Saturday, May 17, 2014

Picking Your Perfect Planner

So you want to start using a planner. From the iPhone apps to the binder style, or from the huge thick planners to the monthly pages, it is easy to get confused and overwhelmed by all of the choices and prices available. But don’t lose sight of what’s important. Ultimately, a planner should serve as a tool and work for your life. It doesn’t have to look pretty or super organized or decorated; it’s purpose is to help organize your priorities, with whichever method that works best for you.

When picking a planner there are a few questions you must answer in order to find a planning system that works well for you.
  • What are you using a planner for? (School, work, home,etc)
  • What type of format do you need? (time slots for appointments, check boxes for todo lists, etc)
  • How much space and customization do you need? (Consider what you are using the planner for as well as how big your handwriting is.)
  • What is your planner budget? (You would be surprised as to how pricey some systems can get.)
These are the main things that you want to think about when you are picking your planner. There are so many different systems out there, how are you to know which one to use? Fret not, here is a giant list (with lots of pictures) of different sorts of planners out there.  

Academic Planners
Academic planners typically run from August to July (there are also 18 month planners which run from August to December of the next year) and are perfect for the studious (or any other) student. They typically will have a monthly view for “big picture planning” (test dates, vacations, etc.) and weekly views to track all of those assignments and readings.
The price of these sorts of planners can range from free to $40 if you want a fancy one. If you are looking for just an average planner, check and see if your school offers one for free. If you don’t want your school mascot plastered onto the front of your planner, check out your local Walmart, Target, or even your local dollar store!
If you want a planner that is very cute or colorful, there are plenty out there. Lilly Pulitzer, Victoria’s Secret, and Vera Bradley are just a few who offer very adorable and a bit pricey planners. Is the price worth it? That is up to you but keep in mind that you should LIKE your planner, and if a cute floral print is what you need to get organized, then get it!

Plannerpeople Rating:
Price: $ - $$  
Pros: Very easy to use, runs for the school year, low priced, easy to find, great first planner.
Cons: Typically spiral bound = no adding or removing pages (unless you get REALLY creative)
Overall: If you aren’t looking for anything more than a place to write down homework and test dates, this is perfect for you!

 Binder Planners
Binder planners are exactly what they sound like. They are typically 6-ringed binders which you buy inserts for. These are good because you can decide what sort of format you want and you can add different things such as meal plans, exercise trackers, quotes, photos, printables, and endless other sections. There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest, Youtube, and countless blogs about how people utilize their binder systems.  
Price wise, this system can be expensive. There are name brands such as Coach, LV, Michael Kors, and all of them have their own binder planner. There are also leather agendas and others that are made of very nice material. These have a wide range of about $20 - $600 dollars.
Brands such as Filofax, Kikki K, and Kate Spade can be found online (unless you are lucky enough to have stores in your area) but if you go to office supplies store or even your local Target or Walmart, brands such as Dayrunner and Daytimer can be found for cheaper prices. Also, check out your local bookstore! Barnes and Nobles has their own brand of planner (Punctuate) which can be very well priced as well as cute.

Plannerpeople Rating
Price: $$ - $$$$$
Pros: Very customizable! Professional, can be as plain or decorated as you want, multiple uses.
Cons: Can be expensive, have to purchase inserts, perhaps too customizable?
Overall: This is a great planner if you know what you want and need in a planner but it isn’t found in a typical spiral bound agenda. For some, too much freedom is a bad thing, and they may dislike the lack of structure and amount of options there are for this system in particular. If this is a system you would like to try but are unsure if you will like it, we recommend buying a cheap version before splurging on a leather agenda.  

DIY Planners
DIY planners are exactly what they sound like. Anything from using a spiral notebook or buying a binder and making your own planning system to making your own printables for your binder system. These are the highest on the customizable level. You can add anything you need and make it completely your own.
There is no exact pricing on this type of planning system. It could be the price of a notebook and post it notes, or perhaps printing a planner and having it bound. There are endless possibilities for this system. And perhaps you want to use a system that somebody else has DIY’ed? is full of different types of printables and bound agendas to choose from.

Plannerpeople Rating
Price: $-$$$$$
Pros: Completely customizable, can be as simple or complex as you wish
Cons:  Making a planner can be time consuming and overwhelming if you don’t know exactly what you want.
Overall: Simular to the binder method, this can be great for somebody who needs something that isn’t offered in other planners. If you have tried other systems and they haven’t been the right fit for you, then maybe you should try to make your own.

Electronic Planners
Maybe paper and pencil just don’t do it for you? Well, if you are more of a technological kind of person, then there are plenty of planners found online or even included on nearly all smart phones. We won’t get into too much detail about this until a future post but there are many calendar applications and websites that are easily found online or on your application store.
Price wise, these are usually very cheap. If you are hesitant on spending $10 or more on an app, we suggest that you look for a “lite” version or perhaps a similar app for a cheaper price before committing to the app. There are plenty of free resources to take advantage of online though.
Some apps we can mention now? All Apple products come with a calendar app installed which can be used and color coded as much as you want. Google also has a calendar system which will email you to remind you about upcoming events. For the student, iStudiez is a great app which syncs with all of your devices. There are endless amounts of online planners to use, what’s your favorite?

PlannerPeople Rating
Price: $- $$
Pros: Most people nowadays always have their phone with them. With electronic apps, there is no hassle of finding the right pen or lugging around a heavy book around. Electronic planners allow for syncing between people which is probably the easiest way to share your plans.
Cons: Phones die! Also, sometimes writing something down is just the simplest way to do things.
Overall: This method works for some and not for others, we personally prefer the old pen and paper but sometimes, it is easier to just rely on your phone. A word of advice, always back up your planner!

Non Planner Planners
Well, we have touched base on almost every type of planner out there but maybe none of them suit you. Perhaps there is more than one person is using the planning system or you just don’t need a full blown binder. There are many “non-planner” planning methods such as white boards, wall calendars, or even loose sticky notes and to-do lists. These are easy to apply to your home and can be used with children as well.

PlannerPeople Rating
Price: $-$$$
Pros: Can be very simple! Sticky notes left on the fridge or a white board with lots of colors! The possibilities are endless!
Cons: Can be difficult to organize when everything is all over the place. If a system works for you, then make sure you stick to it and keep it up to date.
Overall: This is great for those people who don't have an ideal planner or just need a few reminders here and there.

If you are confused as to what kind of planning style you prefer, we encourage you to test out different ones for each month, week, or day. Every so often, you can switch up to a different style until you find one that best fits your personality and lifestyle. Perhaps you need a hybrid method that is a mixture of the planners listed above, or maybe you use something completely different. What is your perfect planner and how do you plan?

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