Productivity & Time Management Products

8 Paper Planners That Will Change Your Life

OK, that’s an exaggeration, we admit. But according to an overwhelming majority of ADDitude readers, finding the right paper planner can make a world of difference in keeping you organized, on time, and productive. Here, our readers recommend their favorite planners for ADHD minds.

Best paper planners for ADHD minds
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ADHD Brains Love Paper Planners

“Many ADDitude readers like Time Timers and old-fashioned Moleskin calendars. What products or apps do you use to manage your time?”

When we asked this question in a survey completed by 1,342 ADDitude readers last month, the answer came back loud and clear: We like paper planners. No, we love them. And no single app on the market can replace that gratifying feeling of writing down a task or appointment, assigning it a deadline, and then physically crossing it off.

Something inside the ADHD brain lights up when we put pen to paper — that much we can (mostly) agree on. But with so many planners out there, which one should you choose — especially if you’re confronted with analysis paralysis? Here are our readers’ top picks — the planners they have road tested and recommend to the rest of us.

the happy planner for adhd time management and organization
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Happy Planner

$29.99 - $34.99, with extension packs starting at $4.99
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The Happy Planner looks intimidating at first. It comes in Big, Medium, and Mini, with two different layout choices and optional focuses available — including budget, faith, fitness, teacher, student, and more. It also allows for easy pull-out and insertion of special extension packs, and sells additional stickers to help you visualize reminders and appointments — great for the ADHD crowd, as long as you can remember where you put your stickers!

Sound confusing? Don’t worry: the Happy Planner website has plenty of tutorials, blog posts, Pinterest ideas, and more. “I love that I can customize it by adding and removing different kinds of pages… It also gives me an outlet for my creativity… and makes my planner inviting,” said one ADDitude reader. Another added, “I love that you can customize it with stickers and make it your own.”

Read more reviews and info.

passion planner for adhd time management and organization
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Passion Planner

$30.00 - $35.00
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The Passion Planner comes in Yearly, Academic, and Undated flavors, so you can choose the format that’s right for you handy for those of us who demand choice. Regardless of format, all Passion Planners include challenges, quotes, personal and work to-do lists, and blank pages. Best of all, they offer the entire calendar, complete with extras, for free via pdf.

“I use a Passion Planner; using pencil and paper makes events more real and helps me remember things,” said one ADDitude reader. “It also has a breakdown of the week by half-hour increments. Paper planners are like glasses for those who are time-blind. They remind me to eat, exercise, and go to college classes. They have also helped me to remember birthdays and other important holidays or events.”

“My favorite is the Passion Planner because it gives you a sense of what is going on during the week like the At A Glance planners, but it also includes areas for other bits such as goals and to-do lists,” said another reader. “It helped me remember the big picture by having reminders along the way to review my goals and how my daily schedule is helping me reach my goals. I also like the inspirational quotes. They were invaluable during my college years.”

Read more reviews and info.

panda planner for adhd time management and organization
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Panda Planner

$24.97 - $37.97
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Panda Planner claims to help you "rewire your brain happiness" by organizing every aspect of your life — building mini-routines, developing a habit of positivity, and cultivating a growth mindset. Is that all? Whew!

It follows a simple undated layout and comes only in three-month increments. Every day gets two full pages, but you get 6 or 12 monthly pages, depending on the model, to see you through to the rest of the year.

Panda Planner focuses on developing happiness and productivity, while other planners, like the Passion Planner, focus on organization and reflection. One reader told us, “Writing on paper is helpful, and I find the layout easy to use. Most importantly, though, the areas for reflection, positivity, and improvements needed for the following day are what sets it apart from other paper planners.”

Read more reviews and info.

Simple Elephant Planner for ADHD time management and organization
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Simple Elephant Planner

$19.99
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The Simple Elephant Planner calls itself "The best agenda day planner to help you achieve your goals, plus increase productivity and passion and happiness.” To that end, it includes a gratitude journal, mind map section, vision board, and bonus stickers." That’s a lot in one place.

To help you make the most of it all, the Simple Elephant site includes how-to videos, motivational videos, and more. Readers told us, “The dates are left blank so it can be any year, month, day. If I forget to use it for a week or two, I can start again without feeling like I wasted the whole thing. It lets me make notes for daily accomplishments, set goals and review what went well and what didn't.” If you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to commit to — or need — two full pages per day, this lower-key planner may be right for you.

