3 Things to Consider Before Selecting Your 2019 Planner

It’s about that time of the year to start thinking about your daily planner. When it comes to keeping my life organized, I use a combination of a digital calendar (Google Calendar) for my appointments and events, and then a daily planner that I use to track my To-Do List and important tasks.

The planner market has really exploded in the last few years. You can find planners in the following places:

(1) Target

(2) Walmart

(3) Traditional Office Supply Stores (Staples, Office Max, Office Depot)

(4) Craft Stores (Hobby Lobby, JoAnn and Michaels)

When it comes to selecting a planner, these are the 3 things to consider that have made a difference for me:

(1) Size and Portability – Planners come as small as around 4 x 6, or as large as 9 x 12. Consider where you will need to use your planner and how it will fit in with what you already have to carry. If you are lugging your planner to and from work daily, you may not want to purchase the larger, daily models. You could also consider using a larger planner that you keep at work, and one that you keep at home. For 2018 I used an 8 1/2 x 11 planner that included both monthly and weekly pages. It was the first planner that I consistently used from the time I purchased it (around March) until now.

(2) Binding – Some planners are bound like a traditional book, some are spiral bound and some are in binder format. I used a spiral bound planner this year but what I didn’t like about it was that each individual ring had it’s own closure and over time those rings start to wear and tear. and pages and/or the cover starts slipping out. I have found that the binder style planners are a bit heavier (even before you add the pages) and it is harder to write in the pages (especially in those that are smaller than 8 1/2 by 11. When I did use a binder style planner, I preferred one that zipped all that way up that way I didn’t have to worry about pages or things falling out or water damage.

2018 Planner

(3) Design – Design really matters when it comes to planners. You have to be sure that whatever is on the cover or the color inspires you and brings you joy. I had already purchased a planner for 2019 (mainly because of it’s binding) but as i started to slowly use it, I wasn’t crazy about the design on the cover.



I went to Michaels recently, where all of their planner stuff was 40% and found a design that speaks to my soul (hello, Glitter + Magic) AND it is slightly smaller than 8.5 x 11, so it will be super portable.


I actually prefer for my pages to be pretty minimal, because you can personalize it using your own stickers, quotes, notes, etc. I also prefer minimal design in the interior of the planner because I  like the space to write. Also when it comes to the design you have a few options.

Monthly – These tend to be super light as they only have the 12 months inside of them. Usually one month covers 2 pages.

Weekly  – This design has one full week on two pages. Usually Monday – Wednesday on one side and then Tuesday – Sunday on the other side. This is my preferred format because it allows me to set my 3 – 5 priorities for the day. Most of these designs also have the monthly pages included.





Note: Many planners in the weekly format put Saturday and Sunday side by side, reducing the space. I am excited for my 2019 Planner because it includes equal space for Saturday and Sunday. For many corporate-preneurs and and entrepreneurs the weekend is prime time. Some of us need all of that space lol!

Daily – This design has one day per page. These designers tend to be heavier because they have around 182 pages in them. These formats are great for people that use their planner for both scheduling and task lists. You also have more than enough space to do what you need to do.

Also shout out to my bestie Jamila who shared that she likes planners that have a dedicated space for goals!

Here are the popular planner designers:

The Happy Planner: https://www.thehappyplanner.com/ – I’ve seen this planner at Michaels and at Staples if you’d like to check it out in person.

The Passion Planner – https://passionplanner.com/ – Creatives RAVE about this planner. I haven’t tried it yet but I’ve heard nothing but good things.

Day Designer https://daydesigner.com/ – I tried the daily version of this planner. It was beautiful but too bulky for me.

Full Focus Planner https://fullfocusplanner.com/?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=url – I have been following Michael Hyatt’s Podcast “This Is Your Life” Podcast. What I love most about this planning system is that it is structured quarterly.

Recollections Plannershttps://www.michaels.com/2018-2019-planners-by-recollections-and-the-happy-planner/ia-2018-happy-recollect My 2019 Planner is by Recollections which is available at Michaels. They also have Happy Planners available at this link.

Erin Condren – https://www.erincondren.com/ People rave about Erin Condren’s planner. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

Simplified Planner – https://www.emilyley.com/collections/simplified-planner I’ve heard great things about the Simplified Planner. The designs are beautiful. My original 2019 Planner was a Simplified Planner.

