The Happy Planner Mini Review

Apologies for not getting this up yesterday!

The Happy Planner: an affordable staple, customizable book, and holy cow stickers.

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Alllllllll the stickers

There is so much to love about The Happy Planner (or THP, as I will now refer to it). This review is going to focus specifically on the Mini size (THP comes in three sizes: mini, classic, and big). Also, let’s get some naming jargon straightened out. The Happy Planner is part of me & my big ideas, a company started by mother/daughter team Terri Gick and Stephanie Fleming in 1998. What began as a scrapbooking sticker company turned into something much, much bigger. Now me & my big ideas (or MAMBI, as it is affectionately known) operates out of a 41,000 sq. ft. corporate center in Southern California. Create 365 The Happy Planner (I’m not going to lie, I have no idea how the create 365 name/brand/? fits into things) is only part of MAMBI, but it has definitely exploded in popularity.

You can find MAMBI products (including but not limited to THP!) at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and Jo-Anns around the country. You can also usually find them on sale–in fact, there really is no reason to pay full price at any of these stores. There are usually 40% off coupons online that you can pull up on your phone. Also check weekly ads–Michael’s has planner products on sale all the time. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you are really jonesing for new releases and can’t wait for them to hit stores, you can get them for full price on the MAMBI website store.

Let’s dig into The Mini Happy Planner!

Function

The Mini Happy Planner is small, so it functions super well as a purse planner or on-the-go planner. Its dimensions include a cover size of 5.125โ€ x 7.5โ€ and a page size ofย 4.5โ€ x 7″. Its compact size makes it ideal for jotting down things while you are out and about so that you don’t forget them, storing lists or errands to refer to, or keeping track of memories. On the flip side, the Mini can also serve you as a gratitude journal or assignment tracker if you’re in school.

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So small

I should mention that the Mini has a dated 12-month calendar year option as well as an undated 12-month option that came out during the academic year planner launch. The dated planner provides structure that needs very little tweaking, while the undated version can skip months, start whenever you want it to, and accommodate a less strict schedule of use. MAMBI includes monthly stickers for you to use, as well, to make sure it all looks pretty.

One of the things that THP is known for is its “Currently” page at the beginning of each month. Now, the page depends on the design of the planner (there are several designs to choose from), but my particular planner has a section for Notes, Top Three, Birthdays, Important Dates, and Remember. Other THP planners sometimes include sections that say things like “Currently Reading/Watching/Eating/Planning/Etc.” The Market Floral design of THP is simply organized a little differently.

Like most planners, the mini has a monthly spread on two pages with a column on the side for notes. It is a weekly planner set up in the horizontal format with a notes section at the end of each week. The way this horizontal section is designed leaves plenty of room to use the space however you wish.

You can also add things into it, like pocket folders, lined notes pages, grid notes pages, and other inserts. MAMBI has a whole line of extra inserts and accessories for their planners, but are perhaps best known for their stickers.

The small size of the Mini means that it can fit less information in it overall–especially if you like to plan with stickers. See an image of how I used it below to get an idea of what you can fit inside its lines. If you want to watch someone actively planning in their Mini, check out one of Heather Kell’s (Insta @kellofaplan) videos on YouTube. Her spreads are a lot more sophisticated than mine. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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THP is known for being a disc-bound system, which means that the planners are kept together by discs. One of the great things about this is that you can easily move pages around in the planner, punch and add pages to it, and take out pages you no longer want to carry around. You just pinch the top of the page and pull it gently up to remove. Pulling too fast will likely rip it, as will yanking it from the side of the page.

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Aesthetics/Design

The disc-bound system also means that covers are interchangeable! As you can see, my cover in these photos is not the cover my Mini Happy Planner came with. I ordered it custom from Jane’s Agenda, one of many shops that custom makes covers for different planner brands that have interchangeable options. But if you get kind of bored with your cover, you can easily swap it out. This keeps your planner feeling pretty fresh.

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Different covers!

I love changing up my planner covers because it makes me feel like I have a new planner. I know, I need help.

