Most of this review of the Franklin Planner was written back in August of 2018. Almost two years later, it’s still my favorite planner system. I’ve been a Franklin planner user for most of the last 30 years. I was lucky enough to have one of my first employers send me to a one-day Franklin course, so I learned their entire system. Even the few times I’ve used a different planner, I’ve still used what I learned from their system.
Franklin Planner Systems
The Franklin Planners are available in both ring-bound and wire (spiral)-bound versions. They come in four different sizes: pocket (3.5” x 6”), compact (4.25” x 6.75”), classic (5.5” x 8.5”), and monarch (8.5” x 11”). They come in one-page-per-day, two-page-per-day, horizontal-layout-weekly, and vertical-layout-weekly. In addition, they come in a variety of styles to fit any personality. Most have start dates of January, April, July, and October each year.
They even have a 21-day Planner Challenge that is a booklet. It gives you the option to try several of the layouts before deciding which one fits you best.
In addition, they have single month undated packs in a some of the options (found in the forms area of the planner accessories section on their website). These give you the option of trying a single type for a month before purchasing a full system. The single month pack can also be used to bridge the gap to the next quarterly start date.
Starting Out with FRANKLIN PLANNER
For both the wire-bound and ring-bound planners you’ll need to purchase a binder or cover to start out. With the ring-bound system you’ll also need a starter pack in addition to your calendar pages pack to create a complete planner system. The Starter Pack includes the Personal Management Tabs & Pages, Address/Phone Listing, Goals Planning Section and Pouch Pagefinder with Compass Cards. This makes the Franklin Planner systems a little expensive on the front end but not a lot more than most comparable dated annual planners on the market. The ongoing costs are significantly less since you only need, new calendar pages each year, and the flexibility is unprecedented.
Binders come in a variety of finishes and ring sizes which makes the price vary greatly. You can get a pocket for as little as $20. Compact and Classic binders start around $30, and you can get a Monarch binder for about $40. You can also splurge and spend as much as $170 on your binder if you want genuine leather with a zipper closure and handle. Most of the binders I’ve purchased have been under $50. I’ve never had to replace one because of it wearing out. I’ve replaced them because I changed sizes (I keep the old ones in case I go back to that size) or because I’m bored with the look. They are quite durable.
As with any ring-bound planner, you can choose the number of months you carry. You can also decide how much additional information you put in your binder.
I’ve never used their wire bound systems so I can’t really give you any additional information on them. In the ring-bound versions, I’ve used every size except a pocket. I’ve also used all types except the vertical weekly. And, since I analyzed my needs before making any switches, I can honestly say that each of these combinations worked perfectly at that stage of my life.
Classic Two-Page-Per-Day Ring-Bound
The Franklin Planner that I’m currently using is the Classic two-page-per-day system. It is also the one that I’ve used the most often. This tends to be the one I return to any time I’ve changed. I like the size because it’s easy to carry while still giving me plenty of space for planning. It even fits in all but my smallest purse. I prefer the two-page-per-day because it allows for me to keep almost everything in my planner. This keeps me from needing any other binders or files with me regularly.
I currently have a binder that has 1.25” rings and a snap closure. This allows me to carry all my monthly tabs as well as two-three months of daily pages. I usually have at least the next six months of two-page-per-month monthly tabs in my planner. I also usually carry the previous month, the current month, and the next month of daily pages in my planner.
Previous months are stored in my office in storage binders so I can refer to them when needed. I store future months in the same storage binder until I need them. This leaves me plenty of room in my binder for other sections that I’ll discuss a little later.
The Daily Pages
My current pages are the Blooms two-page-per-day. Back in 2018 when I first wrote this post, I was using the Her Point of View two-page-per-day pages so you can see that I mix it up but usually stay with the same basic format. The left-hand page includes miniature calendars of the current month and the next month, task list, appointment schedule, and daily tracker. On the right-hand page there is a quote and then a daily notes section.
Prioritized Daily Tasks
In the Prioritized Daily Task List section (A above), there are three columns. The first column is for marking task completed, forwarded, deleted, delegated or in process. The second column is labeled ABC and is for prioritization using the Franklin ABC-123 system and the final column is for the actual task description.
I find a lot of planners lacking here because they don’t have the column for prioritization. In order to truly have a prioritized task list without this column, you have to write the items in according to their priority. This means you can’t use this area to advance schedule tasks on the appropriate day and then prioritize them later. The starter pack has a section that goes over their planning method in detail.
