Day Designer for Blue Sky (Daily)

The Day Designer is often heralded as the flagship daily planner. In 2010, Whitney English wasn’t seeing the planner she wanted to use on the market, so she created her own. The Day Designer page on Blue Sky’s website has a message from Whitney:

I created Day Designer in response to my own desire for a planner that was both functional and beautiful. I envisioned a planner that would be simple to use yet robust enough to handle the modern woman’s busy, chaotic, challenging – yet ultimately rewarding – life. An efficient planning system was truly the key to helping me, and busy women all over the world, find focus, create balance and live a more inspiring life. – Whitney English

Based on some interwebs digging, I believe that Day Designer partnered with Blue Sky in 2015 to launch a new and more affordable line of planners in Targets nationwide. The launch was met with excitement, especially from people who loved the layout of Day Designer but not its price tag.

The Blue Sky line is far more affordable than the flagship and mini Day Designers. I picked this one up for $19.99 at my local Target although the 2018 calendar year sells on the Blue Sky website for $29.99. Either way, it’s cheaper than the hefty $59 price tag on hardcover flagship planners on DayDesigner.com. This price difference makes the Day Designer system accessible to more people, but you definitely get the quality that you pay for. The Blue Sky collaboration still offers a comprehensive daily planner with a functional layout, but the flagship Day Designers are clearly superior in quality. (They are also comparable in price to other leading planner brands like Emily Ley’s $58 Simplified Planner and Erin Condren’s $55+ planners.) Still, the Blue Sky Day Designers are an affordable, functional option.

Function

The Day Designer is a functional workhorse, and the product created from the Blue Sky collaboration is no different. The planner’s beginning pages include a generous four years at a glance, a list of important dates/holidays, a welcome letter from Whitney English, and a few pages for goal setting. Whitney English is one organized lady, and her planners guide you into a more intentional planning way of life. She is all about goals and consistent reflection and shows you how to set meaningful goals and incorporate them into a daily planning habit.

There are four pages for goal setting. The first page (1) asks you to Start with the Big Picture, essentially creating a bucket list or vision board. Page 2 helps you Set Your Goals by asking you to divide them into five sections: Personal; Family, Friends, & Relationship; Heart & Spirit; Financial; and Work, Career, or Study. There is a bar on the side of the page where you can write in when you would like to accomplish each goal by. Page 3 asks you to Design Your Days, providing examples of Morning and Evening Routines that help you stay on track and keep the big picture in mind. Page 4 helps you Stay On Course and reminds you to check in regularly with your goals, providing a check list of stuff like Important Birthdays, Trips, Class Schedules, Events, etc. so that you remember to go through your planner and write everything in ahead of time.

 

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The daily layout is pretty packed and includes sections for Today’s Schedule, Today’s Top Three, To Do, Notes, Tonight, and Gratitude. Each day also includes an inspirational quote! The schedule is in half-hour increments–which I love–and goes from 6am to 8pm. The Tonight box is perfect for writing in nighttime events or reminders. It’s a great inclusion in this planner because the schedule ends at 8pm, but often your day does not. The Top Three section is fantastic for prioritizing. The only other daily planner I’ve seen that specifically asks you to delineate between priority tasks and other tasks is the new Inkwell Press Daily Planner. This small space is so important because it forces you to be intentional about what you really need to accomplish that day.

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Weekends are combined on one page and include sections for Take A Time Out! Fun Things To Do, Schedule, Weekly Gratitude, Next Week, and Don’t Forget. Like the daily pages, there is also a quote on each weekend page. The schedule is in hourly increments and runs from 6am to 8pm. The Next Week section is another favorite feature of mine. I like being able to look ahead at a glance, so this box can serve to remind you of important events, due dates, etc. that are coming up. The Don’t Forget box could easily be used as a place to record important weekend tasks that are more complex than one check-box, like “this week I need to clean my medical equipment,” or “this weekend my parents are visiting so I need to clean the guest room and make the house presentable so that they are comfortable/don’t judge me,” etc. It’s the kind of thing that you can use to future plan, where you know that in two months your parents are visiting so you leave a note/reminder for yourself ahead of time so that you don’t need to keep it in your head until the time arrives.

