Top Product: Academic Smart Planner | $23 | Amazon
As a perpetual student—or well, as someone who at least feels like I’ve been in school for centuries with the last two COVID-prompted virtual semesters of grad school behind me—I feel like I know my way around planner options. I’m really big on at least the illusion of having-it-all-togetherness, and a nice planner with my assignments and writing deadlines all written out in front of me makes me feel like I’ve got it all together—even if I don’t know how I’m going to get it all done just yet.
Maybe you’re the same way? We’re still early in the semester and there is still time to pull yourself together if you’re struggling with pandemic fatigue and procrastination. One of these bright planners might help you figure out a plan to stay on track with goals this year.
Here’s my breakdown of the best planners for college students. Really though, whether you’re working on your Bachelor’s, struggling through graduate school, or are far out of college and just need to get a little more organized with your work schedule, something here is likely to be a good fit.
Best Overall: The Anecdote Planner
Look, you’ve got goals to conquer and limited time—you need a planner that can easily show you everything you’ve got to take on this week. For that, you gotta try The Anecdote Planner. This planner is undated, so you can use it into 2022. The nice thing is, it does have days of the week listed and an hour-by-hour breakdown space for keeping on track of classes and Zoom meetings.
I already have too many blank, undated planners at this point that I can use in the future to justify buying more, but this cotton candy-tie dye one is calling my name. Seriously, it even has monthly and daily to-do lists—how convenient is that?! If you’re a student, you know how tough it can be to juggle all of your priorities. This planner seems like the perfect way to stay on track.
Best Productivity Planner: TFP 2021 Busy Busy Planner
When you need to get a handle on a busy schedule, you start to realize quickly how important it is to break up parts of your day and make the most of mornings to get a good start. That’s where the 2021 Busy Busy Busy Planner comes in to help. This planner is full-sized, measuring 8.5" x 11" WL, so you have plenty of space for each day, which are divided into slots: one for the morning, afternoon, and evening. Perfect for tracking everything you need to do, you can also use it to track your mood, exercise, and water intake with handle little icons under each day—just because you’re busy that’s not an excuse to stop taking care of yourself, right?
Not digging the color or design of the cover? There are a few other options of this planner format and lots of other TF Publishing planners (both dated and undated) to check out available at Bed Bath & Beyond that are sure to fit your aesthetic better. Keep in mind that some of them only go through June 2021 though, likely because they were designed with the 2020-2021 school year in mind (that’s why some are cheaper!). There’s one geometric design planner that’s cheapest at Amazon.
Best Goal Planner: The Very Busy Planner
I like to use my planner space not just to plan for what’s ahead in my week, but to also plan farther ahead and to track my progress toward certain long-term goals. If you’re the same way, you might want to check out Amy Knapp’s The Very Busy Planner.
This beautiful little planner is compact but has plenty of space to track your class assignments while not skimping on creative prompts to get you thinking of possibilities for self-improvement. For example, each month it has a beautifully illustrated page asking you to reflect on what went well and what could have gone better. There are also gorgeously drawn pages with just plain practical things a planner should have, like a page to keep track of birthdays and another to plan holiday shopping lists. Plus, it has tons of colorful stickers in the back, and I don’t know about you, but I still enjoy stickers from time to time. The Very Busy Planner is overall a great option for college students who want to plan and reflect in equal measure. But it could work, really, for any adult wanting to look inward and works toward improving themselves on a regular basis. I’ve been using this one for a little bit now, and I just can’t help but feel inspired using a planner as bright and positive as this one. It’s also small enough to easily fit in your backpack or most purses.
The only drawback, I would say, is that this planner is a dated one, so it can only be used through December 2021. I can honestly see myself tearing out some of the evergreen pages, though, to keep on track with long-term goals.
Best for Creatives: The Ideal Planner
The planner designers out there have made concessions for everyone, including the ultra-creative, right-brain-oriented peeps out there.
If you’re looking for a planner that will help you stay organized while expressing yourself, look no further than The Ideal Planner. This artfully-designed planner from Emma Chamberlain (a content creator on YouTube who, to be honest, I had never heard of before buying this planner) features some really nifty pages that are sure to unlock your inner artist. It even comes with doodle prompts spread throughout, so even the decorations in your margins look good.
Because this planner is massive, it has plenty of blank weekly planner and monthly planner pages for you to fill in with dates and duties. However, it’s not really the most portable planner, but because most people are doing school online, it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.
I’d say if you want something a little funky with tons of space and versatility, The Ideal Planner is the way to go. If you want something more practical or portable, keep reading.
Best Academic Planner: Journalistic Weekly & Monthly
Fashioned with an elastic band, this planner offers different options to organize your life by day, week, and month. With a blooming flower pattern, this product is super durable and is perfect to fit in your backpack or tote. The monthly pages are durably coated to make it easy to divide up your academic year and even come with pockets. It also has a past and future calendar, so that you can more easily merge your new one with your old one.
The weekly view pages have enough space so that you can write as detailed notes as you’d like. The top priorities for the week are highlighted at the top of these pages, so you’re always keeping in mind what’s most important.
Because of its wire binding, this planner can be laid flat at 180 or 360 degrees. The choice is yours! For your additional convenience, the edges are rounded to ensure your fingers are protected.
Best for Work/Life Balance: The Clever Fox Planner
The Clever Fox Planner really feels like it was designed for someone who knows that school or work are not our entire lives— or at least they shouldn’t be. What I really like about it is the way it gives you space to track goals in every area of your life, from finances to career, to even less intense topics like fun and recreation and family and friends.
This planner is nice and compact and comes in a variety of colors. It also includes vibrant stickers in the back to help you track important events in the monthly and weekly planner pages.
Did you find something that’s a fit for you and your needs this semester? What do you look for in a planner (or avoid)? Let us know in the comments!