Top 10 Back to School Planners For Personal And Professional Success
With the end of August in sight, I can’t help but reflect on where I am in my life and business...
With the end of August in sight, I can’t help but reflect on where I am in my life and business right now. Don’t mistake the calm that emanates from my words for composure. While I might look all put together on the outside, as I’m writing these words my inner goal-crushing Amazon is frantically eyeballing my goals list and gasping for air at the thought of EVERYTHING we still want to accomplish this year. (Sounds familiar?)
September being just around the corner, memories of back to school years fill us (that’s the Amazon and me) with even more aspirations, dreams and a warm feeling of endless possibilities.
The truth of it is: whether you’re going back to school or not, this time of the year is the *ideal* time to take stock of what you’ve done so far this year – and adjust where needed. If you’ve been crushing it with your goals, well done! If not, don’t despair! There’s still MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME to make magic happen this year.
To help you get started (or going again), I’ve put together this list of Top 10 Back to School Planners For Personal And Professional Success – edition 2018-2019. Each of them is a personal favorite of mine, and most of them have exciting new features this September! Enjoy (and break a leg, I mean, smash those goals will ya!).
The Clever Fox Planner is a miraculous little A5 all-in-one planner. You can use it as an agenda, daily, weekly and monthly planner, as a gratitude journal and even as a goal-setting tool. I’ve been using my Clever Fox Planner for a while now and I love it’s versatility. According to its designers – a team of five passionate online entrepreneurs – this planner is the solution for anyone looking to boost their productivity and hit their goals while becoming the best version of themselves at the same time (hello habit tracking!).
Vitaly, one of the creators of this unique planner, explains:
We tried out several productivity planners on the market, and although they were great, we knew something was missing. Either they were only for 3 or 6 months (we wanted 12), either they lacked some very important features (such as a habit tracker or yearly goal focus section), or they did not have enough space for notes, to-dos or goals. In the end, we couldn’t find what we were looking for, so we decided to create it for ourselves. That’s how The Clever Fox Planner was born.
The Clever Fox Planners has many featured I’m looking for in a planner. One of the most *clever* ones is its unmarked calendar that allows you to start with the planner any day of the year. But that’s not all. Each weekly overview comes with a habit tracking section, to-do list, main goal and priorities overview. There’s even room to reflect on your week’s wins and lessons learned.
The planner doubles as a goal-setting tool. In its first pages you’ll find a section for gratitude and self-awareness, a page to add your daily rituals and affirmations, a double-sided spread to create a vision board. The planner also included a double spread for your life and business goals followed by an overview page to list your five most important goals of the year, and a mind map section. Yes, all that! 🙂
But that’s not all. Even bullet journal fans (and note takers and list makers like moi) will find something to love about The Clever Fox Planner. The last part of the planner (a considerable portion believe me) is composed of dotted pages. All the room you need to let your creativity run wild and bullet journal, keep notes, organize your thoughts, track ideas and so much more. A must-try for any planner lover if you ask me!
The Simplified Planner is one of my all-time favorite planners. It’s a planner that makes you happy just by looking at it. With it’s six beautiful and joyful designs, this planner is the perfect companion to organize your life, your work and make things simpler in the process.
Emily Ley, mother-of-three and founder of The Simplified Planner, is a firm believer that simple is best. In this always-on-busy-world we live in, Simplified stands on the idea that there is more to life than overwhelm. Its mission is to inspire and empower women with the tools they need to simplify their lives so they create space for what really matters.
The Simplified Planner comes in a daily and weekly edition. They both cover 12 months. The daily planner has one day per page and shared weekend pages and features luxurious paper and a gold wire-o binding. The weekly edition has one week per two-page spread and features a book-bound, lay-flat binding. This makes the weekly edition slightly smaller in size and easier to write in (I use ring-bound planners but often find it’s hard to write close to the rings. But that might be just me and how I write :)). Both editions are finished with a beautiful hard cover with gold foil details and protective gold corners.
Besides the weekly or daily pages the planner comes with full month views and space for your schedule, to-dos, notes and meal planning. Colorful stickers and a pocket inside the front cover tops it all off. Not to mention the elegant box the planners come in or the monthly “planning tips” that you’ll get from Emily via email with each purchase. A simple yet complete planner for anyone looking to simplify their life.
Are you one of those creative, multi-passionate types (like moi) that enjoy lots of options, and – if possible – a little DIY in the process?
If so, you will LOVE the Erin Condren Life Planner. There are plenty of planner manufacturers out there that offer customizable options. None of them to the extend of this planner. The Life Planner is full of tools to help you plan out a successful year, and to help you set goals, figure out what you truly want and take charge of your life.
As I mentioned before, what makes the Erin Condren Life Planner (even more) awesome is how you can customize your planner to make it unique for you:
- Interior color: you have the choice between neutral or colorful interior.
- Cover: you’re free to pick a cover (in fact that’s how the whole customization process starts) or interchange your covers by purchasing different beautiful laminated ones and change them depending on your mood. You can also choose between having your name printed on your planner or two lines of text of your choosing. I mean, does it ever get better than this?
