Its that time of year again where everyone becomes obsessed with productivity. Be honest, how many of you have started a new bullet journal? But sometimes you don’t always want the hassle of using a bullet journal. Don’t get me wrong, bullet journals are great. But sometimes getting spreads set up can be more hassle than its worth. This is where monthly planners can be a great alternative.
With planners, you don’t have to figure out how to set up every aspect of your planning system. Of course, this means the planner is much less flexible compared to the bullet journal. But there are some situations where a planner is better than a bullet journal. For example, when I’m really busy I don’t want the hassle of using a bullet journal.
Fortunately, we are at the best time of year to start looking at monthly planners. The shops will start selling new planners in August. But if you’re looking for a new planner and want a bargain January is the best time to look. As soon as the new year hits shops will discount all of their planners. Okay if you wait till the middle of January to buy a planner there will be a few weeks in it that you can’t use. But the discount usually makes up for this.
While most planners come in a weekly format, there is usually also a good selection of monthly planners. I love using monthly planners because they are an easy way for me to see what events I have on each day. So today I am here to share what I think are 5 great examples of monthly planners.
5 Monthly Planners To Try In 2020
Kikki.K Monthly Diary
I bought one of these Kikki.K monthly planners last year and I loved it. This is a tiny A6 planner. The sort of thing I would expect my mum carried around with her before smartphones were a thing. Its the classic diary style planner with 12 monthly planner spreads and space for notes and addresses.
I originally bought this to keep with me at university. It was really handy being able to quickly write down any important dates and deadlines. The planner also came with a plastic cover which meant it didn’t get badly damaged from living in my rucksack for 12 months.
It should be noted that the planner in the picture is the 2020 version of the Kikki.K monthly diary. I had planned on sharing my 2019 diary but have somehow totally lost it. I’ve never really bought anything from Kikki.K before now. I always make sure I pop into the shop while I’m in London because it’s nice finding something different.
The monthly planner retails at £10. Which maybe is a little expensive for a monthly calendar, especially when you compare it to others I’ve mentioned in this post. But it works for its intended purpose and I like it.
Undated planner sheets
I’ve mentioned undated monthly planners several times in the past. I love these sheets because they can be customised and they don’t have a time limit on them. If you bought undated planner sheets now they would still be just as useable in 2 years.
I started using these in college where I had to show evidence of time planning. One of the things I love about these sheets is they don’t need to show a month. I would use my planner spread to plan out a project, so the dates would correspond to a project, rather than a specific month. So if the project rolled over into a new month I would still use the same sheet.
You can find planner sheets in all sorts of different sizes and designs. I’m currently using planner sheets designed by FranNerd. I’ve done a full review of these in a separate post. I chose the FranNerd sheets because I like the design and want to support the creator. If you want to buy something similar Etsy is a great place to look. You can also find planner sheets on Amazon and various other online shops.
If you like the sound of a monthly planner sheet and don’t want to spend so much money you could use my cheap method. Where I would take screenshots on Google Calendar and have the images printed out onto A4 paper. This worked surprisingly well. Especially if I wanted a 7 or 8-week layout on one page.
MD Paper Monthly Diary
I’m counting this section as one even though I’m mentioning two items because they are different versions of basically the same thing.
First, we have the MD Paper Monthly Diary. I originally got this in the Stationery Subscription box at the end of 2018. This is similar to the MD Paper Notebook which I’ve talked about at length previously. Suffice to say I love this notebook.
The MD Paper Diary gives you the best of both worlds if you don’t want to use a full planner but still like having some planner elements. If you’re not brave enough to start a proper bullet journal this might be a good easy way to start.
The MD Paper Monthly Diary is a 12-month calendar with each month on 2 pages. The rest of the notebook is made up of grid paper. This means you have the monthly calendar already set out for you, and you can use the rest of the diary however you want.
I used my Monthly Diary for a few months over the summer and really enjoyed the experience. I used this as a notebook and bullet journal. The calendar pages meant I didn’t need to do an elaborate set up at the start of each month. So it was easier to use it as a combined bullet journal and notebook.