Read more reviews and info.

bullet journal for ADHD time management and organization
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Bullet Journal

$6.99 and up
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Bullet Journal (which calls itself “the analogue version for the digital age”) requires nothing more than a pen and a notebook. That’s it. Multiple online tutorials explain how to create and maintain a bullet journal, but basically the idea is that you design a planner that works for YOU, not the other way around — perfect for people with ADHD whose brains diverge from the neurotypical. The best (and most succinct) tutorials can be found at BulletJournal.com and The Lazy Genius Collective.

“Helpful if you make a pact to use it every day… the maker of the Bullet Journal has ADHD,” said one reader, who recommended YouTube for help getting started. Because you can customize your bullet journal any way you want, one reader said he uses his to make a car maintenance tracker and “I don’t have car problems because I have no idea when I took it to the garage the last time.” People told us it has changed their lives, and “getting to color and tick off items on a list is a mini reward.” This was by far our community’s most popular planner.

Read more reviews and info.

rocketbook wave smart notebook for ADHD time management and organization
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Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook

$25 - $27
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The Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook gives you the freedom of a pen and paper notebook — while also providing valuable backup by instantly sending everything you write into the Cloud using your smartphone.

Pilot FrixLon Pens let you erase and reuse using your microwave, and each notebook comes with one pen. With blank pages, you’d use this like a traditional bullet journal. “I love it because it can connect to a digital copy of my notes,” said one reader. So if you lose your beloved bullet journal a real possibility for many of us you still have a safety net.

Read more reviews and info.

LIving Well Spending Less planner for ADHD time management and organization
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Living Well Planner

$39
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The Living Well Spending Less Planner says it will “help you tame your schedule, conquer your budget, plan your meals, and crush your goals!” That’s a lot for one little book. It offers both year-at-a-glance and daily to-do lists, budgeting help, meal planning, and shopping on the same page as your schedule, plus a step-by-step plan for meeting your goals.

“I love to use the weekly and daily notepads from Living Well Spending Less,” said one ADDitude reader. “They separate the list by must do, should do, and would like to do. It makes to-do lists so much easier. Added bonus is that they’re very affordable!”

Simplified Planner for ADHD time management and organization
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Simplified Planner

$48 - $58
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Simplified Planners come in two different editions: Academic (August-July) and Calendar (January-December), with either a 12-month daily or weekly format. The Daily edition uses one day per page, while the weekly edition gives you a full week per two-page spread. “The Simplified Planner lets me be able to list out things do and be able to look back,” said one reader, who uses the daily edition with its hourly increments.

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  1. To each their own and I’m glad for anyone who has found something that works for them, but THIS ADD brain does NOT love paper planners! Are you kidding? It’s just one more thing to remember. I’d lose it. I’d forget to write things down, or cross them off. To me, that’s a cumbersome, time-consuming complication. My planner is the one thing that’s always with me and that I’m always using: my phone. The calendar app satisfies all my needs. When I need to make a note of an appointment, it’s MUCH easier for me to just whip that phone out of my purse or pocket and enter the item in the calendar. I can SPEAK that appointment into the calendar. The phone puts up a reminder two days before each appointment, and that’s important! A book isn’t going to jump up and say, hey, you got this going in a couple days. And those paper planners are costly! The phone cost me enough; why not utilize its features to the fullest? Maybe not for everyone, but for me, that’s what works!

    1. OMG! This truly has me LAUGHING OUT LOUD!! Although I love the idea of a planner not just for myself but my teenage daughter as well I have to agree with ShariYS.., I’ll admit the idea is great and has worked in the past, for about two days!., but like ShariYS mentioned they are costly and even if medicated a planner when out of site will always be out of mind. I have yet to attempt using my phone and have been told by several friends that it would be great for me I just need to sit down and figure out how to set it up or have my daughter assist me 😉

    2. I completely agree with you! And thank you, that you write your experience, I have the same. I would love to have the paper planner, but it doesn’t remind me to do the things. And exactly, my problem was solved by Google calendar shared with my family. My husband could not understand why I never remember what he have told me that he will be, and it took a few years to persuade him to use the Google calendar, but he used to it and now it is much better.

    3. Hilarious and so true. I keep my paper planner in my purse along with my mail. Ha! It is a beautiful planner that I have had for about 6 months and have used one page total.

    4. I am so glad to see these posts, because the last time I’ve been able to keep a planner was back before smartphones and I wasn’t even very good at it then! I forget them, I don’t write things down, I procrastinate on refilling it.. all sorts of silly things. The advice is ridiculous – a google calendar sends reminders and I can at least keep it up and force myself to look at it once in a while. As for planners, the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on them over the years have taught me to use google calendar for scheduling & to use a clean white sheet of paper for writing a task list. Work stuff on the left side, personal on the right side. Nothing fancy. Just two lists, with priority numbers on each item. I’ve never found anything else that works half as well. Every day, start a new one.. transfer some items over, write down whatever else I don’t want to forget. But I guess that solution is too cheap for anyone to advertise.

