How to Pick the Perfect Planner

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One of the best things about the new year is that you can start of with a fresh new planner.

But with so so many great choices it is really hard to narrow it down to just one.

However, using too many planners or one that doesn’t work for you can actually hinder your productivity instead of improve it.

So, here are some tips on choosing the perfect planner for your needs.

stack of 3 planners

How Do You Use Your Planner?

The first step in picking the perfect planner is to reflect on how you actually plan to use it. Here are some questions to give you food for thought.

  • Do you mostly use the calendar app on your phone and use a paper planner to supplement it?
  • Or are you truly old school and love using the paper planner full time?
  • Do you take your planner with you on the go or keep it at home or work on your desk?
  • What information do you record in your planner – just appointments or do you use it as a journal as well?
  • Do you use time blocking to map out your day?

Write down the answers to these questions and then, as you evaluate different planners you can make sure they tick all the boxes.

What Planner Layout Makes Sense for You?

planner open to page in hourly layout

Choosing the right planner layout is the key to improving your productivity.

Common layouts include:

  • 2 pages per week,
  • 2 pages per day,
  • 1 page per day, and
  • monthly.

Withing these layouts there can be different formats, like

  • hourly,
  • horizontal, and
  • vertical.

For example, I really like to time block my day – so an hourly layout makes a lot of sense for me.

What Size Planner Works for You?

hobonichi weeks planner

Size is also important when picking the perfect planner.

If you take your planner on the go, then you want something portable that is not too bulky.

Think about your handwriting as well. If your writing is large and loopy, like mine, then you will benefit from a larger size planner. But if your handwriting is small, then a pocket size planner (like the Hobonichi Weeks or the Erin Condren Pocket Planner) might make better sense for you.

Think About the Binding

spine of a spiral bound planner

Consider the binding style when choosing your planner.

Common options are

  • spiral or coiled,
  • softbound,
  • binder style, or
  • disc-bound.

Each has its advantages – a disc-bound or ring binder version makes it easy to add and remove pages.

A softbound style is less bulky and will often lie flat when open.

And a spiral or coiled bound planner takes up less desk space because you can flip it open to just one page visible on top.

What Planners Have You Used In the Past?

Another way to hone in on your perfect planner is to evaluate the ones you used in the past.

What did you like and what didn’t work out for you?

One planner that I used in the past and really wanted to love was the Erin Condren Daily Duo – you can read my review here.

In fact, I do love it – tried it twice in both the regular size and the A5 – but it is just not right for me. So, that one was not on my short list of planners for the new year.

Sometimes we like the idea of a certain planner so much that we keep trying to make it work, even though it doesn’t.

This year, break free of that thinking. It is not you who is using the planner wrong – it is the planner that is wrong for you.

With so many choices out there, you are bound to find one that works with the way you think.

Which Planner Excites You?

Finally, there is something to be said about the excitement factor when it comes to choosing a planner.

Two years ago, I used an Erin Condren 8×11 softbound Life Planner in the hourly layout. But I didn’t choose that style last year – and I sorely missed it.

At the end of last year I purchased one for the year ahead – and I could not wait for the year to turn so I could crack it open and start planning.

I was excited! And that feeling made me realize that this is the right planner for me to use this year.

Why More Than One Planner Is Bad for Productivity

I know that lots of people use more than one planner.

In fact, I used to do it too. You can see my planner stack from 2020 right here and my planner stack from 2023 right here.

But when I used more than one planner, I found was that I spent more time planning and less time doing.

I also found myself writing the same item down multiple times in all the different planners I was using.

As a result, I would forget where I wrote things down, and I was never confident in my schedule because I wasn’t sure if I recorded a time commitment in another place.

Of course, some people can use multiple planners effectively because they are good at compartmentalizing their lives. Thus one planner for each area works well.

For me, I have decided to stick with 2 online platforms (one for work and one for business) and ONE paper planner that I can use to map out my time each day and keep track of my daily to do’s.

My word for the new year is ACTION so I don’t want to spend more time than necessary on planning.

Have You Picked Your Perfect Planner?

The perfect planner for me will be different than the ideal one for you.

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the right one:

  • layout
  • size
  • binding
  • trial and error
  • and excitement.

I would love to hear about the planner that you are using and why you chose it. Please leave me a comment below.

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