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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- KnockoutPrintShop is my favorite–they do color matching with the IWP themes and produce stickers for all styles and sizes of the IWP planner.
- 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! 🙂