THP has several different designs that they come out with for each launch, and each design will have a different aesthetic to it. There are ones that are more seasons/holiday themed, some that are bright, others that are more neutral, etc. I feel confident in saying that THP has a design for almost every type of person. Like a more elegant marble? They have that. More interested in black on brights? They got that, too. It all depends on your preference. I personally love many of their designs, but am really enjoying the simple beauty of my Market Floral.

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Fit

I will say that someone looking for an ultra minimalist planner might not find the right one with MAMBI. Their planners are fun and happy, but not the most professional-looking. They do have deluxe covers options, both snap-on covers and a binder-like case that you can slip your planner into, and these options can spruce up the planner’s aesthetic. But overall much of the fun in using THP comes from all the decorative flair and options. So if you are looking for a planner that screams professionalism, this might not be the right fit for you.

If, however, you want a planner that is flexible to your needs, easy to carry around, and can double as a notebook, the Mini might be perfect for you. I would recommend this planner to people who want something light and easy to throw into their purse, need a convenient side-kick planner for their primary planner, or don’t need that much space to plan. If you want a purse planner that serves as an extension for your workhorse desk planner, for example the Mini could be a great fit for you. I like to put bigger tasks, plans, or reminders in mine and take it around with me when I don’t want to carry a tote bag. The simple horizontal layout makes it easy to break each day into usable sections that fit your needs–they just aren’t going to be very big.

Loves

I love the flexibility and portability of this planner. It’s small, easy to carry, easy to personalize, and works perfectly as a purse planner. I like the option of choosing your favorite design, as well. The price point on this planner is retailed at $19.99, but often you can get it with a coupon for $11.99 (40% off), which makes this planner a very inexpensive option. And theย stickers. My goodness, the stickers are so fun to plan with. It makes using the Mini more of a scrap-booking activity, sometimes, rather than a planning one.

Nopes

If this was my only planner, it would be much too small for me. I appreciate it as an extension of the planners that actually hold my life together, but this little dude couldn’t do it on its own. I also think that the quality is not what you will find in high-end planners, but is still excellent for how much you are spending. The pages are pretty thick and the colors are bright. The covers can get scratched up if you toss it around a lot, but I don’t think that’s something unique to THP.


Well there we are! My take on the Mini Happy Planner. I hope you enjoyed my blog post–if you have a Mini, have any questions about the Mini, and/or just want to say hi, leave a comment! I reply to every single comment left on my blog. ๐Ÿ™‚ (That claim is yet to be tested, but I’m still making the commitment!)

xo
Ara

Hannah and Passion Planner

Welcome to my first #plannermatch post! Occasionally I get friends, family members, or my wonderful followers asking me for advice on which planner to get. Iย love these questions because they allow me to talk in-depth about one of my favorite topics (planning & organization!) and help someone take one step closer to elusive planner peace. I like to ask a series of questions to determine which planner would be a good fit for them:

  • Do they prefer seeing a whole week at a glance, or day by day?
  • Do they want something bright and colorful to encourage them to plan, or would they prefer something more neutral?
  • What type of binding do they like to use? Wire, coil, book or case bound, or disc?
  • How large (or small) is their handwriting?
  • Do they need a portable planner, a desk planner, or something that can serve both functions?
  • What are their main goals for the planner? What are they hoping the planner will help them accomplish?
  • Do they need a structured layout, or something more free-form and flexible?
  • What is the price range?

& more. I like to make it a conversation over coffee so I can show them examples of my recommendations immediately after and we can chat about what would be a good fit. If I could start a career as a planner consultant, y’all, I totally would. #dreamjob

My little cousin Hannah is a busy 23-year-old with two dog babies, a wife, two jobs, and a recent certification in the pharmaceutical field, where she’s looking to start a career while juggling everything else. Girl is BUSY, and she needed a planner work horse to help her stay on top of all her to-dos and a fluctuating, full schedule.

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Enter Passion Planner.

