I know with the holidays being in full swing, it’s enough to think about the holiday plans, parties and guests that you will need to take care of and plan for. You are likely NOT thinking at all about planning for 2018. But every year about this time I start thinking ahead. Back in 2015, I did my own planner, see it here and while I keep saying that I’m going to do it again, I haven’t gotten around to it, but I hope to do it, soon.
What I have already done is to purchase two planners and by now you probably have too and are already using your 2018 planner, filling in big dates and I hope whatever you’ve chosen that it’s a good fit for you and way you like to record things, lay out and get it all done.
My problem with the planners that I purchase (which I often end up hosting a giveaway for) is that they only partially solve my problems as far as what I record, what I like to do and how I like see my weeks and months laid out.
When you start looking for a planner, it can be a daunting task for some of us creative types that like a little this and a little that AND those of us that have multiple (and widely different) projects in any given year. You likely have one you love and have been using it for a couple of years. But every year, the rest of paper planner people are planner obsessed and we LOVE finding new little sheets and worksheets that help us get organized and get all of our life work/passion work, completed. I wanted to round up a couple of planner peeps that have been gracious enough to share what their actual planners look like on the inside and then are kind enough to let us download a sample of that freely.
There is nothing better than trying before you buy to see if it’s really going to work for you. What’s more, even if you don’t like that particular planner layout, try some of their special sheets they may have for things like organizing a holiday party, taking inventory of something in your house, homeschooling scheduling or getting your finances in order. Those types of things are equally beneficial!
These #FREE printables can be just as helpful and work for smaller projects when the year long commitment (as far as layout is concerned), is not going to be ideal for the way in which you plan.
After I share some of the free layout types, be sure to look at my ten point list, which you can also use to evaluate whether the planner you want to purchase is the right one. Feel free to cut/copy and paste the list, put it into a word document and then carry it with you as you shop for your new one.
Here we go, Free Worksheet for Planner, Roundup*
Christian Planner(entire PDF) is pretty new, considering there are things like Christian Mingle (the “Christian” Match dot com) I’m really surprised the Christian Planner hasn’t been done before now. Join their mailing list and they will send you the entire PDF layout.
Ruth Soukupwho I’ve followed for quite a few years now, has a lifestyle blog and company called Living Well Spending Less and I do have her physical planner but she has an awesome blog planner available for FREE AND you can get her holiday planner also free, but hurry, the holiday planner is likely going away as soon as the holidays are over.
I’ve known about the folks at thePassion Plannerwhen it was a mere Kickstarter Campaign a few years ago and it’s taken off since those first years, while the entire PDF is shared, it is (like many others) watermarked, and that is completely understandable. As a writer of books, piracy is a big deal and no one wants to see their time and labor ripped off and given away to others for free. The ENTIRE planner ishere for downloadso you can see what it’s all about, my favorite part of it, is the vision board type page close to the beginning.
TheBest-Self Journalalso relatively new under a couple of years and also starting with a crowdfunding campaign to get off the ground, has a free download.
There are so many more planners, a couple of companies I chose not to cover for no reason at all other than they are very popular and reviews abound about them for you to get a sense of their layout/look and feel but I listed them below.
Erin Condren does have downloads on their site but they are not for the planner layout sample page
The Happiness Planner, the same as EC, but they do have some other free printables here and I personally love their sticky notes that are at Michaels stores, but I’m a sticky-note addict so pay no attention to me about that.
Remember while these links work now, they will likely change at any moment but the product I highlight may still end up being housed on the site somewhere, so it’s good to follow the blog and to check back often for new stuff.
Always visit the main home page for anything I’ve listed as that is also where a ten percent (at minimum) discount code/coupon will popup for you in case you end up liking them and want to purchase.
I love all these planners, the last three I don’t personally use simply because of my disability and the added weight they give for carrying around.
Additionally, there are designers and small business owners/professional productivity gurus that are also making their own beautiful things and I’m listing just a few more.
