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An OCD Guide to Planners and Planning

It’s that time of year again where I obsess about what type of planner to get for the following year. I have been devoted to planning and planners ever since college. And digital versions just don’t do it for me. Yes, I’m devoted to typing up my daily to-do list on Evernote every morning, but there’s something about a hardcopy planner that just really gets me going.

Scheduling has become somewhat of a ritual for me. After I brush my teeth, feed my dog, and make my coffee, I immediately sit down by myself to enjoy said cup of coffee and plan out my day. It’s one of my favorite moments, although we’ll see if I’ll be able to set aside the time for it when the baby comes (fingers crossed!) I also have a weekly routine of sitting down to plan out my week every Sunday. I go through my calendar and emails, and figure out what my top to-do’s and priorities are, then map it out in my hardcopy planner accordingly. It’s truly a lovely way to start the week and I highly recommend it.

For years, I was a devoted Erin Condren shopper. Thanksgiving week signaled the time to pick out my next year’s lifeplanner cover. It was the first step in setting the tone for the following year. I remember the year before I got married, I selected a “confetti themed” lifeplanner since the year would be leading up to a celebration (and because I’m super cool like that). The year after that, I carefully selected one based on showing off my new last name, and displaying my more mature “wife status” (also, super cool).

For those who are not indoctrinated to Erin Condren— it’s basically the essential planner. It was the planner that got me into planning and I believe responsible for the bullet journal trend. These books are no joke. They now offer three different layout styles (horizontal, vertical, and hourly) and countless customizable snap-in extras like a grocery list and meal planner tracker. Plus, they are just so darn cute in a variety of colors and fun designs. But, they can be a bit overwhelming and they don’t come cheap ($55 is the starting price for one of these bad boys).

Last year, I took a break from Erin Condren and purchased the “Rituals for Living Dreambook,” since this felt very much like a transition year and a time to focus on me. The planner is amazing. Like Erin Condren, it has both monthly and weekly layouts so you can set goals and to-do’s simultaneously. But, the Dreambook also has sections devoted to finding your “higher purpose” and organizing your life around that. In addition to monthly and weekly goals, there’s also quarterly goals where you spend time visualizing what worked and what didn’t work the past quarter and reconfiguring your goals based off that info. It also has weekly suggestions to maximize your personal happiness and growth (like making time to dance and drink lots of water), as well as a daily intention and moment of gratitude for each day. It’s pretty amazing. But, it’s also a lot of work. And since I didn’t start my planner until January, I felt like I was already behind because the first 20 pages are devoted to worksheets to figure out your year. For a soon-to-be new mom who will eventually be going back to work, I’m not sure I have the time for this kind of planning anymore. At least not this year. But, I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to connect with themselves and really turn scheduling into a ritual.

I also just discovered “The Happy Planner” which has a similar layout as Erin Condren, with really fun monthly sections and since it’s a disc-bound notebook, you can easily add and remove pages. It’s also a fraction of the cost (currently on sale for 11.99… what?!) So, this may be my planner for next year. In fact, I just ordered one because at that price how could you not?

What are some of your favorite planners?