Get Organized Before the New Year With the Best Planners
Punchy palettes from Papier, Poketo, and more.
Published Dec 21, 2021 1:05 AM
Let’s be real: There are few things more satisfying than crossing something off your to-do list. If this brings you as much joy as it brings us, then you’re probably already on the lookout for a planner to kick off the new year. When it comes to staying on top of all your daily tasks, we’d argue that paper is often better than a digital screen. Sticky notes are fine for in-the-moment reminders, and wall calendars are great for keeping tabs on big events each month, but it’s nice to have something a bit more robust to keep your long-term goals on track, too.
And the best planners aren’t just about what’s on the inside (though colorful boxes to check off are nice). Our roundup, below, takes into account eye-catching covers, whether it’s a bold pattern (hello, groovy stripes and checkerboards in punchy palettes), classic florals, or bright colors in woven textures. We guarantee purchasing one of these beauties will have your coworker asking, “Where did you get that?” after your next in-person meeting or Zoom call. Because, hey, isn’t part of the fun of owning a planner showing it off?
- Best for eclectic patterns: Papier
- Best for relaxed styles: Milligram
- Best for block colors: Poketo
- Best for spiral bindings: Paper Source
- Best for floral designs: Rifle Paper Co.
Best for Eclectic Patterns: Papier
Date range: December 2021–January 2023 | Dimensions: A5 | Format: Weekly and monthly
What we like:
- Sustainably sourced paper and recyclable packaging? Check
- Customizable (add your name)
- 3mm-thick cover
- Made to order
- Ships from the U.K.
Why we chose it: A stationary company that pairs high-quality paper with design-collab covers.
With both in-house designs and collaborations with iconic fashion brands and up-and-coming creatives (think: ceramists and stylists), Papier covers have an added touch of whimsy that we have fallen head over heels for. This pink checkered print? It’s serving nail art vibes à la influencer Lauren Ladnier. The golden-hued gingham? As good as designer Heather Taylor’s textiles. An optical illusion–like curvy stripe? Proof that the ’70s will never die. The 2022 diary style, however, is what we’re digging the most. With thick paper, a “To See and Do” column, monthly goals, important dates, wish lists, and unlined weekly overviews, this planner really does seem to have it all (even a ribbon marker so you’ll never lose your place).
Best for Relaxed Styles: Milligram
Date range: January–December 2022 | Dimensions: A5 | Format: Weekly and monthly
What we like:
- FSC-certified paper
- Ruled, grid, and dot formats (and more than 400 pages)
- Important dates include holidays for New Zealand and Australia
Why we chose it: Our deputy commerce editor, Samantha Weiss-Hills, is a big fan of this streamlined design.
For the creative folks who like a little more freedom when it comes to structuring their day, Australian company Milligram’s minimalist design features low-key date markings where you can fill in the blank. The look and feel of this planner is all up to you; choose between grid, ruled, and dot formats (think: bullet journal styles). The paper is fountain pen–friendly, and the elastic closure keeps any loose notes in place. And though the woven linen cover is an elevated textural touch, if you’re worried about it getting a few nicks in your bag during your commute to work or neighborhood café, don’t fret: It comes with a protective sleeve just for that reason (and the cool moonlike artwork isn’t too shabby to look at either).
Best for Block Colors: Poketo
Date range: 18 months | Dimensions: 8.25-by-11.75 inches | Format: Monthly
What we like:
- Fun color options (yellow, pink, or blue)
- Tree-free paper
- Sewn binding
Why we chose it: Elevate everyday tasks with bright colors and a cheerful design that’s perfect for people who like to look ahead.
Spoiler alert: Domino editors love Poketo. The brand feels like a ray of sunshine—this generously sized option in particular thanks to its warm hue. Past the front page, you’re greeted with a simplified weekly grid sans numbers and dates, just a minimal M, T, W, T, F, S, S for the week. The monthly format keeps things slim and compact; despite fitting in so many days, the planner is only 80 pages, so it won’t fight for storage in your bag and is easy to tuck under your elbow for the walk from your desk to the conference room. For more in-depth lists (or just mindless doodles), take to the back of the book, where there are both extra lined and blank pages. It’s an easy-to-use option for those who prefer to plan ahead.
Best for Spiral Bindings: Paper Source
Date range: January–December 2022 | Dimensions: 7-by-9.5 inches | Format: Weekly and monthly
What we like:
- Elastic band means no spills
- Like to plan in advance? Includes a five-year holiday overview
- A bit bulky
Why we chose it: Hardcover spirals that will always lay flat.
This first caught our eye thanks to a watercolor-esque cover featuring the palette of the year paired with a gold spiral binding (so chic). But the painterly, carefree feel ends on the cover. Inside, there’s a note for everything. Each month includes a top-level overview with sections calling attention to special dates, top priorities, and a habit tracker. There’s even a horizontal bulleted view and a section for monthly check-ins if you’re looking for a goal-oriented approach to staying organized. Extra features include a gold foil sticker sheet (to spotlight everything from a dentist appointment to your best friend’s birthday) and interior pockets. Plus with its larger size, we see this planner doing double duty as a folder.
