In this day and age of Etsy, Instagram, and YouTube, communities have sprung up around different journal and planner styles. No longer does a simple calendar or planner seem like it’s enough. Plus, the creative and customizable aspects of these various journals can be quite enticing albeit expensive. While you can spend a considerable amount of time watching videos, reading blog posts, and exploring hashtags, it’s hard to know what your journal soulmate might be. But never fear, the nerdy, uber organized collective here at LD are happy to share what journals and planners we love and why it might work for you!
This summer, a friend introduced me to the amazingness that is the traveler’s notebook. A piece of leather serves as the cover and inside bands hold a variety of inserts from monthly calendars to weekly planners to blank and lined journals. While the initial cover tends to be a significant cost, the inserts and other accessories are usually under $10 each. Once you learn the basics of how it’s assembled, it’s easy to go crazy with customization and decorating.
In the past, I’ve been content with a simple planner from Walmart, but I love the traveler’s notebook because I can have everything I need in one place, whether it’s a pocket to tuck business cards and other important pieces of paper or monthly and weekly planners or a space to journal and jot down random ideas. I feel like my notes, plans, and goals are all centrally located, but still organized. I’ve even gone a step further and colored-coded my tasks and activities. Best of all, it’s compact enough (there’s even a smaller Passport-sized option) that I can stash it in my purse and access it easily. In New York, I kept my NYU ID and MetroCard in the front pocket for easy access.
The Traveler’s Notebook Might Be Perfect for You if:
- You’re tired of having different notebooks and wish you could have everything all in one place without it becoming a jumbled mess
- You want a journal/planner that is as customizable as possible
- You want something that can withstand the mosh pit that is the inside of your purse
- You want something that will last longer than a year
- A cover (You can also get one from Etsy)
- 3-4 inserts (I recommend the Monthly Diary, Weekly Planner and Diary, and Ruled inserts)
- Accessories (I have some jump bands and a Craft File.)
- Stickers (optional, but totally fun)
- A pack of colored pens (if you want to level up and color-code your life away)
A Planner for Everything
I’ll be the first to admit that my approach to organization may best be described as organized chaos. I feel like lately I have a different planner for everything, because I’ve yet to find one planner that has space for all the things I like to organize. I tried a bullet journal for like a month, and I just couldn’t get it to stick, so I went back to my multi-planner ways. I’ve found a few that work for my specific needs, and a lot of them could be your only planner if you wanted them to be!
For work: The Moleskine 18 month weekly planner
I actually got this planner in my FabFitFun subscription box last December, and saved it for work once the new year hit. So far, it’s one of my favorite planners I’ve tried to date. This planner gives you a two-page spread per week. On the left side is a box for each day of the week, and the right side is all lines. There are also some calendar pages at the front, maps, some note pages, and a pocket inside the back cover. I use the left side to write down what meetings I have each day, reminders of messages that need to be sent that day, and other recurring tasks each week that I don’t want to forget. On the right, I keep my running to-do list – usually organized by priority. I also use it as a space to jot down notes and reminders.
The size is perfect for tossing in my backpack, and it would fit in a tote bag or purse too. It also sits nicely next to my laptop at all of our different workspaces, so I can keep organized all day without taking up too much space. I’ll be ordering this again for next year– it’s the best way I’ve found to stay organized at work.
This planner might be perfect for you if:
- You like a simple layout
- You want something portable
- You like having open space to write in
- You’re big on to-do lists
- You want something that lasts longer than a year
For my creative projects: The Simple Elephant Agenda
I just ordered this planner a few weeks ago to help me plan out all my writing projects. It’s undated, so you can start it any time. I love the flexibility of that, especially if you want to use this for project based work like I do. There’s space to plan out your goals, things you’re grateful for, affirmations, a mind map and a vision board, so it’s perfect for creative project planning. There’s a monthly calendar view with space to plan out monthly goals, and weekly spreads to help you break down your daily work. There’s space for a weekly goal and room to write a success and something you can do better at the end of the week. There are also 59 note pages with space to jot down whatever you want. It came with a page of stickers, and I plan to decorate it with washi tape and fun pens as well.
