It’s about time to start vetting your best planner options for 2019.
Once you find your perfect planner, re-buying every year is a breeze. But if, like many of us, you are still trying to find out which planner is the best, then we have you covered.
The spectrum of planners includes those that are more prompted, with questions and headlines with journaling space to inspire reflection. Others are stripped down, providing a reliable calendar and plenty of empty space for the owner’s creativity.
At Ink+Volt, we don’t carry just one planner. We think ours is pretty great, of course, but we have bought and researched literally hundreds of planners and notebooks in our quest to learn about what works for people.
After doing tons of research and listening to thousands of customers share their stories and experiences, we feel like we have a good idea of the wide range of needs people have that the perfect planner can help with.
Quiz: what’s the best planner for you?
The planner – organizer, scheduler, calendar, daybook, whatever name you like to call it – can be as simple as a date-keeper or as complex as a complete guide to organizing your life and goals.
For some, the planner is also the home to meeting notes, projects, and reflections. For others, the planner is as much a place for artwork and creative expression as it is the record of appointments and to-do’s.
Not sure where to start? Grab a pen and paper to jot down answers to these prompts. We’ll help you uncover your planner style!
How would you describe your schedule? For example:
- Rigid, with specific timetables like a school or work schedule with regular meetings, appointments, and deliverables.
- Fluid, with scattered appointments and a few accountable timetables, but with lots of flexibility and self-determined projects.
- In between, juggling lots of daily responsibilities like groceries and meals, family schedules, and to-do lists but other projects on a longer, flexible timeline.
Where do you typically have time and space to write in a journal or planner?
- At home, during downtime between freelance projects, home projects, and/or family maintenance.
- At the office, before a busy week of project deadlines, team meetings, and cocktail hours.
- At school, where when you have an overview of your week’s homework and extracurriculars.
- Whenever, wherever on the go. Your planner keeps you sane while traveling or scooting around the city meeting with collaborators, clients, and friends.
How often do you use the pages of your planner to be creative?
- All the time, you regularly deck out your daily journal pages with sketches or cool things you find every day.
- Sometimes, and you would like to do more. You’ve bought a few different color pens but typically stick to black for convenience.
- Not much. Writing and planning are meant to save time and focus on work, not add to your already busy schedule.
On what day does your week start?
- Sunday, the end of the weekend that, when done well, can serve as a productivity powerhouse.
- Monday, the first day of the work and school week for most and for many, the start of the productive M-F schedule.
- No preference, your days are on the retail, hospitality, freelance, flexible schedule where any day can be a weekend or a workday if you say so.
From these five questions, we can derive five overarching planner styles:
- Goal Crusher
- Everyday Achiever
Which one sounds the most like you?
In addition to those styles, knowing whether you’ll want a planner that starts on Sunday or on Monday, and if you’d rather a dated or undated planner, can help guide you to the best planner for your lifestyle.
Read about each planner style below and get our suggestions on the best planner for you.
For the Academic – Passion Planner
For students, a good planner is a must. The digital calendar is a splendid tool for class reminders, due dates, and tutoring schedules, but there is a lot more to the academic experience than due dates and class times.
As a student, you’re asked to do all kinds of brainstorming, project creation, essay writing, research, note-taking, and collaboration. You may keep your class notes in a standard notebook, but for the more creative, idea-focused, unstructured “thinking out loud,” the Passion Planner surges ahead as the best planner for you.
The Passion Planner is geared toward a top-down approach of ‘passion mapping,’ that helps you with everything from goal creation to project planning on the road to your biggest dreams. This structure can be applied to coursework, semesters, your degree, or even as broad as your future career.
Using their Mind Map page, you can outline how you’ll build your future well-rounded resume through extracurricular activities, stellar grades, community service, and letters of recommendation from high-caliber mentors you’ve yet to meet.
The daily breakdown has hourly and half-hour time-blocks giving you maximum customization of your day without having to compromise on what information you record. When you use the Passion Planner to its fullest, your productivity in the present will cement your success for the future.
For the Minimalist – Moleskine
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – right? The minimalist planner wants a structure that simplifies their planning, provides only the information they need, and clears the page of clutter. The planner is a place of peaceful organization, with no frills.
