This post was highly requested, which makes me so happy because I live for nerdy stuff like this. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about planners, notebooks, school and office supplies, stationery…I can truly say it is a passion. It feels like I have been searching for the perfect planner for my whole adult life. I even wrote an entire post dedicated to one of my planners a few years ago. When I finished my master’s degree program and was working at Oxford University Press, my friend Savannah and I dreamed up business plans to design and sell custom planners that would be “the perfect” planner to fit anyone’s needs, but we never went through with it. Now those businesses are BOOMING. Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. We could be millionaires by now! 🙂
There are so many types of planners out there that it can be overwhelming, even for someone who enjoys doing the comparison shopping. Common issues I’ve run into in the past include: 1. The planner is too basic and I need more distinction on where to put things and organize my life. 2. The planner has items on it that I don’t find useful, like a space for detailing workouts when I just like to remind myself to actually exercise. Another example is when the planner goes ahead and pre-fills to do lists for me. I’LL DECIDE. 3. The planner has way too much going on and I eventually feel like a failure because I can’t keep all of the spots and boxes filled. If you are super Type A like me, you feel my pain. Another issue for me is that since I’m a teacher, I also do a lot of lesson planning and internship coordinating; it’s really difficult to find a planner that can keep school and personal life in one place without being TOO MUCH or too geared towards elementary school teachers (I have still not found a perfect planner for this). I need lots of space for notes, and most planners only have a few pages. I need a nice paper quality so my pen glides easily over it and my handwriting looks nice. I need a spot for to-do lists as well as space for appointments and responsibilities throughout the day. I need empty space or a designated space each week to plan dinners for the week or make random lists. I HAVE NEEDS. At least I am up front about it.
No matter what type of planner you are, I’ve got you. As usual, I’ve done the research so you don’t have to! I’m laying out the options and giving my personal opinions – but of course I understand more than anyone that a planner is a personal choice for what fits you best! I’ve included the most simple for the laid back gals, all the way to the most intense for the crazy ladies like me.
- Kate Spade: I didn’t even know Kate Spade made planners until I started researching for this post. The 17 month planner is super basic and has…you guessed it…17 monthly spreads. I don’t know how you crazy people LIVE LIKE THIS, but it also has 48 notes pages which is a definite plus. The mega 17 month planner is way more up my alley. What I really like about this one is the monthly planning page that includes a to-do list, any important dates, anniversaries/birthdays, etc. for the upcoming month. This just has lined spaces for all the days – no space for notes or to-do lists on the weekly spreads.
- Lilly Pulitzer: Okay, I actually love these planners. I have had 2 or 3 in my lifetime and a planner repurchase is saying a lot for me. There’s just something about the fun and playful vibrant prints, the stickers that come with it, even the coordinating fonts (I am VERY particular about fonts). I’m a pretty neutral gal when it comes to fashion, so I like to make a statement with a pop in my accessories. Does a planner count as an accessory? Hell yes it does. The Weekly To-Do Undated Planner has a gold spiral and gold vertical elastic closure, 12 undated monthly pages, 52 undated weekly pages with notes sections at the bottom, 22 note pages which is impressive, and a page to write down dates to celebrate. No muss, no fuss. The daily spaces are lined and it measures 8 3/4″W x 11 1/4″H. The 2020-21 Large Agenda – 17 Month is, obviously, a longer time commitment and that makes me a bit nervous since I like to change planners and start fresh pretty often because of who I am as a person. Still, this is the planner I have gotten in the past and loved it. You can join the mailing list to be notified when the new planners will be released so you’re not buying one that’s already halfway useless. This one runs August 2020 through December 2021 and has weekly and monthly calendar pages, dates to remember, and note pages. Reinforced binding, front pocket, travel journal, and mylar monthly tabs. Measures 6 3/4″ x 8 7/8″.
