With the new year already just two months away, we're inching closer and closer to echoing the New Year's resolutions of years past. For most, getting organized is usually at the top of the list.
Next year will be different (for real this time), because we're going to prepare early by securing the perfect planner now. We consulted experts about how to find the right planner for you, along with how to stick with using it. The Shop TODAY team also shared a few styles that keep us organized.
How to choose the right planner
Katy Allen, owner of digital planner company Artful Agenda, and Linda Tong, owner of her namesake planner brand, both suggest starting by thinking about your lifestyle and your needs before picking a random planner off the shelf.
Here are a few questions they recommend asking yourself:
- Do you prefer the physical act of writing things down?
- Do you like to have a certain aesthetic for your calendar?
- Do you need to have a calendar synced with other people (work, partners or kids)?
- Are you always on the go and need something that you can easily check?
- What type of planning do you do most often (hourly, weekly, monthly)?
If you answered “yes” to either or both of the first two questions, you’ll probably want to go for a physical planner. If you answered “yes” to either of the two questions that follow, a digital planner might be more your speed. The last question will determine which planner style will be most beneficial for you — daily, weekly or monthly.
Both acknowledge that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so you might have to endure a bit of trial and error before finding the perfect fit. Allen says the free trials offered from digital planner companies are a great place to start. If you’re looking for a physical planner and willing to buy several different styles, Tong says it’s a worthwhile investment so you can figure out what works best for you.
Best planners, according to Shop TODAY editors
Writer Danielle Murphy is currently using this planner and loves it. "I really like how each day is a vertical column so I can write lists, make notes or whatever and there’s a ton of space."
Deals editor Rebecca Brown says she is "obsessed with this weekly planner." Designed to look like a vintage legal pad, it has 100 tear-away pages so you can use this planner for nearly two years.
Senior SEO editor Jess Bender says she's making 2024 the year when she's going to become "a planner girl." She was gifted this humorous option that's undated so she can decide when her year starts without wasting any pages. "It’s also fun to see the random holidays and 'On this day' trivia sprinkled on every date," she says.
It's also a favorite of editorial assistant Sierra Hoeger (who happens to be the one who gifted it to Bender!).
Editorial assistant Erica Marrison says she loves her Moleskine because it's not too bulky in her work bag and there's lots of room to take notes. "I can't use another brand," she raves. This one comes in three colors, three sizes and arrives with a plethora of stickers in tow.
This is the planner I've personally been using for the past year and love that there's enough space to note all of my meetings, to-do lists and notes each week. There are also bulleted pages in the back for those who like to bullet journal and fun stickers in the front to give it a personal touch.
Production coordinator Camryn Privette says this is "forever her favorite planner." She's been using these since college and, while she's a fan of the design, also loves how cute they look sitting on her desk.
Associate SEO editor Allie Wise likes Papier planners because they're lightweight and chic. She's always fielding compliments about her 2023 planner from the brand and is eyeing this design for next year.
Tips for staying organized
While the idea of using a planner is great, it can be hard to stay organized once the initial excitement has died down. Here are some tips from the pros on how to stick with it:
- Be flexible. Allen says it’s okay not to stick to the exact same system for the entire year. “Finding a planner that allows you to change how you do things as you go so that you can do it in a way that works for you in that moment or in that season of your life,” she says. “Be willing to be flexible and taking time every so often to assess if what you’re doing works for you!”
- Look at it every day. It can be easy to forget about your planner once you close it and stow it away, so Tong suggests getting into the habit of just looking at it (even if you have nothing to add) at least once a day.