Hello! It's Sidonie here. I'm the founder of Papersmiths - so a big thanks for being here. Last year, I wrote a little guide to my top twelve tools for planning and it turned out to be a useful starting point for lots of you. So I'm back with a 2022 - 2023 edition.
Choosing a diary is a matter of great personal importance. Unlike 2021 when diary shopping had to be a digital expedition, this year you'll be able to choose yours in person at our shops. But, for anyone who lives outside of London and Brighton and those who like to do some research first, I'm here to help.
I’ve used many tools for planning over the years. I’ve tried and tested. I’ve rejected and adored. I’ve critiqued them, pined for them and sent away to Japan for them. I’ve written panicked messages begging for more stock for Papersmiths when we've sold out too soon. Samples land on my desk at odd times of year, so I flit between formats and am enticed by new designs. I discover new favourites or, inevitably, find myself pulled back by old friends.
Paying close attention to the questions you’ve asked in the shops, via email and in our Instagram DMs has given me even more insight. With so much choice, a diary section of a website or shop can feel a little overwhelming. So I’ll take you through the best of the bunch. We've got tools for the wall or the desktop, for tackling the mammoth to-do list or for throwing in your bag.
Look out for the numbered titles of each section. You'll find the purpose in bold so you can scroll on until you find the one for you. I hope to leave you knowing who'll be by your side for 2022, and feeling as prepared as possible.
1) For scheduling
Mark's of Japan are my go-to diary people for scheduling. They feature a vertical layout which, in diary lingo, means the hours of the day are laid out on the page from top to bottom.
Besides the inside being brilliantly practical, the collection has a decent variety of stylish, minimalistic cover designs. In the days of international travel, you may have spied them in some of the best concept stores around the world - think Merci and Colette.
The covers may change but you'll find exactly the same vertical format in each diary. An hour-by-hour structure may sound pretty standard but its worth taking note here if you're someone whose schedule is packed and regularly needs adjusting. If this sounds like you, then a horizontal format just won't cut it. You'll end up with one very messy and disorganised diary. With a vertical layout, you can neatly and clearly set out your appointments and meetings and make the most of your work (and play!) time.
Choose from A5 or A6 in size. 25% of the double page spread is dedicated to a dot grid notes section and 25x22mm thumbnails show you the current and previous month's calendars. The diary is fully dated and includes week numbers, too. There’s a spread for annual planning (great for marking holidays and project planning in the longer term) or repurposing as your own habit tracker.
You’ll find notes pages in the back, tabbed monthly sections (A5 only) for easy flipping and a bookmark ribbon to mark your current week.
International holidays are printed throughout and there’s an overview of international currencies and telephone codes, average temperatures, subway maps, airport information and the world time chart. And if you can't be bothered with the faff of international travel right now, then at least you can live vicariously through your diary.
Beside their excellent colour palette (hello orange and mint), my favourite feature is the zippy cover made from recycled PVC. It not only protects your diary from splashes of coffee, but doubles as a wallet for keeping receipts, business cards and your pen to hand. A resilient option.
After something smaller? Then check out the A6 sizes by the same designers.
2) For balancing your life
Carina Lawson, the creator behind Ponderlily planners, believes life should fuller, not busier. Carina wanted to create a planner that organised all aspects of life in one place; a planner that could complement the lives of those of us who have a lot to keep track of. Sound familiar? This could be the planner for you.
Upon opening the bookcloth cover, but not before clocking the copper foil lettering, you’ll find a companion packed with some of the most considered features I’ve seen in a planner. Dedicated sections for intentions, to-do lists, gratitude and notes sit alongside a weekly scheduler.
There are two page marker ribbons, monthly planning spreads, 30 lined notes pages and 240 planning pages. Extras like the business card insert and a pocket for keepsakes show how much thought has been put into the design. Best feature? The regular reminders to recharge.
