How to Choose the Right Paper Planner for You

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    Which Paper Personal Planner is Right For You?

    Paper Planners: How to Choose
    Ceneri/Getty Images

    Technology aside, paper planners are still going strong, and may be even more popular these day ever before. 

    Do you wonder where the hours in the day go?  Do you wish you had an extra hour in the day, or better yet a clone of yourself to complete all the tasks you need to do in one day? You are not alone and a paper planner may be the answer.

    If you prefer to get your life organized with a pen and paper, here’s an overview of nine popular paper planner options.

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    Franklin Personal Planners Franklin Planners

    Franklin Planner
    Franklin Planner

    Franklin (a.k.a. Franklin Covey) planners come in an almost overwhelming range of styles, colors, and prices. The designs have a traditional feel; many would be acceptable at the most conservative of workplaces. Page layouts are quite busy, and probably best suited to people with very structured work or school schedules. However, with so many choices, there is probably a Franklin planner for anyone who’s willing to take the time to build it (and who’s not a design snob.)

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    InkWELL Personal Planners

    Inkwell Press
    Inkwell Press

    Inkwell Press liveWELL planners are intended for women who want their datebook to double as a journal with book and movie lists, yearly goals, and “notes & ramblings.” These planners are pretty and subtle (and large) with multiple cover designs and a choice of vertical or horizontal daily pages. InkWELL planners are not cheap, but if girly style and pep talks resonate with you, the quality is good.

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    Day Designer Personal Planner

    Day Designer
    Day Designer

    The Day Designer aims not simply to help you get organized at work but to help you live intentionally, learn to say no, and motivate yourself to complete projects. It prods you to define your daily priorities and longer-term goals. Day Designers include yearly, monthly, and daily calendars (with weekends combined into a single page) as well as quotes, challenges, and a Daily Gratitude box. There are also worksheets and a separate e-workbook. This planner looks substantial and fancy and the cost...MORE reflects that, but it’s far cheaper than a therapist.

    TIP: You can also download the pages, print them out, and test the Day Designer out before committing. 

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    Filofax Personal Planners


    These classic planners come in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials. All of them accommodate Filofax’s versatile range of calendars, notepaper, and extras like pens, maps, and rulers. The leather models can be quite pricey, but they’ll last forever. (I have owned several, and in my opinion for quality and understated design these are the best.) These planners are bulky, however, and none of the designs can be folded over notebook-style

    Tip from Elizabeth: I still see these on desks in...MORE offices so they are obviously still doing something right!

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    Passion Planner

    Passion Planner
    Passion Planner

    The Passion Planner is described as “the life coach that fits in your backpack.” It’s heavy on exercises and introspection, and there are plenty of quotes and spaces for lists and brainstorming. Days are broken down into 30 minute blocks. Unlike the similarly minded Day Designer, this planner is simple, with black and white pages and a slim, basic black cover. (It’s less expensive, too.) There is also a way to download a PDF of the planner for free, a good idea if you’re intrigued but unsure...MORE about committing to a self-help type planner.

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    Moleskine Personal Planners


     Once reserved for the cool hipster kids, now sold in office supply stores everywhere,Moleskine planners are plain, streamlined, and portable. On the outside there’s a choice of hard or soft cover in a rainbow of shades (plus some adorable limited editions) and an elastic closure; on the inside each day gets a subtly marked page. Moleskines are light, lovely to look at, and great for organizing minimalists, but they’re neither versatile nor made for anything too complicated.

    Tip from Elizabeth:...MORE Check out the Bullet Journal organizing system to use with your Molskine. 

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  • 08 of 11

    M. by Staples Arc System

    Arc Planner

    This system consists of components (notepaper, calendars, etc.) that fit inside a cover, all of it bound with plastic discs. The covers, available in a variety of sizes and colors, are not particularly attractive, but they are inexpensive, as are the accessories. The Arc System is versatile; you can add and remove components, and you can buy larger discs to increase the capacity of your planner. You can also incorporate non-Arc papers if you buy the special Desktop Punch. But papers must be...MORE inserted with care, or the edges of the “holes” can bend or rip.

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    Plum Paper

    Plum Paper
    Plum Paper

    Cute but not entirely unprofessional, the mid-priced Plum Paper planner offers lots of choices. (It’s also the only organizer on this list that I was almost tempted to purchase while researching this article!) In addition to regular planners, special ones for students, teachers, and families – among others – are available. Styles are customizable, with four daily pages layouts and personalized covers. The shop also offers niche add-ons for (e.g.) bloggers and expectant moms, as well as extra...MORE notepaper.

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    Erin Condren Planners

    Erin Condren
    Erin Condren

    If a busy sorority girl who loved stickers and quotes were to be magically transformed into an organizer, she’d be an Erin Condren Life Planner. These large planners feature lots of color, removable accessories and inserts, and interchangeable covers. Goal and to-do lists are included, as is a section for recording meal plans, exercise, and inspirations. There are stickers for marking birthdays, hair appointments, and vacations. These planners are not inexpensive, but you get a lot with each...MORE one, and they are sturdy.

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    Bullet Journal

    Bullet Journal
    Bullet Journal

     The Bullet Journal has garnered a cult following in the past several years due to two factors: The journal is super simple and requires no more than a  notebook and a writing utensil and the many, many ways enthusiasts have gotten creative with their journals. 

    The concept is this: you make lists in a notebook and include a calendar and every type of task gets a different symbol. The beauty is in the simplicity.