Introduction to Planners for Productivity

Keeping a planner has unbounded benefits, especially in the current digital age where so much of our lives are on those small rectangular devices in our pockets.

To keep a physical planner, one that we have to take out a pen to write in, feels joyous as if it belongs to an age that came long before us.

It is no surprise then, that planners are having a bit of a comeback. All you have to do is type ‘planners’ into Pinterest, or any other social media and you will be inundated with planner ideas.

One of the most popular uses for a planner is to improve productivity. Used for this reason, your planner can quickly become your most important tool for work.

It’s a win-win situation because it means we will spend less time on our phones, and other electronic devices that we would otherwise use as our planners.

We’re sure we don’t need to list the innumerable benefits of writing over screen time, but suffice to say that your eyes, brain, and mental wellbeing will thank you in the long run.

There are so many choices out there when it comes to choosing a planner for productivity, it can feel overwhelming, especially if you have never used a planner for this reason before.

We’ve decided to help you along the way by reviewing some of the best planners for productivity and listing the pros and cons of each of them. We’ve found ten of them in total for you, and we are sure you will love every one of them.

The hard part will be choosing which one of them you want to go for! To help you with that decision, we also have a really helpful Buyers’ Guide at the end of the article. This will explain what features you may want to look for in a planner for productivity.

We used this Buyers’ Guide to help choose the products on our list.

Remember, it is just a guide, and if your favorite planner doesn’t have every single feature we have listed then that is totally fine – it is merely guidance that you may want to consider, based on what other people view as important in the productivity planners.

1. BEST OVERALL: Self Journal by BestSelf

Our top pick for the best planners is the Self Journal by BestSelf. It is very comparable to our 2nd pick from the leading brand name Panda Planner.

We love that the un-dated Self Journal can be started at any time, not just on January 1. The planner is particularly powerful in helping you achieve your goals within a 13 week period. BestSelf tells us why 13 weeks is the “goal-setting sweet spot“. It is easier to fend off procrastination when we focus on quarterly goals vs yearly. Getting more done each quarter results in far more productivity over the course of a year!

The planner offers daily, weekly and monthly sections for planning. You will also find a Habit Tracker that seems to be modeled after the “Don’t Break The Chain” method, space for reflection, bucket list section, “BestSelf Benchmark” as well as morning and evening rituals. 

This planner comes in four color choices – black, coral, navy, and canary.

You can get a free PDF download that guides you through the journal before you buy to see if it might be a fit for you.

Pros

  • Customized 13-week layout to highlight your goals, motivation, milestones, critical drivers as well as how you hold yourself accountable.

  • Daily and weekly planning and reflection

  • Unisex and neutral colors that appeal to all genders.

  • You will find an entire community with over 38K members on Facebook to support you and your goals.

Cons

  • This 13-week planner does not offer a monthly overview.

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2. Daily Planner 2021 by Panda Planner

The first planner we want to draw your attention to by the leading brand name Panda Planner.

It is their Daily Planner 2021 which is an undated 90-day planner.

The brand dedicates a two page spread to each day which we adore as it gives you plenty of room to write in everything with spaces for morning and end-of-day reviews, a section for important tasks for the day which you can number from 1 to 5 in terms of priority, and even a little area with a timetable and note section.

As if that wasn’t enough the planner also features some dedicated pages for weekly and monthly reviewing. It does it all!

This particular planner comes in one color choice – black – which leaves you free to decorate with any stickers or decals you wish.

That being said, the company does manufacture other colors, but the black is by far the most popular choice, and the highest rated on Amazon!

The planner is a good, compact size as it is A5 meaning you can easily take it anywhere with you as it will fit in all bags and backpacks.

The paper is of great quality as it is 120gsm and is 100% recycled. The cover has a leather-look, however, it is made from eco-friendly non-animal products!

Pros

  • This product has great portability due to its A5 size

  • Each day has a two page spread and is very spacious

  • As well as the main ‘daily’ pages there are sections for weekly and monthly goal revisions

  • There are excellent prompts in all sections of the planner

  • This planner has psychological backing and its own social media movement so you will have a whole community at your grasp if you choose this one

Cons

  • Not everyone will like that it is 90 days as they may want longer from their planner

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3. Legend Planner Deluxe Weekly & Monthly Life Planner

Next up we have the uber-popular Legend Planner.

We have chosen their Deluxe Weekly and Monthly Life Planner as we think it is the best of theirs for manageable productivity goals.

