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Calendar applications are convenient, but no smartphone tool can truly replace a material planner. It’s helpful to have one physical space where you can write down all your important dates and deadlines and be able to flip through it to compare weeks or months at a glance. For most people, this kind of simple agenda is really all you’ll need, although some may like planners that aim to motivate, with sections for aspirations and goal tracking.
Planners come in all formats, from daily to monthly. You’ll probably start your search knowing which of these works best for you, but when choosing your book, it’s important to think about the binding quality, durability, weight of paper, and compatibility with your writing (or drawing!) medium, in addition to general factors like size and appearance. After all, planners keep you organized, but more than that, they are diaries of how you’ve spent your time and how your life has changed from year to year, and it’s nice to make this act of recording a pleasurable experience. More practically, you want to plan your schedule without fear of distracting ink bleeding.
We’ve found some of the best planners to suit a range of planning styles, including planners for people whose lives don’t fit the January to December model; read about them in our reviews below. But remember: the best agenda is probably the one that best satisfies your individual needs.
1. Hobonichi Techo
This glue-bound Japanese planner is annually coveted by students, artists, and avid bullet journalers alike for many reasons. First off, it’s simply stunning, with a flexible, leather-like cover featuring a pleasant stippled texture and the brand’s logo in embossed gold. The pages are also Tomoe River paper, which is thin and light yet takes inky pens—yes, fountain pens too!—vey well. More importantly, it’s smartly designed to help you plan your months and your days. Each month is introduced with a calendar view set on grids, with each day offering space of five-by-six boxes to fill in. This spread also features margins for additional notes. After this, each page for the month is dedicated to one day, with the sheet featuring a timeline marked at the middle for noon. This provides flexibility for you to either fill in with hourly appointments or more big-picture notes for that day. There’s a section to note your meal plans as well. The grid format makes it perfect for creating checklists and writing in straight lines, although there are many ways you can customize this agenda creatively. Just check out the hashtag #hobinichi for inspiration.
2. Moleskine Classic 18-month Monthly Planner
Moleskine’s notebooks are an industry classic, highly regarded for their stripped-down yet elegant look. The Italian brand protects its notebooks in a faux leather that is luxurious to the touch and durable enough to protect your work and thoughts. Inside, the ivory pages are super smooth, although they generally do exhibit more bleed-through than those of our top pick. Dated from July to December, this planner gives you just the right amount of structure to organize your months without jamming too much information on the page. Spreads provide a calendar view of each month with enough space to jot down appointments and reminders. In between these spreads are lined pages perfect for notes, lists, and longer remarks. The notebook comes in two sizes and is super thin, making it ideal for those who often travel with their notebook. It features a ribbon bookmark, inner pockets to hold any loose items you might want to keep together, and an elastic band that holds it closed when not in use.
3. Lemome weekly and monthly
We believe it’s worth investing in a planner that you will use every day. This planner’s spreads give you an overview of each week, with plenty of lines to fill with the day’s events. Each month also begins with a spread showing you the days of that month, with daily squares big enough to list holidays, important dates, and more. The paper is thick and smooth, and the faux leather cover is subtly debossed with the years. A pen holder, inner folder, and two ribbons finish off this straightforward and smartly designed planner.
4. Faber-Castell Essential Planner Pack
Okay, there’s no planner included here, but this planner pack comes with engaging accessories for young ones to begin organizing their day while staying creative. It features three highlighter pencils in pink, blue, and yellow; a Pitt artist pen that’s filled with pigmented India ink; and two paper stencils. These can be made to trace handy shapes that range from a small thumbs up to a large clock and checkmark. The hi-vis colored pencils are ideal for coloring but they’re also great for highlighting key events or deadlines; the artist pen leaves bold marks and is fast-drying and waterproof. Because the ink won’t run, it can be layered with alcohol inks, acrylics, and watercolor paints.
5. JSTORY Medium Monthly Planner
This is a modern monthly planner that’s free of clutter. Made of recycled paper and printed with soy ink, it opens up to reveal monthly spreads with a big square for each day. There are no dates so you can start at any month; the only text that appears are the letters MTWTFSS, which are printed in large, bold type at the top of the page (six days are printed in black; Sunday is in an eye-catching red). It’s a beautifully designed option that lets you see your month at a glance while giving you a lot of space for recording daily activities. You’ll also have extra, undated squares for each month where you can jot down notes or doodle. The pages are ultra-smooth and thick to prevent bleedthrough, even when you’re using markers; they’re also highly satisfying to turn.
6. Rhodia Rhodiarama Perpetual Diary
We are mega-fans of Rhodia for its fountain-pen-friendly paper. This planner from the legacy brand, in business since 1934, is undated and covers 53 weeks so you can start when you like—and skip certain weeks when you want. The left-hand page features a weekly view, and the right, a dotted page for bullet journaling. An extra nice touch are the perforated corners at the bottom of each page, which you can tear off to help with tracking. The 90-gram brushed ivory vellum Claire Fontaine paper is exceptionally smooth, so artist-grade pens effortlessly glide over it and stand out.
7. At-A-Glance Monthly Academic Planner
This no-nonsense, wire-bound planner is dated from July to December, making it an especially great choice for those sticking to the school year. Each spread shows a gridded calendar for each month filled with important dates and holidays, plus six months of smaller calendars to reference at a glance. The 1 9/16-by-1 5/8-inch boxes provide ample space for deadlines and reminders. You also have extra pages that are helpful for teachers in particular: contact sheets to write down parents’ names and numbers, class schedules, perforated notes pages, and even pages to plan ahead into 2024. We love that it lays flat and features super smooth paper that resists bleeding from inky pens.
8. Clever Fox Planner
If you’re the kind of person who likes to write down goals, cross items off lists, and track your progress, we recommend this planner. It’s undated, so you can start at any point, skip a day or even a week, and return to it without feeling guilty about leaving pages blank. Each spread is devoted to one week, with the left-hand page devoted to daily schedules and the right-hand one for tracking your week. This page includes boxes for your main goal, priorities, to-do list, and even a habits or skills tracker. The hardcover planner features heavy, 120 gsm bright white paper that resists bleeding, a pen loop, and an elastic closure.