The Best Planner For Your Life and Goals

A red planner sits on a desk under another open planner, plus a pencil, washi tape, and gold paper clips.

Having a daily planner can be a game changer.

The best planner can add structure and clarity to your day. It can help you take all the thoughts, details, and worries swirling around in your head and ground them on paper. The best planner can even help support you in meeting your goals, creating new habits, and improving yourself. A planner can be not only a game changer, but a life changer.

Even when life feels overwhelming or unpredictable, a planner can be utilized to regain focus and intention. In the same way that journaling can provide stress relief, writing in a planner can feel meditative and like an act of self-care. We may not be able to change the world around us, but a small act like scheduling a lunch break or a phone call with a loved one can feel re-stabilizing and restorative.  

With all the different planners and tools out there, how do you choose the best planner for yourself? Luckily, we’ve rounded up the best planners that will suit different styles and personalities. Whether you’re a creative who likes to get stuff done or a planning newbie, you’ll find the best planner for you below.

Benefits of a daily planner

A paper planner is more than just an appointment book or calendar. Here are just some of the ways a daily planner can improve your life. 

A planner can help you achieve goals, accomplish tasks, and develop new habits. Studies show that writing something down will make you more likely to stick to something and accomplish your task. 

A planner can help with time management. By devoting some time up front to looking at your schedule and all the things you have to do that week, you’ll spend less time being in reactive mode and have more time for the things you actually want to do.

A planner can develop mindfulness. The simple act of writing down your tasks and deadlines can do wonders for managing your stress levels and bringing more consciousness to your days.

In Japan, the meditative act of using a paper planner is referred to as “techo culture.” According to this Quartz article:

“The time it takes to handwrite tasks allows us identify priorities and reframe goals in a way that typing cannot. Just as the act of handwriting notes in class has been proven to encourage deep thought for students, a paper-based planner offers space to contemplate the events of the day and scheme ideas for tomorrow.”

The best planner for productivity and goal-setting

Whether you’ve always been a goal-oriented person or you need help in the organization department, you will love the productivity tools and features of the Ink+Volt Goal Planner. 

I use my Ink+Volt planner to set my goals for the year and then break down those goals into monthly, weekly, and daily chunks.

The monthly pages allow me to keep my eye on the big picture, while the weekly pages keep me focused on the nitty gritty--these are the small tasks and action steps I need to take every day to get closer to my goal.

The weekly pages use a “time blocking” format so each day is structured by morning, afternoon, and evening. I love that I’m not beholden to a specific time and that I have the flexibility to add my appointments and deadlines according to my needs and then readjust if necessary.

In addition to using my planner for goal setting and deadlines, I also use it as a journal. On days that I don't have a lot of appointments or work going on, I’ll use the weekly pages to record small things that bring me joy--a memorable meal or a pretty sunset or a funny conversation. Or I’ll use the space to record the books and movies I’ve been reading and watching.

It’s fun to look back on the mundane details of your days. Oftentimes, what brings me joy is not seeing the big goal that I’ve achieved, but rather, watching a favorite movie or snuggling up with a book and a cup of tea.

For academics and students, The Ink+Volt August 2021 - July 2022 Planner is perfect for a mid-year start with all the same functionality and flexibility.

The best planner for people who love systems

If your ideal activity is color coding and creating your own symbols and systems, then the Bullet Journal is your new friend.

Devotees of the bullet journal swear by its dotted pages, using them to create habit trackers, calendars, vision boards and more. You may have seen Pinterest and instagram photos of Bullet Journal pages laden with little stars, triangles, and circles. These symbols are known as “signifiers” and are incorporated into journal pages to track habits, identify appointments, or alert you to tasks and deadlines. 

Bullet Journals are also an ideal option for people who want one notebook to store all their “collections.” Like the analog version of a recipe book or record collection, these collection pages can be used to record meal plans, log books you want to read, make a travel wish list, or catalogue your favorite albums--basically anything that you want to remember and store. 

The best planner for low-maintenance types

If you think grids and hourly schedules are a visual overload, then consider opting for a Moleskine planner.

Sturdy and streamlined in design, the Moleskine is perfect for people who want to stay organized but keep it low maintenance. If you don’t care for color-coding or symbols, you can simply use the lined pages to jot down to do lists, write daily reminders, or create your own schedule. You can also use the space to journal or brainstorm. 

If you’re worried that the pages might be too minimalist for your taste, then you can feel free to decorate your pages with washi tape or fun pens. The Moleskine is the way to go if you want to keep it simple but also have the flexibility to get creative with your planner pages when you’re in the mood.

If you need more ideas on how to find the best planner, you can check out our guide here.
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