What we love about this is the array of colors! There is something to suit everyone, including the most gorgeous metallic rose gold.

It is a lovely compact size (A5) which you will be able to take with you easily throughout your day. This one is best for long term productivity and goal achieving.

You write in it monthly and weekly, detailing what you want to achieve, your priorities, your dreams, and even a handy reflection section to look back on the previous week or month.

It also features pages to write about life-long goals and dreams. It is undated, too, so you can personalize it for your own needs.

The paper is 120gsm pearl white and is super high quality. It is also made from faux leather, making it vegan friendly!

Pros

  • A huge choice of color

  • This is amazing for both long-term and short-term goals due to its weekly and monthly focus

  • It features sections dedicated to 3-month, yearly, and life-long goals as well as tactics for how to get there

  • High-quality paper and cover that is made from faux leather

Cons

  • Some customers found that some of the pages were unnecessary such as the ones dedicated to goals

  • There is not as much space dedicated to daily productivity, the focus is more on the long-term. That being said, the brand does have some wonderful daily planners available

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4. Clever Fox Planner – Weekly & Monthly Planner

Another planner that we liked is the Weekly and Monthly Planner from Clever Fox.

This undated planner comes in a wide range of colors, ranging from pastels to brights, and, of course, some plain and simple.

It is not a daily planner, so if you are someone who needs to keep track of lots of daily appointments this probably won’t be the one for you.

However, if you are a super goal-orientated person who loves to plan, look no further because this is the perfect productivity planner.

It has some super cool bonus features such as a vision board area and affirmations, setting it apart from some others on the market.

There are sections for weekly and monthly spreads too so you can set out what you want to do and when you want to do them. It also has lots of dotted note pages at the back.

It is made from soft faux leather making it super eco-friendly.

Pros

  • Great or goal-orientated people

  • It features a vision board section

  • It comes in a variety of colors

  • The planner includes helpful stickers to help with the organizational aspects of the planner

  • High-quality paper

  • Faux leather so it is suitable for vegans

  • Portable due to its compact size

Cons

  • Some customers found that the boxes for writing in were not spacious enough

  • There is no focus on the daily so buyers who want a daily planner will not like this one

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5. Weekly, Monthly, and Year Planner By Lemome

Next up we have the Weekly, Monthly, and Year Planner by Lemome.

This simplistic planner is ideal for meticulous organizers. It comes in two sizes – A5 and A4 so you have some freedom of choice over that.

In terms of color, there is black or pink, so it may not be suitable for someone who wants a particular color or design, but it does allow you to decorate it how you wish.

It is important to note that this planner is dated, and the brand brings out a new version each year.

There is not much in the planner in the way of prompts, as the focus is truly on the weeks and months, allowing you to fill it with your appointments and goals.

There are daily sections, as well as a year view calendar features too to get all those important dates in. the back has a 68-page notes section that you can repurpose for whatever you want, be that goal setting, affirmations, or vision boards.

This planner gives you so much freedom as it is simple and easy to use.

Pros

  • Simplistic, giving you the freedom to use it how you want

  • Lots of room for note taking at the back

  • Two size options

  • A heavy focus on dates – it serves as a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly planner

  • The material is a durable faux leather

Cons

  • There are no prompts in this planner to write goals into so it won’t suit everyone

  • The color choice is limited

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6. Simple Elephant Undated Planner by Papercode

The Simple Elephant Undated Planner is the perfect mixture of productivity, planning, and goal orientation.

It features sections dedicated to monthly, weekly, and daily planning. It encourages you to write out goals, gratitudes, and affirmations at the beginning of the planner, as well as giving you sections for both monthly and weekly outlooks.

There is also a section dedicated to mind-mapping and creating a vision board to stimulate the left and right sides of your brain.

There are four color options – black, blue, pink, and purple – meaning there will be something for everyone.

It also comes with stickers to make the organization far easier.

It is made from good-quality paper and has a vegan leather front and back cover for durability and sleekness.

Pros

  • An in-depth planner for productivity as it features monthly, weekly, and daily planning sections

  • Comes with stickers for better organization

  • Sections for mind-mapping and vision boards

  • Undated so you have freedom over when to use it

  • Vegan leather cover

Cons

  • There are not as many color choices as other brands on the market

  • Pages are thinner than the other brands reviewed so far as it is 110gsm compared to 120.