This planner might be perfect for you if:
- You like to set goals and need space to plan them out and keep yourself on track
- You like a good mix of creative space and structure
- You don’t want to be tied down by specific dates (or you’re in between years and don’t want to waste part of a dated planner)
- You like to keep track of affirmations and things you’re grateful for
For my wedding: The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner
Since getting engaged a few weeks ago, I’ve jumped right into wedding planning. I’m not hiring a wedding planner, so I felt like I needed something to keep me on track while planning my wedding. It was pretty easy and quick for me to make big decisions like my venue, photographer, DJ and dress, so some of the planning for those sections wasn’t as useful, but the checklists were still great for remembering little details to ask about that I would have forgotten otherwise. Although The Knot has an app with lots of free resources, I like having it all in book format where I can jot down my own notes and contacts. I expect I’ll use it a lot more as I dig into planning the smaller details throughout the next year.
For school: Erin Condren
Maybe it’s because I’m a former sorority girl, but I cannot get enough of my Erin Condren planner. I have sworn by this planner for the last 3 years and I will continue to use it until my dying day (I graduated college in 2015 and still use it as my personal planner). The Erin Condren website makes it super easy to personalize your planner to exactly what you want, and comes with a lot of great tools to help you stay on track. It comes in options for both the calendar year and a typical school year (August-May). The planner itself is a little pricey, but I promise it’s worth it. You can thank me later.
After transitioning from being a student, to being an employee and a student, to just being an employee, I struggled to find the right planning system for me. I no longer needed to carry around a giant planner and found that most of my planners just sat in a permanent location on my desk at work collecting junk. I found myself constantly referring to monthly layouts rather than weekly or daily ones but struggled to find the perfect planner that would also accommodate my incessant need for list making, wedding planning, and event reminders. So I made my own. What once started out as a simple, bulleted way of keeping track of tasks, events, and other notes for the day has evolved into a form of creative expression thanks to sites like Tumblr and Pinterest. The empty dotted pages of the Leuchtturm1917 can be a bit overwhelming at first but with the right tools, anyone can become a bullet journal user. If you’re looking for a planner that you can completely customize on a continuous basis then the bullet journal is perfect for you.
- An empty notebook (most use the aforementioned Leuchtturm1917 but any will do)
- A pen
- Markers and brush pens if you want to get creative
- Inspiration (There are tons of YouTube channels dedicated to the Bullet Journal or search “Bullet Journal Inspiration” on your favorite social media website)
The Scrap Journal
I have a moving box in my room full of discarded and half-used planners. Even in college, when I had a different planner for each aspect of my life, my rigid organization would always break down into a mess of papers, notes scrawled on torn-off pieces of napkins and shoved in my pockets, and used gum wrappers with unidentifiable numbers written on it. My problem is that I don’t work well with structure, and nine times out of ten I will write my grocery list on a post-it instead of a beautiful planner.
Enter the scrap journal. I’m the only person I know who utilizes their planner this way, but if you, like me, are a paper hoarder, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a hybrid between a bullet journal and a trash compactor, and you can use any blank notebook you want. My scrap journal does have some nicely organized pages, but in general it’s a mish-mash of notes, story ideas, interview transcripts, grocery lists and budget pages, held together by a lot of tape. I like it because it’s become an interesting scrapbook of my life; one page will be full of notes covered by post-its, covered by even more post-its, and the next page will be a delightfully confusing collage of my weekend activities featuring business cards, movie tickets, and Chinese food fortunes. It’s fully customizable, and works best for those who acknowledge their life and daily routines will never be pretty enough for Instagram.
- A blank notebook of any kind
- A lot of tape; pretty much the only key to success with a scrap journal is taping things in
- A year’s supply of post-its, for the sticky note inclined
Featured Image: Happie Scrappie