You’d be forgiven for having given up on the concept of a diary during the past two years. Thanks to the pandemic, absolutely nothing has gone to plan. And when we weren’t stuck inside, we were doing plenty of last-minute living.
That’s why we’re leaning into 2022, and the order that a diary will help provide.
Nothing says new beginnings like a fresh journal, and we have high hopes that this year we’ll be able to use them comprehensively.
What makes a good one will vary from person to person – some will want nothing more than a space for appointment reminders, while others will want to make detailed notes. Some will want a diary that lives on their desk all year round, while others will need something compact and portable. Those who have meetings with important people will want something smart and chic, while others will desire prompts to help them stay organised and focused on their goals.
All of the diaries and planners in this round-up have something special about them – from the quality of the leather or binding to the size, layout or artwork. We’ve also ensured that all budgets are considered.
How we tested
We examined each diary initially on aesthetics – did it look inviting? What was it made of? Was it heavy? What was the layout – day per page or week per page?
The paper was important too. Was it good quality? We used both a pencil and rollerball pen to see how easy it was to write on and noted anything extra special about each diary – and anything that was less impressive.
The best diaries and planners for 2021 are:
- Best for thinking outside the box – Redstone diary, ‘In another world’: £20, Theredstoneshop.com
- Best desk diary – Hello Day original 2022 daily planner in ‘swag’: £46, Hellodayplanner.com
- Best for blowing the budget – Smythson 2022 Panama diary with pencil: £85, Smythson.com
- Best gift – Noble Macmillan duck egg blue diary: £59, Noblemacmillan.com
- Best for brightening up your day – The Completist Andalucia weekly planner: £20, The-completist.com
- Best for busy households – Dodo Pad original desk diary: £17.95, Dodopad.com
- Best for inexpensive personalisation – Papier pressed blooms 2022: £23.99, Papier.com
- Best for life management – My PA 2022 business planner: £35, Mypaplanner.co.uk
- Best quality – Organise-Us the midsize organiseher diary 2022: £75, Organise-us.com
- Best budget buy – Ryman soft touch diary week to view A5: £8.99, Ryman.co.uk
- Best for bookworms – Moleskine ‘Le Petit Prince' planner: £19.99, Moleskine.com
Redstone diary: In another world
Best: For thinking outside the box
- Size: 24.5cm x 16.7cm
The team at Redstone consistently create diaries that are so much more than simply a means of tracking plans and making lists. Each year focuses on a (usually niche) theme and the diary is stuffed with artwork, photography, writing and graphics taken from diverse sources. This means that as the year goes on you’re digesting beautiful and interesting things. For 2022, the theme is “everything is possible – in another world”.
A lot of people keep their old diaries, but we’d wager this is especially true when it comes to Redstone’s.
Hello Day original 2022 daily planner in ‘swag’
Best: Desk diary
- Size: 19.5cm x 22cm
Weighty, thick and not one for discreetly popping into your handbag, this planner means business with a page-per-day format and a chic monochrome cover (although different designs are available). We like the large ring binding – it makes the pages easy to turn, and laying the diary flat is a doddle.
What we loved most were the prompts encouraging users to detail what they are grateful for or if there’s a birthday to be remembered. There’s also an inspirational quote on every page, the likes of which can never harm one’s motivation. There are trackers for water consumption and even exercise and meditation. We found that having these unticked boxes really helped encourage us to make better health choices.
Smythson 2022 Panama diary with pencil
Best: For blowing the budget
- Size: 9cm x 14cm
Smythson’s diaries never fail to be really glamourous and special – even their pocket-sized offerings pack a punch. Especially this bright red beauty that comes complete with a pencil.
Everything about it speaks to luxury, from the crossgrain lambskin cover to the gilt-edged featherweight paper. We loved that this can fit into even a diminutive handbag and we couldn’t have felt more smug casually placing it on the table in meetings and waiting for the compliments to come rolling in.
Noble Macmillan duck egg blue diary
- Size: 12.8cm x 17.5cm
Simple, fun and luxurious, this diary will be a lovely companion for the coming year. Its soft, leather-bound cover can be personalised with initials, names or even a message and offers a week-per-view format, opposite which is a space for an extensive to-do list. At the back is a 26-page notes section.
