Jenna Murillo is a designer and the owner of J. Lynn Designery, a small paper goods business based out of Kansas City, Kansas. She launched her first Refresh Weekly planner in 2015 for the 2016 year and assembled planners in her apartment before shipping them out to loving homes. Jenna’s commitment to her planner product has only grown as she works each year to make the Refresh Weekly Planner a little better. This year is no exception to her dedication to quality.
I have admired Jenna’s planners for a couple of years now–I originally discovered them on Etsy. This year, I reached out to Jenna with an interest in reviewing the 2018 Refresh Weekly Planner, and she kindly sent one to me.
Both her 2016 and 2017 Refresh Weekly planners have had two cover designs to choose from and the 2018 planner is no exception! Jenna sent me her planner in the Geo pattern, which is a lovely soft gray and white combo. This planner (and its botanical print counterpart) can be purchased from J. Lynn Designery’s website or Etsy for $39.95 and reasonable shipping costs (currently $5!)
This planner is the perfect size. It’s compact but large enough to comfortably write in, thick enough to feel substantial but not too thick–y’all, this is the Goldilocks of planners. It measures a smidge over 7″ wide x 8.5″ tall and is 1″ thick.
Edges are protected by gold metal corners, and the cover is thick enough to serve as a solid writing support/surface but not heavy enough to weigh down the planner.
The planner’s beginning pages include a delightfully designed nameplate page with adjacent folder followed by a comprehensive list of 2018 holidays. This list includes holidays both foreign and domestic, from Mother’s Day to Guy Fawkes Night. Then you get a two page 2018 year-at-a-glance spread. The months are color-coded to represent the four quarters of the year, an organizational tool that the Refresh Weekly Planner uses throughout to help you stay on top of your goals.
The Refresh Weekly Planner has one of my favorite goal setting sections. It’s simple and easy to use but still forces you to be reflexive when goal-setting. Jenna has developed easy prompts to follow that help you determine your goals for the year. First, you are asked What are your big dreams and goals for 2018? Thinking about the big picture is the first step in helping you identify actionable steps for achieving your goals and dreams. Then you are asked to (1) identify upcoming life events. I love this part and feel like it’s unique to the Refresh planner. It lets you write down what is actually going to be happening (Moving? New job? First child? Graduation? Important trip? Etc.) OR what you would like to happen (Lifestyle shift to healthier habits? Finding an organization to volunteer with? Working from home? Etc.) in your life, then has you (2) align your goals with that.
For example, I took my upcoming life event of “healthier eating habits with Husband” and turned it into the goal “Meal plan every week with Husband to build healthier eating habits.” Remember, a goal needs actionable steps to help you achieve it. The goal “get a job” for example is huge and overwhelming, but the goal of “get a job by checking job listings every day and making sure I apply for at least one job per day” is much more achievable because it gives you a clear action to accomplish. Then, (3) go do is the final step. Take action on your goals!
But the Refresh planner doesn’t just leave you there. Each Quarter has a goal planning two-page spread to remind you of the goals you set for yourself. You take your three goals and break each one down into three action steps. Jenna designed these pages with plenty of room to write out each goal and each action step so that you can get detailed about what you need to do to achieve your aims. Then you create a positive mindset around your goals and come up with a positive mantra to repeat to yourself in moments of duress.
The Refresh planner includes December 2017, which is awesome for those of you who just *cannot wait* to move into your 2018 planner. For those of you who procure planners for the calendar year, this is a great way to cover the December & January holidays in one place without feeling like you have to sever Christmas or Hanukkah and New Years into two different planners.
After December 2017, there is a two page, full color spread introducing you to 2018. Then you get a notes page and the tabbed divider for January, which is slightly thicker than the regular pages. The tabs themselves are coated in plastic and feel pretty durable. Each month begins with a notes page headlined Important Things This Month for you to write down things that might not necessarily fit into a specific day or week.
