20 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Personal Planner

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    20 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Personal Planner

    Choosing the right planner
    Choosing the right planner. Getty

    Are you overwhelmed by all the planner options available? You can narrow down your choices and find the perfect planner for you by asking the right questions before you buy. Here are twenty questions to ask yourself before choosing a planner.

    1. How far out do you need to be able to see at a glance? 

    Do you need a monthly calendar, or is seeing the current week plenty? If you need both, aFranklin Planner lets you see the month and week together.

    2. Do you need to carry the planner with you at all...MORE times?

    A large, heavy planner (like the Day Designer) might not be the best choice if it’s always going to be in your bag; instead, look for something light like a Moleskine.

    3. Are you fine with always leaving the planner at work or at home?

    This opens you up to bigger, weightier options, like those from Erin Condren.

    4. Do you need extra space for writing notes?

    For some, a few lines a day will suffice. If having extra notes pages is a priority, buying printables from an online store like IHeartOrganizing lets you add as many as you want.

    5. Is a wall or desk calendar enough?

    If so, you might not even want the complication of a second planner.

    6. Does your planner need to lie flat by itself when opened?

    Look for coil-bound planners bound like Plum Paper’s.

    7. Do you need a pen loop and/or pocket for loose papers?

    The first will either come built-in (some Franklin Planners have two) or have to be made; the second may be available as an accessory.

    8. Do you need to be able to add and remove papers?

    Small, basic planners bound like paperbacks (e.g. Moleskine) are fine for jotting down appointments, but you can never cleanly remove pages or add additional graph paper or extra to-do lists. For more flexibility, consider the Arc System from Staples. 

    9. Are you mostly a digital person, or do you work best with old-fashioned paper?

    Figure out what, if anything, will go in your phone or computer, and what, if anything, needs to be written down. If you use both, will everything be entered twice? (This is trickier than it may appear, so give it a lot of thought!)

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    Online or offline planner?

    Online or offline planner?
    Online or offline planner?. Getty

    10. Are you better off using an online or offline planner? 

    Having thought through Question 9, do you really need just one, or both?

    11. What do you want to track in your planner? 

    Appointments, tasks, notes, meal plans, shopping lists, sketches, other? This will determine preferences like lined or unlined paper and whether you need hourly or daily calendars.

    12. Do you want to track your goals? Your budget? Do you want your planner to double as a journal? 

    Look for specialty planners like those...MORE from InkWELL Press or Passion Planner; they go beyond recording meeting times and birthdays.

    13. Do you need one planner for work and one for personal/family life? Or are those inseparable?

    14. Will you arrange your planner like you’d organize your wallet

    Make sure there’s room for your MetroCard, coupons, membership cards, and so on. Many brands, including the Staples Arc System, offer add-ons for this purpose.

    15. Do you want to be able to add specialized accessories, like local transit maps, to your planner?

    Filofax sells lots of little extras to fit all their planners.

    16. Do you have a natural tendency to make daily to-do lists, use different colors to track activities, or jot down lots of details for each appointment? 

    Work with your nature and not against it, incorporating your existing organizing style into your choice of planner.

    17. How important are design, quality, and price? 

    For an eye-catching planner, try a Letter Diary Scheduler. For a planner that will last a lifetime, look at Filofax. If cute and affordable is your goal, check out Sugar Paper.

    18. How much individualization do you need? 

    If you have a typical 9-to-5 with lots of meetings, think traditional like Franklin Planners. If your days are never the same, try Plum Paper, which gives you the option of blank daily pages.

    19. Do you like structure, or does it make you feel boxed in? 

    Some planners (e.g. Day Designer) guide you through every detail; others (e.g. Leuchtturm) give you more freedom.

    20. Do you want a planner that doubles as a scrapbook, i.e., a decorative record of your past year? 

    If so, try the kikki.K Time Planner, designed to accommodate a variety of pretty extras.