Staff Writer

July 26, 2023 (Updated )

I have always loved stationery. I would go as far as saying I have a passion for it. When I was younger, I’d save up all my pocket money for the exciting weekend trips when I was allowed to traipse around our local Paperchase. I would ogle at the shop’s treasures, shaking the coins in my zip purse to gauge what I had saved enough £1 coins for. Notebooks and journals — no matter how garish — captivated me the most. Sequins, sparkles, velvet, fluff, faux leather, embroidery — I could not wait to add them all to my collection.

As I’ve gotten older, my passion for stationery has only grown. While I still have a soft spot for paper bound in sparkles, my love has evolved into a penchant for planners.

As writers and journalists, we’re constantly thinking about potential ideas and future stories, which, although exciting, can get pretty overwhelming. It’s hard to switch off the content brain and I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve lost too many good ideas to forgotten and badly organised notes on my phone.

For those working in a freelance or part-time capacity across multiple jobs and projects — or even side hustling outside work — it can be useful to have a space to differentiate between tasks and projects. Being able to have all of this stuff in one place is incredibly useful. Whilst we had a dedicated section in our 2023 Christmas Gift Guide, I set myself the task of finding the best planners for journalists and writers. Here’s what I found…

three notebooks and journals from ola
You can label and configure ola’s journals in a way that suits you. (Image: ola)

The Layflat Planner from ola

Now based in Bristol, Katy Goutefangea founded ola in the spring of 2014 out of the need for a practical, reliable, and simple tool which would still inspire its users to contemplate and create. Following her time in art school and as a printmaker, Goutefangea found herself with quite the collection of sketchbooks. However, not one struck the right balance of practicality and beauty. In response, she created ola’s signature product — the sustainably made Layflat notebook.

The Layflat notebook has since dropped in planner form, and it is a thing of beauty. Simple, sleek, and undated, ola’s A5 planner can be slotted into any bag or laptop case — and also comes in a more handy A6 size. As well as the gorgeous designs (check out the limited edition Enid print), the minimalist pages are perfect for anyone who might get easily overwhelmed as they encourage compartmentalisation of the months, weeks, and days ahead.

You won’t waste any pages because you can circle the letter of whichever day it is. There’s plenty of space for note-taking (which some daily planners can lack), both on the day pages and the empty dotted pages throughout and at the back. As well as planning your daily to-dos, there is also space for keeping editors’ emails safe, tracking applications, saving calls for pitches, and generating ideas.

ola tells Journo Resources: “[It] can be used to sketch and write simultaneously, it can be rotated and torn. It doesn’t need to be powered up to record a passing thought. It can be carried anywhere, dropped, and have things spilt on it without much worry. It can be flicked through and stored on a shelf. The same cannot yet be said for any digital device.” ola also has a desktop planner, which is just as pretty and practical as the Layflat planner.

Prices for the Layflat Planner start from £15.

planners from note and shine
Note and Shine’s designs notably feature plants and nature. (Image: Note and Shine)

The Daily Goals and Wellness Planner from Note and Shine

The York-based Note and Shine was founded in London in 2018 by author and designer Kelsey Layne-Black following a failed mission of finding her dream planner — somewhere she could easily organise her daily work aspirations while regularly being reminded of self-care.

Journalism often involves quick-paced, stressful days, and we sometimes let self-care slip. Having a space to plan your day and check in with yourself can be vital for avoiding burnout. Note and Shine’s Daily Goals and Wellness Planner does exactly that.

Note and Shine’s planners are printed with vegetable inks on eco-friendly paper in an eco-friendly print studio, and all of the cover designs feature plants or nature in some way. They are the ultimate accessory for any desk — WFH or otherwise. Every undated page is the same, where you are encouraged to have a “mindful morning” and to tick off exercise, yoga, go out in nature, or meditate. There is space for your to-do list, a main goal, self-care, and a healthy meal.

I love that Note and Shine’s wellness planner recognises the things which are often first to go when stress hits — but are what’s needed to combat that stress. Its pages make hectic days seem far more manageable.

