Living A Creative Life: Planner Review Round-up!
I’m Really Into Planners
Every year around this time I get excited about buying a planner for the following year. It is not a splurge item for me, it is an essential need. Like buying toothpaste or toilet paper. Now that this year is almost done, it’s time to stock up for next year!
I love planners, personal organizers, agendas -- whatever you want to call them. I enjoy filling out a fresh planner and handwriting the daily minutiae of my life. Planners represent unlimited possibility and give me structure to get s*** done. Or at least, to plan to get s*** done.
My lifelong obsession with organizing chaos started at a very young age. In elementary school, I was overly excited about back-to-school shopping because it meant my mom would take me to the office supply section and let me pick things out. I loved getting home and organizing all my new school supplies. I liked peeling the price tags off and making sure my pencil case was organized.
As I got older and suddenly had plans to manage, I begged my mom to let me use her old Franklin Covey Planner covers and give me her extra filler pages. I remember when I finally got my own Franklin Covey. I loved the blank pages. I loved all the little opportunities to fill things in.
My favorite thing, to this day, is filling out the front of a new planner. The “about me” section if you will. My name. My address. My contact information. Filling out my own personal information makes me feel alive, for some strange reason.
In high school, my school provided students with a branded planner and things got a little less exciting for me in the agenda arena. But, I was still pretty into filling out my planner every day and devouring the blank space.
In college, I branched out. I started experimenting with new planners and started having my annual planner freak-out. Which planner will serve me best? Which planner must I try? This used to mean a long trip to Barnes and Noble, or whichever bookstore I could get to. After college, it meant searching online for hours until I found the perfect planner, which, I’ve decided, does not exist.
Now that I am running my own business, I have the luxury of planning my own schedule. I am constantly hustling, but I can also take the long way across the bridge to the office go to a museum in the middle of the week. I also work late, often, and don’t really have a true weekend. Making sure I’m getting the right things done to move my business forward, and enjoy the flexibility I work so hard to have, is dependent on my organization skills.
So, I’m still obsessed with organizing chaos. And I need to find a planner for next year.
Finding The Right Planner
Before investing in a planner, ask yourself what you really need it for and write out how you will use it. Are you supplementing an online calendar? Are you looking for journal prompts? Do you want a space to take notes? Make sure you know what you need before you start looking, otherwise you will get overwhelmed and end up buying something that looks pretty, but may not do the job.
I know I need monthly layouts with space for goals and notes, enough space on each day do write out how I’m spending my time, and space each week for to do lists. I love having blank pages for notes, but that’s hard to find (I’m still looking for the perfect planner). I also enjoy goofy extras like maps and a page for budgeting, but again, I haven’t found a planner with all my desired bells and whistles.
Which Planner I’m Using
This year alone I used three different planners (see, just can’t find one): the UO Agenda, the Hobonichi Techo 2018 July to December, and Appointed’s 2018/19 Weekly Notebook Planner. I’m currently using the Appointed’s 2018/19 Weekly Notebook Planner, Google Calendar, and the TeuxDeux App on my iPhone, which I HIGHLY recommend. The discovery of the teuxdeux app has made my planner needs change drastically as I no longer have the fear of forgetting something I need to do because I can immediately put it in my phone in an organized way. This means I only write to dos down weekly and am able to move around my virtual to dos to days I can actually do them.
Planner Review Round-up!
Below, my sister, my friend Lisa, and I reviewed the planners we’ve used over the years. It is ridiculous. We’ve tried over 11 planners. And we still aren’t satisfied.
Take a look. I hope our reviews can help you in your planner search. If you have any reviews of your own, you can add them in the comments section or submit your own review. We need to know!
Size: 6.25" x 8"
Liked: I’m currently using this planner and I was drawn to it because of the small spiral (unlike the large spiral in the Happiness planner below). I like that there are month layout pages and the week layouts have margin areas where I can write in.
Disliked: I don’t like how there is no ribbon to keep my place. I also don’t like that the month pages are all throughout the book but don’t have any tabs to separate them. I put in little flags so I can find each month, but they aren’t labeled so it is still annoying. I also wish there was a notes section or some blank pages or that each page after the week page was just blank.