Franklin Covey https://shop.franklinplanner.com/store/ – Franklin Covey is the “OG” of the planner business. I have a great Aunt who used to work in corporate that swore by their system. She introduced me to it in High School and it was my preferred planning system until I bought a spiral bound DePaul University branded calendar my freshman year and converted. As an English Major I had to lug around 1,000+ page books and there was no practical way that my Franklin could come along for the ride without my straining my back and shoulders. Anywho, Executives LOVE the system and their planners have been around for years.

At A Glance – https://www.ataglance.com/ataglance/home/

You can find this brand at most Office Supply Stores. I also noticed that they have a collection with Emily Ley (of the Simplified Planners). The same can be true of Target. I’ve seen Day Designer branded planners in their store.

I Am Powerful Planner – http://whoseshoesbook.com/2019 – I actually received this planner last night in a gift bag. I was super excited to find out it was co-created by Christine St. Vil. Christine and I used to write for Black and Married with kids together. The planner is super colorful and has tons of inspirational and motivational content.

Lunar Planner By Modern Womenhttps://modernmysticshop.com/products/pre-ordermanymoonsplanner2019 – I preordered this book as I am a fan of the Many Moons Book they published this year. This calendar includes all of the astrological events as well as recommended rituals. I’m excited to make this book a part of my 2019 routine. If you Google It, you may be able to find it from another source.

Also, if you’re looking for inspiration to see how you can use your planner check out the following hashtags on instagram:

#bwwpc – This is a hashtag specifically for black women planners. Representation matters and I love seeing how creative black women are in the planning space.

#planneraddict – Over 4 million posts. Once you click on a post click on any of the other hashtags.

If you use another branded planner please leave it in the comments section including comments on why you like it and maybe even a link on where to purchase it.

I hope this is helpful for you. I will be sharing pictures on my Instagram as I move into my 2019 planner. Right now I’m carrying both, but plan to decommission my 2018 planner and put it in archive (on my shelf) on January 1st!



Organization Tip: Using Pouches

I usually carry large bags. Mainly because I like to have one bag to hold everything. In my experience, when I have multiple bags, the likelihood that I lose or misplace something (or an entire bag) is  pretty high. In order to keep myself organization. I enjoy using pouches. The current pouches that I carry include:

(1) Cosmetic Pouch – In this pouch I keep my lipstick, lotion, tissue, bandaids, eyeglass cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, & headache medicine.


(2) Writing Utensil Pouch – I enjoy keeping lots of pens in different colors with me, as well as highlighters.


(3) Electronics Pouch – I always keep a wall plug-in charger, a mobile charger, and my Macbook Charging card with me.


I also use pouches when I travel to organize things like accessories & cosmetics. I recently cleaned out my stash and I want to give them away! In addition to 2 – 3 pouches, each package will include an inspirational message! I am also giving away the “Plan Like A Boss” Planner, because a planner is one of my favorite tools to use! Please review all official rules below!


Get Organized Contest


1. Eligibility: This Contest is open only to those who sign up via the official contest rules above and who are [18 years of age or older] as of the date of entry.The Contest is only open to legal residents of the United States, and is void where prohibited by law. The Campaign is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.

2. Agreement to Rules: By participating, the Contestant (“You”) agree to be fully unconditionally bound by these Rules, and You represent and warrant that You meet the eligibility requirements. In addition, You agree to accept the decisions of DonnieNicole.com as final and binding as it relates to the content of this Campaign.

3. Campaign Period: Entries will be accepted online starting on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. CST] and ending [Thursday, December 28, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. CST].

4. How to Enter: The Campaign must be entered by subscribing to DonnieNicole.com, and then posting a screenshot to the Contestant’s Instagram or Facebook Page and then hashtagging #donnienicole. The entry must fulfill all Campaign requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are incomplete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of DonnieNicole.com.  You may enter only once. You must provide the information requested before 11:59 p.m. CST on Tuesday, January 2, 2018. You may not enter more times than indicated by using multiple email addresses, identities, or devices in an attempt to circumvent the rules. If You use fraudulent methods or otherwise attempt to circumvent the rules, your submission may be removed from eligibility at the sole discretion of DonnieNicole.com

5. Prizes: The Winner(s) of the Campaign (the “Winner”) will receive a package of pouches valued at $15.00 USD. Actual/appraised value may differ at time of prize award. The specifics of the prize shall be solely determined by DonnieNicole.com. No cash or other prize substitution shall be permitted except at DonnieNicole.com’s discretion. The prize is nontransferable. Any and all prize-related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and/or local taxes, shall be the sole responsibility of Winner. No substitution of prize or transfer/assignment of prize to others or request for the cash equivalent by Winner is permitted. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for DonnieNicole.com to use Winner’s name, likeness, and entry for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.

