Planners 101 - A Guide to Planner Peace
Hey planner hey! I’m imagining that most people who happen to fall on this page, are pretty new to the planner world, so let me start by saying, Hey, hi, hello, and what took you so long?!
When it comes to planners there are quite literally endless options for you to chose from, so where to even begin?! Well, lets take a deep dive into planners, how to decide what will be the best options for you, and where to find them!
In the planner world, we have this elusive idea called “Planner Peace,” and it happens or exists when someone finds a planner system that really enhances their life.
Notice that I didn’t say, makes them more productive. While productivity is certainly a goal for many planner folks out there, it isn’t the only goal. You may be using a planner to improve your health, you could be using a planner to manage your kids’ schedules, or even just for memory keeping!
There are lots reasons to use a planner, so I always suggest that before you start looking at options available to you, really consider what you want to use the planner for. Once you have an idea of what areas of your life you’d like to enhance, you can narrow down your options.
Another important factor in planner functionality is mobility. Think also about how you will use the planner. Will it be at a desk, on your kitchen table or in your purse at the bank? Some planners and planner sizes are better suited for purse and travel, while some are better at a desk!
If we were to collect all the planners of the world, we can categorize them into six types of planners: Rings, Strings, Discs, Spiral, Hardbound, and Digital. The main difference between them being the way they are bound. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of each system:
RINGS refer to a binder system, most common is a 6 ring style, but there are other 3, 7 and even 9 ring options as well. Rings are nice because you can add and remove pages easily and swap out inserts at any time. Unfortunately, the ring hardware usually makes ring options a bit pricier, and there can be wear and tear on rings that leaves them loose over time. Rings come in a number of standard sizes, most common right now (and I say right now because trends are always changing!) is Pocket Rings, A6 Rings, Personal Rings, Personal Wide Rings, B6 Rings and A5 Rings.
STRINGS refer to a travelers notebook or TN system. TN planners are much more convenient for on the go planning. Rather than dealing with single pages of planner inserts, you’re adding and removing full notebooks to an elastic based binding system. While great for on-the-go, I find TNs are a bit more cumbersome on a desk because they often don’t want to stay open, so you’ll need to clip your pages open if you like to keep an eye on the plan. TNs come in a number of standard sizes, most common right now is Pocket, A6, Personal, B6, Standard, and A5.
DISCS refers to a disc bound system, which use plastic grooved discs for an easy add-and-go planner system. Much like rings, you can add and remove pages easily to swap out inserts at any time. Unlike rings though, most disc sizes at this time are still brand specific. For instance the most popular sizes in discs right now, are all relative to the Happy Planner System which includes, HP Classic, HP Mini, HP Notes and HP Micro. The biggest con with this planning system is paper wear and tear over time.
COIL planning systems is any planner that is bound by (you guessed it!) coils! They can come in any size and if you're ordering from my site they are available fully customized. Some of the common commercial spiral planner brands include Day Designer, Plum Paper and Ban.do, but it is also the most common planner style for non-stationary specific retailers like Target and Vera Bradly. The biggest con with spiral planners is that you cannot take out your pages, which means not only are you committed to the planner layout, but also that as you write closer to the spiral edge you’ll be challenged to write.
HARDBOUND planner systems are the second most common retail style, they are more bookish in nature due to their binding, and they often feature a hard cover, but not always. Much like spiral planners, they come in too many sizes to list, and very often are brand specific. Some common hardbound planner systems include Passion Planner, Hobonichi and Ban.do, but again, many retailers carry this style. Biggest cons with hardbound, again, is that we cannot take out the pages at will.
DIGITAL is the last planner system, and if I’m being honest, it’s the style I know least about. With digital planning, people are setting up their own planners from digital files they’ve purchased or created themselves. Using apps like Goodnotes, digital planning allows users to draw and place digital stickers on top of PDF planner pages. The benefit being that there is no paper waste and ultimately a very small carbon footprint, the cons being that it requires a tablet and often there is a lot of set up before it can be really useful.
I’m including this handy dandy size chart for your reference on sizes, here you can see what a wide variety of options there are. When choosing a planner size, I encourage folks to consider how big their handwriting is, how much information they anticipate writing or printing on to a page, and if their planner will be mobile or stationery.
If you have small handwriting and limited amounts information to include in your planner, you’d be a great fit for a small size like Pocket or A6. If you’re like me and have larger penmanship and LOTS of plans to write down, you might want to look at a larger option like B6 or even A5. Alternatively, if you write small and have lots of plans, you might be ok somewhere in the middle with Personal or Personal wide!
Sizes like Pocket and A6 definitely are more purse-friendly, where B6 and A5 tend to be better fits for a more stationery lifestyle OR a person with a large bag! Again, this is where it all comes down to personal needs. Really assess how you want to use your planner before choosing a size, and don’t be afraid to bust out a ruler to really get an idea of how big or small something is!
The last part of the equation is the most personal to each user, and that is the actual content of the planner. To decide this, we must go back to our first question: What do you want to use the planner for? Once you figure out the function of your planner, be it financial, health, time management, memory keeping, work, journaling, list making, whatever, THEN you can decide on the planner pages themselves. Lets take a look at a few examples of the function driving the pages:
If you’re looking to create a work planner, you’ll probably want monthly and weekly calendar pages to start your planner. Depending on the business of your schedule, you may even want daily pages as well. Then you might want to expand beyond that and add a password tracker and project planning pages. If you have a job that includes social media you may want to look for a planner that is specifically driven for that purpose, like my PR planner.
If you’re looking to improve your health using a planner, you’ll probably want a monthly section for appointments and a weekly section for workout schedules. If you’re changing your diet, a meal planner might be a great companion for your set up. And then my spoonie series includes a number of health and medical related spreads, for those with more serious health concerns.
In both of these examples, a set up using rings, strings or discs works best, as it allows the user to customize each section of their planner using tailored inserts. You would be hard pressed to find a spiral or hardbound planner with the same level of customization.
How Lights Planner Action fits into the Equation
I believe that a planner should be as custom to the user as a wardrobe is. We all have our own set of wants and needs which is why I have over 200 unique layouts to mix and match. Using my inserts you can build your own perfect planner that fits your life and your aesthetic.
My goal is to bring each person one step closer to planner peace with my pages. I want to make lives easier, to fill days with more gratitude and compassion, to bring families together and peace to troubled minds. And if you’re thinking that all sounds nice, but you just make stationery, to that I say, give me a try!
Still not sure what to put into your planner? You can always send me an email asking for help! Tell me some details about what you want your planner to function as and I will do my best to provide you with what I think will work best for your lifestyle!