What type of diaries/ planners/ calendars to increase planning and productivity?

Update: October 2018- Do read the update of my experience in using these planning tools, almost a year on.

It is now approaching the new year and it is time to get on planning for the year ahead.

Stores have begin selling various calendars and diaries that you can buy to aid your planning. You can find these items available at bookstores like Popular, Borders and MPH:

Calendars and diaries

Daiso also have begin to sell calendars and planners:

Planners and diaries by Daiso

Note: If you intend to jump into planning sometime in the middle of the year (there’s never a bad time to start planning) but could not find diaries, you can consider buying planners instead – for example MrDIY have planners that are inexpensive, as well as washy tapes and stickers (if you wanna get creative).

Each year end, I use to scout around looking for planners and calendars to be able to plan my tasks to be able to stay more productive and so that I would not forget important appointments. Over the years, I have bought various planners and diaries, as well as tried various planning methods.

For workplace:

During the time when I was still working, I had very hectic work. Each day I had to attend to many emails and sometimes have to travel to attend meetings. I also have to prepare communication via email to be sent out to hundreds of staff.

At first I was jotting down tasks and minutes in normal books but as worked got more hectic and my responsibilities grew, I needed a time specific planner.

Hence, I started to use year by year diaries- ie those that have specific dates. My diary is often filled to the brim with jottings. Even Saturday and Sunday slots were not spared as I would use whatever empty space to jot down meeting minutes. It gives me reassurance to know that most of the important updates/to-do lists are all in one place.

I usually prefer to get my diaries from Thailand as it contained Thai alphabets (as I am also learning the Thai language).


Prior to that, I was using the soft cover diaries available locally.

I would always buy the B5 size that can fit nicely into my handbag if I need to carry it around.

Isn’t it more effective to organize and jot down tasks using tools like Microsoft Outlook or Smartphone?

It depends on your personal style and preference. I find the calendar tool in my Smartphone very useful for important doctor appointments (for my mom), bills due date and important birthdays. However, myself (as well as a number of people I knew) still prefer the old fashioned way of writing things down, of flipping through pages and having things visually displayed.

Also there is a satisfaction of striking off tasks that you have accomplished if the tasks are written in your book.

For personal

My personal and home planning tools are different. In my personal life, I am more driven by my creative flow. I know that there are fixed tasks such as marketing, preparation, groceries, cleaning that have to be done as well as making time for my blogs.

I have tried a number of planning tools such as using an organization planner (A4 size), notebook, etc but those methods did not work.

For example, if I have a tasks of cleaning my house, I would mentally note down the tasks that I need to do then space out the days to do it. In a day I also spend time to write blog posts (because I love blogging so much). I would backtrack the day that I know I must start but do not define a time to do it. If my creative energy is stronger in the morning, I would be updating my blogs and then start my cleaning after lunch. Sometimes I do these tasks at intervals. Usually these tasks do get done on time and sometimes more as I do not restrict myself through regimented planning.

Personal is different from work. For work, we have our deliverables hence we can’t really afford to just do what the mood strikes us.

Now, for my home life, it consists of a nice calendar (a gift from my friend who bought from Kaison) where I use it to mark down my expenses:

Table calendars from Kaison

Important dates are marked using the calendar function of my Smartphone.

Finding your own style

Discovering your own organizing and planning style takes time and experience. Also you need to understand that with time, your preferred planning method may change. One style that suits you now may not suit you the following year hence you need to always give yourself that space to grow and evolve.

But still, it is an adventurous time to hunt for good diaries, planners and calendars for the upcoming new year.

May the tools help us to become better planners.



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