To help you stay organized and inspired throughout the year ahead
If you're like me, you like going old school when it comes to planning. I'm fairly tech savvy, but have just never been able to get used to using my iPhone as a primary calendar. I need to write things down! I need to see it all laid out before me, in monthly and weekly format! I need to be able to color code and decorate!
For the last 5 years, I have been utilizing various goal-oriented planners and have really come to love them. The caveat here is that I get easily stressed out by planners that are too intense...you know, the ones that demand a million action steps for each goal, then weekly goals, priorities, intentions, etc. I like a bit of a gentler guiding hand to keep me on track, with space to jot down yearly goals and a vision board, then space to slot those yearly goals into each new month. Some writing prompts are nice, as well, and space for to-do lists. I just need it all in one place. 50 boxes on each day's page means more to cross off, which means more anxiety, which means I get overwhelmed and tap out. I think you probably understand.
To help you organize your goals, tasks, lists, and inspirations for 2020, I've curated a list of four tried and tested planners that I have personally used and enjoyed. They're all low-to-mid range in price (no $60 planners here!) and would make the perfect gift for anyone, really, including yourself!
The Passion Planner
Out of all the planners on this list, the Passion Planner is definitely the most hardcore. This
was actually my first foray into the world of goal-setting planners and it definitely did not let me down. The Passion Planner is designed to help you pinpoint your goals, develop a timeline, and stay on course throughout the entire year. There are ample instructions at the beginning on how to use the planner, as well as a step-by-step road map for dreaming up your 3 month, one year, 3 year, and lifetime goals. It then guides you through taking the most important of those goals and getting specific with them -- in other words, helping you break them down into bite-sized pieces. You'll have another road map at the middle of the year, which allows you to check back in with your goals, see how you're doing, and adjust where needed.
The monthly layout is designed to be a big-picture overview. In addition to the calendar spread, it includes sections for places to travel, people to see, monthly priorities, etc.
The weekly layout includes much of the same spaces, but with each day of the week laid out in vertical format for hourly scheduling. At the bottom, there are to-do lists and a space for brainstorming, drawing, or doodling.
Plenty of space for notes, to-do lists, drawing, etc
Easy to follow instructions
No color -- while there are 3 color options for the cover, the interior is all black and white and feels a little sterile
Stressful format -- if you're like me and get easily overwhelmed with tons of different boxes and lists to cross off, the Passion Planner may not be the one for you. It's excellent for brains that need constant tracking, but personally made me anxious keeping up with each of the sections. In other words, this planner felt too much like a drill sergeant for my personality and needs.
Blue Sky from Target
I transitioned to a Blue Sky planner after a two-year affair with the Passion Planner, when I decided to change gears and go with something simpler. If there's one thing Blue Sky planners are is simple -- and not in a bad way. They are perfect for you if you like a clean aesthetic and if having neat and elegant monthly and weekly spreads are your top priority.
The fonts in this planner are chic and the format straightforward. The monthly spread includes a side column for notes; the weekly spread is horizontal with a to-do list section at the bottom. There aren't a lot of bells and whistles with this option, but if your mantra is "less is more," than you will love it.
This planner worked well for me during the year I used it. I was able to neatly organize all of my appointments and reminders, as well as keeping track of my to-do's all in one place. I did miss having sections for goals, however.
Perfect for the highly organized minimalist
Lots of space for writing in each week
No goal planning sections
No vision prompts
Only 1 color option (with a grey interior) -- this will only be a con if you are used to the Erin Condren level of interior color
Bloom Vision Planner
This is one of my favorite planners ever. I did a lot of searching before I found it (are you ever floored by how many planner options there are?) and was ecstatic when I came across Bloom. I'd never heard of the brand before, which surprised me since they have so many good options available. The Vision Planner was my bff throughout 2019. It combines everything I typically want in a planner without being overwhelming.
Vision gives you a concise yearly goal section one one page with additional prompts to get
you thinking positively, such as "New Things I'd Like to Try," "Things to Look Forward to," and "Books to Read." I loved this page, as it got my mental wheels turning without causing me anxiety. Additionally, with the monthly goal section that proceeds each monthly spread, you have the
opportunity to keep up with your yearly goals by slotting them into the appropriate boxes, but without the stressful action steps and prompts. In other words, the Vision Planner helps you keep track of your vision while leaving the exact process to your own personal needs. If having a stricter process works for you, however, Bloom does have a Goal Tracking page, which prompts you to break one goal down. If you'd like additional pages, they're available on the Bloom website!
Another favorite aspect of this planner is the Vision Board. After curating a spread of inspiring and beautiful photos, I was hooked. This feature is definitely something I look for when choosing a planner, now. I did find myself looking back at my board often throughout the year, especially when I was feeling a bit low.
