STIL is a small independent design studio based out of Vancouver, BC, where founder Marissa designs minimalist products to help you live an organized life. She proffers a delightful collection of accessories, as well as two lines of minimalist but detailed planners. Marissa started STIL in 2014, bringing her experience as a photographer and graphic designer to develop a line of products that help women live intentionally. She created her first planner in 2013 as a hobby because she didn’t see something that she liked already on the market. People started telling her that they wanted one, so she made a few as Christmas gifts. Then she opened an Etsy shop and tried selling her planners there. Quitting her full-time job, Marissa had 1,000 of her planners manufactured and sold them all within the first four months.
After taking a year off to rebrand and name her company–she settled on STIL because,
There’s a Dutch design movement called De Stijl that uses a lot of primary shapes and colours, and black and white, which is literally everything in my life. So I decided to use the German word for style — Stil — and used it in a way that essentially means a way of living.
and reopened in 2016 with a fresh new line of planners.
I reached out to Marissa with an interest in reviewing her lovely, minimalist planner and she kindly worked with me to select the right one for this review. While STIL offers other options including a 6-month undated daily planner, we thought that bringing you a review of the 2018 weekly planner would be more timely!
You can find the 12-month weekly planner on STIL for $65, while the undated 6-month daily planner is $45. She currently has a special on her 6-month undated weekly planner—$19.95, which is a steal. STIL also has several holiday bundles for sale, which allows you to bundle products for an overall discount. Plus, these goodies ship worldwide!
I will be reviewing the 2018 12-month STIL Design Love Planner in Dusty Rose.
This planner is highly functional and uses a minimalist design to help you simplify and organize your living space, both mental and physical.
When you unbox your planner you get a lovely card of welcome along with a bonus Thank You card that you can send to someone else! The planner starts off immediately with a double-sided folder, which is great for keeping important papers front and center when you open your planner. Adjacent to this is the nameplate page where you can list your name, cell, address, and an optional reward for the return of your planner if you happen to lose it.
Then you move into the thorough introduction pages. You get a page with basic information about your planner and STIL, as well as the copyright. Next to that is a letter of welcome from Marissa as well as a small section about her and her planning process. Then you are provided with a full page of planning tips on How To Use Your Planner. Here Marissa outlines how she uses this planner and what it does for her. You can treat this like an outline of how to approach planning, take the advice and incorporate it into your own process, or glance over it and continue on your merry way. It’s up to you, but this is a very thoughtful and helpful guide.
Then you get a full lined page for recording A Few Genius Ideas throughout the year! And then you get into the calendar pages.
The monthly tabbed sections are, of course, chronological from January–December 2018. Each tabbed page is on a thick, silky cardstock which makes it easy to find and pull open. You get a month at a glance on the cover adjacent to a small but inspirational saying/quote. For example, January’s is “New feels, new chances. Same dreams, fresh starts” which is a lovely way to start the year.
Then you move into three pages of Monthly Goals and Planning before you get to your monthly spread. You have a page for highlighting three goals for the month, along with their action steps, your strategy for completing them, and the date they were achieved.
Next, you have a page for Bills + Expenses where you can keep track of your expenditures and compare spent and budgeted allotments. Then you have a Monthly Planner page for listing goals and priorities, monthly tasks, and important dates & deadlines. These are great pages for helping you set up your month in an organized, thorough fashion that doesn’t feel overwhelming.
Then you get your monthly spread! The boxes are a good size for the planner and designed in an interesting juxtaposed pattern of clean lines and dotted lines. I like how Marissa has done this because I think it makes writing down events or trips that last multiple days a little easier. The day of the month is located in the top righthand corner of each box. It’s also worth noting that the STIL planner has a Monday start (where are all my Monday start people at!), which means your weekends get to sit together. The margins are big enough to provide some white space but not big enough to do much writing in–because you get your Monthly Planning pages, however, your need for a super packed monthly spread might not be as great. 😉
The monthly title is located twice on this two-page monthly spread, both times in the upper righthand corner of the page. There is a little bit of room in the margin at the top of the pages, but perhaps only enough to record a big event or important date that you must. not. forget. On the righthand side of the spread, you get a Notes column, which is blank. This makes it really easy to use however fits best for you–habit tracker? quotes? tasks? Etc.
Like the Ink+Volt Planner, the STIL Design Love weekly planner has a four-page weekly spread–Marissa calls these “task-based” and “time-based” sections. I love this approach to planning because it allows you to separate your tasks from how you are actually spending your time. Sometimes I feel strange about writing a task down and then writing the task into a scheduled timeslot because it feels like I’m just writing the same thing down twice. The way Marissa has set up her weekly spread allows you to brain dump tasks first, then look at how what you need to do can be incorporated into your existing schedule.
