The Best Planners for the Year Ahead

Organize by the day, week, or month with these planners.

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The Best Planner Options

Photo: amazon.com

One of the highlights of ringing in the New Year, starting a new school year, or even simply picking up a calendar is the chance to start fresh. With a new planner, any week or month can feel like a fresh slate. The best planner is a go-to desk accessory (and general organization staple) that will depend on your preferred calendar view and how much space you need to plan. Whether you’re a student keeping track of class schedules and school assignments or you’re someone who prefers jotting family schedules and to-do lists into a physical planner as opposed to using a smartphone app, start with these shopping tips and recommendations.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Artfan 2021 Weekly Monthly Planner, Saffiano Leather
  2. RUNNER-UP: Lemome Jan 2021 – Dec 2021 Weekly & Monthly Planner
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BooQool 2021 Weekly & Monthly Planner
  4. BEST FOR STUDENTS: Artfan Planner 2021- Weekly & Monthly Planner
  5. BEST FOR TEACHERS: Elan Publishing Company 7 Period Teacher Lesson Plan
  6. BEST DAILY PLANNER: Panda Planner Pro Daily Planner Undated
  7. BEST BUSINESS PLANNER: Smart Planner Pro – Daily Planner
  8. BEST FOR BULLET JOURNALING: Clever Fox Planner Daily Organizer
  9. BEST FAMILY ORGANIZER: 2021 Amy Knapp’s Family Organizer
The Best Planner Options

Photo: amazon.com

Tips for Choosing the Best Planners

The first step to getting organized is having a clearly defined roadmap in place to help you achieve your goals. A planner can help you do that. But before you buy any old planner, take a moment to consider what you need to help you stay organized. Do you like keeping a daily checklist of tasks close at hand so that you can stay on track throughout the day or are you more inclined to list out only the big tasks you have to tackle weekly? Will you be carrying your planner around with you in a bag or a backpack, which will necessitate it to be made of durable materials, or will it be sitting on your desk most of the time? Keep these tips in mind as you choose a planner:

  • Decide if you want a daily, a weekly, or a monthly calendar. The more detail you like to enter into your planner, the more space you’ll need―a daily or a weekly planner may be the best equipped. Monthly calendar views, however, provide a quick look ahead.
  • Consider the materials used to make the planner (i.e. leather, synthetic, or sturdy chipboard). In addition to defining aesthetics, the quality and durability of the material can protect the pages better if and when you toss it in your bag or backpack to take with you.
  • Choose your preferred binding style. Spiral often allows for users to flip used pages to the back of the planner like a notepad or tear them out entirely; meanwhile, perfect-bound planners open flat for use on a table or other work surface.
  • Take note of any options in addition to calendars that you might need. For example, individuals who make weekly grocery runs can benefit from a spot to write out a weekly shopping list. Likewise, students may appreciate a series of blank pages for scribbling down notes.

Our Top Picks

Being organized is a process, but finding a planner that works for you should be the easy part. Start with this short list of some of the best planners so that you can look ahead to focus on the more important things, like meeting that deadline.

Best Overall

Photo: amazon.com

From weekly and monthly calendar options to colorful stickers and tabs for easy access that is right at your fingertips, this 8.4- by 5.7-inch planner is a true workhorse when it comes to organization. Bound in durable Saffiano leather (the same material used by high-end designers to make their leather goods), this planner comes equipped with a few noteworthy perks, such as a pen holder and thick, non-bleached pages that not only help your eyesight by reducing glare but also inhibit ink from bleeding through. Other features include 88 blank pages for scribbling notes, lists of state capitals and time zones, and a U.S. map.

Runner-Up

The Best Planner Option: Lemome Jan 2021 - Dec 2021 Weekly & Monthly Planner
Photo: amazon.com

Available in four colors (blue, brown, gray, and pink), this stylish planner is made of soft yet durable faux leather―a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to the real deal. Inside, weekly and monthly calendars from January through December 2021 help users stay on top of both short- and long-term goals, with note sections on the page margins to scribble random thoughts. This 5.75- by 8.25-inch planner also contains yearly overviews for 2021 and 2022, two ribbon bookmarks, a pen holder, stickers, and an inner pocket perfect for storing additional paperwork, such as business cards or receipts.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Planner Option: BooQool 2021 Weekly & Monthly Planner
Photo: amazon.com

This 6.25- by 8.3-inch wire-bound planner is proof positive that you don’t have to pay big bucks to organize your calendar. Priced affordably, this 12-month planner organizes the year into weekly and monthly spreads as well as a year-long overview on which you can highlight the important dates. Additionally, monthly tabs, a two-sided inner pocket, and a durable and flexible cover make this planner a great value.

