5 Planners to Achieve Your Goals

A few years ago, I asked for a Lilly Pulitzer planner for my birthday. Yes, a planner. For my birthday. If you know what a Lilly Pulitzer 17-month large planner looks like, you’re probably thinking, “Why?”

The conversation between my mother and I went something like this:

Mom: “That planner is huge. It’s bigger than some of your textbooks.”
Dianna: “I know, but I like that! I won’t lose it!”
Mom: “Why is it so big? Do you really need the stickers? And all of that extra organizational space? It’s a planner!”
Dianna: “Mom, I swear, I’ll use every part of it!”
Mom: “OK…”

Rest assured, when they say your mother knows best, she probably knows best.

I love to organize and I easily forget everything, so planners have become a necessity for me. However, I’m also easily overwhelmed, so having a planner the size of the latest AP Stylebook was not necessary and counterproductive. A few months after receiving my Lilly, I was searching for another planner. I wanted something that could fit both my day-to-day tasks and events as well as space for notes in case an idea randomly came to me while I was squished against the door on the R train.

You don’t need the prettiest, most aesthetically pleasing planner to feel accomplished. Sometimes, running into Staples and grabbing the first thing you see works. I’m currently using a Mead Weekly-Monthly Planner. It’s small enough to carry to work with me and simple enough that my notes and important tasks don’t get lost in some crazy design.

If you’re gearing up to buy a new planner for school, now’s the time to start looking, because a lot of the 2018-2019 school-year styles will be dropping soon. Whether you prefer Lilly Pulitzer planners or the $1 pocket planner you scored at Target, there’s a key to organizational freedom out there for everyone. Here’s a list of five planner brands to keep you organized.

1. The Simplified Planner – $58 Daily / $48 Weekly


After reading Emily Ley’s books (Grace Not Perfection and A Simplified Life) on simplifying your life and focusing on what really matters, I had to see how she translated this to her products. The Simplified Planner has both daily and weekly options with very clean formatting. The daily planner even has hourly slots to mark down meetings, events and anything else going on throughout your day in order. It even includes “monthly simplicity tips” with simple, effective advice that covers everything from how to clean your kitchen pantry to ways that you can make yourself a priority in your day-to-day schedule. The word “simple” is thrown around a lot. Well, it really is that simple.

2. The Happiness Planner – $39 (price varies)


The Happiness Planner sounds cheesy, but it’s actually a really useful tool for those who want to set goals and prioritize self-reflection, health and happiness while planning your day-to-day. Another clean, minimalist format, the Happiness Planner provides sections for the following:

  • Your Happiness Roadmap
  • Yearly Overview
  • Monthly Overview
  • Monthly Work & Personal Goal-Setting and Positive Self-Talk
  • Daily Pages
  • Daily Quotes
  • Daily Goal Setting
  • Daily Schedule & To-Dos
  • Daily Exercise and Meal Plans
  • Daily Reflection and Positive Thinking
  • Daily Gratitude
  • Daily Notes
  • Monthly Reflection
  • Yearly Reflection
  • Inspirational Quotes

If that doesn’t get you motivated, I don’t know what will. You also get free printables, in case you want to be even MORE organized. Sounds like heaven to me.

3. Boss Moves Planner – $18.75


While what’s included may sound familiar to the Happiness Planner in terms of goal-setting, the tone of the Boss Moves Planner is a little more… boss. Along with your typical planning pages, Boss Moves gives you a questionnaire to start that will “help you, the visionary, narrow your goals with procession.” From there, the planner will check up on you quarterly to see if you’re reaching those goals. And, of course, they throw a few inspirational quotes in there for all the bosses just trying to make it.

4. The Passion Planner – $30 (price varies)


You have a big idea. Massive, actually. You’re motivated, passionate and are willing to find time to get this shit rolling. The Passion Planner is the perfect partner for a creative and their hectic schedule. It includes weekly and daily pages as well as hourly sections for more time-specific planning. You can also find the following:

  • “Good Things That Happened” sections to keep you focused on the positive.
  • A motivational quote and challenge to inspire positive action.
  • Personal and work to-do lists organized by priority to encourage work-life balance, because very often we forget to take care of ourselves.
  • “Space of Infinite Possibility” where you can take notes, draw, create, write, brainstorm or customize to fit your needs.

Don’t just carry your planner with you; carry your life road map with you. Get to work.

5. The Bullet Journal – $24.95


I may be cheating with this suggestion, but keeping a bullet journal has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done both creatively and emotionally for myself. For those who aren’t familiar, a bullet journal is a blank notebook with no real direction. Most include an empty table of contents, an empty key and hundreds of empty pages with small dots on them. There are a ton of brands that sell these types of notebooks – some for less than $10, since it’s a blank notebook – but from bulletjournal.com itself, it’s a “customizable and forgiving organization system.”

Bullet Journal® (or BuJo® for short) was created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer living in Brooklyn, NY. Through many years of trial and error, the system has evolved into the ideas presented here. He sees this as an evolving, adaptable practice meant to be self curated as you determine what works best for you.

“What works best for you” is the key here. If you want to sketch out an entire daily planner from start to finish, you can. If you want to create a goal tracker that reminds you to drink eight glasses of water every day, go ahead. If you want a section dedicated to daily affirmations and inspirational quotes, write it up. If you feel like sketching the next Starbucks holiday cup design, get it done. The point is, you can create anything you want, because it’s your journal. It keeps you organized and is often seen as a tool for stress relief. This article from Well+Good covers some of the life-changing benefits of starting your own bullet journal.

What’s your favorite planner brand? Let me know in the comments below!


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