I’m pretty sure my planner addiction has reached new levels of infamy over the past year.
My post from earlier in the year about which ones I used in 2016 is one of my most popular posts, was the first post here to “go viral” on Pinterest, and shots of my weekly and monthly spreads are all over my Instagram profile.
I’ve also been known for how much I do. People literally say, “Brittany Berger does not sleep.” Exhibit A:
But guess what? I sleep well every night, and even throw in naps on the weekend. In fact, sometimes I plan my whole weekend around my nap schedule!
So, is it a coincidence that the girl known for getting tons of shit done is also known for religiously using three planners at a time?
I know what I’d like to believe, but I’d also like to believe Gilmore Girls didn’t really end that way. So I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
So today, I’m sharing the planners I’ve used and recommend as an entrepreneur, why I chose them, and how you can get uber organized with them too!
Skip to a Specific Planner:
- What I Look For
- Erin Condren Life Planners
- Ban.do Agenda
- May Designs Undated Planners
- The Productivity Planner
- Passion Planner
- Powersheets Planner
Note: this post contains affiliate links so that if you buy a gorgeous planner of your own, I may get some moolah to put towards a gorgeous planner of my own. Everyone wins!
What I Look For In Paper Planners
I’ve written about why I’ll always prefer a good paper planner to a productivity app, but what makes a “good” paper planner? And what makes a good planner for entrepreneurs and business owners? 🤔
Planners and journals are having a moment of popularity right now with all kinds of variations out there for everyone.
- There’s hourly planners like the Passion Planner, that resemble your Google Calendar and let you plan your day by the minute. I personally don’t normally approach my day that way, naturally thinking more in projects than hours, so you won’t see any of those in my tote bag on the reg.
- There’s also what I consider “workbook”-style planners. These planners with tons of prompts and exercises are awesome, and I have a ton of them, but they’re a post for another day. While they’re more focused on helping you map out big-picture plans, today I’m talking about the stuff to help you handle the day-to-day details.
- And finally, there are task-based planners. These are my babies, my preciouses. These work best for me personally when planning out my day or week.
While I may fangirl over all of the colorful options out there, I focus on task-based layouts for myself.
Here are a few other criteria for my stash:
- Sturdy (since it goes everywhere with me)
- Nice and big (ya girl’s got a lot of business to plan…)
- Easy to customize and accessorize (think stickers, stamps, and other fun things)
- Relatively simple (again, this isn’t the book for big picture thinking)
- Gorgeous, because obviously
Now that those disclaimers are out of the way, it’s time to get to the really fun and geeky part: reviewing my favorite planners!
Erin Condren Life Planner for segmented planning
2017 was my third year using the Erin Condren Life Planner as my main planner, my baby. And man, I just love it so much. I don’t use it every day anymore, but I still have one for the year that I switch to sometimes.
I remember the good old days where it only came in a 3-box vertical layout. 🤓 And it was more than enough!
Yet it got even better…
It now comes in multiple layouts, color schemes, tons of interchangeable color styles, and don’t get me started on the accessories. Most of my obsession stems from the accessories.
The planner itself is epic with features, that for a true planner addict make it well worth the price:
- 3 different layout options (vertical, horizontal, and hourly)
- Lots of notes pages, both lined and unlined
- Pre-made and blank stickers for marking important events
- A separate perpetual monthly calendar to keep track of recurring events
- A clear zip pocket for storing things like receipts, quick notes, and pens
- A double-sided folder that’s pretty big
- Lots of fun quotes, doodles, and prompts throughout
Plus, ECLP is so much more than a planner! 🤓
What originally sold me on the Life Planner was the amount of accessories available, both from Erin Condren and places like Etsy shops. There are entire shops dedicated to ECLP accessories.
My favorites are the stick-on pen holder to attach a pen to any notebook, coil clips to bind scrap paper into your notebooks, and stickers customized for my monthly to-dos.
So overall, these planners are built for flexibility, they bend to your workday, you don’t have to bend your workday or life to fit these planners. That’s truly working brighter!
In addition to Erin Condren Life Planners offering tons of layouts, all of them are pretty blank. With the exception of some goal setting and gratitude sections, the design keeps it simple.
It gives you an organized map of your week that you can fill as you choose, and that’s why I love it.
How I Use My Erin Condren Planner:
I use it in multiple ways – even at the same time – and it always works.