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7. Clever Fox Planner PRO

This is the second Clever Fox product on the list.

This time we want to mention their fantastic Planner Pro!

This is A4 in size, setting it apart from the first of their planners on the list immediately it is a whole size bigger. Trust us though, it has to be!

Clever Fox needs all the extra room because of its new features. The brand calls this planner a ‘life-coach’, and actually, we have to agree.

This version features a new bigger section where you can create a vision board and mind map to help you plan for your goals and envision them.

This is perfect for creative thinkers and those who achieve goals by imagining them. It also has a super in-depth self-discovery section.

The color options are incredible on this one, too. There are also sections within it for quarterly reviews, as well as monthly reviews and a weekly spread.

The weekly spread is super cool as it features a handy habit tracker, this way you can ensure you are on track.

This is perfect for long term goal reachers!

Pros

  • A big space for a vision board

  • Self-discovery section

  • Lots of opportunities to review each month, as well as quarterly through the year to track your progress

  • Perfect for visionaries who like to see their progress

  • Habit tracker on each weekly spread

  • Lots of color choice

Cons

  • It is big! Not everyone will appreciate its A4 size

  • Less focus on the daily – not everyone will want a planner for long-term goal setting, preferring smaller daily goals. That said, the brand does offer daily planners!

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8. Power Place’s Daily Planner, Calendar, and Gratitude Journal

Next up on our list, we have this fabulous all-in-one planner by Power Place.

This product is a planner, calendar, and gratitude journal all in one! It has space for daily, weekly, and monthly planning and appointment keeping, as well as featuring a 2-year calendar at the front!

Although the main pages are un-dated, the calendar is dated 2020 and 2021. However, the brand does bring out a new version each year with updated calendar sheets.

What we like about this one is the simplistic page dedicated to yearly goals, and the page dedicated to tracking those goals.

We all know how pointless a goal is if we don’t actively work towards it!

There is also a section to write a wishlist which we think would be amazing to list all your future dreams.

It has a vegan leather hardcover, too for durability and longevity.

Pros

  • It’s simple and goal-oriented, perfect for those who don’t like a fuss and just want to simply write down their goals and achieve them

  • It allows for in-depth long term planning

  • A two-year calendar feature to get in all those important dates

  • A dedicated section for tracking goals

  • Vegan leather cover

  • It features 24-hour scheduling making it perfect for those with busy lifestyles

Cons

  • The prompts aren’t as detailed as some other planners on the market

  • Only two color choices

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9. Clever Fox Planner Premium Edition

Yet another Clever Fox Planner! We promise this isn’t intentional, they just make really good products!

Their Premium Edition Planner is similar to the previous two of theirs that we have discussed but it also features some excellent new features.

First, let’s talk about appearance! This planner looks so luxurious! Just looking at it makes us feel like we have our lives together – surely a must for any goal-orientated person looking to increase productivity!

It comes in a number of different colors, making it perfect for absolutely anyone.

What sets this apart is that there is far more space to write in than the other two Clever Fox planners. This makes it perfect for people with intricate goals, or anyone with lots of goals!

There are also extra quarterly goals and monthly reviews so that you can ensure your productivity is always on point and you are achieving what you set out to do.

This is the perfect planner to ensure you are focused, which we all know is the key factor in increasing productivity. 

Pros

  • The most luxurious planner we have found

  • Lots of focus on increasing productivity through goal setting and reviewing

  • Good choice of colors

  • Vegan leather

  • High-quality pearl white paper which is 120gsm to ensure your pen doesn’t bleed through

  • blank pages at the back for note-taking

Cons

  • No daily pages, the focus is on weeks and months. Better for long-term productivity rather than shorter goals

  • Some customers have had issues with the stickers that are included with the planner, expressing that they do not stick that well

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10. Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change

Last on our list is the Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change.

We have chosen this product because of the great prompts that it uses to help increase productivity.

It is specifically designed for this reason and it shows. The planner uses researched methods to increase your productivity through habits.

It uses weekly planning and reviews to keep you on top of your shorter-term weekly goals.

It is undated so you can use it when you need to, without having to worry about wasted pages.

It allows for 6 months of planning too so you can plan ahead when needed with long-term goals. It also features priority task lists so you can get your most important things done first.

It uses the Pomodoro method, which is a proven productivity strategy employed by workplaces and institutions worldwide.

It is super portable, too, being A5 sized.

