Choosing the Right Planner

Choosing the Right Planner

Choosing the right planner for you and your lifestyle is very important, especially if you are busy, overwhelmed by your To Do List and/or have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD).  This is true no matter what profession you hold and no matter what your age.  By third grade, even elementary school students need some type of planner or way to keep track of assignments.

ADHD creates significant for people when it comes to using a planner and therefore managing their time.

Your list might be too overwhelming, you might forget to look at your planner or perhaps there are other reasons.  I am frequently asked to recommend the best planner for someone with ADHD.  The bad news is that there is not one best planner.  The good news is that I can still help you select the best planner, especially if you have ADHD.


If you have determined that you need a better system of planning (or just need to start one!), I first recommend that you prioritize what planner characteristics are important to you.  The checklist at the end of this article will help you focus on your priorities and provide you with a template of what needs to exist with your next planner.

To use the checklist, place a check mark next to each characteristic you would like to have in a planner and indicate an A, B or C priority next to each characteristic you check.

  • A = planner must have this
  • B = would be nice for planner to have this
  • C = not so important to me

After you  select which characteristics are important, take the list with you to the store or have it next to you while you search on-line.  This will help narrow your search and end up with a planner that really works for you.

  • If you currently use multiple planners, try to consolidate into one.
  • After you purchase your planner, commit to using it for at least one month.
  • Keep it in a location where you will review it every day.

Select Your Planner

After you have picked your characteristics, it is time for shopping.  A couple of sites to investigate are and  If you are interested in electronic planners, be sure to review free sites (i.e. Google Calendar, Cozi) in addition to all of the devices that are available.  If you have a smart phone, integrate with available on-line tools if that will help you remember to use it every day.  Once you have selected your planner, work with it for at least one month before evaluating it’s effectiveness.  If it doesn’t work for you after trying a new planner for at least a month, you may want to consider something different.  Commit to USING it before you discard it though.

The right planner can make a big difference in getting more done, and more importantly getting your high priority tasks done.  Share your comments to let us know how the check list works for you.  Good luck with your planner search!

Planner Characteristic Checklist

  • _____  Month-at-a-glance view
  • _____  Week-at-a-glance view
  • _____  The ability to see each day separate from all others
  • _____  Spiral bound so I don’t lose any pages and can have the entire year in one product
  • _____  Binder format so I can add and remove pages as needed
  • _____  Zippered binder so I don’t lose any pages
  • _____  Electronic with no need to print
  • _____  Electronic with the ability to print a To Do List
  • _____  Electronic with the ability to print an appointment schedule
  • _____  Paper so I can write in it when needed
  • _____  To Do List available for every day
  • _____  To Do List for the whole month
  • _____  To Do List for each week
  • _____  Room to plan for multiple roles (i.e. Employee, parent, spouse, business owner)
  • _____  Calendar and To Do List integrated into one planner
  • _____  Calendar and To Do List separate from each other
  • _____  Small size for easy portability
  • _____  Large size for ease of writing and room for more items
  • _____  Medium size as a compromise between small and large
  • _____  Time slots for meetings and appointments all day
  • _____  Specific time slots included in the Calendar section
  • _____  Pockets for other items such as cell phone or wallet
  • _____  Wall calendar format
  • _____  Portable format
  • _____  Attached strap so it can be carried like a purse or briefcase
  • _____  Price is no object
  • _____  Budget = $______
  • _____  Add your own characteristics here:  __________________________
  • _____  ______________________________________________________
  • _____  ______________________________________________________
  • _____  ______________________________________________________


For a PDF version of this guide, register here:  Choosing Your Planner Guide


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12 thoughts on “Choosing the Right Planner

  1. Hi Laura–Congratulation on another valuable tip.

    The right planner has always been important to me and for this reason, in earlier years (when I was a chef) I had to design my own. Placed in a binder with pockets, spare looseleaf paper (which fit in the binder), subject dividers (for recipes) etc., vendor and staff phone numbers in 2 other sections, upcoming full page month, etc.

    Now, I have found, even though it is some 10 years later, I still do the same thing. I use a binder, which zips closed to protect all my papers from weather and from falling out. I also have zip pockets for more than a calculater and pen.

    I have a zip pocket the size of a pencil case for money, checks and valuable papers that I don’t want others to see if I open my binder in front of them (also, I don’t want to lose those things). Even in a different profession, I use subject dividers for pretty much the same things (with the exception of recipes); i.e. phone numbers and addresses, full page month sheets for long-range planning, in addition to my day planner to keep track of specifics, like hours at someone’s house, etc; so I can go back months at a time to see where I was on that day, or when I was at someone’s house last.

    So, in a nutshell, I need to incorporate several things into a zipped, dark color binder… more than just my “Week at a Glance” although that is invaluable to me for planning.


  2. This is a really good article. For students , with the beginning of a new semester, it might be good for them to evaluate what they have done and where there were areas for improvement.

  3. Hi Laura,
    Thanks for this excellent article. I’ve used a DayRunner type planner for years and it works for me. I have a Blackberry and people keep asking me why I don’t just use that for scheduling my appointments and keeping notes instead of lugging around my big planner. It’s because a Blackberry isn’t “right for me”. I’m very visual and need to see the whole day, month, etc. without having to scroll down. Plus, I like to have my To-Do list right there on the same page as my daily calendar. As you said in your article, use what helps you get more done and the planner I use does that for me.

  4. Thanks to everyone for your feedback. Please let me know if there is something you would like me to cover in the future!


  5. I have found the Life Planner from Erin Condren to be a huge help in my life. It is almost as if she made it specially for me. If you want to check it out, go to

  6. here is my problem i used a paper planner all thu high shcol and collage. then i when to a electronic planner loved it. im a mananger where i like the paper planner but im my job i can all ways have the planner with me so my smart phone is there. so my biggest question is can i use both. iv been told must of my life you need to chose one and dont use two. but for me its hard to use only one. the paper planner is not all ways with me and my phone if i used it like i need to it will be dead in a few hours i dont have time to what to charge it or not at a place to charge it. what should i do any advise would be great.


  7. Such a great question Ray. If you use both every day and can keep them updated, I don’t see a problem with using both. I think the consistency is going to be key for you. Thanks for stopping by!