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While there are no shortage of productivity tools these days—from online to-do lists to digital calendars and apps that remind you to do everything from visit the doctor to stand up to get more steps—nothing beats the feeling of putting pen to paper and seeing everything laid out right in front of you in a single place. Not to mention, research suggests writing things down can actually help you better retain information. If you think you could benefit from a journal-style planner this year, check out these great, highly-rated picks.
From daily digests to monthly logs, these are the best planners to buy this year.
For something that’s just as pretty as it is functional, look no further than Rifle Paper Co. The company is well known for their paper products, including their journals and planners. This one, which features a gorgeous floral design on the cover, is a dated 17-month planner that runs from August 2020 through December 2021.
It’s a versatile option for nearly everyone, since it features both weekly and monthly spreads for both shorter- and longer-term planning. You’ll also find space for notes, contacts, and even pockets for storing important documents. As a bonus, inspirational quotes are peppered throughout to keep you as motivated on December 31 as you were on January 1.
You don’t have to spend a ton on a fancy planner to get a great one—and this spiral-bound option by Blue Sky is proof. The book, which runs from January 2021 to December 2021, includes in-depth monthly view pages that also contain previous and next month reference calendars for long-term planning. The book also has a notes section for important projects or lists that don’t quite fit into other areas of the planner. Another convenient feature: coated tabs make it a breeze to flip to exactly where you need to be.
College students will love the flexibility of both short- and long-term planning, thanks to weekly and monthly agenda pages with ample room for logging all exams and assignments. But the real draw to this planner is all of the other bonus features that make it such an important tool for self discovery. Inside you’ll find life coaching worksheets, a personal info page with a yearly mission statement prompt, a purpose page, a values page, a life auditing page, a things not to do page, yearly goal setting, a vision board, habit tracking, inspirational quotes, and more.
If any planner has everything parents need, it’s this one—it was created by a mom after she left her corporate job to care for her own family and realized she needed an effective organizational system.
The compact planner—it’s just 6 x 8 inches—so it won’t take up much space on a desk or counter, but can also easily be tossed into a purse or even your glove compartment.
There’s plenty of flexibility for planning, too, since the organizer has weekly and monthly calendar pages, as well as to-do and project lists, space for grocery lists, and color-coded stickers. For times when the going gets tough (and every parent knows that happens!), the book is also littered with inspiration quotes.
This daily planner covers the academic year (and then some) from August 2020 to December 2021. There’s plenty of space to write tasks and lists on a daily basis, but there’s also dated weekly spreads and a monthly calendar page for longer-term planning. What’s more, each month is color coded for quick spotting and includes space for detailed notes.
Just as importantly, this is one planner you’ll want to look at every day, with it’s fun cover design and whimsical designs throughout.
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 getting. 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.
This 12-month planner is one of the most flexible and customizable out there. In addition to weekly spreads, the spiral-bound notebook also has dated monthly spreads, monthly productivity logs, mini months at a glance, goal-setting spreads, ample notes pages, a contacts page, and quote pages to spark inspiration.
This planner was created upon the principles of the Ivy Lee Method—a simple daily routine for achieving peak productivity. As such, it breaks your day into three important sections—most important, secondary, and additional tasks—to keep your attention on the things that matter the most. At the end of the day, there’s a space to rate your productivity level on a scale of one to 10 to assess how you did and plan for future days.
Whether you’re well-versed in bullet journaling or just dipping your toes into the trend for the first time, this traditional leather-bound journal is a great place to start. Choose lined, unlined, squared, or dotted (we recommend the latter three for most flexibility).
The bound notebook, by the famed Moleskin company, 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.
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.
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.
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This roundup was written by Brigitt Earley, who has written and edited hundreds of buying guides for various publications over the course of the last 10 years.
Format 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.
Size 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.
Extras 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.