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
1 of 9

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
2 of 9

Happy Planner

$29.99 - $34.99, with extension packs starting at $4.99
BUY NOW

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
3 of 9

Passion Planner

$30.00 - $35.00
BUY NOW

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
4 of 9

Panda Planner

$24.97 - $37.97
BUY NOW

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
5 of 9

Simple Elephant Planner

$19.99
BUY NOW

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
6 of 9

Bullet Journal

$6.99 and up
BUY NOW

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
7 of 9

Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook

$25 - $27
BUY NOW

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
8 of 9

Living Well Planner

$39
BUY NOW

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
9 of 9

Simplified Planner

$48 - $58
BUY NOW

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.

window.dojoRequire(["mojo/signup-forms/Loader"], function(L) { L.start({"baseUrl":"mc.us8.list-manage.com","uuid":"05c078d02e79a07f64018da62","lid":"d333919712","uniqueMethods":true}) })

32 Related Links

  1. I love this article! I am very grateful for the person that told my therapist about ADDitude, and that she remembered to tell me. I’ve read a good number of articles, some I’ve found helpful and some not as much. I think the take away here, for me at least, is that nothing will work for everyone :-). But I genuinely appreciate the time and thought that is put into each article. If it’s not for me, or not for me right now, I move on to the next. 6 months ago, heck, even 2 months ago, I’d have balked at this article myself. I’ve spent most of my life railing against calendars, planners, lists of any kind and so on. In an effort to control the spin on my life, I’ve picked up more than my fair share of planners, kept them a day or a week and then that was it and they were gone. I’ve tried all manner of digital planners as well, as I am very much into computers and smartphones and connecting apps, but as usual, I don’t stick to it. Something in my brain tells me I’ll do it later or if I have to write it down, it means I don’t care enough to remember it, so I won’t write it. I LOVE the clickity clack of typing, so much so that I only use mechanical keyboards, for the sound and feel. When not available to me, I add the sound to my browser. But, I also love the feel of paper and pen and hand writing. I am 47 and recently diagnosed with inattentive ADHD. I was thankful for FINALLY getting the diagnosis I desperately needed. I was chatting with my manager about everything and she suggested a Panda Planner. So much so that she asked me some questions, picked out a planner and ordered it for me on the spot. I chose the color, because she knew it had to appeal to me for me to use it. At first I did use it, and then like most other times, I just stopped. Thing is, for me, this time, the diagnosis is becoming a game changer. Meds too. I’m coming through the acceptance phase and learning and finding ways to manage me rather than fighting me. I found a way to keep my work desk reasonably organized, for me, and have managed to maintain it for several weeks. Part of it was having a place for my Panda Planner to be upfront, visible and within arms reach at all times during my work day. A nice book stand helped with that. I have at least 7 different colored Crayon gel pens that write very smoothly. Each morning I grab my coffee, sit down at my desk, grab the planner, that is now within reach and always open, check in with the manager that sent it to me and fill out my day. I’ve finally moved into maintaining the monthly calendar and weekly part of the planner as well. Physically writing things down, and in the planner, feels good and helps me remember. It’s reducing some stress and anxiety as well, as I can get these things out of my head and in a place where they are easily accessible. I worry far less now over what meeting I’ve forgotten or what appointments we are missing. I’ve even managed to begin keeping my work calendar more up to date, which my co-workers appreciate. Sorry for the long comment, I don’t sum up very well :-). The bottom line, for me, is if it doesn’t work for me now, it may work for others or may work for me at some other point in time. No one thing is always going to work for me and accepting that about myself allows me the freedom to keep trying new things and getting less frustrated when something stops working. Cheers to everyone here riding the ADHD struggle bus! It’s a wild ride some days, but at least now I know why and can connect dots from the past 40+ years of my life lol!

  2. I like some new technology but deciding on apps, such as a calendar, and implementing into my daily routine seems time-consuming and daunting for me. I’ve always been a writing/paper planner person. They helped to remind me of events, appointments, meetings, deadlines, and to-dos before finding out I had ADHD. I like the feeling of accomplishment by physically crossing something off, no matter how small.

    I recently came across the Bullet Journal. At first I thought there was no way I could follow through, but then after researching it, I decided to give it a try. I loved that it’s customized, keeps everything written in one place, and not having lists and sticky notes strewn all over my desk. I loved the calligraphy, stencils, stickers, washi tape, decorative layouts, doodles, and unending lists to include that I saw on YouTube…at first. After purchasing some of these frills, I asked myself if it was realistic. I already have a difficult time starting and following through on projects so I returned them.

    I kept my journal and purchased some nice pens and highlighters. I’m keeping it fairly basic to include Index, Key, Future Log, Monthly Calendar, Weekly/Daily Planner, and Monthly Tracker. In my Future Log and Weekly/Daily Planner, I’m using a layout similar to the Planner Pad brand which categorizes and funnels tasks down to days. It gives me a goal or else I can “migrate” (Why does that word bug me so much? I prefer “move”.) them to another day.

    It has been a month now and so far…well, I’m still working on it. A challenge is that I have so many things to do I can’t complete all of them within the time allotted and end up “moving” several to other days. I also have a difficult time prioritizing tasks by importance so I do the ones that are the least dreaded first. I feel frustrated, disappointed, and defeated when I don’t complete them on time.

    I decided to keep one separate notebook for lists and notes and to date them. It’s helped to eliminate homeless pieces of paper and stickies that clutter my desk. Why didn’t I think of this long ago?

    All in all, my bullet journal is a work in progress. I like the concept and am determined to make it work, hoping to be more organized and productive…until a better method for me comes around.

Leave a Reply