Who it’s good for: If you like to write stuff down and do monthly planning. If you have minimal daily notes but some weekly notes you want to take. I like this, but I might try their larger Year Task Planner next year.
# of Pages: 192
Size: 8" x 5 1⁄2"
Liked: Looking back at this planner, I actually liked a lot about it. It has month layout pages all up in the front, so you can do some big picture planning. I like the leather cover and the color (I had the Key West Turquoise one). It is a good size -- not too big, not too small. There pages in the back for Notes. And, there’s a whole map section, Area Codes section, and International Dialing Codes section. Crazy!
Disliked: I did not like how there’s not much space for each day to actually write out anything. I found myself just ignoring all the lines, which is fine, but also probably why I decided to try something new the next year.
Who it’s good for: This is perfect if you want something that looks and feels super nice that you can keep on a desk to reference things, like the area code in Turkey. But, I won’t recommend this for someone who wants to use it to write daily schedules or notes. Not enough space.
Size: 8.27"x 5.83"
Liked: I was very into this planner when it came out. I love the passion roadmap section in the front and I’m happy to report I actually created the dream life I imagined back in 2015, more or less. I like the ribbon to keep my place. I liked the month layouts which have a section for ‘focus’ and top priorities for personal and work projects. I also liked the personal and to-do lists on the weekly layouts. I enjoyed the time breakdowns in the weekly/daily view. I also liked the today’s focus areas at the top of each day. I also enjoyed the monthly reflection section.
Disliked: I didn’t like that I couldn’t fold the planner in half because it is bound. I also wished there were more notes pages (there are 20 pages dotted and 20 plain), but I actually didn’t use all the pages up so maybe there are enough pages. Maybe I really liked this one and I should get it again? Oh! I don’t like the covers. The black one is boring and the new colored covers have goofy embossed designs on them and I don’t like them.
Who it’s good for: Someone who wants to focus on a goal and break it down and record the things they need to get done to make it happen. Someone who isn’t too picky about covers.
Size 7” x 9”
I liked the question pages at the front and all the things I could fill out about myself and my dream life. I loved the design look and feel. I like the cover and that it is spiral bound so I can fold it in half and it doesn’t take as much space up on my desk. I like that the personal and work goals are per week, not per day so you can write them once and not have to rewrite them the next day if you don’t get to it. The week reflections.
I had the journal which is a little different than the planner, and there isn’t much space for each day. I mostly just had floating things I was doing in the day, but didn’t break it down by time (which is actually really helpful for me). There was no month reflection, but again this was the journal. There is a month section in the planner version. I liked the week reflections, but sometimes it was too much. There’s no ribbon to keep my place. I did not like how large the spiral binding was.
Who it’s good for
If you want to fill in lots of things about yourself and do some guided journaling.
# of Pages: 160
Size: 11.9" x 8.4"
Liked: I loved how large this is and the year layout and month layouts. I love the project planning pages and I’m keeping this around specifically for when I need these.
Disliked: I hate how much space it takes up on my desk. When I’m working on the month layouts it is fine, but wheN I’m on the weekly layouts it was really annoying because I kept wanting to fold it in half and I could not. I also did not like that if I wrote out a to do and didn’t get to it, then I’d have to rewrite it somewhere else or move it. No ribbon to keep my place.
Who it’s good for: If you are really into planning and don’t over plan (so you don’t have to rewrite things). If you want to layout projects and see things big picture. If you have a large desk and don’t care if this takes up a big portion of it.
$ Price Various
Liked: I really liked how each day was a new page. I liked the idea of the size. I liked the todo section at the top of each page and the time layout section (and that the hours in the day went to 3am haha). I liked the month layouts. I also really liked the yearly index pages. The quotes, but I couldn’t actually read them because they were in Japanese.
Disliked: I disliked how small it is. I know! I like the size but I just needed more space to write. I also didn’t like how I had to rewrite all the todos over and over again each day. There’s also no ribbon to keep your place. If you are learning Japanese (the one I got was in Japanese). They also have on in English, which I would recommend. https://www.1101.com/store/techo/en/2019/all_about/planner/about04.html
Who it’s good for: Someone who wants a really small journal or daily pages to make notes or draw. I may still use this to draw.
