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Just 5 Great Planners For Anyone Who Still Needs One

I’ve spent the last few weeks elbow-deep in planners; here are some of the best ones!

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Hello, friends! If January 1 snuck up on you (like it toooootally snuck up on me) and you’re still looking for a planner to help you achieve all* of your goals this year, you’re in luck! I’ve spent the last few weeks looking at a bunch of different planners and have put together a list of some of the ones worth checking out.

Rachel Miller

*Or just, like, one goal. No shame in being realistic.

Full disclosure: I no longer use a guided planner; I DIY mine. But I still love and respect all planners, and I know that guided planners are ideal for a lot of people. They aren't as customizable, but that's exactly what you might want/need — they do most of the work for you.

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1. The Simple Elephant — $19.99

amazon.com, Rachel Miller

(Tap any photo to enlarge)

This planner is a big seller on Amazon, with 700+ reviews and a 4.5-star rating. As someone who is very picky about paper, I ordered it with low expectations — and was pleasantly surprised! It has a very clean, unfussy, and neutral-posi vibe overall.

Things I liked:

• The cover has a really nice feel, is a pretty color, and seems quite sturdy.

• It’s undated, so you can miss a week or two (or start in late January) and just keep on rolling.

• There is a generous notes/journaling section in the back (59 lined pages)!

• It comes with stickers and a pen loop, and it has a back interior cover pocket.

• There are a couple of goal-oriented pages at the beginning, but overall, it's pretty low-key.

• Each month starts with a blank calendar you can fill out with events for the month, and there's a spot to write some monthly tasks/goals/reminders.

• It’s designed to last a full year.

• The pages are numbered, so you could create an index if you wanted to.

• There are little elephant icons sprinkled throughout as a reminder to flip back to your focus pages to check in on your big goals. Cheesy, but I’ll allow it.

• It’s described as a "planner for achievers" and that honestly made me feel really good even though they don’t know the first thing about my life.

Take it or leave it:

• It's broken down into weekly spreads (so, a single week is laid out across two pages). If you want each day to have its own full page, this isn't the planner for you. But I used a dated planner with a very similar layout in high school, and I loved it.

• The weekly “what I can do better” box is nice in theory, but after looking at a dozen planners, I was kind of over this kind of thing. Just let me be!!!

• It’s only available in one color. That said, it’s a very nice color, and you could probably find some kind of cover for it if you didn't like the blue.

• There’s an elephant embossed on the cover (but it’s subtle and could easily be covered with a sticker if you don’t like it)

Good for: Teens or adults; people who don’t need a lot of room for each day's events/tasks; people who don’t want/need an hourly breakdown; people who want something on the lighter/smaller side; people who don’t want something overly goaly (a word I just made up).

Get it from Amazon for $19.99.

2. Panda Planner — $26.97

amazon.com, Rachel Miller

Keeping up with the animals/Amazon theme, let’s move onto the Panda Planner! This one has 2,800+ reviews and a 4.5-star rating, which is pretty impressive. Unlike the Simple Elephant planner, it has daily pages (including an hourly schedule) and also...a lot of pandas.

Things I liked:

• It comes in four colors, has a nice sturdy cover, and is a good size (lightweight, will fit in a large purse).

• It’s undated.

• It has monthly, weekly, and daily pages.

• The monthly pages are more robust than the Elephant Planner’s; there is a spot to write down a focus and a habit, a spot for listing distractions you want to avoid, and a space for reflecting at the end of the month. I thought the prompts were good, and I like tackling them at the the monthly level.

• Each daily page is actually two pages: The left page is built for morning reflection (there’s even a spot for an affirmation) and the right page is built for tasks and an hourly schedule.

• There are three built-in bookmarks and a pocket on the interior back cover.

• It’s got a one-year guarantee — if you don’t like it, the company will give you a refund.

Take it or leave it:

• It's said to last between three to six months, which is fine (I pay $20 for a new notebook every three months) but given the price ($27), this could definitely be a dealbreaker for some people.

