How to choose the perfect planner

By Lynette Dong


As 2018 rapidly draws to a close, many of us are already planning the year ahead. Whether you’re considering new goals, arranging social events or dreaming up travel plans, you can’t go wrong with a diary to keep yourself accountable and organise your future plans.

The question is, how do you know which diary will suit your needs before you’ve had a chance to give it a road test? Factors such as size, weight, the page layout and even the cover design can make choosing a diary a somewhat overwhelming task. Luckily, we have done the hard work for you - read on for our step-by-step guide on how to choose your perfect planner.

Step 1. Layout - How will you use your planner?

Knowing how you intend to use your diary will help you choose the page layout to suit you. Will you use the diary for work, your personal life or both? Consider choosing either a daily or weekly view format for work. And if your job involves multiple appointments or meetings each day, you might want a layout that includes an hourly timeline. See some examples below of different layouts to consider which would suit you best.

Day to a page - Moleskine 2019 Soft Cover Diary (Daily) - The timeline and daily layout gives you plenty of space to plan the details of each day, plus these diaries are beautiful inside and out!.

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Week to two pages - Typo 2019 A5 Weekly Buffalo Diary - Get a big picture view of your week at one glance, in one of the most popular weekly diary layouts.

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Two weeks on two pages - Appointed 2018-19 17 Month Notebook Planner (Weekly) - If you don’t plan to use your diary for work, this layout will give you plenty of space to pencil in personal commitments and events.

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Step 2. Size - Where will you use your planner?

Do you always keep your diary on hand, or are you content with leaving it on your desk?

For those who like 24/7 access to their diary, you might opt for a pocket-sized diary (think A6 or smaller), or a softcover diary that is lighter to carry around. A desk diary can be larger (A4 or A5) and bulkier, designed to hold loose documents. Have a look at our picks below for pocket-sized and desk diary options we love.

Pocket sized diary - Hobonichi 2019 Techo Weeks (Wallet size) - The perfect size to throw into your handbag.

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A4 desk diary - Kikki K 2019 A4 Bonded Leather Weekly Diary - Spread out your weekly schedule across your desk in an A4 page layout.

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Step 3. Functionality - Decide on how you want your diary to work for you

Diaries can be great multitaskers - not only can they keep you on top of your schedule, but they can be used to set your goals, plan your weekly meals and budget, or as a travel organiser. If keeping up with Australian public holidays is important to you, make sure to choose a diary designed in Australia, such as Milligram Studio or Kikki K.

Many diaries now have features that will help you focus on what’s important to you as you organise your life for next year, such as:

  • Monthly budget spreadsheets

  • Meal planners

  • Goal setting (check out the MiGoals range)

  • Task lists

  • Address book

  • Travel journal

  • Important holidays

All-in-one diary - Milligram Studio 2019 Family.Life Diary (Weekly) - This neat little A5 diary is good value, packing in nearly every organising tool imaginable: budget and meal planners, a travel planner, a map of international timezones and all Australian public holidays.

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Step 4. Style - Reflect your personality in a planner

This is the fun part of choosing a diary: matching the design to your personal style. Do you prefer minimalist design or bold colours and artwork? Alternatively, do you want your diary to reflect your personal hobbies and interests - be it travel, reading or movies?

On a practical note, you might want a ribbon bookmark for easy access to the current week, or if you prefer writing with gel ink or fountain pens, you’ll want to look out for thick, quality paper. The differences are all in the details!

Here are some interesting design features to look out for:

Stickers - Milligram Studio 2019 Agenda Diary (Weekly) - Brighten up your schedule with fun sticker reminders of upcoming travel plans, concerts or birthdays.

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Binding - Rifle Paper Co 2018-2019 17 Month Spiral Bound Planner (Weekly) - Diaries are usually either spiral-bound or bound with glue. While pages can sometimes get caught at the wire ends of spiral-bound diaries, having spiral binding makes it easier for your diary to lay completely flat or fold over backwards.

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Personalisation - The Daily Edited Black A5 Diary 2019 - The ever-increasing popularity of monogramming your initials on personal items has spread to leather diaries, and there are a range of brands that offer personalisation to suit all budgets: have a look at Kikki K or The Daily Edited for options.

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Cover design - Hardcover or softcover? Leather, paper or fabric cover? Colourful or monochrome? As with all the other design features, the cover design depends on personal preference and style. Recently, I’ve been a fan of fabric-bound hardcover diaries like this one: Kikki K 2019 A5 Cloth Weekly Diary: Sweet.

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Illustrations, quotes and themes - Be inspired by colourful artwork, quotes and themed designs based on your favourite books or movies. We love Ban.do (pictured) for quirky illustrations, Rifle Paper Co for beautiful covers and inspirational quotes, and Moleskine for limited edition themed covers (the 2019 collection includes Harry Potter-themed diaries!).

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Step 5. Decide if you want to use an electronic planner instead

Another option is to go entirely paper-free and use an electronic planner like Google Calendar. As with a paper diary, you can easily flick between monthly, weekly or daily layouts in Google Calendar, and you can sync your calendars across all the devices that you use at work and home, which could mean a lighter load for your bag and less clutter on your desk.

If you have a particularly busy social calendar and want to keep track of all your events, Google Calendar has a useful search feature that allows you to easily locate past and future events instantly. You can create group calendars to plan events for your different social circles.

Long-term planners might also opt to use Google Calendar to plan for future years - you aren’t restricted to organising the next 12 months, as you would be with a paper diary. For more tips on making the most of Google Calendar, check out this user-friendly guide from Hubspot.

Choosing between a paper diary and an electronic one is like choosing between a Kindle and physical books - you either love the convenience of electronic devices, or you love being able to hold a new book in your hands. Though it’s an ongoing debate, I stand firmly on the side of classic paper diaries.


Stefani Janson