5 Questions to Help You Find Your Perfect Planner
Choosing a new planner is always so exciting - every year I find myself flicking through those new pages and wondering what the future will bring. So many possibilities! So much potential! So many dreams to accomplish and memories to make! But it can be really difficult and confusing knowing which one to choose. I get emails every day from people asking for advice on which planner they need.
And choosing the wrong planner is just so annoying - I think we've all bought a planner we thought would be amazing, only to abandon it weeks later because it's so irritating to use! It's an expensive mistake no one wants to make - so I've put together this quick post with a list of 5 questions to help you find your perfect planner.
It doesn't matter if you're intending to choose one of my planners or someone else's, a physical off-the-shelf planner or a digital one, this guide will help you narrow down what you need, so you can choose the right planner and make all those dreams a reality!
1. What's the best physical size?
Choosing the right physical size planner is just so important! Is your planner something that's going to sit open on your desk all day, or do you want to be able to throw it in your handbag and take it with you? How much space do you realistically need to plan each day? If it's going to sit open on your desk, is it going to fit amongst all your other work? How hard is a big planner going to be to get out and work in when you're at meetings and classes? Is a tiny little planner too small to realistically write in when you're on the go and in a hurry? Do you have a sore back, wrists or hands that would really not cope with carrying a heavy planner around all the time?
This is the first step in figuring out your perfect planner - look at where you need to take it and what you need to use it for - and consider which size would be best. My planners come in A4 (big, with lots of writing room), and A5 (small enough to put in your bag) but there are loads of other sizes out there.
So, do you need a big A3 wall planner, an A4, A5, or little pocket size planner?
2. What's the best format for you?
The format you choose is really a balance between personal preference and how much stuff you need to fit into each day. Most people choose a weekly or daily format, but I'm finding more and more people are just using a monthly calendar and some notes pages. It's up to you, but this is really important - it's annoying having a big daily planner with next to nothing written on most pages, and the same goes for a weekly that's so crowded with appointments you can barely read them!
To help you out, here is my rule of thumb for which planner you need - the numbers are 'on average' so check out your old planner to see what you normally have!
If you have 2 or less appointments/items to write in each day - a monthly calendar would be awesome for you.
If you have 4 or less appointments/items to write in each day - a week to a page planner will work really well.
If you have 4 - 8 appointments/items to write in each day - a week to a spread planner will be great for you.
If you have 8 - 16 appointments/items to write in each day - try a day to a page planner as it will have the space you need.
If you have 16 or more appointments/items each day - then a day to a spread planner would be perfect for you.
So what's the best format for you? Daily, Weekly or Monthly? Do you need it on one page or across a 2 page spread?
3. What's the right orientation?
How do you like your planner pages to be orientated? Do you like them landscape, with the long edge across the top, or do you like them portrait, with the long edge down the side?
And if you're looking at weekly planners, do you like your days in vertical columns across the spread, or in classic boxes down each page? Personally, I can't even think straight using a vertical planner - it does my head in - but they are one of the most popular formats out there. Just remember to go with what you love and can easily use - not what's fashionable :)
So do you prefer portrait or landscape? And weeks flowing horizontally or vertically?
4. Get the right lines!
This is one of the biggest problems I find in choosing a new planner - the writing lines. Firstly, do you like having blank space or lines? I've used a blank space planner for years and loved it because my handwriting is so big.
If you love lines, keep in mind that lines that are too close together will drive you nuts if you have big handwriting - and ones that are too wide are annoying because you can't fit as much on the page - there is actually a sweet spot of 8mm that suits most people, however I rarely find diaries that use this measurement. I personally also find really heavy dark lines are super annoying - they just make everything depressing and dark and ugh!
You can also find planners now with dots in a grid pattern instead of lines - especially if you like bujo styles :)
So do you prefer lines, blank space or dots? And how do you like your lines?
5. How do you like it bound?
The right binding can really make or break whether you love and use your planner, or whether it ends up being discarded. I'll run through a few of the most common ones here:
Book bound properly known as perfect binding is just like a normal hard cover book, and is a really lovely option. These are generally bought from a store - they're not really an option for the DIYer using printables.
Spiral or wire bound a really common option with bought planners, and if you put together your own custom planner with printables, your local stationery store can spiral bind it for you. They aren't the most durable, so if you're hard on your planner a leather book cover over the top might be a good idea. Also, you can't move pages around once it's bound.
Disk bound I have actually never used this system, but it involves buying small disks and a special punch, and the pages attach to and flow around the disks - similar to a ring binder. It's a popular system and pages can be removed and re-arranged relatively easily.
Ring bound one of the most popular ways to bind a planner and easily bought from stores as well as being able to be DIYed. You can choose to use a normal ring binder from a stationery shop or choose a Filo-fax style cover. Binders are durable and hard wearing, but the big ones can be quite heavy and bulky. A cover with many rings can be tricky too as it's hard to get the holes aligned and in the right spots!
So how do you like your planner bound? Like a book, spirals, disks or in a ring binder?
And there we go! Five questions that I hope have helped you narrow down your search for the perfect planner to suit you and what you want to achieve this year!
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