Aesthetics/Design

This is a simple planner. The front cover is smooth and satiny in the Day Designer’s signature black and white stripe with a frosted protective cover atop it. The logo and planner name is in gold foiling in a white box on the front of the planner, consistent with the Day Deisnger’s history of cover designs. The full title of the planner is printed: The Strategic Planner and Daily Agenda for living a well-designed life. The design is clean and adheres to a limited color palette with consistent serif fonts for larger blocks of text and bold sans-serif all-caps font for section headers throughout the planner.

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Because there are multiple versions of The Day Designer planner, I’ll briefly go into how the daily page layout in the Blue Sky product is different from Day Designer’s flagship. (I will also be writing a review of the Day Designer Mini, so keep your eyes peeled for that!) The Blue Sky Day Designer actually has more space for schedule and notes, but a little less structure. The flagship has a schedule in hourly increments adjacent to your daily To Do list, but also includes four small boxes: Due, Don’t Forget, Dinner, and Dollars. The bottom of the flagship planner includes boxes for Notes and Gratitude. The Blue Sky version has a much larger Notes section but is missing the four D’s.

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Tabs are the same cornflower blue as the design accents in the planner and run in a single line along the book. I find that the tabs are plenty durable and work well to keep your months organized.

Fit

Do you care deeply about the kind of pen you use in your planner? If so, this might not be the planner for you. If you are fine with using that random ballpoint pen at the bottom of your purse, then the paper quality won’t bother you. If you care more about the structure of the planner than the quality of the materials, then this planner is for you.

 

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I tried a bunch of different pens–I know the Pilot G2, Papermate Flair, and Frixion are favorites in the planner community so I wanted to show you how they looked on the page. I checked off the pens that leave the least amount of bleed through/ghosting.

I tried a bunch of different pens to show you the difference in how they look on the page–I’m a bit of a pen snob and my favorite pens to use are Micron, Pilot Precise V5, and Pentel 0.3mm or 0.4mm Art Hybrid pens. I also took a picture of the back of the planner page to show you that, while you can use most of the pens I tested without bleeding, you can easily see the indentations from the pens and the markings from the back page.

 

 

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Most highlighters are going to bleed through, although you might be safe with the Pilot Spotliter <Flourescent> in yellow, as long as you don’t press down too hard. The Sharpie Permanent Marker is obviously not going to work, and the Pilot Precise V5, Papermate Flair, and Staedtler pens all leave a pretty heavy impression on the page.

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This planner is great for college students with a LOT going on each day (the Notes section in the daily layout is great for writing in assignments and tests!), who are on a budget, want to be able to toss the planner around without worrying that they are damaging a $60 tool, and who mainly use a collection of dubiously acquired ballpoint pens that say stuff like “Dr. Drew’s Dentisry” or are emblazoned with the names of random hotels and coffee shops. (I proudly use my Wandering Goat Coffee Company ballpoint pen on a weekly basis. Picked that up from their pen jar. No regrets.)

This planner is also good for professionals who want an at-work planner. I’m actually gifting this planner to a friend of mine who needs an agenda to leave at work that keeps track of daily tasks, a busy meeting schedule, and also has room for notes–I’ll do a #plannermatch post later on. 😉 If your days are packed, then this planner might work for you.

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This planner would also be a good fit for a work at home/stay at home parent who has a lot to keep track of every day. Worried about your toddler destroying your expensive planner? Spend $20-30 on this planner and free yourself from the shackles of perfectionism and pristine organization! Crayon marks all over your pages? Whatevs, just flip to the next day and congratulate your child on their budding art career. That is the beauty of a daily planner. Your week isn’t marred if one page gets funky. Just flip to the next page and you have a bright, clean new spread. Although I would be a little worried about the coil holding up against a toddler.

The Gratitude box is wonderful for reminding yourself to be grateful for all the big & little things in life and helps to calm your soul if you consistently use it. Whitney English is a big believer in gratitude as a positive force that can literally change your life, so if you are overworked, overwhelmed, and overstressed then taking time to use a daily space like the Gratitude box might bring you back from the brink.

