2017-2018 Get To Work Book

The Get To Work Book (GTWB for short) is a sturdy, simple planner that I have been eyeing for a while and hoping to review. I reached out to Elise Blaha Cripe (the creator of the Get To Work Book) and she kindly sent me one of her 2017-2018 midyear planners to review. Elise lives in San Diego, California (my hometown!) and has a blog and podcast focusing on maker & craft culture and creative living. Her main focus now is her GTWB company and she has poured the creativity, love, and attention from her blog into producing a helpful, goal-oriented planner that encourages you to get to work.

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The GTWB is highly functional and priced to reflect the design, materials, and assembly that went into its creation. The 2018 GTWB is $55. You can also purchase unpunched A5 pages for $46. I have the 2017-2018 academic GTWB which is currently on sale for $35! Elise will also occasionally run promotions, especially around launch week, so keep your eyes peeled for those if you are thinking about picking one of these beauties up for next year!

Function

The Get To Work Book is a weekly planner that comes in academic year (Jul–Jun) and calendar year (Jan–Dec) options. While it is definitely on par with other weekly planners, there are a few things that set the GTWB apart.

First, there are no Important Dates/Holidays written into the planner for you. This could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you use your planner. If you are using this planner for work and don’t really need to know upcoming holidays or are fine with having your phone remind you, then it will fit your needs perfectly. Or, if you celebrate holidays or important dates that don’t adhere to the traditional Western calendar, this planner does not assume otherwise. You can write in the dates that matter to you and forgo the rest.

The second aspect of this planner that really sets it apart is the space and focus on projects. Every month includes a space for you to focus on a project, its actions items, and its deadline. There are two pages per month of just open grid that you can use to brainstorm, plan, map out, or write down your project(s). This is fantastic for those of you who are project focused or work in the gig economy.

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There is also a page for Reflection and Goal Setting. You can write in Last Month’s Wins, what’s Still in Progress, what To Let Go Of, what To Think On, To Work On, and To Complete. It’s an open section where you can dig in as much or as little as you like!

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Having these project and goal pages dispersed throughout the planner means that there isn’t a bulky front section. The GTWB opens with a title page, a page with a quick blurb about the planner and a place to put your name and contact info, and a motivational graphic saying “Big things happen one day at a time.” Then it goes into 2017 and 2018 at a glance over a two-page spread. You can write in important dates, holidays that matter to you, birthdays, project deadlines, etc. Whatever you need to keep track of.

Then that’s it! You’re into the meat of the book. You get a two-page monthly spread with a Sunday start that manages to combine sizeable day boxes with a generous notes section at the bottom of the page. This calendar is entirely yours–there are no dates written in so if you want this just to be your work projects planner, that’s all you need to worry about mapping out and you’re given a blank spread to do that with. The monthly spread also includes small month-at-a-glance calendars for the month preceding and the one following the current spread. I love the use of the sidebar as a place to feature the month and year in big, bold text.

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The weekly spread is a Monday start so that you have your weekends together. This is a vertical layout with a section at the top of each day for three tasks, appointments, meals, or whatever you would like to put there. The daily columns switch in contrasting gray and white to help you stay focused on the day you’re planning for. A box in the top lefthand corner of the page reminds you what year and month it is, and the lefthand column includes three big boxes for writing in action items for the week. GTWB includes generous space for notes at the bottom of both pages in the weekly spread in a grid format.

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The notes pages are still designed with projects in mind. Apart from notes and project pages at the beginning of each month, there is also a section in the back of the planner with additional notes pages. You get the blank canvas in grid paper (Date & Project), and then you start to get these pages that include a box labeled “To Do” with three checkboxes for priority tasks. I imagine that these pages are designed to be used together to help you work out the details for a big project.

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The planner ends with a 2018-2019 at-a-glance calendar. There isn’t room to write anything in, but the monthly spreads are there for quick notes or trying to figure out what day your birthday falls on next year.

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The last page of the GTWB echoes the first, a message that reminds you that you aren’t confined to whatever you achieved or were unable to achieve during the year, but rather that you are capable of big things if you take it one day at a time.

Elise also included a GTWB ruler for me, and while I don’t have it pictured much in this review, I think it is one of the best planner rulers I’ve seen out there. It’s sturdy enough to use as an actual ruler without being so thick that it bulks up your planner. It’s also easy to grab and I love that it’s clear. It has been designed to perfectly match your GTWB, so if you were thinking about whether to get a bookmark with your planner, I would go for it.

Aesthetics/Design

This planner’s design is intentionally minimalist yet bold. Elise works with the team at Jolby & Friends in Portland, Oregon to design the Get To Work Book, and you can definitely see a professional graphic designer’s touch. It is especially evident in the monthly pull-out calendar pages. Printed on 110lb recycle cardstock, each month includes a perforated calendar page with an inspirational saying. Basically, Elise is giving you some art, and it’s awesome. These pages include a mini month-at-a-glance calendar and a lined section to write in “This month is all about.” These can go on your fridge or be pinned up on your wall, and you can take them all out at once or as you reach each month, etc.

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The paper is a sumptuous 70lb text weight, while the tabbed pages and perforated calendar pages are 110lb cover weight. All of the paper Elise uses in the GTWB is 100% recycled and milled in the USA. The paper isn’t smooth because it is 100% recycled so it won’t feel the same as a lot of premium papers. The paper feels great to write on (I like a little texture) and the tabs are seriously sturdy. I was initially worried about the tabs sticking outside the cover, but they are strong. I carried this planner around New York City on a weekend trip and it didn’t get bent out of shape at all.