3) For setting realistic goals
Weekly Notes by MiGoals, £20 - last few!
This encouraging diary might just turn those seemingly distant dreams into reality. Every year, MiGoals diaries top our bestsellers list. The Goal Digger usually steals the crown, but this year I'm shining a light on an alternative. I’ve chosen the Weekly Notes layout because, if you're new to goal setting planners, this is a great place to start. It has plenty of the productivity and goal features of the Goal Digger but its A5 size and slimmer profile mean it's much more portable.
Adam Jelic started the MiGoals brand to help us move out of our comfort zone by setting realistic goals. This diary kicks off with features to help you do just that, with parts for reflecting on how you want your life to look and others for figuring out how to get there. The goal sections will help you break everything down into manageable, actionable steps.
Each week is laid out in a conventional Monday-Sunday format. The left-hand page is for your schedule and the right hand side is dedicated to notes and goals.
There’s a weekly habit tracker – it’s a star chart for grownups. You get a tick each time you practice a good habit and you can track up to five each week. I’ve never felt so motivated to schlep around the block in the rain. Other winning features include monthly reviews, note pages and a budget section. You’ll be set up for success with this one.
4) For portability
What qualities do look for in a chuck-in-your-bag diary? It’s got to be small, lightweight, and resilient. You don’t want it to weigh you down and you certainly don’t want it looking dog-eared and grubby after a couple of adventures in the depths of your handbag.
Here are my two suggestions.
First up, it’s the A6 Journal by Notem (above, stripy stack in the bottom left-hand corner). It’s A6 and has a double page spread for each week.
The covers are designed in classic colour patterns which change each year. For 2022, you can choose from stripes in olive, light yellow or orange. The cover is lightly coated so it's easy to keep clean and the special detached binding means it opens with an effortless flop. No forcing of the spine here.
If you prefer a structure for hour-by-hour scheduling, opt for the smaller size from the Mark’s collection (our top pick for scheduling). The compact A6 format is a lightweight paperback, finished with a recycled PVC cover which doubles as a zippy pocket – handy for stashing important scraps of paper and your pen.
5) For the big picture
Wall Planner by Crispin Finn, £20 - sold out
A tried and tested favourite, this Wall Planner is a great one for households and workspaces alike. Are you lucky enough to have a permanent space to work? Perhaps a study in your own home or, the stuff of myth and legend, an office outside of your usual four walls? Let this take pride of place on your wall.
Designed by Anna and Roger, aka Crispin Finn, it’s printed in the duo’s signature red and blue colour palette.
Size wise, this is a big ‘un. It measures up at a whopping 980x680mm but comes in portrait or landscape, so you can pick the format that works for your wall.
The calendar includes all the essential information you need - like Bank Holidays, daylight savings and a lunar calendar.
My top choice for viewing your entire year at a glance. Ever popular, nab yours now because we always sell out.
Wall Planner, £20 - sold out
Shop alternative calendars here
6) For families
Our planning pick for families comes from German design studio Red Fries. This colourful gummed pad has tear-off sheets which you can pin to your wall, noticeboard or fridge.
There’s space to schedule activities and events for five family members, seven days a week. The additional note box at the bottom is handy for reminders and to-dos.
7) For daily planning
Daily Dated Planner, £35 - last few
Pattern makers of Peckham, The Completist, created an exclusive-to-Papersmiths edition of their 2022 Daily Dated Planner. We're about to sell out but, luckily, there's an alternative. Same format, different cover design.
The Daily Planner is a satisfyingly chunky, dated planner with a whole page dedicated to each weekday. Saturday and Sunday share a page.
Designed in Peckham by The Completist and produced entirely in the UK. The cover is a luxurious, textured 250gsm G.F. Smith card which has 35% cotton content. The book itself has special binding that means it will lay flat on the table - perfect for left-handed people who struggle to use the start of notebooks. Printed with vegetable inks which make the de-inking process easier when it comes to recycling.
