Organization 101: Finding the Right Planner

For years I have had people comment on my organization – what do I use and how do I keep up with my crazy hectic life?!

Well here it is my secret to success…

There’s really no secret, sorry.

Organization has always been something that has helped me feel centered and put together and I’ve decided to make Organization 101 a regular occurrence on the blog! Welcome to the debut post!

One thing I always have on me, is a planner and/or a notebook. Phones are great, but I’m definitely a pen and paper kind of girl. So today I’m going to take you through the fundamentals of finding yourself a planner/organizer.

Let me start by saying that I know how overwhelming it can be to try and find a planner that meets all of your needs. I have spent a small fortune and tried tons of different things to find what works for me…and I still don’t have it perfected.

So that’s the first step – find what you will USE, not just what’s pretty.

Some other things you want to look for…

  • Size.
    This is important. Are you wanting to chuck it in your purse? Do you have incredibly large handwriting? Are you using one planner for multiple things – home, work, school, etc.? A small planner may be portable, but may not meet your needs from a functionality standpoint.
  • Functionality.
    Equally, if not more important than size. If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly on the go (or feel like you are)…but you still like having variety.I say this from experience – if you don’t find what fits what you’re looking for and needing, you won’t use it. I have a discarded pile of planners that were adorable and almost what I wanted. I ‘planner-settled’ and eventually, we broke up.
  • Durability.
    You’re going to be living by this thing – you need it to last the year. Determine what you’re going to be using it for. If you’re going to be traveling with it – a big bulky planner may not be the best option, so you may lean more towards a bullet journal, or vice versa.
  • Price.
    I know that price is a huge factor. But I say this – quality does not always mean pricey, and pricey does not always mean quality. All of the planners we are looking at today vary in price range, and by my standards are all quality products.

The Line Up and Review Process

For this blog I’m going to take you through my personal favorites along with some that I tried that just weren’t what I needed. That’s not to say that they won’t work for you.

I introduce to you, the line up.

  • The Happy Planner
  • Bullet Journals
  • Day Designer
  • Passion Planner
  • Standard Planner

I’m going to review the planner on the big four- size, functionality, durability and price. I’m also going to give you my ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ for each one.

The Happy Planner by Create 365

The Witty Bean - Organization 101: Finding the Right Planner

The Happy Planner – Big

My Happy Planner is my everyday go-to. I use it for everything and always have more than one.

Let’s highlight some of the things I really appreciate about this planner

  • Disc System. It’s similar to the Arc System, which I have used previously. I had a lot of the things already at my disposal – like the special hole punch, tab dividers, pocket folders, etc. It’s easy to add and remove things. If your planner starts getting too thick, you can pull out past months and then reassemble at the end of the year.
  • Space. I write a lot. I also visual journal and like to paste pictures and other things that happened throughout the week in my planner. This one gives me plenty of space to do that.
  • Variety. They are really starting to expand their line. Aside from the Classic design, they now have Happy Planner – Mini and Happy Planner – Big.

These planners are “pre-decorated” for the most part, but because I visual journal I like that these have more than enough space to stick in pictures, stickers, washi tapes, etc. I will say though, it is very easy to get into decorating and it can knock a dent in your budget quickly if you aren’t careful.

The Witty Bean - Organization 101: Finding the Right Planner

The Happy Planner – BIG (undated). New January 2017 Monthly Set Up

The Witty Bean - Organization 101: Finding the Right Planner

The Happy Planner – BIG (undated). Weekly Layout

The Witty Bean - Organization 101: Finding the Right Planner

The Happy Planner – Classic

From a durability standpoint these tend to hold up fairly well. I’ve noticed the more you use it, the punched areas of the paper inserts tend to weaken. I also had to re-laminate the front cover on my planner from 2016.

On the Me and My Big Ideas website, they have new jacket inserts that you can put them in, but those are around $30 as well, faux leather and in my humble opinion, not necessary unless you just want one.

Coincidentally I do want one, so I will let you know how that purchase goes.

The only thing with this particular system is that it can be kind of pricey – coming in around $30.00 on average. However, I have found that Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and Me and My Big Ideas online, carry them and usually have coupons or a good sale going on.

Bullet Journaling

The Witty Bean - Organization 101: Finding the Right Planner

Moleskine, Classic. 5 x 8.5. Dotted, in Underwater Blue

Oh bullet journaling, or bujo for short. I love this. Everything in one place, created exactly as you want it to be. I won’t get too much into the how-to of bullet journaling, that’s for a different time. But I will speak to it’s capabilities so that you know the options available! I love bullet journaling for a couple of different reasons.

  • Versatility. This planner/notebook is truly what you make of it and there are limitless possibilities on how you do that. I’ve watched videos, followed Instagram pages and Pinterest boards to get additional ideas for spreads and other artsy things. This also means that I can use this for art, planning, brainstorming, goal setting, etc.
  • Size. I like that with pretty much any Moleskine journal, they’re light enough that I can carry them with me everywhere and come in a variety of sizes.
  • Durability. These things can go through the ringer. I have dropped, spilled, lost and found these notebooks all through my house and it stands the test of time.

