How to choose the best paper planner for you

Overwhelmed with trying to  choose the best paper planner?  Don’t be.  Planners can be a mom’s best friend, and if you ask yourself these 6 questions you can feel confident in your purchase when it’s time! 

woman writing in planner with text overlay how to choose the perfect planner for you.

There’s a lot of different opinions when it comes to planners.

Honestly, I was always hooked to my planner in college but after I graduated I let them go for awhile, it just didn’t seem like I needed a planner anymore.

Fast-forward 3 kids, a small business, and other side hustles and I’m proudly back in the planner game…

And I think EVERYONE  should be regardless of how much you have on your plate.

A planner really helps to bridge the gap between what you want to get done, and what you actually get done when left to your own devices (cause I don’t know about you but natural me is pretty lazy)

Paper planners vs electronic planners

I am a paper planner for life. 

Right now I feel like we’re in a little bit of a transition phase. 

We have all of these tools to help make us more productive.  They are awesome and shiny and seem like they are going to solve all of our problems. 

But the BIGGEST problem with these tools? 

They are on our phones…and our phones are like the biggest productivity sucker known to man. 

So using a tool that lessens productivity to improve productivity? Probably not going to be as effective as you think. 

This is why I’m old school and will cling to my paper planner until I die. 

It took me a long time to find a paper planner that covered all of my needs though. In fact, what I finally settled on was a custom-made planner designed by me to fit my needs exactly. 

If you would be interested in an episode or maybe even a mini course on creating your own planner, please let me know and I’d be happy to share. 

But for now, we’re just going to discuss what you should consider when finding the perfect paper planner for you. 

Let’s dig into 6 questions to ask yourself as you look for the best paper planner. 

What are your goals for your planner?

This was one thing that I didn’t really consider when I first started planning. I’d pick out the one with the cutest cover and then I’d be good to go. 

But recently, I’ve really discovered the power of putting every single goal I have into my planner.  It’s honestly more of a goal journal and planner mixed, and it’s a game changer. 

I honestly got the idea of putting EVERYTHING I’m working on in one place when bullet journals started getting really popular a few years back. I tried that for awhile, but I’m definitely not crafty and while many of the bullet journal lovers found joy in designing and drawing out their pages it seemed super repetitive and like a waste of time for me so it didn’t work out. 

…but creating a custom planner that did essentially the same thing as a bullet journal DID work for me (and I created it electronically because, not artsy, remember?)

Anyway…the point here is that there are so many different kinds of planners out there.  What do you need yours to do? Do you just want a place to write down appointments?  Do you want accountability for your habits and habit tracking?  Do you want to use it as self-care and include gratitude or journal prompts or do you just need a simple calendar? 

Determining your goals is the first step to picking the best paper planner for you. 

Have lots of goals: Try the Bloom Daily Planner

What size of planner best fits your needs? 

The next thing to consider is what size planner will best fit your needs.  I remember when I was in college I always had those cute little 6×8 planners.  They were super convenient to carry around but I was always having the hardest time fitting everything I needed to in there! 

I remember one day a friend sitting next to me pulled out a full-fledged 8×10 planner.  Whoa! I had no idea those even existed and I think I went and bought myself one the next day.  It made a huge difference!  I’m still using a large 8×10 paper planner to this day. 

…but because large and in charge works for me, doesn’t mean it will be best for you. Maybe you like the subtly of a small planner or the ability to keep it in your purse and have it with you all the time (I’m still at the phase of life where my diaper bag is my purse so fitting a large planner isn’t really a problem)…but I hope that phase will end eventually. 

Big or small one of the planner below may be the best paper planner for you! 

If you like large planner try this one: Spiral-bound 8×10 weekly planner

If small is more your planner try this pocket planner: 2021 Pocket Planner

How do you like to organize your day?

This is one of those interesting questions that totally changes depending on your stage of life.  Now that I have kids I feel like the whole day is segmented based on meals, snacks, and naptimes so I like to schedule my day using blocks. 

Block scheduling has become very popular for moms (I have even used it for my kids check out this past episode about flexible block scheduling with kids)

Although I like block scheduling, I also like a few specific areas as well.  So in my planner I have the day split up into blocks, but I’ve also added a section for dinner plans, meal prep tasks that need to be done that day, and appointments (because I prefer to lump all of my appointments together so they don’t get forgotten like they might if they were split up into blocks)

So my planner is a little bit of a mixture. 

What do you like? 

Do you like to plan hour by hour?  Are you fine with a big open space to fill in however you want to? Do you want a spot for everything you might need or don’t want to forget?  All of these things are nice to consider as you choose what kind of planner you want. 

If you like block scheduling like me, try this: The time-blocking planner

Are you artsy or more minimalist?

If you need a little extra motivation for planning and you like color or art or stickers, then you might want to get a fun and creative planner.  Or maybe get a normal or minimalist planner and jazz it up with stickers of color-coded markers.  

If you simply want to get things done and don’t want extra time or fluff, then a more minimalist approach will probably be right for you. 

If you’re artsy: Try these stickers or markers

If you’re more minimalist: Try this minimalist planner

What different views do you need? 

This was a big one for me to discover.  Most planners have monthly and weekly views, but did you know some planners  have daily views?  It turns out my best paper planner has all 3 views as I use them all for different things.  I like the monthly view for adding big things and events and having a general overview of my month.  I use weekly views for more specific scheduling, and daily views is where I do most of my journaling, goal analysis, and self- care.  

So adding in daily views made a huge difference for me! 

One problem with daily views is that they make the planner much longer.  This means that you’ll have to buy a planner more often.  My planner right now is set up for 90 days, so I have to purchase them 4 times a year instead of just one.  It’s worth it to me to not have multiple notebooks and to have everything I need in one spot, but it’s definitely an expense to consider. 

If weekly and monthly views are fine for you, stick with that and it will be easier on your pocketbook. 

This planner is missing weekly pages, but will work for you if you think that montly and daily spreads will be enough: Erin Condren Planner

Do you want extra things or just space to plan?

I find that many of the extras in planners never get used.  Like are they still putting birthday calendars and spots for phone numbers in there? Because I think we can all agree we use our phones for that. 

I do find some extras useful though, and I always add a notes page and a t-do list page to each week.  The notes page is great for just dumping out whatever thoughts are in my brain, and the to-do list helps me keep general to-dos separate from the daily sections helping me keep the whole thing more organized. 

Other extras you could consider are habit trackers, finance trackers, gratitude lists, journal prompts, you name it! 

This definitely goes back to what we talked about in the beginning about knowing what your goals are.  Consider what your goals are and see if you can find a planner that can act as a tool to propel you forward towards those goals. 

Try this planner with habit trackers and goal setting: Habit tracking planner

Ultimately, you want to find a planner that fits into your life and is an easy extension of what you are already doing AND something that makes your life easier. 

I have tried so many systems of planning for myself and for my kids, and ultimately not all of them panned out.  That’s okay.  Sometimes you need a little trial and error to find what works, but don’t waste time trying to make something work that just doesn’t.  Re-consider your goals and try something else. 

I hope you’ve liked this episode on finding the best paper planner for you!. 

Next week we’re continuing with the planner theme, but we’re talking about all of my favorite electronic planning tools that I use in conjunction with my paper planner for my most productive mom life. 

Thanks for tuning in, I’ll catch you next week. 

Amanda

 

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