Work & Money

The 2021 planner for you is right this way

The buzzy and forever favourite journals for goals, gratitude or however you want to plan your year.

The buzzy and forever favourite journals for goals, gratitude or however you want to plan your year

If you need a way to help guide your outlook for a new and brighter future, a paper-based planner can help clear your mind, identify priorities and reframe goals, in a way that typing cannot — no need to worry about a wi-fi connection, whether your device is charged or the distractions of social media. Writing by hand can help you increase focus, formulate your plans more effectively, and give you that satisfying feeling of checking off your to-do list. But with so many options out there we've narrowed our top journals and planners to get your intentions, resolutions and strategies ready for 2021.

Gratitude journals

If you are looking to take joy from the things you can do, instead of things you can't, a gratitude journal may be just the thing. Get focused on what matters most to you next year, with quotes, positive affirmations and ways to stay inspired and spark happiness in your day-to-day. 

Buzziest

This journal has an online following in the millions and a book spawning from its popularity. Each page provides prompts and questions to help you reflect on everything worth appreciating in your life — there's space for writing reflections of the day and even colouring pages. Based on feedback, perhaps this is the journal to help one focus on the day's happiest moment, even in hard times. One user notes: "I enjoy writing in this before bed every night to help shift my mind from my busy day and any problems I may be facing. I usually have trouble turning off my mind and take a long time to fall asleep, but this ritual has helped me break free of that frustrating habit and get more quality sleep."

Tiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, $24.99, Indigo

Also popular 

The Five-Minute Journal is a great for beginners looking to take stock and note appreciation, with minimal effort or time. The journal is simple to use and based on psychology around positivity. It has daily affirmations to help you shift your mood to keep each day as joyful as possible. It's used by Tim Ferris, author of the 4-hour Work Week who says, "it's very helpful with focus, appreciation and keeping things simple."   

The Five Minute Journal, $26.95, Indigo

Highly-rated

If you are looking for an affordable journal, very specific to listing reasons to feel grateful, look no further, this 52 week journal is for you. With its daily thought-provoking prompts, beautiful illustrations and space to write and draw, users report this journal really helps them zero-in on the positive. One reviewer writes: "It's nice to be able to simply write three things a day and that's it, it's definitely not overwhelming or anxiety provoking!" Another writes, "It's very simple and allows you to make it completely yours. There's a lack of pretension I really connect with."

Good Days Start with Gratitude, $9.15, Amazon

Honourable mention

Kurzgesagt, a popular science YouTube Channel that makes illustrated videos, wanted to share how gratitude can be a superpower. Based on years of research on how to ward off dissatisfaction, their illustrated journal focuses on helping users get into the habit of feeling and noting gratitude, while still mixing up the prompts. 

Gratitude Journal, $26, Kurzgesagt

Productivity planners 

We are all looking for ways to achieve our goals and be more successful, and planning can be an essential tool to help us stay on our A-game. Having a comprehensive personal development tool like these planners below, can aid in creating results, give you a sense of accomplishment, and keep you inspired to be your most productive self. 

Buzziest

Like most of us, we have too much to do and not enough time to check everything off. This planner was created by NY Times best-selling author Brendon Burchard for "those who want to measure what matters most." This combination planner/journal has morning mindset questions and weekly and monthly assessments to keep you accountable for your productivity. It separates your tasks from your goals to help you develop a system — and encourages a shift in mindset too. "High performance means succeeding over the long term without compromising your health or positive relationships," says Burchard. 

High Performance Planner, $29.95, Penguin and Random House

Also popular 

Originally started as a Kickstarter project, this planner was created to help you prioritize happiness as well as productivity. Used by many the world over, this planner is undated and contains three sections: a monthly section to help you plan your goals and build better habits, weekly pages with prompts designed to help you learn from your past week and intentionally plan your upcoming week, and a daily section designed with mini routines meant to foster the motivation to keep going everyday. It also comes with a money back guarantee.

The Panda Planner Pro, $54.99, Panda Planner

Highly-rated 

The planner was created to improve productivity and as one reviewer says, it's "perfect for getting things done." It utilizes the Pomodoro technique which keeps you on track by breaking down your tasks into 25 minute intervals. There are tips on how to prioritize your top three tasks of the day and a section for you to review how effective you were in your planning, and ways to improve yourself for tomorrow. Another reviewer says, "This is hands down one of the best products I have bought all year." 