For example, at my busiest, I would use the vertical planner for an overview of all my side hustles. Each day is divided into 3 boxes or sections for different projects, and I had to track my blog/course, freelancing, and book reviewing. It fit perfectly!
But then, there are some weeks that I’m 100% focused on one thing.
When that happens, it’s cool. Both for me and for Erin Condren.
The flexible layout lets me plan differently from week to week, instead of buying a new planner or notebook every time my workflow or schedule changes. So during my course launch, each section was dedicated to a different part of marketing and launching Build Your Own VA.
As you can see, I put my life, organization, and sanity in Erin Condren’s hands.
The planner goes everywhere with me, so it’s a good thing it also has super sturdy materials and a to-go folder and pocket to slip things into. Seriously, the coil it’s bound with is the strongest notebook coil I’ve ever seen IRL. 😍
Ban.do Agenda for Planner Newbies
I basically just wanted some Ban.do stickers and something with the “I AM VERY BUSY” cover to take Insta pics of. 💁🏻
So I replaced my second Erin Condren, the one I used for my day job at the time, with a Ban.do.
The Ban.do agendas are a lot like Erin Condren in feel – fun and bright and colorful, all things I love. 😍
Where they differ is complexity, and that’s reflected in the price. The Ban.dos are a little more basic in material, quality, and layout. That makes it great for anyone who’s not invested enough in their plannings to shell out Erin Condren prices (I’ll admit – they’re NOT cheap).
However, for hardcore planners, that may be a downside. For example, I carry mine around a lot and the spiral binding is already bent and beaten up a lot. Fingers crossed it holds up!
Here’s how I use my Ban.do agenda:
Since our marketing department works in agile sprints, I use the monthly spread and some washi tape or a marker to map out sprint deadlines and details.
Then in the weekly layouts, I plan out my big priorities and appointments day-to-day. My day job involves a lot of small tasks, so I don’t write down everything, but it helps me prioritize and keep any important calls or due dates top-of-mind by having it sit next to me all day.
Both spreads have tons of fun and silliness throughout. This week, for example, there’s a note written in big, bold cursive that says “Your eyelashes are super long.” Who doesn’t want an agenda that compliments their eyelashes?
It’s definitely the prettiest and most fun agenda I own, and it’s a great price. It’s perfect for you if you’re not sold on the whole planning thing. Not only will it be a smaller investment, but try not to get happy with this planner in your tote bag!
Undated May Designs Planners for Planning Start-and-End Projects
The May Designs undated planners are perrrrfect for things like planning course launches and short-term goal setting for a few reasons.
First of all, the undated pages mean you can pick it up and put it back down at any time. There’s a daily planner I’ve been using for years, because I don’t need daily planners often so I’ve been able to make it last. I can use it to plan May 2016 three different ways for three different things, and then not use it again until November.
Which I’ve done. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Secondly, the medium-sized May Designs notebooks fit perfectly into the folder/pockets of both the Ban.do and Erin Condren planners, so it’s really easy to slip my launch planner into my overall planner and head to Starbucks to work!
So in these, you can break down specific projects into more detail than you can in a regular daily planner that has to cover everthing.
There are a few different layouts, so I obviously have a few and pick and choose which one I’m in the mood for.
- Academic calendar with months + weeks
- 2016 agenda with months + weeks
- 2016 agenda with months + dots paper
- Weeks + blush graph paper (undated)
- Basic weekly agenda (undated)
- Weekly agenda + graph paper (undated)
- Daily agenda (undated)
- They also have more specific planners: a budget journal, health and wellness diary, and meal planner
How I Use Undated May Designs Planners
In addition to being great for launches, they’re great for journaling. Especially if you’re not great for journaling, like me.
A two-page spread breaks up the seven days, so I don’t feel pressure to journal pages and pages every day. There’s only space for a few lines. And I don’t waste paper if you go a week without journaling every day. So I’ve been using these to build up a gratitude journaling habit before I invest in something fancier.
The Productivity Planner for Daily Prompts
I know I said at the beginning that I prefer someone basic planners without lots of prompts when it comes to the nitty gritty of my day-to-day to-do list.
But I recently learned there’s an exception.
There was this planner that I saw everyone I hero-worshipped post about on Instagram, but I could NOT figure out the name.
I thought they were just saying “it’s a productive planner.” And I was like, “cool, I like being productive.”
Turns out, it’s actually called The Productivity Planner. #bbergfail
I had a feeling that if any prompted planner would work for me, it would be this one. And I was correct. 😀
It’s not that I use it frequently. But that’s only because I’ve found it works best for a certain type of day for me.
