One of the most common things people comment on this blog is that I’m rather critical of planners in my reviews… which is true. I’ve become quite picky over the years… here are 10 of my pet peeves when it comes to planners!
1. No tabs
No tabs seems to be the norm for stitched notebooks and is one of the main reasons I don’t like them – it’s takes too long to find things. Not all of them include ribbon bookmarks and if they do sometimes they’ll only include one. You can add sticky notes and washi tape but then they get scuffed.
2. Stitching that doesn’t lay flat
Another gripe about stitched notebooks: it’s rare to find one that stays flat without having to hold it open when writing in it.
3. Pages that can’t fold back on themselves
Have I convinced you to ditch sewn planners yet? The stitched binding doesn’t allow you to fold the pages back on themselves especially if it’s a hardcover which it needs to be if it’s going to last a long time.
Coil binding and discbound binding are the best for folding the pages back which is a must have for me if it’s bigger than A5 size (otherwise it takes up too much space on my desk).
4. Poor quality cover that’s easily damaged
Laminate covers are affordable but they also aren’t the best quality. Hardcovers are sturdy but too heavy and there’s rarely the option for cover personalisation.
Hence my my favorite type of cover is cardstock with rounded corners and a clear cover over the top (like the plum paper covers) – they seem to last the longest. Although nothing can beat my ARC Discbound leather cover that’s still in as new condition after 7 years of regular use (expensive but was definitely worth it!)
5. Inconsistent start days
Some planners have inconsistent start days on the monthly calendar and weekly spread e.g. monthly calendar starts Sunday but the weekly spread starts Monday.
I prefer when both start monthly & weekly views start on Mondays that way weekends stay together.
6. Split boxes on the monthly calendar
I don’t really use traditional monthly calendars anymore as I find the boxes are to small to write more than 1 thing in. So when boxes are split (especially in half diagonally) those days are useless to me. It would make much more sense to just re-start the numbering on the top row. Thank goodness for whiteout tape!
Definitely watch out of this in small page size planners.
Related: Recollections Family Planner Review
7. Poor paper quality
One of the first things I do when I buy a planner is a pen test. Poor quality paper = pen ink and highlighters can be seen on the other side.
One of the worst paper quality….
And one of the best…
8. No monthly planning or notes pages
This isn’t so much of an issue if you’re using multiple notebooks but if you’re only using 1 planner there’s no room for monthly lists, monthly review etc.
9. Any planner above $50
More than around $50 and the planner is entering the unnecessarily expensive realm. There are so many planners to choose from these days plus notebooks for bullet journaling and printables to make your own planner. If there’s a planner you love and use every year then $50 may be worth the investment, but there’s plenty of more affordable planners to choose from (see my Planner index of 300+ planners in this post)
Related: Best Weekly Planners For Under $50
10. Vertical planners
Just everything about vertical planners doesn’t work for me. There’s not enough space to write more than 1 or 2 words across unless you write really small.
The sidebar is too narrow.
Multiple sections per day can also be restrictive / too structured.
Vertical is ideal for scrapbooking and decorative spreads when you don’t have much to plan, or if you use in conjunction with another planner or checklist notepad etc.
11. Dot grid spacing
5mm dot grid and light grey is perfect (in my opinion). Dots that are super close together and black are a no go for me.
The paper is bright white but the dots are too close together in the Clever Fox Planner
Related: Clever Fox Weekly Planner Review
More planning tips
- 50 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Planner
- 7 Mistakes to avoid when setting up a new planner
- How to use functional icon planner stickers
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