The Daily Goals and Wellness Planner costs £16.

a woman of colour journaling on the couch
The best planners make space for goals and reflection. (Image: Papier)

The Daily Planner by Papier

Founded in 2015 by Taymoor Atighetchi, Papier now offers a wide selection of stationery goods from notebooks, journals, and desk accessories to its glorious planner range.

Papier’s daily planners are stunning and there are so many designs to choose from, which would all look beautiful on any bookshelf. While I opted for this artsy design (it’s giving me coffee-table-book-in-an-Italian-villa vibes), you can pick anything from florals to fruit, and personalise the cover with your name. I also love that Papier regularly collaborates with emerging talent for cover designs. Inside and out, everything about their planners feels exciting, unique, personal, and full of potential.

As well as plain lined pages for notes, there’s a section at the back to review and reflect on the goals you set at the beginning. Molly Park, chief product officer at Papier, tells us: “Reflecting is as important as planning. It’s important to acknowledge your journey to date, look back on how far you’ve already come and congratulate yourself on the progress you’ve made.”

Aside from the joy of ticking off the to-do list, she adds: “Celebrating any new rituals or the unhealthy habits you’ve kicked can often help to push you forward with renewed confidence. It’s important to remember to always find time to enjoy the moment as you watch your goals unfold.”

Each week also has a section where you can plan your meals for the week with a shopping list next to it. Everything really is all in one convenient place with Papier’s daily planner.

Papier’s Daily Planner costs £25.

the positive wellness journal from the positive planner
The Positive Wellness Journal guides users to make the best of the product. (Image: The Positive Planner)

The Positive Wellness Journal by The Positive Planner

The Positive Planner began in 2017 as a result of a not-so-positive incident involving founders Ali and Finn. “Both founders suffered with mental health issues in the postpartum period of motherhood and turned to journaling to aid recovery. It was a project born from a real gap in the market for beautiful, design-led stationery that also focused on positive mental health and well-being. The first batch of journals were crowdfunded and sold out within two weeks of launch,” Ali says. Now, you can find their products stocked in Waterstones, Oliver Bonas, and even Barnes and Noble across the pond.

Created with mental health as the number one priority, The Positive Planner now has a range of products from The Positive Student Planner to The Positive Wellness Journal — the latter was the product we tested. As a properly bound book complete with gold lettering, it looks absolutely beautiful. The content of every page is so carefully thought out, and while there are some great writing and planning prompts, there is no pressure.

Instead, the journal encourages gentle structure to help its users cultivate positive habits, and its view of mental and physical well-being is holistic. “We understand that many people feel on the go all the time, never truly feeling accomplished in our task-oriented society and as though we are measured somehow by our productivity. We actively try to encourage a slower pace to calm the nervous system and allow the user to feel present and centred when journaling,” says Ali.

I enjoyed the detailed guide (complete with an annotated diagram) on making the most of the journal, including definitions of assumed terms like affirmations and intentions. There is also space to ‘free write’ and a ‘positive mind list’ where you can build a list of activities that nourish your mind — helping you rest while stimulating creativity. Overall, this journal prioritises self-care to make space for creativity, helping you work with your mind when things might get stressful or overwhelming.

The Positive Wellness Journal costs £24.

pages from the productivity planner by lethally her
The Productivity Planner contains great attention to detail and beautiful artwork. (Image: Lethally Her)

The Productivity Planner by Lethally Her

Founded in 2019, Lethally Her is a brand that publishes content, puts on events, and sells products that combine holistic health and well-being with the hustle. We tried out Lethally Her’s 2023 daily productivity planner, and let me tell you, it’s an absolute powerhouse of a planner.

The gorgeous hardback cover design is simple but cool, housing daily planning pages with space for self-care, gratitude, a to-do list, a schedule, and miscellaneous notes. The attention to detail is incredible — there are monthly overviews, reflections and manifestations, information and resources pages for money and budgeting, additional reading and creative resources, reflective quizzes, beautiful artwork pages, colouring in, and more!

Best yet: a folder at the back of the planner with stickers, which is absolutely the way to my heart. It’s also somewhere you can stash scrap bits of paper with important emails and ideas.

Balancing mindfulness with productivity, Lethally Her’s daily planner is the cool big sister of all planners. It recognises that hustle culture is actually very nuanced, and it’s perfect for someone wanting everything life- and work-related in one place.

