Take a second to imagine what a typical work day would be like without a planner. I’m picturing pure chaos from sun up to sun down, with tons of frustrated tears mixed in. Terrifying, right? For the sake of organization and inner zen, you need a planner that can keep up with your career.
I quickly learned after graduating college that the planner I used for school simply didn’t work for my professional life. That being said, I didn’t know where to even look for a new one. I had used the same Erin Condren vertical Life Planner for two years, and the amount of stress I had trying to make it work with my new big-girl job clearly meant it wasn’t right for me anymore. The blank columns didn’t have the space or organization I needed to write down appointments and tasks for each day.
By straight-up divine intervention, I managed to find one that has worked for me the past year. Before I found it though, I had to do some serious thinking about what I needed from my adult planner, and then conduct weeks of research.
First, I evaluated my planner needs.
And not just my work needs. I also considered what I needed for the rest of my life. I’m a single, childless, 24-year-old, so identifying my needs was pretty easy. I needed a planner with a spacious schedule to accommodate my early morning workouts, daily work meetings, and still-college-esque social life. I also needed vast amounts of space to write my to-do list every day (I absolutely love a good to-do list), and space to write down random notes and things (okay, mostly room to write down books I wanted to read).
After lining out what I needed from a planner, I began a massive hunt for the perfect one. This involved extensive Google searches and Pinterest binges to wrangle a pool of potential candidates. I spent hours and hours searching for planners, and then I spent weeks deciding between the finalists. I narrowed it down to two potential planners, and then I embarked on a three-week long Day Designer vs. Emily Ley The Simplified Planner competition.
Both of these planners offered free printable versions of their layouts, so I was able to test them both out in my everyday life. I highly recommend testing out a planner’s layout if you can. Look for companies that offer a free printable version of their signature layout, and if they don’t then think about what you need to write down every single day and whether or not that layout would work with it.
You can also read the reviews on planners you’re considering. I combed through every single review for the Day Designer and Simplified Planner. Reviews are great because they give insight into how the planner translates to the hustle and bustle of the real world. Pay attention to any comments about the quality of the materials and the durability of the planner, because that’s just as important as the layout. You don’t want a planner that falls apart within a month.
So ask yourself, “What do I need in a planner?”
Here are some things for you to consider:
- What are your work needs?
If you have a lot of meetings every day, then you need a planner with a schedule to organize that. I personally needed an hourly schedule that spread from before dawn to late at night. You might need one that does a schedule in half-hour increments for a shorter amount of time. Or you might not have a strict schedule, in which case a planner with an open space for each day would be best.
- What are your family needs?
Having a family means you probably need to manage the lives of your husband and kids as well as your own. If this is the case, then a spacious planner is likely in your best interest. Otherwise, you won’t have enough room to write down the various dentist appointments, basketball games, and playdates you need to remember. Purple Trail offers a highly functional family planner that could be the answer you’re looking for.
- How much space do you need?
I need lots and lots of space in my planner. I write down just about everything because I’ll forget it otherwise. I chose a planner that could accommodate all of my scratches.That means my planner is a little less than easy to cart around, and it definitely doesn’t fit into my smaller purses. I’m typically in the same office all day long though, so it’s not much of a problem for me. If you’re on the run all day long and still need a planner to take with you, then you need to find one that isn’t ginormous, but is also usable. It might be appealing to purchase a small planner that fits in your tiniest purse, but you’ll probably be a little cramped using it every day. Try to find a middle ground between conveniently tiny and big enough to use. In my personal opinion, the new 2016 Day Designer Mini is the answer. It has all of the amazing layout of the flagship in a portable, fun-size.
- What’s your price point?
I take my planners very, very seriously, so I’m totally down with splurging on a glorified notebook. It doesn’t faze me one bit, but it might not be okay with you. Determine what price works with your budget and what you’re comfortable spending on a planner. Then think about how that works with your needs. Search for a planner that meets as many requirements as possible.
This article originally appeared on Earn Spend Live.