6. Odds: The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.

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9. Terms & Conditions: DonnieNicole.com reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Campaign should virus, bug, non-authorized human intervention, fraud, or other cause beyond DonnieNicole.com’s control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, or proper conduct of the Campaign. In such case, DonnieNicole.com may select the Winner from all eligible entries received prior to and/or after (if appropriate) the action taken by DonnieNicole.com. DonnieNicole.com reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Campaign or website or violates these Terms & Conditions. DonnieNicole.com has the right, in its sole discretion, to maintain the integrity of the Campaign, to void votes for any reason, including, but not limited to: multiple entries from the same user from different IP addresses; multiple entries from the same computer in excess of that allowed by Campaign rules; or the use of bots, macros, scripts, or other technical means for entering. Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any website or undermine the legitimate operation of the Campaign may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such attempt be made, DonnieNicole.com reserves the right to seek damages to the fullest extent permitted by law.

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11. Disputes: THIS Campaign IS GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF The United States of America AND the State of Illionis, WITHOUT RESPECT TO CONFLICT OF LAW DOCTRINES. As a condition of participating in this Campaign, participant agrees that any and all disputes that cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Campaign, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in [your state/province] having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances shall participant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to, punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorney’s fees, other than participant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. costs associated with entering this Campaign). Participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.

12. Privacy Policy: Information submitted with an entry is subject to the Privacy Policy stated on the DonnieNicole.com’s website.

13. Winners List: To obtain a copy of the Winner’s name or a copy of these Official Rules, e-mail your request along with your full mailing address to donnienicolesmith@gmail.com. Requests must be received no later than [January 15, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. CST].

14. Sponsor: The Sponsor of the Campaign is DonnieNicole.com.

15. The Campaign hosted by DonnieNicole.com is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook.

16. By checking entering the contest, You, the Contestant, have affirmatively reviewed, accepted, and agreed to all of the Official Rules.

Planner Format: Weekly, Daily or Both?

This one is a twofer. I had two major grant applications due on Thursday and Friday, so I wasn’t able to upload the #PlanWithMeChallengeDecember blog posts. So here they are! I sprinkled a little extra to make up for lost time.

Day 4: Weekly, Daily or Both? 

I use the weekly format in my planner because it saves space. I tried the Whitney English Day Designer for about a month and loved everything about it except the size. My planner needed to be small & compact enough, to be able to travel with the other things I carry: a laptop, a Kindle, a pencil case, an iPad, my cell phone (with it’s heavy Mophie Charger Case). The Day Designer I had was in the daily format, and it was simply not practical for me. I wrote about the day I abandoned by Day Designer here.

Although my planner is in the Weekly Format, I am very big on a daily to do list where I write down the 3 most important things that need to get done. If I don’t have enough space, I’ll write my list oa small post it note and stick it in to the planner. I also use my Weekly To Do List to make decisions on what I need to do daily.


Finally, I use the monthly pages to track important events and dates. When someone wants to schedule a meeting with me, I like being able to flip to one page and see what’s going on for the entire month. It’s also important to be able to control the pacing of life and to ensure that I get enough family time and “me” time. With the monthly calendar, I can look and see when I have a big grant deadline or meeting so I build in prep time the day before and the day of, to ensure that I don’t have a heart attack or have to lose sleep due to poor planning.

I came across this awesome Index of Inserts that includes FREE weekly & monthly pages and it also includes Health Trackers, Financial Trackers, To Do Lists & so much more!

Day 4: Goals?

I have never tracked my goals in my calendar, but am planning to start doing this in 2016. I have written a bit about goals here and here.

In the past my goals have always been like my surrounding environment – something that surrounds me. In 2016 I want my goals to be my compass and as much as possible for my daily tasks to be somehow connected to those larger goals.

I have always been very good about accomplishing academic and professional goals – applying to and completing college, submitting, preparing for interviews and accepting employment, and most recently making the transition from employee to entrepreneur. I honestly think that is because the tasks that it took to complete those goals were pretty much already defined. In order to get the degree – I had to finish up a set amount of classes each semester & the classes had a pre-defined role. In order to get a job, I had to complete the application, create a portfolio and interview. My most recent professional goal of becoming an entrepreneur had less defined tasks, as there are multiple ways to make the transition. (Side bar: I will be writing soon about how to make that transition for those who are interested).

