The Best Planners for Back-to-School, According to Our Editors
After a year of balancing online work meetings, Zoom happy hours, and children's virtual schooling, our calendars could use some organization. And while there are many apps available for scheduling tasks, they can't always replace a trusty paper planner.
With so many styles and patterns to choose from, it's easy to pick out a planner that looks pretty. What's not as easy is to determine which planner will be most functional for your everyday life. Planners typically come in one of two formats: They follow the calendar year (January through December) or the academic year (August through July). Once you've determined a calendar that works best for your timeline, turn to our editor-tested roundup of pretty and practical planners. Our favorite 2021 planners start at just $10, so you can organize your life without having to rethink your budget.
Plum Paper Planner
Each Plum Paper planner is completely customizable, with more than 100 gorgeous cover designs available plus the ability to add custom text. You can also personalize the page layout and start the planner at any month of the year, which makes this one of our favorite designs for back-to-school time. The clean design has features you're used to, like monthly spreads and days broken out by the hour, but it also offers the option to customize the agenda with tasks specific to your job or school schedule.
Day Designer Original Daily Planner
The Day Designer is one of our favorite planners because of the add-ons, including free printables for holiday planning, weekly meal planning, bucket lists, and daily planning pages. We're also a fan of how much writing space each page offers. The hard-cover spiral-bound planners are 8.5-by-11 inches, with 10 blank lines per weekday and a corresponding daily to-do checklist with room for 10 tasks. The academic year planner is dated July 2021 through June 2022.
Rifle Paper Co. 17-Month Planner
This 2021-2022 planner is available in a classic spiral-bound format, as well as with a hardcover that wraps around the spiral binding for extra protection. Planners by Rifle Paper Co. include monthly and weekly views, inspirational quotes, and a ruled pocket in the back that makes it easy to keep track of small notes or business cards. Plus, for the first time, they include sticker sheets. This 17-month planner runs through December 2022.
Emily Ley Simplified Planner
This Emily Ley planner is a must-have for anyone with a hectic schedule. Each page of the Simplified planner features one day with an hourly timeline from 6 a.m. through 9 p.m., a checklist column with 16 spaces for tasks, and a large blank section for notes. It's perfect for anyone who has several meetings or appointments each day since the design makes it easy to schedule engagements down to the hour.
The weekly design features seven days on a spread with a shortened version of each day's notes and tasks. It also comes with space to check off weekly tasks like meal planning and tidying up for the week ahead. "I've been in love with The Simplified Planner for the last six years," says Rachel Weber, BHG.com deputy editor. "I'm currently using the 12-month weekly version and love the format where each spread is a week at a glance. Another bonus: Each sheet of paper is thick, which means my weeks don't blend together. It gives me enough space to keep track of my personal to-do lists, reminders, appointments, and even has a daily spot for dinners. If you like minimalist white design with a sprinkle of cheerful colors, this planner is for you!"
Weekly Planner Pad
If you have a small workspace or if you tend to have a lot of things on your desk at all times, a weekly planner pad might be more helpful than a large planner. This planner pad is easy to keep by your keyboard for jotting down notes or small tasks that don't necessarily need to go in a planner. "I use a weekly planner pad for work and find it more helpful than a traditional planner when I'm scheduling small work tasks," says Emily VanSchmus, assistant holidays editor at BHG.com. "I use my regular planner to keep track of meetings and large deadlines, but I like being able to keep a running list of daily tasks on my weekly planner pad right at my desk. I also love that it doesn't get in the way like a large fold-out planner can, which means my to-do list is always in sight."
This planner pad includes 50 sheets without dates so you can start it any day (and you won't waste unused weeks!) and is pretty enough to showcase on your desk.
Lilly Pulitzer Agenda
This fashionable Lilly Pulitzer planner holds weekly and monthly calendar pages, with each week laid out on a two-page spread. Weekdays have a large area for notes, while weekends are slightly smaller. The planner begins August 2021 and runs through the end of 2022 and comes with a notes section, sticker pages, and a place to record important dates throughout the year so it's super easy to transfer things like birthdays or anniversaries to the next year without having to flip through every single month. The planner also comes with a new pen loop feature, so you won't risk losing your writing utensil on the way to a meeting or while you're transporting your planner.
Berteau and Co. Planner
The Berteau and Co. daily planner was originally designed for teachers, but their selection of GO Planners works for anyone who has multiple meetings, classes, or deadlines to schedule. This small business excels in getting the details just right: Each order comes packaged with adorable stationery and fun stickers. If you're a teacher (or if you've become a temporary homeschool teacher amid pandemic-related school closings), this planner has everything you need to schedule lesson plans alongside meetings, dentist appointments, and life events.