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This planner has one of the strongest wire-o bindings that I’ve ever felt. The wire-o binding is black and stiff, keeping your book together and holding its shape well. The chipboard cover is thick and incredibly sturdy. You can easily write in this planner by holding it with one hand and writing with the other–the front and back covers support the pages. GTWB has two cover options, this one in black and one in a kraft brown.

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When I unpacked this planner my husband gravitated to my side with immediate interest. He normally doesn’t care to look through my planners–he accepts that I love planners and that planning is cathartic for me, but he isn’t usually super interested. He loves the GTWB. I’m pretty sure that he’s going to try to steal it from me.

This speaks to the aesthetic neutrality of the GTWB. It is designed simply and beautifully to fit anyone, either as a blank canvas or a minimalist planner. The GTWB does not scream any gender affiliation–men, women, trans, & non-gender-conforming people can all use this planner without feeling like it wasn’t made with them in mind.

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One of the GTWB’s design choices is that each month is completely encompassed in each tab. This means that you sometimes get two weeks of the same spread, one in October with the 30th and 31st and Nov 1–5 in faded grayscale, and the same week in November with the 30th and 31st in faded grayscale. This lets you carry a month all the way through, and maybe use the grayscale space for additional notes or unconfirmed appointments.

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The GTWB is designed intentionally with consistent sans-serif font choices in bold text weight. I love that the wire-o coil is black to match the aesthetic of the planner and that the tab design sets it apart aesthetically from other planner brands. This planner really seems to be designed to give you minimal structure and lots of space for notes, projects, and whatever else you like to do with blank space!

Fit

The GTWB would be a great fit for anyone who wants to focus on projects and needs a work planner. It would be a good fit for someone who runs their own business, someone who works from home, someone who doesn’t want holidays interrupting your calendar, or someone who just wants a simple, functional planner for the year.

I used one of the project pages to conceptualize a freelance design project I’m working on right now, and liked that amount of space available for listing tasks, creating a timeline, or brainstorming. I could see taking meeting notes on this page, as well.

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I wanted to show you all how much I was able to fit in the monthly spread’s boxes. Color coding helped me keep track of birthdays, blog posts, appointments, important deliveries, and travel.

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I, of course, did a pen test for you all!! I tried gel pens, rollerball pens, felt-tip, ballpoint, and highlighters. I was super impressed with how little bleedthrough there was–even for the Sharpie permanent marker. If you lift the page you write on, you can see ghosting, but when it’s flat against other pages you can barely see any indentation or evidence of writing.

I was even able to use a Stabilo Boss Highlighter in my weekly spread! Awesome. I tried a few different layouts in the GTWB to see what might work well for continuous planning. I tried dividing the column in half for schedule and tasks, separating to-dos for home and work, creating an 8am-9pm appointment column, and just writing in tasks. I used the bottom notes grid paper for keeping track of what I was reading, my dinners for the week, and a simplified habit tracker for the week.

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If you’re an architecture or design student, I think this would be a good fit for you. The grid pages are awesome and the sleek minimalist design of the planner would allow you to fancy it up with sketches, drawings, diagrams, etc. One of my besties is an interior architect and designer and I could just see her loving this planner. I think this would also be a fabulous work planner for anyone whose job is project-focused. If you are working on a side hustle, this could also be a great planner to help you keep separate track of that. 🙂

Loves

I love that the GTWB is heavy and the quality of the paper used. It feels like a serious book for important projects when I pick it up. I also love that the paper is recycled and milled in the USA. I’m impressed with the overall quality of this planner and how sturdy and well-designed it is. I love a good design and I just haven’t seen many planners out there that can match this aesthetic–it’s unique.

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Because my husband has been sniffing around my GTWB, I asked him what he liked about it. He likes that there are three boxes at the top of each daily column in the weekly spread because it forces you to prioritize. He said that prioritizing is important for managing stress and the overwhelm.

Nopes

I wish there was a little more structure in the weekly spread, but I absolutely understand why the GTWB isn’t designed that way. While I do really like the simplicity of jumping into the planner with minimal beginning pages, I think a brief introduction to the planner would be nice because there so few bells & whistles.


There you have it! My review of the 2017-2018 academic Get To Work Book! Thank you to Elise for sending me this gorgeous planner to review! If you have any questions about my review or if you have a GTWB and use it differently, tell me in the comments!

I wanted to leave you all with a list of a few of my favorite Get To Work Book reviews, in case you wanted to go deeper down the research rabbit hole:

Until next time!

xo
Ara

kate spade Mega & Medium Agendas

Early last month I did a #plannermatch post pairing my sister Kim with the large kate spade agenda in Zodiac. I also wanted to do a more thorough review of the kate spade agenda so I decided to look at both the mega and medium sizes of the 17-month 2017-2018 planner.

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I gave away this medium kate space agenda in gold script as part of my Birthday Celebration giveaway in September/October.

The medium kate spade agenda is compact and can be found at Nordstrom, kate spade new york, Amazon, Macy’s, and more. It’s a pretty easy planer to find–the trouble comes in trying to get the cover design that you want. The medium agenda usually goes for $30.