 

Loves

I actually really like the daily page layout of this planner. I dig the pop of color, too! I’m a sucker for cornflower blue so I especially like this version of the planner. Other Blue Sky Day Designers come with different color schemes. I like the space you get for notes on each daily spread, and also really like the half-hour increments. I could easily see using this planner when I was in college–the half-hour increments make it much easier to write in class schedules.

Ultimately, if you are paying about $20, then I think it’s a great deal for the functionality of the planner that you get.

Nopes

The coil. The coil, the coil, the coil. If you’ve been following my blog at all you know that I am just not a fan of the Wire-O binding system. That being said, there are sturdy Wire-O coils, like the ones that Inkwell Press and Emily Ley use. This coil is not like that. I have barely touched this planner and the coil has bent out of shape. I had to pressure it back into shape before taking photos. The paper quality is pretty low, but honestly, it’s fine if you use ballpoint or very fine gel pens (I’m talking 0.38) and realize that a $20 planner is not going to come with the finest paper. One other small qualm is that the design of the daily pages seems to leave such a large margin of space at the top of each page. It drives me a little crazy. Of course, you always could just write there anyway.

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There you have it! My review of the Day Designer for Blue Sky planner. 🙂 I know that there are tons of options (monthly, weekly, daily; soft cover, hard cover) for Day Designers these days, and I do plan to write a review of my 2018 Day Desinger Mini (it’s gorge!). Do you have a Day Designer? Are there questions you have that I didn’t answer? Leave a comment!

xo
Ara

Alina & STARTplanner (Daily Hustle)

My friend and colleague Alina is a busy mom and just passed her Masters defense! Woo! When I gave her this planner in early 2017, though, we were both still in graduate school and struggling to manage our time and work. I had purchased the 2017 STARTplanner for myself but found the content overwhelming for my needs and the gigantic spiral both cumbersome and difficult to write around. In order to use the STARTplanner to its full potential, I felt like I needed to have children, live with my husband (we were briefly long distance while I finished up my second Masters), and manage a household instead of my chill roommate situation.

But my friend, Alina, was the mother of a toddler, married, and rented a house near campus. She had a fellowship and a Masters final project to work on that was overwhelming in the way that grad school usually is. The topic of planners came up in our Thesis Group, where we met with our advisor every other week to discuss the process for finishing our thesis/final project (Alina was making a film) and tried to stay on track with all of the demands and deadlines. Alina mentioned something that made me think she needed a planner (I tend to think that about everyone), and I offered to gift one to her. The STARTplanner 2017 Daily Hustle was perfect for her. It had room to keep track of her schedule, assignments, work tasks, and the flexibility to help her manage her daughter’s needs.

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STARTplanner has a ton of content. Their Daily Hustle planner is super thick and runs for 12 months with one day per page and shared weekend pages. There are goal setting pages, project planning pages (perfect for school), medical appointment pages, vacation pages, monthly grocery pages, financial pages, and more. The STARTplanner is everything in one book and has thought of things that you didn’t even realize you needed.

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Each month includes this spread for mini goals, health check, groceries, and cards & gifts.

Shortly after I gave Alina her STARTplanner, she told me that she loved it but was afraid that even her busy life wasn’t busy enough to fill the planner. We talked about making a system work for you and letting go of the guilt of not completely filling a planner out. Later she looked at me and said, “I have done everything I’ve written down in that planner.” Your don’t have to fill every little box out in order for a planner to work for you. STARTplanner fit Alina because she only wanted one space to manage multiple things and a tool to help her keep everything together in an otherwise busy and hectic time.

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Randomly, when I went to our favorite tea shop to meet Alina and give her the planner, my favorite barista was there and saw the STARTplanner. She immediately gushed over it and asked where I got it and what kind of planner it was. I told her all about STARTplanner and explained that I was giving this planner to a friend because it just wasn’t right for me then. A few weeks later the barista told me that she had purchased the STARTplanner and absolutely loved it. Much like Alina, she looked at me and said: “It’s crazy but I’ve done every single thing that I’ve written down in that planner.”

