How to choose the perfect planner? - A complete guide

A well-used diary can literally become your personal assistant. You can put anything in it! Your business and personal appointments, your important payments and more… Not taking advantage of your planner is a serious mistake, especially when you are an entrepreneur. Our lives are so busy, it's downright impossible to remember everything we have to do. 

But using the calendar properly requires (like anything else) discipline. Do not panic. Using a diary can be learned! I have a segment in the article by the way: 7 tips for good time management to help you use it well.

To use a diary well, you still need to have one! How to choose it well? 

Electronic or paper diary?

The great debate, which agenda is the best? Well, having actively made use of both, I have the answer for you: BOTH ARE GOOD. Personally, I first started my use of diaries with paper diaries, simply because it was provided with the school. With my first company, I used the Gmail electronic calendar: Google Calendar which I loved!

On the other hand, I am an admirer of beautiful stationery and notebooks and I love taking the time to write by hand in my planner, it's a little zen moment for me. So, I went back to it and (although different from the Google Calendar) I like it! Well, now that this dilemma is solved, which one is the best for YOU ? 

Here are the pros and cons of both types of calendars.

Advantages of the paper diary 

Writing by hand is a motivator and encourages better retention of information. Indeed, it would seem to put information in black on white and write it down by hand is a greater motivator to action than writing it down digitally. Probably because writing something manually takes a lot more energy than typing on your smartphone. We feel attached to it and therefore, we are more likely to accomplish this task. Also, some people retain information more easily when they write it down. Although your diary will always be there to deal with oversights, it's still good to do a little brain gymnastics and train your brain!

Encourages better organization of thoughts. The action of sitting down and organizing your month or week in your planner (instead of performing a few clicks to create a block of time) allows you to really think about what you want to do, when you want do it and more importantly: how you are going to do it. You will see, before you have organized your calendar, your head will be filled and disorganized. After taking the 10 minutes needed to put our schedule on paper, your thoughts will be clearer, more concise and you will be much less stressed!

They are beautiful ! Well, this argument is a little superficial, but it is a real advantage for me. I take pleasure each year in choosing the planner who will follow me throughout the year. There is something motivating for me in having a colorful and quality diary that accompanies me. This also encourages me to use it properly! If you are one of those people who procrastinates on the use of your planner, maybe getting one or it will take you a while to choose it and that you will like encourages you to use it better!

They are customizable Colours, post-its, drawings. You can do whatever you want there! No matter how you prefer to get organized, this planner is 100% customizable.

They sometimes come with extras. A big advantage for me is that the paper diary is often more than a planner. These days, a good planner will come with all kinds of extras which are great not only for organizing your professional life, but also your personal life and everything around it! Some contain integrated to-do lists, follow-up spaces for your training, your goals for the month, your bills to pay, your appointments to make and more! It's really great since it's an "all in one" and you can really track your professional and personal goals throughout the year!

Private aspect of your schedule another reason I like having a paper diary is the privacy of your schedule. Being self-employed, you are free of your schedule. Your planner is proof of your freedom to choose a schedule that works for you. You are in control of your schedule and I suggest you keep your schedule to yourself.  

Traceable so much do I like the private aspect of a paper diary, so much do I also like to keep a certain traceability of my schedule. You may, for more or less serious reasons, need a record of your whereabouts. The paper diary gives you this option. I advise you to keep your diaries for a period of 7 years for tax reasons.

Disadvantages of the paper diary

Not always accessible. If you're an airhead like me, you're sure to forget your schedule one day or another. Which is very frustrating, because as you know, there can be new things to note at any time. In this case, you will have to use your memory and remember said thing until you find your precious diary.

No technical modality if you choose the paper diary, it goes without saying that you will not have access to all the modalities that an electronic diary can offer you such as: diary sharing, synchronization on several devices, management of more calendar, reminder notifications, etc.

Expensive unlike electronic diaries which are mostly free. Paper diaries have the disadvantage of being expensive. Indeed, a nice diary will probably cost close to $30 CAD and (online ordering obliges) there will be additional shipping costs.

Limited space depending on the paper planner you choose, these usually have limited hours where you can put your activities. If you want to add blocks of time very early in the morning or late in the evening, you will have to add them in the margins of the agenda.

Advantages of the electronic diary

Flexibility. Unlike the paper diary, the electronic diary is very flexible. You can add events to it at any time of the day or night without any problem.

Technical modalities. One of the big advantages with the electronic diary is the technical possibilities it offers. Among these, the possibility of inviting people to events, reminder notifications and the management of several calendars are almost indispensable when you manage a company with several employees.

Accessible. Being synchronized with your cell phone, it is accessible at all times, easily and quickly. Unlike the paper diary, it is not bulky and it is very difficult to forget it at home when moving!

Quick to use. It is very easy to add and delete events in the electronic diary. No need to get out a pencil and an eraser. In seconds, you can add a one-time event or even set up recurring events indefinitely!

Color categorization. If you are a visual person, you will definitely like the multiple color categorization options of the electronic diary. This helps you get a better overview of your week at a glance and categorize certain events as you wish.

Free (for the majority). Although some are paid, I think you will find free options more than satisfactory. No need to break the little pig to get organized!

Disadvantages of the electronic organizer

Less retention of information. While typing on a keyboard, we tend to write without actually thinking. This does not make us feel organized, but rather waiting for our calendar notifications to tell us what to do next. It's like putting yourself on autopilot.

