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While it can be daunting to choose the right planner, fortunately it does not have to be nearly as hard as it may seem!

There are a lot of great planners and personal organizers out there to choose from, so today we’ll take a look at some of the best planners and explore the different features to help you decide on what the best planner is right for you!

Don’t Let the Fear of Commitment Stop You From Getting a Planner

My husband said  it best while we were shopping for a new calendar yesterday, “I want to make sure I get the right one – this is a major commitment we’re talking about!”

It seems silly, to think of something which is essentially just some paper and a calendar to be a “major commitment” – but it does sort of feel that way sometimes. A planner is supposed to be for a whole year! 

And sometimes, sadly, that “whole year” kind of thinking makes me not even want to get a planner at all. What if I abandon it mid-year like all those other planners of my past? What if I start to dread and hate using this planner after a couple of weeks?

The good news is you can always switch or start a new planner at any time of the year. Yes, you can switch planners even in the middle of the week if necessary!

While it IS nice to get the right planner the first time, sometimes getting a couple of different planners can help you decide what is best for you.

And of course, if you do end up trying different types of planners and not liking one for whatever reason, you can always transform it into an altered book or use it for making a junk journal.

If you’re wondering what planner to choose for 2019, my hope is this guide will help you pick the right one that you like the most and most importantly is the right planner that works for YOU and your needs.

Rule #1: The Best Planner is the One You Actually Will Use

I know for me, as someone who LOVES all things paper and stationary and office supplies, it’s very easy to fall in love with a planner, even when this planner might not be the right one that matches what I need to plan. 

Almost all planners are pretty – but some planners even go so far to cross the line to promise they will make you a better person and magically transform your life. All you need to do is get a certain brand planner and your life will instantly be better!

You will be more productive! You will be a better parent, spouse, and friend. Your career will flourish! You will have the life of your dreams! Your problems will melt away and your life will be amazing! 

All you need for this magic transformation, of course, is this brand planner and all of its coordinating matching stationary, stickers, washi-tape, pens and stencils.  

Over the years I’ve learned to look past these promises and realize most of those promises are more of a marketing gimmick than an actual magic answer for our problems.

A planner, no matter what brand or type you get, at the end of it all is really just a calendar – it’s essentially a book of paper. Yes, it can be a very powerful tool – but it’s ultimately up to us on how we use it!

So, while I am going to share some different brands and types of planners out there that you can choose from for 2019, I also want to stress there really is only one “Best Planner”: The best planner is whatever planner works best for YOU and YOUR NEEDS.

A lot of this is going to depend on which one matches up the best with the way your brain is able to process, sort, and organize information. Like I said in my post on how to organize collage supplies, we tend to all categorize and sort information in different ways!

If you’re one of those people wondering, “should I get the Happy Planner or the Erin Condren Life Planner or a Filofax or… something else?” – this post may not fully answer that question.

I am happy to share my experiences and thoughts with each of the planners {because at this point I have used almost all of them!} – but I also can’t say with 100% certainty what works for me will work for you.

Another thing to consider? Sometimes you might just need more than one planner. I know if I tried to mash up everything in my life in just one planner it would be VERY messy.

That was the inspiration for my post on planner theme ideas – because sometimes it’s better to have a planner set for something very specific, such as one for work/business or one for home management, or even a planner just for keeping track of travel and vacation plans.

All of this being said, there are many lovely planners out there to choose from, and I KNOW there is a planner somewhere out there that is perfect for what you need.

You can also even make your own custom planner. I know that a custom planner might take a little more work to make and prepare – but it could be exactly the solution you are looking for to ensure everything you want in a planner will be in that planner!

What Should I Look for in the Elusive Perfect Planner?

how to choose a planner

Over the years, I have used a LOT of different types of planners and different brands of planners. If there is a planner out there, I am sure I have tried it, or at least deeply researched it before deciding not to get it.

My own list of priorities may be different, but I think these are reasonable things that most people look for in a good planner. Asking these questions will help you decide on the perfect planner that best meets your needs in 2019.

