best in class

28 of the Very Best Planners

Including daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly options to help you get things done.

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

Instead of an app or gadget that claims to jump-start your productivity, consider investing in a good paper planner. There is plenty of research that shows how actually writing down your to-do list and schedule for the day — rather than typing it out on a laptop or iPhone — makes you feel more engaged in the task at hand. And once the year is complete, a physical planner becomes an artifact — a time capsule, if you will — of that calendar year’s happenings. Leafing through the well-loved Hobonichi Techo planners I’ve used over the years brings me almost as much pleasure as scribbling in them did.

And while I’ve been devoted to Hobonichi Techo for most of my adult life, I’ve covered the Strategist’s stationery beat long enough to know that finding the right planner out of the very vast and very particular world of paper goods can be overwhelming. (I have, after all, updated this list faithfully every January and was tasked with selecting the best 100 notebooks for our massive notebook-testing story.)

So to find the best planners, we talked to 26 productivity experts, life coaches, and people who love stationery (including a few Strategist staffers) about their favorites, then culled our archives for standout styles we’ve written about before. Any of the 28 planners recommended below will surely go a long way toward keeping you on track this year.

Best overall | Best weekly | Best daily | Best monthly | Best quarterly | Best customizable

What we’re looking for

Layout: Arguably, the most essential way to categorize planners is by how they’re broken down: weekly, daily, monthly, or quarterly. According to our experts, daily planners tend to devote an entire page to each day and are best suited for those with lots of daily tasks or for list-makers who need to focus on their day-to-day organization. A weekly planner’s layout allots one to two pages per week and is great for those juggling many weekly meetings, events, and deadlines. A monthly or quarterly planner is great if you have long-term goals and best for big-picture thinkers who have a lot of large-scale projects on their plates. And if none of these layouts sound exactly right for your needs, perhaps you’d prefer a completely customizable planner (which we have a few of below).

Size: Planners come in a range of sizes, which impacts how portable they are and how much space there is to write. Generally, if you’re looking for something super-portable, a pocket or personal planner is best. If portability is less of a factor or if you prefer roomier layouts, then a half- or full-letter-size planner is probably for you. We’ve noted the exact dimensions of each planner so you can easily measure the size before buying.

Cover: Aside from style, the cover impacts how well the planner will hold up against daily wear and tear. It also affects the weight: Is it hardcover, softcover, or leather-bound? If you’re less concerned about adding weight to your bag and want something that’ll definitely hold up all year, consider a leather-bound or hardcover planner. But if you need something lightweight, a well-made softcover planner is a good bet.

Best overall planner

Daily | 4 by 6 inches | Softcover

The Hobonichi Techo is a longtime Strategist favorite, used by three of our staffers (all three of whom have used the planner for years to stay organized). This long-term testing and devotion has earned it the top spot here. As New York Magazine deputy editor Alexis Swerdloff wrote in her initial ode to the cult Japanese planner, “The leather-bound book is hefty and feels like I’m actually holding something substantial (unlike a Moleskine) while still being incredibly compact: It’s little bit taller than an iPhone 6 and about the width of a Kit Kat.” Strategist associate editor Louis Cheslaw praises the planner’s “hard-wearing cover, thin (but quality) pages for a slim profile, lie-flat opening, and compact size.” He has already placed his 2022 order and looks “forward to critiquing [his] colleagues’ alternative planners” in the New Year. It definitely falls into the “if you know, you know” category of stationery. I find that it’s the perfect size to chuck into any bag and deceptively durable. I’m not precious with my planners and tend to subject them to a lot of wear and tear. The Hobonichi Techo has never torn on me and looks as good on December 31 as it did when I bought it the previous January. I also love that the light gridding on each page grants every day some order but still gives me the space to dash off notes, lists, and doodles.

Best weekly planners

Best overall weekly planner

Weekly | 5.75 by 8.25 inches | Hardcover 

We first heard about German stationery company Leuchtturm1917’s weekly planner from self-described “planner power user” Perrin Drumm. As she writes, the planner’s “hardback is perfect for planning on the go or taking notes in your lap; and the layout ideal: days on one side, spaces for notes on the other.” Cindy Thompson, the blogger behind Instagram’s Plan Another Day, also loves this planner because it “features a simple weekly layout that can be utilized in many ways.” The two-year planner starts in January 2022 and will last you until December 2023, making it quite cost-effective.