- Layout: you can choose between vertical, horizontal or hourly weekly layouts.
- Calendar: the Life Planner comes with three different calendar options. Two 12-month options. From June to July if you’re looking for an academic planner or from January to December if you’re looking for a standard one. The cool thing is that you have a third option, and in my opinion one of the most awesome features of any planner I’ve ever seen! You can order the January to December version including the remaining months from your time of purchase until January 1st. Isn’t this AMAZING? Often I decided against buying a planner because I couldn’t start using it right away (right?!). This option takes care of that issue completely!
- Coil color: you have a choice between platinum, gold, rose gold (my favorite :)) and black.
The Life Planner comes with a goal-setting spread and weekly spreads for each week of the month. An entire week is spread across two pages (from Monday to Sunday) and each day features a lined section. At the back of the planner you’ll find a notes sections with lines, dots, coloring book pages. The 4 sheets of stickers are great to customize your planner even more, and make sure important events and to-dos stand out.
All of this makes the Erin Condren Life Planner the DIY planner by excellence, and super fun to put together. It’s also easy to use, extremely functional, and absolutely beautiful and unique at the same time!
The Conquer Kit by Natalie MacNeal is A Creative Business Planner for Women Entrepreneurs. A newcomer in my planner lists, but one that has definitely deserved its spot! On the back cover of the planner, Natalie MacNeil states that The Conquer Kit is a *canvas for your dreams and goals*. I have to say… it sort of is.
When I started using the planner I followed along the recommendation to “sketch, scribble, collage, and write all over its pages” (and had so much fun doing it!). And yes, by the end of it, I was left with a strong business plan AND the strategies to put them into action.
The thing about The Conquer Kit (uhm) is that it is NOT – in fact – a planner.
If you’re working on building a business (or if you have an idea or project in mind), The Conquer Kit is the workbook you need *before* you start using your planner.
Through eight clearly defined and actionable steps you’ll go from ideation to business creation. Natalie has thought of EVERYTHING (in a very her kind of way) to guide you to tap into your creative genius, build a strong foundation, create heart-centric product and marketing plans, put together your A-team, envision the bigger picture, map your next steps, and ultimately bring your dream business to life.
I use The Conquer Kit (or at least sections of it) on a somewhat ongoing basis. I go back to it for clarity, or work through the steps again when I have a new project or goal in mind. I find new golden nuggets every time!
#5 She Plans
Another newcomer in this back to school planner list. She Plans is one of my latest finds, and I’ve deeply fallen in LOVE! Ashley Staum, owner of She Plans and the designer of its minimal looking planners, notebooks, and print & plan printables, started designing planners late one evening while in grad school. She explains:
In order to avoid studying for a few hours I decided that I *needed* to design my own planner to stay on top of everything that was on my plate. I fell in love with the process of designing that first planner and continued to make my own planners each semester and later began making planners for co-workers who glanced over in meetings and were a bit envious of what they saw.
In early 2013, Ashley took the leap and began selling digital planners and later physical versions. Her designs have grown and changed over the years, morphed into different layouts, each designed towards a different way of planning.
Her focus for this year is to grow her Print & Plan line of simple print-at-home planning tools. And those are the ones I’m so absolutely smitten with! Again it’s the customization that does it for me.
In the Print & Plan line you have a selection of covers, and daily, weekly and monthly printables to choose from. The add-ons include perpetual calendars, notes, gritted and dotted pages, project planning and to-do lists. All editions of the Print & Plan line planners come with worksheets at the front of the planner to help you create your Focus Goals for the year ahead as well as monthly goal tracking pages to help you set deadlines and plan your weekly action items.
A back to school planner top 10 list wouldn’t be complete without my friend Michelle’s Ultimate Life Binder. Through her Secret OWL Society (don’t you just love that name?) she’s already inspired thousands of people to take 100% responsibility for their life.
When I met Michelle she told me that the Ultimate Life Binder helped her to systematically elevate herself and her life. She’s now at the 4th revised (extended) version of the binder and has sold more than 2500 copies all over the world!
The Ultimate Life Binder is probably the most complete planner out there. Michelle has literally thought about EVERYTHING. And I mean – everything!
- A yearly calendar overview, top-3 goals of the year overview, monthly glances and two-page and one-page monthly overviews.
- Prompts to help you focus on a weekly and daily basis on what’s most important to you.
- Everything you need to stay on track with your goals, including a project planner and mind-map.
- Handy daily pages with space for to-dos and to reflect on how you want to feel, what you’ll do to take care of yourself, and what you absolutely need.
- A specific section to record your achievements (so important!).
- Prompts to identify your key habits, and daily success habits tracking.
- Everything you need to stay on top of social media and your blog: a schedule, strategy plan, editorial calendar and post planner.
- Fun lists for books you want to read, things you want to buy, courses you’re taking but also more practical overviews like password sheets to record your online passwords for safekeeping, goal breakdown worksheets, budgeting tools, and even travel planning sheets.
What’s so cool about the Ultimate Life Binder is that Michelle’s binder addresses the important life and business stuff, even when it’s not that sexy. Like tracking your financials, or getting clear on the habits you need to build (or change) in order to be successful.