Magical productivity? Maybe. A planner is a tool, and in the case of STARTplanner it can be a powerful tool, but it still needs your to make it work. 😉

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STARTplanner has three lines of planners: Hustle, Fancy Pants, and Legit. Hustle comes in daily and weekly formats, and the new 2018 line has a casebound daily hustle, which is awesome. Fancy Pants is an A5 binder system and comes in daily and weekly options as well. Legit is their student planner and comes in academic year only and includes a school section for keeping track of assignments, etc. Legit is also casebound. Right now, the midyear line of 2017-2018 planners is on sale, and STARTplanner is accepting preorders for their 2018 planners (shipping in early November). These are not cheap planners, but they are functional and comprehensive. The daily and weekly hustle planners are $60, and the Fancy Pants binder system is $98 (includes all pages AND the binder), or just $64 for the inserts. Legit is usually $60 but right now it’s on sale for $51.

I purchased a 2018 Fancy Pants STARTplanner, so keep your eyes peeled for a review of that in mid-to-late November!

xo
Ara

Purposeful Planner (Weekly CoCo Luxe Leatherette) by Corie Clark

The Purposeful Planner has been around for a few years, but Corie Clark’s blog/website has existed on the Interwebs since 2013. Corie Clark outlines her struggle to create a purposeful life, describing her process as tugging on a rope for more more more. In 2013, she attended the Hillsong Colour Conference and learned that she needed to let go of tugging that rope, trusting that God would lead her in the right direction. Devotion is a big part of Corie’s journey and that is reflected in her planners. Ultimately, however, Corie Clark just wants to help people live life on purpose. Corie includes this note on her website:

The Purposeful Planner® was designed for YOU! For the creative, the stay-at-home mom trying to fit it all in, the entrepreneur chasing their dreams, the empty-nester living their dreams, and anyone else trying to live their life on purpose. It is so important that we create margin in our lives so that we can live the life we’ve always dreamed. There are miracles in the margin!

The Purposeful Planner has daily (Pro Tip: mid-year daily editions are on sale right now for $34.99!) and weekly editions, in both wire-o spiral binding and book binding. Daily planners usually go for $58, while weekly editions are priced at $52. Daily planners usually have three different cover designs to choose from, and I know that a book-bound planner in black leatherette is being released as part of the 2018 line. For this post, I will be reviewing the July 2016–December 2017 weekly version of this planner in book-bound leatherette. I picked this edition up on sale from Corie Clark’s website.

Function

This is a highly functional planner. The planner starts with a name-plate page and a folder adhered to the inside cover. The beginning pages include a letter from Corie and extensive life and goal planning pages that include bucket lists, yearly goals, and more. Corie asks you to think about what your 5 most important roles are in your life, and then asks you to plan according to those priorities to help you fulfill a sense of purpose.

There is a lot packed into each month. Before the monthly spread, you will find a monthly budget sheet, menu planning page, master task list, and goal setting page. I love this because it easily allows you to plan your monthly meals and then easily just transfer them onto each weekly spread.

Each weekly spread has a Monday start and a full column for each day of the week & weekend. A small Health section is at the top of each daily column, followed by Water intake trackers, and then timed hourly slots in half-hour increments from 6am–9pm. The bottom of each column includes a Menu box to track food for the day. The weekly spread also has a column on the lefthand side, which includes a mini month-at-a-glance, a section for Brain Dump, and a section for Prayer & Praise.

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The planner size is 8″ x 9 1/2″ x 1″, big enough to have space for writing, but still portable.

Aesthetics/Design

The book-bound design of this planner is lovely. It’s big but not too big, floppy in the best of ways, and the white leatherette feels great. The front cover is embossed with copper foil, which is gorgeous. This planner also has a copper ribbon for marking your place, which is such an important thing to include in book-bound planners!

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The paper is off-white, 100 gsm, and feels nice and thick. I experienced no bleed on the pages when using a Pilot G2 in 0.7 or 0.5, or a Sharpie pen. The planner has a lay-flat design that makes it pretty easy to write in. I like that the lines on the weekly spread are dotted because it lightens the visual weight of the page a little.