Best weekly planner with tearaway corners

Weekly | 4 by 6 inches | Hardcover 

This Rhodia weekly planner, which comes recommended by Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson, is organized with the days of the week on one side and a gridded page for notes and scribbles on the other. Each day’s schedule is broken down into hour-by-hour lines (from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.), and the pages have tearaway corners to help you keep your place.

Best large weekly planner

Weekly | 7.2 by 10.1 inches | Softcover

According to Drumm, “if Massimo Vignelli had $15 to buy a planner, he’d surely pick this one.” She loves the “non-nonsense” layout: “There is barely any type on the pages, so the dates, and pretty much everything else, are entirely up to you to plot out.” While the planner comes in four sizes, Drumm prefers the large, “which feels less throwaway than the smaller options.” She adds that her design-y friends go for the black-on-black option, but Drumm prefers the planner in Pepto-Bismol pink.

Best vertical weekly planner

Weekly | 4.3 by 8.3 inches | Softcover 

Strategist writer Liza Corsillo loves this weekly planner from Traveler’s because “it lets you fill in the dates as you please,” so you can start using it at any point in the year. On top of that, because it contains just six months’ worth of undated weekly pages, it’s a great option to consider if you’re picking up a planner later in the year. In addition to those weekly pages, the planner contains a few pages laid out as vertical monthly calendars that you can use to keep track of important dates like birthdays or anniversaries. The paper itself is bleed- and feather-resistant, as well as fountain-pen friendly, she adds. While the planner as-is only has a simple card-stock cover — which Corsillo says works just fine for her — you can get a handsome leather cover to keep it in for an additional $50.

Best weekly planner with hourly columns

Weekly | 8.5 by 16.5 centimeters | Hardcover 

When it comes to stationery, Drumm calls Fabriano a “gold standard” because “the color combos are next level.” Its planners, which she describes as “objects of beauty,” are made in Italy “by paper artisans who are truly deserving of that overused title.” The Ispira planner’s calendar pages break down each week across two pages; dated columns provide space to jot things down for each day (the columns are broken down into hours for those who plan that obsessively). Drumm notes that the columns are skinny, though, so folks who like to write a lot in their planners may want something with more space.

Best softcover weekly planner

Weekly | 3.5 by 5.5 inches | Softcover 

Hart-Unger says that “a fairly minimal planner with space for lists and goal-setting,” like this one from Moleskine, might be better for folks who’ve pared down and are used to “keeping their calendars digitally.” It has a simple layout: When opened, the left side’s pages are broken down into days of the week, while the right side’s are lined for taking notes.

Best hardcover weekly planner

Weekly | 5.1 by 7.4 inches | Hardcover

We heard about this planner from actress Ayo Edebiri, who uses it for planning and scrapbooking. The layout has weekly pages on the left-hand side and gridded pages on the right-hand side, which she says is the superior layout to write with. “It makes me feel like a scientist, even if I’m writing things as simple as ‘Do laundry’ and ‘Seriously, please do laundry.’” The handsome hardcover planner also lays flat and comes in red, green, gray, brown, and navy.

Best time-management-focused weekly planner

Weekly | 7.75 by 9.75 inches | Hardcover 

Author and time-management coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders told us about this planner that, according to her, combines the scheduling elements you’d want in a regular planner with the goal-setting elements you might look for in a journal. “It goes beyond being a planner, and is really a clarifying tool for understanding how you want to invest your time.” In addition to its gridded weekly (and month and year at-a-glance) pages, this has space for you to write down both your roles and goals as a partner, employee, and friend, she explains. “It even invites you to track your daily habits” according to different priorities, Saunders adds, allowing users to tackle their goals in a more holistic way.

Best cloth cover weekly planner

Weekly | 6 by 8.5 inches | Hardcover 

In addition to its weekly pages, the Ponderlily planner has monthly ones, too, as well as spaces for jotting down tasks, notes, and things you’re grateful for (as you might in a journal), according to Saunders. Calling out details like “a cloth cover, foiled-copper lettering, lay-flat binding,” and inspiring quotes that begin each new month, she has just one word for this planner: “Beautiful.”

[Editor’s note: This planner is currently sold out, but you can sign up on the product page to get notified when it’s back in stock.]

