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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 🙂