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This mega kate spade planner was sent to my 1,000 Followers Giveaway winner in October! 🙂

The mega kate spade agenda is also found at these places and goes for $40 or thereabouts. For my international friends, you can find these beauties at My Shining Armour based out of the UK. 🙂

Since I discussed the basics of the kate spade agenda in my earlier #plannermatch post, I will focus here on the bare bones of Function, Aesthetics/Design, Fit, and my Loves and Nopes.

Function

This is a clean, minimal, functional planner. The medium size is quite small and portable at 7.75″h x 6″w. It has a concealed spiral wire-o binding and elastic closure. The mega size is 11″ x 10″ x 1″, so quite large, and has a gold wire-o binding and elastic closure. Both planners come with a gold foil sticker page, double-sided pocket folder, and 17-month span from August 2017 to December 2018.

The first few pages of the planners contain all the standard ingredients–holidays for 2018, year-at-a-glance pages, notes. The kate spade agenda has a generous dappling of notes pages at the beginning of the planner, which is always nice for writing down big-ticket things, lists, reminders, or simply for taking notes.

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Each month includes a couple of Notes pages at the end of all the weekly spreads as well, so you can definitely take month-specific notes!

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The kate spade agendas include a section at the beginning to write down 2018 Celebrations–essentially important dates for the year. It’s a little odd that this 17-month planner that starts in August 2017 is only focused on 2018 dates, but I suppose that’s more of a design question than anything else. If you are keeping track of birthdays and anniversaries in this space, those tend to repeat no matter which year you’re in. 😉

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The monthly spread is fairly simple. The medium agenda has a narrow bar on the lefthand side for Notes or a monthly To-Do list, while the bottom righthand corner contains tiny month-at-a-glances for the month preceding and the month following the current spread.

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As you can see, the mega agenda has more room for the Notes bar. The monthly spread is a Sunday start and includes goodly-sized boxes. Important dates and holidays are included at the bottom of the day box they are in.

Monthly pages are the same paperweight as regular pages, and the tabs are laminated and cut into the pages as opposed to sticking out as separate entities. There is a little ghosting on the pages if you apply pressure to them, which could actually be a beneficial thing if you wanted to use the weekly lines to properly align what you write in your monthly boxes.

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The kate spade agenda is a weekly planner in a horizontal format. The weeks start on Monday and provide seven lines of space to write out your plans, schedule, to-dos, or whatever you like. This is a pretty flexible format because all you’re given is space, essentially, so you can use it however best befits you. If there is a holiday or important date, then that information is written in in small italics beneath the day and date.

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Obviously, you are given more space in the larger agenda. Saturday and Sunday share space and so you get less writing room for your weekend plans.

Aesthetics/Design

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Each month has a two-page “cover.” These vary depending on which kate spade planner you get, but both the medium gold script and the mega gold dot planners have a minimalist design. The lefthand page simple states the month and year, while the righthand page includes a brief inspirational saying.

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This space is relatively empty but could be great for people who like to write in or create vision boards for each month. You could actually do that here and draw, write, glue, or brainstorm around these minimal, centered words.

These kate spade agendas use a tasteful combination of serif and sans-serif fonts, and manage to skillfully combine the use of italics, regular, and bold on their pages. These agendas embrace white space and leave plenty of room for you to stick with the clean, minimalist style or make these off-white pages as colorful as you like!

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There are, of course, several cover options. I liked the medium agenda’s foiled gold script because it looks both creative and classic, especially with the bold serif “2018” centered on the cover. The medium agenda also feels compact but bulky and thus satisfying to hold and carry. The hidden spiral makes the cover look streamlined and protects it from damage.

If you want something huge then the mega agenda definitely delivers. The gold dots are juxtaposed by an angled white shadow on black. A black elastic band is attached to the back cover and safely keeps everything together when closed.

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Other than the size (and various cover designs of course) the biggest aesthetic difference is in the exposed coil versus the hidden coil binding. kate spade uses gold (not true gold–look to inkWELL Press and Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner for that) wire-o binding. The mega planner can be flipped so that only one page shows, while the medium agenda’s hidden coil binding means that you cannot tuck one cover beneath another.

Overall the kate spade agenda is a stylish, sleek, and flexible planner with gold accents and simple designs. This means that you can stay with the theme of the simplicity, or you can doll up your agenda as much as you like and bring some color to the gold, black, and white. This agenda is, after all, a kate spade new york product, and there is a feeling and identity tied to the brand. Honestly, I gave away nine planners for my Birthday Celebration, and the medium kate spade agenda was by far the most popular option. More people wanted this kate spade agenda than a Happy Planner, Recollections Planner, or Fringe Studio planner. Part of the kate spade brand is a certain sense of glamour, and that is definitely part of the aesthetic appeal of this agenda.

Fit

The medium kate spade agenda would be a good fit for someone who wants a classy yet portable planner that they can throw into their purse or bag. Need a work planner that you can take on the go? kate spade might be the perfect combination of functional yet fashionable that you’re looking for.

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Students who want a planner to write down assignments could also make use of the flexible weekly layout in this planner. There is plenty of room to list due-dates, write down homework, keep track of study groups, and anything else school-related you may need to write in. The compact size of the medium planner makes it easy to carry around. It might get dinged up in your book bag, but if a few scratches don’t bother you then toss it around all you like and it will keep everything together!