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Monthly spreads include an inspirational quote or Bible verse in the upper righthand corner, a left-hand column for notes or whatever you want (it’s unlabeled), and a mini month-at-a-glance for the month prior and the month following. There are two main font choices in this planner, a bold script font for headings and month “titles,” and a sans-serif lighter font in all caps for everything else.

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The monthly spread has thick, solid lines. I personally like the Monday start because I enjoy having my weekends together, even on the monthly spread, but that’s just my preference. The boxes seem to have plenty of room, as well.

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As you can see, the Purposeful Planner is a monocrhome, black-and-off-white planner that leaves you plenty of room to decorate, color-code, or doodle at will. If you are interested in a simple, professional look, then this planner can fit that mold too.

Fit

This planner seems like it’s made for Christian women, to be honest. Each weekly spread has a Prayers & Praise section, and Corie Clark’s letter and inspirational quotes seem to be focused on religious journeys and scripture. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with a planner that has an intentional devotional bent, but it could possibly make non-Christian planner babes feel like this planner just wasn’t made for them.

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Otherwise, this is a great planner for busy moms who have multiple schedules to keep track of but still need to take care of themselves, savvy business babes who want to keep one eye on home life while still kicking ass at work, stay-at-home parents who need a tool to help them manage their life, and anyone who wants a structured schedule while still having room for meal planning, goal setting, and budgeting. If you want it all, and you want it all in one place, the Purposeful Planner is a great tool. The book-bound version of this planner is also pretty portable, so if you find coil-bound planners to be a bit cumbersome, then this planner might work better for you.

Loves

The amount of detail in this planner is awesome. There are so many extras, from monthly menus to budgeting, that this planner has. Corie Clark clearly put a lot of thought into designing this planner, and it shows in the comprehensive content she’s included. I love the weekly spread with its half-hour increments and dedicated spaces for water intake and menus. The monthly goal setting pages remind you of your priorities and goals each month, which is great. I’m also a sucker for the beautiful script font she uses for her months. It’s wonderfult to see such a comprehensive planner in a book-bound format, and I truly dig that about this planner.

Nopes

The Purposeful Planner is beautifully designed, but there are two nopes that show up for me. First, I would prefer whiter pages (as opposed to the dark cream color in this planner) because I think it would make the font a little crisper without it needing to be so thick/bold. There is a lot going on in the Purposeful Planner, and sometimes it feels like a very soft visual experience rather than a defined one. My second nope is the “Prayer/Praise” box in the planner layout. Corie Clark is clearly a devoted Christian, and God plays a huge part in her life, but the emphasis on God in the Purposeful Planner is enough to potentially make non-Christians uncomfortable using it. Is Purposeful Planner a planner specifically for Christians, or a planner for anyone? There are other planners that incorporate boxes (STARTplanner has a little book icon for one of their sections) that are up for interpretation; you could write scripture in them, or keep track of your progress in a book you’re reading, or add an inspirational quote.


So there you have it! The Purposeful Planner Weekly edition by Corie Clark! I should mention that Corie Clark’s planner is best known for its daily versions, so I thought I should provide links to reviews of those for the 2016 version of the planner. Earn Spend Live did a thorough review, as did The Tiffany Project.

Do you have one of these planners? Do you have the daily version? Is there anything I missed that you wished I’d talked about? Do tell, in the comments. 🙂

xo
Ara

bloom daily planner

bloom daily planners is a versatile planner with prices ranging from $15–30 and products designed for grade school students learning how to plan and organize for the first time to moms trying to keep track of busy schedules in a bright and happy tool. The founders of bloom, Kaylyn Minix and Michelle Trincia, clearly spell out their company’s mission on their website:

“We understand that a planner is more than just a planner – it’s a diary of your past and a stepping stone to your future. There is true power in putting your dreams and goals down onto paper, and there always will be. It is through prioritizing and organizing your tasks and goals that you plant the seeds of your future and give yourself the opportunity to flourish and grow.”

I love this small paragraph–it succinctly states the mission of the company and it explains why paper planners are still important tools. As you can see, they stick to the theme of “bloom,” to the point where it is defined in the first pages of the planner:
bloom (v.) – To grow or flourish with youth and vigor. To shine or glow.”