The Productivity Planner, $29.95, Indigo

Honourable mention

This planner has all the tools you need to set your annual goals, define your weekly objectives and use daily pages to implement an achievable goal-setting framework. (There's even a companion podcast, called Focus on This, with topics like "how to banish interruptions" and others geared at staying productive.) The notebook provides space to list your motivations for each goal, and key steps you can take to complete them so you will feel more productive and less overwhelmed. 

Full Focus Planner, $39.99, Full Focus Planner

Habit planners

Whether it's how often you're exercising, taking time to read a new book, or remembering to connect with friends and family on the regular, having a way to track your habits can bring a sense of joy, motivation and accomplishment to your year. These notebooks may help you measure whether you're sticking to something or not. 

Buzziest

This planner is a combination journal and habit tracker and is a collaboration from Baron Fig and James Clear, who wrote the internationally best-selling book Atomic Habits. It has a template structure like a bullet journal, but there are guided toolkits and methods for thinking through problems. With an undated calendar and the ability to cross off each day, it can certainly help you stick with your routine. The calendar becomes a visual record of your habit streak to help you establish good habits and make your next year a success. 

Clear Habit Journal, $24, Baron Fig

Also popular

This six-month undated planner almost guarantees improvement in sticking to habits by ensuring you track your consistency. As a tool it helps you organize your to-dos, manage your time, and it also gives you a place to remind yourself about who you need to connect with, which books and movies you have to catch up on, and how your finances are doing. With a benchmarking system for all of this, get ready to see your positive actions stick!

Self Planner, $13.06, Best Self

Highly-rated 

This planner lays out a road map that encourages users to create goals, attach deadlines to them, and makes space to write each step toward goals on monthly and weekly pages. One reviewer says, "I really like that the planner is set up as a guide for you to write your goals and dreams while reflecting on your life and where you see yourself." Perhaps more reasons for the high ratings: Passion Planner offers a free PDF version for anyone to print and use, and donates a portion of proceeds from the planners to non-profit organizations. 

Weekly Planner, $47, Passion Planner

Honourable mention

The 90-day Monk Manual is a journal/planner system based on the idea of the PAR Method: prepare, act, reflect (though the acronym is used for a similar strategy too: problem, action, result). Users can keep track of habits with the included chart to stay motivated — a visual reminder that it's progress not perfection that keeps us going. 

90-Day Planner, $38, Monk Manual 

Budgeting planners

If you are looking for a way to take control of your money, not overspend and figure out your long term financial goals for the future, having a budget planner can come in handy. Being able to prioritize that specific goal and track spending easily can put you on the right track for the upcoming year.

Buzziest

Erin Condren is one of the biggest names in the planning community, with over half a million followers.  

This budget planner makes dealing with finances fun, with its colourful cover and pages, and stickers to decorate and personalize it. It includes sections to log your purchases, upcoming bill payments and debt payment progress, plus its small stature makes it easy to carry with you anywhere. There's also a blog post with tips for budget planning beginners. 

Erin Condren Petite Budget Planner, $25.89, Amazon

Also popular 

Who doesn't want to be a clever fox when it comes to their finances? This is a very comprehensive budget planner, giving you a full layout of the month at-a-glance, tools to help you reach your financial goals — and a notable near-9,000 positive reviews on Amazon. For beginners, it comes with a quick-start guide to show you exactly how to use it. It's also undated so you can start anytime, and it comes with a money back guarantee.

Clever Fox Budget Planner, $53.17, Amazon

Highly-rated

This straightforward, desk-sized planner can help you keep track of your spending, record your weekly expenses and see where your money goes, and also help you think ahead and plan out your financial dreams for the future. "I love this!!", says one reviewer, "Will totally come in handy working on budgets and teaching my children how to budget." Additionally, you can take stock with the planner's year-end summary. 

Weekly Budget Planner, $7.99, Amazon

Honourable mention

Unlike the typical yearly budget planner, this one spans two years. It has income, expense and yearly goal trackers. With its hard cover and spiral spine, it's better suited to staying on your desk rather than carrying around daily. 

