One of the most useful items you can have on hand is a planner, but with so many of them on the market many people struggle to pick just one. We’ve taken the liberty of going over the best planners on the market in order to bring you only those which we feel truly stand out from the pack. We feel The Simple Elephant is probably the best, it’s a highly organized daily planner with enough special features to keep even the most cynical occupied but at the end of the day it’s a personal choice.
Can you use a pen and pad? Sure, but why would you when you can grab one of the latest and greatest from those who’ve done the work for you? So, let’s jump into our top five planners for 2018, and then we’ll show you just how useful they can be.
If you’ve been looking for an excellent way to keep not just your schedule but your entire life organized then you’ll be well served with The Simple Elephant. There’s nothing remotely equivalent at anywhere near the same price.
Top 5 Planners
|1||The Simple Elephant||Non-Dated Traditional Bound Daily Planner||Check Price|
|2||AT A GLANCE Lacey||Letter Sized 2018 Wire-Bound Weekly Planner||Check Price|
|3||HARDCOVER Organizer||Memo Sized 2018 Spiral Bound Weekly Planner||Check Price|
|4||BookFactory 2018||Traditionally Bound 2018 Weekly Calendar||Check Price|
|5||AT-A-GLANCE Weekly||Master Planner||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Planner
The Simple Elephant
We fell in love with this one as soon as we took a look inside it’s relatively dull looking cover. Unlike many of the planners we looked at the detail and aesthetic here is contained within a relatively dull exterior package.
While the more business-minded may prefer something else, for the average person it’s got plenty of extras to offer. It comes with places for affirmations and mind maps, stickers so you can quickly see at a glance what’s going on in a given day, and a well-constructed cover.
The traditional binding is also a nice touch, placing this one head and shoulders above most of the competition which use less durable methods of keeping things organized.
The actual days are well-organized, although you’ll have to fill in the blanks yourself since it’s not dated, and has some space for you to think a bit more than usual about your week. There’s also plenty of space to make sure that you can include whatever you might need.
Pros and Cons
- Comes with a free sheet of stickers
- Extremely well organized
- Plenty of space for additional inspirational material and notes
- Well-constructed and bound
- A little bit too much “fluff” for a business planner
- Rather simple aesthetic
2. Best Letter Sized Planner
AT A GLANCE Lacey Professional Weekly/Monthly
At-A-Glance makes some of the most renowned planners, and the brand has stood the test of time for good reason: when it comes to something simple that maintains a great aesthetic they’ve got you covered.
This is a wire-bound planner, which comes in two sizes. We much preferred the letter sized in this case, but either is a respectable choice. While this model comes with a lacey, almost fractal flower design it’s pretty simple to find these planners in a wide variety of differing styles.
This one is simple and to the point: it gives you a column for each day and what you’ll be doing throughout the day. It also has generous space for notes and contact information for those professionals who find themselves needing them.
It does lack some of the “fluff” which we found attractive in our top pick, but it’s no slouch when it comes to organizing your life.
This tough, letter-sized planner is perfect for someone who wants a simple layout but wants to enjoy a unique look at the same time. The wire-bound spine is also a nice touch, as it means your planner is more likely to last the year despite some abuse.
Pros and Cons
- Unique, geometric aesthetic
- Easily organized interior
- Space for contacts and notes
- Wire-bound spine is protected by cover for more durability
- Strictly utilitarian apart from the artwork
- Cover feels a little bit cheap
3. Best Memo Sized Planner
HARDCOVER Organizer with BOOKMARK
The first thing we noticed about this planner was the cover. While the majority of planners are made of plastic and you’ll have to rely on the binding to protect things, this one has a thick cover. Like thicker than a quarter.
It also comes with a handy bookmark to mark the current day for easy use. Add in that it comes in a set with a journal and costs less than some of the premium brands out there and we found it to be an absolute winner.
This one is memo-sized as well, which combines with the superior cover to make a perfect “master planner” to take everywhere with you.
We really think the combined value of the set makes this one stick out, the planner itself would be a steal at this price.
Pros and Cons
- Extremely durable cover
- Comes with bookmark and journal included
- Great weekly layout
- Memo-sized for easy carry
- No notes or contacts section
- Spiral binding
4. Best Pocket Planner
BookFactory 2018 Weekly Pocket Calendar
Nothing quite beats the convenience of a pocket planner, and this was our favorite of the different dated models which are currently on the market. It comes with a faux-leather cover and tough traditional binding, meaning it’ll definitely last its way through the whole year.