I know that bloom has been around for quite a while–I even remember buying a planner from them on Amazon for my little cousin when she was in college a couple of years ago. But I could not find anywhere on their website the date for when they launched! Either way, they offer a huge selection of planners. They have academic and calendar-year planners with around 30 cover options to choose from. They have small soft cover planners (6″ wide (with binding) x 8.25″ tall x .4″ thick, 10 oz.) for $15.95, hardbound versions (6″ wide (with binding) x 8.25″ tall x .6″ thick, 12.7 oz.) for $19.95, and vision planners with a little more content (7.5″ wide x 9″ tall, 1 lb 2oz) for $24.95. bloom also carries multiple types of planners, from academic year, calendar year, vision planners, undated teacher planners, wedding planners, and more.

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bloom’s vision board, from their website: https://bloomplanners.com/pages/whatisbloom

I will be reviewing the 2017-2018 bloom planner, softcover.

Function

bloom planners are weekly planners (despite the company name of “bloom daily planner”) in a horizontal layout. There is a lot of room on the page to write down school assignments, notes for each day, a list of To-Dos, reminders, etc. The lined spaces provide flexibility and function. I found that the space adjacent to each number (in pink) is great for writing big reminders for the day. Each weekly spread also includes the month and year at the top right, as well as a mini monthly overview. Sometimes there are questions, messages, or challenges dappled into the weekly layout, as well.

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bloom planners also include monthly spreads on two pages. Major holidays and important dates are flagged in pink (check out the cute detailing for September 22, the first day of Fall!). There is also a section for Monthly Goals and Notes, and a tiny month-at-a-glance for the month preceding the current month and the month following it. The monthly pages are bright, pink, and cheerful. Weekends are shaded in pink, as well. Each monthly spreads includes a motivational quip, like September’s “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

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There are also several pages at the front of the bloom planner that cover things to do, class schedule, contacts (addresses & numbers), notes, and a vision board. There are several notes pages and things to do pages in the planner, ideal for jotting down quick notes, drafting your class schedule for the next term, or keeping a running to-do list of important tasks.

 

Aesthetics/Design

This planner is designed to be cute, portable, and feminine. The specific planner I have, the academic planner in the Vintage Floral pattern, has bright pink accents throughout. The paper is okay–nothing to write home on or about but it can handle a standard ballpoint pen. But you aren’t buying this planner for the quality of its paper–for $15 or less, this planner provides lots of content pages, portability, and an aesthetic statement. It’s a budget planner that still has personality, which isn’t always easy to find.

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The planner’s coil is a strong coppery plastic (it feels like plastic, but it could be thin metal wiring coated in a thick plastic), but the quality increases with the hardcover version and the vision planner. The interior covers (front and back) have built-in pockets as well as year-at-a-glance calendars. Corners are rounded and the planner is thin enough to slip into your backpack, purse, or even on-the-go bag. Portability and lightness are part of this planner’s appeal. There are several different cover designs, but they all veer towards a cute, playful interior. This is not a Board meeting planner. This is a planner you pull out of your school bag to jot down the week’s homework or write in social engagements. It’s a fun, inexpensive option and is completely self-aware about it.

Fit

Honestly, this planner is best for students or moms who are trying to keep track of their children’s school schedules. The planner has a class list section, which is meant for tracking your weekly schedule and the time, class, professor, and room. There are four pages for you class schedule, which I appreciate. Not everyone is on a Semester system–for instance, I went to a university on the Quarter system, which has four terms instead of two.

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This planner also includes a couple of contact sheets for jotting down group study information if you’re in college, or for keeping in touch with other parents involved in your kid’s playdates and sleepovers. It’s a great, inexpensive option for your child’s first planner. Someone could proudly tote this around in 5th grade, middle school, high school, and/or college. If you have a child who desperately wants their own planner but you’re worried about shelling out a lot of money for something that might get destroyed, try finding a bloom planner on Amazon. The multiple cover options allow you to choose an aesthetic that best fits your style.

