You have all been so patient with me! I’ve had some family issues to deal with as well as a new job I recently started so I haven’t been the perfect blogger these past two weeks. From now on, I will be posting once a week, usually on Sundays (except for the obvious exception of today).
Today I’m reviewing the versatile 2018 Sweet Life Planner from I Heart Planners! I Heart Planners is a blog, resource, and Etsy shop run by the incredibly prolific Laura. Laura’s mission is to help people find and create a planner system that they will actually stick to, and she thinks aesthetics have an important part to play:
I love creating organizing spaces that are beautiful, practical, and highly functional. I believe that by making our systems beautiful, we will stay much more motivated to keep up with them, and our lives will stay organized.
If you sign up for the I Heart Planners newsletter, Laura sends you occasional free printables and productivity hacks to help you achieve your goals. She also has a Sweet Life Planner Club that works as a subscription. It’s $20 a month or $199 a year ($16.50 a month) and provides you with a huge variety of printables and designs to help you plan exactly the way that works best for you. The Sweet Life Planner itself is $52.
Don’t let the bright design and cheerful packaging fool you–this is a highly functional planner. You get220 of which are “daily planning pages (undated), Every planner includes a bonus sample printable pack and the Sweet Life Blueprint course that teaches you how to create a plan that sticks (worth $49)” (I Heart Planners).
When you first open up the planner you get the nameplate page. This includes the year, name of the planner, name of the company, and “This planner belongs to” with four lines or you to fill in your name however you like.
Then you turn to the year at a glance. Oddly, you don’t get 2018. But you do get 2019 on one page and 2020 on the next, for some serious future planning.
Part of the appeal of the Sweet Life Planner is that Laura helps you set yourself up for consistent planning in a thoughtful and thorough way. You get several prompts at the beginning of the planner that help you reflect, analyze, and outline. First, you get a page asking, “What made me happy in the past year?” List your wins, things or practices that brought you joy, and goals you accomplished. This is a great page to return to whenever you need a pick-me-up! Next to it, you have a page asking, “What made me sad in the past year?” While not as uplifting as thinking about what made you happy, it is important to consider what made you unhappy so that you are aware of it and can address it in the coming year, or reflect on how you can make positive changes/choices moving forward.
Next, you get a page asking you to list “What I could improve in the next year” and “What’s weighing me down right now.” This section helps you articulate goals because it points you in the direction of what you might want to work on in the coming year.
Then you get a page for writing out “What I will let go in the next year,” which prompts you to reflect back on the previous pages and pick out what might be worth letting go of and moving forward from without guilt. This process is designed to help you discover your goals for the year. Now that you’ve done the reflective work, it’s time to actually set your goals. You move into the Focus Area.
There are six total Focus Area pages. You choose an area to focus on–Laura provides the example of “motherhood” on the instructions page. To focus in on your goals/areas you need to develop habits and record projects–so the habit of “weekly one on one time with each child” and the project of “scrapbook each child’s first year.” These are separate goals, but they contribute to the focus area of “motherhood.”
Then Laura asks you to prioritize. Go back through all your habits and projects that you wrote down and list your top three overall. If you were to only complete three projects in 2018, what would you want them to be? Narrowing down helps you define and accomplish your priorities.
Then comes the Action Plan Instructions page! This is a very detailed set of instructions on how to use the Sweet Life Planner to start putting those top three projects and habits into action. Laura reminds you to give yourself some grace because life happens to us and sometimes a goal needs to be revisited and refined or even changed. That’s okay. The important part isn’t to do everything according to one night of planning out your year, it’s to make sure you keep going forward when you hit bumps in the road.
The monthly spread is a Sunday start with colorfully themed layouts. You get the title of the month in large, bold letters along with some playful art, as well as a narrow column on the righthand side of the spread for Notes. You also have two month at a glance calendars for the month preceding and the month following the current spread. The boxes are a tad small but you do get a big blank space once the days of the month halt.
Each month you get a page for writing gown up to 8 goals for the month. You also get an impressive and comprehensive page for tracking habits for that month. This is a great return to the “habits” you listed for your Focus Areas, as well as smaller habits like “drink 8 glasses of water every day”, & etc. There is space for 16 habits to keep track of throughout the month.
Then you get a space for reflection for the month and an inspirational quote!
The real meat of the planner is the daily page. Laura provides you with a whopping 220 daily pages, which are undated. There are several different styles and colors, so if you want to you could switch up your planner page every day. The great thing about the Sweet Life Planner is that skipping a day or two when you aren’t busy enough for a daily page does not mean that you can’t still record those daily habits!
The daily pages include a box for Main Priorities, one for Appointments, a horizontal box for Notes & Doodles, and a long list for To Do Today. You get 21 lines to write your To-Dos on, and each line has a circle for checking off your task once it’s completed. There is some space above the To Do Today list where you can write the day and date. Then, of course, there is some art to jazz up your page.
