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11 best planners to make 2021 your year

Whether your life is a carefully considered landscape plotted with military precision or a chaotic whirlwind of missed appointments and abandoned deadlines, chances are you could benefit from a planner.

A planner goes further than a diary – it is an aid to optimum organisation. From boxes to tick or stickers to help keep organise or question prompts, a planner feels more interactive than the diary. 

Planners tend to be chunkier, heavier and with more “to do” within them. We also noticed how many planners now promote practising gratitude, mindfulness and encourage positivity and self-care.

Some planners don’t even denote year, so we’ve included a couple of these in this round-up.

You might think that in a world increasingly governed by technology paper planers aren’t necessary –but in fact there’s plenty of research which suggests that there are numerous benefits of putting pen to paper.

Prepare to plan like you’ve never planned before.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

My PA Planner 2021

This is for anyone who has ever said “I need an assistant” but can’t afford to pay a human being. The MY PA Planner is every professional’s ticket out of chaos and into a streamlined efficient life thanks to what is essentially a goal-setting system on both a focused (daily) and zoomed-out (yearly) basis – as well as weekly and monthly too.

Each week there’s an inspirational quote to focus on – and you’ll be required to spend time writing down goals, tasks and appointments on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Getting plans on paper makes it harder to forget or abandon. There is also plenty of space for writing down reflections and reviews to ensure achievements are celebrated and mistakes are understood.

But it’s not all work, work, work. There is space for fitness and mental health goals – and even a prompt for drinking enough water. It’s like having someone hold your hand and keep you on track – an antidote to procrastination, which will be music to many ears, especially in a world where being sucked into social media “scroll holes” is the norm.

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MiGoals Goal Digger Planner

The pun is just the start of this planner’s brilliance. It is a sleek, understated cover in PU leather and contains all sorts of ways to keep busy people focused, motivated and positive.As you might guess from the name this planner is goal-centric – even if you aren’t sure what your goals even are. From the very start, this planner asks users to think about what they are passionate about, what they want in the long and short term and what they value. It’s a week to view layout but also includes space for to-do lists and – brilliantly, a habit tracker. 

We’re often told to write our behaviours things down to see if habits, patterns or cycles emerge – but how many of us ever do that? We love that there’s a dedicated space for this! Ditto budgets. The different fields, lines and boxes might seem intimidating when you first flick through, but everything comes together beautifully to help you live your life reaching goals on micro and macro levels. This planner is kind of like having a coach, cheerleader, financial advisor, PA and therapist all in one go. It is light to hold, discreet to carry and just the start of a goal smashing journey!

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Pink Motel Planner

This cover is so extra – a visual pick-me-up if ever we saw one, not least because you can have your name emblazoned across the front! This undated 16-week planner is designed to help you reflect on the past and plan the future. You can choose when you need some extra help planning and getting organised. We really enjoyed the mind map page – a really simple and useful tool for anyone feeling overwhelmed by life’s complications. Each week has three overview pages and seven daily pages (one page per day) for your daily schedule and to-dos. You’ll also have a habit tracker – genius – and some nine blank pages for notes.

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Original Dodo Pad 2021

This is the 55th edition of the brainchild of John Verney – a book which would serve as a diary, calendar, doodle jotter and notebook for anyone with hectic schedules. Each week is laid out as a grid with spaces for up to five family members to enter their plans. The spread is decorated with doodles, random facts (“a centurion is a soldier who’s been in the Roman army for 100 years”), silly puns and more. There is even space for note-making and receipt filing.  We love the perforated bottom right corner – a deeply satisfying way of marking the passing of time.

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Planner Pad

Hello cute addition to any desk! A souped-up to-do list with a beautiful border! We love the disposable nature of this daily pad – once the day is done, you peel it off and recycle it, ready to start afresh tomorrow. This is one of the here and now and it’s perfect for anyone who loves beautiful things on a budget.

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Weekly Planner 2021

This planner is so pretty: gorgeous cloth cover in a grey – although other understated muted shades are also available. It arrives in a box: ours came with a beautiful penholder which attaches to the pages – who knew these were such a good idea? The binding is great because it allows the book to lie flat – rather than making you have to squash it down or endure pages flipping about all over the place. It’s small details like this which massively enhance a user’s experience. Each week is set out over a double-page spread and the entire book is punctuated with motivational or thought-provoking quotes.

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Zodiac Daily Planner

This planner is not dated, which is perfect for people who have bursts of planning and productivity rather than a steady stream. We actually think this planner would be brilliant for dedicated, specific projects.The cover is linen and adorned with silver constellations – and it feels much more expensive than it is.

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The Positive Planner

This is an undated journal spanning 12 weeks and with a focus on self-care and, as the name suggests, positivity. We are obsessed with the cover – a block of brilliant sunshine yellow, nothing if not the ultimate symbol of optimism! The planner promotes the art of journaling as a means to practice mindfulness. However, it does have an organisational bent – monthly diary spreads allow you to plot and plan, while space for lists is abundant. This is a great way to balance a frantic life with self-care.

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2021 Social Media Diary & Planner

Every content creator – whether professional or personal – had their prayers answered when Janet Murray created what is essentially a social media bible by way of diary. It is full of key calendar dates – holidays, awareness dates, commemorations – you name it, it’s in there. This helps anyone planning social media content and strategy to work out how their content might be shaped and ensures that no occasion is forgotten. But best of all, Janet painstakingly takes you through quarterly content planning at the very beginning of the volume – offering professional hints and tips from a sales and marketing perspective. Each month offers separate “diaries” for content planning (each platform has its own especially logoed space!) and offline life. There’s a lot to get your head around when you first pick this A4 planner up – but for anyone whose work relies on an online buzz, this feels like it could change your business.  

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Landscape Wall Planner

Granted this isn’t portable but it is the most satisfying thing to look at – the entire year laid out across one space. It is an easy, simple way to have an overview of your plans. Obviously, the space dedicated to each day is small but this wall planner is all about breadth of planning rather than depth. The paper is lovely quality and easy to write on. It comes in a very smart envelope too, ideal for gifting.

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Original 2021 Daily Planner

This is a serious piece of planning kit. Not only does it look the part with monochrome tiling and gold “month” tabs on the inside – it is absolutely teeming with ways to make your life easier and more productive. The planner opens with a helpful “how-to” guide to using the planner – which you can follow religiously or ignore completely. It essentially advises how to sort through your goals on a daily, weekly and monthly basis making it seem more of a process to go through rather than a mountain to climb. We were really inspired by the introduction of “10 minute accomplishments” – watering plants, light dusting, sorting receipts – not least because they turn from “chores” into something much more positive. We also loved the”‘I rock at…” sections. Self-praise is something most of us need to get better at! Also, as an added bonus, because 2021 is Hello Day’s 5th year all planners will arrive in a beautiful hard box featuring all of their designs since the company launched!

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The Verdict: Planners

All of the planners here are going to help anyone reach goals and become more organised and efficient. The MY PA planner covers all bases and really does the job of an assistant! It looks smart, is sufficiently weighty and doesn’t lean on any gimmicks or pointless flourishes. We also highly recommend anyone whose life is heavily dependent on or inspired by social media to check out Janet Murray’s planner – as it is truly invaluable as a tool for any content creator.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.