Choosing the right planner can be a huge decision. Yes, huge. If you get one that doesn’t fit your needs, you could spend the rest of the year in an unproductive rut. No one has time for that, which is why we’re breaking down some of the most popular planners out there—so you know exactly what will work for you before you press that purchase button. Today’s duo: a review of the Happiness Planner and Panda Planner*.
In this installment, we’re comparing the weekly versions of each company’s planner. Both planners focus heavily on organizing all aspects of your life, so you can be the happiest version of yourself. But, which one will work best for your needs?
The Happiness Planner vs. Panda Planner
Get comfortable, because we’re doing a deep dive. Here’s how we’re breaking down these planners for you:
- What you get
- Design and layout
- Intended audience
- Overall purpose and conclusion
If you’re looking for an inexpensive option, Panda Planner takes the cake. At only $33.97 on their site and $34.97 on Amazon, Panda Planner is an affordable no-frills option. Bonus points: Did we mention it’s available on Amazon? If you’re an Amazon Prime member, that means you can get it with free 2-day shipping.
The Happiness Planner’s comparable undated weekly planner runs for $46 plus shipping. The total is a little over $50. And for those of you spoiled by Amazon Prime’s quick shipping, this one took about a week to arrive.
2. What you get
The Panda Planner is simple; it comes ready to use out of the box. There are instructions for using the planner to the fullest on the first page, as well as the science behind the layouts and processes. The Panda Planner also comes with a ton of online resources via mypandaplanner.com, which include eBooks, a Quick Start Guide, and a community of like-minded people looking to jumpstart their happiness and productivity.
While The Happiness Planner is more expensive, it does come with a lot more accessories. Inside the keepsake box the planner comes in, you’ll find paper clips, binder clips, motivational cards, plus 13 worksheets that will help you set goals and reflect on the year. Oh, and you get a nifty pen that matches your planner.
Design and layout
Both the Panda Planner and the Happiness Planner are set up for weekly reflection, but that’s where the design similarities end.
The Panda Planner keeps it simple with one page that details how to use the planner to be more productive and, ultimately, happier. It’s a step-by-step to-do list of sorts that you can refer back to when filling out the planner.
The Happiness Planner, on the other hand, starts with a section called, “The Happiness Roadmap.” Here, you’ll spend some time detailing the things that make you happy, the things that don’t, and truly reflecting on your personality and what is holding you back from your happiest life possible. The section includes 18 prompts and takes quite some time to complete.
Both The Happiness Planner and the Panda Planner have an undated monthly section at the front of the book. You fill out the month as you go and use it to write in big-picture goals or upcoming events.
The monthly section in the Panda Planner has substance. In addition to the undated calendar layout, you have a place to write the month’s focus, a habit tracker, a notes section along the right side, and both a Plan and Review section on the bottom. The Plan section includes space for you to write out your goals for the month, your reasons why these goals are important (always good to remember), and a few distractions to avoid.
The Review section is meant for you to go back to at the end of the month to point out the month’s wins and any insights you’ve gained, and note how you’ll improve in the coming month. The Panda Planner has 12 monthly pages.
The Happiness Planner’s monthly section is extremely simple with only a calendar and a small notes section on the right side. There are also enough pages for 12 months.
Overall, Panda Planner’s Monthly section has a bit more to it, especially for a planner designed to help you achieve your goals.
A big aspect of both The Happiness Planner and the Panda Planner is prioritizing both your personal and professional goals, so you’re concentrating on things that make you happy, and therefore more productive. How each planner goes about this is a little different.
Panda Planner: Weekly spread
While other versions of Panda Planner have multiple spreads for each week, this planner limits it to two. It’s also a little larger (8.5 x 11″), so more fits on the page. The first spread in the weekly section features an entire page with a dotted grid, which is for “journaling, reflection, and creativity.”
Across from that is a page of prompts that ask you to reflect on the previous week and plan your week ahead. You have space to write what you’ll do to make the week great in your personal and professional life, with your family/friends, and in your relationships. It also asks you to write three things you’re looking forward to this week, two habits to focus on, one new thing you want to learn, and your passion project. Below that is space for you to plan your four main projects for the week and your top five goals.