  2. You might not be a paper and pen person, and if not, great. There are awesome apps to help you. But if you’re thinking of using a paper planner – read on.

    Let me share a piece of advice from personal experience that was long, painful and expensive: DO NOT FALL DOWN THE PLANNER RABBIT HOLE.

    There are SO MANY different types of planners. Cute ones, serious ones, ringbound (Filofax), discbound (Happy Planner), spiral bound (Erin Condren), homemade, custom, cheap, expensive, compact, smaller, dated, undated. You can spend entire weeks reading blogs, shopping Etsy, etc. and reviewing Pinterest boards. And you can spend a LOT of money with misses before you hit. We ADHD people like something perfect, and think that the Perfect Planner will TA-DA! cure our time management or forgetfulness woes.

    Start simple. Get the right size (A5 is about as big as people go, generally.) Find a nice color, or go basic black. Find something spiral or discbound if you like to fold the book back on itself. Find a page layout that gives you room for YOUR handwriting. Get a pen or some pens that feel good to you. And DO NOT start comparing yourself to somebody’s super pretty Pinterest post of artsy planning. If you want to go that way, great, but it’s not mandatory.

    Now here are the three important things to remember:
    (1) never have your planner more than 5 feet from you.
    (2) use it use it use it
    (3) Nobody is grading you on neatness. If your planner has postits and scribbles and things taped in – GREAT. That means you’re making the most of it!

    I spent 2015 to 2018 experimenting with planners and finally made one on Agendio that is custom for me, and exactly what I need it to be. You can choose looseleaf or spiral bound, pick out every detail of layout, colors, fonts, and include regularly scheduled things you need to do (clean house, go to vt, pay a bill, change the AC filter, etc.) You can see mine and design your own here: https://agendio.com/referrals-welcome/nWQiSf_1537910041

    I use Frixion erasable pens these days and I lerve them. But DO NOT leave the planner in the hot car because Frixion disappears and you have to retrieve your notes by putting your book in the freezer. For real.

    Good luck!

  3. Anything like a diary is a nightmare sorry, even if it has pandas, flowers and kittens. It was like being back at school being told I “need a diary to remInd me about my diary”. Sticky memos and my phone’s calendar app changed my life. Sometimes “Simple Mind” mind-mapping app when things get messy. I love paper and writing for buIlding ideas and art, but “Planners” for “Organisation”?! Gotta be kidding.

  4. Well, I guess I’m the odd one out. I have found a very simple, but wonderful planner that I can only find at Staples. (Lovingly referred to as “my brain”). It has a tabbed monthly calendar, as well as the week spread over the 2 pages VERTICALLY, and with no times printed. On the month part, I put the item, then on the corresponding day, have the details. I’m not stressing out where exactly I put it on the day, (yeah a little OCD creeping in!) I feel more free to write all over the day portion if need be. There’s just something more satisfying to me to be able to see the big pic (month) all at once. It’s large enough to easily see everything, yet fits in my purse. I will go in occassionally to update my phone calendar just in case, but it’s just too hard to decipher for everyday. Need to remember something coming up? I just make an alarm. And, who has time to do all the foo-foo stuff? Wish I did! LOL! Owning a biz, I use it for both business and personal.

  5. I am sorry, but a paper planner is not for me. At the beginning it would be great. But then I would forget to take it with me. Then I would forget to use it. Then I would loose the paper planner. The really cool stickers? I will loose them right away! I love my iPhone calendar! I am in the habit of putting everything on my iPhone calendar. It is always with me. It is the one thing that I do not loose, do not leave the house with out it. I also love post it notes. I have a pad of them in my car. When I think of something that I need to do before I get home, I write it on a post it note and stick it on my dashboard. That works so well! Having a paper calendar means something else that I have to keep track of! Not going to happen. And it adds to all the clutter that I already deal with. No Thank You!

  6. I recognize most of these comments. Planners work while they are working. But when they are working they are great. I use legal pads around the house… yes, plural. I have ine in my kitchen, one on living room coffee table, another in my home office. I also keep a moleskin notebook in my car console (and I carry it in my back pocket at times as well). This is no perfect solution, none exists, but it is helpful.

    Spending money, to echo comments above, on fancy is just silly. I’ve even used the back of a multipage stapled document I no longer needed. As long as its a blank piece of paper it’ll work for me.

