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10 fabulous planners to keep you organized all year
By Katherine Martinko,
Treehugger, 4 December 2015.

Paper planners are making a serious comeback. While keeping track of one’s schedule on a phone is convenient, it doesn’t have the same aesthetic and creative appeal as a paper planner that you can hold in your hand. Paper planners are easy to read, edit, customize, and decorate. They are perfect for scribbling ideas, doodling, making to-do lists, jotting down groceries. Many are very attractive books, which make you want to reach for them and strive for a higher degree of personal organization.

The purpose here is to introduce you to some of the most popular planners on the market. While researching these brands, I discovered an entire universe of planner mania that I never knew existed. There are countless YouTube videos of organizational experts explaining and comparing the various types of planners that are surprisingly fascinating.

I started using a paper planner back in 2010 and cannot imagine life without it. Up until now, I’ve been staunchly faithful to the weekly Moleskine planner, but after doing this research, I think I may have to branch out for 2016 just to try something different. Which would you choose?

1. Erin Condren Life Planner

Credit: Erin Condren

The Erin Condren Life Planner is hugely popular. It has a fun, vibrant, and colourful appearance that is trendy and appealing to younger users. (I suspect a lot of moms gravitate to this planner.) It is easily customized when ordering. You can have your name, logo, and family photos put on the front and back covers, or choose from a vast selection of pre-designed covers.

The Erin Condren is a weekly planner, with all 7 days spread over two pages, and you can choose a horizontal, vertical (divided into morning, afternoon, and night), or hourly layout, depending on your preference. There is a snap-in ruler that acts as a bookmark and a “keep it together” section at the back where you can store stickers, tape, and all sorts of other stuff. Monthly tabs stick out, making it easy to find your spot.

The main complaints are that the branding is very much in-your-face; that the planner is not customizable once purchased, meaning you can’t insert, remove, or rearrange papers; and that it is quite large and heavy. Generally speaking, though, this planner receives excellent reviews. It is printed and bound in California and Texas.

Starting at US$50. Order online.

2. Whitney English Day Designer

Credit: Day Designer

The Day Designer is a large, elegant, coil-bound planner that offers many planning techniques at the beginning of the book, as well as space for writing goals, ideas, ‘victory lists’, and more. This planner is very spacious overall, with lots of built-in organization and few distractions. Unlike the Erin Condren, it does not have a loud, colourful design inside.

The Day Designer comes in a single format - one day per page - with a monthly calendar conveniently shown at the start of each month (as opposed to the front of the book).

As reviewer Jen points out in a video, the Day Designer is strictly a calendar, nothing fancy. It is quite large, weighs more than 2 lbs., which would likely make it more suitable for desktop use. It is printed and bound in the United States.

Starting at US$59. Order online.

3. Filofax

Credit: Filofax

In all the research I did on planners, I kept hearing the same thing over again – that Filofax is a huge addiction! As video reviewer Nadine said, “It’s not a Filofax, people. It happens to be a way of life.”

People are serious about their Filofaxes. Made in the UK, these planners have a sleek-looking cover (leather or patent finish PVC), with calendar and notebook inserts. The beauty of the Filofax is in its simple, customizable design. You can insert endlessly and switch them up on a daily or annual basis.

It is an expensive addiction, though. The nicest covers hover around the US$100 mark, not counting extra inserts, but they can be used for many years. Read here about why one reviewer loves her Filofax.

Starts at US$35 (for passport-sized versions). Order online.

4. Midori Traveller's Notebook


These Traveller's Notebooks are gorgeous. You buy a cover (traditionally it comes in leather or you can get a vegan-friendly “Fauxdori”) that comes with one blank notebook, and then you purchase inserts as needed. All official Midori paper is made in Japan. You can buy refills at many stationery stores and online.

Reviewer Brian Goulet explains that the Midori is “not just a notebook,” but a whole system. In one video he says, “I love the way it feels with 3 notebooks in there. It honestly feels like I want to take a bite out of it.” I have to admit that watching his video gave me a fuzzy feeling because the notebook did, indeed, look so satisfying. See more great images and a review here.

Starting at US$56. Order the Midori and accessories online at Baum-kuchen, or find Fauxdori options on Etsy.

5. Emily Ley Simplified Planner

Credit: Emily Ley

The Simplified Planner is very similar to the Day Designer. It comes in a daily format, with one day per page, or you can order a weekly version. There is a large monthly spread at the beginning of each section, with plenty of room to write.

