Best Nurse Planner for Work and School + Why You Need One

By guest author Morgan Curry, BSN/RN

Why Nurses Need a Planner

Morgan Curry, BSN/RN, is the Course Curriculum Executive Editor and Content Manager at Her extensive professional background spans the Level I Trauma Hospital setting and provides vast clinical insight into high octane clinical care, as well as specialized areas of nursing such as heart and lung transplants, cardiac surgery recovery, aesthetic nursing, and nurse management.

Creating order in the midst of chaos is a skill that many nurses use on a daily basis. Recently, we have needed it more than ever to balance demanding (and often competing) work and personal obligations! I became obsessed with organization when I was working full time under the heavy pressure of an Intensive Care Unit, taking classes for my advanced nursing degree, and studying for additional nursing certifications, all while planning my dream wedding. That is when a fellow nurse let me in on a (not-so) secret nursing tip - use an Erin Condren planner!

As a nurse and mama of two now, I definitely still have my fair share of things that have to get accomplished in a day, week, and month. Even without a busy personal life, nurses are major multitaskers! A nursing planner is a great way to dump all the things in your head down onto paper and organize it.

What Is a Nursing Planner?

A nursing planner is not just any planner; it's like a trusty companion that’s especially helpful for those of us in the healthcare world, particularly nurses and nursing students. These planners come loaded with features that make juggling work shifts, school obligations, and your personal life much more manageable. Think of it as your secret weapon for keeping that perfect balance between work, nurse life, and studying.

Why Do Nurses Need a Planner?

Nurses have a lot on their plates.

Their core work schedules are constantly changing, plus they also have staff meetings, work training, committee meetings, and more. Some nurses (as if they are not busy and stressed enough) also decide to throw grad school in the mix, which comes with its own world of scheduling demands such as classes, assignments, and project deadlines. What about family life? Oh yeah, if you're a parent, just go ahead and add about 20 other things into the mix that you have to juggle!

Having a good planner, with plenty of room and formats to account for it all, allows you to intermingle all the tasks, projects, and meeting schedules from your professional and personal life in one central place.

What Is the Best Planner for Nurses?

I am the kind of gal who likes to physically write things down. I would much rather have reminders on paper so I can tangibly see and feel them, rather than viewing them on my calendar on my phone.

If you’re the same, needing lots of space to jot down all of your nursing-related reminders while holistically juggling, planning, and organizing the rest of your life, the Erin Condren LifePlanner™ is the way to go.

What makes the LifePlanner™ so awesome for nurses?

  • You can customize it to whatever fits your personality, including the cover and layout.
  • The vertical weekly layout or hourly layout in the LifePlanner™ is great for nurses like me who like to set time limits for various appointments and tasks. It combines the function of daily and weekly planning to help you easily scan (and plan) the rest of your day or week.
  • It also has monthly spreads to help you keep track of big events and overall monthly flow at a glance.
  • There is a ton of space for note-taking and individual pages for goals.
  • Dividers are included and help you jump straight to the spot you left off.

What Is the Best Planner for Nursing School?

Best Planner for Nursing School

Nursing school is hard!

There are so many things that come along with nursing school that you have to keep track of - from class times and lab times to skills training, clinicals, study groups, tests, and assignments!

I love that the Academic Planner provides many pages for notes, which can help nursing students keep key charts and references handy!

Planning Tips for Nurses:

1. Plan your week out ahead of time.

Take 10-20 minutes one day a week, whatever works best for you, and plan your life out. What days are you working this week? When do the kids have practice? Make a grocery list and plan each meal for the week. This will make the day-to-day much easier and structured to help prevent the added stress of juggling your time on the fly.

2. Color-code everything!

Make each section of your life a different color. This was super helpful for me when I was juggling so many things at once, as it provided a quick, visual aid in staying organized and compartmentalized!

3. Prioritize.

Put your important dates, work schedules, and meetings on the monthly spread page so you never miss any big events. Put your individualized appointments, to-dos, and other things on the daily or weekly pages (depending on which layout works best for you).

