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. 🙂

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