The new year is here and that means, for most of us anyway, that we are trying to get ourselves back on track from the holidays. Everything (from our poor holiday diet to our lack of structure in the home, putting up and taking down decorations, decluttering all the old toys and clothes, and countless other tasks and ideas for the year) hits me like a freight train on January 1. So, as a coping mechanism, I enter into an extreme planning and productivity mode.
In years past, I have lived out of Google Calendar. It is convenient, since I always have my phone on hand. It also attempts to synchronize my calendar on its own, straight from my inbox — the keyword here being “attempts,” because I always have to edit that event to make it visible on the family calendar. The truth is, Google Calendar works well for me to see my week and month at a glance, but for day to day items, it just doesn’t cut it. So this year, I’m throwing in the towel on the digital planners and going back to paper.
If you, too, have had it with being disorganized, here’s our recommendations for 2019 planners:
1. Day Timer
Day Timer is the OG of business planners. This is perfect for the professional mom, juggling a day job and home life. This distressed leather starter set comes with three months of undated planning pages. The two page per day format provides optimal space to record your To Do List, any phone calls you need to make, a full day scheduled from 7 AM to 10 PM, and 9 individual project categories (as well as time trackers for these projects). You can break out your work projects, home projects, use the dividers for each of your children, or some combination of all of the above. The style may be drab, and the pages can’t be digitally customized, but it is a timeless design that won’t let you down.
You will have to buy refills, however, which are shockingly around the same $30 price point as the original starter set. For that price tag ($120 per year!), you could opt for something with more customization and styles.
2. Emily Ley – Simplified
Emily Ley combines beauty with functionality in the Simplified line of planners. With six adorable covers to choose from and three different formats, you can’t get any cuter or simpler than this. The prices are reasonable for those of us with planner obsessions — starting at $48 and capping out at $60. Plus, Emily Ley also sells planner accessories, office decor, and other home organization tools that are darling!
The Simplified Weekly Planner
The weekly planner is perfect for the SAHM with three kids or less. It provides a cute little space to plan your dinners each day, a daily to do list, and a daily space for scheduled items. At the end of each week, it gives you a weekly prep to-do list to make sure that you are on top of the game for the next week. If you need the nudge to plan accordingly, and you enjoy bright colors, this calendar is ideal for you.
The Simplified Daily Planner
The daily planner is ideal for the working mom with three kids or less. It provides a simplistic design (as you would expect given the name), which allows you to break up your day into one hour time slots, plan your “To-Do’s,” and keep notes for the day. The major downfall of this calendar is the time tracking doesn’t cover that much time. If you are an early riser or a night owl, you may lose track of some tasks which can’t fit in the 6 AM to 9 PM window provided.
3. Full Focus Planner
This goal oriented 90 day planner is a genius design for the mom who wants it all. If organization is your big goal this year, look no further. I often hear complaints that people don’t really know how to use a planner and it ends up going unused or doubling as a calendar. With the Full Focus Planner, that is a concern of the past.
The planner offers Goal Tracking like you’ve never seen before, including your motivation to complete your goal, streak trackers, and your planned reward for completing the goals. The monthly calendar comes blank, so you can begin and end whenever you’d like. Plan your ideal week, from 5 AM to 9 PM, Monday through Sunday, on the designated Ideal Week pages. Create daily rituals and routines on the designated Daily Rituals pages.
The two page daily planner is unparalleled when it comes to functionality. It incorporates your daily routines with check boxes to confirm that you completed them. Designate your “Big 3” tasks for the day so that you don’t waste the day away on your smaller tasks. But don’t neglect the smaller tasks either! There is a whole section for other tasks you may need done during the day. The hourly planner is a standard time tracking tool. Then you get a whole page for notes. Each page comes with a legend as well so that you can mark your tasks accordingly. No more wondering what actually happened with your to-do list! You can mark it done, delegated, waiting for something, deferred, or deleted. If you are waiting for something or deferring it, simply pull it to the next day on your planner. Voila! You are a productivity guru.
4. Erin Condren Planners
Erin Condren planners are the absolute cutest, especially if you are the artsy type. Consider Erin Condren planners a bullet journal for beginners. With large, blank, customizable spaces, there is no end to the possibilities.
The LifePlanner covers are customizable, and the interior spread has three layouts to choose from: vertical, horizontal, and hourly. The horizontal spread is the most familiar design to newbie planner users. It will remind you of your high school agenda days. The vertical layout offers three separate blocks per day, allowing you to break up your time by Morning, Afternoon, Evening, or by people, tasks, or projects. Finally, the hourly view provides a weekly hour by hour breakdown, so you can schedule your days by the hour. It also comes with useful stickers, and a small file folder.
The PetitePlanners are seriously adorable with so many tracking options. They are travel friendly and perfect for the on-the-go mom. Some variations of the PetitePlanner include the Goal Setting Journal, Budget Book, Wellness Log, Meal Planner, Travel Journal, Pregnancy Journal, Baby Tracker, and a 3 month Daily Planner. You can get the full year of PetitePlanner Daily Planners for just $32! These are the absolute best replacements for a smartphone calendar because they are lightweight and can live in most purses, while still providing enough space to write what you need.
5. Plum Paper
If none of these planners fit you, then you need a Plum Paper planner. Honestly, I saved the best for last. These planners offer the most customization, so you can make a planner that truly works for you. And starting at just $29, they pack the most bang for your buck. There are three different sizes, six different layouts with different spread variations in each layout, and even individual page customization. My personal favorite variation is the Vertical ME Planner, pictured below.
The columns on the left are customizable with suggested headings or your own custom heading. Suggested headings include, “this week,” “groceries,” “to-do,” “remember,” “notes,” “verse,” “quote,” and “water.” Each day there are seven sections to work with, and these can be customized as well. Recommended ones include work, kids, meals, and workout. You can also break down your kids into their own block, as pictured above. And y’all — this is just ONE of the options for the layout. It doesn’t even begin to cover the level of customization that Plum Paper provides.
Plum Paper also allows you include add ons to your original bound planner. Because there are so many add on options, I encourage you to check them out for yourself. My personal favorite is the “My Home” add on. I am the absolute worst at keeping up with my home, and this simplifies everything for me and helps me keep track of what needs to be done. It includes a Home Service Providers page, a seasonal indoor and outdoor home maintenance guide, a master cleaning guide, a laundry guide (Lord knows I need that!), a garden guide, a recipe tracker for family favorites and ones that you want to try, two pages to fill in home projects, a space to record gifts, 2 pages for home shopping list and, whether you need it or want it, a monthly bills tracker, a password keeper (I can’t be the only one who has no idea what any of my passwords are), a yearly expense overview, and finally an important contacts page. All for only $4.50 more!