Public schedule. Your electronic calendar could be shared with several people in your organization. This means that they will have access to your calendar at all times and will be aware of your whereabouts. If you prefer to keep your private life private, you may not want to list your personal appointments.

Less easy overview on smart phone. The overview of electronic organizers offered on smartphones is not exactly practical. It is more practical to observe the schedule of the day itself rather than that of your week or month. Indeed, it is much easier to observe your week from the calendar on your computer than on your phone.

No customization option Other than the color categorization options, there isn't really a way to customize your planner like a paper planner.


Electronic planner VS Paper planner

Calendar paper Electronic agenda
Benefits Motivator
Better retention of information
Better organization of thoughts
Beautiful and customizable
Sometimes come with extras
Private schedule
Guaranteed traceability
Greater flexibility
Advanced technical modalities
Very approachable
Quick and easy to use
Categorization of activities by color code
Disadvantages Not always accessible
No technical modality Expensive
Limited space
Less retention of information
Public schedule
Inconvenient overview
No customization options

Now that you have determined what type of agenda to use, which one to choose from your popular category? here are the best choices so low.

Agenda in paper: A few options

There are a multitude of different paper diaries. Just find the one that suits you best. Don't worry, I did the research for you! I have chosen a few calendar options that I believe are complete and different. Here are my findings:

Le Daily Planner

CA $29.00

Here is a daily planner (which means that each page corresponds to a day). If you are someone who likes to detail their day, this planner is perfect for you. This diary gives you enough space to detail your activities for the day, your schedule, your goals, your to-do list and even to add notes to it. The only downside to this planner is that it won't provide an overview of your weekly schedule.

Pierre Belvédère Diaries

CA $29.99

I love Pierre Belvédère planners. Not only is it a Quebec company, but they also offer a variety of agenda options. From dailies and weeklies to academics, they all have built-in to-do lists and monthly-specific pages where you can list goals, bills, chores, and even your workouts.

I used this planner in the weekly format (so I have a little bias) and it was perfect for my needs. There's enough space to plan your schedule and it's a great "all-in-one" with the built-in extras.

12 Months Planner

CA $22.00

I would rate this planner as standard. This provides a good overview of your week and enough space to jot down your schedule. This is a good planner for someone who wants to have more flexibility in logging the hours of their activities.

Since there are no hours built into the agenda, you have the freedom to jot down activities that are very early in the morning or late in the evening. However, this agenda does not offer integrated extras such as to-do lists or physical training schedules.

The « Full Focus Planner »

CA $49.99

The " Full Focus Planner ", although certainly the most expensive of the agendas that I offer, is in my opinion very complete. If you can't decide between a planner with a weekly or daily view, this is the planner for you. This one offers daily pages as well as weekly overviews all in one! The Full Focus Planner also contains a page to list your goals and resolutions for the new year, quarterly overviews and more!

This planner describes itself as a tool to help you accomplish your goals and achieve progress. There are also several versions of the diary if you prefer a different layout of the elements. Go take a look! It is definitely worth it.

Le « Productivity Planner »

CA $34.00

The productivity planner is an agenda like no other. Although similar to the "Full focus planner", it does not offer a weekly overview and it does not include any dating. This planner uses a very special system called the Pomodoro working style. The Full Focus planner therefore has no view of your week or space to insert blocks of time.

This system is more of a to-do list with a rating method to calculate your productivity "hit" rate. It is a more particular system and although it has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity in recent years. I do not recommend it for diary beginners. I recommend it instead for those who have already mastered the art of organization in order to further optimize your productivity!

Comparative Summary

Built-in elements Le Daily Planner Diaries Pierre Belvédère 12 Months Planner ‘’Full Focus Planner’’ ‘’Productivity Planner’’
Weekly view ✓*One or the other depending on the model chosen
Daily pages ✓* One or the other depending on the model chosen
To-do list
Extras (workouts, payouts, grades, productivity systems, etc.)*The extras offered depend on the agenda

Electronic Diaries: A Few Options

The search for a good electronic planner is supposed to be simpler in itself. You first have the option of using the calendar integrated into your smartphone, whatever it is. If you don't really like your built-in calendar, here are a few options that I believe are very effective.

Google Agendas


Google agenda

The Google calendar is free (all you need is a Gmail email address) and very comprehensive. You can share your agenda, you have daily, weekly, monthly and even annual views. There is the option to add recurring or one-time events and categorize your activities by color code.

You can also invite anyone to join your activities and receive personalized notifications before your events occur. It is simple to use and very practical. It's definitely my favorite to work with a big team.

Agenda Outlook


The Outlook calendar is very similar to the Google calendar. This is free, you obviously need the corresponding email address. It offers the same options as the Google Calendar. On the other hand, it is a little less easy to use.

The big bonus with this planner is that it has the option of being much more secure than Google Calendar which can be easy to infiltrate. If you work in a field where information is sensitive, I recommend that you use the Outlook calendar as your electronic calendar.

Digical, Timepage, CalenGoo

Paid apps ($)

If you want to get a more personalized diary, there are some great paid apps to help you out. These apps give you options to add to-do lists, customize colors, sync calendar with apps like Uber and more!

Most of these apps offer free trials, which is great for familiarizing yourself with how the app works before making a decision. The Digical, Timepage and CalenGoo applications seem to be easy to use, practical and complete applications.

And bref

Whatever agenda you choose, challenge yourself to use it effectively for at least 3 months. You'll get used to it and you won't be able to do without it!