So if you’re looking for the more complete planner, with a different and more intuitive focus than traditional ones, it’s definitely worth checking out!
The Inkwell Press LiveWell Planner is an all-time favorite planner of mine. This year celebrates the 5th edition of the liveWELL Planner. And it features some amazing changes for its 2019 planner edition: the brand-new liveWELL 360™ system.
This disc planning system allows you to customize your planner to make it perfect for you. The fun starts with four covers to choose from, including two vegan options that I absolutely love! After that you can select your style: daily, weekly (flex or classic), monthly or goal-setting (my favorite option) and whether or not you want tabs. Add-ons can be purchased to customize your planner even more or as standalone planners. The options are:
- Goal Setting Planner
- Project Planner
- Meal Planner
- 50 pages of dotted or gritted notes
What I love most about the Inkwell LiveWell Planner is its focus on goal setting and productivity. When you buy this planner you become part of something greater: a community of like-minded planner lovers who want to achieve their goals. Productivity courses, a podcast, blog and YouTube channel all accompany this planner to make sure you get and stay on track making this planner an all-in-one productivity solution.
#8 Day Designer
The Day Designer is a real work of art. Ever since I discovered this planner a few years ago I’ve been amazed at how attractive it is, and practical! It’s beautiful, intuitive, and has so much space for everything! There is a wide selection of contemporary cover designs to choose from. My favorites include the Jungle Out There (flamingo lovers unite!), Antigua, and Brushed Confetti. But the classic remains the Black Stripe. I mean, how can you say no to a black, white, and gold combo?!
Whitney English – designer and creator of the Day Designer – believes that a well-designed day is a well-lived life. I couldn’t agree more. As a minimalist and essentialist I believe that the more intentional we live our life, the happier we are.
The first pages of the Day Designer hold different worksheets, each designed to help you find out what really matters to you and what your personal skills, values, vision, passions, and strengths are. Yes, it’s absolutely essential to have clarity in order to achieve your goals!
In the daily planner edition, each day has its own separate page, except for Saturday and Sunday, which share one page. Each weekday, from Monday through Friday, has an hourly schedule from 5am to 9pm (great for early birds!), space to add your top 3 tasks of the day, an inspiring quote, dinner planning, a spot to record daily gratitude, notes and more. What I particularly like about the daily page is the space reserved for your daily to-do. Most planners don’t leave a lot of space to add to-dos (and let’s be honest, it’s important not to have to many of those on our daily list) but I love having room to scribble down things on the spot, or a list of things I have to remember.
This planner is an effective tool to help you organize your goals, ideas, tasks, days, thoughts and life!
Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map Planner and Program are one of my favorite productivity tools out there because the focus is so different. With Danielle LaPorte it all starts with how you want to feel. Once you’re clear on that, she helps you put a strategy together to achieve that feeling – and the goals that go with it. The program and planner not only helps you plan your to-do list, but also inspires you to think about and discover the feelings that make you happy. This is soulful planning at its best, and in my book a core piece of setting goals successfully!
For the 2019 edition there are some great updates! Probably the most important one is the digital version of the planner. In prior years international shipping was a big *auch* for many planner lovers. The second exciting addition is the Desire Map Program. A companion to the planner that helps you figure out how you want to feel, create a vision for your life and choose intentions in sync with your feelings.
The Desire Map Planner is the perfect option if you want more soul in your life (and goals). The planner starts from your desires and feelings, so you can keep track of what’s most important to you. It will help you stay on track, take better care of yourself, focus on your mindset, explore creative ideas, and feel grateful throughout the year!
I wanted to finish this list with a planner with a totally different approach still. That’s why I decided on The Freedom Journal. The promise of this planner is to guide you in the accomplishment of your #1 goal in 100 days.
The Freedom Journal is a goal-setting, productivity and accountability tool all at once. John Lee Dumas, the creator of The Freedom Journal, has interviewed over 2000 successful entrepreneurs and has created a unique step-by-step process that will guide you in setting and accomplishing your #1 goal in 100 days. What I like about it is the Agile approach, a methodology I was trained in as a project manager and that works wonders to complete projects in the most efficient way possible. Imagine doing that with your goals? That’s the promise of this planner!
When you order a copy of this planner you get access to an exclusive planner community on Facebook. You also get the audio book, mobile app and fillable PDF version of the planner for free. Worth getting your hands dirty if you ask me!
That’s it for this back to school list. I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it helped you to choose the planner that is perfect for you. Now it’s your turn. Do you use a daily or monthly planner? What’s your favorite, and why? In the comments below, share your #1 planner pick, how you plan and organize your days or anything else productivity you’d like to share with me. I’d really love to know!
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Hi, I’m Murielle. I created the online course Soulful Productivity™, a 6-week program to redefine productivity and help you get from overwhelm to flow, and I have a private coaching practice where I help ambitious, multi-passionate creatives and entrepreneurs start, grow & scale businesses, and create their freedom lifestyle. PS: I love Instagram. Let’s connect!