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Today, there are dozens of apps that can help you stay organized digitally, such as calendars, to-do list trackers, and project management boards. But for many people, nothing beats the crisp, creamy pages of a paper planner—preferably paired with a new gel pen. And these fans may also have science on their side, as some research studies show that writing in longhand may help both children and adults retain information better than typing.
If nothing can replace a planner when it comes to keeping your calendar organized, we've rounded up the most effective and the most stylish planners to help you stay on top of your to-do list in whatever way you want.
Even without the adorable bear motif, it would be tough not to love this comprehensive planner. It's divided into daily, weekly, and monthly sections, so you can choose how micro or macro you want to get with goal setting. The 8 x 5-inch size is perfect for tossing in a purse or tote, and the undated format means you'll waste less paper if, say, you take a vacation and a break from planning.
The layout was conceived by Panda founder Michael Leip as he recovered from cancer, Lyme disease, and a traumatic brain injury all at once. Rooted in the mantra "a goal without a plan is just a wish," the planner uses helpful concepts such as daily gratitude lists, affirmations, and even a "how I'll improve" section, designed to help users have a growth mindset.
This flexible, undated journal is the product of many hours of research by its creators, who read books, conducted interviews, and attended conferences to learn more about successful entrepreneurs and the tools that helped them the most. It measures roughly 8 x 6 inches, so it's portable enough to be carried between home and work or school.
Daily spreads have half-hour scheduling blocks that help maximize time, space to keep track of tasks and goals, and a spot to jot down each day's successes in the evening. There are also pages to reflect back on the previous week, which include habit trackers and questions that really encourage digging deep, such as "Did you spend time on the right things? If not, how will you improve next week?" Blank grid pages at the back encourage sketching, brainstorming, or simply doodling to boost creativity. Note that each journal covers 13 weeks to align with the popular idea of setting quarterly goals, so you'll need to buy four to cover an entire year.
Rifle Paper Co. is known for their high-quality products featuring lush, floral patterns and elegant typefaces. This dated 17-month planner, which measures about 8 x 7 inches, begins in August 2019 and runs through December 2020. The format is straightforward: There are both monthly spreads and weekly spreads, as well as "at a glance" pages that show calendar grids for both the current and following years.
The inspirational quotes ("Tomorrow's life is too late. Live today.") that are sprinkled throughout add a fun factor, as do the whimsical, illustrated stickers with line drawings and inspirational sayings like "You got this!" and "Smile!"
Love starting the new year with a fresh new planner? This affordable dated option begins in January 2020 and runs through December 2020. At 8 x 7 inches, it's delightfully portable, and eco-minded types will be happy to know that it contains no plastic, so they can recycle it guilt-free when they're finished using it.
The monthly spreads show both a calendar overview as well as space to outline notes, tasks, goals, and reminders, while weekly spreads also have room to make notes, track habits, and set goals. The planner lays flat when open, making it the writing process feel effortless, and tabs help users navigate to the right month.
This undated planner has a vegan leather cover, book-style binding and gold edging, making it one of the prettiest (and priciest) planners on our list. It's also fairly large (about 8 x 11 inches), making a good option for either keeping at home or the office. The format allows users to plan based on their mood, whether they want to focus on a month, week, or day at a time.
The beginning has some thought-provoking sections including "My Reality Check," which asks people to track the time and money they spend on certain areas (such as entertainment, vacations, or work), versus the time and money they want to be spending. There's also a page to list values, passions, and strengths in a Venn diagram; to plan an ideal week and month; and to outline how to turn goals into actions.
College students (and ultra-organized high schoolers) will enjoy using this vibrant, colorful planner that comes with fun extras like stickers, a personality quiz, and even 3D glasses. It has a standard January 2020 through December 2020 dated format, and includes weekly, monthly, and yearly views, along with plenty of writing space for lists, notes, and goals.
Lists of major holidays will help kids plan ahead, and each month has a different color theme with inspirational quotes and directives (like "Let your hair down" for December). Although this size is generous (8 x 10 inches), the company also makes smaller versions with a variety of different covers and themes.
Amy Knapp created her now-beloved organizers after she left her corporate job to care for her infant daughter and realized she needed a solid system to manage everything. Her planners are aimed at busy moms, and this one is compact (6 x 8 inches) so it can be tossed into a diaper bag or backpack, with a durable cover and binding that parents of toddlers will appreciate.
The calendar has both weekly and monthly calendar grids, to-do and project lists, and spaces for grocery lists, which are helpfully perforated. The planner is heavy on inspirational quotes (like "Limitations live only in our minds") and the color-coded stickers are simple but comprehensive, and include things like dentist, vet, practice, game, party, date night, and payday.
Whether you're heavily obsessed with all things BuJo (that's bullet journal, for the uninitiated) or just looking to dabble, this simple, vegan leather notebook is a great place to get started. It's the product of a collaboration between the original Bullet Journal founder and Leuchtturm1917, a century-old German stationery company with a cult following.
The bound notebook is roughly 6 x 8 inches, and includes dot-grid pages as well as an eight-page intro to the bullet-journal process. The notebook is designed to lay flat when open to protect the spine, and there are three ribbon bookmarks to help writers stay organized.
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.