We love the gold-gilt-edge pages which feel super glam and make this diary ideal for gifting, not least because it arrives in a beautiful hard box, all tied up in a bow.
The Completist Andalucia weekly planner
Best: For brightening up your day
- Size: A5
This bright and juicy cover is exactly what any bleak January calls for. We love this planner which is light and slim. The pages are made from music sheet paper, which is a lovely little quirk. It has also been beautifully and meticulously bound so that it can lie flat when opened.
With a two-page spread per week, there’s plenty of space for appointments and notes, if not quite full journal entries.
Dodo Pad original desk diary
Best: For busy households
- Size: 24cm x 19cm
The Dodo Pad has been a firm favourite for anyone with a hectic life and a taste for the offbeat since 1966. You aren’t going to be writing your memoir in the Dodo Pad – it’s very much about planning. Each week is presented as a grid with each day having a row of five columns. This is ideal for those who have distinct parts of their lives (work, home, gym and creative, for example).
The entire ring-bound book is covered in bright, jolly illustrations and full-page colour bleeds. It’s a joy to use and for extra fun, this year’s diary comes with a set of stickers for either decoration or strategic coded planning.
We recommend the original-size pad, but smaller versions are also available.
Papier pressed blooms 2022 diary
Best: For inexpensive personalisation
- Size: A5
Part of the brand-new “mother of pearl” range at Papier, this diary is ultra feminine and will be a welcome addition to any desk or handbag. It runs for 13 months, which gives avid planners a little more time for looking ahead. The interior layout has a week per view, but there are pages dedicated to monthly overviews and goal setting, which is a nice way of dipping one’s toes into the world of goal-oriented planning.
The front can be personalised, which adds a lovely touch.
My PA 2022 business planner
Best: For life management
- Size: 24cm x 18cm
This is for anyone who doesn’t have a PA IRL, but wants one. It is a thick, weighty volume that promises to optimise the user’s work, social life and health.
Yes, it offers a “normal” diary format, but there’s more. So much more. It invites you to set daily, weekly and monthly goals. It makes space for a monthly social media plan. And there are pages dedicated to gratitude journaling and more still to serve as an “inspiration vault”.
When people say “I need to sort my life out,” they could probably do with My PA.
Organise-Us the midsize organiseher diary 2022
- Size: 13.5cm x 19 cm
The first thing we noticed about this diary, aside from the amazing, deep emerald green colour, is how tactile the cover is. It’s smooth with a lizard-skin finish and manages to be both minimal and interesting in one go.
The quality is evident immediately. Hand-bound with inside covers lined in a sleek silk, plus ribbon markers, it’s weighty without being clumsy and it even smells luxurious.
Inside, it’s a week-per-view format with clever distinct sections for lists and so on. This is the perfect diary for people who love diaries.
Ryman soft touch diary week to view A5
Best: Budget buy
- Size: A5
This A5 diary is slim and chic with a leather-feel cover. We loved how very practical it is: a week-to-view layout plus pen loop and elasticated closure. But the price point is really the best thing about this diary – it’s an absolute steal without compromising on style or ease of use. Really smart.
Moleskine ‘Le Petit Prince' planner
Best: For bookworms
- Size: 9cm x 14cm
Moleskine is a stationery heavyweight, with its diaries reaching cult status thanks to their easily recognisable design – the rounded corners being a classic feature – which also manages to be discreet and understated.
This year the brand has unveiled a limited-edition hardcover diary with a Le Petit Prince theme that is sure to charm bookworms of any age. Graphics and quotes from Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s much-loved classic tale punctuate the planner from beginning to end.
The day-per-page format is brilliant for those who like to add detail to their diary entries, or for fully-fledged journalers. We were also delighted that it lies flat, making it easy to write in.
There are lots of helpful accoutrements including international measurements, dialling codes and flight durations, and an expandable inner pocket for receipts, ticket stubs and stamps.
The verdict: Diaries and planners
We have a soft spot for Redstone because it’s just so cool as an object and makes each day interesting. Although we can’t fault Ryman’s soft cover offering – it’s cheap, simple and efficient. For the more discerning it’s got to be one of the options from Smythson, Noble Macmillan or Organise Us.
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Now you just need something to write with – check out our round-up of the best pens
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