Contrary to its smaller companion, the mega kate spade agenda is huge and might be a better fit as a desk planner that you rarely carry around. It’s big and a bit heavy, so I would recommend the mega agenda as a household planner–you could easily divide the generous horizontal lined spread into different columns to keep track of multiple schedules, household chores, sections of tasks, or whatever else might help you stay organized. The mega would also serve as a great gratitude journal or diary as there is ample room to write stuff in each day.

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This planner would not be a good fit for you weekend warriors who have a ton of stuff to take care of during the weekends. The mega planner might see you through because the space is much bigger, but the medium agenda would hamper your weekends with the miniscule allotment of space.

Lastly, this planner would be a good option for someone who is obsessed with all things kate spade. If you want your agenda to complete your look and your look consists of being decked out in kate spade, then this may be your perfect companion.

Loves

I love the flexibility and clean aesthetic of these agendas. They are formatted in a way that lets you mold the weekly pages into whatever you need them to be. I like the space you get in the mega agenda, and the classic design of the planner covers. And, of course, I’m a big fan of gold foiling and elastic bands. 🙂

Nopes

I wish the paper was thicker and better. It’s not cheap paper, but it does ghost pretty easily and a heavy hand can leave indentations. I think the medium planner is a bit too small to be bound the way it is–it can be difficult to get your hand in there when you aren’t able to tuck one cover beneath the other. Otherwise, this is a great agenda that is honest in its simplicity. Personally, I need a little more structure or I get confused about what to do, sometimes.


There you have it–my review of the medium and mega kate spade agendas! I hope you found this helpful! If I missed anything or you have questions about my review, please leave a comment! I will answer each and every one. 🙂

xo
Ara

2017 FRANK Daily Planner

It’s a week of Frank! First my husband Frank’s #plannermatch post and now a review of the 2017 FRANK Daily Planner. 🙂

FRANK is a small company based in New Zealand (they do ship internationally!), founded in 2012 by couple Jason and Jess. This company was founded on a mission, which I pulled from their website:

Sometimes life feels like an unrelenting list of jobs to do and appointments to make, our authenticity and humanness pushed aside to make way for survival mode. We find ourselves simply functioning day to day.

We created FRANK as a to return to authenticity through the chaos of a busy a life.

When we are truly ourselves, we can make a meaningful difference in the world around us.

So with this in mind, we donate schoolbook to a child in need with every purchase.

FRANK has both weekly and daily options for their book-bound planners. I purchased the 2017 Daily edition at a discount in March and am completely pleased with the bang for my buck. The Daily planners cost $35 NZD ($24.37 USD with the current exchange rate) and ship internationally for $15 NZD or $10.44 USD. Weekly planners cost $30 NZD–$20.89 USD. This makes the FRANK planner a relatively affordable option, even with international shipping!

The FRANK planner is designed in A5 Portrait size (145mmW x 216mmH X 30mmD or 5.70866 in x 8.50394 in and a depth of 1.1811 in.) This planner weights about 1.54 lbs.

The 2018 daily planner has two cover options: gray and white or black with gold foiling. The weekly planner has three: pink, kraft brown, or navy with gold foiling. I am reviewing the 2017 Daily Planner in white and gray.

The planner begins with a message from FRANK:

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Function

The nice thing about the planner is that its format is flexible. You could use this as a travel planner, a diary, a productivity planner, a gratitude journal, and more. The system builds in reflections and self-assessments at the end of each month and focus goals at the beginning.

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The planner’s first pages include a 2017 year at a glance in a clean sans-serif font. Great use of white space and margins on this page.

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This is followed by a page dedicated to helpful tips on How to Be More Present, the theme of the 2017 planner. I love their suggestions for slowing down and taking a moment to enjoy the moment you’re in. They are great reminders to return to throughout the year.

Then there is a New Opportunities page where you can check off areas where you want to grow during the year. As you can see, I checked off Career, Mindfulness, Finance, Health, Fitness, and Reading. You can check as few or as many as you like! Then there is a space to write down more specifics or to simply write out the options you chose. It’s kept open so that you can use it however you like. You can then turn these areas into specific goals.

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FRANK includes a list of important dates for the year. It’s worth noting here that FRANK is a New Zealand company so most of their important dates are for New Zealand, although they do include important staples like Halloween, New Year’s, etc.

The beginning of each month has a gray intro page with an inspirational quote. Although the months are not tabbed in his bound book, the solid gray pages clearly delineate the start of a new month.

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Each month’s pages end with a Month Review section, where you can reflect on what you were trying to focus on that month, write down your favorite moment, and check off an adjective or three that describe the month you had. These reflection pages are helpful for keeping you focused on a specific goal and for easily and quickly taking five or ten minutes to jot down some gratitude before moving on to the next month.

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The monthly spread is simple and clean, leaving lots of room for notes. I found the boxes to be rather small, so in using this planner I only really kept track of big, important things on the monthly spread. Important dates are carefully included where relevant. There is a goodly amount of space at the bottom of the monthly spread and a lined sidebar on the righthand side for lists or important to-dos for the month.

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The beginning of each month includes a space to write down your focus for the month, a motivational quote, and a blank box space to write in Things to Look Forward to This Month. This section might be good for important dates, birthdays, trips, etc. If you are a student you could use this space to write in assignment due-dates. You could also use this space for gratitude–forward has two meanings, then. You could look forward towards scheduled stuff, or you could look forward to spending time with visiting family, your children’s first day of school, a fun event you are attending, etc.

