9 Best Study & Academic Planners for Students in 2020

9 Best Study & Academic Planners for Students in 2020

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Do you want to learn how to get more organized in your academic or professional life?

Finding the best study planner for your busy schedule is a great way to have everything you need in one place.

If you're like me, your work often becomes scattered because you have so much going on and your schedule is up in the air. However, if you take the time to maintain a college study planner, you will always be able to reference your obligations, goals, and responsibilities.

To help you find the one that is right for you, here is a list of the top nine study planners for students and professionals. I'll go over the pros and cons of each so you can find one that best suits your needs.

No time to read the entire review?

Here's a quick look at our favorite study planners for students and professionals:

Best Overall ChoiceBest Overall ChoiceBestSelfCo’s Self Planner CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Runner-Up OptionRunner-Up OptionBelfSelfCo's Weekly Action Pad CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Value for the MoneyBest Value for the MoneyErin Condren’s Academic Planner CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Most Budget-FriendlyMost Budget-FriendlyThe Work-Smart Academic Planner CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Daily Planner OptionBest Daily Planner OptionPanda Planner Pro CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Budget Option for High School or College StudentsBest Budget Option for High School or College StudentsBlue Sky Weekly & Monthly Planner CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best for Budget-Friendly Options for Busy StudentsBest for Budget-Friendly Options for Busy StudentsPretty Simple Planners - Weekly and Monthly CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Option for Skill MasteryBest Option for Skill MasteryThe Mastery Journal CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Basic Student PlannerBest Basic Student PlannerDated High School or College Student Planner CLICK HERE FOR PRICE

Let's jump right in.

How could a study planner benefit you during the upcoming year?

The truth is, when you think about all of the things that you need to get done in the near future, it is probably completely overwhelming. You often wonder how you will accomplish all of your goals when there is so much on your plate.

It is important to know what you will use your planner for so you can make it a focused and organized study tool. Will you be using it to keep track of your homework assignments and projects? Or maybe you need it to keep track of your appointments, or even your personal goals.

Let your planner help you by using it to prevent yourself from procrastinating. Create a plan and stick to it until you see your goals all the way through.

With a study planner, you can break your big goals down into little tasks and plan out exactly when you will complete each one. If you are able to pinpoint one small thing that you need to get done every day in order to achieve your goal, you will make the progress that you need to succeed.

Do you find yourself procrastinating a lot when trying to study? Check out: The Study Plan Schedule Strategy (That Actually Works)

Set Deadlines

Break down your goal and set mini-deadlines for yourself. Setting deadlines is helpful, and having milestones for every few weeks will help you continue to feel like you are accomplishing something. With the progress that you gradually make, you will be motivated to keep going.

Creating deadlines for yourself to meet your goals is not an arbitrary thing. According to Forbes magazine, there are some things you should keep in mind when you are setting your schedule:

  • Create specific and attainable goals.
  • Don't make any promises that you will not be able to keep.
  • Make your deadlines firm.
  • Execute your plans.
  • Do not stop your progress because you are scared you will make a mistake.

Essentially, you should lay out a reasonable plan for yourself and make a commitment to executing it. It is ok to be firm with yourself if you start to slip up and get behind on your deadlines. It is important to get back on track so you can keep up with your study planner.

Create a Habit

Use your study planner to make sure you have a task to complete each day. That way, working towards your goals becomes a habit. Even if the task is very small, keep the momentum going throughout the week. Set aside a specific time for every day that you will be working.

To do this, figure out when you perform your best. Is it right when you wake up, before your day starts piling up? Or maybe it is after you wind down at night and can sit and focus on what you are doing. Either way, determine the best time to do your work and set that time aside every day.

During this time, set aside any distractions that may prohibit you from doing your work. If you have a set amount of time, you are more likely to be able to focus on what you are doing and save any possible distractions for later.

And if you're having trouble remembering the material you're trying to learn, then The Feynman Technique can help you solve this issue.

Features to Look for in a Study Planner

Take some time to think carefully about your planner. Do you want a planner that has a section for every day, or a planner that goes by weeks?

Day-at-a-time study planners are ideal for people who are very detail oriented and have a lot of small tasks. Week-at-a-time planners give a better overview because they are able to let you see your entire week at a glance.