Size 7.9 x 5.5
Liked: I bought this impulsively at a museum in Barcelona. I really like the cover designs I love how everything is in Spanish. I liked the month layouts and the monthly reflection-type questions. It also has a budget section and areas to write in your trips, which I like.
Disliked: I did not like how there was not much space for each day, but it looks like the new one has a page for each day. It’s also a bit on the heavy size, though not too heavy.
Who it’s good for: If you want something pretty on your desk and minimal monthly reflections. Also, if you want to practice Spanish.
Review by Lisa Rowan. Check her out.
# of Pages: 280
Size: 6" x 8.5"
Liked: I love that it encourages you to plan both tasks and goals for the year, month, and week. Another plus is the daily view that’s split into three parts (morning, afternoon, and evening) so you can look at your day in sections instead of in half-hour or hourly bits.
Disliked: It gets heavy to lug around, especially if you shove tons of notes and papers into it like I do.
Who it’s good for: People who write every little detail in their paper planner, including that ever-growing list of books to read. (My list of books I read this year gets tracked in this planner, too!)
Reviews by Valerie Echeveste. Check her out.
Size: 10” x 8"
Liked: A great planner with plenty of space to write in both the monthly and weekly pages. ‘Month’ pages are separated by the ‘week’ pages in between and tabs help you easily find each month. Each weekly view is a 2-page spread so you have plenty of room to write to-dos and appointments for each day. But, I ended up re-writing to-do’s each day, since there was no blank space to write to-do’s for the whole week. There are a few different cover designs, but all have a bright & bubbly vibe. This planner comes with lots of stickers to mark things like birthdays, hair appointments, parties etc. and is filled with positive quotes & fun art throughout.
Disliked: While I loved the positive vibes from this journal, it could sometimes be distracting. The binding rings were also too large!
Who it’s good for: Someone who wants their planner to be super fun & positive.
Note: They also have this in a smaller size called medium.
Size: 3.5” X 5.5”
Liked: This planner was simple and got the job done. Each week had a 2-page spread with sections for separate days on the left and a blank lined- page on the right. This was perfect for accommodating day specific details and weekly lists and notes all in the same view. Loved the ribbon to find you place quickly & the elastic band to keep it closed!
Disliked: Despite each month having its own page the ‘day’ boxes were too small to write anything useful in! The simple design was a little too plain for me.
Who it’s good for: Someone who wants a no-fuss clean and simple planner.
Size: 5.25” x 8.25”
Liked: This planner is ‘scientifically-designed’ to increase your happiness. It guides you through mindfully planning your life with plenty of monthly, weekly and daily view pages. There are ‘plan’, ‘review’, ‘focus’ and ‘habit’ sections on all month pages to help you reflect and plan for the future. But these sections come at a cost- the day boxes on the month pages were too small to write much of anything in them. The ‘week’ pages guide you on intentionally planning your week with sections dedicated to ‘last week review’, ‘goals,’ ‘projects (4 boxes), and specific ‘work,’ ‘relationship,’ ‘personal’ and ‘friends’ boxes. The ‘day’ pages are 2 page spreads with plenty of room for even more detail for each day’s priorities and a vertical hour by hour section.
Disliked: Some may think there are too many prompts and spaces to fill out. While I wanted to love this planner and use it as a journal too- it became too overwhelming for me since I didn’t have enough time to fill out every ‘day’ page. I felt like I was just wasting paper.
Who it’s good for: Someone who is looking for a guided journal and planner all in 1.
Size: 7.5" x 9.5"
Liked: This planner has a simple design that’s great for keeping your mind clear. Each month has a 2-page spread so you’ll have plenty of space to write in each ‘day’ box. Each month starts with a page to write your goals, then the weekly pages are between each monthly spread. The 2-page weekly spreads have separated ‘day’ sections on the left page and an open notes section, ‘priorities’ section and ‘tasks’ sections on the right page. It’s an awesome planner for setting weekly goals without having to re-write them every day. Honestly the closest to perfect planner I’ve ever used.
Disliked: No frills design may make you miss your planner with motivational quotes and stickers...
Who it’s good for: Someone looking for a simple & elegant planner with plenty of space to write in!