Beyond organization, nursing often requires top efficiency. I can confidently say I would never be as efficient as I am without having my days planned out in a top-quality organizer such as an Erin Condren planner. When you're a nurse, the last thing you need is more things to worry about. A good planner helps you reduce stress and keep your hectic life organized!

- Morgan Curry, BSN/RN

So many nurses and nursing students have enjoyed Nurse Curry’s guest post above over the past couple of years that we decided to build upon it to include the newest nurse planner options, tips on how to choose the right planner for your style and schedule + additional planning tips for nurses below.

As Nurse Curry pointed out, the healthcare world demands a lot of nurses and nursing students, making efficient time management, organization, and balance between work and studies absolutely essential. This is where a game-changing nurse planner comes into play – a reliable companion to navigate their busy lives successfully.

There are new developments in the planner space that benefit healthcare professionals and students in particular. So, let’s dive right into the expanded world of planners for nurses, exploring their features, more compelling reasons why nurses and nursing students need them, how to choose the right one for you, and the best planner options tailored for nurses and students going through nursing school.

5 More Reasons Why Nurses and Nursing Students Need a Planner

1. Time Management

Healthcare is a fast-paced environment where having effective time management is most important. Nurses and students going through nursing school often grapple with irregular and demanding school and work schedules that can change at a moment's notice. This is where an Erin Condren planner shines. With its dedicated weekly spreads, nurses can effortlessly record and organize their work schedules. This feature allows them to plan their personal activities around their shifts with ease, ensuring they never miss important events or commitments.

2. Organization

Order is the cornerstone of quality healthcare, and nurses are entrusted with a multitude of tasks that require meticulous organization. The nursing planner provides a structured platform for nurses to maintain order in their professional lives. Sections dedicated to patient information, medication schedules, and procedure logs empower nurses to keep all essential details in one place. This not only reduces the likelihood of errors but also ensures the highest level of patient care.

3. Goal Setting

Setting clear and achievable goals is a fundamental aspect of personal and professional growth. A nursing planner incorporates sections designed for nurses to document their short-term and long-term goals. These visual reminders keep nurses motivated and focused on their aspirations, whether it's obtaining a specific certification, enhancing patient care skills, or excelling in academic studies.

4. Tracking Important Tasks and Responsibilities

Nurses shoulder significant responsibilities that can directly impact patient outcomes. A nursing planner equips nurses with the means to track these crucial tasks methodically. Whether it's medication administration, vital signs monitoring, or following through with doctor's orders, the Erin Condren planner ensures that nothing falls through the cracks, thereby promoting patient safety and instilling confidence in the quality of care provided.

5. Stress Management

The nursing profession is known for its demanding and often emotionally taxing nature. Long shifts, complex patient cases, and the added burden of academic commitments can lead to high levels of stress. A nursing planner doesn't just organize tasks; it also serves as a tool for stress management. Nurses can use it to prioritize tasks, delegate responsibilities when possible, and create a nurse-life balance that promotes overall well-being.

How to Choose the Perfect Nurse Planner

With all the new options out there, selecting the right nursing planner is critical to ensuring it aligns with your specific needs. Here are some key factors to consider when making your choice:

Size and Portability

The size and portability of a nurse planner can significantly impact its practicality in your daily nurse life. For nurses who prefer compact planners that fit easily into a nursing bag or pocket, there are options available. On the other hand, if you desire a larger planner with more writing space, ensure that it remains manageable for daily use and transportation.

Layout and Design

We offer various layouts and designs for their nursing planners, allowing you to select one that suits your preferences and planning style. Some Erin Condren planners feature a vertical layout, dividing each day into columns, while others employ a horizontal layout with separate sections for morning, afternoon, and evening. Choosing the right layout ensures that your planner complements your organizational approach.

Additional Features

Beyond the core functionalities, nursing planners may come with additional features that enhance your planning experience. Look out for customizable sections within the planner where you can log patient information, medication tracking, and important contacts, and dedicated sections for monthly and yearly tracking, goal setting, notes, and inspirational quotes. These extras can make a significant difference in your day-to-day planning routine.