The Moleskine is the classic planner structure used long before the Filofax and the advent of the modern planning age. You have the month breakdown, weekly layout with equal-sized chunks for recording time blocks or appointments, and a lined page opposite the weekly layout for any notes, reflections, and next steps you want to keep.
For the minimalist planner, we’ve linked to the undated version. This allows you to start your planner on any day of the year and to move forward creating your weeks as you see fit. If you miss a week or don’t need one, no need to waste the space. You can comfortably use every asset in this planner and want for nothing more.
For the Goal Crusher – SELF Journal
Goal crushing should be an olympic sport, for some of us. If that’s you, the SELF Journal is your Goal Crushing trainer, offering a full-spread daily layout that guides you to examine, dissect, record, and celebrate your progress each day.
On the road to accomplishing our goals, it’s imperative to stay on top of our progress, be it through celebrating our wins or acknowledging our lessons learned. The SELF Journal has space for both and more, and asks you to sit with your planner at least once, preferably twice daily, in order to fully see the scope of your daily efforts.
In addition to the daily prompts, the SELF Journal outlines a general goal-crushing lifestyle through various sections of the book. They illustrate morning and nightly routines, include inspirational and educational anecdotes, and provide a 13-week structured roadmap to guide to through successful goal completion.
If you’re not yet a goal crusher but have always dreamed of becoming one, the SELF Journal could be just the trainer you need to achieve your dreams.
For the Creative – Traveler’s Notebook
Options, options, options. Space to create and personalize are two of the most important concerns for the creative planner. What if you could have a planner, journal, sketchbook, folder for found paper and ephemera, a pouch for art supplies, and a card sleeve, all wrapped in a gorgeous leather book?
Enter the Traveler’s Notebook, a completely customizable stationery system that not only has numerous types of inserts, but even has four different planner inserts to suit your planning style.
For the creatives and the wanderers, making memories and capturing beauty throughout the day is just as managing appointments with clients. We encourage you to check out the full range of Traveler’s Journal inserts, but here is the brief on each of the planner options:
- Monthly Planner – A calendar-style monthly breakdown that’s great for outlining travel and long-term projects, highlighting milestones and specific days, and crossing off dates until your next big adventure.
- Weekly Planner with Gridded Memo – One side of the spread sports a horizontal daily breakdown while the other is a gridded page for notes, drawings, or other inclusions from the week.
- Vertical Weekly Planner – Similar to the planner layout we see in modern books where the week spans the full-spread and each day has hourly time blocks
- Daily Planner – The most comprehensive day breakdown we’ve ever seen, with a 24-hour time block and a full gridded page for daily record.
For the Everyday Achiever – Ink+Volt
You are going places. Literally and figuratively. When we created the Ink+Volt planner, we wanted to create a book that carried you through the everyday while always keeping your eye on your biggest goals and dreams. We talked to executives, engineers, authors, and artists to create a system that would keep everyone on the path to the life they want.
Not every planner is made to go with you. The Ink+Volt planner was created to be your companion; small enough to fit in a handbag, but comprehensive enough to support your journey to achieving your biggest goals.
- Bring your year into focus and establish an overarching theme. Set your goals for the year no matter when you start your planner and know that you can always refer back to this foundation page as you work toward your pursuit.
- Plan your month not just in the calendar, but in depth. Get the logistical overview of your month by setting your monthly focus and then breaking down the to-do’s that need to happen to get you there.
- Pursue a month-long challenge. Consistent progress on small things can snowball into big things. It is all about building good habits. Every month, set a 30-day challenge and completely transform part of your lifestyle. Get real, tangible results in a short amount of time.
- Spend time every week writing, plotting, dreaming. Each week also offers a full page of unlined brainstorming space with a quote – use this as a prompt or merely for inspiration, and spend a little time writing every week.
- Free yourself from hourly planning with time blocks, personalized to your unique rhythm. Weekdays are broken into Morning, Noon, and Night, giving you plenty of space to plot time to really get things done. Don’t live hour-to-hour — instead, focus on deep work and consistent growth.
We’d love to hear what’s in the best planner for you!
Drop us a line at email@example.com and let us know what you love.