Best for Students

The Best Planner Option: Artfan Planner 2021- Weekly & Monthly Planner
Photo: amazon.com

Juggling assignment deadlines, class schedules, extracurriculars, social activities, and more can be stressful for students. Between its cheerful covers, this spiral planner offers 12 months of weekly and monthly pages, each 8 inches by 9.8 inches large, providing ample space to jot down all the important dates throughout 2021. Each spread also offers designated spots for daily to-do lists (complete with checkboxes), helping you stay on track of tasks both big and small.

Best for Teachers

The Best Planner Option: Elan Publishing Company 7 Period Teacher Lesson Plan
Photo: amazon.com

Available dressed in either solid blue or a watercolor floral pattern, this 8.5- by 11-inch wire-bound planner is specifically designed with teachers in mind. In 40 weeks’ worth of planning pages, this book divides each spread into sections for up to seven periods per day and leaves room to write out seating charts for each class. There are also sections for recording students’ grades, comprehensive planning measures, and notes and procedures for substitute teachers.

Best Daily Planner

The Best Planner Option: Panda Planner Pro Daily Planner Undated
Photo: amazon.com

Emblazoned with an illustration of a panda on its soft-bound cover, this daily planner takes a scientific approach to the business of staying organized by focusing on the power of positive psychology. The 8.5- by 11-inch Panda Planner Pro aims to make planning fun by dividing each daily page into sections for setting a “morning review” of what you’re grateful and excited about that day. In addition to six months of (non-dated) daily and weekly spreads, additional spots offer room for penning your upcoming schedule, deadlines, and important notes. Moreover, this planner gives you access to a private membership site that offers tips and tricks to being happy and successful in both business and in life.

Best Business Planner

The Best Planner Option: Smart Planner Pro - Daily Planner
Photo: amazon.com

This faux leather planner is sleek and professional enough to bring along to meetings, conferences, and other work settings. Available in three colors (black, blue, and red), this 5.7- by 8.6-inch planner offers a range of organizational options, from designated sections to write out your monthly calendars and daily schedules to habit tracking and goal setting. Each spread gives you an in-depth look into your plan of attack for the week or month ahead at a glance, so you can focus on getting down to business.

Best for Bullet Journaling

The Best Planner Option: Clever Fox Planner Daily Organizer
Photo: amazon.com

Bullet journaling, a method of personal organization created by designer Ryder Carroll, has become a trendy method for tracking one’s goals, such as diet, exercise, and budget. This 5.5- by 8.5-inch Clever Fox planner is geared specifically for six months of that and more. Alongside sections designed for listing short- and long-term goals, daily to-do lists, weekly reviews, and important dates of the month, dotted grids leave room to scribble down notes and draw (the latter of which is a big part of bullet journaling). There are even sections for creating a vision board and a Mind Map to help keep what’s important to you close at hand.

Best Family Organizer

The Best Planner Option: 2021 Amy Knapp’s Family Organizer
Photo: amazon.com

This spiral-bound planner helps families take control of their hectic schedules by putting all of the most important dates and details (right down to emergency numbers for babysitters and quick contact information for your children’s organizations) in one place. Noteworthy aspects of this 6- by 8.3-inch planner include monthly and weekly spreads for recording each family member’s schedule from August 2020 to December 2021, tear-off grocery lists, goal-setting pages, and sticker sheets containing more than 200 full-color stickers to help brighten the family calendar.

FAQs About Planners

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of planners available, see if any lingering questions can be answered with the information below.

Q. Should I get a bullet journal or a planner?

If you enjoy drawing and scribbling in addition to planning, you may appreciate that bullet journals offer more of a blank canvas. However, if you only want to record to-do lists and important dates, a planner may be the better option.

Q. What is the most popular planner size?

Planners come in a variety of sizes, but popular choices are 5 by 8 inches or 8.5 by 11 inches.

Q. How do I use a planner?

A planner is used to track important dates, tasks, schedules, etc. Jot down events and reminders on the appropriate days for a physical reminder. If you use a smart pen in conjunction with your planner, you can even keep digital versions of these notes.