Learn how to look for the most useful planner for your lifestyle, not trendy preferences, based on date format, work-life balance, binding, and paper weight.
So the online shopping cart is full, and the Pinterest boards are stocked better than a whole store, but now it’s time to make dreams come true. All the appointments and meetings and soccer practices and school plays and 5am workouts…ok, so that one isn’t gonna happen… But this is your time to be more organized and less scatterbrained, so you’ve decided to buy a new paper planner and finally take control of your weekly schedule.
Buying a planner is a super personal decision, and based solely on YOU and how YOU live your life. Planners are not a one size fits all, and just because one works for the Mom that sits next to you at the PTA meetings doesn’t mean it’ll perfect your days, too. So in an effort to keep you from falling off the wagon before you even get started, I want to share a few tips on how to choose the best planner for YOUR lifestyle.
“Planners are not a one size fits all, and just because one works for the Mom that sits next to you at the PTA meetings doesn’t mean it’ll perfect your days, too.”
Consider your past relationships with planners.
I’m sure you’ve had planners in the past. Think about what you liked about ones you’ve used before, as well as what you didn’t like and what you thought they were missing. There are a ton of different planners on the market, so don’t feel like you have to be brand-loyal. It may be hard to nail down what you want in a planner, but it’s super easy to know what you don’t want.
Dated or Undated?
Ah, the great date debate! This is such a Backstreet Boys or N*SYNC argument, am I right? You’re either strongly for dated calendars or strongly against them. But just in case you aren’t sure yet, here’s the best way to decide:
In the past, did weeks go by when you didn’t even touch your planner? If so, it may be a good idea to go with an undated one. But if you’re diligent on keeping up with it, I highly recommend a dated planner.
Here’s why. A dated planner prevents you from forgetting things that happen in the distant future. Like that dentist appointment you’ll schedule for six months from now. Or your brother’s girlfriend’s birthday that won’t roll around again until next winter. Undated planners make this nearly impossible to keep up with unless you go through and date the whole thing first. And if you were planning on doing that, just save yourself the hour it would take and buy a dated one.
Separate or Blended Work and Home Life?
You have two options here. You can have one planner for work and one planner for home, or you can use one single planner for both. There’s no wrong answer here, because each option has pros and cons.
Pros: More space to write important details, less clutter on the pages, ability to stay in one frame of mind.
Cons: Keeping up with two planners at all times, accidental double-bookings and overlaps, potential for burning out on planners altogether and slacking off on both of them.
My Favorite Planners For Keeping Home And Work Separate: For personal calendars, I love the Erin Condren LifePlanner because it has tons of add-ins like Meal Planners, Fitness Trackers, and Dry-Erase Checklists. And for work calendars, I recommend the Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt and Co. It not only covers your workweek scheduling, but it helps you break down your goals and projects and create a roadmap to complete them on time.
Pros: Get the full picture of your entire day, keep one single to-do list, only one planner to carry with you.
Cons: Less writing space, potential for messy and cluttered pages, potential to be distracted easily.
My Favorite Planner For Blending Home and Work: Passion Planner. It has space on each weekly spread to prioritize work and personal to-do lists so it’s all together, but still separated. (Passion Planner generously offered my blog readers 10% off using promo code LELA10)
Does Binding Type Matter?
You may think this is silly, but the way your planner is bound really does matter. Some planners have coil binds, others are sewn, and others have a three ring binder like your junior high trapper-keeper.
Coil binds lay flat on a table so you can see the full week’s spread without pages flipping around and going haywire. You can often find some awesome clip-in accessories like page markers, dry erase lists, and storage pockets. But they also can cause damage to the stuff inside your purse and make writing close to the spine awkward.
Sewn binding creates a sleek book that is easy to carry and store in your handbag, plus writing on the full page is a breeze. But sometimes the binding can can apart, and you can’t add any extra pages or clip in accessories.
Clasping binds come in two, three, or five ring options depending on the size and style of the planner. This makes it super easy to add or remove pages, and you can usually order more pages for following years but keep the binder the same, so you’ll save money and time. But clasp-bound planners are often hard to write in, bulky to carry in your bag, and lack the design aspect that the others have.
Let’s Talk About Paper Weight
This is probably something you’ve never even thought about, but it’s SO important! Paper weight is what will ultimately make or break your willingness to keep using your new planner. Have you ever bought a planner, written on one page, had the ink bleed through to the back of the page, and realize that the only way to make it work is by using a pencil? Spoiler, your pencil smudged everywhere and made a big mess, leaving your planner in the trash and your vet appointment forgotten.
I recommend nothing less than 32lb paper. To put it into perspective, regular copy paper is 20lbs, and you can see through it if you lay it on top of another piece of paper that’s been written on. 32lbs and above are opaque enough that you won’t see through it at all.
The Passion Planner I mentioned above has 32lb paper, the Full Focus Planner has 60lb paper, and the Erin Condren LifePlanner has a whopping 80lb paper weight, meaning nothing will bleed through and your ink will always looks clear and amazing.
Time To Start Shopping!
Of course, choosing a planner is a very personal decision. I highly recommend that you do your research, read reviews online, and check out the Instagram page of a planner you’re interested in before you buy it. The IG page will have lots of advice, tutorials, and tips, as well as community reposts on customization.
The three I mentioned in this post are not sponsored, and they didn’t ask me to talk about them or highlight their features. I truly love and use or have used all of them, and they are my go-to recommendations for my clients. I’d love to invite you to check them out, and be sure to comment with your favorite planner brand, too!
Want More Planner Tips?
Once you get your brand spankin’ new planner, check out this post to learn how to set it up and create systems within it that will make you more organized than ever!