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The daily pages are laid out in two formats. Monday–Thursday get a day per page, while the weekend is grouped into Friday–Sunday. The first half of the full-page day includes the day and date as well as a lined section with the prompt “Today I am thankful for”. Then comes a large blank space for whatever you like–writing out your schedule, to-dos, assignments, reminders, etc. At the bottom of the daily page is a section for tracking your productivity. FRANK prompts you with “Productivity Scale/How awesome were you today?” You can circle one of the three answers below: What’s the opposite of awesome?, Middle of the road, and I nailed it! After that comes a space for “Quote of the Day/What did you learn today?” This could be used for writing in an inspirational quote or jotting down something you learned, remembered, etc.

The weekend page includes just the lined sections with the “Today I am thankful for” prompt. Friday gets half the page while Saturday and Sunday share the other half.

Aesthetics/Design

FRANK has some gorgeous, minimalist designs. Their covers usually have gold foiling in clean geometric patterns. This particular version of their planner is half white and half light gray with a continuous gold foiling pattern of geometric lines. “Twenty Seventeen” is on the cover in bold, large text and a smaller “Daily Planner” sits beneath it. Both are in gold foiling. There is a thick white elastic band for keeping your planner closed and together. The cover material is matte and has a satiny feel to it.

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The gold foiling geometric designs also continue to the inside cover, both front and back. This is a nice surprise when you first open the planner and looks gorgeous.

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The back of the planner includes their logo and their mission stamped in gold foiling: “You buy one, we give one. Giving school books to children in need.” Their website is also included. This book-bound planner also has a white ribbon for marking your spot–definitely, a Design Do in a thick book like this!

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The planner also includes a pocket folder adhered to the inside back cover to store notes, stickers, receipts, or whatever else you need.

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The back of the planner has space to writing down Music to download and/or listen to, general Notes, Movies to Watch, and Places to Go. This is a great section for brain dumping all those tidbits of information that might not have a specific date, or even month, attributed to them but nonetheless need to be remembered.

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Overall the aesthetic of the FRANK planner is clean and minimalist. The delicate gold foiling and the sans-serif font choice (which is consistent throughout the planner) make this book simple with a touch of class. The paper is an off-white creamy color and much of the text is actually a dark gray. While easy on the eyes, it does take away from the crispness of the planner pages a bit. The binding does lay flat but you really have to press down on it.

Fit

This planner is a great size for carrying around. While it is a bit thick–and thus a little heavy–it is still compact enough to serve anyone who wants a beautiful daily planner that can travel on the go with them.

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I personally used this planner as a diary. I did not write in it consistently (still working on that!) but I did have it nearby when I wanted to reflect on my day or write down something important that happened. Building a diary habit is one of my goals for 2018 and a beautiful book like FRANK’s planner is a great way to combine daily writing with tracking mindfulness and productivity. As a diary, I think this is a great option. However, it might not work for someone who wants unbounded space to write as much as they want each day. The grouping of Friday–Sunday makes it hard to write much for the weekend days, as well.

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Otherwise, I think this planner would be a great fit for someone who wants a beautiful, simple book for tracking daily goals, progress, and gratitude. It would be a great option for someone who is traveling, backpacking, and/or hostel-hopping and wanting to write down and keep track of their adventures and experiences. The blank space on each daily page could be used for gluing in photos, collages, ticket-stubs, etc. Its portability makes it a great choice for students who want something to throw into their backpack every day that can keep them on track with a busy Monday–Thursday schedule of classes, exams, and extracurriculars.

This planner would also be a good fit if you are looking for a gratitude journal that will keep you on track. The “Today I am thankful for” prompts on each page are a great way to start the flow of words. Another option would be using this planner to track your productivity for a specific project or rolling projects. I could see it working if you are writing a thesis, dissertation, remodeling your home, consulting for a business, etc.

Loves

I love that this small company is so generous with their community. For every planner they sell, FRANK donates a school workbook to a child in poverty. I am also a fan of the FRANK blog, which has positive messages and overviews of their products. The flexibility of their layout provides a lot of options and opportunities for using this planner however might work best for you. I also love the simple designs from FRANK–their delicate gold foiling and smooth, simple covers are just gorgeous. I like a thick planner so the compact bulkiness of this book is a win for me. I’m also a huge fan of the tips at the beginning of the planner and the consistent reinforcement of mindfulness throughout the monthly reviews.

Nopes

I wish that the monthly spreads made more use of the page space. I don’t like the big blank gap underneath the monthly spread and would rather have roomier boxes for each day of the month. While I like the thankful-focused prompt on each page for journaling purposes, I think it might get in the way of more functional uses for that space. (NOTE: They removed this for the 2018 edition.) I would also like to see more space of the Quote of the Day section at the bottom of each page–there is barely room to write anything.


There you have it! My review of the 2017 FRANK Daily Planner. I assure you that the 2018 design is almost identical, so if you were using this review to research procuring the 2018 version, it should still be helpful. 🙂 Thank you, as always, for reading!

Do you have any questions about using the FRANK planner? Something I missed that you would like to know more about? Leave a comment! Frankly, I would love to hear from you. 😉

xo
Ara

My Husband & Productivity Planner

For this Thursday’s blog post, my husband let me take pictures of him with his planner–the Productivity Planner ($24.95).

I had tried to get my husband, Frank, into planning for a while. The dated planners–a Moleskine and a FRANK Stationary planner–just didn’t do it for him. He would lapse in using it and feel guilty picking it back up and seeing all the blank space. So I tried an undated approach and purchased the Productivity Planner for him.

