Posted in Planning 101

Planning 101: Choosing Your Planner

Hi everyone! So today I am starting a new series on my blog called Planning 101 where I share my tips and advice to new and beginner planners! I am going to try to do this once or twice a month in addition to my printables.

Today I am discussing the most important part of planning in my opinion, and the planner you choose will dictate your planning style, your planner stickers, and how effective your planner is. To help you decide on your planner, I’ll be doing this in a question and answer format, where I’ll be posing questions that you should be asking yourself and giving my input on what your answer could mean along with my answer and my result.

What will you be using your planner for?

I think that this one question can help you decide so much when it comes to planning. For example if this is a work planner, you may want to choose a more subtle  or professional themed planner as opposed to a sparkly, colorful planner. If you want something for school, you may need something smaller and more portable than a desk or home planner. You also may need to look for something that follows the scholarly calendar as opposed to a traditional yearly planner.

This will also help you decide the perfect layout for you. If you are using this for to-do lists, lined planners are best, but if you are looking to use a planner for decorative or scrapbooking purposes, a vertical layout would be more suitable. If you’re using it for one aspect of your life (ex. appointments, blog posts, practices, games) you may only need a monthly view to list the events.

Personally, I already have a planner I use for school so I wanted a planner for my desk at home to keep track of things other than assignments. Because of that I could choose a larger, bulkier planner.

I also wanted this to be semi-functional, but more decorative. I also wanted a space to list out whatever I needed, so I thought a vertical layout made the most sense. I definitely wanted to use stickers and wanted to do a full spread, so that also contributed to my decision to go vertical. I already had my school planner so I chose to go with an 18 month planner.

This led me to my Happy Planner!

How big or small are you willing to go?

This is also a really important question. If you want something for your purse, an Erin Condren probably isn’t the best option, and a personal sized planner would make more sense. However, if you don’t mind size, you could choose a thicker disk or spiral bound planner.

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted a large planner to keep at home so I narrowed my search to full sized planners.

Will you be seeking planner stickers for your planner?

This is definitely important because there are a lot of planners that stickers aren’t made for. I find that you can find stickers fairly easily for the Erin Condrens, classic Happy Planner, and personal planners with 1.5″ wide boxes. The type of stickers also matters. If you want to lightly decorate with icons or images, any planner works. However for full no-white space spreads complete with full boxes and headers, you’ll need the planner that the stickers are made for.

Knowing that I wanted to decorate my planner, I chose the Happy Planner. While not a lot of shops make stickers specifically for the HP, I knew that the boxes were very similar to the Erin Condren boxes, so all kits would work fine.

Do you want to do white or no-white space plans?

Similar to above, how heavily you want to decorate matters. I find that most horizontal planner users don’t do full no-white space spreads, because it’s a lot harder to find stuff that fits. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do white space spreads with vertical layouts. In fact, I see those more than I do no-white space in vertical planners. However, I do think it’s quite difficult to effectively use a vertical with no stickers at all, especially since most of them aren’t lined.

I use my horizontal planner for pre-planning with just my pen. I tried using heart checklists, but the lines didn’t match up with the hearts, so I stopped doing it. I use my vertical planner for decorating memory-keeping. I transfer my plans from my horizontal into my vertical using stickers.

What’s your budget?

Planners can be expensive for being glorified notebooks, and setting your boundaries is important. You should also keep in mind how long the planner will last and how often you will repurchase. For less than $15 I would recommend Target. I think they have really cute planners in all sorts of layouts, and patterns. You could also get a small binder and buy or make your own inserts. For $15-30 I would check out Michael’s. They carry the Happy Planners and even have their own Recollections line of planners. You can get all types of layouts and styles including button planners, disk bound planners, and planner inserts for not too much money. They also consistently have either 40% off or 50% off coupons online. That’s where I got my Happy Planner. If you are willing to spend more than $30, consider the Erin Condren planners, Kate Spade, or other designer planners.

How detailed do you want to be in your planning?

For appointments, I would choose a monthly layout. I use an online spreadsheet in the monthly view to mark blog posts, appointments, and trips. It’s really easy to see availability and is also a great place to start pre-planning.

If you’d like to be more detailed with a 5-6 lined checklist, a couple daily events, and some small reminders, a weekly view is good. Most weekly views come with a notes section too where you can mark overall goals and to-do lists.

If you have a lot of time sensitive plans like every day appointments, meetings, or phone calls consider the hourly planner. It’s an easy way to visually see how busy you are, and it provides more space than a monthly calendar.

If you need large to-do lists, spaces to brainstorm or write last minute, and hourly schedules, I would recommend a daily planner, where each page is a full day. You can do a lot with these, but if you aren’t very busy, they aren’t a good match. I’ve seen these the most at Target, and they aren’t very common elsewhere.

Is this going to be your only planner?

This also goes with your size and detail preferences. If it’s your own planner, you may need something small so that you can always have it with you. If you have a planner for different things like school, work, kids, and personal, you can choose something smaller and less detailed for each one.

As I mentioned, I had a school planner and a horizontal pen-only planner, so I knew that I definitely didn’t need a daily or hourly planner. I also had my pen planner to carry around so I could choose a larger, heavier planner.


I think that the planner one chooses and how they use it is a great indicator of their personality. I’d love to see your planners and planning styles! Tag me on Instagram @plannerproblem or comment below what planner you use!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the next Planning 101 where we will discuss the planner community and how following planner accounts can help you get inspired and develop your own style of planning.

Get $10 off your first Erin Condren purchase!*

*By clicking this link and making  a purchase, I could get $10 store credit to erincondren.com. This helps support my blog and keeps printables and custom orders free!

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