In case you haven’t noticed, our lives are more stressful and over-programmed than ever. The modern working world is a milieu of networking event, after meeting, after power breakfast. It’s a stress-inducing calendar frenzy. It’s no wonder then that a crop of productivity tools popped up, specifically designed to tame the scheduling chaos by boosting productivity and reducing stress. To save you the stress of having to find one of these magical tools, we’ve rounded up the best productivity planners out there.
And don’t underestimate the power of a good planner. Something that seems mundane can — with the right research-backed design —help you overhaul the way you move through life.
The 7 Best Productivity Planners for Busy Working Professionals
Below, we break down the best productivity planners for anyone with a slammed and stressful schedule. We’re talking price, features, benefits, and more. So there’s something for everyone. Let’s go.
First up on our list of best productivity planners is Panda Planner. And sure, we may be biased here, but with good reason. Panda Planner’s design is in accordance with heaps of research on happiness and productivity.
From the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, it helps you design your day in a way that’s proven to make you both more productive and less stressed. Case in point: Rather than dive right into your to-do list, Panda Planner provides space for you to list a few things you’re grateful for and excited about — both exercises that research shows can make you happier and more optimistic over time.
On the productivity front, Panda Planner also helps you prioritize your tasks by defining your focus for the day, week, or month. To make sure you actually make it through your to-do list, it also provides a space for you to outline exactly how and when you’ll check off those bigger goals.
What’s more? Panda Planner offers some really helpful add-ons like their Sticky Notes, which come with tabs and in color. Color code your schedule and up your organization at the same time.
Price: $24.97 for the Classic version
A cousin of Panda Planner, the Elephant Planner also places a focus on gratitude, as many of the best productivity planners do, with space to make a gratitude list. That’s not a coincidence. Research suggests that regular gratitude journaling — so easy, yet so powerful — can make you tangibly happier, increasing your mood, optimism, and overall life satisfaction.
Elephant Planner also includes spaces for you to freestyle a mind map and vision board — perfect if you like to organize things visually.
The Pomodoro Technique is a method of working designed to help you eliminate distractions. Rather than spend two hours on a task and get distracted, the Pomodoro Technique allows you to focus in short bursts (25 minutes) and build in mini-breaks (5 minutes). After ranking your tasks from most to least important, you can give yourself a productivity score at the end of each day so you can track your progress.
The Best Self Journal breaks down your daily schedule by the hour (super useful for someone with endless meetings and appointments), but its approach to reflection is where it really shines.
Like Panda Planner, there’s a way to reflect on daily wins and lessons, giving you space to savor what you did well and turn any slip-ups into learning opportunities that can propel you forward.
When the purchase of each Best Self Journal, they provide 10 meals to families in need through a partnership with Feeding America. Plus, it comes with the option to monogram.
For a structured approach to productivity, Ink + Volt uses a system of yearly, monthly, and weekly goals to help keep you laser focused. It’s a great system— and a similar one that Panda Planner uses — to make sure that your long-term goals don’t get sidelined by the hustle of your day-to-day life.
At the most basic level, research shows that the very act of writing down your goals makes you more likely to achieve them. But the real key is making sure that your goals are actionable, which is why the best productivity planners include prompts for you to set S.M.A.R.T. goals — the science-backed approach to making sure everything on your list really does get accomplished.
Price: $40, on sale for $20
The Law of Attraction planner combines the spiritual wisdom of a yogi with the precision scheduling of an executive assistant — a planner meets “life coach.” In addition to places for gratitude lists and goal setting, it also includes space for you to pause and think about how you showed yourself a little love each day.
Prioritizing self-care this way — especially when you’re stressed — can help you stay productive.
Last on our list of best productivity planners is Erin Condren’s LifePlanner.
To help motivate you, LifePlanner uses inspirational quotes, places to color, and space for you to write down your dreams. It may seem cutesy but there is science behind the strategy. A well-curated quote can help boost your happiness and productivity and even inspire healthy habits.
Here are 21 of our favorite quotes to help you start the day in a good mood.
Price: $28-30 depending on version
Your turn: What do you think is the best productivity planner? Tell us what ones you’ve used and if they’ve worked in the comments below.
Author: Macaela Mackenzie
Macaela Mackenzie is a freelance writer and content strategist. When she doesn’t have her nose in a research journal or the New York Times, she’s likely to be found looking for punny greeting cards or an excuse to explore a new travel spot.