Thank you to Rachel from Secretarial Online for writing the following article for us. Be sure to follow her on her social media channels… and and her website

The end of the year is fast approaching, and around this time, we generally start to think about new diaries/planners for the upcoming year. But how do you choose a diary that you will use?

There are many things to consider when purchasing a new diary, but the key is to find one that suits you – one that is easy to use (so you will use it) and easy to carry around. The things you need to think about when choosing a diary/planner are:

· purpose
· layout
· size
· digital/paper

With these in mind, my top tips for choosing a planner that will suit you are the following.

Purpose of the diary:

Firstly, you need to think about what the diary/planner is going to be used for. If you are using it purely for appointments only, you may only need a smaller sized diary. This could be pocket-sized, A5 sized or digital diary. But if you need to have space for multiple appointments or tasks, you may require a larger A4 diary.

My advice is to keep it simple. The easier it is to read at a glance and use – the more you will use it, and the more organised you will be.

The Layout:

The most important part of choosing a diary is to work out which layout is best for you, think about why you are using it. Diaries and planners come in either ‘week to a view’ or ‘day to a page’ layout.

Day to a page – This layout is for someone who needs to plan their whole day, down to hourly or half hourly sections. The one page per day diary has hourly (or half hourly) increments down the left hand side of the page, with plenty of room for you to write appointments and events.

Week to a view – This layout is for someone that prefers to see the week at a glance, where you can scan your week quickly, and know where you need to be without constantly turning pages to see what is happening. The week to a view diary is usually set across two pages, with 3 days on one page and 4 days on the other (or vise versa). As the page is split into multiple days, there is not a lot of room to write things down – you need to be brief and or abbreviate what you record due to limited space.

Some people like week to a view, but for me, I love the one day to a page diary. This allows me to use a whole page to write appointments, tasks and notes. Look for a diary that is easy to use, has enough space for what you need it for.


Depending on what you need to use your diary for, there are many shapes, sizes and styles you can choose from. Think about how much space you will need – do you need something small (pocket), medium (A6) or large (A4) sized. Your diary will need enough space to record all your appointments and events.

Pocket diary is a small diary that is good for taking down notes during conversations/meetings where you feel you shouldn’t use your phone/laptop

A5 is usually approximately 21cm x 15cm. This type of diary will easily fit inside your bag and is great to jot down notes and information so you don’t forget them

A4 is approximately 30cm x 21cm. This type of diary is bigger and more cumbersome but, gives you plenty of room to write down appointments/events and notes. This size is my favourite and is usually found on my desk

There are also some diaries/planners that come in binders with sections for calendar/diary entries, business cards, to do lists, notes etc. A complete organizer – these are fantastic if you need to carry a lot of information around with you. You can purchase the new yearly ‘infill’ and replace with the previous year. These are also available in multiple sizes.

Digital or Paper?

With the evolvement of technology, digital diaries are becoming more popular, but not everyone likes to use digital. Once again, it depends on what you need to use the diary for and if it is easy to use/navigate. If you are old school, you may prefer a paper copy diary – I tend to use both.

Digital diaries are great to use as in they are portable, take up no space as they are usually attached to your email, you can access on your phone or laptop/device and you can update it in real-time, and set reminders for appointments/deadlines. The downside is you need to continually go into or open the diary to see what is happening. This is something I sometimes struggle with. I like to be able to glance down and look at a paper diary.

Paper copies are great to have, they can be portable and easily accessible depending on the size you choose, you can also leave them open on a desk to see what is happening at a glance.

I prefer to use a combination of both a physical paper diary as well as a digital diary. My paper diary sits on my desk, where I can easily look at it and add information/appointments to it. My digital diary is portable and easily accessible through my phone – you do need to remember to update both regularly though.

I hope this has helped you to think about why you need to use your diary/planner, and to work out what sort of diary will suit you. Sometimes you need to try out a few different styles or types of diaries over a couple of years before you find the right one.

Now it’s up to you – go out, look at what type of diaries/planners are out there, find your diary and be organised for 2020!!


Our Penrith
Author: Our Penrith