This is a weekly planner, of course, so it’s a little bit thick for a hip pocket in your pants. On the other hand, it’ll work great for the inside pocket of a coat. The two-tone aesthetic of the cover is pretty nice as well.
Oddly enough, it even comes with some vital information in the back, including a first aid guide and a world map. There’s even a little removable notepad inside to make up for the lack of note-taking space.
Overall, this was our favorite pocket planner. It’s even better that it comes in at a fantastic price, making it an overall win in our book.
Pros and Cons
- Comes with a bunch of extra information
- Removable note pad
- Two-tone cover with faux leather
- Organized weekly layout
- Too thick for pants pocket carry
- No included contact section
5. Best Master Planner
AT-A-GLANCE Weekly Appointment Book / Planner
This is one of the best appointment books we were able to find, and as a companion to the various others on our list it makes a fantastic “master” planner. With a little bit of extra work, you’ll be able to use it to keep everything organized while having this with you.
It really doesn’t have very many “special” features, no inspirational quotes or stickers adorn this model and it has a utilitarian black leather aesthetic. It’s wire-bound, however, and the wires are protected entirely by the cover which means it’ll last the year with ease.
It’s also refillable, so if you get attached to your cover you can buy another set next year pretty easily.
If you’re looking for a master planner, then you may want to give this one a shot. On the other hand for those who want something complete, you may want to check out our favorite pocket planner.
Pros and Cons
- Utilitarian aesthetic
- Simple and durable design
- Well organized for weekly activities
- Very small, almost too small for many people
- Not quite what’s needed if it’s going to be your sole planner
Who Needs a Planner?
Truth is, not everyone needs a planner, although most people would find their life’s organization greatly improved with one.
Planners are pretty much essential for many professionals, however, especially those who tend to be a bit absent minded. Being able to just peek in your book to see what’s going on for the next chunk of time is great, and if you remember to keep things jotted down then you’re far less likely to miss appointments.
If you often find yourself missing appointments, overbooking your activities, or just generally disorganized when it comes to time management then you’ll be well served with a planner.
Of course, which type of planner you go with is going to be up to personal preference and needs.
Time, Time, Time
Planners come in a few different varieties, and the first thing you need to look at is how the time is arranged within your planner in order to make sure it suits your needs.
Daily planners are great for busy people. They’ll have a separate page for each day, and they’re even available with all of the hours outlined for those who are particularly busy. The problem with them is they tend to be a bit bigger, a letter sized daily planner is going to be more of a desk item than anything due to how thick it is.
If you don’t have a ton going on, then you may want to give these ones a skip as they tend to be rather bulky.
Weekly planners are perfect for the majority of people. If you’re looking at a few appointments a week then having a more compact planner with a week per two pages is pretty ideal. This will let you keep track of everything without a bunch of undue bulk.
Monthly planners are a bit minimal, but quite compact. If you’re looking for something you can keep in your coat pocket then a mini-monthly planner is going to be the best way to go. We’re not fond of the full-sized ones, but some people have found uses for them.
Sizing Your Planner
Planners come in a few different sizes, but the most common are letter, memo, and pocket-sized.
Letter sized planners take up a considerable amount of bag room, but you’ll also have a lot of room to write. If you’re regularly carrying a briefcase or backpack then they’re handy, and we strongly recommend them for planners which are going to sit on a desk but for many people they’re simply too large.
In this case they’re the size of a standard sheet of paper, or roughly 11”x8.5”
Memo-sized notebooks make for a happy medium for most people, having a good amount of room to write in but also being smaller in size. They’re sometimes referred to as “junior” notebooks as well.
These notebooks tend to be roughly 8”x5”.
Pocket planners have the widest variation in size but are super convenient for people who just need to keep an occasional appointment straight. They’re also handy to have as a backup, say keeping one with you at all times but doing the bulk of your planning in a letter-sized book in your office.
Which size you go with is largely dependent on your personal needs.
Modular and Undated Planners
Some of us really like these.
Undated planners have the advantage of inherently being longer lasting, since you can start the dating in them the day you get them.
The biggest disadvantage is for planning around a workweek, since you’ll need to manually write in the days yourself. For freelancers and others who have a less set schedule this isn’t much of an issue, but for people with a normal workweek it’s a pretty big deal.
There are a ton of types of modular planner as well. Our favorite is the Staples ARC brand, which are both remarkably cheap and have a ton of different types of sheet available for keeping notes, keeping track of projects, taking notes at meetings, or just plain writing.
