It’s the end of summer, which means it’s now my favourite time of the year. Back to school season. Okay, that’s not entirely true. Starting a new course or going back after having a full summer off can be stressful. But it also gives you a perfectly good excuse to buy a new planner. Today I’m going to share what I think are the best planners for students.
All the planners I’ve mentioned in this blog post are ones I’ve used at some point in the past at college or university. Some I found more helpful than others. But this is a good place to start if you’re a university student trying to find your next planner.
I’ve also tried to include a mix of dated and undated planners. I love undated planners. By their very definition, they never go out of date. But that means you can always go back to a planner you bought years ago and it will still be perfectly usable.
We’re going to start off the dated planners with the Passion Planner. This is a planner I came across years ago and loved the idea. But I’ve only just recently bought my own. It can be found on the Passion Planner website for $35.
There are lots of different sizes and colours to choose from. You can also decide if you want your week to start on a Sunday or Monday. But it’s important to note that this is a US based company so there may be shipping charges outside the US.
The thing I love most about the Passion Planner is how it helps you set goals. The start of the planner explains the goal-setting process. It then asks you to do an exercise where you plan out major goals for the next five years. From this, you can then break those goals down into smaller tasks.
Unlike other similar goal setting planners, the Passion Planner will then ask you to keep those goals in mind as you work through the planner. The monthly spreads have space for you to note down your main goals for the month. The weekly pages then have space for you to break those goals into smaller tasks.
Then the end of the month has a small review section. Here the Passion Planner will ask you to look back over the last month and assess how well you got on. If there were things you wish you had done differently. Or tasks you meant to complete and didn’t.
GET THE PASSION PLANNER FOR FREE
If you’re a student with a low budget I would highly recommend you take a look at the Passion Planner. There are a number of ways to get this planner extremely cheap and even for free in some cases.
The Passion Planner website has a section for free downloads. Here you can get the PDF version of the Passion Planner which you can just print off. This is a really good idea if you prefer digital planning. Or don’t want a bound planner.
If you really want a physical planner but can’t afford one Passion Planner has a ‘Get One, Give One’ scheme where you can get a planner for free. You can sign up to their email list and will get an email when applications open. For this application you have to explain how having a Passion Planner will help you achieve your goals.
I vaguely remember there being a clause where you had to pledge to buy a Passion Planner for another recipient who can’t afford one when you have the means. But I can’t find any information about that on the Passion Planner website.
MARK’S TOKYO EDGE 18 MONTH PLANNER
I bought the Marks Tokyo Edge planner at the start of the 2018-2019 academic year and I have a love/ hate relationship with it. More love than hate though. This is the international version of a Japanese planner. Mark’s is a Japanese brand, its quite hard to locate this planner. But I originally come across it in Paperchase. If you’re in the UK it can also be found on Fox and Star.
The planner retails for around £15 depending on which style and size of planner you buy. If you’re looking for an hourly planner this is one to take a look at. I really liked the weekly layout in this planner. It was especially helpful when I started at university. The hourly format made it easy for me to see where and when I had specific appointments.
The monthly pages are also very nice with lots of space. I really loved how much space I had on these pages. I don’t like my monthly calendar to feel cramped. The planner also has a yearly overview on two pages. This was great when it came time to plan out projects and holidays. It was so handy seeing my full year.
The actual planner is made up of the paper text block with a cardstock cover. Over this, there is a plastic cover which would be very easy to remove if needed. The plastic cover has a zip along one side, turning it into space where you can keep loose documents and in my case lots of stickers. The one downside of the planner is it has very thin paper. But if you’re looking for a more minimal planner this is definitely one to consider.
MD PAPER MONTHLY LITE NOTEBOOK
I originally received the MD Paper Monthly Lite notebook as part of a stationery subscription box. MD Paper is a brand I love so I was very excited to get this. I’ve talked recently about how much I love the A5 MD Paper notebook.
It turns out MD Paper makes a monthly version of the A5 notebook. This fits somewhere between a regular notebook and a full out planner. The Monthly Lite contains 12 monthly spreads and 80 pages of grid paper. This makes it slightly thinner than a regular MD Paper notebook but also more functional if you don’t want to start a bullet journal.
The monthly planner would be great if you don’t need to use weekly spreads. It could work great as a notebook for taking lecture notes. The monthly pages would help you plan out when your lectures are and note down due dates.
