Ashley Shelly is a product designer and graphic designer with a passion for paper! She started her paper product brand in 2014 with her first Budget Notebooks and then launched the Ashley Shelly Planner for the 2016 calendar year. That means we are in year three of this colorful, organized beauty!
Ashley wanted to offer something different with her planner, and designed a book that would make planning both fun and functional. As she says on her website:
I saw a need for a planner that included a calendar for scheduling and to-do lists, with a mixture of inspirational planning at the beginning of each month. Life is so much more than just our daily schedules. To me, it has to include heart! It has helped me run my own business and live life to the fullest, so I know it will do the same for you.
This emphasis on “heart” is reinforced throughout the Ashley Shelly Planner via Ashley’s design choices. Little hearts serve as part of her header designs and can be found at the top left of almost every page in her planner.
I was instantly attracted to the Painted Floral design–both for its white space and the cool color palette. Ashley kindly gave me a discount code to purchase the planner for a review.
I chose the 2018 Ashley Shelly Planner in Painted Floral and Silver Binding (it also comes in Rose Gold!) It runs the 2018 calendar year and is a weekly planner with a functional yet flexible horizontal spread. After I ordered it, the planner was shipped out quickly and I received it super fast. This planner retails for $49.95 plus shipping and measures 7.25″ X 9.25″ including binding.
Part of Ashley Shelly’s vision was to create a planner that was fun and functional. She wanted it to incorporate inspiration into living your best life as well as standard calendar offerings to help you through the day-to-day. This planer includes perforated corners to help you mark your day and instantly flip to it.
The planner begins with a folder attached to the inside cover opposite from a clear catch all pouch. Ashley includes a sticker sheet for you with round icons that help give your planner pages a visual pop. The pouch seals very well and isn’t too bulky–which is nice, especially at the beginning of a planner.
Then you have the nameplate page with Ashley Shelly’s full logo. The planner comes with a welcome card letting you know all the relevant information for sharing posts to Instagram.
Then you get a page sharing Planner Tips from Ashley. She includes a thank you note, information about what’s inside the planner, describes the purpose of her Creative Spread design, and invites you to dig in to the planner and make it your own. Essentially, Ashley is providing you with a key for how she designed the planner, but inviting you to use it however best works for your creative life. 🙂
Next is a 2018 Inspiration Board page, where you can “Write, draw, and tape all of the inspiration here for the year ahead!” Use this space as a vision board, or a brainstorming space for priorities, or tape in clippings that inspire you. It’s a blank space, and it’s all yours.
Then you have a page for Important Contacts. Ashley leaves most of the space for filling in your contacts blank, choosing instead to simply write “Name” for each block of lines. I really like that she does this, because you never know what information you’ll need to write down for someone. Or, if you don’t use your planner for contacts, you can repurpose it for something else like @planningwithkristen did.
You also get a page for Favorite Meal Ideas, where you can write down go-to dishes for Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners. This is a great page for easy-to-prep meals that are a staple in your home, or for writing down impressive meals to cook for guests, or even for writing down meals that are gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, etc. if you need to keep track of that for you or a loved one.
Then you have a 2018 Planning Overview spread on two pages. There is a box for each month, which makes this an ideal space for writing down important dates, birthdays, season-focused things (foods, etc), mapping out a big project or goal (like a thesis), keeping track of monthly habits, etc. Ashley leaves this space open so that you can use it to meet whatever your current needs are.
You last beginning pages are a Yearly Overview on one page–very minimal, but you get both 2018 and 2019 at a glance–and a list of the 2018 Holidays. Then you move into your first calendar section!
Tabbed pages are a little thicker than the rest of the pages and feel like a standard cardstock. You get a month on two pages with a Sunday start. The weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) are noted with a bold text weight as opposed to the regular text weight used for the rest of the days. The monthly spread is lined, which allows you to divide up your space evenly or neatly.
There are two tiny month-at-a-glance spreads for the month preceding and the one following the current spread. Beneath these, there is a narrow Notes column for anything additional you might want to put down for the month. Ashley only includes numbered day boxes for the days of that month–there is no grayscale “31” or “1” from different months on this spread. This is actually quite nice, because you get to use those boxes for whatever you want.