Add-On Accessories

Consider whether the nursing planner includes any add-on accessories. Some options come with folders, stickers, bookmarks, pen loops, or a portable folio providing a convenient and customizable planning experience. These accessories can contribute to the overall functionality and aesthetic appeal of your planner.

What’s the Best Planner for Nurses?

While we offer a range of planner options tailored to nurses' needs, we’ll start with Nurse Curry’s favorite and discuss alternative choices nurses also love.

All-In-One LifePlanner™:

The LifePlanner™ is celebrated for its customizability. It allows nurses to personalize covers, choose their layouts, and it includes a variety of options for healthcare workers. You can add specialized snap-in dashboards for academic planning, wellness logging, and much more. This planner includes weekly, monthly, and yearly planning. It's a versatile choice that adapts to your unique lifestyle and schedule.

Softbound LifePlanner™

For nurses who don’t need all the customization options and who prefer a slimmer book with a sleek look, the Softbound LifePlanner™ is a compelling option. Featuring the proven layout of the spiral LifePlanner™ but with a vegan leather cover, lay-flat structure perfect for right-handed and left-handed nurses, and a narrow spine, it combines functionality with more portability.

Monthly Planner

If you prefer a simplified approach to planning (like a calendar + notebook), the Monthly Planner might be right for you. With roomy monthly calendars (two pages across and lots of space) and a notebook’s worth of lined pages, it’s the perfect companion planner or main planner for nurses who like that broader, big-picture view of their schedules and commitments + room for notes.

What’s the Best Planner for Nursing Students?

Nursing students face their own set of unique challenges and demands, and Erin Condren offers planners tailored to meet these needs:

Academic Planner

The Academic Planner, recommended by Nurse Curry, is an excellent choice for nursing students. With dedicated sections for assignments, class schedules, and project planning pages, it assists students in managing their academic life effectively. Customizable covers and colorful layouts add a personal touch to the academic planning experience.

Spiral Notebook

Nursing students often need to take copious notes during lectures and clinical rotations. Spiral Notebooks provide ample space for note-taking and are available in various layouts, including lined, dot grid, productivity pages, and priorities and notes. It's a versatile, customizable tool that complements the academic journey of nursing students.

Focused Collection

Erin Condren's Focused Collection™ is designed to help students stay focused and organized. It includes planners, notebooks, and accessories featuring streamlined designs and layouts tailored for academic success in a professional style. Nursing students who prefer productivity tools with a sleek, minimal look will find this collection resonates with their unique aesthetic, goals, and aspirations.

6 More Planning Tips for Nurses Using Planners

Once you've chosen the perfect nurse planner or student nurse planner, these additional practical planning tips will help you get the most utility (and fun!) out of it:

1. Be Consistent.

Make it a habit to update your planner regularly. Use it not only for work schedules and academic deadlines but also to record personal commitments. Consistency ensures that you stay on top of your responsibilities.

2. Prioritize with Color-Coding.

Utilize color coding or symbols in your planner to prioritize tasks and responsibilities. This visual system helps you focus on the most critical items, reducing the risk of overlooking important details.

3. Review and Reflect Weekly.

Dedicate time each week to review your planner and plan for the upcoming week. Reflect on your accomplishments and challenges to continuously refine your planning strategies.

4. Stay Flexible.

Understand that the nursing profession can be unpredictable. Be prepared to adapt your plans when unexpected events or emergencies arise. Your planner should serve as a flexible tool that can accommodate changes in your schedule.

5. Prioritize Self-Care.

Allocate time in your planner for self-care activities. Whether it's exercise, meditation, or spending quality time with loved ones, self-care is essential for maintaining your physical and emotional well-being.

6. Seek Support.

If you're a nursing student, consider forming study groups or seeking academic support when needed. Collaborating with peers can enhance your learning experience and help you manage your coursework more effectively.

Healthcare is a field that is evolving every day, and nurses and nursing students need reliable tools to navigate their daily lives successfully. The right planners and academic planners for nurses and nursing students are more than just tools; they are companions that empower healthcare professionals to achieve balance and excel in their careers and studies. So, whether you're a seasoned nurse or a dedicated nursing student, explore the full range of planners designed to enhance your planning experience.