• There’s a panda embossed on the cover. (But it could be covered with a sticker!)

• It’s more aggressively goal-oriented than I personally would want, and the amount of prompts on the weekly and daily pages are a bit much for my taste. Like, I don’t need to list my "passion project" each week and I don’t have an affirmation each day. (Though maybe I should?)

• The first page has a lot of instructions. It also wants me to go to a website to watch videos on how to use it. I think the first page of a planner should be prettier to look at. Also...no thank you to watching videos?

• The product description includes this promise: “Besides the remarkable day planner, I’m going to give you 7 FREE ebooks and a video mini-course to 10x your productivity! I’ll cover topics such as Crushing your Goals, A Billionaire’s Guide to Productivity, Curing Procrastination, Getting in Shape, Getting Straight A's, and Getting Rid of Anxiety. Improve not only your schedule, but yourself!” *shrug*

• I didn’t love the font/style/amount of pandas throughout.

Overall, the Panda Planner was a little too guided and a bit juvenile for my taste, but with so many positive Amazon reviews, I’m willing to stand down!

Good for: people who are young or young at heart; people who want a lot of guidance with their planner; people who are really about the self-improvement/affirmations/crushing their goals; your 14-year-old sibling who loves watching TED Talks; people who want to do more daily journaling; people who liked the Elephant Planner but want that, like, dialed up to an 11; people who just really love pandas.

Get it from Amazon for $26.97 (currently on sale for a limited time for $19.99+).

3. Hobonichi Techo Cousin — $33.64

1101.com, 1101.com, Rachel Miller

I’ve had my eye on this planner for almost a year, so I was really excited to check out the 2018 edition IRL. Each year, the brand releases a new family of planners, and they make changes and improvements based on customer feedback. All of the Techos are expertly designed and really lovely, but the Cousin was my personal favorite. (It was also my favorite of all of the planners I looked at.) The Cousin a perfect marriage of form and function, and I seriously considered abandoning my DIY approach so I could use this one instead. TBH, I’m still not sure if I made the right choice.

Things I liked:

• It’s a great size (it's 5.8" x 8.3", making it the biggest of all the Hobonichi Techos), and it’s quite lightweight even though it covers an entire year and each day gets its own page.

• There are monthly calendar pages, a spot for monthly tasks/reminders/goals, weekly pages (that include a cool hourly breakdown), and then daily pages.

• The daily pages are so well designed. There’s an hourly breakdown on the left (but it doesn’t dominate the page) and space for tasks on the right. And the bottom has enough space for notes/journaling.

• The ink is intentionally light enough so you can ignore any guides/features you don't really want to use.

• There are a lot of other little design touches that make it feel special and show how much thought went into it. For example, each month is done with a different ink color, and each day has a little spot with the phase of the moon.

• I love, love, love the creamy cover; it’s on the thinner side but seems surprisingly durable. (I tried bending the corners, assuming it would be easy, and I actually couldn’t do it.)

• There are some cool pages in the back including “My 100” and “Favorites” (with cute little icons to mark for movie, book, etc.) and some blank graph paper.

• It has layflat binding! Also the paper itself is wonderful; it’s very smooth, and it’s thin but it doesn’t bleed. Japanese stationery is top-notch and it really shows here.

Take it or leave it:

• It’s dated.

• The daily quotes are all in Japanese, which is a bummer if you don’t speak Japanese. (Some of the other Hobonichi Techos have them in English though.)

• It’s only available in one color. But there are dozens of different covers you can buy for it.

Good for: people who appreciate nice design; people who really love great paper; people who want each day to have its own page; people who want some flexibility depending on the day; bullet journalers, or would-be bullet journalers who want something more guided.

Get it from Hobonichi 1101 for $33.64.

