With the new year comes renewed opportunity, especially as it pertains to organization. One of the best tools to enhance your organizational efforts is a yearly, monthly, weekly or daily planner. “Using a planner consistently is key to helping someone stay organized and focused,” explained Tammy C. O’Neil, a professional organizer specializing in ADHD and chronic disorganization. “A planner represents a visual daily guide of what your life priorities are and how they will get accomplished.”
SKIP AHEAD How to shop for a planner | Top-rated planners to shop | Tips and tricks for using a planner
Today’s planners are designed not only as a timekeeper but also a handbook – for tracking meals, goal-setting, water consumption, planning a wedding, improving your fitness routine, maintaining a sleep log and more. According to Stacey Agin Murray, owner of Organized Artistry, “planners offer everything from a place to log your daily appointments and Saturday night plans to a home for one’s hopes and dreams.” The professional organizer from New Jersey has been “transforming messes into masterpieces” since 2002.
The benefits of using a planner
According to O’Neil, there are numerous benefits to using a planner on a consistent basis. With a planner, you can “control [your] time, money and space” and “improve productivity,” she noted. Melissa Levy, founder of professional organization company Declutter + Design, similarly explained that using a planner allows you to “clear out the clutter in your brain” so you can stay focused on any tasks at hand.
“By consistently using a planner, we can view our life and see if what we are spending time on aligns with our values and priorities,” O’Neil added. “Investing time in planning allows us to track how, where and when we spend our time.”
Even with the invention of the smartphone and calendar apps, sales of physical planners continue to stay strong. “Not everyone wishes to jump on the tech bandwagon,” said Murray, who explained that paper calendars offer tired eyes a rest from phones, tablets and computers and have been scientifically proven to offer a gratifying sensory experience for the user, reducing stress and anxiety. “There’s something about being able to cross out a completed task or cracking the spine on a new paper planner on January 1 that brings many people joy.”
How to shop for a planner
Planners are not a one-size-fits-all. Although every planner is designed to offer better organization, not all planners are styled in a way that is most effective for your purpose. For instance, those whose schedules are more sporadic may prefer a dateless planner. Those who want to connect their calendar across all their devices or like to receive alerts about important meetings may prefer a digital planner. Whatever the case, there are plenty of options to choose from. “Find a planner that honors your natural brain type,” O’Neil advised. For instance, she said, do you like to accessorize with stickers? Are you motivated by planners that feature inspirational quotes? Do you prefer one that is a blank canvas so you can write lengthy entries, or one where you can simply list your tasks as bulleted points?
Top-rated planners to shop in 2023
To help you determine the best yearly planner to suit your needs, we rounded up some highly rated options in several styles for several uses, based on advice from the experts we spoke to.
Rocketbook Panda Planner
This planner from Select reader favorite brand Rocketbook is a great eco-friendly and reusable option. It has undated monthly, weekly and daily planning options, as well as goals and motivation templates. It works with any Pilot FriXion pen, marker or highlighter, says the brand, and itsThe synthetic paper can be wiped clean with a damp cloth, so you can use the planner over and over again for as long as you want to stay organized. With the accompanying Rocketbook app, you can store all of your planner pages to the cloud to digitally save and share your notes even after they’re erased, says Rocketbook.
Sugar Paper Essentials Undated Weekly Planning Pad
If you prefer to have more room to write out your tasks and don’t need the portable ease of a book, a desk planner might be a better choice for you. This 7.25- by 10-inch planner from Sugar Paper Essentials comes with undated pages laid out for weekly planning, so you can customize it depending on when in 2023 you want to start getting organized. In addition, a separate box at the bottom provides room to jot down any accompanying notes for yourself.
Nokingo Undated Planner
This portable planner provides undated monthly and weekly views, along with two pages for all your contacts, 14 lined pages for notes and an inner pocket to store loose items, like tickets, cards and other important papers, says the brand.With each monthly spread comes five weekly pages, with ample space to write your weekly goals and to-do list. It comes in pink and teal, as well as a floral or twig print.
ban.do Large 17-Month Academic Planner
Ban.do is known for its quirky planners filled with silly stickers and calming coloring pages. This spiral-bound one is designed to take you from August 2022 through December 2023 and includes year, month and week views, plus pages for notes, coloring and more. It includes stickers to mark your calendars with — and if you run out or just want more options, the company sells several sticker-book options.
Moleskine Classic Planner 2023
This classic option from Moleskine provides a full page for each day in 2023, giving you ample space to take notes, write down appointments and more. The planner also has monthly views, as well as extra features like international measurements, time zones and more. It’s a great way to also look back on your year at the end. It lies flat when opened and comes in both a pocket size (3.5 by 5.5 inches) and a larger, 5- by 8.25-inch edition. You can also choose a hard or soft cover that comes in five colors, including Scarlet Red, Sapphire Blue and Orange Yellow.
Papier Genius Juice Academic Year Planner
This planner from Papier is designed specifically with students in mind, beginning in August 2022 and running through July 2023. It includes weekly, monthly and yearly overviews, with a month-ahead section for goals, deadlines and key dates, It also has a meal-planning section and a finance tracker, which can come in handy if you’re trying to stick to a strict budget.
ArtofBarbell Mindful Eating Food Journal
This planner from ArtofBarbell is designed for those who want to track their food intake and become a more mindful eater. Each day has slots to track up to five meals, and within those slots you can rate your hunger and mood at the time of each meal and indicate why you ate and how you felt afterward. If you’re still new to your nutrition journey, the planner also includes a comprehensive list of proteins, fats, carbs and more.
Life & Apples Wellness Planner
This 13-week undated planner is a food tracker, fitness planner and gratitude journal in one, designed to motivate you to achieve your health, diet and fitness goals and create a healthy and balanced lifestyle, says the brand. The daily spreads include spaces to plan meals and workouts and offer nutritional tips and ways to develop healthy habits. With each purchase, you get the Healthy Eating & Meal Planning e-package, which contains downloadable recipes, weekly meal plans, weekly fitness routines and guide to plan and prep meals. This planner comes in numerous colors such as lavender, rose gold and mint.
Erin Condren Green Wedding Shoes Rose Gold Wedding Planner
Wedding planners are a great way for soon-to-be married couples to stay organized during the hectic planning process. This one from Erin Condren seems to leave nothing unturned. It includes wedding tips and planning checklists; lists and pages for vendors; sections for the wedding party, guest list and seating; spaces for notes, journaling, brainstorming and mood boards; beauty and outfit-planning pages and more. There are also pages for honeymoon details. It comes in several different floral prints and sizes.
Tips and tricks for using a planner
O’Neil advises her clients to record their daily schedules in their planners and jot down an estimated time for each task or appointment. Later, they write down the actual amount of time each item required and reflect on whether their accomplishments “aligned with their daily goals.”
“If daily goals weren’t accomplished, we review together to remove the barriers,” she said.
O’Neil also said that crossing things off a list once they’re complete can help you stay focused on the task at hand. “Time chunking” — which involves “listing 'like with like' items together in your planner” — similarly “allows you to focus on specific tasks,” she noted.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Tammy O’Neil is an associate certified coach (ACC), certified parent trainer (CPT) Certified Student Success Coach (CSSC), ADHD coach and professional organizer specializing in ADHD, chronic disorganization and hoarding.
- Melissa Levy is a professional organizer and the founder of Declutter + Design, a professional organization company.
- Stacey Agin Murray is a professional organizer and the owner of Organized Artistry.
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