The planner has an elastic to hold it shut (a simple yet surprisingly important feature), a solid coil-style binding, and reinforced monthly tabs. Like the Day Designer, this planner is hefty, weighing nearly 2 lbs., so you might want to keep it on your desk, instead of schlepping it around town. It is made in China.

Starts at US$58. Order online.

6. Plum Paper Planner

Credit: Plum Paper

Plum Paper is a stationery company that offers a line of planners that are customizable both through its online Etsy shop and regular website. You can choose any month to start and select from a variety of planner types - family, student, teacher, wedding, meal, fitness, etc. There are 48 cover options; you can change the colour and font, add a monogram, etc.

There are plenty of layout options, too, i.e. lined columns; days broken into morning, afternoon, and night sections, or 30-minute increments; or monthly spreads with empty lined pages in between. Plum Paper makes its planners in California and ships only to the United States and Canada.

Starting at US$31. Order online via Etsy.

7. LiveWELL Planner by InkWELL Press

Credit: InkWELL Press

InkWELL Press promotes its planners as being for women. They sell the basic LiveWELL planner, as well as meal and fitness planners. The LiveWELL is known for its beauty and simplicity. It is basic in its layout and decorative touches, yet very attractive. For someone who doesn’t want to get into “pretty planning” and the stickers, tape, paperclips that go along with it, the LiveWELL is an appealing option.

It features space for a personal mission statement, a cool hexagonal-shaped “mission board” at the beginning of each month that reviewers seem to love, and space for “Notes & Ramblings.” The “Fun Stuff” section at the back has a trip planner, gift list, space for movies you want to watch and books you want to read (who doesn’t wish they kept better track of those things?), graph paper, and an accordion-style pocket at back. The weekly layout comes in either classic (vertical) or flex (horizontal) style.

Overall, this planner is known for its muted branding, which gives it a cleaner, more classic and sophisticated look. Watch a review video here.

Starting at US$54. Order online.

8. Moleskine Weekly Planner

Credit: Moleskine

I have bought a Moleskine every year for the past six years. These notebooks are wonderful. The weekly layout is my favourite, with the days of the week lined up horizontally on the left, facing an empty ruled page on the right. This leaves tons of space for making lists and writing ideas that only generally apply to that week and don’t have to be slotted into a specific day.

The branding is almost non-existent, which makes the design very clean, simple, and colourless. Instead I use coloured pens and markers, and sometimes the little appointment stickers included in the back, to jazz it up. (I’m not the “pretty planner” type.)

The planners come with hard or soft covers, an accordion-pocket in the back, an elastic to hold it closed, and a bookmark. There are several different sizes and colours available. Moleskine is easy to find at local stationery stores or order online.

Starting at US$17.95.

9. The Happy Planner by MAMBI

Credit: MAMBI

MAMBI stands for “Me & My Big Ideas.” This planner is sold widely at craft stores, such as Michaels, with large selections of decorative accessories to go along with it.

It has a thick coil binding that’s chunky and attractive and looks more solid than most coils. It features a vertical weekly layout with days divided into morning, afternoon, and night. There are countless covers from which to choose.

The planner is very colourful and trendy. It reminds me a bit of the Erin Condren - a similar style. It’s perfect for people who want to spend time decorating and personalizing their planner. See a good overview here.

Starting at US$24.99. Order online.

10. Passion Planner


The Passion Planner was created in January 2014, but already it has received many great reviews from users, including a friend of mine who says it's absolutely amazing. The Passion Planner is designed to "navigate passions and turn them into reachable goals," as described by reviewer Jen. It provides detailed direction throughout the book to “help people break down their long and short terms goals into more actionable steps and give them a place to incorporate these steps into their daily lives,” according to creator Angelia Trinidad. It's a cool concept.

The Passion Planner comes in undated, dated, and academic versions, with a vegan-friendly faux leather cover. It looks a bit like a Moleskine, with an elastic to hold it shut and bookmark ribbon. The undated version starts with either Sunday or Monday, depending on your preference, and the dated starts with Sunday.

Dated planners for 2016 will ship in January, so you can only pre-order at this time. The undated planner is still available. These are designed in California, printed in China.

Starting at US$24.99. Order online.

Top image: Hand-made planner in the Midori style (a.k.a Fauxdori). Credit: Danyeela/Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0.

[Source: Treehugger. Edited. Some links added.]