Photo courtesy of Living Well Spending Less

As long as I can remember, I have always used some type of planner. Yes, there are countless apps available on my smartphone but I prefer paper. I want to hold it, turn the pages, and write notes and appointments. My infatuation with planners is something my Husband just doesn’t get. He doesn’t understand why I spend weeks MONTHS deciding which one to use. Let’s be honest: a planner is useless if you don’t actually USE it. 

Choosing a planner is a big decision. It’s okay to be picky. Experiment until you find one that suits you best. Believe me, I’ve tried lots and lots of planners over the years!

Here are five major factors I consider when choosing a planner:

{ one } SIZE

Everything is bigger in Texas, including my planner. I’m not one to shy away from a full-size book. Plus, my handwriting can be pretty large, so I need lots of room for appointments and project notes. I use my planner for PERSONAL and WORK assignments, so it must be spacious.

{ two } QUALITY

Because I’m an avid user, my planner has to be durable. There are many days when my planner gets tossed in the back of my SUV as Kamden and I rush to church. If I’m headed to an off-site meeting, I’ll throw my planner and laptop in a backpack. My planner has to be made with quality products and withstand the chaos of life.

The front and back cover must be thick cardboard and I prefer a plastic coating for extra protection. For large planners, the binding is critical. I prefer wire coils but one of my biggest pet peeves is when the coils slip and papers either rip or fall out. That. Is. The. Worst. Another pet peeve is thin paper. If I’m paying a small fortune (more than $25!!!), the planner better have NICE paper. I don’t want paper so thin light can shine through. I don’t want gloss coating either because my gel ink pens won’t work.

{ three } LAYOUT

It doesn’t matter if you purchase a planner at a retail store or from an online designer, you have choices when it comes to layout. Some people prefer monthly spreads but those don’t have enough room for my daily notes. Others want daily pages that have lines for every quarter or half-hour, but I think those are suited for salon or doctors’ appointments. I prefer a little of both: monthly spreads for quick glances and separate pages with a weekly schedule. Having a line or section for daytime hours Monday through Friday is definitely helpful to me.

When I was a student and used an academic planner, most of them had the week in a horizontal layout. That works well for class assignments, project notes, and reminders. As I’ve gotten older, I prefer a vertical layout to organize appointments and meeting notes throughout the day.

The more I use my planner, the more I realize how important it is to have a dedicated space for notes and ideas. I am not a craft-person or artist, but every once in a while I will use Post-It notes or stickers to “decorate” pages. Many times I do this to draw my attention to a particular appointment or project deadline. Other times it’s out of self-preservation to get my mind off of a stressful situation or daunting to-do list. Sometimes, though, I simply want to decompress with colored pencils and a few good pens writing Bible verses or notes from a devotional. But don’t misunderstand, I do NOT spend a fortune on embellishments. My planner is a work horse, not a decorative craft project.

{ four } EXTRAS

For many users, planners are as essential to daily living as their cell phone. A lot of folks use their planners for budgets, meal planning, contacts list, goal setting, prayer journal, Bible study, and much more. Many designers offer dedicated pages for these type of layouts. I do not budget for our family (Husband is the numbers guy) nor do I keep a list of contacts (that’s what my smartphone is for), so those pages would be a waste in my planner. But I have a deep interest for meal planning and goal setting — I want to improve at both. Bible study is a passion of mine and I enjoy writing favorite verses or devotional notes in the margins.

For more accessories and add-ons, check out:

{ five } PRICE

Price is definitely something to consider when choosing a planner to suit your needs and personality. With all the customization options and accessories available, it’s easy to spend in excess of $60-80 for a planner. The most I’ve ever spent (including shipping and tax) was $75. And I regretted my decision by February. I won’t tell you the brand because I used it several years ago and that planner is now more competitively priced at $55. It was a lot of money to spend on a planner but the quality was really incredible. I still dream about that planner’s paper — it was SUPER thick and luxurious!

Do you have a spend a fortune to get your life organized? Absolutely not. Does having a planner help ME stay focused on goals and deadlines? YES!

I’m excited to share with you the planner I will use in 2019. I’ve literally been researching since May and I really could have used a 2019 calendar a few weeks ago while event planning with church ministry directors and servant team leaders. There’s no better time than the present to order your next planner too!

{ Which planner will I use in 2019? }

Are you ready for this awesomeness?!

For 2019, I chose the ………………………………………………… Living Well Planner.

I pre-ordered it yesterday after fretting forever and driving my Husband bonkers. This will be my first LW planner but I’m excited to see if this product lives up to all the enthusiastic reviews. Rosemarie (Busy Budgeter) sealed the deal for me after she selected LW over EC. In the planner community, that’s a BIG DEAL!!!

Go read the reviews for yourself, but if LW is the planner for you, pre-order by August 31. They sell out quickly! After purchasing a LW planner, you’ll immediately gain access to an entire community focused on planning, organization, and accountability. In addition to online resources and free printables, you will have access to a private Facebook group.

I spent $44 on the planner and sticker set with the pre-sale discount. I used coupon code “CRUSHIT” for an additional $5 off (thank you, Wikibuy). With tax, my total came to $57.37. Again, quite the investment but it’s worth my sanity. Confession: I can spend $60 on one sushi dinner, at least the planner I will use 365 days!


Before I leave, I must talk about my favorite planner tool: PENS. The “write” tool could make or break your planning experience. (This is why I make such a big deal about paper … quality matters, people!)

The folks at The Strategist published a list of the 19 best pens available on Amazon and I’m proud to say I own 10 of them. The other 7 are in my cart just waiting for me to press BUY IT NOW. I also have these in my cart because the thought of an ERASABLE gel pen intrigues me.

Do you get as excited about planners as I do?

Tell me about your favorite planner or organizational tip in a comment below!