It’s no secret that the world of planners and planner products is dominated by women. This means that a lot of planner companies and product designs are created with a female audience in mind. While adhering to a gender binary system is a conversation for another time and tied to the idea of performing gender in pre-determined ways, it is still nice for men to have unisex or masculine planner options. The Productivity Planner delivers in its minimalist, unisex design.

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The Productivity Planner went into production after a successful kickstarter in 2016. This compact but content-packed planner is filled with 35+ pages of tips, productivity hacks, instructions, and advice on how to best use this tool. When you buy their product (at least off Amazon–it can also be found in anthropologie and paper source) the company sends you a PDF of their first 35 pages of content so that you can get started before the planner even arrives. Frank loves productivity tips/books/advice and dug right in.

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I chose this planner for Frank because he works on a lot of projects and is trying to juggle a full-time job with rigorous research on the side. This planner is meant to be a non-work planner for him, a place where he can return to when he has time to work on a research paper or collaborative project. The undated system is perfect for his fluctuating schedule of availability.

With the Productivity Planner, you get 6 months of undated pages in a compact 5.2 x 8.5 inches. Frank carries it in his work bag almost every day and brings it along to our coffee shop dates. He uses it to manage multiple projects and to map out research strategies and progress. With so much going on in his head, he has really been enjoying using this planner to get everything down on paper in an organized, intentional way.

As mentioned, Frank primarily uses this planner for specific projects. He does a lot of original research with the goal of producing academic articles and often has multiple ongoing projects. This planner helps him focus on being productive and sticking to his research goals and process. He does not use this planner for daily life, which is why the undated system works so well for him.

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The Productivity Planner includes a Weekly Planning section followed by five day-per-pages. The Weekly Planning page lets you write in the week you are working during and list the Five Most Important Tasks of the Week, asking you to consider that “If these were the only tasks you completed during the week, you’d be satisfied.” Then there is space for Tasks of Secondary Importance. We love that the tasks are numbered and that secondary tasks continue with #6–10 instead of restarting with another set of #1–5. This reminds you that your secondary tasks literally come after whichever ones you set as your primary. Then there is space for any additional tasks. The bottom of the Weekly Planning page includes a space for you to make a commitment to being productive that week.

Daily pages follow the prioritizing method of primary, secondary, and additional tasks. Daily pages also include an inspirational or motivational quote to get you hyped. The Daily pages only give you space for five tasks with #1 as the most important. This helps you narrow in your focus and attack your goals in more bite-size, digestible chunks. There are check boxes and circles for using different productivity techniques like the Pomodoro method. Then there is space for Notes and a Productivity Score that you can give yourself at the end of your day.

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The paper quality is decent. There is some ghosting but Frank can use his Pilot G-2 07 or 10 pen without any bleed. He’s left-handed and writes a bit large, so he often packs these pages. I’ve never heard him complain about the paper or the size of the planner, even though he has mentioned writing in a small space can feel a little cramped.

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I asked Frank what he likes best about his planner and he wanted to do his own Loves and Nopes. So I will let his words speak for themselves:

Loves

  • A great collection of quotes, weekly and daily, to help you stay in the zone.
  • The planner is so flexible.  I use it for side projects that I go through on/off phases working on.  It would be wasteful for me to use a dated planner for this because whole weeks worth of paper would go unused (or I would have to cross out and rewrite dates all the time).  So, it’s perfect for organizing sessions to move forward on side-projects that are timeline fluid rather than planning every workday.
  • Great size, about the same as a Moleskine notebook so it’s very portable.
  • I really like the textured cover.  It feels sturdy and yummy when I pick it up.
  • The focus on one solid to-do each day should be the primary goal is really good.
  • Weekly reviews prompt you to reflect on how things are going and how you can improve.

Nopes

  • I’m conflicted about the introduction in the start giving tips for how to use the planner and helping you build good habits.  I enjoyed reading it and found it very helpful, but I don’t like so much space in the planner being dedicated to it.  Not that this is a major issue, I’m going to get a fresh one when I run out of space and I’m positive I will re-read the introduction.  Another option is for the creator to package the introduction into a small booklet shipped with the planner.
  • Productivity scoring yourself at the end of every day can be useful for starting to build habits and finding what works and doesn’t work, but it can become anxiety-inducing because life throws up roadblocks that aren’t your fault.

There you have it! A #plannermatch featuring my husband Frank and his Productivity Planner! If you have questions for me (or Frank) leave them in the comments below and we will answer them! 🙂

xo
Ara

InkWELL Press 2018 Flex Planner

Ah, the inkWELL Press planner. Colorful but elegant, functional yet fun, and structured but flexible. The inkWELL Press planner is a wonderful tool that can fit many types of planners. This is my third inkWELL Press planner—I had the 2016 Flex Hard Cover, the 2017 A5 inserts, and now the 2018 Flex Hard Cover.

I reached out to inkWELL Press to get some facts confirmed, and they replied within a day of my inquiry. Their customer service is quick and effective, but their policies are strict, so definitely make sure you read them and their FAQ section before sending in your inquiry. I was told that inkWELL Press considers itself a manufacturer of productivity products rather than specifically a planner company. And they definitely have a multitude of products available, from notepads to pencils, meal planners to journals, and more.

