a simple, no-frills planner, you can easily find one that just has calendar pages and nothing else. However, there are also products that come with fun extras, such as stickers, page markers, shopping lists, and more. Go minimalistic—or not! The choice is yours.
What’s the difference between a planner and a journal?
Typically, a planner is a space to plan out your day, week, or month. It features space to write tasks, so you can keep track of all of your to-dos. A journal, on the other hand, is more of a self-reflection tool, featuring space for writing out your thoughts and feelings. Hybrid options are also available.
How do you maintain an organized planner?
The key to maintaining an organized planner is to use it regularly and complete regular audits. “I have a ritual on a Sunday where I go through my planner and check on my upcoming weeks and month to make sure I’m on top of things,” says Holly Chapman, head of global public relations for Papier. “I find it makes the start of the week less stressful.”
Where’s the best place to keep a planner?
The best place to keep a planner is where you know you’ll use it. When your planner is in eyesight or within reach, you’re more likely to use it regularly. “I keep mine on my desk or in my handbag, so I can add in upcoming plans, deadlines, or meetings while I’m on the go,” says Chapman.
How do I find the right planner?
Selecting the right planner depends on your individual needs. When shopping, consider what you intend to use it for (scheduling, goal setting, note-taking, etc.) and other important factors like size, organization tabs, and digital capabilities. Ultimately, the best planner for you will be one with the features that help you succeed.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This roundup was researched and written by Brigitt Earley, who has written and edited hundreds of buying guides for various publications over the course of the last 10 years. Not to mention, Earley knows a thing or two about scheduling and staying organized—she is a freelancer for more than a half-dozen publications, all while running a household of six (including four kids under the age of 4!). To make this list, she considered each planner's features, size, and design. We also spoke with Holly Chapman, head of global public relations for Papier for her take on why planners are essential. Additional review for this article was done by Grace Gallagher, a writer, and editor with more than eight years of experience covering lifestyle and home decor, among other topics.