There is one downside to the MD Paper. The notebook costs around £15 and can be found on the Journal Shop and in London Graphics. But the notebook doesn’t come with a cover. This needs to be bought separately at about £10.
This is good because it means you can use the same cover on multiple notebooks. But if it’s a planner you use at university you have to spend even more money to stop the planner from being damaged.
If you like the idea of a monthly planner but already have a notebook MD Paper also makes the calendar spreads as stickers. You can buy a pack of 12 monthly stickers which you can simply stick into a notebook.
Obviously, since this is a post about planners I have to talk about bullet journaling. If you’ve never heard about a bullet journal before you can head over to the official website to learn more. Or check out this blog post where I explain how to set up your first bullet journal.
I loved using my bullet journal at university. It was really useful to have a planning tool which was flexible enough to adapt to my needs. The bullet journal system makes it really easy to track projects which was perfect for me as a graphic design student.
It also helps that you can go on sites like Pinterest and find loads of different planner spreads specifically for students. I could set up a page which showed an overview of my university semester. This made it really easy to track projects and see upcoming deadlines.
I also used my bullet journal as a place to take notes during lectures. The bullet journal works on a set of rules where you create a collection and add notes and tasks which relate to that collection. I could set up a lecture as a collection and my notes would all be linked to that collection.
This also meant it was very easy to add tasks related to the lecture. For example, if the lecturer said to read more on a specific topic, it was easy to note that down as an actionable task.
I love how customizable the bullet journal can be. If you want to treat your bullet journal as a form of art therapy to relieve stress that’s totally acceptable. Conversely, if you want a minimal bullet journal to help you stay organised that is possible too.
LIVEWORK UNDATED PLANNER
If you like a minimal planning style the Livework undated planner is about as minimal as you can get. This is a planner from a South Korean brand and can be found in some online shops. I bought the Liveworks planner from Fox and Star for £8 but I’m sure it can be found on The Journal Shop too.
The Liveworks is an A5 undated planner. It’s about as simple as you could get with a plain grey cover, 12 blank monthly spreads and 31 pages of week on one page spreads. The paper is a slight cream colour which seems to work really well with the blue ink.
The planner has a very minimal style with no embellishments. This is one thing I really hate having in my planners. Some people love over the top illustrations on every page but I don’t. It’s a shame because this is the one thing which has always made me not try the Erin Condren planner.
The undated style works great here because you could use it just for work or university. You could decide you only want to use the planner during semester time. Going back at the start of every new semester. The brilliant thing about this planner is you can do whatever you want.
ICONIC FREE PLANNER
If you don’t want to go extremely minimal but still want to try an undated planner maybe take a look at Iconic. This is another South Korean lifestyle and stationery brand which makes planners and other ephemera. If you’re a fan of stickers take a look at Iconic’s range.
Iconic makes a range of what it calls free planners. The one I bought specifically is version 3 of the Free Planner. I have a much longer review if you want to learn more about this planner.
The Free Planners can be found on The Journal Shop and are usually priced at around £20. So slightly more expensive compared to some other planners I’ve mentioned but it is very nicely made. At an A5 size with a plastic cover and a ring binding.
The Free Planners contain 12 month on two-page spreads and 52 week on two page spreads. The exact layout of these spreads will change slightly depending on which version you buy. The thing I love about these planners is the gird. I like having some form of lined or grid paper in my planners. Something you will note is missing from the Liveworks planner.
The Iconic Free Planner uses a minimal weekly design with 8 spaces for daily entries. How you organise your week on the page is up to you but it’s nice to have space for notes as well as daily logs.
If you’ve seen my earlier blog posts you’ll know I particularly enjoyed customizing this planner. I had a huge amount of fun trying out different layouts, doodling and adding stickers and washi tape to the pages of this planner. If customization is your thing the Iconic planner is one to consider.
I hope this was a helpful overview of planners for students. I tried to show a really wide variety of planners. Which one you choose is up to you. If you don’t want to deal with customizing a planner maybe look at a dated 12 or 18-month planner.
Look at something more minimal if you like the idea of being creative in your planner. If you’ve already bought a new notebook you could give bullet journaling a go. If you have big plans for university and beyond look at something like the Passion Planner which will help you stay on track and achieve those goals.
There are so many types of planners about these days its super easy to find something that works for you. Are you looking for a new style of planner? Or have you already bought something for the new year at university? Let me know in the comments.