At the end of the planner, Laura gives you 45 blank pages for notes, printables, etc.
There is a very clear and consistent aesthetic present in the design of the Sweet Life Planner. This is a cheerful, colorful planner without seeming childish. It’s highly functional and deliberately plotted.
Your planner arrives in a festive and sturdy box! This box can be used to hold additional printables or some of the pages if you don’t want to try and stuff all 400 into your planner.
When you open the box you get a lovely welcome note from Laura and the planner wrapped in pink tissue paper, along with the separate pack of 220 daily pages. The planner is
When you first pull the planner out it doesn’t seem that hefty, but when you put the daily pages in your planner more than doubles in size. The included discs are a strong black plastic and seem to be 1.5″ in diameter (I could be wrong about that).
The planner’s cover is white with small black polka dots, which is a simple aesthetic choice that juxtaposes the bright interior of the book quite well. The name of the planner is in white font inside a pink box centered on the cover, and the date is multicolored and centered on the bottom of the cover. The back cover has the same white with black polka dots and has the I Heart Planners logo centered at the bottom.
One of the benefits of this planner is that it is discbound, which means that it’s easy to remove pages and shift them around. This is an especially excellent set up for an undated daily planner because you can shift your dailies around and get the most use out of them! Only need to write out daily details for half the month? That’s fine, you can move the pages around.
The months are in a repeating four-color pattern of pink, purple, blue, and yellow. The art and color scheme is the same each time it appears. The Sweet Life Planner uses two main fonts, a thin sans serif and a legible script. Instead of using a complex array of fonts, Laura uses color and design to alter the fonts she’s selected to make them stand out more (like in the monthly titles), as needed.
The tabbed pages are a 12 cardstock weight with mylar-coated tabs.
The daily pages come in several designs, all within the scope of the pink, purple, blue, and yellow color scheme. The art on each page is cute and cheerful, and the varied choices mean that you can go several days without seeing a repeat pattern.
Overall, this is a bright and colorful planner. It is designed to be functional and fun with the intent that you will return to it and actually, you know, stick with it throughout the year.
Pen test time! (Sorry for the slightly discolored photos.)
The paper that Laura uses is quite good. She uses a bright white 80lb. paper that looks fresh and holds up quite well to most pens. While there is some ghosting, there isn’t any bleed-through. I like that the paper doesn’t absorb and muddy ink, but rather provides a pretty smooth canvas that adds a fine-ness to even the inkiest of pens. I most enjoyed using felt tip pens and roller ball/gel pens that were 0.5mm or 0.7mm. The paper itself is lightly textured.
If you are someone who likes the idea of an undated planner but still wants the overall structure of the year, then the Sweet Life Planner is a great option for you. If you want to use this planner for work and happen to work only 5 days out of 7, then this planner lets you skip weekends without having a huge unused page. If you want a project planner and pop in and out of needing a detailed daily spread, then this would be a great option for you.
If you love bright colors and are encouraged to plan when you have an artistic canvas and beautiful book then this would be a good fit for you.
If you want a daily planner that isn’t all about the appointment times, then this would be a great fit for you. The To Do list is the section granted the most real estate on the page, so if you are a list maker then this would work well for you.
I would recommend this planner to anyone who likes a discbound system of being able to add and remove pages at will. That really increases the functionality of this planner and helps you cut down on guilt when you miss a day.
I would recommend this planner to students who might not have an assignment due every single day but still want the benefits of the Sweet Life Planner’s goal setting system. If you are new to goal setting, then Laura’s process is easy to follow and very thoroughly explained. This planner would also fit you if your task list is the most important part of your day but you still want to keep track of upcoming appointments.
I would not recommend this planner to someone who wants a book to take into the boardroom for corporate meetings. While this is a beautiful planner, it doesn’t scream professionalism. If your style is more minimalist, then I would look elsewhere. The artistic touches and color schemes are part of this planner’s aesthetic, which just isn’t minimalist.
I love the size of this planner. The half letter page size is big enough to comfortably write on, easy for accommodating printables, and hefty without being too heavy. I love the thorough Habit Tracker page for each month which lets you record anything from “drink 8 glasses of water a day” to “work on thesis for 30 minutes a day.” I love the To Do Today section in the daily pages because you get enough room to actually write someone substantive out. So often task lists are so narrow that you can barely use them. I also love the process that Laura outlines for goal setting. Her instructions are thoughtful and her Action Plan is encouraging and easy to implement after all the work wading through your priorities and focus areas.
I wish there was a folder and an elastic closure band! These are just small things that I personally find helpful with a planner, although I’m sure not everyone cares overmuch. I also wish that the daily boxes in the monthly spread were bigger.
There you have it! My (belated) review of the Sweet Life Planner from I Heart Planners. Much thanks to Laura, who kindly sent me this planner to review and was patient with me while I took a little longer than usual to review it.
Do you have this planner? Are you thinking about picking it up? Any questions I didn’t get to? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂
Until next week!