You see all those pretty planners on social media and start thinking maybe you should start planning. Maybe you tried a planner in the past and thought it wasn’t for you. Or maybe that particular planner wasn’t right for you and you stopped searching. Maybe you finished college and stopped planning because at work you use Outlook. What if you’ve never been a planner?

But you keep seeing those planner spreads and wonder, could I do that?

You want to pick up a planner again (or for the first time). You start looking around but quickly become overwhelmed. There are so many planners and so much lingo you just don’t understand! How will you ever be able to figure out how to plan when you can’t even figure out what planner to get?!

How will you ever find the right planner for you? 

Well, to be honest, you will probably kiss a lot of frogs along the way. Despite what the planner community says about finding planner peace it is not quick or easy. Finding that unicorn of a planner can be an elusive goal. One that many of us have undertaken and failed at several times. Sometimes I wonder if planner peace can ever truly be achieved. Can one super planner solve all our problems?

I don’t want to discourage you. Those are thoughts for another blog. 

But you need to be prepared for the search. You should know that the first planner you buy may not be what you need or want. And what works for you now may not work in a few years. You may need more than one planner. We don’t use just a pan or spatula in the kitchen. We don’t only use a hammer. Sometimes we need a drill. There are multiple tools to fix various problems, why wouldn’t planning be similar?

In this ongoing series, we are going to look at all kinds of planning tools and help you figure out what your planner peace might be or at least determine what may or may not work for you. You can figure out what you like. What you don’t like. You can decide what are must-haves and what you don’t really care about. 

Before we start, something to think about is when do you need your planner to start. Most dated planners are either calendar year (January to December) or academic year (usually a July or August start). Some planner companies will allow you to pick what month you start. 

need want planner - academic or calendar year

Pro tip: when dated planners go on sale can be a great time to buy and test! You may not use the few months that have passed but you will learn if it works for you or not at a lower price point. 

And with some whiteout and stickers, you can always redate or repurpose those unused months!

Let’s break down what you need. Answer the following questions and be honest with yourself. Really think about what you need a planner for and how you think you might use it. I know I use mine as a second brain. If I don’t write it down (and sometimes write it down three or four times) I will forget. Thanks, ADHD. It’s ok to take some time to think about what you want/need and how you will use a planner. The last thing you want is to rush into a planner and realized after a few weeks you spent $60+ on something you won’t use. 

If you currently use a planner start a list of what you like and dislike about it. Write down why and how you use it. If you have used planners in the past, think back and try to remember what you liked and didn’t like. Why did you stop using it? Write it all down. 

  • Do you need a dated planner?
    • Some planners come undated. You will need to enter all months and dates.
    • Most will even require you to write the days of the week as well.
    • Imagine writing out 365 dates. 52 Weeks. 12 months. Can you handle it?
    • This is great if you don’t use your planner consistently. You can pick it up at any time, date it, and go!
  • How much structure do you need?
    • Planners can range from very specific to zero structure.
    • Some will have headings on the dashboards and the sidebars. 
    • Some will have hours, to-do list, and other things.
    • Some will have nothing other than the day and date.
    • Are you able to ignore a pre-printed title and use it for what you need?
    • Or can you cover it with a sticker? White it out?
    • For me, I can’t ignore the times on an hourly planner but find it easier on a daily to ignore/cover the hour section. 
  • Do you want to track EVERYTHING in one planner?
    • Really think about your life. Do you need one planner for everything?
    • Does your job require some confidentiality? You may want a separate work and personal planner.
    • Do you run your own business? Do you want to mix business and personal?
    • Focusing on fitness? Are you going to keep it in one planner or have a specific health and fitness planner?
  • What and how much do you want to track?
    • Think about fixed and recurring dates. Schedules. Appointments
    • Maybe you want to track finances or vacations.
    • Are there things you want to track like routines, house projects, workouts, or purchases?
    • Do you have kids with busy schedules and you need to track all their activities?
    • How is your handwriting? Do you write small or need lots of space?
  • Do you need a monthly, weekly, or daily?
    • Monthly is usually just a monthly calendar and maybe some note pages. Weekly has the monthly view and each week. While daily is the monthly view followed by a page for each day. Sometimes with the weekends sharing a day.
    • There are a few unicorn planners that incorporate all three!
  • Do you need an hourly breakdown?
    • Do you have a lot of appointments? 
    • Maybe you love time-blocking. (This DOES NOT work for me and my ADHD. I need to do what feels right for the moment but others thrive using time blocks).
  • When and where will you use your planner?
    • Does your planner need to come with you or will it have a home on your desk?
    • Will you check in on your planner daily? Weekly?
    • Do you like a small planner you can toss in your purse? Is there such a thing as too big?

Stay tuned. We didn’t even touch the idea of a bullet journal! We are going to take a deep dive into planners and all thighs planning to help you find your planner peace and planning style!

I’ve created a printable pdf with these six questions for you to jot down your answers. Grab it and start filling it in. 

Let me know in the comments what you are looking for in a planner! What do you need? What do you want? What would your dream planner look like?? What planning or planner topics do you want to see covered in this series? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

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.