7 Elements You'll Find in the Best Planners

An Ink+Volt Planner is on a desk and someone is writing in it

You want 2020 to be a great year. We want that for you too.

We may be a little biased, but we think that having an amazing planner by your side is the best way to make sure you accomplish *all* of your goals in the coming year. 

With so many planner options out there, it can feel a little overwhelming to find the right one for you. But we believe all the best planners for getting you in the zone have some key qualities you should be on the lookout for. 

Before we get to those, think about how you’ll be using a planner. Is it for keeping track of appointments? Planning projects? Brainstorming? I work in a creative industry, so I like a little bit of everything in my planner. It is my go-to multiple times a day, whether it be for an idea I had last week or figuring out which days I have free to schedule another coffee meeting or yoga class.

Depending on what you need, your requirements may differ a little. For example, a planner for strictly scheduling or due dates might not need as much room for notes, whereas a planner where you'll be doing all your brainstorming will need *a lot* of note space. 

Consider making a list of things that help you feel the most organized and search for a planner based on those things.

No matter how you keep your schedule on the right track there are a few features that are sure to keep you on task and sailing through your week.

Goal Tracking

The best planners don’t just keep you organized, they keep you motivated. Do you know where you are headed next? Whether that’s a big question or a literal question, the best planners will tell you. 

Look for planners that spell out a goals list, whether that be your top weekly goals or a daily to-do list. Being asked what your goals are for the day, week or month can be particularly helpful in allowing you to think bigger or more abstract. 

Space for Notes 

Sometimes there isn’t enough time or space to grab all the supplies you need.

Enter: a really good planner.

When I’m working from a coffee shop or taking a call in between meetings, I typically reach for my planner because I know it goes everywhere with me, and if they’re important notes, I know I won’t lose them like I would a piece of scrap paper. 

Ink-proof Paper 

And while we’re on the topic, make sure your planner’s pages are good quality. If you’re a frequent planner user, this is a necessity. 

Too often ink will seep through the pages, nearly ruining your next week’s plans with blotches of that staff meeting reminder you had last Tuesday. There’s nothing that spoils a week of planning like not having a fresh page to work on.

This is an easy feature to forget when searching for the perfect planner, but it is well worth the search, especially if you like using a pen that has a heavier ink.

Room to Brainstorm 

Like a notes section, it’s good to have enough room to truly brainstorm. This is a place for less crucial notes, but gives you enough space to really explore an idea. 

I like to look for planners that have at least one page before each month. There I list my big events and deadlines, plus ideas for projects or tasks I want to accomplish for that month. For example, if I have a goal of planning a vacation I make a note of that because I know if I don’t put a general idea down, I probably won’t get around to arranging it. 

These sections are also good if you have ideas that aren’t quite relevant right now, but you want to remember it in a couple of months. Instead of sticking it on a calendar date or forgetting the few key words you’re able to conjure up, you’ll have a short note you’ve put aside.

Page markers 

Sometimes 365 days doesn’t seem like a lot. That is until I find myself flipping through a planner to find the current day. Without some kind of marker it can be annoying finding your to-do list or appointments for the day. 

Page markers will save you time, keeping you on task and ready for whatever is next. 

Room for personalization

Some weeks my schedule gets so busy I have to highlight the really important stuff, and more than just a couple of lines is required for my day. Other weeks that isn’t so much the case, but I like enough room I can add illustrations, stickers, highlights or random meeting doodles.

The best planner is one that is tailored to your schedule, and that can be really hard to find in a mass-produced notebook. 

A few things that can add to the personalization of your planner: 

  • Dates. Some planners aren’t made to align with very specific dates. If your weeks vary, consider a planner that doesn’t adhere to a set calendar like this undated planner.
  • Stickers. I like picking up a pack of stickers to keep my planning fun.
  • Room to color code. If you have a lot going on, make sure that your next planner allows you the space and ability to use different colored pens. Pages that are too busy or cramped make it harder to get creative in your organizing. 


I carry my planner everywhere, so it has to withstand a lot. Sturdiness means something a little different for everybody. For me, I’ve come to love a hardcover planner because it looks elegant. I also know that if I choose a planner that is small and thick I’ll end up tossing it in my bag and all of the pages will be bent by the time I’m home from my commute. 

Even if you prefer a planner that has a soft cover, you should evaluate whether it will weather well. This may not matter if you plan to keep the planner at your desk, but if you plan to keep it with you at all times, look for something you won’t have to replace within a few months because of a torn cover or broken binding.

Get your 2020 planner today and get ready to make next year your best yet!

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