My very first planner was a spiral bound 1986 Garfield desk calendar, a Christmas gift from my brother because I was obsessed with the lasagne-loving feline. This was way before teachers began showing students how to use planners or to write down assignments, let alone requiring them.
I began using the calendar that spring, jotting down when I had tests in class or when I was babysitting (because I was always worried that I would show up on the wrong day and embarrass both myself and the family). Planners and calendars became a way for me to manage anxiety; once things were written down, I didn’t have to work so hard to remember them and could use all that lovely mental energy in better ways.
I have come a long way from those days.
An adult diagnosis of ADHD has helped me understand why it was so difficult to remember dates and specifics, and years of planner habits have helped me feel much more in control. Planners have come a long way, too. They can be functional, fun, personalized, even digital, and can really go a long way to helping you reach your goals.
I change up planner types and companies depending on my work and personal needs, but these are five that I keep coming back to.
Plum Paper is my current paper planner, and it is a company I have ordered from several times. I also have a “meetings” notebook and several journals that I have purchased from this site. I love that you can choose and customize a wide variety of covers, and there are so many add-ins to choose from. You can set up these planners to start on any month you need them to, and they are printed and mailed quickly.
My second-favorite go-to planner company is Limelife Planners. Leslie Sleesman started the business and continues to largely run it. She works really hard to make sure orders are done correctly. My favorite part about Limelife is how much she helps with various layouts. You can print off blank layout pages to see how you like them, and she has custom-designed layouts for customers who need a blend of different types. She doesn’t have the wide variety of covers that other companies do, but the layout variety is amazing.
Passion Planner, or #pashfam, is a planner company that really focuses on helping people reach goals. I have used this planner when working on a specific career goal or when wanting to reach a self-improvement milestone. I especially like to get an undated version to use during those times when I know my schedule will be erratic or very full. I generally prefer a printed planner, but there are terrific digital options here, too!
If you really just need a planner that you customize to your own needs, Bullet Journaling is a terrific option. Remember I said earlier I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult? Bullet Journals are a terrific option for busy brains! I have done a sort of Frankenstein planner/bullet journal/anything notebook for a few years to keep track of the random little things that pop into my head, and the Leuchtturm 1917 is my favorite dotted notebook so far. If it helps you, there are kits available too!
Apps, Apps, Apps!
The last planner we use as a family is really just a suite of tools from Google. We use Keep for lists; Tasks for, well, tasks; and the Calendar for all dates and appointments. If my husband runs to the store, he can see the shared lists for groceries or Sam’s club. If I take the car for an oil change, we have Keep notes on each car to remember what was done last visit. This works for our family really well; we can share what we need to and keep individual responsibilities from cluttering up our view. I have also heard great things about Cozi, and I like how friends of mine have been able to adapt it for co-parenting situations.