Day-at-a-time planners may be right for you if you have do to things at a specific time of day, because they offer more room in each day to take notes. However, if you only have one overall goal that is not time-sensitive, a week-at-a-time planner may be a better option for you.

After choosing the format of your study planner, you will need to decide if you want your schedule to move vertically or horizontally. A horizontal format is the most common, with wide spaces set apart for each day. However, a vertical format allows you to create long lists or put your day in chronological order.

Finally, a verso format has a horizontal week on each page, and space to take notes on the opposite page. This lets you have a task list on one page and a schedule for completing the tasks on the other.

You will also need to consider the size of your study planner. Do you want to be able to take it with you everywhere you go? Study planners range from micro size to grande size. Depending on how often you will need to reference your study planner, consider how much room you want it to take up.

Are there some supplemental features that would be helpful for you? Perhaps an important dates memo page or a birthday page?

You may need to reference some kind of conversion chart on a regular basis that would be great to have handy in your study planner. Consider any extra features like this that may be useful for you.

Additionally, do you find that you have important papers that seem to pile up, but you don't really have a specific place for them? If you have some papers that you need to keep with you often, look for a planner that comes with a pocket inside where you can slip those papers in.

How well-built do you need your planner to be? Typically, the higher quality study planners are also the most expensive, but if you plan on taking it with you everywhere, it may be worth the investment so it doesn't start to fall apart half way through the year. Consider the binding and the paper quality when looking for a study planner.

Study Planner Reviews

Take some time to think about how you want your planner to work for you, and how much you will be relying on it. For example, if you want something that you will be able to jot things down on throughout the day while you are out and about, you may not want to get a full-sized, heavy planner, but rather one that you can comfortably carry around with you all day.

Here are the top nine planners that may suit your needs.

1. Best Overall Choice: BestSelf Co’s Self Planner

Best Study Planners | Best Overall Choice | BestSelfCo’s Self Planner

BestSelf Co. is on a mission to provide people with the frameworks, systems, and tools to help people take action towards living a more fulfilled and meaningful life. Their planning tools and other products leverage the art and science of success, to help you achieve anything.

Their products have been featured on the Huffington Post, LifeHacker, Readers Digest, CNN, Buzzfeed, Business Insider, and more. BestSelf Co. is also proud to partner with Feeding America and donates a meal to someone in need with every purchase. Their Self Planner is designed to help you manage your time, plan your life, and define and work toward your own goals. It's a flexible, versatile planning tool that is perfect for students.

BestSelf Co’s Self Planner is an undated six-month planner. It has a hard cover, so it can easily be used on the go, when you don't have a desk or table nearby. The 100g white ivory paper is thick enough for fountain pens, and it has a back pocket and two ribbon place markers. Inside, it has templates to help you manage your time, clarify your priorities, benchmark your successes, and even self-reflect on your progress.

It has project planners and habit trackers that help students manage their time and study load every day. It even has a 6-month bucket list to help you dream big. The two bookmarks, along with perforated page corners, help you track multiple projects at once, and there is plenty of space for notes, sketches, and free-form ideas.

BestSelf Co’s Self Planner measures 7 x 10 inches and comes in either black or coral color. Every purchase provides a meal to someone in need through Feeding America.

PROS

  • Great size and durable cover for easy, durable portability
  • Organize large goals, daily tasks, and ongoing habits to manage time and achieve goals
  • Convenient templates along with free pages for versatile uses
  • Undated so you can start any time
  • Two bookmarks, back cover pocket, elastic band closure, and perforated corners make it easy to stay organized
  • Proceeds help to feed those in need

CONS

  • Students may not need so many templates for bucket lists and self-reflection

2. Runner-Up Option: BelfSelf Co's Weekly Action Pad

Best Study Planners | Runner-Up Option | BelfSelfCo's Weekly Action Pad

The Weekly Action Pad from BestSelf is an incredible tool to help you manage time, get organized, and get everything done on time. It's more than just a note pad; it's an organizational system. To use the weekly action pad correctly:

