The Clever Owl Paper Company is based out of Puyallup, WA. They are a small stationery-focused family business and they design, print, cut, assemble, and ship each of their products. Clever Owl has been around for a while–since 2006. While they recently rebranded from being MBK Planners, Clever Owl maintains the same level of quality and attention to detail.
Our Mission: To help you organize this thing called life!
Clever Owl Planners are beautifully designed with coordinating pages from cover to cover. Each planner is created with heavy-weight laminated covers, premium-weight paper, laminated tabs, and heavy-gauge metal bindings. Our layouts are created for optimal planning and organization.
I reached out to Clever Owl with an interest in reviewing their planners–especially as you (my dear readers) have been more interested in custom planners lately! (I don’t blame you, customization is fun & fabulous!) They were kind enough to send me a gift card to purchase whichever planner and planning supplies I wanted for the review.
I chose the My Life layout of this planner (which is their most popular), but they also have Horizontal, Vertical, Appointment, Daily, Teacher, and Student layouts to choose from. This is a customizable planner–you can start on any month, include add-ons, choose your favorite cover design, and even add your name to the front cover. I’ll get into all the details in the Aesthetics/Design section. 🙂
These planners are incredibly affordable. They start at $19.99 and go up from there as you select add-on pages. A planner with 3 extra months, coordinating sticker pages, 10 extra notes pages, a coordinating week marker, and an extra pocket adds up to $29.94 plus shipping. That’s an incredible value for your dollars.
You get a lot of subtle extras with this planner that don’t overwhelm the intended form and functionality.
The planner opens to a title page with The Clever Owl Paper Company’s logo and information. Once you turn the page you reach an organizational information page which provides some example photos of the planners they’re built and explains the many options available. Next, you have the My Info page where you can write down your name, address, number, emergency contacts, doctors, family info, and whatever else. There’s really quite a lot of information you can include if you so choose.
There are three tabbed sections before you get into the calendar pages: Contacts, At a Glance, and Special Dates. Right before the Contacts section, you have a Keep it Safe page, which includes columns for listing Website, Username, and Password.
The Contacts section gives you 4 pages, each with 12 spots to record important contacts. These are simple Name, Address, Phone, and Email contact spots. The At a Glance section includes a page for major US holidays for 2018, 2019, and 2020 so that you can look way ahead if you need to! It also includes a year-at-a-glance calendar per page for 2018, 2019, and 2020. The Special Dates section goes from January–December regardless of the month you chose to start your planner with. There is a date and then a space to write the occasion. These are great for perpetual occasions that you need to keep track of–your husband’s birthday, for example, if you keep getting the date wrong like I do. (#noshame #okayalittleshame)
Then you dip into the calendar pages! One of the great things about Clever Owl is that you can start their planner at any time. You choose the month you want to begin in–I chose February so I could dig in immediately when I received it. The monthly spread will correlate with whichever cover design you chose for your planner. As I chose the super cute fox cover, my monthly pages include a little image of the fox and are laid out with light blue and orange lines.
The boxes are a decent size–they aren’t huge but you can still fit quite a bit in. Holidays are included in all caps light sans serif font and don’t take up that much room. This monthly spread is a Sunday start, so your weekends aren’t stacked together. There is a column on the righthand side of the spread for Notes or monthly tasks.
Each month also includes two “dashboard” pages–those extras I was telling you about. 😉 First is a Month at a Glance page in lists. You have space for Goals, Birthdays, Events, and Don’t Forget. I love filling out birthdays and important events for the month here–it’s also a great space for writing out more information about events that you can’t quite fit in a monthly layout square.
Next, you get 6 two do lists, laid out in two columns on one page. These are great–you have a little bit of room at the top of each list to write a title. You get 8 lines for your to-dos, each with a checkbox.
The end of each month has a Bill Tracking page where you can track the bills you need to pay that month, including a Description, Due Date, Amount Due, Date Paid, Amount Paid, Balance, and a checkbox for whether this bill is on Auto Pay or not. It’s a great page for keeping track of regular expenses without getting overwhelmed by a system you may feel is too intricate to use.
And, of course, you get a lovely lined page for notes or whatever you like at the start of each month!
Ah, the weekly spread! You can customize the sections, so I chose to separate my days/week out with Remember, Schedule, Priority, Tasks, and Notes sections. You can make them about whatever best works for you. Meals, Fitness, Habits, etc. If you have children you can separate these sections out by child to make sure you’re on top of whatever they need that day. There are a lot of possibilities for making this flexible My Life spread work for you! As I worry mainly about work and home, but my home is pretty chill to be honest. I’m married and I mainly need to map out meals with my husband and oversee equitable division of household tasks. And of course, I have my hobbies. 🙂 But we don’t have any children yet–even furry ones. So our responsibilities are gentle for now.
The way this layout works is that you get a column for each day of the week (including weekends). Each column is then broken into five lined sections. These sections can change depending on your needs, or you can designate them, as mentioned above. I imagine that if you left them blank you would be able to write in whatever you needed them to be each week.
There are also two thin columns stacked one atop the other on the lefthand side of the layout. One week I used this space to write in my meals for the week (generally, like “fruit and cereal for breakfasts” & etc.)
I had never used a layout like this before, but I think it’s quite a flexible way of planning. If you are okay with not needing to fill out every box every day, (maybe you don’t have something scheduled!) then you have a pretty versatile “a place for everything and everything in its place” thing going on here.
The planner continues on–there are 12 months that come standard with the planner so mine goes from February 2018 to February 2019–until the end, where you get 32 pages of lined notes. (I did add some extra notes pages–10 for $0.99–to my planner.) After the notes pages, you get your sticker pages if you added those on ($1.99 for two pages). The stickers are primarily functional and printed on a mate paper in colors that correspond with the rest of your planner design.