After the monthly spread, you move into what Ashley Shelly is known for: the Creative Spread. Every month you get a two-page spread dedicated to helping keep you inspired, motivated, and balanced. There is a blank box for “Your Word of the month/mantra,” where you can write in something important to keep you focused, relaxed, or inspired for the month ahead. Then come the ovals, where you can reflect on “What creates happiness in your life that you want to do MORE of this month?” It could be waking up early to read for fun or work out, spending dedicated time with friends and/or your significant other, setting time aside for self-care and relaxation, etc. Whatever it is that brings you happiness, Ashley has carved out a space each month for you to write it down and reflect on it.
Then you have a section where you “Say NO to distractions and negativity. What are you NOT going to do this month?” Need to kick some negativity out of your self-talk? Note it. Have trouble saying no to doing things that you really don’t care about? Write it down. The act of writing down what you are allowing yourself to say no to is a powerful productivity tool. If something isn’t meaningful to you, kick it to the curb. Don’t host that party or agree to spend your free time doing something that is only important to someone else.
Then there is a box for “What do you want to create this month?” It could be as simple as creating space every Sunday to plan the week ahead, or as complex as finishing a Masterpiece. Maybe it’s NaNoWriMo, maybe it’s working on a photo album. You do you. 😉 Then there is a smaller box for Routines & Habits, where you can list steps in a morning or evening routine or habits you would like to develop. Next to that are three boxes with checkboxes in them for Personal Goals.
The Creative Spread ends with a lined column for Special Dates that month–birthdays, appointments, etc. Whatever you need to put there. Then there is a list with checkboxes for your Monthly Bucket List. What do you really want to do this month? Read three books, take a weekend trip, book your vacation?
The Creative Spread is a section that encourages you to take some time every month to reflect on what your personal goals are, what habits you’d like to build, where to put your creative energy, what motivates you, and what brings you happiness. It is a mindful section that guides you in how to make the most of your time.
The Creative Spread is followed by two notes pages, One is broken into two lined columns for freeform list making, and the other is a standard page for notes.
Then you reach the weekly spread! There is a space at the top for you to write your monthly word so that it stays fresh in your mind. There is also a notes section in two lined columns at the top of the weekly spread. The week starts with a Monday and provides equal space for each day–no tiny weekend sections here! This weekly layout is unique and is designed with both flexibility and routine in mind.
There are 9 lined spaces for your schedule with space to write in the time something is happening as well as whatever the thing itself is. This means that you can write super specific times–11:10am!–in, and aren’t restricted by a standard hourly format for your schedule. On the righthand side of the day you get a To Do List with 6 lines with checkboxes. Below those are a Due Today line and a Dinner space.
The back of the planner includes a few lined notes pages, as well.
The front cover is a shiny, smooth material with a flat texture and metal corners to protect your book. It simply has “2018” in large text centered on the front. This really gives the design room to shine–the painted flowers and vines are cute and mildly abstract. From what I understand, Ashley painted them herself. so you get a little bit of her creative energy with this cover choice. There is ample white space so even though there’s a lot going on with this pattern, it doesn’t look cluttered.
The back cover is also kept quite simple–Ashley Shelly’s logo is centered at the bottom of the back cover, but it doesn’t detract from the overall cover design. I think that one of the reasons for this is that Ashley uses a very specific and deliberate color palette. This is reflected throughout the planner. Everything is laid out in aqua, lilac purple, and a few shades of gray. So while the Ashley Shelly planner is colorful and definitely doesn’t shy away from incorporating color–it’s not going to overwhelm you.
The color pattern can be seen in the planner’s tabs, as well, which are laid out in a single line down the book. The tabs are coated in plastic and feel sturdy and thick. The paper used throughout most of the planner is 80# text weight, which gives you a small but hefty 1.5lb book with quality paper. The paper has a matte feel and is a little bit textured, which I tend to like. 🙂
One of the things that sets Ashley’s design apart from other planners is the lined approach to the monthly spread. The lines are aqua so they are relatively light but still heavy enough to easily use. As I mentioned, Ashley’s color scheme is used consistently throughout the planner. She also favors a consistent sans-serif font in varied weights, which adds to the feeling of consistency that you get with her planner.