I do have some personal downsides with Bullet Journaling though. The fact that I have an entire blank page at my disposal to plan my day, means I can quickly and unknowingly overwhelm myself with it when I try to use it for all the things in my life and don’t have a plan in place.

I primarily use my smaller Bullet Journal for work only. I went through one of my old work notebooks and made note of the symbols I would instinctively use and that was how I created my legend.

The Witty Bean - Organization 101: Finding the Right Planner

From there, I just plan out each day with tasks, meetings and notes. I don’t go too far beyond that in this particular bullet journal.

However, I still really liked the art and goal setting aspect the bullet journal brought…So I bought a larger Moleskine notebook. It gives me a lot more space that I found I didn’t have in the smaller bullet journal.

The Witty Bean - Organization 101: Finding the Right Planner

London Trip Spread

I have started using the larger one as a bullet journal spread collection that I use for additional visual journaling, goal setting, etc. I don’t have any plans right now to use this journal as a “planner” per se, but the beauty of bullet journaling is that it’s an option, should I want to do it in the future.

From a price perspective – Moleskines can get expensive, but you can get the large one like I have for around $2o.00 and it’s a completely blank canvas that will last, so I still stand by my opinion that this is a great price.

Day Designer

I have several friends who have the Day Designers. I wanted to love it and use it religiously. I really did.

But I didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong there were still things that I liked.

  • Prompts. I like that the day designers have ‘prompts’ with things like gratitude, money spent that day and to-do lists.
  • Design and Durability. I love spiral bound notebooks. I like the ability to just flip them back and forth and not have to fuss with pages. I also like that this is a hardcover notebook, which means I can write on it in my lap without a lot of movement. The hard exoskeleton of this one also makes it durable and protects the pages.
  • Price. There is a caveat with this one. An actual Day Designer will run you close to $60 slices of cheddar if you buy it online. The one pictured above is their line from Target…where I paid a solid $15.00. Which is a HUGE win to get essentially the same planner format on a budget.

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Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough ‘blank’ space for me. This planner is really great for planning a month at a glance along side an intricate day by blocks of times and to-do lists, but there wasn’t room to add or eliminate anything, which I really need for myself.

So this turned out to be one of those planners that just sits, beautifully on a shelf, and is never used.

Passion Planner

I started on the Passion Planner train when they were still on Kickstarter. I remember seeing it and swooning. I bought a full size one and loved it. I used it all the time for work and for personal. I will say that I used it more often when I was actually working in  the office rather than my current set up where I work from home. I just don’t have to write every single meeting down in a notebook, because I’m usually always around.

Similar to the Day Designer it has the time slots available to block out hours of your day for scheduling. But it had the additional room I wanted for notes, prioritizing, brainstorming, etc. But still – I would find myself needing more space in this one for writing and “to-do” items.

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But the things that really sold me on the Passion Planner were things that you don’t find in typical planners.

  • Goal Setting. One thing I really do like about this planner is the goal setting and passion planning that comes with it. The entire front portion of the planner talks about setting obtainable goals and throughout the entirety of the planner it has checkpoints
  • Monthly Reflections. This planner is really what got me started back on journaling as a habit. At the end of each month there are prompted sections that walk you through your month – asking you questions about what was accomplished, what you would work on, etc. It’s a really amazing tool.

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I recently bought an undated planner that I’ve been using for the blog. It’s small and I can grab it and my laptop and head out the door fairly seamlessly and have everything I need. The only downside with the smaller version of this is I have larger handwriting, and I feel like I’m constantly squeezing things to fit in the boxes.

From a price perspective though – this one tends to range around the $30 range, depending on the design you want. There are some cheaper options around the $20 price range on the Passion Planner website.

Yet, I absolutely justify that price for a couple of different reasons. You are not only getting a planner with this. You’re also getting a guided workbook for goal setting. If you’re starting a business, or just working on things personally – that is an incredibly useful tool to have.

Standard Planner

I also bought a standard planner last year – and as you can see…I never used it. I tried to use it. I’ve used this particular type of planner before and did well with it. But, I bought this one because I thought it was cute. I liked the font…

I was looking at the wrong things and keeping in line with my philosophy – it didn’t fit my needs, so I didn’t use it.

I will say for purposes of this blog – this planner is a decent combination. There’s plenty of space for writing on individual days if you have tons of things going on or if you visual journal, and you also have the month at a glance option.

From a price perspective I think I paid less than $10.00 for this. But you truly are only getting writing space and calendars. There’s nothing else incorporated into it. In my opinion, you’d be better to bullet journal and add in your own calendars and still have space for brainstorming, notes, etc.


So there you have it!

These are the planners that I have used and had some level of success with, and even some that I had success with in the past, but ended up not liking as my needs changed. Just keep in mind, Pinterest is a hot bed for planner envy. Don’t get too overwhelmed with the efforts people are putting into their own, including me. Instead, focus on finding the right planner for you.

That’s the beauty of organization – there is also a lot of self assessment that comes with it. You need to be doing ‘self- checks’ to evaluate your needs and adapt your planning styles to meet them. More on that in another blog!

Feel free to leave your comments in the comment section, start a discussion on the Facebook page, or email me if you have any questions!

For now, Happy Planner Searching, lovelies!

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This post is not sponsored. The reviews and photos depicted here are based on personal, not professional, opinion only.

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