- Vera Bradley: I don’t want to speak out of turn, but it looks like Vera tried to copy Lily or Lily tried to copy Vera. I don’t know which planner came first, but these are very similar to one another. The 17 Month Large Planner (sound familiar?!) has wood-free paper, a metal spiral, elastic-band closure, a pocket inside the front cover, a plastic snap-in bookmark, sticker sheet, monthly tabs, and celebration date/note pages. This one also has contact pages and a three years at-a-glance calendar, which is kind of nice if you know you have some big upcoming life events. It measures 7.25″ w x 8.75″ h x 1.25″ d. From what I can tell, the 17 Month Medium Planner and the 17 Month Jumbo Planner are both exactly the same except for size. The medium measures 6.5″ w x 7.75″ h x 1.25″ d, and the jumbo measures 8.75″ w x 10.25″ h x 1.25″ d. There’s also a 13 Month Student Planner that runs August to August and has all the same features (I like August to August planners since my life revolves around the school year). Vera Bradley also has an 18 Month Booklet Planner that has monthly spreads and weekly list spaces – but that is WAY too simple for me. I can’t imagine fitting an entire week into one vertical column. That’s living on the edge, people. This one has three holes to stick in a binder.
- Levenger Circa Weekly Planner: My friend Kelly loves her Levenger planner! She is super busy with work, and she loves that she can pull the pages out easily and rearrange them (like pages for meeting notes, etc.). They have a Vertical Format Agenda with monthly and weekly views, running from 8am-8pm with a small space for notes on each day. Then they have the Special Request Circa Weekly Agenda, that gives horizontal space for each day without the time slots. They have a letter size or a junior size, with free personalization and several styles to choose from. Another thing I like is that they sell additional notes or to do list page refills that you can stick right into the planner thanks to their disc system. Nice quality paper, start with whatever month you choose (or go undated), and at-a-glance calendars to help you plan into the future. These planners are really nice, and the whole site actually has some nice-looking office supplies, which you know I’m here for. Kelly said the Happy Planner is a good dupe at a lower price point, and it does seem like it! Here is an academic/teacher planner that only runs M-F, and here is a regular weekly planner (it’s a vertical format but you can put whatever you need in any of the boxes and make categories, which I kind of like). It has fun and colorful divider pages, and I don’t think you can see it in the image, but there is a small graph paper grid on the left next to each Monday where you can put notes, and blank lines on each monthly spread.
- Emily Ley Simplified Planner: I remember HAVING to have this planner for my birthday – maybe my 26th? My mom got it for me and it’s a great one. Emily Ley and Erin Condren are THE names I think of when I think of pretty and functional planners. Smart and successful ladies that went with their dreams! The Daily Simplified Planner has a nice space for each day’s agenda starting at 6am and ending at 9pm, a to do list space for each day, and a notes space for each day. The only downside for me is that my day starts before 6am during the school year, so if I wanted to log a morning workout or something, I wouldn’t be able to. Not that I’m doing that a ton, haha, but IT’S MY RIGHT TO HAVE THAT SPACE TO WRITE IT WITH A QUESTION MARK AT LEAST. I’m a little particular about agendas with time slots already in them. I am who I am. They also have a Weekly Simplified Planner, and Monthly Simplified Planner which is very similar to the Kate Spade monthly planner – really simple and basic. The Teacher Planner is honestly really close to being perfect for my needs. Erin Condren makes a Teacher Planner as well (reviewed below) which is really lovely and thorough, but I always feel like these are just more geared towards teachers of younger ages, which can be frustrating. For example, most of them have several spots for different subject areas, whereas I only teach 3 periods a day and sometimes I only teach 2 different classes – sometimes 3, but never more than that.
- Erin Condren: Such an empire here. Lovely, lovely planners that have thought of so many things, with customization and personalization features. There is even a Parent Planner to keep all your family stuff in order – but that’s a little much for me right now and not something I need. Andrew got me the coveted Coiled Teacher Planner a couple years ago and it was so wonderful! Space for contact logs, planning out your year by month, monthly spreads, birthdays in your class each month, stickers, weekly lesson planning, you name it. There are even pages for drawing in seating charts or leaving notes for the sub. Again, a lot of these things are probably more helpful for an elementary school teacher, but I still loved mine and used it until the end of the year! For personal use, there is the epic Life Planner that I also love the look of. With these planners, you pay more, but you’re paying for the little details that make a difference to people like me! The life planner has 4 different weekly spread design options, monthly quotes, monthly notes & productivity pages, extra note pages, a folder, stickers, and a snap-in ruler. The Daily LifePlanner has all of those things, but a separate page for each day rather than a weekly spread. Each day has a schedule space from 6am-7pm, a to-do list space, and a blank space for whatever you need. It comes as a set of 2 for each 6 months – not sure how much I like that. There’s also a simple and basic but pretty monthly planner, and a vegan leather Focused Planner for goals and intentions with regular planning capabilities as well. Erin Condren also has a Daily Wellness planner, but it is currently out of stock (it says coming soon!). It looks really nice except there’s nowhere to actually keep your plans and daily happenings, so you’d have to use something else for that (which to me defeats the whole point). It also seems to be heavily focused on food and exercise, which is less important to me personally.