Best weekly planner for heavy notetakers

Weekly | 5.75 by 8.25 inches | Faux leather cover 

For those who use digital calendars for scheduling appointments but still want a paper planner to help them make the best use of their time, brand strategist and writer Neha Gandhi recommends her Lemome planner. Instead of writing down appointments and logistics, she outlines each day’s main goal in her planner. That helps her keep focused during the day and track projects over time. “I like this particular planner because it doesn’t waste real estate on huge day-by-day calendars, and instead gives only high-level monthly and note-taking weekly views. I can organize meeting notes by the day they were taken (and can then cross reference the date to the meeting the notes came from in my digital cal), so that I’m not flipping endlessly through a notebook to find one nugget of information that’s somehow always just out of reach,” she says. Gandhi also likes the convenient size: “It neatly fits into any work bag.”

Best weekly planner that doubles as a wallet

Weekly | 4.7 by 7.5 inches | Softcover 

Wakako Takagi, a co-founder of Los Angeles–based stationery store Baum-kuchen, likes the Jibun Techo from Kokuyo. “I use the weekly pages to keep me oriented with detailed appointments, things to remember, and to document of some of the key ingredients in life (like how many miles I run each day),” she says, adding that it also has monthly pages she uses as “a master planner.” The planner, she adds, has a card-holder insert that can do double duty as your wallet. “I just need to grab Jibun Techo and my keys and I am ready to head out!”

Best splurge-worthy weekly planner

Weekly | 5.5 by 7.5 inches | Leather cover 

If you feel like splurging, writer Leah Bhabha loves the Smythson Soho Diary. “Larger than a pocket calendar, which affords little writing space, and smaller than a desk diary, which is like lugging around a textbook, the Soho is the ideal size,” she says. She likes the formatting, too. “The weekly agenda devotes a sizable square to each day, and there’s a weekly to-do list on the opposite page.” Plus, the paper itself is “half the thickness and weight of normal pages, but suffice to say, they make for easy writing with no ink bleeding through.”

Best (less expensive) splurge-worthy weekly planner

Weekly | 4 by 7 inches | Leather cover 

For a less expensive option from Smythson, former Strategist senior editor Anthony Rotunno recommends the Memoranda Agenda he’s been using for five years in a row. “It is roughly the size of an iPhone 11, so it’s taller than it is wide,” he explains. The layout divides its dated calendar pages between full weeks (on the left) and a blank lined page for notes opposite each week of the year (on the right), which “is exceptionally helpful for setting weekly to-do lists; I can start a week by listing my tasks (like schedule that annual physical) in the notes pages, and then, when I get around to each task, cross it off that list and easily add it to the calendar,” Rotunno says. “Oh, and if you’re wondering why all of the Smythson agendas on this list are ‘with pocket,’ it’s because the brand makes versions of its planners with or without a handy pocket on the back cover; those without the pockets are usually cheaper, but I find the few extra bucks are worth it for a place to stash business cards, checkbooks (I keep mine in the pocket), and other small printed matter you might pick up over the course of a year,” he notes.

Best productivity-focused weekly planner

Weekly | 5.8 by 8.3 inches | Hardcover 

“Clever Fox makes my absolute favorite paper planner,” says Jenna Prada, the director of executive functioning at tutoring service Private Prep. She told us about the weekly planner when we reported on the best planners for teachers. With pages dedicated to goal-setting, list-making, and scheduling, we think this would make a great option for non-teachers as well, especially because Prada told us it encourages “breaking down tasks so that they are less overwhelming.”

Best content-focused weekly planner

Weekly | 8.75 by 11.5 inches | Hardcover

Organizing expert and business consultant Jane Stoller calls the Content Planner a must-have for business owners, especially those who “need to organize online content” like social-media posts and email blasts, which is what she uses it for, along with mapping out weekly goals. “The planner gives you space to plan weekly and monthly goals, as well as monthly and annual overviews,” she explains, noting that there are also prompts to note “your weekly wins.” It’s another one that makes you fill in the dates yourself, “but it contains a great reference guide for major retail and holiday dates and fun stickers,” Stoller adds.

[Editor’s note: This planner is currently sold out, but we’ll keep an eye out and update this story when it’s back in stock.]

Best daily planners

Best overall daily planner

Daily | 21 by 25 centimeters | Softcover 

Two Strategist staffers also have a version of this planner from Australian stationery store Milligram. One is writer Lauren Ro, who first wrote about it back in 2018: “With a variety of abstract covers, colorways, and programs, they are the planners of my dreams. I chose the daily ‘non-diary’ with dot-grid pages for each day of the year.” The following year, she tried the brand’s Family Life weekly diary, “which includes space for action lists, budgeting, meal planning, and more.” Strategist editor Maxine Builder (one of the writers of this story) has also used this dotted non-diary to keep track of the Strategist’s editorial calendar, because each page has plenty of space for the day’s to-do lists and notes, and the planner makes it easy to flip months ahead. “It also just looks very nice sitting on a desk, and the linen wears well over the course of a year,” says Builder.

