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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Choosing Your Planner, Part 1: Daily, Weekly, Monthly?

The first part in my Choosing Your Planner series is deciding if you want a daily, weekly or monthly planner as your Main Planner.

Wall calendars (whether monthly, weekly, wipe-off etc.) can supplement your Main Planner by showing other people in your household what's going on. But for your own personal use, you need your own Main Planner where you write all of your appointments and whatever else you want to write (which could include tasks, lists, and goals). Your Main Planner is your Mission Control. This Choosing Your Planner series will focus only on your Main Planner.

Planners have monthly, weekly or daily formats. Many planners have a daily or a weekly format with monthly views too, which is very useful for seeing daily details and monthly overviews. I personally use all three: daily, weekly and monthly, and I know several other people who do too (click here for Jotje's example).

Let me walk you through the three main types of formats and ways to use each.

Monthly:  There are planners that have monthly-only formats. Some examples of this are the Moleskine monthly notebook and Uncalendar's Monthly Planner, but there are others available in stores and online.

If you don't have much to write each day and prefer an overview of your month, the monthly planner is perfect for you. Alternatively, you could use a separate monthly planner along with your weekly or daily planner to have the books open side by side to see the monthly overview alongside your weekly or daily activities.

Monthly calendars are best for seeing overviews of things like bills due, travel, holidays, deadlines, and seeing patterns over a period of weeks.

Click here to see my post on Using Monthly Planners for more details.

Weekly:  This is the most popular format of planners, because it allows you to see your entire week at once and plan your schedule easily.  There are various weekly formats including week + notes, horizontal or vertical (days as columns). I will compare these different formats later in a separate post.

Weekly formats are good for most planner situations because they allow for detailed daily planning while giving the overview of the week.

I've reviewed loads of weekly planners, click here to see.

Click here to see my post on Using Weekly Planners for more details.

Daily:  Daily planners, diaries, or day-per-page planners allow you to focus on each day. The downside of these planners is it can be difficult to plan ahead with only two days visible at a time, so if you use one as your planner I highly recommend combining it with a monthly planner.

Daily planners are excellent for people who have lots of appointments each day, or who want to record details such as phone calls, expenses, tasks, or other information. Click here to see my post about other ways to use a day per page planner, and click here to see how I'm using mine as my log book.

So to summarize:

For long-range planning or if you don't have many appointments, use a monthly planner.

For most planning needs, a weekly planner will probably work well for you.

To record lots of details of your days, you'll want a daily planner.

Which format(s) do you like to use? Why?


  1. Hi Laurie,

    I love your blog. I use GMail calendar to manage the family calendar. I have adult children who live elsewhere and this way I can send them electronic notices to family events and have a record of who is showing up, etc. We are a one car family and both work flexible schedules and so the shared calendar is great. I never have to ask 'can I have the car on Monday?' I can see if there is anything booked instantly. This shows up on my IPhone as well so I can see that just about anywhere I am.

    I can't go completely digital though. I love paper planners. I tried the Moleskine page/week and don't like it. I even did a hack with it adding 2 page per day monthly calendars. I want to use it but I really like adding stuff stuff so I need rings. I prefer to have a daily planner so I am back to the A5 and just ordered my first Filofax. I have been using a Circa Jr. and every night I write out my schedule for the following day. I also like a weekly view and so I use a 2 page per month calendar in my planner and fill in the upcoming weeks appointments (mine only) on that calendar (I copy from GMail). When I am out I tend to just carry a blank notebook like a Moleskine Cahier or a small Circa.

    I am currently in need of a change and so I have been finding your posts really helpful and reassuring about abandoning my Circa 1/2 way through the year!

  2. I use a VERY LARGE At-A-Glance monthly on the wall for family appts and vacations and family projects - i.e.: clean the garage. These items are copied into my 8x5 Paperblanks weekly planner - this is mission control. It stays at home, I don't carry it around. I don't need to and I don't want to risk losing it. I work from home, too, so that's part of the reason I don't need to tote it around.

    Then I have a moleskine cahier, same size as my weekly, in which I do daily planning on the very day it is being used. I sketch out my day by hours and write lists of to-do's and shopping lists and whatever else strikes my fancy. It's lightweight and goes with me wherever I go.

  3. Oh no, I like all 3! Wish I could have all 3 together, and also have enough space to write--

    Monthly--to see the flow of the month; paydays, bill due dates in relation to pay days, any appointments, holidays, etc. And I specially like ones with BIG blocks (a la Uncalendar!)

    Weekly--for tasks that get done on a weekly basis (naturally), to get a cohesive view of how the days fit together. Although, in actuality, I might be able to ditch the weekly if there was enough room in a Monthly/Daily format calendar. haha, AS IF!

    Right now, a lot of "daily" stuff like water intake, specific to the day to-do's, sleep hours, reading done, and routines that I'm trying to establish are in my weekly planner--and I'm wondering if it wouldn't be better to move that to my dailies...??

    Daily--Log Book! and Gratitude list.

    Eagerly anticipating the rest of this series!!

  4. @Rori you'll find the Time Manager system *does* give you all three (see http://www.tmi.co.uk/), as well as binder designs that, frankly, knock spots off Filofax, not to mention anything else on the market.

    I like wirking with daily, weekly and monthly perspectives for short, mediu and long-term planning, so I'm almost certainly going to be buying the Filofax A5 daily and weekly 'Time Management' refills for 2012, and using them with a 12-month vertical planner for the longer term

  5. I've been tweaking my Filofax set up and now am using a month on two pages along with two-days-per-page. That seems to give me the balance of enough room to write per day, and then I can have a week/month overview with the monthly. Working well ... so far ...

  6. I use a weekly format because I like to see the entire week at a glance. I used to use a monthly + weekly, but I was never very good about putting appointments on both calendars, which caused me to miss appointments or double-book. So now I only use the weekly format. I like the days as columns so I can put in appointments into the correct time slot too, it makes planning my time much easier.

  7. I used to carry a moleskine pocket daily for jotting down things to do and bills to pay but, since it's small I had a hard time writing down stuff and the spaces used to get filled out fast.

    I now use the erin condren notebook with monthly calendar while waiting for my order from personal-planner. :-)

  8. That planner looks gorgeous. Sadly, I'm not willing to pay for it. I already have a planner that I use to schedule work items (I'm a substitute teacher, so a calendar is a MUST), but I want one for at home to plan out blog posts, chores, etc without the possibility of people that I work with seeing me planning an eye shadow review. LOL I think I'm going to be heading to the store soon to see what I can find. I want one that has both monthly and weekly pages. Wish me luck!

    1. beautybabbling, the Plannerisms planner has weekly and monthly pages, plus lots of pages for notes and goals, you can see lots of photos of the pages and features here:


  9. I have been struggling with planners for quite some time. I love your post about how to pick a planner. I am left handed and binders or wire are always a problem. I have watched your videos and have decided because I use mine to journal, appointment, sketch and doodle every day. I am liking the time traveler day per page so far. I will be trying this one soon if I can still purchase a 2013-2014.

  10. Just a note... the link to BizziMom is no longer for planners. Lots of women wearing lingerie now..

    1. Yikes! Thanks for letting me know KimberlyO. BizziMom must have gone out of business. Too bad. I replaced that link with a link to Uncalendar's Monthly Planner, which I have used in the past and is excellent (and very affordable!).


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