Hello hello! This week I’m reviewing a gorgeous set of 2018 quarterly notebook planners from ShePlans.
I have been a fan of ShePlans planners since 2015, when I purchased my first daily planner. My Jan.–Jul. 2016 Daily ShePlans To Do List Planner was the first high-end planner I ever purchased for myself and I loved it fiercely. It helped me tackle a difficult time in graduate school, learn how to separate and manage a busy task-based schedule, and went everywhere with me. To class, to meetings, on trips, etc. I even brought it on Christmas vacation when I wasn’t even in a position to use it yet, I loved it so.
My reasons for loving this planner company have not changed. I continue to admire the functional, minimalist, clean layouts of founder Ashley Staum’s planners. She has the same unwavering standard for quality and the same feedback-oriented approach that helped her create a truly beautiful product when she launched in 2013.
The Quarterly Notebook Planners are new this year, part of the ShePlans notebook format for planners (Ashley also offers hardbound and soft cover options). I reached out to Ashley with an interest in reviewing one of her 2018 planners and she indicated interest in sending me a set of the quarterlies. I’m thrilled to review this gorgeous set! This set of Quarterly Notebook Planners is currently sold out, unfortunately, but goes for $42.
These notebooks may be slim, but they are packed with functional content. Each notebook covers one Quarter of the 2018 year. Quarter 1 is January–March, Quarter 2 is April–June, Quarter 3 is July–September, and Quarter 4 is October–December.
When you open your planner you are greeted with a large “Q#” to let you know immediately which quarter you are in. Beneath the (in this case) “Q2” title, you get the months that this notebook planner covers (April–June 2018), then the secondary title “A Weekly Notebook Planner to Create the Space to Let Life Happen.” The latter clause is the tagline of the ShePlans company.
There isn’t a nameplate area in these planners–I ended up just asking my bestie to use her awesome lettering skills to write my name beneath the “title” text.
Next, you get a two-page spread allowing you to look at The Next Six Months at a Glance. These start from whichever month your quarterly notebook begins. As this is the notebook for Q2, “the next six months” are April–September. I love the thoughtfulness of this page and how it keeps up with which quarterly you’re planning in.
This spread is simple and flexible. A small month at a glance calendar tops each column, and then you get lines. You can write in important dates to remember, big tasks coming up, save this space for frantically writing down details about that event you barely caught those strangers discussing at the art museum (just me?).
Then you get eight lined notes pages to “doodle, take notes & jot things down.” These are simple lined pages. You also get two lined notes pages at the end of each month, so there is plenty of room for the aforementioned doodling/jotting. Remember, this comes in EACH quarterly notebook, which means that you’re getting a total of 56 notes pages dispersed throughout all four planners.
Ah, the monthly spread. Ashley uses space so well in her spreads. The calendar is a Sunday start with 1.5″ x 1.5″ boxes for each day–quite roomy! The name of the month and the year are located at the top righthand corner of the spread. On the righthand side of the layout, there is also a column for “The Monthly List.” This is simply a lined vertical column for lists, important dates, etc. Beneath The Monthly List is a month at a glance for the month following the one featured.
Important holidays are marked and centered at the bottom of the day’s box to which they belong. The monthly spread only covers the days of that month, there are no greyscale numbers taking you into the next month, the boxes are just blank.
One of my favorite things about these quarterly planners is that they provide so much space for list-making. Every month has a two-page spread for Monthly Goals, The Monthly List, and Memories Made.
Ashley is a big believer in having an open and flexible planner–she doesn’t want you to feel like your planner is yelling at you with exacting instructions on how to use it. So she keeps the format open–maybe you really need space for a list of to-dos for that month, but not the following one. It’s just lined columns so you can shift their purpose to suit whatever planning needs you have.
And finally, we reach the weekly layout. I think that this layout is clever and unique. You have one page that’s for your notes, lists, goals, etc. and another page for putting stuff into each actual day. The first page has three spots for your priorities for the week–notice that there aren’t check marks. Your priorities don’t have to be goal-oriented or task-based. My goal for this past week was to rest and recover from being ill, and frankly, I’m not sure if that’s something I can really mark as completed. I like the open format of “priorities.”
Then you get two columns for The Weekly List. You can make checkboxes or just list things without them. Maybe you don’t care for checkboxes. Maybe you prefer to just cross out things you’ve accomplished. Maybe you don’t need a task list and would prefer to have a list of assignments for school here, or a grocery list for the week. Again, openness. Beneath The Weekly List, you get a generous amount of blank space for Notes.
The second page in this spread is the week at a glance. This column of horizontal sections has a Monday start. Each day gets the same amount of space and is completely blank. Break it up into multiple sections, write out only the important things, use it only for appointments and keep track of tasks on The Weekly List, etc. However you want to use it, the space is there for you.