I mocked up a weekly spread with my schedule in early August of 2017 to illustrate how someone might use the bloom planner:

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Mock-up of my schedule during the first week of August.

Loves

I really like how the bloom planner has lots of space in its weekly layout. The planner maximizes space and provides tons of lines for writing out to-dos, schedules, reminders, etc. I also like the pink flag reminders in each monthly spread and the generous amount of things to do checklists and notes pages. The variety of cover options is great, as is the portability and size. This planner has an excellent price point, and if you are planning on a budget but still want some extras, look no further.

Nopes

The bright pink interior just isn’t for me. I appreciate bloom’s dedication to a feminine, cheerful interior layout that corresponds with their pink daisy logo, really I do. I can get on board with a consistent aesthetic. But this planner simply doesn’t fit my needs–if I were in high school, however, I could see coveting this planner and using it for all my homework assignments. Also the name “bloom daily planner” confuses me, because it is a weekly planner.


There you have it! My review for the affordable & adorable bloom daily planner. Do you have a bloom planner? Are you a #bloomgirl? Leave a comment! 🙂

xo
Ara

XO Daily Planner

The XO Planner is a daily planner with a highly structured layout. It has intentional spaces for keeping track of multiple areas of your life. Nina Truong launched XO Planners in 2015 to accommodate more than just the 9-5. She wanted her planner to help her look after more than just her work life. On their website, the XO Planner’s purpose is spelled out clearly:

This planner was created for every entrepreneur, dreamer, and hustler making things happens. The XO Planner is a simple system that was created to improve productivity and provide clarity for navigating your best year yet. Our motto is very much the essence of carpe diem – helping you seize the day down to every detail!

Function

This planner is a wonderful size. It’s wide enough to write comprehensively but small enough to take on the go. The pages are about 8″ x 6″ and the planner (with coil) measures 8 1/2″ x 7 3/4″. The paper is bright white and 120 gsm. I used a Sharpie pen and had no trouble with bleeding.

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This is a daily planner with shared weekend pages. Each day has a section for Schedule, Don’t Forget, Brilliant Ideas, To-Do’s, Inspiration, Grateful for, Health, Post It, and Notes. The Brilliant Ideas section has three lines for Nos. 1-3, and the Health section has 8 circles for tracking water intake. The Post It box actually fits a Post It perfectly, which is cool because you can move it around from day to day if you want to. I was a little bit nervous about the schedule section because you have 9 slots to write in your own times. I tend to equate my appointment schedule with how I am spending my time, so when it is blank I have mild panic attacks about wasting my time. While that does not necessarily sound healthy, it keeps me on my toes with how I choose to spend my time, because time is really the greatest currency I have right now. However, I found that the schedule section usually fit my needs. I wish it had more room to write out what you are scheduling, because there really isn’t much.

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A functional problem I encountered with this planner was writing down appointments in advance. Where did I put them? Did I just cut the schedule in half in the middle and try to vaguely place appointments where I thought they might go if the schedule boxes were from 9am-5pm? The flexibility of the scheduling boxes did come in handy, however, when I mapped out my day at the National Book Festival in my XO Planner. Weird times, like 11:25am and 1:40pm were noooo problem. I just wrote them in, rather than trying to fit them into an hourly time slot appointment space.

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Weekends share a page and include: Schedule (9 slots), To-Do’s (6 check boxes), and Post It for each day. It is actually a clever design once you realize that the Weekend pages are just the left-hand layout of the daily pages duplicated to accommodate both Saturday and Sunday. You aren’t losing any schedule or to-do space at all, just the extras.

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The XO Planner opens with a name plate page, 2017 and 2018 year-at-a-glance pages, and multiple pages for: Important Information, Special Occasions, “This Year I’m Going To,” Goal Setting pages, Personal Commandments, a Bucket List, and a beautifully designed Mission Board two-page layout. There’s a lot of content. For the size of the planner, there’s a lot going on.

Each monthly spread is preceded by two pages, a Budget page for the month and an Overview including the sections: Organize, Dates & Deadlines, Download, Priorities, New Things to Try, and Read. The Budget page is low-key and hopefully won’t overwhelm anyone. It includes a section to write current savings and savings goals for the month, as well as a chart of expenses, Things I Need, Things I Want (such an important separation!), Reflections from Last Month, and Goal for this month.

