As we approach the New Year, now seems as good a time as ever to start getting organized. An essential step for getting organized is feeling organized, and using something as simple as a day planner can be an important step in achieving that feeling. We are much more likely to complete a task if we physically write it down, and what better place to write than a fantastic 2020 planner that you can take anywhere?
Buying a new, empty planner can be daunting. With a blank canvas, starting to get organized can seem impossible. However, there are plenty of blogs and websites from which planner users can draw inspiration. Some rely on color-coding, keeping categories of events and activities easy to differentiate. Work events may be green; family is pink, friends are orange— each aspect of your day is laid out systematically. Some users employ symbols like preceding dots and dashes to indicate the importance of a task. A dot might indicate an email that needs to go out first thing in the morning, while the “pick up drycleaning” line has a dash that means, “before the place closes (this time).” And though many planner bloggers obsess over pen and marker quality, if you prefer an easily erasable “pencil you in” method, try erasable colored pencils for the best of both worlds!
Many planner companies produce sticker sets that match the planner you purchase, including general headings or symbols, or specialized to your career or hobbies you enjoy. The Happy Planner company has specialized sticker sets for teachers, students, new and expectant parents, and even a set to help you keep track of a Bible Study curriculum. Erin Condren creates more generalized stickers for new parents, habit tracking, goal setting, and meal planning to help track and prioritize tasks. Alternatively, a packet of star or circle stickers from the office supply store can help you accomplish the same organization if you don’t need a super-specialized sticker set.
Erin Condren planners offer a wide variety of customization options, from the outside laminated cover, personalized with your name and the year, to the layout of the pages inside. Their coiled, notebook-style LifePlanner is seven inches wide and nine inches tall, large enough to see your writing but small enough to fit inside most bags. The paper is thick so that pen ink won’t leak through, keeping each week’s layout neat and easy to read. Along with weekly planning pages and full calendars for each month, the LifePlanner has 20 pages for goal-setting, notes and habit-tracking, and also includes stickers to make to-do lists and appointments easier to integrate into the weekly layouts and calendars; the company offers even more fun stickers to highlight a weekend getaway or special birthday. Erin Condren also makes specialized LifePlanners for teachers that include pages for lesson planning and a wedding planner for brides-to-be to keep track of all the details of their special day.
Easy, Tiger Stationery creates some of today’s most humorous cards and notes, and their planner collection is no different. Cloth-bound and available in two sizes—the pocket-sized mini (3- by 5.5-inch) and large (5- by 7.5-inch)—Easy, Tiger planners are available in daily or weekly styles. The daily schedule has one day on each page with an hourly breakdown for scheduling, a gridded section for writing checklists, and a holiday every day (hello National Waffle Iron Day, June 29!). The weekly schedule has the same components as the daily but is laid out to show the entire week. All of the Easy, Tiger planners have the same sense of humor as their cards—self-described as “finely crafted sarcasm (+stuff)”—so they’re perfect if you like a little cheekiness in your day-to-day.
Available in three sizes, the Happy Planner is another highly customizable planner option. Instead of a notebook-style coil or traditional cloth binding, Happy Planner uses sturdy laminated covers and discs to hold the pages together. Pages snap in and out of a solid plastic disc with a heart-shaped ring in the middle, allowing the user to add new sections to their planners, such as fitness trackers and meal planning guides available through the company. You can take pages out as you use them so the planner doesn’t become too bulky. The Happy Planner fillers come in 18-month sets instead of 12, so you have to reload less often; accessories include stickers for holidays and activities, so you can decorate your planner as you please!
Less is more
For those who are looking for a straightforward planning style, brands like Moleskine and Ink+Volt offer a streamlined layout that’s intuitive and simple. Moleskine planners have easy-to-read weekly layouts with a page for notes or lists beside each week. They are available in either hard or softcover, with lots of color options and three sizes: pocket, large and extra-large. Moleskine planners, like their classic notebooks, are accessorized with an attached ribbon bookmark and an elastic band to keep the book closed when not in use. Ink+Volt planners offer a bit more than the basics of Moleskine, but still feature simple calendars and weekly layouts to make schedules easy to write in and read. The Ink+Volt planner includes unique monthly and weekly goal pages to reflect and focus on projects and aspirations, with a bullet sheet to graph habits, boxes to write down a weekly focus, and a checklist to record goals. The Ink+Volt planner, with its compact 6- by 8.5-inch profile, fits in your bag and on your desk. It is covered with durable book linen and hard-bound with a lie-flat binding; the book will lie flat no matter which page you’re on. The planner also includes two attached ribbon bookmarks, one for the current month’s calendar and one for the current week.
Planner options are limitless, but choosing one is highly personal. None is better than the other but all can be a real help in structuring our daily lives. Keeping a written record is shown to aid time management, improve productivity, relieve stress, and increase creativity; a planner you start on New Year’s Day will begin your personal chronicle of the events of your year in one customized tome. Whatever size, purpose, or style suits your needs, utilizing a planner can help you become your best self, and this time next year as 2020 winds down, you can look back over all the great things you’ve accomplished. ✦