What I Want In a Planner

Before I look at some specific options for my 2018 planner, I decided to make a list of the features I’m looking for. I’ve got four big priorities to make sure a planner stays useful longer than the average New Year’s resolution.

  • A5 size
    Planners need to be easy to carry around. An A5 style is big enough to fit plenty of info, but it’s also small enough to cram into most of my bags.
  • goal-setting features
    It’s easier to keep daily activities matched up with longer-term goals when I’m using the same notebook for both. Many goal-based planners also remind you to review your progress regularly.
  • 2 pages per week
    I want to spend my week mostly focusing on 2 pages. I’ve found that a weekly calendar with an extra spread of planning pages leaves some tasks lost in the shuffle.
  • thick, good-quality paper
    My favorite rollerball pens have dark, heavy ink, so good paper is a must. Unless a planner’s specs brag on their paper quality, I’m not interested.

There are a few other things that aren’t deal-breakers, but they’d be nice to have.

  • no time labels
    Breaking down my day into preset units of time is intrusive and unhelpful. Just give me space for each day and let me decide how best to use it.
  • two ribbon bookmarks
    This is such a simple thing that it’s hard to see why more brands don’t do it. It’s so convenient to be able to easily mark two different places in any notebook or planner.
  • a simple layout and style
    I want a planner that gives me structure without feeling cluttered. It also shouldn’t be overly stylized. A clean design feels more focused, and it’s less likely to clash with all the stickers I’m gonna cover this thing in.
  • some note pages
    I’d love a small section in the back to keep notes in, preferably with a dot or grid layout.

I’ve experimented with bullet journals in the past, and I use some elements of that system for my writing notebooks. But for my main planner, it’s best to trade the flexibility of a blank notebook for something that’s already set up. I like to have visual representations of my weeks and months, and DIY-ing that kind of thing feels like a time sink.

Next week I’ll start going over some of the planners I’ve found.

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