Despite its thick paper and extra content, the Ashley Shelly planner is not going to weigh you down. It’s a good size–big enough to write in comfortably but not so large that you feel like it’s more of a desk planner than a bag planner. The silver Wire-O binding feels sturdy–it’s not Emily Ley or Get To Work Book, but I have no concerns about it bending out of shape on its own.
Is the Ashley Shelly planner right for you? Well first let’s get to the pen test! I used one of the Notes pages to test my pen collection on the paper.
Writing in the Ashley Shelly felt smooth–there wasn’t really a pen I didn’t like using. When you lift the page, you can see almost every pen, but when the pages are flat against one another you can barely see any indication that a pen was used on the other side of the page. The Sharpie Permanent Marker, as always, bled through, and the Stabilo Boss highlighter is a little noticeable, but the paper quality is there and should be able to handle most of the pens you throw at it.
The Ashley Shelly Planner would be a good fit if you want a weekly planner with a flexible format. If your days are varied and you don’t have a consistent routine, this would be a great planner for you because you could write in your schedule with complete freedom. This would work well for you if you want a place to write down appointments or your schedule but don’t have a 9am–5pm job. If your work mainly has you in meetings–let’s say that you’re a consultant–then this planner would be great for you because of the open-format schedule.
This would be a great planner for a busy mom who wants to keep track of appointments, meals, and important to-dos. It would also be a good fit for a student who wants to keep track of assignments and tests–the Due Today line could be a helpful tool for noting when papers are due, for example. You could use the schedule side of the day to write in when there are tests or assignments due in your classes. I could really see this working for both high school and college students. Plus, the colorful design makes it a fun agenda to use! Especially if you’re a Zeta Tau Alpha. 😉
This planner, as mentioned, is colorful but in a controlled way. The Ashley Shelly Planner is a great choice for someone who wants a functional planner but doesn’t just want an ultra minimalist design. What’s nice about this planner is that it manages to offer a lot of structure even though the design is inherently flexible. If you aren’t sure how you might want to use this planner, look through Instagram for some inspiration. There are several directions you could go–you certainly don’t have to adhere to the most obvious one. And that’s good design.
I wouldn’t recommend this planner to someone who needs to take copious notes and likes to do that in their planner. There are some notes pages (10, I believe) but not enough to carry a consistent habit of notetaking. I also wouldn’t recommend this planner to someone who wants a minimalist approach to planning–while the content is super functional, this isn’t the right planner for people who prefer black-and-white spreads and zero planner decor.
I love that Ashley Shelly is so open about how this planner has worked for her. She shares her Creative Spreads on social media and engages with her customers. I love that the layout is flexible and can accommodate multiple ways of planning. I love the inclusion of checkboxes in the To Do section, and that you are limited to giving yourself a relatively normal task load rather than feeling overwhelmed by a seemingly endless to-do list. I also love the lined design of the monthly spread. I always approach my monthly spread wishing that there were lined sections so that I could more easily separate and compartmentalize what I choose to put there. And, of course, I love the design of the cover.
I think that the monthly Creative Spread could be polished. The content of the page is thoughtful and comprehensive, but the layout could look a little sleeker. I’m not a huge fan of the ovals–they distract me from the prompt that goes with them. Perhaps if the lines were a little thinner, not quite so bold? Otherwise, as always, Wire-O is not my favorite type of binding, but the coil Ashley uses seems to be quite sturdy–they arrived with no damage whatsoever. 🙂
There you have it, my review of the 2018 Ashley Shelly Planner! Do you have an Ashley Shelly Planner? Are you planning on using one for 2018 (I’m looking at you, @planningwithkristen! ;))? How do you use your weekly spread and make the planner work for you? Share in the comments! I would love to hear from you!