When I was a side hustler, my routine did NOT have time for a full, Instagram-worthy morning routine with journaling and meditation. It sounds amazing, but no. I also didn’t have a consistent journaling habit, since my planning time normally filled that space.
Except on the weekends! So that’s when I first started using The Productivity Planner.
How I Use The Productivity Planner
On days when I don’t have lots of tasks and to-dos to remind myself of, using this for my more personal stuff is helpful for keeping the planning routine.
The focus of The Productivity Planner is prioritizing and optimizing your day.
When I used to come home from my day job on a Tuesday night, and had 3 hours to work and 5 things that had to get done, prioritizing was easy. I didn’t need to spend time thinking about and planning my work. My focus was just on doing it.
But on the weekends, it’s a lot easier for me to waste time and break the habits I’m working on. So The Productivity Planner is really helpful with consistency there!
(The company behind TPP also makes The 5-Minute Journal, another super helpful and popular productivity and mindfulness tool that makes building a journaling habit easier!)
The Passion Planner has a big focus on goal setting and mapping out how to get there.
On the monthly calendar pages, there are also boxes to write down your top goals for the month, a “not to do” list, and top priorities with due dates. Even a blank section for mindmapping! At the end of the month, there’s another section for reflection.
For each week, you set a main focus, track goals and accomplishments, have inspirational quotes, etc. And I love that the Space of Infinite Possibility, what Passion Planner calls the commonly found blank space at the end of the week.
You may notice that the Passion Planner on its own is definitively not colorful. But just take a look at the user planners they share on social – it’s clear most of its users just see that as a blank canvas.
How I Use the Passion Planner
The idea and vision behind Passion Planner is so one I can get behind. If they ever come out with a version that has all the amazing inspiration stuff, but with a list-based day instead of an hourly one, I would pay ridiculous amounts of money for it.
For now, their free PDFs will definitely do for the weeks I need to plan out hour-by-hour. Those weeks are rare, but I wouldn’t get through them without Passion Planner’s layout.
I only bought the Powersheets planner once, and didn’t even fill it out the last 7 months of that year. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But that’s not to say it didn’t impact me…I’ve brought so many aspects of the Powersheets into all of my future planning processes.
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See, remember the criteria I laid out at the top of the post? For day-to-day use, I really need a heavy duty weekly agenda. This is not that. Powersheets are like their own category of journal/planner/self-help hybrid that make a great hybrid to an agenda.
Here’s what’s inside the Powersheets:
- A reflection exercise about the previous year and to dig into your fears and doubts and “flip the script” (I loved this exercise!)
- A life evaluation to rate areas of your life like health, relationships, work, and spirituality (a note: this planner has a lot of Christian vibes)
- Brainstorming pages for your big ideas and words of the year (I chose “health” for 2017)
- Goal planning area to create plans for multiple goals, digging into the “why” and baby steps for each othem
- Monthly sections for planning, “tending” to (more on that in a sec), and reflecting
Other than the tending list pages, the Powersheets planners are VERY focused on the big picture, not the day-to-day. While so many of my friends love this, and it was what I needed when I bought it, see my intro. My own weakness is in the day-to-day stuff, so that’s what I really need a planner for.
However, the tending list pages were AMAZING for developing day-to-day habits, so let’s talk about those. 😍
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Tending lists are a combination of progress and habit trackers, both of which I love. Celebrating progress is a huge momentum keeper for me! 🎉
There’s space on the tending list to color in and cross off progress for monthly, weekly, and daily goals and habits. Plus, affirmations and “encouraging words.”
How I Use Powersheets
Like I said, I only used Powersheets for a few months last year, and don’t plan on buying them again. But they’ve changed the way I use OTHER planners, so I recommend them for anyone who hasn’t yet found their own planner groove. 🤓
For example, I absolutely loved the tending list. At the time, I wasn’t bullet journaling, but eventually I restarted a bullet journal solely for a bigger focus on habit tracking.
I also like to revisit certain exercises in the reflection area now and then. The live evaluation exercise is really great, and the scoring is a quick thing to do quarterly or whenever you’re stopping to reflect. Same with some of the shorter checklists and exercises sprinkled throughout.
Confessions of a Planner Addict
There you have it. These tools keep me organized and alive right now. Is it excessive? Yes. Will it change soon? Absolutely. But right now, it works!
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