Your Balanced Budget, $9.95, Amazon

Fitness journals

When making resolutions for the upcoming year, many people have fitness and wellness goals in mind. 

Being active and sticking to a healthy diet makes us feel so good, but having the right motivation and organization is easier said than done. If you need a little help planning meals and keeping on top of your health goals, a fitness journal can help you stick to your plans.

Buzziest 

For the cost of a personal training session this guided journal provides wellness worksheets, space to write your daily food and exercise routines, and makes room for meal and goal planning. It includes inspiring photos, training tips, weekly shopping lists, healthy habit reminders and provides some mediation techniques too. The planner divides the year up into 90-day quarters, perfect for marking shorter term achievements.

Wellness Journal, $69.95, Daily Greatness

Also popular

This 12-week, weekly fitness planner has been around since 2008. It has room to record your measurements and log daily meals, includes daily workout pages to track progress in several areas including strength training, cardio, workout classes, and flexibility. Fitbook is small in size, making it easy to tote around or toss in your gym bag. Plus, and it includes a pen, and a blog with tips on goal setting.

Fit Book, $24, Indigo

Highly-rated 

This 90-day journal will help you record your meals, snacks and water intake, track your daily activities and exercise. It aims to keep users accountable by helping you recognize your cravings and how you respond to them, and monitor the amount of sleep you get. "What I like about this book is that it does NOT focus on weight loss. It focuses on self-esteem, body positivity, and feeling good and healthy," says one reviewer. "This is by far the best food journal I've ever used. It's perfect for tracking which foods I'm sensitive/intolerant to," says another reviewer.

Hello New Me, $10.51, Amazon

Honourable mention 

This is a great journal for the person who needs help staying on track and for the Type-A person who likes to plan and record every workout. It's simple to use, portable, and  will help you set targets based on your weight, height and lifestyle. You can easily track your progress with a spot to write daily and weekly meal stats, and the journal offers guidance so you can keep moving toward a more fitness conscious you.  

12 Week Fitness Journal, $12.99, Indigo

Minimalist planners

Having something that is straightforward and simple to use can be exactly the thing to keep some of us organized and inspired or a busy year ahead. These planners are all about paper quality, durability and functionality. They have the perfect balance of long-term planning and daily accountability that make them easy to use for those who are just beginning to keep track of everything. 

Buzziest

The famous Hobonichi Techo has been around for 20 years. There are Reddit forums, tumblr pages and millions of Instagram posts devoted to this planner. This planner is dated for 2021 and is structured with a yearly overview section, monthly pages, and has a spacious page devoted to each day. Its paper quality is great for fountain pens, and can be paired with a cover of your choice. Fun fact: its creator is the voice of the father in Studio Ghibli's, My Neighbor Totoro

Hobonichi Techo Planner A6, $54.95, Laywines

Also popular 

Moleskin is a classic brand for notebooks, journals and sketchbooks. This pocket-sized, 18-month, weekly notebook/planner is perfect for those who like to keep it simple and useful. "This is a great planner for a person on the go. You can slip this into a purse, backpack or briefcase," says a fan. It's formatted to show appointments on the left and has a ruled page for notes on the right. There are a variety of colours, and options to personalize the front cover with your initials.

18-Month Weekly Planner, $22, Moleskin

Highly-rated 

This planner has a chipboard cover which makes it sturdy to write in without a desk or table; it has quality paper and a double metal spiral too. It comes undated, and has lots of space — you can keep track of your appointments and to-dos for the day or use it as a daily journal. 

Field Notes 56 Week Planner, $19.95, Noteworthy

Honourable mention 

Filofax is a familiar name and a big favourite with those who are big into planners. It was created in 1920 but rose to peak popularity in the '80s where it was the "must-have" accessory for young professionals. Its binder style lets you reposition pages as needed, and add in refills each year. There are dated and undated options for you to choose from. If you want to be fancy, there are blank covers you can customize, and designer covers from Coach, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. 

FiloFax Original, $124, Filofax


Vanessa Magic is a freelance writer, storyteller and award-winning costume designer. Currently, she is in development with CBC to make an afrofuturist science-based kids show. She loves making up magical stories and singing songs to her adorable four-year-old son. When she is not in mama mode, she facilitates mentorships and workshops with Inclusive Stylist Toronto

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