InkWELL Press’ (IWP from now on) first launch was in 2014 for a line of 2015 planners. The 2018 planner line marks their fourth year in the business, and IWP has been doing well each launch! In 2016, the inkWELL Press planner launched and sold out in just a few hours. Last year, for their 2017 planners, IWP announced a partnership with Office Depot/Office Max–a huge coup for the small company.

Tonya Dalton is the creative force behind the company and also hosts a podcast called Productivity Paradox. Personally, I love this podcast–Tonya has a lot of wisdom to share and includes wonderful worksheets that help you figure out your priorities, set your goals, and focus on what matters. The episodes are relatively short and easy to listen to while getting ready in the morning, winding down in the evening, or for a weekend pick-me-up.

There are multiple IWP planners to choose from for the 2018 year: an undated Daily Planner, a hardcover and coil-free flex weekly planner, a hardcover and coil-free classic planner (vertical, found at Office Depot/Max), quarterly notebook planners, and A5 inserts.

This review covers the 2018 Hardcover Flex Planner in Aquamarine.

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Function

This planner is highly functional while still being open enough in format to fit multiple planning styles. If you want a planner that keeps you on track with your goals but still lets you shake up the weekly spread, look no further.

The planner opens with a note from Tonya and a gold ruler/page marker. Tonya provides the IWP social media icons/info, welcomes you to a new and productive year, and lets you know that you will soon be receiving video emails to help you get going on setting up your planner. This is something that IWP has done for a while now, and frankly, I love it. I love the guidance that you can invest your time in or not–no pressure, just information, and strategies for increasing your productivity and focusing on what matters most to you.

The second page is the nameplate page with space for your information. Then comes the 2018 year at a glance calendar and the quote of the year. Tonya switches it up, and this year has selected “Forever is composed of nows” by Emily Dickinson. This is followed by the Important Dates page, where each month is given space for you to write out birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, or any other dates you need to remember. In Grad School, I split the boxes in half and used the bottom section for graduate school deadlines (thesis stuff mostly). If there is a huge overarching crazy project like a thesis that you need to keep track of, you could also use this space for that!

These beginning pages are then followed by the goals section. This section is designed to help you set–and then stay on top of–your goals. Tonya helps guide you through creating a meaningful and effective mission statement for the year ahead and includes a space to write it out at the top of the Goals page so that you can consistently remind yourself when needed. The goals are broken into six categories that, hopefully, can catch everything you’ve got going on: personal, social, financial, health, home, and dream big.

Once you’ve written in some goals for 2018 into those given categories, the next page helps hold you accountable. The year is broken into quarters (3 months from start date, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months). Tonya encourages you to write these goals in pencil in case life happens to you and you need to shift priorities. You can write in one or two goals for each quarter, helping you prioritize the most important goals you have for that period of time.

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Each month includes a mission board (IWP is known for this hexagon pattern) with a section from your Goal page highlighted in each hexagon space. There are also a couple of blank hexagons and a quote. These are fantastic for reflecting each month on what your goals are and staying on top of them.

There is also a lined section for plans, a defined box for Focus, and three Daily Habit Trackers where you can write in your top three habits that you’re trying to focus on. Popular ones include hydrate, be active, journal, etc. Whatever it is that you are trying to build a habit around, these little hexagons are here to help!

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Each monthly tabbed section also includes, of course, a month on two-page spread. The boxes are a pretty good size. IWP is all about functionality, so of course, the monthly spreads include a Top 5 section with check-able bubbles and a lined notes section on the right-hand side. There is also a small month-at-a-glance calendar on the bottom right-hand corner allowing you to see the following month without flipping forward.

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Weekly spreads come in both vertical (Classic) or horizontal (Flex). As my planner has the Flex layout, I will be providing my feedback on that option. The Flex layout has a Monday start and provides equal space for each day, even weekends. This year, Tonya designed the day and date designations to take up less space so that you have more space for writing in your schedule, to-dos, reminders, etc. If there is a holiday or important date, it is designated by a small sans-serif notation in the top right of the lined section.

The IWP planner is also known for its three boxes per day design, which provides three blank, colorful boxes for you to keep track of whatever you like. They used to be labeled, but now they are blank so that they can accommodate whatever you need them to!

Each weekly spread also includes a Weekly Focus section with 5 slots and a Notes section. I love the Weekly Focus section because it allows you to keep track of tasks or reminders that aren’t necessarily tied to a specific day but still need attention that week.

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At the back of the planner is an Extras tab that includes a Gift List on two pages, a Travel Planner with enough space for three trips, a Project Planner, a Bill tracker, a 2019 planning ahead year-at-a-glance, and a three pocket folder + a back cover pocket. The Gift List is long and has a small section for you to write down gift ideas for you–I don’t know about you, but sometimes people ask me what I want for Christmas or my birthday and I draw a complete blank. This section gives you space to jot down ideas when they come to you so that you can be prepared for such questions. I will say that the gift list design makes it a little difficult to write in complex items–there isn’t much space for describing what you are gifting to others.

The travel section is comprehensive, even though it only offers three sections for planning out your trip, it does so with detail. You can fill in Where To?, How Many Nights?, Dates, Airline Info, Driving Log, Accommodations, Car Rental, and IWP even has a little Don’t Forget section for stuff like pet care, plants, and mail hold. Tonya also offers free packing lists as a downloadable printable in case your trip is super intense or you don’t want to forget anything.