The next spread is your weekly layout. On the far left, you have space to list your to-dos for the entire week, plus a notes section for reminders. Each day has a column you fill out every morning or even the night before. At the top, you write what you’re grateful for and the two things you’re excited about. Then, you list your top three priorities for the day. Below that is your schedule, which is broken down into hourly increments from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. This space allows you to block off time for important work. You can even schedule your workout or meals so you don’t miss a thing.
At the bottom of each day, there is space to reflect on the day’s wins and how you’ll improve for tomorrow.
The Happiness Planner: Weekly spread
The Happiness Planner’s weekly section is divided with tabs, with five weeks inside each tab. This seems like a way to keep you organized and allow you to quickly find what page you’re on; there’s no scientific reason for breaking up the book like this.
Each week consists of three spreads. The first prompts you to give yourself some positive self-talk, write what you’re excited about for the coming week, the happy things you’ll do, your focus for the week, and a place to list both personal and work goals.
On the opposite page, you’ll find an inspirational quote, as well as a dotted grid for getting creative. The next spread is your weekly layout. The layout is extremely bare bones. It really only gives you a space to write your to-do list for the day, so if you are in need of an hourly calendar layout, this isn’t for you. The final spread for each week is about reflection. There’s a place to grade yourself on your emotions for the week, a box to describe your week in three words, a place for the week’s highs and lows, plus a place for you to reflect on what you’re grateful for, what you learned, and what you’d like to improve for next week.
Overall, both the Happiness Planner and Panda Planner have ample space for planning, prioritizing, and reflection. The difference lies in how you prefer your weekly layout. If you’re the kind of person who likes the structure of having an hourly schedule, the Panda Planner is for you. If you’d rather a space for your daily to-do lists, the Happiness Planner is your jam. Both planners have undated weekly pages for 52 weeks.
The Panda Planner has a small five-page section in the very back for notes. Each page features a large-scale dotted grid. The Happiness Planner, on the other hand, ends with your final week. There’s no Notes section, but it does come with several worksheets that help you with goal setting, year planning, self-care, and more.
Each planner has its own method for keeping you on task, but there is definitely a difference when it comes to science.
The Happiness Planner’s website doesn’t detail the actual science-based facts the planner’s layout and methods are based on. The founder’s message says she based the planner on the notion that discovering what makes you truly happy—and then doing those things—will make you more productive. However, productivity isn’t the ultimate goal of The Happiness Planner. The planner’s goal is to make you a happier person by guiding you to achieving your dreams.
The Panda Planner, on the other hand, is heavily based on scientific research for productivity. While both planners focus on goal-setting and doing what makes you happy, Panda Planner touts that you’ll ultimately be happier once you learn to be more productive and prioritize your time, which is the planner’s goal.
It’s clear the intended audience of The Happiness Planner is young women. It comes in beautiful colors with interesting details, plus the accessories and note cards scream “boss babe.”
Panda Planner is definitely more gender-neutral. It comes in several colors if you’d like to get jazzy, but the simple design applies to all genders.
Overall purpose and conclusion
After using both planners, it’s clear they have very different purposes. The Happiness Planner’s goal is to make you happy—plain and simple. It encourages you to drop things that make you unhappy and only focus on tasks and activities that will make you a happier person. Productivity is not the focus of The Happiness Planner.
If you’re looking for a productivity tool, Panda Planner is better for you. It seems the Panda Planner understands that tasks that make you unhappy are just part of life, but by prioritizing your personal goals, you’ll be able to get it all done. Plus, it understands that productivity is something you must work toward, which is why their daily review section is extremely helpful for keeping you on tasks and working toward your goals.
Ultimately, what planner you choose should be based on your goals and preferences. Between style, design, and methods, these planners are very different, but if used correctly will both help you achieve your ultimate goal.
Your turn: Everyone’s planner needs are completely different. What are you looking for in a planner? Which of these tools would work best for your needs? Let us know in the comments below!
*Positive Routines is affiliated with the team at Panda Planner. All opinions are the writer’s own, based on her experience using and reviewing the products.
Author: Kelly Heitz
Kelly Heitz is a freelance writer and social media guru. When she’s not scrolling through her Instagram feed, you can find her outside—usually hiking, painting, or patio drinking.