How To Choose a Planner

Now that I’m a wee bit more experienced with using a paper planner, it is probably a good idea to cover how to choose a planner. There are tons of planners out there and it can be rather mind-boggling to a newbie because there are so many considerations to take in before selecting a planner.

plannerbug - how to choose a planner


If you have decided that a paper planner is the way to go, the first thing to consider is budget. There are a few local companies in Malaysia that make ring-bound planners and they are much more affordable than the imported brands. The local planners are more widely available and you can find them at most bookstores.

After you’ve decided on how much you’re willing or able to spend on planner, you probably need to visit several bookstores and shop around. Alternatively, you can order online because the variety is greater.

Size and Weight

Size and weight can make or break a person’s paper planner usage. I’ve had several A5 sized planners in the past (although I wasn’t actively using them) that were given out by the company I used to work with and one Starbucks ring-bound planner from a friend. They were quite heavy and I found myself not wanting to use them as I didn’t like lugging them around.

I’d highly recommend visiting a bookstore and feeling a planner in person to see if you’d like a particular size before plonking down money on one. Imagine what it would weigh if you have to carry it in your bag or hands all day. All day. I can’t stress this enough. I would also recommend reading my post on size and weight of a planner where I actually weighed each one out.


The next thing to think about is the style of a planner. What I mean by this is whether you want a spiral bound, ring bound (with loose leaf pages) or a notebook type planner.

Personally, I prefer a ring-bound planner because I like moving things about and the flexibility it offers. A spiral bound planner is more or less fixed. If you get a full year’s worth of pages, you are stuck with using the entire planner. Of course, you can perform some DIY and obtain tools to add or remove pages but it’s not as easy. Same goes for notebook types as the pages are usually stitched or glued together.


Another thing to consider is the material. Genuine leather planners tend to weigh and cost more but they do feel luxurious. The quality and type of leather can vary. Some are soft and supple while others feel structured and stiff. It is just a matter of personal preference.

I quite like PU (polyurethane) material because they tend to be lighter and come in a variety of styles. Some are made to feel like leather and some like fabric. They are generally more water-resistant too.

The only material I don’t like is suede, whether genuine or not. This stuff picks up dust and dirt like no other and it’s quite high maintenance. As a planner is meant to be handled frequently, you’d need to be mindful of transferring the natural oils from your fingers onto it. But the material is quite absorbent, so it may be a perfect for those with sweaty palms. Hah!


The last thing to think about is your lifestyle. Do you work in a corporate environment? Are you a stay-at-home-mum? Do you go to school or take classes? Are you enjoying retirement? Or are you a housewife like me?

If you’re working in a corporation and attend business appointments or meet clients on a regular basis, I don’t think having a cutesy, colourful planner is the best option. Also, try not to decorate and stuff your planner too much. It can be rather distracting. Imagine entering a meeting with Hello Kitty pasted everywhere and stickers falling out of your planner.

But if your job or environment is more creative, then go nuts. If you don’t have formal business matters to attend to, go nuts. Let the washi tape fly and pink glitter pens out! Even better if you’re in school or stay at home or work from home. You don’t have to care about what stuffy bosses think 🙂

Anyway, I do hope this helps you decide what planner to get. The selection process is the fun part but getting into the habit of using one will take time.

How do you choose a planner? If you’re a “seasoned user”, what other considerations would you take into account? Do drop in and share your thoughts.


  1. Havok says:

    I had no idea that there were suede planners! So far as the sweaty palms bit go, in reference to the suede, that would be horrendous! I always had palm sweat, and I can only wear gloves when it’s frigid out or else it will just be a nightmare, ha!
    I’ve noticed that when I don’t have my planner in my purse, it just doesn’t weigh right. Mr. Finsbury isn’t light, but I’ve been out a few times just for a snack run, and I feel like I’m missing something!
    Another thing to consider, I think, on the same plane of thought as purses and weight, is will you have to worry about it smacking about with anything else you are taking with you, or are you willing to keep it in a case or get a purse to accommodate? This is something I hadn’t planned for, and luckily got a new purse for Christmas to help sort that out, but it can make a difference if you want to keep the thing in good condition!
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    • lyn says:

      Yep, I have a suede A5 planner I got for free and have seen a few fake suede ones at my local bookstores. That’s just a bad material to use on planners. Oh, and that bit about purses or bags is very true! I will never put my planners, especially the leather ones next to something that might scratch it.

    • lyn says:

      If you have the convenience of a desk, I’d recommend removing the inserts from the rings to write on. The right side page is not as bad if you’re right-handed because you are writing away from the rings. I think page layout plays an important part too, which is why I allocate the “writing space” on the outer side of the pages (if that makes sense). But if you’re not too bothered about how your writing looks as long as it’s legible to you, then just scribble away 🙂 This is why some people use an A5 size so they can have more space without the rings getting in the way too much but it’s rather heavy to tote around all day.

  2. Charlie says:


    Could you recommend me some online sites (Msian or ships to Msia) where I can buy a planner? Size A5 or A6 will be ideal. Thank you.

    • lyn says:

      Hi, I’m not sure if you’re interested in ringed planners or traveler’s notebooks. There are many Malaysian and overseas websites that offer planners and they ship to Malaysia. A couple of my favourite places to get traveler’s notebooks from are Tabiyo and Stickerrific. Both have online shops and are local. I would suggest doing a search to find what you want because there are many choices to choose from. Etsy is a good place to look too.

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