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Aesthetics/Design

XO Planners have beautiful, smooth covers. I love their bright, gorgeous cover designs. For 2017 they came out with three planner cover designs, but for the 2018 calendar year there are two cover options. (Side note: XO Planners are open for Pre-Order right now and will ship in November.) XO Planners has also released a few new products, like their wire-o bound Life Journal, a desk pad, and a Wanderlust Journal. From the 2017 line, I picked up this rosy beauty in pink! I find it cheerful and elegant at the same time. The cover has the XO Planners logo and “2017” gorgeously foiled in gold.

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XO Planners definitely has a minimalist design aesthetic. The planner pages include no color, just black and white spreads with dark, defined lines and heavily delineated sections. XO Planners sticks with a serif font choice, which appears without variation throughout the planner. The tabs are black and list the first three letters of each month in white. There are inspirational mantras on each monthly spread (September’s is “THINK positive, BE positive”), with tiny sections for Notes and Inspiration.

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So the aesthetic of this planner is consciously minimalist, but sometimes the line space just doesn’t cut it. I feel like the design could really make more use of the margins, and I think some of the lines could be done away with because they make the pages look a little clunkier than they need to. This is, of course, only my personal opinion. There also isn’t a lot of room to write outside of the sections and spaces that XO Planners has given you. Now, if the structure that XO Planners has provided works perfectly for you, then you may not think of white space as an aesthetic issue. It all depends, really, on whether you like a flexible layout to sticker, draw, and write all over, or if you prefer a minimalist and highly structured planner layout where a lot of the organizational heavy-lifting has already been done for you and you just have to fill it in.

Fit

Truong designed the XO Planner for entrepreneurs, dreamers, and hustlers. It was built to encompass more than the 9-5 life, and includes space for looking after health, dreams and inspiration, and your schedule and to-do’s. The layout is simultaneously restrictive and flexible. The idea of three Brilliant Ideas every day might seem a little daunting, as well as filling out Inspiration daily, but these sections don’t need to be used every day. They are just there for when you do need them. The XO Planner does not have notes pages, so the daily spread needs to have that space for when a brilliant idea or inspiration does strike you. Or use it to inspire you. When I was using this planner, I sometimes put inspirational or slightly judgey quotes in the Inspiration box.

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I would recommend this planner to anyone who has a schedule at strange times and finds it easier to write appointments in rather than trying to squeeze them into a strict hourly appointment schedule. If you work a night shift and are infuriated at the privilege 9am-5am appointment schedules receive in most planners, then calm thyself: your planner is here. If you need that flexibility, then look no further. I would also recommend this planner for anyone who is trying to intentionally create a more balanced life for themselves. Are you a savvy career woman but often forget to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day? Then maybe try this system. Are you an intern with a million tasks to complete and varied schedule to manage? This planner could work for you. Are you a young professional thriving in the gig economy without a 9-5 schedule? Bingo. The XO Planner could be the right fit for you, especially with its monthly financial check-in page.

 

Loves

I love how deliberate this planner is. I also love how the Sharpie pen writes in it. I like how much each daily spread offers, and the monthly Overview pages. Having a space to jot down stuff that applies for the whole month but that I don’t want to forget in an organized format is awesome. I also really love the beginning pages and how they are not overly overwhelming. I can come up with personal commandments pretty easily, and I love the inclusion of a yearly mission statement for yourself.

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Nopes

I wish that the XO Planner made better use of its margins. I feel like so much of the page space goes to waste when it could be utilized for a cleaner aesthetic and a little more space. This is especially true on the monthly spread, where the notes section and Inspiration box are almost too small to get anything down on. As usual, one of my nopes is the wire-o binding. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I find the wire-o binding to be the least durable of the planner binding systems. Yes, even compared to disc bound.


So there you have it, my review of the 2017 XO Planner! Do you have questions that I didn’t answer? Do you have an XO Planner and something to say about it? Leave a comment! Let me know! 🙂

xo
Ara