My only problem with the diary was the number of pages. The MD Paper Notebook has 176 pages while the diary version only has 111 pages divided between 28 monthly pages and 83 notebook pages. I did find this was a problem because while the MD Paper Notebook lasted me a good 8 months. The MD Monthly Diary only lasted 3 months. It may have been that I used the diary more but considering its a full year diary it seems a waste that it is full in a quarter of that time.
MD Diary Sticker
MD Paper also make sticker versions of their monthly calendars. This means if you already have a notebook you can just use one of these stickers to add a monthly calendar spread onto a page. These are another great option if you want to use a bullet journal but don’t like setting up monthly spreads.
My only issue with the diary stickers is that they are an awkward size. The stickers only come in A6 size which means if you’re using an A5 notebook they won’t fit nicely onto a page. I worked around this by setting out my monthly spread in landscape orientation but it still isn’t the nicest layout.
The other issue with the stickers is you don’t get much space on the monthly calendar. However, this isn’t specific to the MD diary stickers. A few years ago I used a Moleskine monthly calendar in my bullet journal. One of the advantages of using the Moleskine version is that it’s free. You just go onto the website and download the template. I would print these out on sticker paper and stick them in my bullet journal.
This was great because it was free. But one of the advantages of the MD Diary Stickers is that they are made of the same paper as the notebook. So they blend right into the page. I much prefer the MD Paper version. The sticker set only costs £6 and you get 13 months worth of stickers (December to January). But the Moleskine method works great if you want to save some money.
O-Check Monthly Diary
This is a monthly diary which I came across in Paperchase. Paperchase advertises this as an ‘A4 grey monthly diary’, but it was made by O-Check. A Korean stationery design company who make all sorts of nice notebooks and planners.
I enjoy using minimal style planners. Usually, the best companies who make this style of planner are from South Korea or Japan. If you like this planner I would highly recommend you check out Sticker Stack because they sell more items made by the same company.
The thing I loved about this planner is the size. This thing is huge. It’s an A4 size planner, so A3 when open. I love how this gives me so much space to do my planning. I’m now at the point where I have so many different things going on that I’m finding it difficult to keep myself organised.
MORE LIKE THIS: My 2020 Bullet Journal & Planner Set Up
Having an A4 planner is great because its something which can just live on my desk and I can dedicate it to one specific thing. In my case design work. The planner comes in a plastic cover, which isn’t as good compared to the MD Paper notebook because I can’t reuse the cover. But it does mean I don’t need to worry about the planner becoming damaged from constant use.
The planner retails at £14 on Paperchase which again is maybe a little expensive for what it is. But still works out at better value for money compared to the Kikki.K planner. If you do shop in Paperchase remember to tell them if you’re a student and sign up to the ‘treat me’ card if you haven’t. You’ll get £5 off for every £50 you spend.
Kartotek 2020 Desk Calendar
If you’re wanting a smaller calendar to sit on your desk or even something which would work well pinned to a wall. The Kartotek 2020 desk calendar works great. This is a monthly calendar in a vertical format.
One of the things I really love about the Kartotek calendar is the paper it has been printed on. This is a super thick matt card stock. Which means it can stay in your office, on a desk or a wall and it isn’t going to be damaged.
The calendar is A4 size which means it only has 6 months for each side. But I think I prefer this to the larger wall calendars. I know big wall calendars are great but honestly, I don’t like how they look and would rather use that space for art or something else. Of course, the A4 size means you don’t have much space on an individual day. But it’s a good way to plan out events and other holidays far in advance.
The desk calendar is 50DKK which works out at about £6 which is pretty good for a desk calendar. Of course, you do also have to add in shipping from Denmark which adds a bit onto the price. But I like the design of the stationery from Kartotek so this isn’t a huge deal.
One of the other things I liked about Kartotek is that I ordered the 2020 calendar around October/November time and they sent out a 2019 calendar along with 2020. I guess its a good way to get rid of stock leftover from the previous year. But it was handy because it meant I could start using the calendar straight away.
And there we have it. 5 monthly planners for you to try in 2020. I’ve tried to share a variety of planners at different sizes and price points. I realise that everyone doesn’t use planners in the same way so I’m hoping there is some variety in this selection.
I love having a monthly planner which I can refer to. It helps me stay on top of all the tutorials and meetings I have at university. But what about you, do you use a monthly diary or are you tempted to try one from this list? Let me know in the comments.