Planning Ahead: Tips on Choosing the Right Planner For You

hobonichi techo 2018 - pau pursues passion

When 2017 started, I was super stoked about exploring the world of journaling and planning. In fact, it was actually surprising to know that there are planning/journaling communities all over the world (including my own country, the Philippines) with members sharing about their spreads, accessories, and basically all things planners and journals. A lot of them have insane skills! Though I ended up purchasing a bunch of planners and journals and not fully maximizing them, it led me to discover what works/doesn't work for me.

Now that 2017's about to end (I know, right???) I want to gear up properly for the coming year. I literally spent weeks just figuring out what to use! I asked around, Googled a lot, and read all planner guides I found as I went along. Throughout the process, I kept in mind the things that didn't work for me this year. If you're like me who still relies on planners instead of digital methods, I hope these tips will help you find your match.

Narrow down your purposes

What helped me a lot in narrowing down my choices is figuring out what exactly it is that I'll be using a planner for. After 2017's testing the waters, I told myself I'll only be keeping 2 planners for 2018: 1 for memory-keeping, the other one is for everything else (work, side hustles, meetings, etc). Note: you don't need a planner for each agenda. Take advantage ring-/disc-bound planners or travelers notebook (they come with planner inserts!) so that you won't be carrying too much stuff around all the time. This year, I made the mistake of being such a neat-freak about my planners. I ended up having around 3 planners supposedly for work, the blog, and memory-keeping along with another journal for... a much more detailed memory-keeping... and all of them ended up unmaximized. Well, except for my work planner (Starbucks 2017) which has been maximized with to-do lists and reminders.

Pick what's best for you. Not for anything or anyone else, but for YOU.

There are lots of planners out there. Some deserve the hype, some are underrated, and some are... well, let's just say there are better versions somewhere else. Though experience is the best teacher, it's best to keep one thing in mind if you want to save up on money (and trees): don't do it for the feed, don't do it to impress others, don't do it with the idea that it has to look good. Do it only for you! I've tried and tested a bunch of brands that were glamorized and swooned over by lots of planner enthusiasts. Most of them did not work for me. My 2018 gears are actually another hyped up brand, the Hobonichi line. I'm hoping to find my planner peace with Hobonichi.

Here are a few suggestions that might give you a kickstart:

1. Layout. Horizontal or vertical? 

Photo from Passion Planner's website

Choose which layout fits your needs -- horizontal or vertical? I don't particularly know a specific individual who prefers one over another so I'll share my own experience instead. The Passion Planner was one of the planners I tried out this year and it's equipped with vertical layouts for the daily spread. Being a scatterbrain who loves to put everything on check-lists and put a few side notes here and there, I ended up not maximizing the Passion Planner because I felt restrained by the layout. In this case, the horizontal layout with the blank/lined page right beside it works best for me.

2. Ring-bound planners

A sample from Websters Pages

They're actually super marvelous if you tend to make things up as you go along. I haven't tried using them but what makes them awesome is that your set is completely up to you! You can purchase prints online, buy generic ones in bookstores, or craft your own. In case you're wondering why I haven't tried out the ring-bound planners even if I just praised them a lot is because I'm a leftie. The rings make it hard for me to write on the inserts. I wish it wouldn't be, though! Ring-bound planners are super cool!

3. TNs / Traveler's notebooks

These babies also give you a little more control over how you want your planner to be because you can also buy inserts for them, too. Unlike the ring-bound planners though, the TNs are quite limited when it comes to how many inserts you can put in them. Usually, a traveler's notebook can hold about 3-4 inserts properly. A local artisan (Alunsina Handbound Books) customizes awesome TNs! They can even do special requests if you need a TN that can hold up to 5 inserts. In my case, though, the TNs work well for memory-keeping and journaling... not exactly planning. On the other hand, I recommended the Traveler's Company standard size TN to a former mentor. She said she found planner peace in it. Maybe you will, too!

Acknowledge your skillset

Photo by Estée Janssens on

There are soooo many things we can do with a planner and if you're a scatterbrain like me who juggles a bunch of to-do lists and reminders, then finding our "unicorn" is definitely tough. If you've got the patience and skills for it, you might want to test your waters on bullet-journaling. I've seen so much hype on bullet-journaling and how it conveniently rolls everything into one notebook that at one point, I thought this would end my planner problems. Well, it turned out that I didn't have the patience for it. That, and I felt the pressure of pretty-fying my journal. Then again, a bujo doesn't have to be fancy. There are lots of minimalist layouts you can search for on Instagram or Pinterest to inspire you. You could also layout your own planner or do DIYs! If there's no planner out in the market for you, maybe it's time to create one, don't you think?

Ask around

Image courtesy of Journal & Planner Enthusiasts PH

Believe me,  there are so many of us out there who serve as a support group for and to fellow planner enthusiasts. You'll get lots of ideas when you ask around! Before purchasing my Hobonichi Techo 2018 and finalizing my order for Hobonichi Mega Weeks in Coral Pink, I asked a lot of questions on this group. First, I asked in which type of journal/planner did they find planner peace. From there, I narrowed down my choices. Most of the members found peace in a traveler's notebook but since a TN didn't make the cut on my personal preferences, I decided to scout and try out a new brand yet again. That's where Hobonichi came in. I've heard lots of good things about Hobonichi and, thinking that I'm running out of options, I opted to give Hobonichi a try this coming year. The Hobonichi users of the JPPH group are super supportive! In fact, they also have their own PH Facebook support group, too!

PS: this blog post by Tanya Manalang is super helpful if you want to know more about the planner types and brands.


It might take a while to find the right type of planner that works well for you or maybe you'd continue ending up still having multiple planners, but I hope this post helped you out in choosing! Let me know how your planner hunt works out :)

Other than the fact that it's planner-hunting season again, there's actually a reason why I'm posting about planners. Right now, I'm in the middle up of brewing my 2018 goals which I will be sharing with you guys real soon. I've been planning quite a lot for it and I'm looking forward to using my new gears for this goal so I hope you guys stick around for that. I'll introduce my brainchild in a week! Yay!

Keep pursuing,


Let me know what you think about this!