Then you get to the monthly spread. The monthly spreads are two pages with a Sunday start. Holidays are noted in a bold sans serif font at the bottom of their daily box. The boxes are sizeable enough to write in what you need at 1 1/4″ tall and a little over 1″ wide. There is a notes bar on the righthand side of the spread and two tiny months-at-a-glance calendars for the preceding and following months.
Jenna did a lot of research before perfecting her weekly spread, and you can definitely see it in how she chose to design the layout. Each day has equal space–many of us #plannerbabes aren’t the biggest fans of teensy weekend spreads because life doesn’t always slow down on the weekend! The Refresh Weekly Planner has your back–your Saturdays and Sundays have just as much room to write as the rest of the week.
Each week includes a header depicting the dates. The weekly spread has a Monday start and gives you a notes section at the top/beginning of the week with a prompt, “This week, I’m focusing on.” You can write down your focus and/or use this space for notes. I like having a notes section at the top of my weekly spread because it is more visible and tends to be easier to write on–I always have trouble trying to write in notes boxes at the bottom of a page where my hand feels like it’s dropping off the book. There is also an “I’m grateful for” prompt at the top of the second page in the two-page weekly spread that gives you a compact space to practice gratitude.
The days include the date & day, an AM and PM lined section where you can write in any appointments, and a bulleted task section. The To-Dos and the AM/PM section are given the same amount of space and each take up half of the daily box. The bottom of the pages includes all the days of the month with the days of your current spread highlighted in a subtly different color. These could be used for habit tracking, circling important events/dates/trips coming up so that you don’t forget to prepare for them, or whatever else strikes your fancy.
At the end of the planner, Jenna has included almost 70 pages (34 double-sided) of lined notes. It’s like having a notebook in the back of your planner. For those of you who love having notes pages, the Refresh planner delivers.
Planner unboxing can be an aesthetic experience. J. Lynn Designery does not disappoint–their packaging is beautiful and the planner was a pleasure to unbox.
The box itself is simple, but is filled with celebratory paper packaging. The planner itself is wrapped in white tissue paper with a gold foiled confetti pattern and includes an adorable round sticker. The whole ensemble is tied with a black ribbon. Jenna was kind enough to include a notepad for me (she also makes notepads and other paper goods)–it says “Actually, I can” and is just gorgeous.
The planner cover is a smooth, satiny experience. It’s just lovely to touch and doesn’t leave behind any pesky fingerprints either! I have the Geo pattern, which is a minimalist geometric design with a light gray background and white geometric lines. The name of the planner is displayed on the front cover, centered and is a beautiful sans serif, light-weight font with plenty of white space.
The back cover is a plain light gray matte with the J. Lynn Designery logo and the inspirational phrase “Good things are in store.”
I am absolutely in love with the contrast between the soft gray and white cover and the colorful interior tabs. I just love it. The Refresh planner is organized in four quarters, each one represented by a color scheme. January–March is blue, April–June is pink, July–September is green, and October–December is purple. This makes it super easy to find your place in your planner without confusion.
Just look at that gorgeous interplay of interior colors with the gray cover!
This color scheme is defined by the tabbed pages of each month and in the monthly and weekly spreads. This year, Jenna has given the pages a gradient touch. Fonts are a tasteful combination of serif headings for the monthly pages and tabs and a bold sans-serif headings in the weekly spreads with serif italicized prompts. The days and dates are a clean, light sans-serif font and the bullets for the task section are little diamonds. I personally enjoy seeing something a little different from check boxes, so I like the diamond approach.
The interior, colorful theme of the planner makes the Refresh Weekly Planner a wonderful minimalist book with a pop of personality. Jenna has masterfully combined a clean aesthetic with just enough color to make the planner feel lively and fun.
Full disclosure: I will be using this as one of my planners for 2018. (I use multiple planners because that’s how my brain works.) I love the portability, quality, and design of this planner and think it will be perfect for on-the-go planning. Because this planner includes December 2017, I am going to be using this as my primary planner when I visit family over Christmas & New Years.