Lethally Her’s Daily Planner costs £20.

hello time planner
This planner is a good option if you prefer minimalism. (Image: HELLO TIME)


After experiencing a period of total burnout, Sam Smith founded HELLO TIME in 2018 when she decided it was time to create her own brand after years of helping other people build theirs. This daily planner acknowledges the stark difference between being busy and productive. Its self-declared mission is to help us avoid the ‘doing’ and ‘should be doing’ trap, and instead really think about where our time is going and how it can be used to best serve us.

The key to HELLO TIME’s planner is simplicity. As well as monthly and weekly overview pages, there is so much space for note-taking, free writing, and planning further into the future in a way that isn’t overwhelming. There are helpful guided pages to help you break down and reflect on your goals, and the planner feels supportive rather than prescriptive.

While looking for a tool to help organise her life, Smith found many planners either told their users how to plan their time too much, or they lacked space. HELLO TIME’s planner falls victim to neither of these issues. It is more of a large square shape, making it super user-friendly with lots of space and means it is able to lay flat.

Overall, this planner is minimalistic, extremely good quality, convenient, and a brilliant tool for visualising time both short- and long-term.

HELLO TIME’s planner costs £36.

A lilac copy of The Square Paper Co’s Undated Planner laying open on a wooden desk. A weekly desk planner insert is also pictured to the left and an olive coloured notebook with a pen is pictured to the right.
You’ll never waste a page of this undated planner which gives you the freedom and flexibility to come back to it as and when you wish. (Image: The Square Paper Co)

The Square Paper Co’s Undated Planner

Straight off the bat, I love that this planner acknowledges how easy it can be to “miss a week here or there and end up wasting countless spreads in your planner”. Even if a planner is undated, you can still waste pages every so often due to where the monthly overviews fall. The Square Paper Co’s Undated Planner splits the monthly overview and daily agenda sections into two so you can dip into monthly planning and daily planning whenever suits, which is useful if you’ve been off work or not using a planner for whatever reason. As we’ve established, I require ample room for general note-taking and ideas alongside day-to-day planning — of which this planner provides plenty at the back. Bonus points that it’s dotted paper.

The planner has clear, flexible sections — years at a glance, monthly overviews, daily agendas, and the notes section. The monthly overview sections resemble mini calendars, with space to add ‘memorable moments’, core tasks for the month, and, wait for it, even more dotted notes space. The daily agendas are simple and adaptable. If you prefer to have a tick box to-do list, a schedule which breaks down tasks by time, and blank space for note-style planning — each page has it all.

It’s a daily goal planner and organisational diary all in one. Having a separate planner and diary can be annoying, so I love that you can organise your life and goals across work and play in one place.

I was also pleased that this planner recognises weekends matter too. Whether you work a 9–5 or have a less traditional work schedule — likely if you’re a freelance journalist — it can be annoying when planners relegate weekends to a small section at the bottom of a page. Currently studying for the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism alongside my job, I often fit in work at the weekend around other social plans. So, weekends having the same amount of planning space was a winner.

Spot on size-wise, it’s bigger than A5 but not quite A4, meaning it’s spacious but can still slot into a handbag or rucksack nicely.

Prices for The Square Paper Co’s Undated Planner start at £20.

The Circle Planner laying open on a soft blanket showing a January planning page, with a pain au chocolat on a plate next to it.
Both the large Original and A5 editions of The Circle Planner help our deputy editor Kayleigh keep all her goals in one place. (Image: The Circle Planner)

The Circle Planner

After discovering The Circle Planner in 2020, our deputy editor Kayleigh has used and enjoyed several of its products. Here are her thoughts:

“I’m very picky when it comes to journals, but The Circle Planner has been a favourite of mine since I first bought one in 2020. I’m someone who likes to prepare for everything and embody that self-improvement hype; it was only recently that I admitted to myself that I’m probably a ’Type A’ – ambitious and organised with a strong work ethic, but with a tendency to juggle too much and lose work-life balance.