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Passion Planner Classic Birds & Bees in Blush

During my conversation with Hannah, I was able to sum-up her preferences as:

Hannah’s Preferences:

  • Appointment times to write down and manage a full schedule.
  • Weekly spread to see the entire week at a glance.
  • Help organizing priorities and general to-dos.
  • A tool to use for trying to figure out long term decisions and goals.
  • A book that can take a beating.
  • A big enough planner to write in comfortably.
  • Bonus, because I know my cousin: she needed something bright that was difficult to ignore.
Mock-up I did of a week in Passion Planner using my own schedule.

Why Passion Planner Matches:

  • Weekly spread with appointment times.
  • Organized space for a task list that separates personal and work life.
  • The signature Passion Planner Passion Map that helps conceptualize goals and makes you think about your future.
  • Flexible book format that can be tossed around and still look fabulous.
  • Plenty of notes pages for long to-do lists or shopping lists.

Passion Planner is a well-known planner brand and known for reasonable prices (Hannah got this 2017 planner on sale for 50% off). The Classic size is 8.5″ x 11″ and usually goes for about $30-35. The Compact size is 5.5″ x 8.5″ and runs $25-30. They have limited edition cover designs, dated and undated planners, and both academic and calendar year options. Passion Planner also has an amazing Instagram, and they continuously provide tips on how to best utilize your planner.

Passion Planner’s CEO, Angelia Trinidad, created the planner and launched it out of her garage by 2014. As a young woman recently out of college, she harnessed her feelings of “analysis paralysis” and created a tool to help her envision her future. The company continues to grow (they have a kickstarter campaign live right now to launch a new eco-friendly version of the planner & a pledge to plant a tree for every planner sold) and maintains a strong ethos of giving back. Learning about Trinidad’s story made me think about my young cousin, 23, and launching into a new, exciting, scary chapter in life.

How do you use your planner?

Hannah’s first dip into using her new planner.

ShePlans Appointment Weekly Planner

ShePlans is a one-woman planner company that focuses on clean, crisp designs and developing truly functional, beautiful planners. Ashley Staum, the founder and owner of ShePlans, officially launched her business in 2013 by selling digital copies of her planners but the impetus for her To-Do List planner occurred long before then. In 2002 Staum was in graduate school and dissatisfied with the planning options available to her, so she made her own. Over the years since the launch of ShePlans, the planner layouts have remained mostly consistent (with little changes & improvements), but design options have varied.

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When I was in grad school I used one of her six-month daily planners and took it with me everywhere to the point where it got a bit battered. For that period of my life, the daily ShePlans was a great fit for me. I got it super messy, the paper was high enough quality to the point that I could use a color coding system–with highlighters.ย I know, I’m a monster.

The price tag is pretty standard for planners of this caliber at $56 for the weekly format and $48 for the daily planner, although she always has a $10 off code for buying two dailies at once (presumably a Jan-June and Jul-Dec). For the 2018 calendar year she is offering four new cover designs, a print & plan line, and several options for notebook planners with stitched spines. Ashley Staum has been a busy lady! ShePlans also offers a free printable on their website–Try before you buy!

Function

ShePlans has three distinct layouts to choose from: the appointment (pictured in this post) and the standard (vertical–no times) are her weekly offerings, and the daily planner comes in 6-month books to manage the thickness and not compromise the paper quality.

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The hard cover, wire-o bound planners are a bit hefty but still relatively easy to carry around if you have a big bag. There is a lot of white space to fill up with whatever lists, notes, or schedule you have. The appointment planner has a column schedule with times from 8am to 8pm with half-hour increments from Monday–Friday, while weekends are horizontal blank boxes to fill up however you need. The Weekly List section is huge and can accommodate lots of different functions. A weekly to do list, weekly groceries, habit tracker (or you can use the blank boxes at the bottom of each daily column to track habits), a place to plan out meals, take notes at the office (or home, or home-office), jot down memories or things you don’t want to forget, write out gratitude/reflection for the week, etc. ShePlans leaves you space to explore the possibilities.

If you are looking for a planner to help you set and work on goals, ShePlans delivers. The beginning pages encourage you to write down or vision board your big plans and goals for the year. From there, there are pages for quarterly goals for the year (termed Focus Goals) with space to fill out what milestones for those goals look like. There is also a prompt at the top of each quarterly goal page to encourage you to reflect on what you would like to accomplish or reflect on how your year has been going.