The first two pages of your weekly spread include 12 spots to write down tasks for each weekday (6 for each weekend day) and a place to record a Memorable Moment. These are set up on dotted lines with large circles for checking things off. Each weekday gets equal space and the weekends share a section.
The next two pages are your schedule with a Monday start. I like how this planner provides a larger box for your “Day” section and then slightly smaller spaces for “Morning” and “Night.” I’ve often struggled with M-A-E (morning-afternoon-evening) vertical planning spreads because I don’t have equitable tasks/happenings to distribute into the provided spaces. I like Marissa’s thoughtfulness in designing an open space for tracking your schedule and appointments that also takes into consideration that the bulk of your day probably happens between Morning and Night. Of course, this is not the case with everyone’s schedule, but if your schedule falls into this category then you might enjoy the extra space in your days. 🙂
Saturday and Sunday share a column and are evenly divided. You don’t get separate sections for your Morning, Day, and Night for the weekends. This is the overall layout and structure of the weekly planner until you get to the end.
Once you have finished out December 2018 (you also get the entire week from 12/31–1/6) there is a two-page spread for a 12 Month Review. Here you can rank your overall Goal Achievement Level (from 1–10), record Things I Did Well and what I’m Grateful For, Milestones Achieved, Lessons Learned & Improvements to Make, and Action Steps to Take for 2019. This is a great space to reflect on your year and give yourself a little pat on the back (you deserve it!) before moving ahead to the next calendar year.
Next, you get a page for The Future Goals. Marissa gives you four blank, spacious boxes to write in or brainstorm goals for 6 months into the future, one year, two years, and five years. This is a great space for returning your focus to the big picture–want to have children but not for a year or two? Great, write it down so you remember to start thinking about it/planning it when that time comes closer. Want to start looking for a new job in 6 months? Write it down and come back to it to help you plan milestones in 2019.
At the very end of the planner, you get 20 pages (10 double-sided) for notes. These are in dot grid format, which is my personal favorite. 😉 These pages are open and spacious–you can use them however you like!
The STIL Design Love Planner is gorgeous. Marissa had her customers help select the two cover designs for the 12 month Weekly Planners, and they did good. I selected the Dusty Rose cover, which I fell in love with at first glance for its whimsical yet minimalist aesthetic and delicate gold foiling.
The Dusty Rose cover has a sort of painted marbling design that fades into a very light blush pink. Two lines of delicate gold foiling intersect geometrically halfway down the cover and provide an asymmetrical touch to this otherwise balanced aesthetic. On the cover you get the STIL textual logo, which is gorgeously designed and almost blends in with the gray and white marbling, despite being embossed in gold foil.
The cover is a soft-touch lamination on 2mm hard board, which feels sturdy but light. This is a surprisingly compact planner for what you get at 7″ W x 8.25″ H x 1.25″ D (page size is 6″ x 8″). It feels portable and light. This planner would be easy to carry around without feeling like you are lugging a brick in your purse.
Tabbed pages are printed on a silky cardstock that feels smooth and sturdy. These are progressive notched tabs (not going to lie–I’m not 100% sure what the industry term for this is), which means that December is a full page and each tab above (in reverse from November to January) is cut to provide an easily delineated tabbed section.
You get a consistent font throughout the STIL Design Love Planner. While the textual logo for STIL is in a serif font and the message from Marissa is in what looks like a slab serif font choice, the rest of the planner (apart from monthly quotes in serif) is designed in a light to semi-bold sans serif. The font choice is also the same size throughout the planner, even on monthly spreads you get the same size for the title of the month as you do for each day and date.
On the schedule section of the weekly spreads, you have a very light gray designating sections as Morning, Day, and Evening. This is easy to write over but appears on every spread as a guide.
The coil is unique in that it doesn’t run the entire length of the bound book. You get a good inch on either end where there is no coil. This can be helpful when writing in the book because there is less opportunity for your hand to smush up against the coil while you are trying to write. Otherwise, it’s a sturdy white wire-o coil binding.
Another unique design touch includes these dotted corners for each page of the calendar sections. While these corners are not perforated, they provide a guide for cutting the corners to more easily find your page, if that’s something you would like to do.
Overall, this is a beautiful, thoughtfully designed planner with a minimalist aesthetic that fits both home & work seamlessly. The black and white simplicity of the inside pages simultaneously provides a canvas for organizational methods like color coding as well as the option to keep it simple with black pen. I would feel confident taking this planner into a work meeting, pulling it out on a planning date at my local coffee shop, or snuggling up with it on the couch for a cozy Sunday planning sesh.