  1. In the “Task” column, write down everything you need to this week that will take time. This helps you start to get organized and prevents forgetting things. If your tasks have a specific deadline, record it in the “due date” column. Otherwise, leave that column empty for now.
  2. In the “Priority” column, assign your tasks an “ABC” priority. “A” for tasks that are time sensitive, “B” for tasks that are important but not urgent, and “C” for tasks that are not crucial this week. Try to not assign yourself more than 2-3 “A” priority tasks per day.
  3. In the “time estimate” column, record how much time you think each task will take.
  4. Use the “E/N/D” column to record which tasks are energizing, draining, or neutral. Noting how certain tasks make you feel can help you organize when to get them done, as your energy levels fluctuate during the day, and reduces procrastination.  
  5. In the “due date” column, add deadlines for tasks that don't have a due date. Use your assigned due dates and time estimates to set your own deadlines and try to not assign yourself more than 2-3 draining tasks per day.
  6. Add notes. Every page has space for notes in the far left column, and further notes on the back of each page.
  7. Celebrate your successes as you check off completed tasks.

This system is much more effective at helping you plan, prioritize, and complete tasks than a simple to-do list. It helps you organize your time to meet deadlines, reduce procrastination, and be more productive every week.

BelfSelf Co's Weekly Action Pad has 52 undated pages, so you can start any time and stay organized and productive for an entire year. It's a tool that is backed by the proven successes of highly productive people and is a great way to beat procrastination and stay on target.

It's a 7 x 11.75 inch notebook, with acid-free, 100gsm white ivory paper that is fountain pen friendly. An elastic closure and ribbon marker make it easy to take with you, stay on track, and turn your to-do list into a “done” list.

PROS

  • Proven tool to help stay organized and complete tasks
  • Makes it easy to stay organized, stay on schedule, and manage daily tasks
  • A full year of weekly planning
  • Tracking your energy levels reduces procrastination
  • Generous space for free-form notes
  • Undated so you can start any time

CONS

  • There is a light checkmark already printed in the “done” column, which may reduce clarity between done and un-done tasks, or reduce some of the satisfaction of checking off completed tasks

3. Best Value for the Money: Erin Condren’s Academic Planner

Best Study Planners | Best Value for the Money | Erin Condren’s Academic Planner

Erin Condren is famous for planners that are as fashionable as they are useful, and her designs have been featured on The Ellen Show, Rachel Ray, The Today Show, and in Family Circle Magazine. Her student planner is incredibly popular, with space to organize your class schedule, exams, assignments, and more, along with inspirational quotes and endless customization options. It's durable, useful, and a great value for the money.

Erin Condren’s Academic Planner has a full 12 months of customized planning, where you can choose and customize your start month to fit your academic year. It has monthly and weekly views, with lots of space for notes, exams, to-dos, and important dates. Colorful dividing pages have inspirational sayings, and it comes with stickers that are both useful and decorative.

This planner comes in a huge range of cover colors and patterns. Covers can be customized with your own text and name, and you can also choose the coil material, for an additional cost.

PROS

  • Fun, fashionable, and customizable planner
  • Full 12 months for the entire academic year
  • Undated so you can start any time
  • Monthly and weekly calendars with to-do lists
  • Free space for notes
  • Inspirational sayings
  • Comes with stickers

CONS

  • Some people wish for more space for daily tasks and lists

4. Most Budget-Friendly: The Work-Smart Academic Planner, Revised Edition: Write It Down, Get It Done

This large-format study planner is great for students as young as middle school aged, but just as effective for those in college. It provides the user with one place to keep track of deadlines and assignments, while also helping to develop critical executive skills that are needed to succeed in life.

This may be the right study planner for you if you are looking for more than just a blank calendar to fill in. It is an interactive planner of sorts, as the authors have provided information inside to help the reader.

This study planner provides tools to get organized, learn study skills, succeed in time management, create study plans, and stay focused. It also has enough space on the pages to allow users to evaluate their skills throughout the year. This planner urges the user to assess their professional weaknesses that need to be worked on, and to profit from their strengths. With simplified planner pages, this edition also comes with an improved form that helps students study for tests.

The planner has spiral binding, and is triple hole punched so it can fit into any binder. It comes with undated calendars so it can be used at any starting point during any year. It also comes with a reference calendar for future planning.

This is a great planner for people who need a little extra help staying motivated and organized. If the user follows the advice of the authors and uses the tools provided, they are likely to be more successful.

