There are a ton of things to consider when getting a planner, and it can be a little overwhelming with all the selection available. They come in a wide range of prices, sizes, layouts, styles—there is really something for everyone, including you! You just have to figure out which one is right for you.
Finding the right planner takes a bit of trial and error until you know your planning style well enough. Are you more into the functional or decorative aspect? Do you carry it around or does it stay on your desk? Do you have lots of timed appointments or lots of unscheduled tasks? All of these things—and more—should be considered when making your decision.
Personally, I like having a lot of planners, because I just love them, but if you aren’t planner-obsessed, you should be fine with just one, as long as it is the right one. Hopefully this post will help you get closer to finding The One.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in!
There are many factors to consider when choosing a planner, based on your preferences and how it will be used. These factors take the form of variations in size, binding, and layout.
Although planners come in all shapes and sizes, there are 3 major size “categories” that most planners fall into.
Large or A5 size planners are not the biggest planners available; it is possible to find some in letter or A4 size, but they are the most common larger size of planner. This type of planner is great if you like lots of room for writing or decorating, but portability is not as important to you. These make great desk planners.
Medium or Personal size planners are a little smaller than the Large ones (surprise, surprise), so they are great if you want some more portability but also need a fair amount of room to write or decorate.
Small or Pocket size planners are about as small as planners get, and they are definitely the most portable, but you don’t get as much planning space, depending on the layout of your pages.
The size of your planner is quite important in determining how you will be able to use it, such as where you can bring it and how much room you have to fill it, so take some time to consider your needs.
The way your planner is bound will also have an impact on its functionality for you. Do you want to remove pages? Do you want it to be compact? Here are some of the different types of binding.
Coil binding is quite a common type of binding for planners. It makes it easy to lay the planner open flat, or you can turn the pages all the way around for easier writing access. The coil can get in the way sometimes, though. Coil-bound planners generally have fixed pages, but some have covers and accessories that snap on to make it somewhat customizable.
Thread binding is another common type of binding, but it is less bulky than a coil, which makes it easier to carry around. This is great for throwing in your bag because it won’t get caught on things like a coil can. These pages are also fixed, though, so you can’t move them around as you please.
Disc binding is similar to coil binding, except that pretty much all the pages are removable, meaning you can change them around as you see fit. It also means you can take out the pages for the week you are working on and the binding doesn’t get in the way of your hand while you write. They aren’t necessarily the most durable for carrying around, though.
Ring-bound planners are the binder-style planners, which typically have a thick cover that protects the pages. The pages are also removable, as are dividers and other accessories, making them completely customizable. You can create different sections for different things, and use whatever inserts you like.
The type of binding will determine how flexible your planning system is as well as how durable and portable your planner itself is.
Next you’ll want to consider the layout of the pages inside the planner.
A horizontal layout is when the days of the week cascade down the page with horizontal boxes for each day. This is great for smaller planners or when you write out long descriptions of your tasks and appointments and need that horizontal space.
A vertical layout is when the days of the week go across the page, with vertical columns for each day. These columns are typically divided into boxes, making them great for sorting your day into times or categories. This is a good layout for a larger planner or when you have a lot of little tasks to be listed.
An hourly layout is similar to a vertical layout, generally, but instead of boxes, the day is divided into time increments. This is great when you have a lot of time-specific tasks and appointments or you want to track how you spend your time.
The planning layout will determine how your day is organized and divided up, so think about how you like to plan your day when deciding which layout to try.
There is another aspect of the layout to consider, and that it how the week appears on your pages.
Week-on-two-pages is a very common layout, where you can see your entire week when you open your planner, but you get all of that space for daily planning. This is great when you are using a small planner or when you need a lot of space to write or decorate each day.
Week-on-one-page is where you can see the entire week on one side of the page when you open your planner. The facing side might be the following week, or a blank page for taking notes. This is great when you want to save space by having fewer pages, or you like taking lots of notes that are not day-specific.
Day-on-one-page is not a weekly layout, but rather a daily layout. You get a whole page for each day (though sometimes weekends are grouped together). It is great if you need a ton of room for writing or decorating. It usually has space for lists, scheduling, tracking things, reminders, you name it!
The weekly or daily layout of your planner will determine how much space you have to write on each day and how much of your week you will see at a glance, so consider if you like to plan the whole week or just day-to-day.
Now that you’ve learned about some of the variations that planners can have, it’s time to put them all together. You can have a medium ring-bound planner with a horizontal week-on-two-pages layout, for instance. Here are a few of the planners I have used over the years (with mock layouts, for demonstration purposes).
This Moleskine planner is a medium, thread-bound, horizontal, week-on-one-page planner. It is very utilitarian and compact, with space for notes on one side and a small amount of space to write on each day. It comes in other layouts and sizes, but they are similarly portable and functional. Choose this planner if these things are more important for you than decoration.
THE HAPPY PLANNER
This Happy Planner is a large, disc-bound, vertical, week-on-two-pages planner. It has lots of room for writing or decorating on each day. It also comes in many other sizes, designs and styles, and you can buy lots of co-ordinating stickers and accessories. Choose this planner if you love decorating and lots of space for your daily to-do lists, but still want to see your week at a glance.
ERIN CONDREN LIFE PLANNER
This ECLP is a large, coil-bound, hourly, week-on-two-pages planner. It is good for keeping track of time-specific events and tasks. It comes in different colours and designs, and has an interchangeable cover. Choose this planner if you need to manage your time well and still want to see your week at a glance. (And if you are thinking of making your first purchase from erincondren.com, use my referral link for $10 off!)
This Filofax is a pocket-size, ring-bound, horizontal, week-on-two-pages planner. It is very small and portable, and can be customized with inserts and other pages. Choose this planner if you need to carry it everywhere and want to choose exactly what you store in it, like grocery lists and more.
This is actually a Carpe Diem planner with Day Designer inserts. It is a large, ring-bound, vertical, day-on-one-page planner. It has tons of writing space for each day and you can keep track of lots of things, like meal plans, goals, gratitude, etc. Choose this planner if you need a lot of room to write or decorate and you have both time-specific and general tasks or appointments each day. You can get these inserts as a free printable and use them in any binder you choose.
The bullet journal is a planning system that can be used in any notebook, journal, or inserts you choose. You can pick any size or binding, and create any sort of layout you like. You can even switch it up every month, week, or day. It is completely customizable. Choose this option if your needs vary from week to week or you like to set up your own layouts and get as creative or basic as you want.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing your perfect planner, and chances are you won’t get The One right away. Size and binding are fairly easy to figure out which will work best for you based on your needs for portability and flexibility, but the layout might be harder to guess.
My advice would be to download some free planner printables in different layouts and try them out before you commit to one. Or even draw out your own on some blank paper, if you like! Sometimes you can buy an old planner for the previous year at a huge discount, too, if you want to test it out first.
I hope this post has been helpful if you are in the market for a new planner. Let me know if you have any other advice for finding The One!