Pros

  • It uses a proven, research-based method to increase productivity

  • It allows for weekly planning to achieve short-term goals

  • It allows you to write down weekly reviews of how productive you have been and rate your week

  • You can prioritize tasks based on the importance

  • It is a detailed planner that has their main focus on increasing productivity

Cons

  • Many other customers have commented on the fact that it only allows weekly planning for 5 days, as it misses out on the weekend days. This will not be suitable for those who work on each day of the week

  • There is no calendar or datebook which will not suit everyone

  • The cover is embossed cloth, which may not be as durable as other planners

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Buyers’ Guide 

Don’t think of this as a strict checklist of things your planner has to include, it is merely guidance of things that you may want to consider when you are buying a planner to increase your productivity.

The factors we have included are based on what we have found through our research regarding what other people consider important in a productivity planner. The most important thing is that it suits you. 

Size 

This is a very important factor to take into consideration, especially as your planner is likely to travel everywhere with you.

You won’t want something too big and bulky that will weigh down your bag or backpack.

We would recommend choosing a planner that is around A5 sized, but no more than A4. This way it will be able to easily slot into your everyday bag without taking up too much room, and won’t overcrowd your desk when you use it. 

To date or not to date 

Consider whether you want a dated planner or one that you can write the date into yourself.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to dated planners.

Some people like the idea of buying a planner every year or every few years that has every day listed on its own page (or half a page). Other people prefer pages without dates that they can have a little more freedom over, particularly if you want to use your planner just for work, therefore not needing it at the weekend.

Having it undated means that weekend pages will not get wasted and you can just write in your planner on weekdays.

Some planners come with the option of purchasing a separate calendar page that can be inserted in the front of the book. 

Day, week, month, or even a year

Linked to the factors above, you should also consider how long you would like your planner to run for.

There are options to buy daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly planners. Some options even include 90-day planners.

It depends on how much detail you would like to put into each day, and whether you want to dedicate a whole page to one day or a week. 

Materials 

Consider what materials you would like your planner to be made from.

There are countless amounts of choices for planner material, including leather, vegan leather, strong card, plastic, and even paper.

Our recommendation is to find a durable planner made from something that will withstand being moved about in a handbag or backpack and can handle constant daily handling.

For this reason, paper and card may not be the best choice. Our favorite options are leatherbound, vegan leather, and plastic.

That being said, paper and card are perhaps a little more environmentally friendly, so if you did want to choose these materials, go ahead, just ensure that they are kept safe, perhaps in a protective wallet or covering. 

Color and appearance

This may not be the most important factor for some people, but for others, it will be key.

Having a planner that looks good makes us want to write in them more – or is that just us?

You could perhaps choose a planner that matches your other important productivity tool such as your laptop, journal, pens, pencils, and pencil cases.

You could choose a planner in your favorite color or print.

You could get a plain planner with the view of decorating it with your favorite stickers.

The only limit is your imagination because when it comes to planner appearance the choice is huge!

Prompts and lists 

Lots of planners these days come with prompts and lists already in them.

We love these types of planners as sometimes it can be overwhelming just starting out.

Having prompts in place helps us organize our planner far easier, in turn helping us organize our days.

For this reason, you may want to look for planners that have daily ‘to-do list’ sections, as well as having sections for mini timetables, water trackers, exercise trackers, mood trackers, and much more.

Of course, this is all subjective and it fully depends on what you want out of a planner.

You know best what will help you be more productive so consider what prompts and lists you would like. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do planners increase productivity? 

Many studies have been done to work out whether planning helps productivity and the evidence overwhelmingly agrees with it.

The act of physically writing down goals has long been used as a form of self-help and even therapy to increase productivity.

As Brian Tracy says, “Every minute you spend planning saves 10 minutes in execution”.

In fact, even as far back as the 1920s, scientists were exploring whether writing things down affected our ability to finish tasks.

So yes, planners do, in theory, increase productivity, but we always say that you get out of them what you put into them.

You can’t expect to have results if you barely use your planner or write the bare minimum! 

What can I do with an old planner? 

We have to admit, we keep all of our old planners because they can be really good to look back on overtime.

They are great for helping to solve future problems as you can often look back and see exactly how you achieved certain goals.

They are also a source of pride because it lists all of the goals you have achieved purely through being productive.

If this still hasn’t convinced you to keep them we would recommend recycling the paper pages and checking with your local trash collectors to see if the covers can be recycled too.