Best for Floral Designs: Rifle Paper Co.
Date Range: August 2021–July 2022 | Dimensions: 7.75-by-9.75 inches | Format: Monthly
What we like:
- Wallet-friendly price
- Academic style
Why we chose it: This planner makes it feel like spring every day, no matter the time of year.
Ready to upgrade from your Lily Pulitzer days? Rifle Paper Co. offers classic, sophisticated floral patterns that will never fall out of style. This particular pick, with its bright, hand-painted buds against a contrasting black cover, extends the lovely illustrations to the pages, and the binding is sewn, making this feel more like you’re penning your next novel, not your weekly grocery list. Mix and match the Luxembourg look with matching pens, stationary, and other office supplies.
- In one word, Mochi Things planners can be summed up as cute, but the brand is more than its pastel palette. And there are so many options to choose from—really, there’s probably something for everyone.
- If you’re looking for refills only, invest in the newly illustrated options from Hermès. Choose between nine different layout styles, from quarterly to one that’s all about future travel plans.
- For a place where you can find all sorts of brands (including Poketo), Design Milk has chic offerings that look like they belong on the desk of an architect.
- We wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve had a DayDesigner planner before—it’s a classic. And though the style is a little old school, we can’t resist mentioning this one for the nostalgia factor.
How We Chose These Products
Good design is a huge part of our litmus test for the best planners. A one-stop shop for everything from your to-do list to your monthly calendar, the best planners also include quality paper (a few of our picks come from our favorite stationery brands) and good-looking covers. Long story short, we made sure our planner picks help you stay productive and are pretty to look at, too.
Our Shopping Checklist
Planners run the gamut in terms of shape and size, but the most likely options you’ll come across are personal- or pocket-size (small and easy to travel with), A5 (5.83-by-8.27 inches), U.S. letter size (8.5-by-11 inches), and A4, which is super-similar to U.S. letter but just the smallest touch narrower. More often than not, we’ve noticed that size has a direct correlation to how a planner is formatted. For instance, a miniature size can help you focus on everyday tasks, whereas something on the larger side lends itself to a bird’s-eye view.
Format and Layout
Probably the biggest decision you’ll have to make when picking out the best planner is whether to go with a daily, weekly, or undated format. Each has its own pros and cons. For a few important meetings, the wider view of a monthly planner might suit you best; but if you create detailed, daily to-do lists, we’d advise going the weekly route, with a planner that gives you ample room each day. For the latter, school-specific agendas also have a tendency to prioritize weekdays, so keep that in mind, too. It’s always nice when a planner provides a little something extra after each calendar week, whether it’s a blank note section or a creative prompt to keep you inspired. To quote Marie Kondo, your planner should spark joy each time you open it.
Most of the time, you’re probably looking at either a stitched or spiral-bound setup. Stitch binding holds the paper together with staples; it’s how most magazines and paperback books are held together. Spiral-bound is reminiscent of a binder. The paper features a series of holes that the rings fit through (bonus if you score perforated edges). Pro tip: If you’re shopping in person, give your potential product a quick test by seeing if it can lay flat. No one wants to jot down notes with resistance.
Q: What’s the difference between a daily and weekly planner?
Basically, it’s how the pages are set up. A daily planner allows you to break down tasks for each day, whereas a weekly showcases a full seven calendar days across a page or two. Because of this, there are usually more pages in a daily planner, making it a bit clunkier or heavier in comparison.
Q: Is it better to use a pen, pencil, or marker when taking notes in a planner?
This largely depends on the type of paper your planner has; you’ll want something that won’t leak through. In fact, ghosting—when you can see some of your notes on the back of the page you wrote on—is a pretty common issue. If this is bothersome or makes reading tricky, try going with a paper that’s thick. Online, keep an eye out for this measurement: GSM. It stands for grams per square meter and indicates a paper’s weight. In our experience, we haven’t had bleed-through issues with a GSM of 80 and higher.
Q: What kinds of extra accessories do some planners come with?
While a lot of our picks are pretty minimalist on this front, there are other options on the market that come with all sorts of bonus features, whether it’s an open or back pocket to corral outside notes, stickers, bookmark clips, and more. But even if the planner you decide to go with doesn’t come with these add-ons, you can always purchase them for yourself. We love these jumbo gold paper clips and this extensive sticky note set!
Q: How can a planner keep me on track week after week?
Productivity expert and best-selling author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Laura Vanderkam, offers a few tips on how to use your new planner to the fullest: Use it consistently, plan your next week out on a Friday before heading into the weekend, don’t push off difficult tasks, and color-coordinate tasks by priorities.
The Last Word
Our list prioritizes good design, but the best planners are those that work for you, whether it’s a pocket-size diary for notes on the go or a large, coffee-table-book–size product sprawled out on your desk at home. Remember: This office tool won’t make your calendar any less crowded, but it will certainly be prettier to look at.
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