At the end of the goals pages, there is a section for future planning where ShePlans leaves space for you to vision board or write about your dreams and goals for the future. The goal set-up in these pages is not too overwhelming, helps you break down large goals into smaller tasks and milestones, and provides gentle guidance for getting it out of your head and down on paper!

Aesthetics/Design

ShePlans planners are perfect for people who want a simple, clean layout and design. For that reason, her planners make excellent work horses and are created with tons of white space and crisp, clean lines to fill your life, busy schedule, overwhelming to-do list, and more. The cover designs are varied, from my 2016 sandy polka dot to this 2017/2018 offering in two calm hues. Frankly, this planner cover is art. Literally. The painting is called “White Sails” and it is part of a collaboration with artist Hannah Lowe Corman (Insta @hannahlowecorman). It’s truly a gorgeous cover with a satiny matte finish. It’s also probably the thickest hardcover I’ve encountered.

ShePlans determined their 2018 calendar year covers with a vote on Instagram, which provides you with an idea of how dedicated Staum is to evaluating and improving her products. Hardcover planners are bound with wire-o binding in a dark copper color and include protective gold corners. The tabs are laminated and a thick card stock with very simple designs.

Even the beginning pages in the planner are simple and polished. There is a clean list of holidays, a year at a glance forย nextย year, and a year at a glance for the months that the planner covers with space to write notes, important dates, etc. Everything is beautifully, simply designed.

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Fit

Right up front I’m going to say that this planner is for someone who has a busy week and calmer weekends. It would make an excellent work planner to leave at the office where you can write in tasks for the day and meetings, appointments, etc. It would also fit a student’s hectic weekday class schedule with plenty of room for anything from 8am to 8pm. The Weekly List section would be ideal for writing down the week’s assignments, whereas the blank boxes at the bottom of each daily column could be a place to put when exams and quizzes take place.

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This planner would also fit anyone interested in minimalist planning or functional planning. ShePlans’ planner definitely has structure and would also be a great first planner for anyone jumping into planning or going from a $5 Target planner into something more high-end.

Loves

One of my favorite things about ShePlans is the engagement that Staum provides on her social media accounts (particularly Instagram @she_plans). She is constantly receptive to feedback and often devises short polls for her customers asking about design choices, planner options, and more. She has a truly reflexive business style.

Iย love love loveย the cover design for this planner. I think that it is truly gorgeous and calming. I also generally love that ShePlans has multiple cover designs to choose from.

I have also always been a fan of ShePlans’ half-hour increments. While the appointment calendar doesn’t leave a huge amount of room to write down appointments and tasks in hourly slots, the space it leaves is about the same as most other hourly appointment calendars out there. In the Winter of 2015 when I was looking for a daily planner for my second year of graduate school, I had a difficult time deciding between Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner and ShePlans’ daily 6-month planner. I decided to get the ShePlans one because I liked the simplicity of the cover design, the half-hour increments for one’s schedule (a lot of classes end on the half-hour), and the freedom of the daily list area to take as many lines as I wanted to for writing something out. I liked that the daily list could be notes, to-dos, or details about an assignment instead of being strictly set aside for any one purpose.

Nopes

This year, ShePlans’ appointment calendar wasn’t quite right for me (that doesn’t mean it won’t be for you!). I felt like the paper quality wasn’t what I remembered it being (I have no proof, just my initial reaction). That being said, it is still absolutely a high-quality planner. I am also not generally a fan of the Wire-O binding because I find it to be one of the least durable planner binding systems. I found myself wishing that the columns for each day didn’t have spaces between them, just for a little extra room. After getting this planner, I realized that if I’m going ShePlans, I really should be getting her Daily Planner.


All in all, this is a fantastic planner, perfect for minimalist planning or for someone who wants a lot of white space and neutral layouts to act as a canvas for their own creativity. I have always found ShePlans products to be high quality. ๐Ÿ™‚ Have you tried ShePlans before? Did you have questions about anything that I didn’t address? Leave a comment! Tell me your thoughts, ask me your questions, share your own experiences with planning!

xo
Ara

ban.do 17-month agenda

Hello planner people!

