Help Me Choose a New Planner

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Updated for 2024:   It’s that time again for my ADD self to organize my brain/days in a paper planner. I’ve tried digital — I use digital at work but not by choice, and it’s just not what comes naturally to me. I always end up reaching for paper.

My first priority planner

This organization journey started for me when I was expecting my first baby, back in 1980. There weren’t a bunch of planning systems on the market, let me tell ya! My first was Linda Dillow’s Priority Planner – a comb-bound paperback with weekly pages and a tear-off grocery list tab. That was over 40 years ago (and before I “archived” them — a fancy word for hoarding my old planners) but I found one on Etsy to show you; this was the luxury version of a homemaking planner in the late 70s/early 80s:
(Linda Dillow’s Priority Planner, as listed previously on Etsy at Rose Avenue Vintage. Photos used with permission.)

What I used for many years

Back in 1984, my neighbor Michele did a women’s study with us using Anne Ortlundt’s book, Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, as the springboard, and I was especially inspired by the chapters on home organization and time management. As a group, we bulk-ordered Anne’s little black half-size binder and daily pages/monthly pages, and that was the start of my journey into really prioritizing my time.

For years (over 30!), I used the half-size (“classic,” or 8.5 x 5.5 inch) loose-leaf binder with a loose-leaf typical month-at-a-glance calendar plus dated daily pages — almost totally empty except for lines — like this, but in loose-leaf hole-punched format…

I liked that it was simple, plain, and didn’t micromanage my day. (If it had been a format with times listed, it would have felt wasteful to not use them. I know, one of my many idiosyncracies.)
In this format, I would put morning appointments or tasks near the top of the page, afternoon in the middle, and later day near the bottom, all along the left. If it was literally an appointment, I’d circle the time to jog my brain. Along the right side, I’d jot notes, general to-do’s, phone calls to make, etc.

I used the same system for years, until my daily pages were discontinued just recently. (I cried.)

So I evaluated what I needed my new system to do…

What I’ve been using the past few years (since my tried-and-true At a Glance refill was so rudely discontinued) has been a combo of desk size (5.5 x 8.5) monthly refill from At a Glance plus a black spiral-bound dated daily calendar — not my first choice, as I can’t combine them in one binder and thus have to keep two running calendars on my desk, but it works well enough. Here’s the bound daily version I’ve been using these past few years….. sk4600-Open Scheduling:

My dilemma

So this year, am I going to go with the old (new?) familiar, above?
Or should I add time blocks?
About time blocks: This one still gives me space for notes but this may actually help me have a more realistic overview of what I can accomplish in a day, as one hallmark of distracted/overachieving/time-challenged moms like me is the temptation to smoosh ten pounds of potatoes into a five pound sack! This is the same as the one I’ve been using, but with some hourly time slots added……
This one is 5 x 8 inches and looks like it has daily AND monthly — time slots from 7 – 7:30 but more space for Saturday and Sunday than some others….
 

Go big or go home?

Should I go bigger since I no longer carry this around from meeting to meeting? The planner above is also available a bit larger for desktop — Do I want to go bigger? It’s from Staples, 8.5×11 inches, again dated and with times from about 7-7   https://amzn.to/3RfvRgS; about seven dollars more at $24, same basic layout.
 
This next one is a refill only — so I’d need to invest in a folio/binder — but it’s not only 8.5×11, it’s got a 2-page per day spread! Some days, that would be amazing. But other days, that may feel wasteful. Oh, my, I’m terrible at decisions! But…it’s under $25, so it’s still at a price point competitive with the one-page-per-day contenders.
I could actually get this 8.5×11 (above) in one-page-a-day instead, but it’s $9 more, so …. why would I?

Back to the monthly planning…

Some of these come with monthly plan sheets and daily, but if I go with the daily separately again, I’d need a monthly refill. This one has not only the two-page spread for the month, but it has a full page overview planning sheet for each month, so it’s a contender at $9.99 for half size, $14.99 for full size sheets.

Pretty and goes with my office decor….

This one is lovely and goes well with my office decor, but has only the monthly and weekly pages — no daily. So if I weren’t micromanaging my days, this would be beautiful and budget friendly….

Update:

I think I’ve narrowed it to two planner options that will give me daily AND monthly in one product, in the size that fits the binder I already have….

AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Daily Planner Refill, Hourly, 12010 Day-Timer, 5-1/2AT-A-GLANCE 2024 Daily Planner Refill, Hourly, 12010 Day-Timer, 5-1/2AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Daily Planner Refill, Hourly, 12010 Day-Timer, 5-1/22023 Planner Refills – Two Pages Per Day Daily & Monthly Planner, 5.52024 Planner Refills – Two Pages Per Day Daily & Monthly Planner, 5.52023 Planner Refills – Two Pages Per Day Daily & Monthly Planner, 5.5Franklin Covey Monticello refillFranklin Covey Monticello refillFranklin Covey Monticello refill

 

(I really like the Franklin Covey Monticello in a gorgeous blue that coordinates with my house but it’s $50, so a girl’s gotta draw the line SOMEwhere!)
Decisions, decisions….. What would you do?

Suggestions?

And regardless of the choice, remember:

UPDATE for 2024: What I ended up going with….       

One deciding factor was that the time blocks were at the far left, so I could jot down specific time needs as the first thing I’d see, then add notes to the right. This just worked well with how I think. So you have to do what is comfortable for you!

A few products you may like (some are dated below, but you should find the updated versions from the links):

Disciplines of the Beautiful WomanDisciplines of the Beautiful WomanDisciplines of the Beautiful WomanThe Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized: *Manage Your Time *Eliminate Clutter and Experience Order *Keep Your Family FirstThe Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized: *Manage Your Time *Eliminate Clutter and Experience Order *Keep Your Family FirstThe Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized: *Manage Your Time *Eliminate Clutter and Experience Order *Keep Your Family FirstPaper Mate InkJoy 550RT Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Medium Point, Assorted, 4 Pack (1951274)Paper Mate InkJoy 550RT Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Medium Point, Assorted, 4 Pack (1951274)Paper Mate InkJoy 550RT Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Medium Point, Assorted, 4 Pack (1951274)Paper Mate InkJoy 550RT Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Medium Point, Blue, Box of 12 (1951344)Paper Mate InkJoy 550RT Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Medium Point, Blue, Box of 12 (1951344)Paper Mate InkJoy 550RT Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Medium Point, Blue, Box of 12 (1951344)BIC Xtra-Life Mechanical Pencil, Clear Barrel, Medium Point (0.7mm), 12-Count , BlackBIC Xtra-Life Mechanical Pencil, Clear Barrel, Medium Point (0.7mm), 12-Count , BlackBIC Xtra-Life Mechanical Pencil, Clear Barrel, Medium Point (0.7mm), 12-Count , BlackBIC Xtra-Comfort Mechanical Pencil, Medium Point (0.7mm), 12 CountBIC Xtra-Comfort Mechanical Pencil, Medium Point (0.7mm), 12 CountBIC Xtra-Comfort Mechanical Pencil, Medium Point (0.7mm), 12 CountAT-A-GLANCE 2023 Weekly Planner, DayMinder, Hourly Appointment Book, 5AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Weekly Planner, DayMinder, Hourly Appointment Book, 5AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Weekly Planner, DayMinder, Hourly Appointment Book, 5AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Daily Planner, DayMinder, 5AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Daily Planner, DayMinder, 5AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Daily Planner, DayMinder, 5AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Weekly & Monthly Planner, QuickNotes, 8AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Weekly & Monthly Planner, QuickNotes, 8AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Weekly & Monthly Planner, QuickNotes, 8AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Weekly & Monthly Planner, Simplified by Emily Ley, 8-1/2AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Weekly & Monthly Planner, Simplified by Emily Ley, 8-1/2AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Weekly & Monthly Planner, Simplified by Emily Ley, 8-1/2AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Monthly Planner, 9AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Monthly Planner, 9AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Monthly Planner, 9AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Daily Planner, DayMinder, 5AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Daily Planner, DayMinder, 5AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Daily Planner, DayMinder, 5AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Daily Diary, Standard Diary, 5-3/4AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Daily Diary, Standard Diary, 5-3/4AT-A-GLANCE 2023 Daily Diary, Standard Diary, 5-3/4At-A-Glance 80620430 Plan. Write. Remember. Planning Notebook Two Days Per Page 9 3/16 X 11 GrayAt-A-Glance 80620430 Plan. Write. Remember. Planning Notebook Two Days Per Page 9 3/16 X 11 GrayAt-A-Glance 80620430 Plan. Write. Remember. Planning Notebook Two Days Per Page 9 3/16 X 11 Gray

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