[Editor’s note: The daily version of this planner is currently out of stock, but the weekly version is available for the same price. You can sign up on the product page to get notified when the daily version is back in stock.]

Best softcover daily planner

$14

Daily | 105 by 148 millimeters | Softcover

For those who prefer notebooks or planners with lay-flat binding, Drumm says this undated daily planner from Stalogy not only opens flat but also “bends around to nearly a full 360-degree rotation without cracking or breaking.” She says it’s made of onion-skin-like paper that “feels wonderfully retro” and doesn’t bleed through despite its thinner consistency. “This fact really deserves more exclamation points, because if you like inky pens and thin paper, then you’ve never gotten your way,” Drumm explains. “As far as layout goes, the type is minimal and the light-gray printing is unobtrusive,” she says, adding that the fill-in-the-date format means “you can start things off whenever you damn well please.”

Best hardcover daily planner

Daily | 7 by 9.25 inches | Hardcover 

Julie Solomon, a business coach and host of The Influencer Podcast, recommends this spiral-bound daily planner for its clean layout. It’s broken down by month with handy tabs that make it easy to flip around, and there are individually dated pages for each day. Those pages have plenty of space for to-do lists and notes, Solomon says.

Best motivational daily planner

The 5 Second Journal
$27

Daily | 6 by 8.5 inches | Hardcover 

“For the aspiring planner who has no idea where to begin, I recommend the 5 Second Journal,” says life and career coach Phoebe Gavin. The 5 Second Journal, written by motivational speaker Mel Robbins, has more structure than your standard planner — it asks you to fill in everything from your most important project of the day to what time you plan to stop working (to prevent burnout). There is also a small hour-by-hour planner to help you map your schedule more comprehensively, and a gridded space meant for jotting down ideas.

Best refillable daily planner

Daily | 5.5 by 8.5 inches | Leather cover 

Christy Whitman, a life coach and the author of The Art of Having It All: A Woman’s Guide to Unlimited Abundance, has been using the Day-Timer for more than 20 years. “I love this brand because the layout of the pages allows me to have a place for the items to be done today, a schedule, and also a page for writing and taking notes. So each day is on two pages and gives me a full look at my day,” she says. “If I have an appointment scheduled, I can write notes next to the appointment and remind myself of call-in information, the name of the person, or any other important information.” Whitman also loves Day-Timer’s customer service, specifically the reminders to get new pages for the new year. “They send me an email with the order number, refill numbers, and it is just easy for busy career people.”

Best monthly planners

Best overall monthly planner

Monthly | 3.5 by 6 inches | Softcover

“If you’re a big-picture thinker, you’ve built a successful life ignoring anything that does not help meet your grand vision,” says career counselor Penelope Trunk. “But there are some things that cannot be ignored, like calling your mom on her birthday.” If this sounds like you, she says this monthly at-a-glance planner is great because it asks you to write down “your one most-important thing each day.” At the end of the two years it spans, you’ll have a record of all the most essential things you did for those 730 days.

Best binder-style monthly planner

Monthly | 8 by 9 inches | Hardcover

Darcy Miller — an author, illustrator, and crafter with a meticulously organized office — also likes using a monthly planner, specifically this binder-style one from Minnesota-based Russell + Hazel. “I use it for my day-to-day notes and planning, and then I also have one for each of my kids, where I record things about them over the years, from teacher’s conferences to doctor’s appointments,” she says. The eight-by-nine-inch binder is small and light enough to fit in her bag, but when it’s not in there, “it looks good if it’s out on the table.” She also likes the loose pages, which can be removed and rearranged if necessary.