- Bullet journal: I started keeping a bullet journal in November and just finished the last spread of my first one a couple of weeks ago. My friend Tori had told me I needed to get with the times and start using a digital calendar a while back, haha! So I did start keeping things in my iPhone calendar, but I still missed having a place to write! Lists, to-dos, reminders, meeting notes, etc. This is the pack of 2 I purchased after doing a bunch of searching online – I wish there had been a pink and brown pack, but alas, I had to get the pink and black. I liked the table of contents in the front, the numbered pages, and that there were two ribbons for keeping important spots. That way, if you use it for planning, you can separate that section from something else. I loved using this and will continue to use one! I did weekly spreads and lists, meeting notes, etc. It was great to always have handy! If you’re not familiar with bullet journaling, just go to Pinterest and search it. Some people are SO creative and make the most beautiful spreads. I really enjoy doing this and even got stencils and special pens – I told you, I live for this stuff. Andrew made fun of me because I bought a pen pouch! It’s not a planner already; you make it into whatever you need. So if you want to make monthly spreads, habit trackers, book lists, mood trackers, weekly plans, daily to do lists…you just create it! It can be as simple or as detailed as you want. The big thing about bullet journaling is that the pages are dotted, so you have space to make lines, shapes, drawings, graphs, or write with precision – which I appreciate.
- The Home Edit for Day Designer Academic Daily/Monthly Planner: My friend Lindsay got this for me as a gift when I picked back up with blogging, which was so thoughtful! It’s pretty epic, with a daily spread that includes space for appointments, to-do list, top three things for each day, notes, and “everything else,” which I love the freedom of. At the end of each month, there’s a space for things you accomplished and things you still need to focus on. It has goal-setting pages, monthly reflections, and monthly organizing worksheets. Comes with a plastic clip-in ruler/bookmark, stickers, and a storage pocket. The dimensions are 10.16 Inches (L), 9.49 Inches (W) and the cover of mine is pretty and colorful stripes, but this one is the only cover I could find in this bigger size.
- Day designer for Blue Sky: This is a 21-22 daily & monthly academic calendar. I love that each day has its own spots for gratitude, top three things, appointments, to-do, etc. so everything for your day can be in one place. It has 12 months of monthly & daily pages, and 3 bonus monthly pages. Monthly view offers previous and next month reference calendars for long-term planning, and a notes section for important projects, and the daily calendar view offers vertical space for hourly planning (6am – 8pm), a separate checklist column for your daily to-dos, extra planning sections for your week’s top 3, notes and more. Yearly calendar planner includes stickers, interior storage pocket, snap-in bookmark, list of holidays, reference calendars and extra notes pages. Printed on high quality paper with durable covers and tabs. This one includes all the same things, but for the entire week rather than each day. Perfect if the whole day spread gets your armpits a little spicy. I love the palm leaves print.
- Deluxe 2021-2022 Dated Teacher Planner: Obviously this one is specifically geared towards my teachers out there! My friend Lauren found a great dupe for the Erin Condren planner on Amazon at half the price. I asked what she loves about it and she said, “It’s laid out just like EC which I like. The layout for the days are vertical which I really enjoy. The checklist is spaced nicely. Comes with subject stickers. Literally half the price of EC.” It measures 8.5″x11″, has tabs, stickers, a pocket sheet, and a bookmark. It runs August 2021 – August 2022. Has planning pages for 52 weeks. 5 days across the top and 7 periods or subject areas down the side (for high school, I would combine 2 for each prep and then have a free row for whatever else). There are 14 log pages for grades/attendance. High quality and durable to last the entire school year. Monthly Calendar Planning Pages, Weekly Calendar Planning Pages, Student List, Communications Log, Yearly Overview Plan, Daily Schedule Charts, Seating Charts and Grids, Log for Grades and/or Attendance, and Notes Pages. There are other cover options as well: Seaside watercolor, spring floral (undated), pink marble triangles (undated). The only downside is that this doesn’t have weekend spaces, so it would be hard to use as a personal planner in addition to using it for school.