They tend to be more expensive to start with, especially if you want a nice cover, but discbound books are great for those who are planning on using the same book for a long time.
Others, such as At-a-Glance are still expensive but available in a wide variety of different configurations to suit your needs.
One can definitely ignore this issue entirely, but you may want to consider them before you make a final choice.
The truth is, that you can have the perfect planner for yourself but if you never use it then you’re not going to get any benefit.
That’s the reason why there are so many different designs planners, since the basics could be handled ridiculously easily with just a household printer and a hole punch.
What does this mean for you?
Pick something that you’ll enjoy using. Something as little as inspirational quotes or cute stickers can often make all the difference.
They’re especially important if you’re planning on making regular planning sessions like we’ll recommend when we get to some tips on how to ensure you use your planner.
The bottom line: pick something which is attractive enough you’re sure to want to use it.
Toughness In Planning
There’s one thing that gets overlooked pretty often with planners: durability. If used frequently, planners have a tendency to take some wear and tear damage.
Pocket planners, in particular, tend to take a serious beating long before their lifetime is up. That’s great for one person: the manufacturer.
If you’re really looking to save money in the long run, it may be best to spring for an undated or modular planner up-front. Disc-bound planners with a hardcover will last practically forever, or at least as long as you’re not regularly pulling pages.
On the other hand, the binding type also is a big factor in the lifespan of your planner. While disc-bound tend to last for the longest amount of time, traditionally bound planners also tend to outlast their useful life no matter how much abuse they take.
Of course, both of these types require a pretty big upfront investment as well.
Wire-bound is a good compromise for most people, with spiral-bound notebooks coming in last place with a few exceptions of pocket planners which are held together with staples.
The bottom line: if you’re rough on stuff then you’ll want to pick up a tougher planner.
Getting the Most Out of Your Planner
Everyone has their own take on what the best way to use a planner is. Truth is, everyone will eventually develop their own way of using theirs that’ll suit them as long as they stick with it.
On the other hand, if you haven’t had one around before the following tips should help you stay on target.
This is easiest if you’re using a daily or weekly planner, but it’ll get you in the habit of making sure you get stuff done.
The best way to do this is to set aside a couple of minutes every night to review your list for the next day. The more you use it, the more likely you are to ensure that you get everything done that you need to each and every day.
Utilizing Planning Sessions
Our preference is to have a planning session once a week and a bigger one once a month. Your weekly planning sessions are a great way to just get an overview of what needs to be done during the week and allowing yourself to organize any “free” time you’ve got left.
Most weekly or daily planners will also have a monthly overview contained within them. Use this to make sure you’ve got any big appointments or stuff you know you’ll need to get done once a month or so.
A half hour once a week and an hour once a month can lead to a lot of saved time over the course of a year.
Using Multiple Planners
If you find yourself needing more than one planner, then you need to keep them organized.
On a personal note: one weekly calendar for sorting work and a smaller pocket planner for the bigger picture.
Indeed, planners are a fantastic way to make sure that you’ve got a handle on the bigger picture in general, since you’ll be able to see what’s planned out ahead of you.
If you need multiples, then try to have one “master planner” which you’ll take everywhere with you. You might have another in your work desk or car, but being able to see at a glance what needs to be done is awesome.
Mark Stuff Off
There are few things in life more satisfying than marking off a to-do list. Except for maybe the last checkmark of the day.
At least that’s the way we see it.
Try it out, line out your appointments, put checkmarks on your to-do list, and generally enjoy the progress you make each day.
After all, visual cues of your daily progress are one of the best motivators around.
Use Whole Sentences
When you have a “to-do” list in a weekly or daily planner, try this out: write down whatever you need to do as a complete sentence. In doing so, you’ll be more likely to do it.
For instance, instead of “11:30am meeting” try “attend 11:30am marketing meeting.” Or whatever applies. This is also valuable for smaller tasks rather than appointments.
Once you get in the habit of using a planner, you’re going to find your own individual “style.” Whether it’s short hand, stickers, or the way you mark things off… take joy in it.
Use Your Planner
The most important part of all of this?
You need to use your planet to get any real value from it. Use it as soon as you get it, use it often. Even if you already have a steel trap memory, good planning and usage of your planner is going to help propel you to a new level of organization.
No matter who you are, chances are a planner is going to make your life more organized and help you with your memory. On top of that, there’s something to be said for the satisfaction of marking off each day as it comes to pass.
So why not snatch the best planner you can find? Isn’t it about time you got truly organized?