There are ample note sheets in the beginning of the planner, as well as a weekly schedule template, address sheet, and sheet for storing your passwords (I'd recommend keeping them in a book, rather than having it on a sheet for potentially anyone to see). Most of the template pages are available for download on the Bloom website, if you want more.
The weekly sections feature a vertical format, with a notes column to the left, blank boxes at the bottom of each day for brainstorming, and daily water tracking. I mean it when I say this planner really does have it all. If having all the features of the Vision Planner isn't quite what you're looking for, however, Bloom does offer a variety of different planner formats. Other options include student, teacher, wedding, pregnancy, and gender neutral planners, as well as simpler non-themed ones.
Fun goal prompts that are concise, not overwhelming
Ample templates, such as goal-tracking (for those who like extra tracking) and weekly schedule charts
Organized monthly goal sections
Plenty of note space
Extra features: daily water intake, daily spaces for notes or brainstorming, weekly intention box, and note sheets
End of the year reflection
Back pocket for storage
The Vision Planner only has 3 cover options, whereas other formats have more (and in my opinion, better) choices
The aesthetic of the interior feels a little childlike to me, but that's subjective, of course
Weekly vertical format allows for hourly planning, but less room for writing
Ah, Happy Wagon, my 2020 planner! For several months I'd actually been planning on re-purchasing from Bloom, but being a planner addict, I wanted to see what else was out there. I also wanted a different aesthetic for 2020. The Live Your Dream planner ticked all of my boxes (space for goals, some writing prompts, room to write, a vision board), as well as having an elegant font and natural feel with the flower prints. If you missed my Instagram story where I went through this planner in detail, simply read on!
This planner opens with a 2020 calendar overview, 2020 agenda (organized by month), and notes pages. Then, you get to a two-page spread for goals and plans. The Happy Wagon planner doesn't prompt you to write your goals in any specific way, it's just a blank canvas for you to dream. While I typically like a bit of structure here, I already have an idea of exactly what I want my 2020 goals to be, so I don't mind the blank space.
Next up, we have my favorite part (and the thing that became a staple planner must-have in my book): the vision board. I absolutely love that this planner provides two full pages for photos, stickers, quotes, etc. I can't wait to fill it out and look back at it often throughout the year!
The monthly spreads are simple and chic, with a column on the right-hand side for notes and a gorgeous continuation of the nature theme at the bottom of the page. Following each monthly spread, you'll find an inspirational quote and a unique take on a monthly goal prompt. Rather than boxes for goals in the standard life areas, The Happy Wagon planner prompts you to write what you're attracting in your life that month and your intentions for the month. I think this is a beautiful twist on the usual tactic of keeping yourself on track. These writing prompts allow you to think in terms of abundance and positivity. Re-writing your goals in this format will work to re-wire your brain, just like focusing on gratitude does (and this planner covers that, as well)! Then, at the end of every month, you'll find a reflection page with prompts and trackers (water, exercise, sleep, happiness, and a blank one for you to fill in).
The weekly spreads are where The Happy Wagon planner really shines for me. Each week begins with a "Weekly Affirmation" section, where you have an inspirational quote and ample space to write out what you're thankful for. At the end of each week, you'll find writing space dedicated to listing your highlights and what made you happy, your weekly expenses, and dreams for the next week. I mean, what a great way to keep your mind in a place of gratitude and dreaming!
As for the weekly format itself, I find that Happy Wagon has taken another unique approach. There are two days to each page with lines for hourly planning or to-do list entries, plus each day includes a box for "sketches and ideas." If you're a person who needs to see each appointment laid out exactly, you'll be able to to do so. If you're someone who just likes having some space in each day to write things down, you're also covered. There are only 10 lines for each day, however, so if you have a strict and hectic hourly schedule, you may find this too cramped.
The only thing I miss from this planner is an end of the year reflection page. I usually love those and think it's a nice way to look back on all the good that happened and all the challenges you overcame. The Happy Wagon does include four pages of stickers, however! I really like that they provided some, as most planners require you to purchase them separately (I had already purchased a big sticker pack off of Amazon, but will definitely use the planner-themed ones, as well).
Open writing space for goals
Two-page vision board
Unique monthly writing prompts
Beginning of the week gratitude prompts
End of the week reflection
Monthly reflection prompts and habit trackers
Flexible weekly spread
Back pocket for storage
Four pages of stickers included
2020 agenda (space to keep big events organized in one place)
Elegant aesthetic, with just a touch of color
Lack of goal planning structure may be a con for some
No end of the year reflection
Weekly format may be too cramped for those who have very strict hourly schedules
I hope these breakdowns were helpful and that you'll be able to find a planner that fits both your needs and your budget! Please let me know if you choose one from this list and how you like it! If you purchase a different brand, I'd also love to know the pros and cons, as you know I'm always looking for new planners. Happy dreaming and scheming in 2020!