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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!