- Whether you like monthly, weekly, or daily calendar options, a paper planner is an essential tool for keeping your life organized.
- The best planner for most people is the Panda Planner with its simple layout and motivational structure that helps you achieve your goals.
Self-improvement is a big business. Who doesn’t want to get thinner, fitter, richer, more successful – or just be happier? But to achieve all these things, you’ve got to get organized. Despite the fact that most of us have some form of electronic calendar on our phones or computers, many people still rely on their paper planning agenda to keep their lives running smoothly.
I’m one of those people. And while I do switch up the brand sometimes, I’m committed to using a planner that breaks down the calendar by the week. Seeing one day at a time – or the whole month – just doesn’t work for me.
Some people choose to start fresh with a new planner in January. Others – particularly college students, teachers, and parents – often opt for a 16-month calendar that starts in August or September.
These days, planners usually come with much more than just calendars. In fact, many of the best-selling planners promise to provide you with a whole new lifestyle with features that help you set goals, get inspired, make plans, and keep track of your progress. We’ve picked out the best planners for everyone, from students and teachers to parents and professionals.
Here are the best planners you can buy:
- Best planner overall: Panda Planner
- Best stylish planner: Erin Condren LifePlanner
- Best planner for teachers: Blue Sky Planners
- Best planner for students: Mead Planners
- Best planner for goals: Passion Planner
- Best planner for your desk: Hashi Weekly Planners Pad
Updated on 10/16/2019 by Caitlin Petreycik: Updated prices, links, and formatting. Added related guides.
The best planner overall
- Panda Planner
The Panda Planner promises to keep you on track to achieve all your goals and it comes with free inspirational ebooks.
Michael Leip founded the Panda Planner system to try to get his life back on track when he found himself mired in anxiety and depression after suffering from Lyme Disease, cancer, and traumatic brain injury. The system, which he says is based on scientific strategies for achieving productivity and happiness, worked for him. He is so sure that it will work for you, too, that he offers a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.
So what do you get? A planner with monthly, weekly, and daily sections where you organize your life in writing and also record the things you are grateful for. There is an area to focus on your daily affirmations, exercises, and priorities. In addition, you get free access to six different ebooks and a video series to help you quickly hit your goals.
This 5.25-by-8.25-inch book, made of natural materials, has an undated calendar that is intended to be used for three to six months. You fill the dates in, so you can choose if the week starts on Sunday or Monday.
Pros: Unique system, light and portable, six free ebooks, high-quality paper, money-back guarantee
Cons: It is only good for up to six months
The best planner for teachers
- Blue Sky/Facebook
An affordable and sturdy Blue Sky planner can help you stay organized in school – and in life.
The popular Blue Sky planner comes in several sizes and styles. Two of the most common sizes are 5-by-8-inches and 8.5-by-11-inches. The resilient cover is built to last for continued use throughout the year.
The entire planner is printed with soy-based ink on 50% post-consumer waste recycled paper and it’s sturdy. Durable coated tabbed dividers are also long-lasting and make accessing information a breeze.
The Planner features full monthly view pages, as well as separate pages with full weekly views for more detailed planning. There are also previous and next month reference calendars. Handy note pages allow you to jot down last minute thoughts or details.
There are also dozens of designs on Amazon, whether you want something classic and solid-colored, a feminine floral print, or a fun geometric pattern.
Fans of the Blue Sky Academic Year Planner tout the attractive design and great format. Around the web, professional bloggers, including those at Pretty Neat Living and Wendaful, love Blue Sky Planners.
Pros: Attractive design, sturdy cover and construction, affordable, great format
Cons: Some users note that the lines on the pages are too close together to write easily
The best student planner
The Mead Planner will help you remember all your homework assignments.
Mead Planners are great for students because they are affordable and available in many options; they can look simple and grown-up, or young and fun. They’re also split up into weeks and have handy academic charts in the back for reference.
The company makes academic and regular planners that span either calendar years or academic years. You can choose between spiral and bound planner styles. Most of the planners have both weekly and monthly views of the calendar. As for the covers, they come in plain or with graphics.
The reference pages are tucked into the front and back of the planners for easy access. Some of Mead’s planners are spiral bound but the wires are covered with sturdy cloth to ensure that the wire doesn’t snag on anything. The planners come in small and large sizes to suit your needs.
Pros: Simple design, academic charts, good layout
The best planner for setting goals
- Passion Planner
The Passion Planner offers lots of motivational extras that will have you feeling passionate about your to-do list and your life.