As mentioned, the Project Planner page is new this year. There is room for two projects with space for Project Name, Brainstorming, Budget, Tasks, and Timeline. Because there is only space for two projects, I imagine that Tonya designed them with large projects in mind, like renovating a kitchen or managing a school event for kids, etc. If I had had this section in my 2017 IWP A5 inserts, I would’ve used to for my Master’s thesis.

Then comes the monthly bill tracker! This is a fabulous section because it manages to give you six sections and an entire year of tracking on one page. You can write in what your recurring bills are–rent/mortgage, water, gas/electric, student loan payments, etc. and track how much you pay, when it’s due during that month, and check whether it’s been paid or not. Love it.

The 2019 year at a glance has lined space for future planning. The pocket folder really is the bee’s knees because it has three folders (one on each side and a large pocket inbetween), and even a pocket folder affixed to the inside back cover. There is really a ton of functional content packed into this planner.

Aesthetics/Design

InkWELL Press is also known for its clean, muted-yet-colorful designs and the quality of its product. This planner has the best paper on the market—140 GSM paper. It’s super luxurious and thick—you can write on it in almost any pen without any ghosting or bleed through. The Wire-O binding is bright gold and sturdy, and the hardcover has a matte laminate coating that makes it smooth and pleasant to touch.

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The planner is thick but not too bulky–it definitely has some heft to it but you could still carry it around in your bag without hurting your shoulder from the weight. It measures in at a sturdy 9 x 7 inches. If you are super worried about the heaviness of your planner, I would suggest one of their coil-free options or their quarterly planners.

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IWP planners have four distinctive color schemes each year that alternate throughout the months. 2018 color palettes are ocean-themed and are Tidal Pool, Lagoon, Coral Reef, and Sea Glass. The planner is designed with fifteen tabs in three rows along its edge in alternating colors of gray, stone grayish blue, yellow, pale green, and blue. It makes for an appealing aesthetic, to be sure.

Monthly spreads include the name of the month in a legible script font, repeating, fading hexagon patterns in one of the main color themes from that month, and the year. The monthly calendar boxes are actually tiny dotted lines, which is a little easier on the eyes. The font is a clean sans-serif with crisp numbers and days of the week–all in all it is a clean look that could be both professional and fun.

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The Mission Board is a big part of IWP’s aesthetic as well. The hexagons are iconic to this planner brand and have not altered much in the four years of IWP’s production. The alternating colors make the mission board easy to fill out in separate sections, and the quote for each month is designed beautifully into one of the hexagon shapes. The Plan & Focus page is adjacent to the Mission Board and is designed with a generous amount of white space. The script ampersand provides a pop of color in an otherwise minimal design. The daily habit tracker section manages to make 90 small icons look uncluttered.

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As you can probably tell, I’m a huge fan of Tonya’s designs. I think that the IWP planner merges a highly organized aesthetic with well-placed pops of color that make planning a beautiful experience.

Fit

This is a great student planner. I used it myself in Graduate School to keep track of assignments, deadlines, and fellowship duties. This planner has generous notes pages (two dotted pages for each month plus eight grid pages in a tabbed section at the back), which makes it a comprehensive tool. This makes it easy to use IWP for an on-the-go planner that can fit your schedule and to-dos but also includes notes pages for brainstorming, meetings, or whatever your notes needs might be.

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This planner is a great fit for someone who wants to do some serious goal setting and checking but also wants a colorful, beautiful book. IWP is form meets function. If you are a student and want a place to keep track of a busy, demanding schedule of assignments while trying to balance school and the rest of your life, this would be a good fit for you. If you are trying to find a planner that holds both your work and personal life, this might be it. If you are trying to organize your chaos and set some priorities, then look no further. The IWP planner, along with Tonya’s set-up videos, will get you there.

Loves

I love inkWELL’s goal setting system. I enjoy checking in with myself by filling out the mission board every month, and I love Tonya’s set-up videos. I have really been able to Tonya’s tips to think about my priorities, practice reflexivity, and truly try to focus on what matters. My biggest lesson from Tonya’s set-up videos and her podcast, Productivity Paradox, is that I am allowed to say no to things if they don’t fit into my mission or what matters most to me. If you do not intentionally plan out and use your time and energy according to your (and your family’s) needs, then other people will decide how you spend your time by asking you to do a bunch of stuff that, frankly, you might not want to do. I wrote out a list of what was important to me, and I check it against how other people ask me to spend my time. Does it contribute to “filling my tank,” or my mission? Great, let’s do it. I’m happy to spend my time on that. Does it not really fulfill me in any way or go towards something that matters to me? I can say no. You can, too.

Nopes

My biggest sad face with this 2018 version of this planner is that the boxes run into the coil, so you don’t get the full benefit of the three daily boxes. But I am also just a bit disappointed with the coil this year. Mine arrived a little bent and the pages don’t turn smoothly.


There you have it! My review of the 2018 inkWELL Press Hardcover Flex planner. I did want to take a second to recommend a couple of my favorite Etsy shops that make wonderful, functional IWP stickers:

  1. KnockoutPrintShop is my favorite–they do color matching with the IWP themes and produce stickers for all styles and sizes of the IWP planner.
  2. Luckaty is another wonderful shop that sells monthly kits and functional but decorative stickers for IWP and Traveler’s Notebooks.

I also have a lovely discount for you! If you want $10 off your inkWELL Press order (a minimum of $50), go ahead and click here. (Affiliate link.) Do you have an IWP planner? Show some of that #IWPlove and tell me in the comments what you love about your planner! 🙂

xo
Ara