  7. I myself do not like to USE paper planners, but I have created them before for others, that in itself can be fun for me… but using them, they will eventually get lost. That is why I love the calendar app on my phone! It has helped immensely! I can put deadlines in it, and when refills need to be done, and remember which week is recycling and which week is not. Birthdays are in there as well as anniversaries. events and everything else, plus I can also add reminders for like a day or two before the events so I know what is coming up next.

    I know you can do that in paper planners as well, but I will just lose them. I’d rather make them and sell them, than actually use them. 🙂

  8. I’m very much a paper planner person. My husband and I use Google calendar to sync events and appointments, but for me, paper gives me the big picture. All I need is a pen and a notebook. No need to spend hundreds of dollars or euros in my case. I do spend money on notebooks and pens though.
    I’d rather have a cheap phone and an expensive notebook and pen. I believe iPhones are a waste of money, but to each their own.
    I love this post, I’m a bullet journal user myself and love planners. Up until now the bullet journal has met my needs best because I can set it up how I want and need. Pre-made planners are always just not right enough for me. And sometimes I draw or colour pages in between planning.
    My husband has a digital ADHD brain, his phone is his lifesaver. I don’t know how he does it and he doesn’t know how I use paper so successfully.
    To the comments above, this article shows which planners are most popular, not which everyone should or must use. I must say I’m put off by the scoffing over the use of paper planners. I thought ADDitude was a place for all non-typical brains to share their non-typicalness, not a place where I am (yet again) ridiculed for doing things a certain way instead of the “right way”.

  9. Different systems work well for different people because our minds vary drastically from person to person and from age to age! Our organizing needs also change as our lives change, so the best systems are the ones we actually use. For me at the moment, it’s both paper and digital systems, as there are elements of each that I find useful.

  10. I would love it an agenda would help me. But like so many others, I find my dedicated use only lasts a few days.

    I use a calendar on my phone to write things down on, and I have a memo app that allows me to make notes to remind me of things. Like if I am going to the doctor, I write the meds and their dosages, or issues I want to bring up.

    I use that same app to make my shopping lists on, so when I am out running errands, it can jog my memory. Then I can plan my errands and try to make one trip. As you can imagine, all those little trips out lead me to spend a lot of money. So when I consolidate them, it works better.

    I love journals and diaries, etc but the only time I actually ever had anything like that was one of those inexpensive calendars what look wallet sized and I would write my work schedule in it. It was simply large enough to put my “N” on I for the nights I worked.

  11. Never had a paper planner that worked in my entire life (over 50 years trying) until the bullet journal concept. Now I am a devotee, with ONE HUGE CONDITION – it never, ever leaves the house. Ever. I take pictures of lists I need and appointments live in both phone and journal. As someone above said, paper helps me see the big picture. Those of you who said you supplement your phone with paper lists and scrap paper, that’s basically the bullet journal philosophy. Make paper work in whatever way works for you. I do add fun stuff to mine because that holds my interest, but it is not a necessity. I will never buy a pre-printed grid planner again.

    1. So glad I don’t have to deal with bullet journals and trying to reinvent the wheel anymore! I saw someone using a Day Designer Planner Notes Planner by Whitney English, and I HAD to get it. It is PERFECT. It’s at Target.

  12. This was a helpful list. I have been using the Happy Planner for 3 years now. I have used a planner since I was in high school way before I was diagnosed. I don’t think I could survive without a paper planner. I’m 50 years old and it’s my life. I joined planner groups and it helps me stay organized bc I have a few businesses. I have also started coaching others with ADHD bc this also keeps me organized. I actually teach them how to use a planner.
    I actually have more than 1.

  13. I LOVVVEEE my paper planner!!! DAY DESIGNER PLANNER/NOTES Planner by Whitney English, got it at Target! Love love love it! So much simpler and actually safer, than putting things in my phone.

  14. Paper or phone based TODO lists don’t work for me because as soon as the book’s closed or the phone’s off, I forget all about them.

    Instead I have a whiteboard on my desk (not on the wall!). It’s a bit smaller than A3 (26x34cm), and happens to be pink (which makes it more visible I think). It doesn’t leave the house but commutes from my office desk to my bedroom, where I add random things I think of at night (so I can sleep). Urgent/important things get a circle next to them to make them stand out. I use Edding 361 markers as they have a 1mm tip – easy to write with and small.

    Appointments go in Google Calendar, with automatic 1h reminder, so my phone tells me what to do, and it’ll keep reminding me, once a minute for 5 minutes, because I often don’t ‘hear’ then first reminder (which is a navy whistle… cuts through all noise!)

