With smartphones swarming all over the market, many of us now use apps to stay on track. But there’s something about putting pen to paper that makes you more productive and makes things easier to remember. That’s where personal business planners (also known as paper organizers) come in–in both binder and notebook form and from a variety of manufacturers, such as Panda Planner, Filofax, At-A-Glance, and Traveler’s notebook.
Slow down your planning process and re-set your goals and re-prioritize. By doing so, say hello to more productivity and bye to procrastination. Here are some tips on how to find a personal planner for business that’s right for you, followed by a list of our favorite ones.
How to Choose the Best Personal Planner for Business – Buying Guide
You’ll be checking your planner every day, so you want to buy something that you like. Here are some tips on how to find the perfect paper planner for business that suits your lifestyle.
Choose Something That’s Easy to Use
There are two major types of paper planners: refillable binders and notebooks. Choose one after figuring out which’ll be easier for you to use.
Refillable Planner Binders: Easy to Personalize
With planner binders, you can personalize what goes inside, constantly. You can stick in monthly and weekly schedules, lined paper, little sleeves for business cards, and address books. You can take out old stuff, revised schedules. That’s the strength of a planner binder: it bends to your will and can be customized in whatever way you like.
When you choose a planner binder, make sure the rings are big enough. Most are 0.9″ to 1″, which means you can insert about 150 to 200 sheets of paper. A year’s worth of weekly schedules is already 100 pages, so if you get something too small, you may have to give up your contacts section.
Notebook Planners: Includes All the Basics
Notebook planners have all the basics inside–annual calendars, monthly/weekly schedules, to do lists, pages for notes. Most are for 12 months starting from January, and when September rolls around, shelves are lined with the following year’s planners. You can’t change the pages that are inside, which means you don’t have to worry about refills, or resorting anything.
From planners with hourly schedules to planners that are like productivity coaches–enjoining you to jot down your goals and plans–there’s all sorts of stuff out there. It’s fun to look at the different types and figure out what you like best.
If there’s a lot in the planner, though, it’ll be thick and heavy. If you want something light, then give up planning out your life second by second and choose a thin monthly or weekly planner.
Compact or Easy to Write in? Figure out Your Priorities
When looking at size, ask yourself the following questions. One, is it easy to carry around? Two, is it easy to write in? If you’re looking for something that’ll fit in your purse, go for something compact, such as a 5 x 8 inch planner. If you want a planner with plenty of space to write in–the bigger the better, right?–then go ahead and get one that’s 11.4 x 9.5 inches.
Itty bitty things may be easy to carry around, but you’ll have to cram in all your notes. On the other hand, huge planners leave plenty of space for writing, but take up more room in your bag. So figure out what means more to you.
If you’re on the fence, then just go for middle ground. We’re thinking something A5 (around 8” by 12”) or B5 (around 7” by 10”) for the indecisive.
Find a Planner with an Approach You Like
Planners have got different layouts. To choose between them, think about how much organizing you need in your life. If you need to plan for the long term and jot down big dates–business trips, conferences, deadlines–then get a monthly planner. These have got a calendar that spreads across 2 pages and spans 31 days.
If you just need to scribble down a few important tasks per day, get a weekly planner. There’s two main types–one has got the days of the week listed down the page on the left, and lines for note-taking on the right (these are flexible–write whatever you want). The other’s got Monday, Tuesday, and all their fellows spread out in boxes across two pages (these are great for organizing and planning out a weekly schedule).
Then there’s your daily planner, which gives you an entire page to write down your plans for a single day. Get one if you’ve got to plan out your life minute-by-minute.
Make Sure It’ll Look Professional at Work
Personal planners for business tend to have simple covers with dark, solid colors. There are planners with flower patterns and bright, colorful paintings and sketches of Pooh Bear, of course–and they’re lovely for T-shirt startups and business casual ventures. But they may clash if you’re heading to the office in a dark suit every day.
This holds doubly true if you’ll be writing in front of clients from various backgrounds. Who’s to say what’s unprofessional and what’s offensive nowadays? But there’s no way you could go wrong with a subdued design and color.
Choose Something That’s Durable
You’re not in college anymore, so you don’t want to use a battered planner–especially not in front of your clients, boss, or colleagues. Pick something that’s durable, and that means something with a tough cover, like faux leather. Don’t get a plastic cover because they tend to crack.
If you want to protect your planner from coffee stains, you could try getting one of those transparent protectors. If you want it to look luxurious, choose something that simulates leather.
The important thing is that you find a planner that looks good for at least a year. So think twice about that genuine leather planner–because it needs to be handled gently and stains in the rain. If you want something that is low maintenance, go faux.
Top 10 Best Personal Planners for Business to Buy Online
We’re not going to procrastinate. Here they are–handsome, subdued, and practical–our picks for the top 10 business planners to buy online.
10. Panda Planner Best Daily Calendar
Break out of a Career Rut: Write down Priorities, Reviews, and Tasks
Are you stuck in a career rut? Then this goal-setting, undated planner might help you. It asks you to fill out fields for self-reflection–such as your top three daily priorities, your day-to-day successes. This hard cover planner also has a pocket and elastic band, so no worries about receipts getting lost. It’s 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches, so carry it in your bag and, at any time of the day, take time to reflect.
It’s got monthly, weekly, and daily sections too–but you know all that detail’s got to come with a price. These planners’ll only last you for 90 days. Only purchase if you don’t mind using 4 of them in one year.