PROS

  • Uses logical language in its menu of options.
  • Teaches strategies for personal self-management.
  • Increases the user's sense of self-efficacy.
  • Offers clinical tools that lead to success.

CONS

  • Some may not like the undated calendars, as they must be filled in manually.
  • This is a larger planner, so it may not be as easy to transport as others.
  • It may not be right for people who are not interested in an executive career path.

5. Best Daily Planner Option: Panda Planner Pro

Best Study Planners | Best Daily Planner Option | Panda Planner Pro

The Panda Planner was created by Michael Leip, after illness and a traumatic brain injury left him feeling disorganized, anxious, and depressed. When conventional planners didn't work for him, he researched planners and productivity aids, doing research that would help him find a way to stay organized, but also fight anxiety and depression.

The Panda Planner is more than just a planner: It's a system to help provide the inspiration, motivation, and organization to manage stress and reach your goals. It's a great choice for students, because it helps manage monthly, weekly, and daily schedules, but also helps to build mini-routines and habits for productivity and mental health. These daily habits and organization tools build a mindset that keeps you productive every day.

The Panda Planner Pro is a 6-month planner, where you schedule and organize every part of your life. In the monthly view, you schedule deadlines and appointments, and plan ahead for the goals you want to reach that month. Choose a monthly area of focus and add a daily habit you would like to develop that month. In the weekly view, reflect on the prior week and review your successes and areas for improvement.

Break down your projects into simple baby steps. Plan the upcoming week and set goals. In the daily view, take a moment in the morning for a moment of positivity. Schedule your daily tasks and focus on 3-5 daily priorities. Use the notes areas for ideas and notes and check off your daily tasks. At the end of every day, week, and month, reflect on your goals and successes and build a healthy mindset.

The templates guide you through every step of your planning, keeping you organized, on track, and positive. The Panda Planner Pro also comes with 11 free eBooks, including A Billionaire's Secrets to Productivity, How to Cure Procrastination, How to Crush Your Goals, and How to Get Back on Track When You Fall Off Course. It also comes with a video start guide to show you how to make the most of your Panda Planner.

PROS

  • Focuses on mental health and happiness as well as organization and tasks
  • Helps you structure months, weeks, and days
  • Helpful templates for every day
  • Helps build healthy habits
  • Undated so you can start any time
  • Comes with free video start guide and 11 free eBooks to help you reach your goals

CONS

  • The templates give a lot of space to daily habit, daily focus, daily affirmations, and daily reflections, which for some busy people doesn't leave a lot of room on the page for detailed tasks and to-dos
  • For some people, the need to take time for morning and evening goal setting, planning, and reflection feels too time consuming, and that maintaining the planner becomes another task in itself

6. Best Budget Option for High School or College Students: Blue Sky Weekly & Monthly Planner

This stylish planner will help you stay on top of things all year. It incorporates fresh page designs that add style and offer the necessary room to take additional notes. It is large and durable, so it is perfect for people with busy schedules.

Made from thick, premium quality paper, this planner is environmentally friendly, as it is printed with soy-based ink on 50% post-consumer waste recycled paper. Its durable tabbed dividers will last throughout the year.

This sophisticated planner will easily fit the scheduling needs of busy students, or anyone who needs to keep track of appointments. Its front decor is protected by a plastic liner, so you don't need to worry about the planner getting damaged among your other belongings.

This planner is best for Millennials who love color, design, and adding their own notes. Because it is larger, it is best for people who carry big bags around, or for those who plan to leave their study planners at home. This planner has a feminine look that is aimed more towards women, but males would also get great use out of it for their organizational needs.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Has lots of room to write notes
  • Incorporates attractive colors and designs

CONS

  • Does not have a pocket
  • The pages are slightly rough

7. Best for Budget-Friendly Options for Busy Students: Pretty Simple Planners – Weekly and Monthly

This planner has “charming” written all over it, with its elegant floral design. However, it isn’t just cute—it also gets the job done properly.

If you’re looking for a straightforward planner, then you might want to consider getting this one. It features a whole-year preview, and places each monthly calendar on a two-page spread, allowing for a quick view of your schedule for the entire month. Furthermore, the weekly/daily schedule pages provide enough space for you to write your appointments, class schedules, or meetings. On top of that, there is space for a bulleted daily to-do list, making it a handy organizing tool that helps you get things done on time.

