The Right Way To Use a Planner: 7 Tips To Get Organized

Organization is key. Dinner dates, soccer practice, appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, work obligations, vacations, weddings, happy hours, hopefully more vacations, and on and on and on. There is a lot to remember and a lot to keep straight. Our phones can manage quite a bit, but there is a reason people keep turning to the paper planner. Perhaps it is out of habit or nostalgia. Perhaps it is the feeling of putting pen to paper or the satisfaction of physically drawing a line through a task you have completed.

Personally, I am generally hooked on paper. I enjoy filling white space and writing down my thoughts and ideas. I like taking notes on particularly good days and being able to look back at what I found noteworthy in years past. I need to see my weeks/month/year laid out in front of me. I find it much easier to navigate the bustle when I have a physical road map.

The catch, however, is that you need a system in place in order for your planner to do any good. Don’t panic! Here are a few guidelines to help you maximize your efforts:


Use the monthly view

The monthly view is ideal for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, concerts, and other dates that are set in stone. Jot these down first.


Use the weekly view

The weekly view is designed to zero in on weekly goals that don’t necessarily have to happen on a certain day. This is a good place to note things such as, “call Katie back” or “create photo book of Paris trip.”


Use the daily view

This is where things get more specific. Plan meals, grocery lists, workouts, dinner dates, and meetings. This is also a good place to make note of any to-dos that arise as your week moves forward.


Create a routine

Pick a regular time to fill out your planner for the upcoming week, and try to get into the habit of doing this every day. Even if you just fill out the daily section the night before, you will have a clearer path for the day ahead. Find a routine that works with your schedule.


Leave blank space

Do not plan for every minute of the day. You will exhaust yourself. Allow flexibility and try generally not to overcommit yourself. On the days you find yourself running from one place to another, celebrate getting through it and plan for downtime later in the week.


Check in

There are no push notifications on a planner. Check in as frequently as you can, but appreciate the fact that you’re checking in on your time. Keep track of what you’ve accomplished and what you want to take care of.


Only use one planner

Using a single planner for everything is the easiest route. It’s good to know what you need from a planner before filling it out and realizing halfway through the year that a different planner would better serve you. Know your options and choose wisely.


Finding the perfect planner has everything to do with preference, but the common thread among some of my favorites is functionality and aesthetic. Luckily, there are loads of options in this department.

There are pocket planners, like the Leuchtturm weekly planner, built to be carried everywhere, taking up minimal space but allowing you to make note of your most important appointments. There are some that are slightly larger that are still easy enough to carry around. There are bulkier planners with pockets and extra pages for taking notes which provide more writing space but are a bit more challenging to tote.

Beyond size, there are many factors to consider. To start, there is the academic planner, which is one of the only good things about summer break coming to a close: a new planner to kick off August 2018 and carry you through the end of 2019. Rifle has created a variety of hardcover, beautiful planners in this department.

Other planners begin in January. Appointed Co. has a gorgeous spiral-bound year task planner with tabs marking the start of each month. There is a monthly view as well as space to track your weekly obligations. Appointed also created a very slim monthly planner in two sizes that includes 12 blank months and provides a broader overview of the year ahead.

Some planners are more targeted to the art of bullet journaling. The Leuchtturm monthly planner + notebook is ideal with its yearly overview, monthly spreads, and dot grid or lined notebook in the back. It comes in two sizes and leaves more than enough room for goals, milestones, and to-dos.

There are also planners with open-dated yearly, monthly, and weekly sections. Poketo’s concept journal designates space for goals and ideas, and also includes plenty of space for notes and to-do lists.

The possibilities are abundant, and it’s almost impossible to choose one without having held it in your hands. Whether you are a big-picture person or one who thrives on details, there is a planner built for you. Penny Post understands the challenges and the fun of choosing a new planner. We have dozens of options in stock and an absurdly friendly staff to help you make the right decision.

Happy planning!


  • The latest from Lisa
Born and raised in St. Louis, Lisa graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism and strategic communications. She began her career in publishing, working for a local magazine in St. Louis. In 2011, she moved to Old Town, Alexandria with the love of her life, Nelson. They immediately fell in love with the area and after a few years of renting, decided to buy a very sweet house (that needs a new kitchen). Lisa worked in D.C. for a Fortune 500 company as a senior design and production associate for the better part of seven years. She recently jumped ship to pursue more creatively fulfilling and inspiring endeavors. She is currently a freelance florist for Sweet Root Village, and a digital media manager for her two favorite businesses in Old Town, Penny Post and Red Barn Mercantile.

Penny Post is a paper goods store offering witty and sophisticated greeting cards, notebooks and note pads, pencils and pens for the novice and professional alike, desk accessories and office supplies plus wrapping paper bags, ribbon, party supplies and balloons.

1201 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


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