How to choose the right planner for you

For such a seemingly small purchase, a planner is a big commitment. It’s your personal assistant for one full year. And if you choose right, it’s a tool that helps you stay organized, reduces your stress and ensures you don’t miss out on the most important things in your life.

Choosing the right planner or calendar

But there are so many options. How do you know which planner is right for you?

Daily vs. Weekly

If you want an hour-by-hour view of your day, a daily planner is right for you. It will keep all of your appointments in one easy-to-find place. But if you’d rather take a quick scan to see what’s on for today without breaking it down hour-by-hour, a weekly planner is what you need.


Need to flip ahead and see what’s coming up in October? Or do you want to keep your business and personal separate? Look for a planner with tabs. With a glance and a flip, you will quickly find the section you need.


For the person with print-outs, receipts and business cards in every jacket, purse or wallet, a planner with pockets is right for you. It will keep all of your important documents in one place.

Note Fields

It’s the all-purpose planner. If you cringe at carrying an armful of notebooks, calendars and planners to the meeting, look for a planner with lots of note space.


Want to journal, stay organized and keep contacts in one place? Go for a large planner. It may seem hefty to lug around, but when you consider all of the items you won’t need anymore — like a date book and note pad — it’s actually a concise way to go. If you want something that can fit into your clutch, forgo the extra features and look for a simple daily or weekly planner.

Mark Your Calendar: 2014 To Be the Best Year Yet

If not for the angry growls coming from my stomach, I wouldn’t have noticed it was already lunchtime. I decide to peel myself away from my desk and grab my turkey avocado sandwich from the fridge in the shared kitchen. On the way back to my office, I bump into Marsha all bundled up in her winter coat and scarf. “A few of us are heading to the café across the street for lunch,” she says. “Care to join?”

I wish. The truth is, I have way too much to do to even consider a lunch beyond the confines of my desk. In fact, I don’t think I have had a lunch over the last two months that didn’t come with a side order of email checking, number crunching or presentation building. “Ah, can’t today. Thanks though – maybe next time.”

It’s just that time of year. On top of my daily workload, I’ve been scrambling to get budgets in and finalize employee bonuses. Not to mention, I’ve had to confirm last minute seasonal planning – including the end of year staff party and selecting this year’s holiday card to send out to clients. ‘Tis the season.

I spend the next hour working away, forgetting about my half eaten sandwich sitting on a plate beside my keyboard. Suddenly, a light tapping on the door interrupts me. “Come in.”

Marsha peeks around the corner. “I won’t bug you for long,” she says nervously. “We were just chatting over lunch about plans for next year…”

Her voice trails off. Or maybe I zone out, I’m not sure. Next year feels so far away – there’s still so much to be done this year.

“We were hoping to meet with you to discuss some new strategies for success in 2014.”

2014 Goal Setting

“Yes, yes, of course. That sounds great.” I say, without moving my eyes away from the computer screen.

I know we need to be planning for the New Year before it actually arrives, I’m just so consumed with the final quarter of 2013 I haven’t had the chance to think about it.

“We know your time is already spread thin with finalizing the last quarter,” she says, as if she’s reading my mind. “So we thought we’d take the lead on this one. We spent our lunch hour assessing our progress this year and have come up with some objectives for 2014.”

Oh Marsha, always taking the initiative. I turn my full attention to her now.

“I was thinking we could set up a meeting to review the opportunities we’ve highlighted, but in the meantime I’ve mapped out some of our major deadlines using the At-A-Glance Monthly Calendar from this month’s Office Plus flyer.”

She holds out the flyer and points to the calendar section.

“I thought it might be helpful if we ordered some more calendars for the whole team so everyone has the same visibility. I don’t know about you, but it always helps for me to see these things in hardcopy, hanging on my wall, rather than hidden away in a digital calendar. Did you know explicitly writing down your goal makes you 10 times likelier to achieve it?”

It makes sense. Maybe mapping out our plans and seeing them in print will help keep us on track so I don’t have to scramble so much at the end of the year.

“Marsha, once again, well done. This all sounds excellent. Let’s go ahead with the order and set up a meeting for early next week.”

“Perfect!” She says, beaming with excitement. She leaves my office in a hurry, clearly afraid of disrupting me for any longer than need be.

I make a note on the ‘employee bonuses’ chart under Marsha’s name. She has most definitely earned it.

An Agenda That Could Change Your Life?

I am just getting down to work when Andy comes barging into my office carrying a big box that is completely blocking his line of sight.

“Special delivery!” He calls out.

Suddenly, he trips over a pile of files sitting on the floor beside my desk and he – and the box – come crashing down. “Oomph.”

“Ah Andy are you okay?!” I jump out of my chair and scramble to his side to help him up, sidestepping my ‘to be shredded’ pile along with the spilled notebooks from Andy’s box on my way.

“I’m fine.” He sits up slowly, a distraught expression on his face.

His attention turns to the state of my office, and I immediately sense the judgments he’s making.

“I’m uh…re-organizing. September is a fresh start!” I explain.

Andy doesn’t look convinced. He pulls one of the notebooks that came from his large box, and opens it up. I quickly realize it isn’t a notebook, but a planner.


Andy grabs a pen from my desk drawer and scribbles something in the margin next to the month of September. Then he hands it over to me.

I look down and read Andy’s neat handwriting: “September is a fresh start!”

“Now, you can remember this moment, and use it to set your goals moving forward,” Andy says with a smile.

“But I don’t need a planner, I keep everything organized on my iPhone,” I reply.

“And how often do you look back at your digital notes, months later, to assess what you’ve accomplished?” He asks. “I use my paper agenda to track my goals – both professionally and personally. It really helps me stay on track.”

Where did this Andy come from? I think to myself. Mr. Goal Chaser.

“Nothing beats a handwritten collection of your thoughts,” he says. “All the great ones did it – Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson, Beatrix Potter.”

I flip through the planner, noticing the weekly and monthly page spreads, with plenty of room for notes. Maybe this is just what I need. “Thanks Andy, great idea.”

“Not to mention, I figure this way, when I become famous, I can sell my planner on eBay for the big bucks!” He jokes.

We sit on my office floor, laughing loudly. “Who knows, Andy? You’re so full of surprises, it just might happen!”