I love wallpaper for your desktop computer and phone screen, and each month a free download is available from StrangeCharmedaka Miss Trenchcoat (Alexis Giostra) AND she has her own planner like the ones I’ve mentioned above, and a host of classes and workbooks to address creativity and business building and being a CEO
This graphic designer at Scrappy Sticky Inky Mess (happened upon through my Google search) has calendars you can cut out and put in a plate holder, see like I did here
*Note that listing anything here does not constitute endorsement and while there are many freebies, you often will need to sign up and join the mailing list to access them which is a small trade off in my mind but still something to keep in mind.
Note the eight+ planners and companies I’ve mentioned ONLY scratch the surface of what’s available. Pinterest and others, even Youtube (teaching you how to lay things out using popular software programs if you want to do it yourself,) are FULL of individuals that are creating beautiful things for your personal and professional (purchase) use and I’m grateful to try out all these awesome tools to enhance my own planning ability and my productivity.
Next, use Youtube when doing your initial research on a particular planner. There’s plenty a person willing to tell you more than you ever wanted to know about their own experience with a person, company or product. But be careful as sometimes obviously reviews can have flaws in that you’re not sure if the person got the item for free (which they should disclose publicly) and if their review is a way to promote another planner/product they DO use and like, they may purposely try to tear down a competitor (sad but true) and a host of other suspect issues that occur in the realm of reviews, paid and otherwise. Thankfully, this is a small issue in the grander scheme of things.
Lastly, a list to consider if you want to skip all that freebie planner this and that and just purchase one already.
What’s important to you about choosing a planner?
Price – Seriously some planners are ridiculously expensive, upward 60+ bucks. You really need to think about the longevity vs the price. Buy something you can use over and over again and perhaps you only need to think about purchasing the inserts when the year is up and not the entire planner. How long are you really going to use this before you consider it obsolete?
Look/Feel (stuff like glossy pages vs. matte -will influence whether or not you can write on it comfortably. Do you have to use a special pen (e.g. gel vs standard ink), will it then smear?) What’s the weight of the paper and does it bleed through, will be things to really look at. If you download and print your own planner from a site, that should save you some and you can print on whatever paper you like.
Can you remove pages and add inserts or are you stuck with ALL the pages for the entire life use of the planner? Inserts are a big deal for some but do can fall out if you start moving things around too much? That’s annoying.
Does the planner lay flat, or bend back that make it easier for writing, especially close to the spine or inside margin?
What is the type of spine you like? Perfect binding, saddle stitch, stapled and coil binding. I’ve personally found coil binding (even double coil which most people make nowadays) to become bent and smashed over time. It can also snag your precious sweater. It should be high quality if it’s going to be coil binding.
A couple of added things people may or may not care about, but that I personally think about are Sunday vs. Monday starts – I personally like Sunday starts
Weight – weight is a big issue for me and luckily I like monthly with some note pages and not weekly
If you like the planner a lot, if you spill something on it, is it ruined or is it protected in some way, say with a zip around leather pad-folio? Could you just print some more pages and fix it, or do you have to toss the entire thing? Sadly this is just how it goes, there really is no paper planner that can withstand a spill. If you spill a lot, go digital. LOL 🙂
I really want to caution anyone that is going to or just starting to get into the paper planner phenom. It’s BIG business and the number of planners available should tell you how big the market it.
I’ve bought one or two over the years but have found that my personal tastes change so much that I end up printing my own daily pages and purchasing ONLY a monthly calendar 12 months. Anyone who is serious about getting things done will make it happen regardless of what kind of bound sheets of paper they are utilizing. It’s NOT the planners despite what so many of the creators are trying to tell (and SELL) you. Will they help keep you and your family organized, certainly, but you could do that with a blank sheet, a pen, a ruler and some numbers if that was all you had. Again IT’S NOT THE PLANNER, ITS YOU! You get it done, you make it happen WITH God. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I still might stop by Staples on the way home, though. Just saying.