Best quarterly planners

Best overall quarterly planner

Quarterly | 5.75 by 8.5 inches | Hardcover

While it may be more common to plan schedules by weeks, days, or months, Annie Mueller, the founder of content agency Prolifica, promises that “planning in quarters is life-changing.” She started planning and working this way after reading Brian P. Moran’s book The 12-Week Year. “A year is an intimidating thing to plan; but a month is too short for those big, exciting goals,” she explains, adding that “with quarterly goal planning, you can push for a goal that’s exciting, and stay focused and see progress soon enough that you stay motivated.” The BestSelf Co. Self Journal is one such planner that helps break down big goals into digestible 90-day chunks, which is why life coach Penny Zenker recommends it. “I use this now because it is a comprehensive goal-setting-and-tracking system with reflection all-in-one. It helps me align my goals and my daily tasks, which makes me more productive.” Liz Sumner, a progress and life coach, also likes the Self Journal. “The basic version has a lot of valuable material for getting started on goal-setting,” she says. “I’ve been using it for several years, ever since I discovered it on Kickstarter. It combines the best parts of a journal and planner.”

One thing to note about this and all the quarterly planners on our list: Because they only cover three months at a time, you need to buy four to get through an entire calendar year. The upside of this system is that it offers a bit more flexibility because you can start using one at any point in the year.

Best softcover quarterly planner

Quarterly | 5.75 by 8.5 inches | Softcover

The cool-looking Poketo is the quarterly planner that Mueller herself uses. She calls it “the perfect way to schedule and track quarterly goals and sprints — for work, for your own personal goals, for family projects, for travel. It works for everything.” The planner makes it easy, she says, by “leading you through setting your quarterly goals, tracking monthly milestones, and following a weekly and daily action plan.” With this set of four, you’ll be covered for a full year no matter when you begin using them.

[Editor’s note: This set of planners is currently sold out, but you can still purchase the individual planners — in red, blue, and green — for $28 each. You can also sign up on the product page to be notified when this set of 4 is back in stock.]

Best hardcover quarterly planner

Quarterly | 6.25 by 9.25 inches | Hardcover 

Personal-brand expert Richard Janes has “spent a small fortune over the years looking for a planner that can really help with keeping you focused and on task.” He calls the Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt, which is also broken down into 90-day chunks, “the best I have found.” The reason it works so well, he explains, “is that the layout provides clear focus on what is important, while still enabling me to empty my head of all the other tasks that are lurking around. But it doesn’t go overboard so that I can easily get to the actual planning of my day, week, and month.”

Best customizable planners

Best overall customizable planner

Customizable  

Like Agendio’s planner, Golden Coil’s ring-bound planner allows you to customize pretty much everything about it from cover to cover (including its cover, which you can get in several colors and one of two materials: linen or leather). It’s another favorite of Hart-Unger, who told us the brand has “very elegant layouts and particularly luxurious paper.” In addition to standard calendar pages, the brand offers themed layouts for wedding planning, wellness planning, recipe planning, and more.

Best (less expensive) customizable planner

Customizable  

Hart-Unger calls the Agendio “the most customizable option there is.” That’s because the brand lets you choose between a daily, weekly, or monthly structure for the pages inside of the ring-bound planner. You can also customize the pages’ size and layout and add extras like tabs, elastics, and page markers. Folks can personalize it even further by noting dates for their own special events or activities, she adds. “If you can think of an option, Agendio probably has it,” Hart-Unger promises.

Some more planners we've written about

Our experts

Karen Iorio Adelson, Strategist senior writer
Leah Bhabha, writer
Maxine Builder, Strategist editor
Louis Cheslaw, Strategist associate editor
• Liza Corsillo, Strategist writer
Perrin Drumm, writer, editor, publisher
Neha Gandhi, brand strategist and writer
Phoebe Gavin, life and career coach
Sarah Hart-Unger, host of Best Laid Plans podcast
Richard Janes, personal-brand expert
Darcy Miller, author, illustrator, and crafter
Annie Mueller, founder of content agency Prolifica
Jenna Prada, director of executive functioning at tutoring service Private Prep
Dominique Pariso, Strategist writer
Lauren Ro, Strategist writer
Anthony Rotunno, former Strategist senior editor
Elizabeth Grace Saunders, author and time-management coach
Julie Solomon, business coach and host of The Influencer Podcast
Jane Stoller, organizing expert and business consultant
Liz Sumner, progress and life coach
Alexis Swerdloff, New York Magazine deputy editor
Wakako Takagi, co-founder of Los Angeles–based stationery store Baum-kuchen
Cindy Thompson, Instagram’s Plan Another Day blogger
Penelope Trunk, career counselor at Penelope Trunk
Christy Whitman, life coach and author of The Art of Having It All: A Woman’s Guide to Unlimited Abundance
Penny Zenker, life coach

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28 of the Very Best Planners