4. Day Designer Flagship — $59

daydesigner.com, daydesigner.com, Rachel Miller

The Day Designer is Pinterest AF. Because of its size, the Flagship would be a good planner for someone who works from home, or who can leave their planner on their desk most of the time. (I could see teachers really liking it.) I didn’t get a chance to handle the Mini Flagship, but from what I can see, it looks like a great pick because my biggest issue with the one I tried is its size. (There are also some other options in varying sizes and with some different features on the Day Designer website.) It’s well designed inside and out, and looks made to sit on a glossy white desk in a perfectly-styled Instagram photo.

Things I liked:

• The intro pages are really thoughtfully done and I found them legitimately inspiring. I plan to use some of the prompts in my journal to kick off my 2018.

• It’s spiral bound. (Not normally my preference, but I liked it here.)

• There are multiple cover designs.

• I actually loved the guidance on the daily pages, especially the spot labeled “due” (just smart/useful) and the spot labeled “dinner,” where you’re supposed to write down what you ate, where you ate, and who you ate with. I’m a big fan of journaling/keeping a diary via simple questions that you can answer every day, and I thought this was a great question.

• Day Designer makes free printables! You can download and print goal setting pages, as well as the actual daily pages. It's so nice to be able to do a trial run and get a feel for the page designs before you spend $50-$60 on it, or just utilize them in other ways.

Take it or leave it:

• There are multiple cover options, but they all have a pretty similar aesthetic, and it might not be yours.

• It's on the higher end, price-wise.

• The flagship is big/bulky. It’s fine if you drive everywhere or can leave it in your office, but it was just too big for me. (The mini seems way more manageable, but may still be too bulky for some people.)

Good for: people who want a really elegant planner; people who work from home, carry a big-ass bag, and/or drive everywhere; anyone who secretly dreams of living that Utahn fashion/mom blogger life.

Get it from Day Designer for $59.

5. Ink+Volt — $40

inkandvolt.com, inkandvolt.com, Rachel Miller

This one came highly recommended by one of the most elegant/shit-together/goals AF people I know. One of my BFFs also bought one for 2018, and has been raving about how much she likes it for the past two weeks. It's just super aesthetically pleasing and feels very grown-up and modern. It’s week-oriented, but also builds in space for monthly goals/challenges too. After getting my hands on one, I can see what the fuss is all about.

Things I liked:

• The covers are gorgeous (and you have a choice of 12 nice, neutral colors) and the pages are beautifully designed.

• The weekly layouts (which are spread across two pages) are organized vertically, which makes a lot of sense — there's enough space to write your entire task list in a single column.

• I like their prompts and framework for thinking about the year, and about each month.

• The company sells printable PDF versions of the page layouts for $10 so you could either grab those for a trial run, or print them and put them in some other kind of binder. The PDFs are also editable which is very cool.

(Also: if you click that link, you can scroll down a bit and “page through” the entire planner!)

Take it or leave it:

• There are no daily pages — just monthly and weekly.

• I wasn't crazy about the goal stuff when I looked at it online...but after flipping through it, I liked it a lot. Some of it feels a little hokey (like, I don't need to sign my monthly goal page, you guys) but most goal stuff is a little hokey, TBH. The most important thing is to find the hokey stuff that speaks to you.

• It’s dated. (There’s also an undated version — but it’s currently out of stock.)

Ultimately, I liked the Ink+Volt goal planning exercises so much that I decided to use it in conjunction with my journal, which I was not expecting to happen.

Good for: People who care about design; people who are very goal-oriented; people who love their Apple watch and Allbirds; grown-ass people doing grown-ass things.

Get it from Ink + Volt for $40.

And, finally, here are a few other options that I didn’t get a chance to personally try for this year, but that I’ve heard great things about, that are still in stock, and that y’all will yell at me for not mentioning:

• Passion Planner — $25+

• Erin Condren — $55+

• Plum Paper — $32

Whew! That's all, see you in a year!!!

inkandvolt.com

PS I have been posting photos and videos of all the planners I’m looking at on Instagram Stories, so if you want to see all of my first impressions and get a better look at some of the pages, you can check them out at @the_rewm. (They are all saved on my profile as a Highlight.)