I am thrilled to share my very first blog post with all of you. This blog will be focused on three things:ย (1)ย planner reviews,ย (2)ย planner matches, andย (3)ย planner tips & tricks. I want to offer the #plannercommunity something a little different with this planner blog. There are already so many wonderful planner blogs, websites, YouTube channels, and Instagram accounts out there, but I want to focus on providing an analysis of the planners I review and thinking about who they would be a good fit for. I won’t be doing the standard unboxing on this blog, but rather an exploration of the planner’s functionality, aesthetics, and what type of needs it would fit.

Without further ado, let’s get going on my first review!

ban.do 17-month agenda in rose parade

The ban.do line of 2017-2018 planners features three sizes (classic, medium, and large), two binding options (book or case-bound and ring-bound), and several cover designs. I procured this little beauty from my favorite San Diego shop, pigmentย for $20 + tax. It is the case-bound classic size and measures in atย 5.125 in. x 8.125 in. Easy to plop in your purse or haul around! The $20 price tag makes it an affordable, cute option for someone who needs an agenda but doesn’t have an overly complex schedule (or doesn’t use their agenda to keep track of it).

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Function: ban.do agendas honestly don’t strike me as work horses for anyone with a hectic schedule and list of to-dos, but the simple layout does provide a lot of white space and freedom to do what works best for you. There are also a good deal of notes pages dispersed throughout the agenda for those of you who need more space! @lycheestudy has a great example of a minimal spread on her instagram account.ย @bright.inspo uses her ban.do agenda in a different way, utilizing stickers.

Just in these two examples, you can see that the ban.do agenda can function as a place to keep to-do lists for the day, journal, write down class assignments, or track habits/meals/fitness. Its versatility makes it functional. The first few pages of the agenda include a 2018-2019 year-at-a-glance, a place to write down special or important dates for each month, and a comprehensive list of holidays. There is also a pocket at the back of the planner to store bits and pieces, as well as a newly added pink ribbon to mark your place!

Aesthetics/Design: ban.do is all about fun, and every detail of their agendas sticks to that mission. From adorable stickers (included in the first few pages) to sassy sayings littered throughout the weekly spreads, ban.do agendas are here to brighten your day and make the planning process fun. ban.do strives to support their team of women artists, featuring them on the ban.do website as well as providing a page at the end of the agenda listing all of them. While the ban.do agenda is not a sleek, professional-looking planner to take to business meetings, it also doesn’t pretend to be. The ban.do agenda is self-aware–it knows that it’s about being bright and fun and doesn’t try to be everything for everyone. The little quotes, notes, and sayings throughout the planner are also all about positivity and self-love.

Fit: The ban.do planner, especially in classic size, would probably work for someone who wants a portable option for a flexible schedule. I would recommend this forย college students, high school students,ย andย anyone who wants a cheerful agenda to journal, write down daily gratitude, or who needs a quick and accessible place to write down notes and to-dos on the go. Ultimately, ban.do”s agenda is a flexible space and can be used in a multitude of ways. Check out the Instagram hashtag #bandoagenda for inspiration and ideas on how to use this super sweet little book.

Loves: I love how fun and colorful the ban.do planners are! They are cute, portable (in classic size, at least), and offer tons of white space for each day that can be organized however you want. ban.do definitely gets a thumbs up from me for their work to #supportwomenartists and provide them with visibility. The artwork is delightful. Check out the slideshow of each month’s design below.

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Nopes:ย While I appreciate the ban.do agenda for being a well-designed and flexible planner, I personally need something a little more structured. Some people will look at the white space and think,ย “This is fantastic, I can do whatever I want with this and make it work for me,”ย but I look at it and thinkย “Oh goodness how do I use this?” Obviously this is my own hang-up and wouldn’t apply to everyone. I also tend to veer towards planners that I could bring into a meeting, but I am tempted by the bright fun ban.do promises.

What do you think? Do you have the ban.do agenda, or are you looking into getting one? Leave your comments below! Let’s discuss!