  15. I have a series of planners. My first planner is the small calendar I keep in my purse and am NEVER without. When I make doctor’s appointments, dental appointments, commit to social obligations…EVERYTHING goes into that calendar. Then I use post its (neon ones of course) and write on the side the date, time, and appointment and stick it so that it hangs out sideways from each page that has something important on it. Then I go over it and put on my hanging calendar that is right over my desk…again, neon post its with the date, time, and whatever important is happening on that date. THEN, when it is a week before those appointments, I take whole sheets of notebook paper and write each appointment or important obligation one on each piece of paper in permanent marker what is happening on what day. I then tape each sheet to my mirror which is mounted next to my bedroom door so I see it as I exit my room every day. So far, this system has worked well for me. And for crucial things that must be done through the day, I make short notes on an index card and tape it to my steering wheel! I know it seems excessive, but we do what we must in order to stay on track.

  16. I absolutely love the planner I use, the Dreambook Planner, by Dragontree. It is great for us ADHDers because it walks you through a process of assessing you values, hopes, goals and dreams. It then helps you break down goals into periods (1, 3, 10 year and lifetime goals). Then further it helps you break down the goals into time bound tasks and steps- which is incredibly helpful when prioritizing and organizing are daunting tasks. I was never able to reach any of my big goals in the past because breaking the process down into small time bound steps Is not easy for me… being that I am the daydreaming creative inattentive type; prioritizing, decision making and organizing are my most challenging executive functions. With a lot of practice, learned discipline, patience and diligence I am happy to say that this planner has helped me reach every one of my big goals this year. The metacognitive and reflective practice of planning has also greatly helped my self-awareness grow and my confidence in my ability soar. Hope this planner will help others in the same way! As a final note,an article that also greatly helped me from ADDitude is linked below, the Solve-it-Grid, for balancing your daily tasks:
    https://www.additudemag.com/time-on-your-side/

  17. I love the idea of a planner because something about writing and seeing it. However, I too have failed over the years. What works best for me is Google calendar and my digital clock on my cell with alarms. The calendar is synced. Alarms set to even remind me to look at shopping/to do lists. Lol Best feature is option to repeat appointments. No retyping or resetting all the reminders I need. Just update time and date.
    Now what I do want the planners for is the budgeting and goal setting. I saw a couple of options perfect for them. The no dates sounds best.
    Good luck for all. Thanks for the article.

  18. In our house a paper planner is a must. As much as my hubby hates it, if he actually has to write it down the chance he will remember is increased by more than 80% . It also means that he can’t forget his phone and therefore not do it, not attend to alarms and therefore not do it, etc. We do the paper planning simply, then we copy it and stash every where – backpack, work drawer, cars, my office…. I totally get that everything doesn’t work for everyone, but in our case we have two special needs kids (type 1 diabetes is life-threatening, folks!) and therefore forgetting – or catering only to his ADHD needs – is simply not an option. It has to work for the household.

  19. I have a boss that is a micro manager and wants to track everything I do.. I told him its hard.. but I tried an app called toggle… i would forget to turn it off… or sometimes on… i tried writing it down.. but i would lose the paper… I am a calendar freak i buy way too many and quit using it… but last night I ordered one and i amwondering if using a “grid” at the bottom of each work day… say… Admin.._____. Invoicing_____ Real Estate_____ would help me track on a daily basis… and for how long… i swear… i am soooo distracted by this i am going crazy…

  20. I have used different kinds of planners for years. I don’t like ones that are too “busy”, but I need certain things. I also can’t spend lots of money. I found one I love for for less than 7 dollars at Walmart. I have bought more expensive ones and still love this one. Its big enough to use efficiently and small enough to always have with me, fits in handbag etc.. It has a month spread out out two pages and a week on two pages, a lined column along side the month for tasks..there are note pages, contacts, etc. I add some post it’s, page markers, the only thing it doesn’t have that is a requirement is an envelope type thing to hold things like appointment cards. I solve this by glueing one in myself. I love that its simple.. I use it easily that way. It’s the See it Bigger monthly/weekly planner it measure’s about 4 1/2 x 6 1/2. And is spiral bound, which I also like, and its easy to keep a pen slid in there. It has my life in it lol. I keep a list of major events that happen every year also, surgeries, weddings, graduations. I often make notes about the day. I keep these books and they have been great to look at sometimes in later years. Everything is in one place. The month part is mostly business. Then the weekly I will put more personal, fun stuff on it.

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