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I have some good news and some bad news.
The bad news: The end of break is approaching.
The good news: It’s time for school supplies shopping!
School supplies shopping is easily one of my favorite things to do. There’s something about walking down the isle with all the notebooks and post-it notes that sends shivers down my spine and makes me feel all giddy inside. No.. I’m not kidding.
The most difficult part of school supplies shopping is choosing a planner. There are so many different variables that go into play when picking a new planner that it can often create a stressful situation. Since a planner is something that you can use for everything from school to work, blogging to family, and even clubs and hobbies it is important that you find one that works for you!
Experiment with Planners
This time my first year in college I purchased my first planner. It was an inexpensive, small, weekly academic planner from Paper Source. At the time, it was perfect for me. I picked this one because it was cute, simple, in store, and had what I thought I needed at the time: Monthly pages and weekly pages. There was space to write my homework, I made up my own method for color coding, and I kept on top of everything from work to my school assignments and my theatre rehearsals.
I used it so much it’s nearly falling apart by now… out of love! As the year went by I quickly discovered my own style and explored ways to use my planner. I changed the way I used it like 10 times.
If I hadn’t used this planner all last year, I never would have learned what I need in a planner! Through changing up my style and experimenting with what I did I discovered what I needed to look for in my new planner.
Research the Best Planner for You
At the end of my first year my roommate Tori (who I had gotten into planning and organizing throughout the year, she even bought the same planner as I did at the beginning of the year!) and I sat on our beds in our dorm room on our laptops and talked planners.
We did a ton of research (Looking up planner reviews on Pinterest is great for this!) and found thousands of different planners that we sent links back and forth to each other and talked about. We did this for like 3 days straight, and it paid off. We found so many amazing different planners that we had no clue even existed!
Ask These Questions: Choose a Planner
I did a lot of research, read a lot of other blogger’s reviews, and eventually found myself at the Get To Work Book. My main appeal here was the fact that it was similar to the Erin Condren Life Planner (which I’ve heard is really nice) except that the day is not broken up into sections and there is no color scheme. I am big on customizing and such so that was a good selling point for me, along with the fact that there are project planning pages.
Tori, on the other hand, had much different reasons for choosing her planner that I will let her tell you about below.
There are different planners for different kinds of people, and it can be really overwhelming when trying to find the one that works for you.
Here are some of the big decisions you need to make to find the perfect planner for you:
1. Layout of Your Planner
The first and most important thing to decide when you are looking for a planner is, what do you want the layout to look like? Do you want it to consist of daily pages, where every single day is it’s own separate page? Or do you want it to consist of weekly pages, where each week spans across two pages side by side? Or, do you only need something that shows monthly calendar pages?
The planner that Tori chose to go with is separated into daily pages. She said:
“My days are extremely busy so daily gives me a full page to keep updated on my daily/ hourly schedule. The whole page gives me room to do to do lists which are something I found my self needing space for when I had the weekly setup.”
Personally, I prefer the weekly setup. I have incredibly busy days as well, juggling 3 different jobs and a full time school schedule. However, I found that I prefer to be able to look at one page to see the outlook for my week as opposed to having to flip through pages constantly.
Since this is one of the most important parts in the planner picking process (try saying that 5 times fast!) I wanted to include some examples of each kind of layout to get you started.
Of course, there are many more out there and you should do research into finding more!
You should decide what layout you want your planner to be.
Also, planners with daily pages tend to be a lot chunkier, heavier, and harder to carry around. This brings me to my next point…
How big are you alright with your planner being? Of course, it needs to be large enough that you have room to write and fit your schedule.
However, if you are looking more into having a planner with daily pages: are you alright with carrying around the extra bulk that comes with that?
Are you looking for something small enough that you can keep it in a purse everywhere you go, or something that you can stick in your backpack when you leave for class or work? Or are you alright with just keeping it on your desk or in your room?
Decide how big is too big, and how small is too small. Personally, the planner from Paper Source that I had last year was the perfect size to carry it around everywhere. However, the pages inside ended up being a little bit too small for my busy schedule. This year I went with something bigger, but still small enough that I can put it in my backpack.
One of the big reasons why I decided to go with my Get To Work Book planner was because of how plain it looked. I love decorating, color coding, and highlighting so a big appeal of my planner was being able to customize it the way I wanted it to look. I created my own cover and I’m in the process of discovering a style that works for me.
Some people prefer to mix their color coding with a planner already has a color scheme or light pattern on the pages cause it looks cute!
You should decide how basic you want your planner to be, if you want to decorate it yourself, or if you want to purchase something that is already designed out of the box.
4. Goal & Project Pages
Previously, I haven’t found the appeal of goal pages. I was never one for setting goals that often. However, Tori was very into it.
“The fact that the Simplified Planner has a goal tracking pages at the beginning is super helpful because it’s something I can always reference to make sure I am meeting all my goals and what I want to achieve.“
On the other hand, my Get to Work Book planner has 3 project planning pages at the beginning of each month, in addition to goal planning pages at the beginning and end of each month. The project planning pages have proved incredibly useful so far. I work 3 jobs, all that have a lot to do with managing teams and planning events, along with running this blog. The project planning pages have helped me keep on track with longer to-do lists than the weekly ones provide.
Other things to think about: If you’re a blogger, do you want blog tracking pages to be included? Or other job related pages?
You should decide if it is important to you that your planner has some sort of goal tracking or project planning pages.
5. Other Tools
Do you want your planner to be broken down into an hourly schedule for each day? Do you want it to include a to-do list?
Personally, the idea of having my days broken down into hourly segments appealed to me a lot when I first was looking at planners. Then, I realized, I already use a tool that does that. I am obsessed with Google Calendar which I use to plan my days out by hour. That means that I don’t need to set aside space in my planner for a time schedule since I already have one digitally.
Keeping in mind the other tools that I use daily definitely helped influence my decision.
Unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on trees. It is definitely important when you are looking for a planner to stay within your budget and not break your bank.
Though, it is also important to remember that this is an investment that will last you an entire year and hopefully make you more productive (and in some cases even help you make money!)
You should decide on your maximum budget to spend on your planner.
7. Other Considerations
When I asked Tori what other things made her choose her planner, her answer surprised me:
“I really like how mine has daily quotes because it gives me something to look forward to and inspire me for the day. Also, every Sunday it has a ‘Prepare for the Week’ section where it gives reminders like clean desk, prepare meal ideas, full gas tank and such which is a good way to ease into the week and feel prepared. Also, the goals of the planner creator are some thing really important to look into. Most have certain goals that may be in line with the goals that you have in your own life. Many of the authors love input and are always giving surveys out because they want to know what works and doesn’t because they have the consumer’s best interest in mind.”
You should think about if there are any other special things you should take into consideration when choosing the planner that works for you.
Do you have a planner that you love? Tell me about it, I love to learn about new ones!