Are you looking for some planner basics?

You’ve decided, 2023 is the year. You are finally get yourself organized and start using a planner! 

Maybe you’ve just been wanting to start planning because you have a lot going on at home or you started a new job and want to start off on the right foot. You have looked at a million blogs and planner sites, you’ve watched hundreds of hours of YouTube reviews and you have analysis paralysis. 

You do not know what you want anymore!

Don’t worry, you will get through this. We have all been there are some point, maybe even multiple points. You are not alone and you’ll find a planner. The first planner you pick might not be perfect but it will teach you what you like or don’t like and will help you choose better next time.

You are probably looking at many types of planners, from pre-printed to bullet journals. The first thing to think about is how much work do you want to do to be set up in your planner. Do you need something already dated or are you ok with an undated planner? Bullet Journals will be the most work as you decide what you want/need and put it in there. Take some time and think about this part. 

Pros & Cons Dated Planners


  • Everything is already printed and ready to dive right in!
  • Easy to find and sometimes you can get an older planner on sale to test it.
  • You don’t have to really think about the planner, you can jump right into planning.


  • Some things may not be applicable to you.
  • They are usually limited to January or July start dates and may not have it before January.
  • If you don’t use it for a while it feels like you wasted weeks or months.

Pros & Cons Undated Planners


  • You can start it anytime!
  • You can choose a Sunday or Monday start if they do not label the days of the weeks
  • You can put it down for a while and start back up anytime.


  • It takes a little effort to prep everything.
  • You have to write in (or sticker) all the months, dates, and sometimes days and may mess up (been there done that).
  • Some pages or dashboards may not be applicable to you.

Pros & Cons Bullet Journal


  • You can make it anything you need or want.
  • You can change it each day, week, or month as you figure out what you really need.
  • You can make it simple when you need it and when you have more time you can get fancy!


  • You have to spend time figuring out what you need or want.
  • You have to set everything up each month (at minimum).
  • It can be intimidating.

If you are starting out in planning or getting back in after some time away, a pre-printed planner might be a better choice than a bullet journal. If you want to move to a bullet journal later, you can use your planner experience to help determine your spreads.

If you have decided to go with a pre-printed planner, now you have to decide if you need a monthly, weekly, or daily. Monthly usually has the months with some note pages, some between months, and some at the end. Many people use monthly planners for budgeting or project planning. Weekly planners typically have the month followed by weekly spreads while daily is the month followed by daily pages. 

A few planners will offer monthly, weekly, and daily spreads but they are fairly rare, a bit more expensive, and quite chonky.

You can use more than one planner but to start I tend to recommend using only one and would say get a  weekly planner. You get a monthly view for your big picture planning or bill paying etc and then you can use the weeks to track your appointments, meal planning, tasks, and other weekly/daily items. 

Weekly planners usually offer hourly, vertical or horizontal layouts. Horizontal is the one most of us probably think about when we say planner. They have been around for pretty much ever and often are the layouts in school planners. If that style works for you? Great! If you have struggled with horizontal layouts in the past, consider a vertical one. 

You now have some planner basics to start your search. What planner do you think will work for you?

Stay tuned for next month because we will dig deep into selecting a planner in an ongoing series! 

Need a visual version of this post? Check out the YouTube version and don’t forget to subscribe for the ongoing series!

Categories: Planning


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.