Motivation quote: “Be stubborn about your goal, and flexible about your methods.” – GnomeAngel.com

When it comes to my personal goals – traveling, scrapbooking, blogging… those things have not been connected to my daily routine or to-do list.

My plan is to write a MASTER LIST of my goals, and then from that master list, create my daily task list to ensure that I am actually making progress on each of those goals.

I’m also a big fan of quarterly planning. I received that tip from Ronnie Tyler of Black and Married With Kids. Many people set goals or resolutions on an annual basis, and unless they are incredibly disciplined, don’t check in on the status of those goals until the following year. Quarterly planning builds in accountability, because it’s just enough time to try to get something done, but not too much time so you forget. The business world, in terms of assessing the health of the company also works on the Quarterly System, and I think they are on to something.

I am taking this entire month to work on my 2016 goals, and will be sure to post some of them later. What are your favorite tools for goal setting?

Planning Routine

Here is Day 3 of my #PlanWithMeChallengeDecember and it’s all about my Planning Routine. I broke it down into what I do daily, weekly, monthly.

My planner goes with me everywhere! The only time I don’t have it with me is when I go out & carry a clutch.


FullSizeRender 3

I check my planner when I first wake up, as well as when I go to bed.

I write down any new plans/commitments as soon as they happen so that I don’t forget.

I “sync” any new events to my digital calendar (New events are denoted with a post-it flag, once I “sync” them to my Google Calendar the flag is removed from the physical planner).

I check my planner in between appointments. I try not to schedule more than 5 things in one day (this could include meetings, phone conferences, events, etc.)

I also try to ensure that I have at least one day devoted to nothing but writing. I have to quarantine myself at least once a week otherwise things get out of control. This is the time when I write my grants, proposals, etc.



On a weekly basis, I:

Add all of the fun stuff to the calendar as far as stickers & other cute things.

Review e-mails to make sure I didn’t miss any invitations or meeting notices.

Write a “To Do List” for the week and move “to dos” from my monthly list into the week.

Do some meal planning. I usually cook a big meal every other day, and there is enough for leftovers for the 2nd day.

Schedule social stuff and “me” time. It may mean scrapbooking, shopping or mani/pedis which happen bi-weekly. I always squeeze in a date night with my husband.

I use a modified version of Myleik Teele’s (Founder & CEO of CurlBox) “highlighter” system. Everything that got done gets turned “pink.” Things that weren’t done are either not highlighted or turned yellow. On my to do list, things that I finish are also turned pink, and things that are not done are turned yellow, so that they can either be canceled/deleted OR copied to a new week/month.



On a monthly basis, I set high level goals. This could be house projects (like at some point I want to paint the basement stairs).

I add important deadlines for grants & other work-related stuff.

I look for birthdays & special holidays so that I can add gift making or purchasing to my to do list.

I look at travel to make sure I have everything that I need (sometimes I need to order promotional materials, or sometimes I need to pick up my travel size toiletries).

I also remove the pages from the previous month to make room. I keep them in storage just in case I need to refer to a past date.

Tips To Better Manage Your Time…


I use both a paper planner (Kate Spade Wellesley, that I purchased on Amazon) and a digital calendar (Google Calendar).

On Instagram there is an entire community where we share photos, tips, etc. I’m a huge Scrapbooker, and Planning (with a paper planner) is just like that because there are stickers, accessories and all kinds of adorably cute things to get to accentuate the planner.

So here are the first two days of the challenge:

Day 1 – My Planner Selfie


Day 2 – My System

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My system includes my Kate Spade Wellesley, my colored ink pens (more about that later), and my Sticker Binder. I’ll share more about that later.

This is the time of the year to reflect and to plan, so if you’re in that process here are some resources to help you!

I’ll be participating in #PlanWithMeChallengeDecember all month, so you can follow me on Instagram @blkgrlunmasked, as well as check back here for more explanation!

Tools To Set Your Goals: https://donnienicole.com/2015/01/02/tools-to-set-your-2015-goals/

This is also the time of year that I start pulling things for my Vision Board. Learn how to do your own here: https://donnienicole.com/2014/12/26/vision-board-2015-reveal/

This was how I spent the last month of the year, last year! May have to copy & paste some of that into my calendar/to-do list: https://donnienicole.com/2014/11/26/its-almost-the-end-of-the-year/.