1. What Are You Planning? What Type of Planner Do You Want?

I think first and foremost, it’s important to think about what you need a planner to plan. Why do you even want or need a planner?

Here are some common types of planners:

Personal / Journal Style Planners: These styles of planners are best for “every day” life. Maybe you just want a way to keep track of your schedule or your appointments. Many of these planners can serve as a way to document daily every day life. This is a nice “no pressure” kind of journal and planner that fits almost any kind of lifestyle. 

Work & Business Productivity Planners: These types of planners make the most sense if your goals are mostly work or career related. These types of planners often have specialized sections that make sense for work projects or business goals, but may not be ideal for other types of goals.

Goal Reaching Planners: These styles of planners are usually related to achieving a specific goal. Some of these planners are specific for types of goals, such as finance and budget planning goals, while others might relate to health and fitness goals. 

Household/Family Organizer Planner: These types of planners are great for parents and those who have to juggle and organize the schedules of every person in the household. From meal planning to keeping track of chores and bills to family member activities, a household organizer planner can be a nice way to stay on top of everything.

It’s important to remember here that every person is different. What works for one person might not work for another person. We all process information differently. We also all have different life situations and different goals and priorities.

Knowing why you want a planner and what you want to use it for will help narrow down the overwhelming selection of choices!

2. What Size Planner is Right For You?

Just as there are many different types of planners, planners also come in many different shapes and sizes. Most planners come in one of three sizes: Oversized, Standard, and Mini – naturally the name will likely vary based on the brand.

  • A an oversized planner is usually going to measure at least 8.5×11″ in size, though some may even be larger than that.
  • “Standard planner sizes” are usually somewhere between 5.5″x8.5″ and 7 in – 10 in in size.
  • Mini planners are usually more pocket sized – something that is under 5″ tall and would easily fit into your purse or even a front coat pocket.

For me, the size of the planner mostly depends on what I am using the planner for. If it’s something I’m using for day to day stuff, I find the standard or even pocket size is better – this way it is mostly portable.

However, for projects that I primarily work on at home or need a LOT of planning involved, the larger sizes can be nice for that.

3. What Type of Binding Do You Need? Understanding Planner Binding Styles

There are four main types of binding in planners. Understanding these different things will make it a little easier to choose which one is comfortable to work in and makes more sense for you.

Spiral Bound Planners

This is a planner where there is a coil that binds all of the pages together. This is the most common style of binding, but for many people this can also be maddening because it’s not always comfortable to write around when doing a 2 page weekly layout. 

Erin Condren Life Planner is one of the most popular options that has this type of binding, although the company also offers hardbound styles as well.

Erin Condren 2019 12 Month (Jan 2019 - Dec 2019) LifePlanner, Painted Petals- Vertical (Colorful Layout)

 out of stock
as of June 17, 2024 5:53 am

Ring Binders: Personal Organizer Planners

These planners are typically marketed more as a “personal organizer” and resemble a standard binder  like the kind you might remember from school. The main advantage to these planners is they are easy to customize, since you can always make your own planner inserts.

Filofax The Original Personal Size Leather Organizer Agenda Ring Binder Calendar with DiLoro Jot Pad Refill Patent Rose 022595

 out of stock
as of June 17, 2024 5:53 am

These types of planners often have a latch to keep the organizer closed, and you can also use reinforcement stickers to prevent pages from slipping out. Some of these styles of planners may require a special hole punch, since different companies use different spacing and different paper sizes. 

Popular Ring Binder Styles & Brands

Disc Bound Planner Systems

This is a relatively newer style of binding in planners, in where several discs are used to bind all of the papers together in place. The two most known brands for these styles of planners are The Happy Planner and Staple’s Arc System.

The biggest advantage is you can easily move the pages around as needed. The biggest disadvantage is you likely will need a special hole punch, and papers are not always very secure.

With these planners, it is possible pages will tear out or get lost if you aren’t careful. I don’t recommend these types of planners if you do a lot of travel or need a planner that is rugged and can withstand a lot of wear and abuse to protect important details or documents.

