Top picks for best planners

Planners, Calendars & Journals, OH MY! (Top picks for planners)

This timely guest post comes from my uber-organized, proficient planning, brand-strategizing friend Victoria Vitarelli and originally appeared on her website, V Dot V Marketing.

A hope is a dream without a plan.

I often get asked, “how do you keep track of your ‘EVERYTHING’!?” Juggling my clients, my kids, my mom and life in general. I’ve gotten to the point if it’s not written somewhere, it ain’t gonna happen.

I have notebooks, whiteboards and paper scraps all over for the urge to list and do a brain dump. I have figured out over the years that I need to be disciplined every day and keep one main repository as an extension of my memory. Journals for different topics or goals do not work for me because the arteries of life often bleed into one another.

So I keep my system to a family whiteboard, google calendars merged together and a paper planner – currently diving into Self Journal.

Since my very first job out of college, I’ve kept a notebook to write down my notes – from meetings, calls, thoughts, ideas. I had a plain spiral notebook to “get the job done” and a de rigueur Filofax.

Today there is an onslaught of planners, calendars and such! For me – a lot of fun! However, I have a friend who is paralyzed by the choices to make the purchase. Here are four questions I asked her to help her with her decision.

  1. Do you want to fill in the blanks or have a white canvas? How do you set your goals? Best practices say to write out your big goals; distill them down into weekly and daily to-dos. Depends on your style and what makes you productive vs busy. There are planners that have the year/day date written out and are very structured. They are designed to deliver the general best practices in keeping a goal and getting it done so you don’t have to think about that aspect. There are journals for very specific goals e.g. fitness, business, parenting. Daily Greatness has many specialized versions. If you have your own structure or want to be more creative about your pages, try the Bullet Journal system. You make the rules, but there is a system to writing it down. Here is a video. Bullet journal “porn” is all over Pinterest and Instagram. There are some beautiful, truly amazing works of art out there!
  1. Are you carrying it around everywhere and anywhere? Weight matters!  Certain paper stocks can get heavy and depending on what you use to write with, the ink can bleed through light paper. Details…Details…Most planners have the weight listed on their respective websites. And depending on if you want a defined calendar style e.g. 30 days or week at a glance, full year by the day, quarterly etc. this can make a big difference in weight as well. Also there are various sizes from 8.5″ x 11″ pages to small pocket styles. Think about what you will be carrying this in – purse? briefcase? pocket?
  1. Does brand/color/style matter to you? Once you decide on white canvas or fill in the blank style and weight- the search narrows down. There are hundreds of journals out there by designers, planner brands, etc. I found a Lily Pulitzer planner with every page in her signature style. Some white canvas, purists will stick to a classic marble notebook or the ever-reliable Moleskin.  Both are sold in all kinds of stores in addition to online outlets e.g. Staples, bookstores, Target and boutiques.
  1. How much “woo-woo” factor? We use this term affectionately. There are some that have messages of inspiration and faith as well as planning out your dream days and life. An example is Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map Planner. Per the description, “This planning system incorporates your inner and outer worlds; your gratitude and your goals; your Core Desired Feelings into your daily regime”. Personally, I enjoy seeing a good Zig Ziggler or Aristotle quote to inspire me. And then there are days when it’s just about checking the box and getting stuff done without guru sounding pep talks. This one is very interesting, The Sacred Circle Planner – starting on December 18th, the Winter Solstice. Per the description, “Through the use of Divination, Affirmations, Archetypal Wisdom, Goal Manifesting, and specially designed Spiritual Practices that keep you in sync with the seasons–you have the opportunity to craft a whole new you this year!

As you go through the many other lists and ideas the key is to start somewhere and think about how you get stuff done NOW! You can always shift or try new styles or methods as the year goes on. The key is to find something that is going to support your goals and motivation. These are tools to help us get the job done and get to our destination! The discipline to follow a system is KEY no matter what you use. Happy goal setting and getting stuff done!

Check out Vicky’s video where she test-drives some of the best selling planners and journals.

Also, tune into this recent Plannerpalooza podcast from the “Best of Both Worlds” team of Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart-Unger who take planner enthusiasm to a whole new level.

Are you a planner perfectionist? Which one(s) do you use? Please share in the comments.

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