This planner has 80lb text weight paper with a matte feel to it. Jenna regularly uses PaperMate Flair pens, Le Pens, ballpoint pens, and the OptiFlow pen from Staples in her own planner. I, of course, did a pen test to show you how the paper stands up!
I was super impressed with how little bleed or ghosting occurred. Even the Sharpie Permanent Marker is barely noticeable. With the page flat against other pages or lifted up, the paper held up against most of the pens and highlighters in my arsenal. This paper is the real deal and should hold up against whatever pens you want to use in it. I wouldn’t recommend consistently using a Sharpie Permanent Marker, but there is definitely less damage from it than in most other planners.
I do think that the goal setting section of this planner is accessible and simple. It would be a great fit for anyone who wants to start goal planning but is a little afraid of more intense planners. There are quarterly goal planning pages at the end of each quarter prompting you to return to your goals and make sure you are checking in with your action steps throughout the year. They serve as a gentle reminder, which would be great for those of you who sometimes have trouble remembering to return to your goals periodically to check in on your progress and process.
The Refresh Weekly Planner would be a good fit if you want a portable weekly planner but don’t want to sacrifice quality. If you want a work planner to keep track of big-ticket to-dos and meetings but need to bring it home every night, then this planner might work for you. If you need a work planner to leave at work but also need a lot of space for meeting notes, this planner would be an excellent choice.
If you are a student and want a clean space to write down homework assignments, tests, and due dates then this planner would work for you, but I would recommend it only to students who are just using it in that capacity. If you are a student trying to keep track of assignments, due dates, deadlines, and a heavy extracurricular schedule then you will probably need more room than this planner provides.
If you are trying to develop a practice of tracking something like a newborn’s health, a medical treatment plan, or even something as simple as developing a practice of gratitude, then I would recommend this planner. The AM/PM sections make it easy to write in whatever notes you need, and the tasks section is a great place to write reminders for insulin shots, feeding times, or whatever it is you are tracking.
I think this planner would also work super well for anyone new to planning who is trying to create a more organized life. The layout is simple and clean, the goal setting sections are accessible and easy to fill out, and there are lots of notes pages for experimenting. If you are a young professional trying to improve your organizational skillset, this planner would be a good fit for you. If you are a recent college graduate trying to manage the transition from academia to the professional world, this planner is a gentle guide for you.
This planner would also be a good fit for those of you who love having notes pages. There is no dearth of notes pages in the Refresh Weekly Planner. There are plenty of lined pages for whatever your heart desires. Running to-do-lists? Bullet-journal budgeting pages? Notes? Diary pages? Brainstorming pages? You can use these pages however you want and rejoice that you probably won’t run out of room.
I love this planner’s juxtaposition of minimalist, clean exterior aesthetic to a bright, intentional interior. I love the color coding by quarter, which I haven’t really seen in any other planner. I love the simple and effective goal setting system that Jenna designed. I am impressed with the overall quality of this planner and the materials used in its creation. The Refresh Weekly Planner feels fashionable and sleek with a pop of personality. I really like the inclusion of December 2017, which makes it easy to transition into a new planner at the end of the year. Jenna’s thoughtfulness is obvious and makes this planner feel like an intentional, helpful, and beautiful tool.
I wish there was a little more space for writing in appointments and tasks in the weekly layout. But I understand that this would be difficult to do without making the planner bigger. Otherwise, as many of you know wire-o isn’t my favorite method of binding, but the coil that J. Lynn Designery uses is pretty strong.
There you have it! My review of the 2018 Refresh Weekly Planner from J. Lynn Designery. I loved reviewing this planner and hope that you enjoyed my rather in-depth review! If there are any questions you have or if you have a Refresh Weekly Planner and agree/disagree with my analysis, please leave a comment! I would love to hear from you. 🙂