We're running low on these but fear not! We have other options from The Completist:
- Weekly Dated
- Their epic wall planner
- Daily Undated - read on to part 10 to find out why we love them.
8) For staying focused
I feel you. You tick something off and five new tasks pop into your head - or the inbox. It can feel overwhelming. Each of these A5 desktop pads from MiGoals is centred around a particular way of working to make your day more efficient and productive.
The Focus Pad (below, far right) sits on your desktop, ready for you to categorise that new thought into one of four sections. Choose from ‘Do First’, ‘Schedule’, ‘Delegate’ or (my favourite) ‘Don’t Do’.
These structured layouts will help you stay focused on your priorities, while recognising your success. The structures are empowering and the handy tick boxes oh-so-satisfying.
This is my pick for value for money. The feelings of accomplishment and calm are well worth the eight quid investment. Pair it with a pack of these for untold levels of stationery thrills.
9) For form and function
Darling of the diary design world Marjolein Delhaas of Rotterdam wins my vote for her minimalistic layouts and considered design. Like a good waterproof jacket - you don't want to get wet but you sure as heck still want to look the part - this diary wins in the style stakes and does its job.
It includes a week to a page, overviews for 2022 and 2023 and a generous 56 note pages for notes.
This paperback diary includes a removable PVC cover which offers protection against ink and coffee, those essential but hazardous tools of the trade.
10) For flexibility
Looking back through the inside of my 2021 diary, the scheduling part of my diary looks completely empty for big chunks of time. At times, I could have (almost, but never would) hit pause on using a diary completely.
If this sounds familiar, then opt for an undated planner. True flexibility is found in a layout that lets you stop and start as you wish. Perhaps you'd like to skip weekends and holidays, only using the pages when you need them and saving some trees - and cash!
I’m a fan of the Undated Daily Planner by The Completist, complete with a vertical schedule for commitments from 7am to 8pm, a to-do list, box for priorities and a notes and sketches area. It has all the tools and structure that you'll need for your busy periods but it won't feel like a waste when things are quieter.
Jana and Marko design their stationery in Peckham, London and the planners are printed and bound in the UK using vegetable inks.
Gifting? The Daily Undated Planner comes beautifully packaged in a card folio box, custom designed in conjunction with G.F. Smith. Also available in a slimmer weekly format and pocket-size.
12) For traditional techniques
Papierniczeni design and make their elegant cloth-bound diaries from their shop-meets-studio in Krakow, Poland. This family-run establishment is passionate about handwriting, traditional bookbinding techniques and all things analogue. Their creations are distinguished by a simple form, thoughtful selection of materials and careful workmanship. They've got all the key ingredients for a diary that'll see you through 2022. If you missed out on the Appointed collection and loved the aesthetic, this is our recommendation. Plus, they're made closer to home so they get extra points!
The Klasyk cover is made of sturdy board, complemented by a fabric coated spine. Choose from six classic colour combinations. Blueberry and Sage Green are fresh additions for 2022. Each diary is accented with subtle foil stamping. The binding allows the spine to open freely and lay flat. Inside, you’ll find smooth paper in a shade of warm white.
For this year's edition Papierniczeni have removed the habit tracker (added for 2021) taking the diary back to its original slender profile.
12) For desktop planning
There’s nowhere to hide with a desktop planner by your side. Desktop planners are lacking in a cover, so you don’t need to open them to see your to-do list glaring back at you. There’s really no excuse not to get things done. Unless your desk is so cluttered that your keyboard ends up stacked on top of it. In which case, tear off the sheet and pin it to your fridge or wall.
Choose from three designs; The Day, The Week or The List. Tear the sheet off when you’re done and begin again. They’re undated so you can stop and start as you wish.
And, breathe! That's my round-up. I hope it's helpful. If you have questions or requests for our 2023 diary collection, please let me know in the comments. Sidonie x