One of the questions I get asked the most about how I work full time as a journalist while running two blogs, is ‘how do you manage your time?’ and my answer is simply: planners. Lots of them. At this point, I could probably consider myself a professional to-do-lister.
I find that a good daily planner can help you conquer anything, and is there anything more satisfying than crossing out that final task at the end of the day?
The idea behind productivity planners is to help you break down your goals and tasks into manageable chunks so it doesn’t all feel so over-facing, with some even having added extras like self care reminders and other personal life focuses, from exercise to meal planning.
Here are four planners I’ve been using to help me get my life together as I start a new job and plan out content for the new year. Each one differs in price from under £10 to over £30. They all have completely different goals and contents, and so you can use them in conjunction with each other, or use them for different things throughout the year.
I find that spending 10 minutes each morning, or the night before, just writing out my days to-do list helps me wake up feeling ready to take on the day and get things done, making me more productive and proactive in checking off tasks. So – here are my top four picks for productivity planners in 2022.
Paperchase – So much to do
Paperchase is a stationery lovers paradise, and they’ve no shortage of notebooks, journals and planners. This ‘so much to do – so little time’ planner is a deep blue marbled effect hard cover with rose gold foiling, and comes in at £16.
It offers 352 pages of 100gsm paper, where you can plan days out, gym routines and even track your water intake.
There are three separate parts to this planner, separated by page indents, with the first section reading ‘a busy week’, which takes up more than half the planner. Here, there is space for the years busy plans or general brain dump across three pages, before heading into a week-by-week undated planner. Alternating pages see a weeks view split into morning, noon and evening, with a must do list, space for things that can wait until next week, and general notes. Every other alternating page sees a weeks view separated into exercise, water and food, with space to share successes, worries and rewards for the last seven days.
There are occasional motivational mantras printed on the days or between pages, like ‘Monday, let’s do this’, and ‘There’s always time for brunch’ – which frankly, is a motto to live by.
The second part of the planner sees space to write about events and trips, where every left page has sections to write when, where and who the event/trip is with, alongside budget and a to do list, which will come in really handy when planning weekends away and things to do with Jake this year. The right hand side of every page has been left lined, but blank, for you to jot down notes. You could even make this into a memory page of the trip after you’ve been, with a photo or tickets from the event.
Finally, there’s a to do list section where you can prioritise your tasks for the day, ranging from ‘priorities’, to ‘…and then’, followed by ‘and if there’s time’. I really like this way of working and I love nothing more than ticking off my to do list, so I’ll be getting a lot of use from the back quarter of this Paperchase planner.
Paperchase – Peach serenity planner
Currently on sale for £8.40, this pretty peach toned reporter style planner is the perfect desk-side jotter for home working.
The front of the daily planner is lightly textured and really tactile, with a wiro binding which it my preferred planner style, as it keeps everything neat.
Inside you’ll find a neatly laid out schedule for your day ahead, where you can circle the day, write the date and lay out a to do list for the day. This comes in really handy as a journalist, as I can write down what meetings and calls I have, and what articles I need to write that day. On the right hand side, you can then schedule the day hour-by-hour, making sure to make time for lunch and helping to maintain good timekeeping.
On the lower half of the page, there’s space for notes, which I use when I’m talking on the phone to an interviewee and want to remind myself to ask a particular question, or to note down important details or spellings.
Other sections on the page include a water tracker with up to nine glasses to fill, and a mood tracker that says ‘today, I am feeling’ with a circle to draw in or colour in. You could keep a key at the start of the notebook to colour code emotions, and fill in the circle accordingly.
Finally, there’s a ‘Things I did just for me’ section, which might include things like ’15 minutes of yoga’ or ‘listened to a podcast’ – or just a small self care act that made your day a fraction brighter.
I find this to be a really thoughtful planner for the 9-5 grind that really helps you manage your tasks while reminding you to look after yourself.
Papier – Daily productivity planner
Who doesn’t love Papier stationery? I swear I’ve got around 30 of their notebooks and journals around the house.
This particular daily planner offers a 16 week undated overview with 96 pages of 85gsm paper, which feels really thick and silky. The covers come in the most amazing array of patterns and most can also be personalised with your name, too. The journals are also the same size as the 2022 diaries and notebooks, so they always look amazing stacked up together in their contrasting designs.
First, you can use one page to share all your goals, dreams and ideas, which you’ll use to set out three weekly goals. Each week you can write out the what and why of three goals and an ‘achieve by’ date, with breakdown steps of how to reach them. Then you’ll find a weekly overview with the days Monday to Sunday down the left of the page, with a lined area to jot things down. On the right, you can note the weeks priorities and important to-dos, alongside a habit tracker and thoughts section.
The following spread sees a meal planning grid for the week, followed by space for a shopping list. This then goes on to share pages for each day of the week with daily schedules, priorities and to dos, before finally reviewing the weeks goals, focusing on achievements, feelings, obstacles and next steps.
This planner is really nice for reflecting on personal growth, and great for seeing how far you’ve come by the end of the four months.
Career Girl Daily – Getting Stuff Done Planner
I’ve used the CGD Getting Stuff Done planner for the last two years on and off, as it’s undated, there’s no pressure for it to get filled up.
The brands best-seller contains 256 pages that aim to help create a work life balance, with the belief that ‘once the two halves of your life are aligned, anything is possible’.
The planner has a pink vegan leather cover with red foil embossing on the front, with a pink ribbon page-marker so you never lose your place. Being faux leather means it’s easy to wipe clean if you accidentally splash coffee on it, but it also feels really luxe.
Each left page sees space for the date and a quote for the day, followed by space for ‘Today’s Plan’ where you can jot down anything that needs doing for the day. The right side is where you can meal plan your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, write a shopping list, note down expenses, track your exercise, water, self care and personal notes.
The planner retails at £34, making it the most expensive on the list, but it’s one that is not only really useful and practical, but also looks great on the desk or bookshelf.