Pen test time!
On the STIL website the paper is described as “70lb bright white paper stock, soft to the touch for ease of writing and minimal pen bleed.” While the only bleed was from the (always, alwaysss) Sharpie Permanent Marker and the inkiest of my rollerball pens (uniball vision), there was ghosting from almost every other pen I used. The pens with the lightest touch were the Pilot EasyTouch F, Pilot Acroball F, and the Pilot Frixion in 05. My Random Ballpoint pen also faired quite well!
If you want a catch-all planner with a weekly spread that you can assess at a glance, then the STIL Design Love Planner might be the one for you! If you prefer weekly planning but often feel like you have too much to write down for a two-page spread and begrudgingly use a daily planner, then I would check out the STIL planner with its 4-page weekly spread. If you like to see your tasks separated from your schedule, then this planner would be a great fit for you.
If you like to set monthly goals–not just daily or weekly goals–then this would be a great planner for you. It prompts you to set and reflect on monthly goals without too much pressure. This would also be a great planner for you if you want to start keeping track of monthly bills and expenses but need some structure that won’t overwhelm you.
This would also be a great planner for those of you who like a visual approach to planning (the time-based spread) but also like to write down tasks (task-based spread) because you get both!
I would recommend this planner to anyone who wants to set goals and keep track of them without goal setting being the primary function of your planner. If you have a big project (work-related or maybe remodeling parts of your home, or even a thesis for grad school) that spans a large amount of time and you want to set realistic goals that you can revisit and be reminded of throughout the year, then this would be a great planner for you.
If you are interested in simplicity and trying to simplify your chaotic life, then this planner will help you organize your chaos into manageable chunks and sections. If you are new to planning and need a functional planner with a helpful guide on how to use it, then this planner will fit that bill.
I would recommend this planner to career countesses who try to keep work and home demands under control. You can use the time-based and task-based pages in your weekly spread to keep things separate and organized. If you are a domestic diva, then this planner can help you keep a sharp eye on your tasks and how your days are mapped out. If you have a flexible, ever-changing schedule and struggle to keep routines because of external circumstances (project-based work, changing class schedule, etc.) then this planner will help keep you organized and focused on the task(s) at hand.
I would also recommend this planner to anyone who wants a simple, beautiful, and modern aesthetic for their planner. If you are so not into the bright and colorful vibes of Erin Condren, for example, and want a sophisticated and minimalist look for your annual book, then STIL has you covered. (This is fine! Everyone has different planning needs. :))
I would not recommend this planner if you deeply deeply care about which pens you use and need 80lb. paper or you just can’t even. This planner might also not work for you if you extensively use your monthly spread and don’t want to change up how you visually map out your monthly goals and tasks. If you are super rough with your planners and toss them around like yesterday’s forgotten lunch, then I shudder to think what you might do to this beautiful book. This is a portable planner, yes, but I wouldn’t test its sturdiness by tossing it around willy nilly. If you are a big user of stickers and other decoration then this planner is meticulously and purposefully designed and might not be the right canvas for you.
I love how engaged Marissa is with her customers! STIL planners have a loyal following and are beloved for their design-forward approach to planning and organization. I love love love the Dusty Rose cover–it’s seriously so beautiful. I love the four-page weekly spread–the comprehensive separation of tasks and schedule is calling to me. I also love how Marissa reflexively requests feedback from her customers–having her audience help select the 2018 planner covers is a prime example of excellent evaluation and engagement practices! I love the clean simplicity and design of this planner–it feels like a very intentionally designed product. I also really like the helpful “How To Use This Planner” section at the beginning where you can get some tips & advice from Marissa!
I do wish the coil was a little tighter–y’all know I’m not the biggest fan of wire-o binding. Otherwise I wish that the time-based weekly spread didn’t consistently have Morning, Day, and Night written on the pages. Maybe if it was on the first week’s spread as a guide and then blank throughout the rest of the planner, it would fit in with Marissa’s minimalist design aesthetic a little better. But it’s also limiting–while I personally love having a greater amount of space for “Day” versus Morning and Night, not everyone is on a 9–5pm type of schedule. The design might be more inclusive if that space was left blank. Lastly, I think the paper could be a little bit better. I love the bright white and understand that having thinner paper helps to make the planner lighter in weight, but it’s hard to find a pen that doesn’t ghost or emboss.
There you have it, my review of the 2018 12m STIL Design Love Planner! I hope you enjoyed my take on this gorgeous book. 🙂 If you have additional questions, or examples of how you’ve used this planner, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂
Some helpful hashtags for further research into this planner:
Until next time!