Wednesday, August 22

Finding a Planner that Works

Around this time of year I start to get frustrated with my planner. As we head into fall, sticky notes start to pile up at the end with reminders of things coming up next year that need to be written on pages I don't have.

So when I sat down to buy a new planner last week, I made the decision to get an 18 month planner this time - it will take me through December of next year and avoid the sticky note overload! Note to companies selling planners: why are planners sortable by color, but not by the number of months they cover or their format? 

As I poked around online, trying to find exactly what I needed, I was reminded of the many things I've learned the hard way about choosing a planner. I've decided to share them here in hopes they will save you time, money and headaches!

Hints & Tips on Selecting a Planner

1. Plan ahead... way ahead. Never leave buying a planner until yours is in its last days - it's a recipe for a rushed purchase you won't be happy with! If you don't have an 18 month planner, start looking for a new one no later than about July; once fall hits you're certain to start scheduling appointments and events into the new year. Don't waste time by writing them down and then having to transfer them later - just start writing them in directly on your new calendar!

2. Pick something that works for you. Calendars and planners come in a myriad of shapes, sizes and formats. One that fits your lifestyle and the way your brain works is worth it's weight in gold. If you really don't know what works for you, a little trial and error may be in order and that's okay. Ask around or read reviews online and see what other people like best/least about their planners; see what resonates with you and use it as a starting point. Don't invest lots of money in anything until you find what's comfortable. When you DO find what you want, though, don't settle for anything less! Note: life changes. While our personalities and brain patterns stay the same, what we're planning for on a daily basis may change. So if your planner system stops working, it's okay to look for something else better suited to this season of your life.

3. Colors count. If you use a planner/calendar that you carry around with you, I highly recommend buying something in a color that makes it stand out so you can quickly and easily find it! I also use colored paper clips or tabs (love those!) to make it easy to flip to specific points in the planner that I know I'll use often (addresses, the current week, reminders page, etc.).

4. Know what's worth paying for. There are scores of planner pages and calendar formats online that you can customize and print for free. Pinterest abounds with cute ideas for do-it-yourself alternatives to the big, (expensive) laminated wall calendars. You can buy planners that are undated and start wherever you are this minute. While cheap, and usually cute, most require serious time investment in looking up holidays, labeling pages and headings, printing, whole punching, etc. Know what your priorities are; count the hidden costs of time investment and inefficiency. It can feel wasteful to pay good money for a planner, but investing in the features and formats best for you will pay worthwhile dividends all year!

What kind of planner do you use?


  1. I have used busybodybook for a few years now,but they have gone out of business. I am finding that most planners are way too structured for me. So far, I'm out of options.

  2. I have been using Google Calendar for my planning, but sometimes I miss having things on paper, especially when I'm away from the computer. Thanks for this post.