Selecting the perfect planner–the right format, size, layout–can be a fraught experience. Here to simplify that process is Laurie Huff, the guru behind plannerisms.com. In this 3-part series, she’ll walk us through how to choose the best planner for you.
We know: online calendars abound! But an electronic device simply can’t replicate the tactile joy of holding a book, turning the pages, and putting pen to paper. There are also numerous advantages of using a paper planner. Studies have shown that the act of writing helps people remember what they have written even if they never look at it again. And, the archival properties of a book are superior to electronics. We can read books hundreds of years after they were printed. Have you tried recently to access data on a floppy disc? What about that website you used to read until it went all 404 on you? Books have a tangible permanence that electronics can’t replicate.
The purpose of a planner is to help keep you in control of your life. Everyone’s needs are different, and your planner can be anywhere from basic—simply scheduling appointments—to complex. Ideally your planner should be your life management tool. Tasks, goals and projects are much more likely to be completed if they are written in your planner where you will see them often. Students can use their planner to track assignments, papers, exams and homework so that everything gets completed on time. Parents with kids in school can write everyone’s schedule and recurring events into your planner so you always know who has to be where and when. Other functions of a planner include tracking everything from finances and expenses to health matters like exercise, diet, blood pressure and weight. Your planner can also be your creative outlet for journaling and art.
With all these planner uses, how can you possibly decide what planner will work best for you? Here’s where to start:
There are three main types of planner formats: daily, weekly or monthly. Each format provides different perspectives on your time. Below is some advice to help you decide if you would best benefit from the large overview of the monthly, schedule view of the weekly, or lots of details with the daily.
Let me walk you through the three main types of formats and ways to use each.
Daily: Daily planners, diaries, or day-per-page planners allow you to focus on each day. The downside of these planners is it can be difficult to plan ahead with only two days visible at a time, so if you use one as your planner I highly recommend combining it with a monthly planner.
Daily planners are excellent for people who have lots of appointments each day, or who want to record details such as phone calls, expenses, tasks, or other information. Some of my favorite daily planners are the Quo Vadis Journal 21 and Daily pocket (which have built-in monthly planning calendars), and the Moleskine daily planners. Shop all our daily planners here.
Weekly: This is the most popular format of planners because it allows you to see your entire week at once and plan your schedule easily. There are various weekly formats including week + notes, such as the Leuchtturm Weekly Planner, horizontal like the Quo Vadis Hebdo, or vertical (days as columns) like the Moleskine Large Vertical Weekly Planner. I will compare these different formats later in a separate post.
Weekly formats are good for most planner situations because they allow for detailed daily planning while giving the overview of the week. Shop all our weekly planners here.
Monthly: There are planners that have monthly-only formats. If you don’t have much to write each day and prefer an overview of your month, the monthly planner is perfect for you. Alternatively, you could use a separate monthly planner along with your weekly or daily planner to have the books open side by side to see the monthly overview alongside your weekly or daily activities. Some examples of this are the Moleskine Monthly Notebook and the Quo Vadis Visoplan #67. Shop all our monthly planners here.
Monthly calendars are best for seeing overviews of things like bills due, travel, holidays, deadlines, and seeing patterns over a period of weeks.
So to summarize:
To record lots of details of your days, you’ll want a daily planner »
For most planning needs, a weekly planner will probably work well for you »
For long-range planning or if you don’t have many appointments, use a monthly planner »
In my next post, I’ll help you determine what size planner you need!
Meet the Writer: Laurie Huff tests, reviews and designs planners at Plannerisms.com. Over the years she has tried dozens (hundreds?) of planners in search of the “Perfect Planner,” and on Plannerisms she helps others find planners that work well for them. When she’s not writing about planners, she spends every moment she can in the forests of Scotland. Laurie enjoys science and nature, hikes with her family, and reading books by the fireplace.