9. Filofax Malden Ochre Personal Size Leather Organizer
Look more Professional with a Luxurious Leather Planner Binder
Take notes during meetings using this soft leather planner binder–it’s a shortcut to looking more professional. It’ll also serve as your wallet; you can put change in the zip pockets and credit cards in the little slots along the cover. It comes with inserts–a weekly calendar, notepaper, contacts–and you can also customize it by purchasing other inserts (Franklin Covey fits).
It’s 7.6 x 2 x 5.9 inches and has a small pen loop. But if you like to dump your keys and planner into your bag, the leather will scratch, so pick something else.
8. Global Printed Products Essential Daily Planner
Minimalist Planner with Dotted Lines
If all you need is monthly and weekly schedules, then get this vinyl planner, because that’s all it’s got. The vertical columns are organized by day (a week spans two pages); scribble down tasks and your hourly schedule, so you can review your weekly to-dos at a glance. It lies flat on your desk, so it’s easy to write in. This one’s 5 x 8 inches, but it’s also available in bigger sizes.
Its simplicity has some drawbacks. There are no tabs for easy flipping between the months and weeks. There’s little space to take notes too, so if you’ve got a lot to record, you’ll have to get a separate notepad.
7. At-a-Glance Monthly Planner
Large Monthly Calendar from an Old Brand
Do you want to sit down at your desk and schedule your business trips and family outings with more mindfulness? This large (11.4 x 0.2 x 9.5 inches), classical, simulated leather planner will help you do just that. It’s like a desk calendar, so you can take one look and figure out what you’ve got planned for the month. And the squares for each day are big enough to jot down a few appointments.
But it’s not made for carrying–it has no pen holder, pockets, or elastic band. There’s also not enough space for people who have a lot of meetings in one day.
6. Lemome Planner 2018-2019
Classic Planner with Simple Features
Looks luxurious, but animal-lovers, breathe–the leather’s faux. This planner has got plenty of space for notes in both the monthly and weekly sections, so it’s a good choice if you need something flexible. It’s 8.4 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches, so it’s easy to carry around. You’ve got the ribbon bookmark, a pen loop, and inner pockets for post-its and what have you.
Some reviewers found that there were several weeks missing in their planner, so the first thing you should do when you buy this is make sure everything’s intact. If it’s not, have it replaced.
5. Papercode The Simple Elephant
All in One Planner, Journal and Guide
If you want to be more proactive at work, try depending on this hard cover planner. It comes with monthly and weekly spreads, 60 pages of notepaper for free writing, and stuff meant to motivate you, such as boxes for yearly goals and mind maps. The sheets are A5, and it comes with a pocket, a pen holder, an elastic band, and three string dividers.
Having said that, don’t get this if you take notes during calls. It does not lie flat, and you’ll have a hard time keeping the planner open without holding one or both sides down.
4. Action Day Planner 2018
Get Things Done with this Goal-Oriented Planner
For those who have a bunch of projects to move forward with at work: this Action Day Planner has sections for you to write in your daily tasks, allot roles for team members, set goals, and plan projects. This one’s 8 x 6 x 0.5 inches (there’s a larger option, too). It has an elastic band, a pen loop, and durable cover that keeps the planner from getting all smushed in your bag.
It’s designed to fit a 9 to 5 schedule, with just a bit of space for Saturday and Sundays, so stay away if that’s not how you work. Also, some reviewers can’t take the new spiral binding–they say it makes the pages hard to turn.
3. Book Factory 2018 Weekly Pocket Calendar
Cost-Effective and All-Inclusive Pocket-size Planner
This two-colored planner’s weekly—you’ve got your days spread out across two pages, and plenty of space to take notes (Saturday and Sunday are more skimpy, though). It’s also got inspirational quotes and notes on how to give CPR—but still somehow fits right into your shirt pocket (6 x 3.5 x 0.5 inches). If you go on overseas business trips, you’ll be happy to know it also contains colored world maps and international calling codes.
The planner’s durability seems to be on the weak side, with some saying the cover comes off easily. It doesn’t lie flat on the desk either. But it’s a good choice if you’re new to planning out your life on paper and don’t know if you can keep it up– it’s only a little over $5.
2. Gallery Leather Desk Weekly Planner
If You Think Ahead–Like Two Years Ahead
This durable soft leather planner is sure to stand out–it’s got the most beautiful covers, available in 10 different colors, including kiwi and burgundy. Handcrafted in Maine, it comes with a weekly, a monthly, and a notes section, and all have got plenty of lines and space, so you can write down whatever your heart desires. It’s portable, too (7.9 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches).
The weekly section is for a year, while the monthly section is for two years. It’s great if you want to plan in advance, but if you don’t think that far ahead, the second year might be a waste of space.
1. Traveler’s Company: Traveler’s Notebook Brown Leather
Beautiful Planner with Space for Creativity
More commonly known by its original name, Midori, this planner is one of a kind. This cover only comes with blank inserts, but you can, of course, put in anything you’d like: monthly or weekly schedules, lined paper, dotted grids, maps, a picture of your cat.
It’s also highly durable–some reviewers have commented they’ve been using this cover for more than 3 years, but it’s still in perfect shape. And it’s got this vintage look–all 8.4 x 5.1 x 1.6 inches of it. It may seem like a big investment at first, but since you can use it year after year, it’s definitely worth it.
Personal planners can seem like a waste of time, with all these amazing apps and websites to keep us on our toes. But we remember things better when we put pen to paper, and–who knows?–as we’re writing, we may start seeing things in a different light. (The motivational messages some planners come with help too.)
We hope this article helped you figure out what personal planner for business might work for you.
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