Still, these planners are worth mentioning, especially because they are popular, and they are nice to use once you get used to them. There of course are also things you can do to help ensure papers stay safe and snugly attached.

Journal Style: Planners With Sewn Binding

Finding a planner that looks and behaves like a journal with sewn binding can be hard to find, but they do exist! I personally love sewn binding because it is more comfortable to write on the backside of papers if you open the book flat.

Another option that many people like to do is to simply use a journal as a planner. Many people do this with the Bullet Journal or even a composition notebook.

4. Do You Need Heavy Duty Paper?

Another important consideration to think about when choosing a planner is what type of writing materials you will be using in the planner. If you plan on painting in your planner or using all of your favorite pens and markers, choosing one with high quality paper is important.

While it is possible to do these things in a planner with thin paper, you will likely need to spend a lot of time prepping the planner to be used in such a way. Usually getting a planner that has higher quality paper to begin with is going to be a better idea.

If you want a mixed media planner, you may even want to consider using a popular mixed media art journal as a base for your planner and then customizing it any way you would like. This is an especially good idea if you want to be able to paint or use inks and markers in the journal.

Of course, if you don’t plan on using paint or pens that would bleed through the papers or plan on using stickers for most of the writing you will do, then the paper quality is not going to matter quite as much.

5. Choosing the Date & Time Format

Another thing to think about is the format of the dates in the planner. Do you really need a daily planner, or would a weekly planner work just fine for you? For some, a simple monthly planner is all that is really needed.

Many weekly spread planners also offer options for what is called either a “vertical” or “horizontal” layout. The vertical layout is more of a traditional planner layout, where each day is in its own row on the page. The horizontal layout puts the days of the week into columns.

Again, this often just comes down to a matter of personal preference and how much space you need to write and organize everything. 

Now that we’ve talked about the different things to consider for the types of planners, we are ready to start looking at our top picks for the best planners to consider for your needs!

Hopefully just explaining these different things will help you narrow down some of the choices a bit.

The Best Planners and Personal Organizers  

Out of all of the different planners out there, these are my top 5 contenders for 2019. 

1. Moleskine Weekly Planner

It’s no secret I love Moleskine notebooks and journals, so naturally when it comes to planners they are a top brand I adore. While it may not be everyone’s top pick, I can’t help but gravitate towards these planners!

Moleskine Classic Hard Cover 2019 12 Month Weekly Planner, Large (5" x 8.25") Sapphire Blue - Weekly Planner for Students & Professionals, for Organizing and Planning

 out of stock
as of June 17, 2024 5:53 am

These planners are perfect for most pens and stickers, however if you want to use them as a mixed media planner with markers, paints or inks they will require some prep work since the paper quality is on the thin side.

2. Filo Fax Personal Organizer

If you like the idea of organizing everything in one cohesive binder, the Filo-Fax is certainly capable. These planners are easy to set up and use, and it is also very easy to customize and print out your own planner inserts if you want.

Filofax The Original Personal Size Leather Organizer Agenda Ring Binder Calendar with DiLoro Jot Pad Refill Patent Rose 022595

 out of stock


BindingOffice Product
ColorPatent Rose Nd
EAN ListEAN List Element: 0752589856263
Item DimensionsHeight: 528; Length: 740; Weight: 79; Width: 173
Model022595 ND
Number Of Items1
Package DimensionsHeight: 197; Length: 909; Weight: 123; Width: 646
Package Quantity1
Part Number022595
Product GroupOffice Product
TitleFilofax The Original Personal Size Leather Organizer Agenda Ring Binder Calendar with DiLoro Jot Pad Refill Patent Rose 022595
UPC ListUPC List Element: 752589856263

There are also a lot of great planners that are similiar to the Filofax but designed for scrappers/paper crafters in mind.

Here are Some Alternate Similar Brands to Consider:

3. Erin Condren Life Planner

Erin Condren offers a lot of different styles of planners, and there is no shortage of coordinating accessories to make decorating and filling up these planners easy. 