The planner also contains motivational quotes from influential historical figures to inspire you on a daily basis.

Unlike other planners that can accidentally snag or tangle with other items inside a purse, the book-bound spine on this planner ensures no issues when you store it.

This planner has a nice entry-level price point for students who are learning how to manage their time more effectively, as well as for educators who need a no-frills planner to keep track of class schedules and meetings.

PROS

  • A simple planner that gets the job done.
  • Provides an overview of the entire year in one page.
  • Has a two-page monthly calendar for a quick look at schedules and special dates.
  • Space is provided for bulleted, daily to-do lists.
  • The spine is book-bound, so it does not snag on other items inside a purse.

CONS

  • There are no monthly tabs to more easily locate specific entries.
  • The cover is flimsier than most standard planners.
  • The binding may not be able to withstand heavy use through the year.

8. Best Option for Skill Mastery: The Mastery Journal

This planner revolves around FOCUSing (Follow One Course Until Success). It teaches the user how to accomplish the important tasks that need to get completed in order to achieve a final goal. This book promises to help the user master productivity and focus within 100 days.

This is a great tool for people who tend to have trouble seeing their projects through until the end. It keeps the user's attention on their work in order to be successful in their long-term goal.

Every day, this study planner offers a guide through four FOCUS sessions, each beginning with a timer and one “focus.” Once the timer begins, the only goal is to finish the specified task. After four sessions, the user goes through a review process to determine their level of discipline and productivity.

Furthermore, this planner offers tips on how to prepare for the following day. It teaches how to establish tomorrow's routine, and how to determine your main goal for the day.

Finally, this journal guides you to evaluate your overall performance every 10 days. With reflection on your successes and struggles throughout the past 10 days, you can create a plan to help boost your level of success and find solutions for future problems that may arise.

This is another interactive planner that works to motivate the user through tempting times of procrastination.

PROS

  • Provides structure for the work day.
  • Straightforward journal that is easy to follow.
  • Hard cover and high quality.

CONS

  • There is a lot of text on each page, which some may find distracting.
  • Higher priced planner.
  • A bit heavy.

9. Best Basic Student Planner: Dated High School or College Student Planner

If you are looking for a small planner that has enough room to take notes, this may be the right planner for you. It is small, however, it comes with a complete package of 144 pages, including:

  • 104 calendar pages
  • 24 monthly pages
  • 16 reference pages

The annual calendar begins and ends in June and includes an “Advance Planning” page to help you prepare for the remainder of the calendar year. This planner includes reference pages that address:

  • Weight conversions
  • Math formulas
  • Frequently misspelled words

With its nice compact size, it is easy to transport with you throughout the day. There is very little clutter in this planner, and it only has the essentials that you may need for success.

This study planner is especially useful for high school and college students because it includes success tips on useful subjects such as writing resumes, and tips for having a successful career. It focuses on self-responsibility, weekly goals, and inspirational quotes.

The quotes help to motivate students to succeed, and the book offers an organized layout for students to learn how to take on responsibility and set reasonable goals for themselves.

PROS

  • Helps improve organization
  • Includes a grade record and class schedule page to keep you on track throughout the week
  • Small enough to carry in a purse or small backpack
  • Budget-friendly

CONS

  • Not great for people taking spring classes that begin in May
  • Does not have monthly dividers on the side
  • Made out of flimsy material that may break down throughout the year

Final Verdict

In conclusion, the best planner overall is BestSelfCo’s Self Planner. It helps the user stay on track with their goals while not being too specific in giving directions on how to do their work.

Best Study Planners | Best Overall Choice | BestSelfCo’s Self Planner

This is the perfect combination of motivating and liberating, as it allows the user to plan for themself, yet keeps them consistently working throughout the process. It motivates people through times of procrastination, yet offers space for the user to makes changes as needed.

What has been your experience with study planners?

Have you used any of these, or do you have additional recommendations? Leave your thoughts in the comments to share your experiences and help other people find the best planners for their needs.

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9 Best Study & Academic Planners for Students in 2020