Top 6 planners for a winning 2016 (and a review)

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It's time for the annual planner review

Thumbing through my planner at this time of year makes me think about what I should be using for the new year and, what could I ask for as a Christmas gift I know I’ll use! I’ve checked in with friends, clients and colleagues to see if there’s anything new and valuable on the horizon as I started to figure out where to go next. I love tech tools, but when it comes to effective planners nothing beats something you actually write on with your trusty pen. After developing a planner dependency during my corporate life,  I wouldn’t necessarily call my planner activities to be an addiction but without one I am truly lost.

I found that over the years my life and business challenges do change the type of planner I need so every year I lift my head to take a look around and see if there is a planner more suited to what I want or need to accomplish in the coming year. This annual activity brought me to round up a few contenders for my own ‘2016 planner’ and then I figured out that it might help others if I wrote it about it here on my blog, so here we are.

The system for you

Before running out to buy a new planner, it has to be said that my shortlist is by no means the answer to your prayers – seriously, having a specific planner will not guarantee your success. As with any planner system, if you pick one of these and put it to good use you’ll have an amazingly productive year and have major impacts on your business or career. By now you’ve seen a number of reviews, suggestions and opinions so this list will give you something else to think about (all opinions are mine alone)! To make sure I remain transparent, there is an affiliate link (shown next to the product title), which means I may earn a small commission for recommending it, although I would share this review with you regardless of my affiliation.

Desire Map Planner (by Danielle LaPorte)

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The Desire Map Planner (affiliate link) focuses on productivity by looking at how you want to feel about your activities first. Once you’ve identified the feelings that inspire you, taking actions aligned with your beliefs becomes easy and even joyful. Many of my clients are driven, ambitious women who can benefit by taking a step back to remember just why we’re doing these activities in the first place. 

What’s to like?

  • The Danielle LaPorte Desire Map intention for the planner
  • Ease of use
  • Attractive design you’ll enjoy using anywhere

Who’ll use it best?

Anyone who wants or needs a regular reminder of their core feelings and how it impacts their activities.

Shining Year Workbooks (Leonie Dawson)

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An amazingly popular choice over the last few years, this yearly planner and workbook has gone from download only PDF you’d print out to a full, printed package including business and life planner with productivity expanding pieces such as a wall calendar and notes for daily use. Shining Year Workbook link.

What’s to like?

  • Not a daily planner – it’s a dream catcher
  • Business & Life focused workbooks
  • Giant wall calendar
  • Printed weekly planner
  • To Do List notepad
  • Colourful, inspiring artwork throughout

Who’ll use it best?

It’s got amazing imagery and colours – things appreciated by creative, soulful entrepreneurs who benefit from being able to review the year gone by. With this information you can set the tone for the coming year and work towards your dream with the weekly planner.

Rituals for Living Dreambook (Briana Borten)

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As a system combining life planning over a period of years (1, 5…) and a method for breaking things down into smaller chunks, the Rituals for Living Dreambook and Planner will help you take action towards your goals week after week.

What’s to like?

  • Directs you to include something fun every week
  • Records your areas of gratitude
  • Not a daily planner
  • Focus on just 3 priorities each week

Who’ll use it best?

Ideal for entrepreneurs, it provides clarity on a weekly basis and a step-by-step approach to achieving your goals. Here's a link to more info

Simplified Planner (Emily Ley)

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This appropriately named planner is lovely to look at and practical to use. One of your first decisions when considering the Simplified Planner might be which of the beautiful cover designs you prefer. Because it uses the page-per-day layout, you may find this planner quite bulky while having to squeeze your meetings info around your daily tasks. It has a nice calendar and daily quotes to inspire you.

What’s to like?

  • Cover design options
  • Daily quotes feature
  • Practical calendar layout
  • What to make for dinner areas

Who’ll use it best?

Women in all walks of life. Check out the "Our Story" video here.

The Spark Notebook (Kate Matsudaira)

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Available in two flavours (the Spark Notebook or the Spark Planner), this planner is perhaps a little more formal than others in this list. To quote from their website, “No matter what your goals, the Spark Notebook tools can help you get there. The proven planning and note-taking systems in these tools are incredibly effective, and the design and materials are so high quality that your coworkers will be asking you where they can get one too.”

What’s to like?

  • The monthly challenge pages
  • Areas to record your achievements
  • Calendar pages
  • 6 month Notebook (non-dated pages) / 12 month dated yearly Planner options
  • More options based on version 
  • Size - 5.75” x 8.25” size. A perfect size for at-your-desk or in a meeting

Who’ll use it best?

Those who prefer a notebook that has the functionality needed that wasn't frilly or embarrassing to carry into a board meeting. Check out the Spark Notebook here.

Inkwell Press LiveWELL Planner

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With two available layouts, this practical planner is one you’ll be happy to take along. The layouts are well thought out and the planner comes with a number of extra, free downloads, set up videos and more. The InkWELL Press liveWELL Planner gives you so many options to get your life together. Check out the videos on the linked page for more.

What’s to like?

  • Customizable cover options
  • Yearly and monthly goal setting pages
  • Monthly mission boards for goals
  • Clean, open design
  • Lots of notes pages + a great list of extras

Who'll use it best?

Women who love beautiful organizational products to help them feel empowered, prepared and successful.

So, there's my roundup of 6 planners for 2016. As you know, there are so many options available to you based on how you like to work. This is a list of some of the planners I considered and enjoyed. Good luck in your search for a tool that works for you.