Erin Condren 2019 12 Month (Jan 2019 - Dec 2019) LifePlanner, Watercolor Splash Teal - Hourly (Colorful Layout)

 out of stock


BindingOffice Product
BrandErin Condren
ColorWatercolor Splash (Colorful)
EAN ListEAN List Element: 0810002390074
Item DimensionsHeight: 150; Length: 950; Weight: 155; Width: 863
LabelErin Condren
ManufacturerErin Condren
Number Of Items1
Package DimensionsHeight: 126; Length: 957; Weight: 155; Width: 957
Package Quantity1
Part Number80246
Product GroupOffice Product
PublisherErin Condren
StudioErin Condren
TitleErin Condren 2019 12 Month (Jan 2019 - Dec 2019) LifePlanner, Watercolor Splash Teal - Hourly (Colorful Layout)
UPC ListUPC List Element: 810002390074

Erin Condren Hardbound LifePlanner 8x10 - Undated Calendar; Weekly Planner

 out of stock


BindingOffice Product
BrandErin Condren
EAN ListEAN List Element: 0817502024492
Item DimensionsHeight: 839; Length: 1047; Weight: 171; Width: 87
LabelErin Condren
ManufacturerErin Condren
Package DimensionsHeight: 94; Length: 1031; Weight: 170; Width: 827
Package Quantity1
Part Number76430
Product GroupOffice Product
PublisherErin Condren
Size8 x 10
StudioErin Condren
TitleErin Condren Hardbound LifePlanner 8x10 - Undated Calendar; Weekly Planner
UPC ListUPC List Element: 817502024492

Available in both a hardcover design as well as the spiral bound planner, this a budget friendly AND practical planner you are sure to enjoy using. 

If you have specific goals, such as budget and finance or health and wellness, you will also find there are even many planners that are created specifically for these purposes, such as the Erin Condren Budget Book and the Erin Condren Wellness Planner.

4. The Happy Planner

While The Happy Planner may not be my first choice because I am not crazy about writing around the disc bound binding, it is a great planner. 

It may not be my first choice, but I know so many people LOVE and adore this planner I really have to include it on the list. 

me & my BIG ideas BOX-112 Create 365 The Happy Planner Box Kit 12 Month Undated, Big Flower Pop Big

 out of stock


  • Box kits are perfectly coordinated and include a big Happy planner and all the planner goodies you'll need to get started planning your Happy Life
  • Each package includes 1 undated, 12-month big Happy planner
  • Also includes stickers; sticky notes; pen; and pocket folder

This planner is especially popular amongst teachers, no doubt because they offer The Happy Planner Teacher Edition to make it easier to plan things like lesson plans and classroom schedules. 

There are many great options out there to choose from for different planners – and many times it simply comes down to deciding what format will best meet your needs. Of course, if none of these planners work to fit your needs, there certainly is always the option to make your own planner!

5. DIY: Make Your Own Planner!

Making your own planner may seem a little daunting at first, but it can actually be pretty easy to do. If you are not sure about the “planning” aspect, it can be very helpful to check out books like The Bullet Journal Method or Dot Journaling for some ideas.

The first thing to decide on is what will be the “bones” of the book itself.

If you want to go wild with the paints and inks and markers, another great option could be to use a blank mixed media journal such as the Dylusions 5×8 Journal or the Moleskine Art Plus Book.

And of course, if you really want to DIY, you could make a planner using my Easy Peasy No Sew Journal Binding Method or even use an altered composition notebook.

Once you have that part figured out – the sky is the limit on how you decide to organize the planner. There are also a lot really great stencils that can be helpful for making different designs in the planner.

What Planner Will You Choose to Make Planning Fun?

There are so many great planners available to choose from for 2019 – and the important thing to remember is no matter what planner you ultimately decide on, the important thing is you make planning fun!

If the idea of planning can sometimes seem boing or even tedious, having a nice planner that meets all of your needs AND makes you happy can make it a lot more fun and easier. 

What personal organizer/planner do you plan on using for 2019? Do you have a favorite planner you absolutely love and adore? Tell me your top planner picks for the new year in the comments section below!

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