The Passion Planner started in late 2013 as a Kickstarter project. Founder Angelia Trinidad was suffering from “feelings of emptiness” after graduating from college. Her answer? Create a tool that would allow herself, and ultimately others, the ability to define their goals and dreams and then break them down into actionable steps.
So what’s inside this 210-page, 8.5-by-11-inch faux-leather black book? Start with the Passion RoadMap. It kicks off with an exercise that helps you define and create actions for your goals in three months, one year, three years, and throughout your life. Weekly layouts, as well as annual and monthly overview calendars, keep you organized, while monthly reflection questions and inspirational quotes keep you focused on your progress.
There is also a “Space of Infinite Possibility” where you can take notes, draw, create, write, or brainstorm. Smooth, extra-thick paper makes it fun to write in this planner.
One Amazon customer writes, “The way you can individualize your goals and make a plan to execute them is incredibly motivating and helpful with the guide and open format. I especially appreciate the end of the month journal questions that help you reflect instead of having no idea what happened because ‘time just flies by.”
“It took five years to find this great of a planner. The most perfect planner for this dental school student. If you’re busy and need hourly breakdowns and spare room for notes, this is the planner for you,” another customer writes.
Pros: Motivational, unique concept, high-quality paper, lightweight
Cons: It doesn’t come with tabs to easily open to pages
The best fashionable planner
- Erin Condren
Erin Condren’s super-stylish LifePlanner series will keep your life in beautiful balance.
Erin Condren’s beautiful LifePlanner comes in several different gorgeous colors and patterns. You can get it in a variety of layouts to suit your needs.
The planner includes quote pages, mini-month spreads, goal setting pages, weekly spreads, lined pages, dot grid paper, and blank pages for note-taking. Each month is tabbed, so you can easily flip through to look back at all the things you’ve accomplished or ahead to upcoming events.
Condren also added a folder and a pouch to the planner so you can hold important documents inside your planner with everything else. The biggest appeal of Erin Condren’s planners is the design. The planners are feminine, colorful, inspirational, and super Instagrammable.
Pros: Beautiful and stylish, hardbound, high-quality paper
The best planner for your desk
- Malarie Gokey/Business Insider
The Hashi Weekly Planners Pad is about the size of a keyboard, so it’s perfect for using at your desk.
If you want a planner for your desk, look no further than the Hashi Weekly Planners Pad. This cute weekly planner is about the same size as a keyboard, and it’s meant to sit at your desk where you work. You could take it with you, but it is a long slim rectangle that’s not ideal for shoving in your bag.
It contains enough pages for 60 weeks of planning and it’s undated, so it will last until you run out of paper. Instead of dates, you see a Monday through Sunday view. Hashi used 12 fun patterns for the paper, so as the weeks go by, you’ll see roses, airplanes, geometric prints, florals, and even pineapples on the predominantly pastel-colored pages.
There’s no monthly view, so if you need that, you’ll have to look elsewhere. This is the perfect planner for using at your desk in addition to another planner or the digital calendar on your computer screen.
I use mine next to my desk to plan out articles for the week, but I imagine it’d work just as well for homework assignments or what have you.
Pros: Weekly view, cute designs, lots of space, undated so it lasts, many pages
Cons: Might not be ideal for carrying around, no monthly view
Check out our other great guides to school and office supplies
- Lemome/Business Insider
These binders are built to last the whole school year, and each pick has features that make it a perfect fit for the recommended age group. Here are the best binders for school you can buy:
- Best binder for school overall: Case-it Universal 2-Inch 3-Ring Zipper Binder with Laptop Holder
- Best binder for elementary school: Mead Zipper Binder with Expanding File, 1 ½ inch
- Best binder for middle school: The Five Star® Multi-Access Zipper Binder, 2 inch
- Best binder for high school: Staples Better Binder, 1.5 inch
- Best binder for college: Forevermore Portfolio Padfolio
Print is dead? Not quite. Chances are you already have a note-taking app on your smartphone or tablet, but despite this technological convenience, many people still prefer to keep a notebook handy for personal reflection and organization. We’ve rounded up the best of several different styles to help you find a notebook that will match your specific needs. Here are the best notebooks you can buy:
- Best notebook overall: Miquelrius Flexible Black Leather Cover Notebook
- Best notebook for traveling: Rite in the Rain All-Weather Hard Cover Notebook
- Best notebook for artists: Global Art Materials Travelogue Watercolor Book
- Best notebook for note-taking: Midori MD Notebook
- Best notebook for lefties: Lemome A5 Wide Ruled Hardcover Writing Notebook