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Planning Ahead: Why Choosing a Planner that Works for You Matters

In my junior year of high school, I discovered a company called Passion Planner and was lucky enough to receive a free planner through their Get One, Give One program. Their mission is incredible, and every planner is bound in vegan leather. From that moment on, I told everyone I knew about this planner and how it has changed my life. 

One of the main features of the Passion Planner is that you’re prompted to create Passion Roadmaps, which can be described as thinking maps that help you set goals for the future. You are given a time frame – such as three months – and are told to write down all the goals you have for yourself. After this timed exercise, you’re supposed to review your goals and choose one to focus on for each period of time. You would then go on to create another mind map, where you would list out all the steps and tasks needed to achieve the goal. 

Another feature of this planner was the weekly spread, which was complete with daily time slots for classes, activities, and events, as well as space to list the tasks you need to complete. Everything in the planner is grayscale, which allows for a lot of creativity. Another notable feature of the Passion Planner is the multitude of planner inserts that can be downloaded directly from the website. These downloads include water trackers, habit trackers, and school assignment trackers. 

To make Passion Planners even more accessible to all, free digital downloads of full planners, weekly spreads, monthly spreads, and passion roadmaps are available here. I love Passion Planner’s mission and think it’s wonderful that people are able to try out their planners before purchasing one. They often hold planner giveaways at different universities and schools across the country at the beginning of the school year, which gives students of all kinds access to a life-changing tool. 

The first year I used a Passion Planner, I was enthralled. I decked each week out in stickers and doodles, and I was able to figure out a system that made me want to be productive and reach the goals I set for myself. At the time, this planner was very effective, so much so that I wrote an article about it for my high school’s newspaper. Over the years, I found myself less and less motivated to decorate my weekly spreads, and my weeks ended up looking very gray and bland. 

Freshman year of college, my planner went mostly unused. I relied on sticky notes and my memory for most assignments, and my motivation to write things in an otherwise colorless planner was very low. I once journaled about summer days between activities and kept a list of assignments I needed to complete; I no longer find myself even wanting to write down the classes I was taking. 

People change, and it’s important to recognize our own personal growth even when it comes to something as simple as a planner. For some people, a paper planner is a must, while others may think that online calendars are the most ideal way to keep up with ever-changing lifestyles and an endless list of tasks. I find paper planners to be the most effective for me, but everyone is different! 

Before this semester, I decided to do some research (yes, research) on different planners in search of one that would best suit my needs. I knew for sure that I wanted something with color, as it makes me feel less like I need to work to get my weeks to look good. Visually, I wanted something without the time slots I was accustomed to, as writing a to-do list on top of the daily time slots was not cutting it for me. 

I ended up stumbling upon ban.do, a company with colorful and inviting branding as well as a new line of 2019-2020 planners. I decided on one with radiant flowers on the cover, but there were multiple options for covers. The interior layout of the planner was the same no matter which cover you chose, and I was excited to learn that each month had a colored theme to it. Once I found out that the ban.do academic planner came with stickers, I was sold. 

I have the 17-month version of the academic planner and have been using it for over a month. I love all the free space on each page, which gives me the ability to write down to-do lists, meetings, and events all in one place. For me, the best part of the planner is the color that is associated with each month. There’s a journaling prompt before each month that has to do with the color, and it is a great way to set the tone for the month ahead. All of the art found in the planner is done by independent artists, and it’s lovely to see such colorful spreads before each month.

Unlike last year, I am much more motivated to write everything down. Although I was a big fan of the Passion Planner and fully support them as a company, it was time that I moved away from what felt “safer” and opted for something that made me feel the same way I did when I first discovered Passion Planner. I know saying that doing something that feels safe, especially something like using a planner, may sound odd, but I am someone that loves sticking to a routine.

Breaking away from purchasing my yearly Passion Planner was weird for me, but I’m glad I did it. Passion Planner was great when I needed some direction and structure when it came to setting goals and planning long-term goals, but I wasn’t getting the same function out of the planner. 

Passion Planners are typical 12-month planners and go for $30-$35 depending on the style. All sizes cost the same price, and they offer planners in small, medium, and large sizes. Ban.do planners range from $20 for the small, hardbound planner to $32 for the large, spiral-bound planner. There is a middle size in-between for $28, which is the one I chose. 

Believe me when I say that the type of planner you have can make a difference. Something as simple as a colorful planner made a difference for me.

I keep all of my planners, as they’re fun to look back on and at helping preserve memories, and I am excited to look back on this one in the future. Because of the length of the planner, I may even graduate at the same time it ends, which would be a great way to finish out a planner. 

Although it’s something that most people may not think about, changing something simple about your life can make a lasting difference.

We’ve all heard that it’s the little things that count, and it’s true! Whether it’s changing up the route you take to get to your class or changing the type of planner you use, there is always room for growth and improvement. If something no longer feels beneficial to you, consider switching things up and opting for something that will better serve you. 

As silly as it may sound, I never saw myself using anything but a Passion Planner while I was using them. I’ve grown and changed since then, and I am now looking for ways to switch things up and try new things.

Life is short, and there’s no point in doing something simply because it’s what you’re used to. Especially when it comes to items that we are purchasing and planning on using for a long period of time, taking the time to find the option that best suits you is worth it. Something as simple as the planner I use to keep track of everything as well as document my life made a difference, so just imagine all the ways we could evaluate the decisions we make to positively affect our lives.  


Jessica Hernandez is a University of Florida Senior doublte-majoring in Economics and Sustainability Studies. She has a heart for activism, is an avid reader, a lover of vegan food, and a member of the rock climbing team at UF. She can often be found reading books in her hammock or trying vegan food at restaurants in Gainesville.
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