The Best Planners for Busy People

The Right Planner Makes all the Difference

and you can use more than one at the same time!

Whether you are a busy mom, a working dad, a student, a teacher, a thriving professional, or an artist, putting your life down on paper has tremendous benefits. The simple act of writing something down has been shown to better access your long-term memory by helping you organize that idea and categorize it. I’ve written about my planning practice — a daily and weekly practice which helps to keep our busy family life under control and to keep my professional life on track.

But what planner do I recommend? Well, that depends a bit on you. Everyone has different needs, but I have used several different planners in the past — depending on my job and life circumstances at the time. And don’t be afraid to use multiple planners.

I currently use three different planners: two Passion Planners and The Nice List.

  • One Passion Planner is for daily tasks and events as well as goal setting.

  • The other Passion Planner is my editorial calendar and for long-term project tracking.

  • The Nice List is where I plan all giving for Christmas and the year beyond.

I have included a range of planners in both style and price, most of which I have used at one time or another. These are all planners I highly recommend.

My current planners: two Passion Planners and The Nice List

My current planners: two Passion Planners and The Nice List


My current Favorite Planner

I have been using the Passion Planner for four years, and it fits my busy life right now. With both monthly and weekly spreads, the Passion Planner allows me to track long and short-term projects as well as school and travel schedules, writing projects, deadlines, and after school activities. I absolutely love the blank pages in the back where I keep lists of long-term projects, home renovation ideas, key contact information, and notes from meetings. There are blank pages in gridded, blank, and dot formats which is especially helpful.

But the Passion Planner is particularly helpful for goal setting. Each month includes a series of targeted questions which help you work toward clearly-defined goals. And the weekly spread encourages you to think beyond a simple to-do list toward a goal-oriented task list. This is fabulous if you are building a business (like me) or starting any new venture. I find the layout helpful, and I customize it with stickers, washi tape, and photographs to even better suit my needs.

The Passion Planner comes in three different sizes and with August (academic) or January start dates. Additionally, you can purchase an undated Passion Planner and start planning any time. Each year they feature a different selection of cover colors.

Perhaps the best feature of the Passion Planner, though, is the free download. If you want to try it before you invest, just sign up for a few emails, and you’ll gain access to the free download which you can print any time. Some people print it and use a 3 ring binder, have it spiral bound at a print shop, or even paste it into a notebook. Allowing people to use the Passion Planner for free is fabulous — you can try it on and make sure it will work for you.

Click on this link, and you’ll get 10% off your Passion Planner purchase: Passion Planner

The weekly spread in the Passion Planner. I decorate each week with stickers and washi tape, but that’s optional.

The weekly spread in the Passion Planner. I decorate each week with stickers and washi tape, but that’s optional.

I especially like the Passion Planner’s cover which comes in several options and is quite durable.

I especially like the Passion Planner’s cover which comes in several options and is quite durable.


The Nice List

My Christmas Season Planner

The Christmas season is busy, and I love it so much that I wrote The Nice List, my “love letter to Christmas” — aptly named by my husband. The Nice List helps you stick to a budget, find thoughtful gifts for family and friends, and plan all of the fun and important activities of the Christmas season. Relax. Enjoy Christmas. With a little intentional planning the Christmas season will become the most wonderful time of the year again!

The Nice List is available for pre-order and is delivered in mid-October each year. For more information, click the link below!

Christmas planning with layout ideas and gift giving suggestions for everyone on your list.
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Great for Meetings & Note-Taking

I used the Graphic Image Daily Journal for six years. I loved it! At the time I was the Director of Publications at a large non-profit and had meetings daily at which I needed to take notes. With monthly spreads as well as a page per day, I was able to track obligations and take careful notes in meetings — to which I could refer back as needed. In that professional circumstance, maintaining careful records of others’ commitments and happenings at meetings was particularly important, and the daily journal allowed for that to happen.

Graphic Image also sells a Desk Diary which features a weekly spread — perfect for planning if you don’t need to write as much on each day.

Neither option is inexpensive — both start at just under $100 and go up depending on the color and cover options. However, if it is within your budget, it is money well-spent. Their planners are beautifully printed. The covers come in a myriad of colors and textures. They can be personalized. And the design is both thoughtful and simple. In another professional circumstance, I would easily return to one of the Graphic Image desk diaries. They are lovely!

Graphic Image Daily Journal

Graphic Image Daily Journal

Graphic Image Desk Diary

Graphic Image Desk Diary


Other Planners I have Loved

Daily agenda from Parione with a leather cover.

Daily agenda from Parione with a leather cover.

Parione Firenze

I have often found myself in Florence at the turn of the year, and when that happens, I pop into my favorite paper shop: Parione. They craft agendas and planners with beautiful leather covers or covered in hand-made Italian papers. Most are similar to the Graphic Image Daily Journal — one page per day with monthly spreads. If you happen to be in Florence, I highly recommend choosing a planner here. It will transport you back to Italy each and every day of the year.

Parione also has a website. If you email them your desires, they can send a journal your way.

A spiral-bound agenda is an inexpensive planner option.

A spiral-bound agenda is an inexpensive planner option.


Paperchase agendas are very reasonably priced and are available at larger stores like Barnes and Noble near the end of the year. I love their spiral-bound agendas with daily and weekly layouts. And at under $20 each, they make a reasonably-priced planner option.


My handwriting is too big for a Hobonichi, but it makes me sad, because these sleek and simple planners are a pleasure. They are perfect for planning, and Bullet Journal enthusiasts love them. These planners are perfect for a purse or briefcase, and their elegant Japanese design makes them a perfect match for the busy professional.

Moleskine Planner

Moleskine Planners are really just dated blank books. In their signature, stripped-down style, each book leaves lots of blank space, and they come in a variety of formats with daily, weekly, and monthly spreads. They are reasonably-priced, easy to find, and great for customizing as you see fit.


No matter what your budget, your profession, your life-circumstances: the right planner can help you manage your time and your resources more efficiently, reducing stress and maximizing your time. Good luck in your search!

Once you have chosen a planner, check out my list of tools and accessories which can make using a planner easier and more fun:

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Whether you are a mom, a dad, a professional, an artist, a student: everyone can benefit from a good planner. Customizable, printable, budget-friendly, large, small, spiral-bound, weekly, monthly: I have recommendations for all kinds of planners. The Passion Planner is my favorite, and I'll tell you why. But I also have a Christmas planner and great planners for anyone ready to get organized.