Guys, I am a paper planner girl. I’ve tried going digital, and do use some calendar reminders on my phone, but I can’t fully make this switch. I texted a friend a few weeks ago before making the plunge on another expensive paper planner and asked, “Remind me why I’m buying a paper planner and not using an app like the rest of the world.” Her response, “We’re old.” I’m not ready to admit that’s the reason, but for me, writing things out on paper is good for my brain and productivity. Perhaps it’s analog or archaic but that’s cool now right? What can I say, I’m a paper girl in a paperless world (Michael Scott, The Office. Anyone?)
The other thing about me + planners: I am admittedly the most high maintenance planner-user/shopper on planet earth. I think it’s part the designer in me that just wants clean, simple lines and no-fuss, but the layout and design matter a whole lot to me. It’s actually fairly annoying and has led one of my friends and me to seriously consider creating our own planner. Stay tuned for that possibility! 😉
95% of the planners I see I know just won’t work out for my picky self. When I tell you I’ve spent hours (days?!) trying to find the right planner for my picky needs, I’m not exaggerating. It’s a thing.
As I’ve combed websites and blogs and helplessly searched the interwebs for a planner that would work well for me, it occurred to me that maybe there are other picky planner users out there that could benefit from this otherwise useless information. In that vein, I’m sharing some of my top picks below. I share as an act of love, a gift of sorts. My many hours of research and purchasing and returning and late nights combing through blog posts to save you some time on your own life, perhaps.
Here are some of my very favorite choices of the gazillion planner options out there. They were weighed against my personal preferences for:
- minimal style
- simple design (no cutesie stuff, no crazy patterns/colors, clean fonts)
- layout (my preference for layout includes a vertical, appointment style agenda with a weekly view)
I have used several of these listed in years passed. Again, these are my top picks based on my preferences, but I realize everyone likes something different in a planner, so keep that in mind. There are lots of planner review posts I find where I really don’t care for their picks (the swirly fonts make my eyes bleed!), but I know everyone has different tastes, so I share these for the fellow minimalist, clean design lovers among you.
*some affiliate links used / full disclosure below
The original Day Designer (from their site, not the Target version) is one I’ve used in the past and it is truly lovely. It checks my boxes for minimal design, beautiful paper (the best on this list!), and smart formatting. The paper is so lovely. There are pages for goal setting, as well. I think this one is a great option for people who need to keep a stricter schedule on a daily basis because each day has it’s on page.
They’ve released a budget, weekly version here, though I don’t believe it’s anywhere near the quality of the original flagship planner. Still, the budget version may be a good option if you want an affordable choice at just $17.99 vs $59. You can get a free page to try the format before you buy here.
- Daily planning pages with scheduling from 7 am to 7 pm
- Today, To-Do, Dinner, Gratitude, Top 3 To-Do Prompts, & Notes sections
- Goal Setting Worksheets
- Available in full size (9″ x 9.75″) or mini size (6.625” x 8.3”)
- Wide variety of cover options
This was my planner for 2017 and is one of my very favorites. It’s a top contender for 2018 for meeting my criteria above. It’s one of the only ones I can find with the vertical layout, weekly view, and room for notes. She does offer other layout options, as well, including a daily planner.
It does have goal setting pages in it, which many may like, though I personally prefer just a plain notebook or notes section for this. If goal worksheets are your thing, though, there ya go!
I love ShePlans for its clean layout, no frilly fonts, no crazy colors, and nice paper. I don’t love their cover choices for 2018, but have liked them in the past. ShePlans does offer free sheets you can download if you want to try out the various formats, so you can try before you buy here.
Here are some of the 2018 covers:
- Both standard & appointment weekly style available, as well as a daily option
- Weekly & monthly space for notes
- Goal setting pages
- Print & plan choices for more affordable options
If you like a daily view, this is another strong option, though I think they are mostly sold out for 2018! The daily planners have the gold coil and the weekly (horizontal layout) are regular binding.
Emily Ley does have a library of free printable planner resources, though, if you want to go the printable route.
- weekly (horizontal) or daily/hourly (6a-9p) options
- Hard cover with gold foil details
- Full month views
- Monthly Simplicity Tips
- Space for schedule, to-do, notes and meals
- 7 x 9 inches (1.25 inches thick)
This one I picked up at TJ Maxx after flipping through dozens of just ok options. You can find it on Amazon, as well.
I would put this one in the (more) affordable category. The clean lines and simple fonts have my heart. It has a weekly layout but is horizontal style, so that may be a con for you if you’re weird like me, but possibly no problem at all.
- Weekly layout, horizontal
- Notes section in front
- Monthly view
- Year at a glance
Another one that appears to be sold out for 2018, but I wanted to included because it really takes a different twist on the traditional planner. There’s lots of pages for project planning, which may be helpful depending upon your work.
photos by Get to Work Book
- book pages are 7×9 inches
- full monthly calendars
- Monday – Sunday week at a glance spreads
- “year-at-a-glance” spread with space to write plans
- 14 “project breakdown” pages
- 13 “reflect and goal-set” pages
- designed, printed and made in the USA
I so appreciate the minimal design of this planner. It’s just simplicity at its best and is a top contender for me for 2018. A main way I tend to plan (within any planner) is through bullet journaling (more on this later!), so I like the Moleskine format for it’s set up that works well with bullet journaling. Weekly view, vertical appointment style, and room for notes. Check, check, check!
- Vertical, hourly, weekly layout
- Affordable pricepoint compared to others in this list
- 7 1/2″ X 9 3/4″
- Weekly spaces for project planning, notes & tasks
- Yearly goals, monthly & weekly projects
- Detachable pages & to-do lists.
This one has a very nice minimal layout. There are options for 6M undated or 12M dated. If you’re not looking for an hourly/agenda format, this one has a to-do list style on each day of the week. It comes in a weekly planning format and is organized into dated task based and time based sections. On the down side, this is tied for the priciest planner on the list.
- 6M undated or 12M dated
- 7″ W x 8.25″ H x 1.25″ D
- 70lb bright white paper stock,
- Weekly planning organized into dated task based & time based sections
- Budgeting & expense sheets
- Soft-touch tab pages.
UPDATE: After (way too) much deliberation, I ended up trying this one for 2018. I only *just* heard about this one and was blown away when I did. It’s 100% customizable: you can choose weekly format and add whatever pages you need (note pages, grid pages, meal planning, finances, projects, and on and on!) You can choose any of the bonus pages to go in the planner at the beginning, at the end, weekly, or monthly.
However, it is by far the most expensive option ($65 before shipping!). With the price, of course, you get just about anything you could want in terms of layout. They are a brand new company and it appears that they’re still working out some kinks (all the grace! just an FYI!) and processing times are at minimally three weeks out at this point. Assuming they’ll be in a better place next year, I think this will be my go-to!
- 100% customizable
- flexible layout options
- lots of add on options
- Variety of cover choices
- New start-up company, longer processing time (but so much potential! :))
I want to hear from you! What planners do you love? What are the elements you look for? Share below!
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*some of these links may be affiliate links, which means if you purchase through them, I may get a small commission (at no additional cost to you), which only helps to support this space. All opinions are my own!