- Panda planner pro for happiness & productivity: The story here is pretty cool! “Scientific approach to productivity & happiness – overwhelmed by the symptoms of Lyme disease, traumatic brain injury and cancer, our founder turned to the proven Research of positive psychology and neuroscience and created a system to get his life back on track.” Lots of spaces here to keep track of. Each daily spread includes a schedule from 6am-9pm, a small space for notes, daily gratitude, affirmations, habit, excitement, focus, exercise, to-do list, top 5 priorities, wins, improvements. That’s a lot for me, but it might be perfect for others! There’s a sheet for review and reflection after each week, as well as monthly spreads that include goal-focused planning.
- Passion Planner: I love the options here. You can go weekly or daily undated, academic calendar or January-January, different sizes, and lots of covers. I loved this planner for a long time and was a loyal, dedicated user. I started to get overwhelmed with it because I really wanted to “keep up” with it, and I felt like it had too much going on for me. It’s really similar to the Panda Planner (not sure which came first) and has lots of productivity and “help your life be better” tactics and places to document gratitude, highs, lows, plans, goals, places to go, people to see, things to learn, inspirational quotes, etc. There is A LOT going on with this planner. Each week has a large blank space for whatever you need – to-do lists, grocery lists, reminders, etc. Passion Planner is a woman-owned company, and $1 for every planner sold benefits Malala Fund, one of the world’s most prominent education nonprofits whose mission is to work for a world where every girl can learn and lead. Honestly, a big downside for me for both the Passion and Panda planners is that they just aren’t very pretty on the inside. That may sound silly, but if you’re like me, you get it. I am looking for color, design, pretty fonts, etc.
- To-Do List and Daily Planner: This is more of a productivity and wellness planner, and I actually REALLY love the layout of this one because it is able to fit so much that I would use on one page. It keeps it simple but still manages a lot at once. I love the clean design, fonts, and small splash of color, and the fact that it’s undated so you can use it whenever you want. The drawback would be that there’s no monthly spread to keep track of events happening when you don’t need to use a sheet for a full day, so it’s difficult to look ahead at plans unless you pre-date everything. Each page/day has a spot for gratitude, a to-do list with a priority focus, a blank square for notes or doodling, a space for several appointments/events, spots to write in your meals for the day, exercise, and a water intake tracker. Each page also has a motivational quote – I love that because sometimes I like to put them up for my students!
- The Self-Care Planner: Very similar to the previous planner, except is has more features for wellness and mental health. I also love that this one does have a monthly spread each month with a self-care challenge (so you can plan out monthly without having to date each day). It includes spaces for meal planning, fitness, sleep, mood, goals, reflections, gratitude, etc. The daily pages have a spot for self care, a place for the weather, a schedule spot from 6am-7pm and then “evening,” a to-do list, space for a top goal, gratitude, exercise, meals, and a water tracker. I really like this one.
- Finally, Bloom Planners: This is a regular monthly and weekly planner that includes life coaching pages throughout. Bloom is a female founded small company that gives back. They practice Conscious Capitalism, the idea that businesses should be a force for positive change in the world, and have donated over 3 million dollars in products/funding to charities in need.
If you’re looking at Target or somewhere in-store, you can always peruse and find a simple planner that you like, but they typically won’t have the more detailed planners to fit all of your needs if you’re anything like me. Target carries a bunch of different types, but their Blue Sky Planners are really nice for a basic planner. Here is one that comes in letter sized or a smaller size, with weekly and monthly basic spreads. It seems like there’s only 1 note sheet, but has a spread for contacts, important dates, and yearly goals.
Now I know, I know – you’re wondering which one is my favorite, which one do I recommend, etc. But like I said before, choosing a planner is personal. What’s great for me may be totally wrong for you. I’ve compared several for you so you can make your best, most informed decision. I hope you find something you like in this post, or at least get to see some of the different options out there that are tailored to your needs until you find your perfect planner. My hunt is always on, but writing this post helped me get closer, too! Thanks for your trust in me for this huge responsibility, haha! I don’t take paper products lightly. If my friend Savannah and I ever get to building our planner empire, you’ll hear it here first 😉
As always, any direct links to Amazon products in this post might pay me a small commission if you click and purchase. I would never steer you wrong!