Basically, tasks are labeled as ABC. A tasks are tasks that must be done today. B’s are tasks that should be done today. C tasks could be done today if you have extra time. Then, within each letter you use numbers to indicate each individual task’s priority ranking.
The great thing about this system is how you handle things that you come across that need to be done on a future date. First, you can turn to the appropriate daily page and write the task on the list. Then, you can forget about it until you do your planning for that day. You won’t need to erase and rewrite those future planned tasks to get them in the proper prioritized order. You’ll just use the ABC-123 system to prioritize them with the rest of your tasks.
Another way that I keep this area organized is that I use the line that is across from a specific time (for me it’s 3:00 right now but that has gone up and down) to keep work and home tasks separated. Work tasks start at the top of the list and home tasks start next to the 3:00 line.
The Daily Tracker area (B in the photo above) is great for a variety of things. I’ve used it for tracking expenses, calories, exercise, and water intake over the years. While a lot of planners have various tracking areas, I like this free-form tracking area because its use can change as your needs change. If I don’t care how many glasses of water I’m drinking each day because I drink way more than I need, I don’t have space wasted with little water glasses.
The Appointment Schedule (C in the photo above) in the Blooms planner runs from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with a un-timed area at both the top and the bottom. If you need a different set of times, check out the other design options as they are not all the same. (For example, the Her Point of View appointment schedule runs from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.) Some of the appointment areas don’t even have time markers but rather have morning, afternoon, or evening. Franklin Planner’s variety in options is one of their greatest assets.
I use this area for both appointments and time blocking. See this post for more information on how Time Blocking Helps You Focus and Increase Your Productivity
Daily Notes Page
The Daily Notes page (D in the photo above) provides extreme flexibility. First, this page can be used for an expansion of the task or appointment descriptions. Just put a small number in a circle at the end of a task or appointment on the left page, then put that same number in the first column of the daily notes page with additional information in the other column.
When I worked as a Legal Administrator, I was constantly being given information verbally when I wasn’t in my office. Since I almost always had my planner with me, I was able to use this page to record that information so I could deal with it later as necessary.
Currently this area has a couple of functions. I still note discussions or phone calls on the page, but I also note accomplishments or challenges. In addition, I recap my day each evening making my planner serve as a journal too. They also have cutaway daily notes pages so you can add a page if your notes for a specific day are lengthy. These pages are a little shorter than the regular pages so the date and calendars still show above them.
While a planners most important job is usually the task list and calendar, I use my planner for a lot of other things. Franklin has a variety of forms, accessories and decorations available in their store. They also have hole punches in each of their sizes so you can create your own pages and add them to your planner. I use a combination of tabs and forms purchased from Franklin and pages that I’ve created to get the most use out of my planner.
I have a perpetual calendar in my planner that has all of the important dates for my family so they can be added to the appropriate days. A blank one comes as part of the Starter Pack and the Occasions Forms Pack.
I also have a section that keeps track of our monthly bills (when I paid them and when the payment posted) as well as our budget and other expenses. I use forms that I created for this but they have a Financial Plans Pack that can be used also.
There is also a running reading list in my planner. And, I have a projects section that gives me a convenient place to keep all the details needed.
I have a goals section that has my annual goals as well as monthly breakdowns. It also includes a list of tasks for each goal that I add to my daily tasks lists as appropriate. Again, I’ve created my own forms over the years, but there Goal Planning Forms are a great starting point.
My family section contains all family members important information. This means I always have sizes when I’m shopping. It also means I have lists of all of their medical information, including allergies and medications, so it’s handy for emergencies.
There are also some pockets in my planner if I need to stick something in temporarily. And, there’s a notebook on the back of the binder for quickly jotting down information at any time. The notebook pages are punched, so you can easily add them to the planner when necessary.
As you can see, the add-on options are extensive and I’ve barely touched on all of the options they have. Their Forms & Tabs page has a complete listing of current options.
All Franklin Planners provide quality systems that will work for almost any lifestyle. I would recommend these planners to anyone, especially the two-page-per-day, ring-bound planner system. You can even get 15% off your first order if you use the link below and provide your email address.
You can also find additional information on how I set-up and use my Franklin planner in this post.
All of my planner recommendations are available in this post:
Planner reviews of additional planner systems are also available in these posts.
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