“Both the large Original and A5 editions of The Circle Planner let you set five key focuses for the week as well as a list of tasks to tick off. There’s a day-by-day breakdown to help you meet your deadlines, or – for those more likely to be handling a lot of clients and meetings, an hour-by-hour (yes) breakdown of your day if you plump for the Original. With both a weekly and monthly tracker to keep on top of your goals, whether it be work, financial, social – or whatever else, it’s an easy way to tick off your daily habits. Besides the gym and socialising (remote life), it helped me keep on top of Duolingo – because the nagging bird itself is seemingly not enough!

“This year though, I’m trying something a bit different. I have a habit of viewing goals intangibly as opposed to something concrete in the present. Like a healthy relationship, where you would choose to show up for your partner every day, I am trying to commit to my goals in the same fashion. The Circle’s 3 Month Goal Setting Journal helps break down goals step-by-step so the work seems less daunting. It asks you for your motivation, with a focus on how you’ll feel when you get there. If you’re an emotional person (like me) in need of some emotional accountability and blackmail (also like me), you’ve struck gold.”

The Circle Planner’s prices start at £23.

A white notebook sits on a desk underneath a mechanical keyboard. It's made up of a list on the right hand side and a dotted paper matrix on the the right.
Our editor Jem uses the original Cortex Sidekick Notepad. (Image Credit: Cortex)

The Sidekick Notepad

For the last 12 months, our director Jem has been using The Sidekick Notepad, which she says is the longest she’s actually stuck with one system. Here’s what she had to say about it:

“I was given The Sidekick Notepad from Cortex Brand as a gift, which is probably for the best as it is on the pricey side. However, it does feel every inch a premium product — and I don’t think I’ve ever stuck with something for so long. This pad is hand-assembled in London, the paper is smooth and shiny, and the cover is made from recycled coffee cups — so you do feel you got your money’s worth.

“This isn’t a stereotypical planner, but if you’re anything like me, I really struggle with writing unachievably long to-do lists that just leave me frozen with indecision and feeling very overwhelmed. I use this notepad to sort out what I can actually get done in a week. I write my mega-big to-do list in a normal notebook, then I use the list at the side of this kicker to write down what I’ll tackle first. My rule is that there’s no more time in a week than slots on the kicker’s list — it just won’t get done. Then, I shut the big, long, terrifying list, and leave the kicker on my desk to guide me.

“Once the week is over, you just tear off the sheet and start again. I love this as an action — no matter how badly it all went, there’s a fresh page and no evidence like in other planners. I’m also a big fan of the oodles of space for doodles, free-form notes, and thoughts. There are sixty sheets in total and no dates, so you can make it work for you however you like — use one a day or one a week, skip a week, spill coffee on it, it doesn’t matter. Or, if you’d like more structure to plan your week, our co-director Jack has the version with some weekly planner boxes.”

The Sidekick Notepad starts from US$45.


journals by avocado and spice
These are journals instead of planners, but that just means more creative freedom. (Image: Avocado and Spice)

Avocado & Spice

Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a planner. However, I thought it would be good to include because not everyone will embrace pre-designed planners, and some might prefer other methods like bullet journaling.

Avocado & Spice is a beautiful eco-friendly brand founded by Ben and Hannah following their struggle to find high-quality journals that would withstand lots of travelling and the test of time. Their premium faux-leather journals are 100 per cent cruelty-free and come in a range of colours, sizes, and designs. You can also choose between dotted, lined, squared, or plain pages.

These journals — which would also make gorgeous gifts for any notebook-loving journalist or writer — are lovely to write in, are hard-wearing but still incredibly aesthetically pleasing, and are very portable. I’ll have one in every colour, please.

Prices start from £9.95.

Hannah Bradfield
Hannah Bradfield

Hannah is a recent graduate from Loughborough University, where she studied a BA in English and Sport Science and an MA in Media and Cultural Analysis. Alongside her studies, Hannah was on the editorial teams of several student magazines, and was awarded ‘Best Student Journalist, Midlands’ by the SPA in 2018.

She was a BBC Sport Kick-Off Reporter in 2019 and had co-founded and edited a one-off 40-page print and digital magazine in celebration of International Women’s Day 2021. Along with her work for Journo Resources, she is currently studying for the NCTJ diploma at News Associates and freelance writing.

Header image courtesy of Papier