ShePlans has a very clear aesthetic–simple, clean, embrace white space. These notebooks are the standard planner size of 7″ x 9″, which makes them big enough to easily write in while also small enough to be portable.
The cover material is a smooth, flexible material that holds up pretty well to being thrown about (into bags, of course, not just for funsies). The four quarterly notebooks are each a different cover design that mirrors the options for the bound weekly and daily planners (Stone Blue Leaf, Black & White Dot, Pretty in Pink Floral) while still being set apart via color scheme. The Quarterly Notebook Planners are in designed in white and a soft, almost bluish gray.
The shortened quarter title (Q1, etc.) is centered on each notebook planner’s cover with the year just below it. The back cover includes the ShePlans logo centered near the bottom. The notebooks have rounded edges and a sewn binding.
The notebook can take lots of transit and use, but the edges will get a little beat up as a result. As you can see, each notebook individually is about 1/4″ thick, making it incredibly easy to slip into a bag and carry around.
Ashley knows her brand and sticks to one serif font throughout. Her style is simple and classic while embracing white space. Even though she does this in her monthly layout, you can see that she makes excellent use of the space on each page. The boxes are large enough to use comfortably but don’t look cluttered on the pages.
ShePlans planners may have colorful covers, but the insides are clean and in black and white only with crisp font choices and a balanced use of space.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no nameplate in the quarterly planners. My bestie did some gorgeous lettering for me in the Q1 notebook. 🙂
Overall this notebook set is designed simply and beautifully. There is a generous amount of notes pages and list space for you to organize your planner however works best for you, and that openness keeps me coming back to these quarterly pages without worrying whether I filled out all the space or not.
Pen test time!
(Sorry for the odd white balance in these shots–I didn’t do them with the rest of the photos.!) I’m not quite sure what type of paper Ashley uses, but her paper has always held up to extensive highlighting and most inky pens. I want to say that she uses an 80lb. paper because it behaves like that text weight, but I’m not quite sure. As you can see, the Sharpie Permanent Marker definitely bled through, but nothing else did. Not the highlighters, not the inkiest of my pens. You can’t event see ghosting unless you’re looking pretty hard for it. This paper is excellent. It feels smooth without being glossy and I wouldn’t say it’s too textured or toothy. My favorite pens to use with it are the Le Pen and the Micron pens in 03 and 05.
I would recommend this planner to students. It’s easy to throw in an already-full backpack, has plenty of room for writing down assignments and noting when papers are due or exams need to be taken. There are lots of notes pages for when you’re caught off-guard at a student org meeting, visiting office hours, or meeting with your advisor. I think the overall format and structure of this planner makes it an excellent option for students, from high school to grad school.
I would also recommend this planner to anyone who is a list-maker. There are so many opportunities to make lists in these Quarterly Notebook Planners–monthly lists, weekly lists, notes pages for Master Lists, etc. If you need a lot of space for your to-do lists, then this planner series has you covered.
If you are someone who needs a highly portable planner and prefers it to be as light as possible, this would be a great option for you. If you don’t want a planner that prompts you to set goals, then this simple option will give you all the functionality you need without pushing you to track goals or habits or whatever else.
I would not recommend this planner to anyone who really likes to write down their plans/to do lists/everything else on each specific day. This weekly layout is versatile but doesn’t give you that much space for each actual day of the week. If you need to see your schedule laid out for you in an hourly format, then this planner isn’t for you. I also would not recommend quarterly planners to anyone who really needs their entire year with them at all times.
I love the portability of these notebook planners. They are slim and sleek and so easy to toss into my purse. I love the crisp, clean, white cover designs. They are soft and calming to look at. I love Ashley’s use of white space in her planners without giving up too much to the margins. I love the generous amount of list-making space in these notebooks. I love the quality of the paper–it’s truly excellent paper. I love that these planner notebooks are floppy and flexible.
I wish there was gold foil on the covers for the “Q#” titles instead of a goldish sand color. It would look so amazing! Not sure if it would be possible with the cover material, of course. I also wish that the edges didn’t peel quite so easily (I don’t think I’ve been particularly rough with my planner).
There you have it! My review of the 2018 Quarterly Notebook Planners from ShePlans. Do you like quarterly planners? Leave a comment, tell me why/why not! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂
A couple extras for you:
- My planner friend Amanda just posted a review of these quarterly planners on her YouTube Channel Amanda’s Favorites! Go check it out to see more visuals and another expert opinion!
- These stickers from Paper Panduh fit in the monthly spread’s daily boxes perfectly!
Until next time!