At the end of the planner is a double-sided pocket folder in white, glossy cardboard.
The aesthetics of this planner vary depending on your choice of cover design. Clever Owl has a ton of planner covers, and they release new ones all the time. I would say that their aesthetic is gently colorful with lots of cute accents and patterns. Anyway, the planner cover you choose determines the primary colors of the inside pages, as well as the colors of your corresponding stickers.
I chose the “Cute Fox” cover design, because I don’t usually see a “cute” design that I like, but I really delighted in this one. Clever Owl does cute well–it’s not so overbearing that you feel like a 13-year old girl using it. (Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not for everyone.) Each planner cover has a space where you can customize your name or whatever else you would like it to say. I chose to put my name down. There are several font choices, as well. The location of your name depends on the design you pick, of course. Some are more amenable to monograms, for example. I recommend playing with their cover design options, which are super easy to use.
The back of the cover isn’t always the exact same as the front cover, but it does, of course, relate to it. For the Cute Fox design, the back cover has the fox graphic on a plain white background, which I actually think looks pretty clean and nice. The front cover includes the same graphic with a wood grain background. My planner came with an elastic in mint green to keep everything together!
Each planner is 8.25″ x 9.25″ (including binding) with 7″ x 9″ paper. It’s approximately 3/4″ thick and weighs about 1lb 4 oz. The covers are 10ml and laminated–they feel like your standard Erin Condren cover in thickness. You can choose whether to have your planner unpunched and unbound, bound in a metal coil, or bound in a black plastic coil.
The font choice throughout the planner is pretty consistent. You get a rounded, light-weight sans serif font throughout most of the planner. The title page of the planner pairs with the Clever Owl logo font choice, which is a handwriting script combined with an all-caps, thin handwriting-style font. The inside pages will also match the suggested cover font for whichever design you chose–the Cute Fox cover suggests their “Print It” font, for example, so that is what you see on tabbed sections and monthly spreads.
The tabs are clean and white and laminated. They feel sturdy–the tabbed pages are cardstock. The tabs are evenly shuffled, which gives them plenty of width for including the full name of each month and section.
The stickers are mostly functional, although there are some more playful options in there. Because my planner started in February, I got this cute page of February-themed stickers. As you can see there are stickers for things like Pay Day and Weekend, but also more flexible lists, boxes, and hexagons for whatever you need to plan out!
These planners have pretty clean interiors that make a generous use of white space for a very “designed” look. The little touches like the monthly pages that match the cover design you chose and the colorful lines that match the cover’s color scheme are subtle. The interior pages are crisp and clean without losing their charm, and charming without losing any of their functionality.
Overall this planner is easy and fun to customize. It looks cute on the outside and is functional on the inside. It feels high quality and well-made. I’m impressed!
The paper that Clever Owl uses is 70lb. text weight and smooth. The pen test went well–the only pens that bled were suuuuuper inky ones like my uniball vision rollerball and the inky Stabilo Boss highlighter. There will be some ghosting but it’s pretty easy to ignore. The paper can handle inkier felt tip pens like Le Pens with minimal ghosting. Because the paper is smooth, I like using felt tip pens on it. However, my fine tip gel and rollerball pens don’t smear, which is always my concern with glossier paper. I also really liked how the uniball Signo and Pilot Frixion wrote on this paper. Verdict: good paper, but expect some ghosting unless you are using ballpoint pens.
I would recommend this planner to someone who wants creative & functionality control over their planner but doesn’t want to go through an in-depth and tiring customization process. Clever Owl planners offer a lot of customization options without it being an hour-long intensive experience to build your planner. I would also recommend this planner to anyone who wants a cute but functional planner.
I would recommend this planner in its My Life format to anyone who has multiple schedules/people to keep track of. The different sections can really help your brain divide and conquer your week. This is also great if you are really trying to balance the varying parts of your life–you could have sections for Work, Home, School, Children, etc. This layout is great for breaking your days into sections and knowing where everything is supposed to go when you write it down.
I would also recommend this planner to anyone who wants a high-quality planner on a budget. Clever Owl makes good planners. They’ve been making stationery product since 2006–they know what they’re doing. You get a lot for your bottom dollar.
This planner would be great for students looking to keep track of various assignments or classes. It would also work for someone who wants more than just a basic week-by-week planner but is still fairly new to the world of extras. If you want somewhere you can keep track of big expenses but don’t want to use your planner for financial planning in general, this planner has a simple Bill Tracking page that won’t overwhelm you. It’s a great entry planner into more complex paper planning systems.
I would not recommend this planner if you are looking for a strictly minimalist planner. You’ve gotta be down with the cute covers. I would also not recommend any lined version of this planner to someone with huge handwriting. The lines are a bit narrow (which I actually like), and that’s not for everyone. I also don’t recommend this planner if you use your monthly spreads a lot because the boxes are a little small.
I love the monthly “dashboard” pages–I’ve been using the To Do Lists and love that they’re there. I also love how quickly and efficiently these planners ship! Mine arrived in short order and was perfect. I love the sturdy metal spiral coil and that this planner is both high quality and affordable. I love the customization options and how I could choose my categories for the My Life layout. I am really impressed with Clever Owl’s planners and have really enjoyed using mine. I also love the sturdy spiral coil! No wire-o here! I love how the cover you choose corresponds to design elements on the interior of the planner without overwhelming you. I love the number of add-ons and how reasonably priced they are, too.
I do wish there were some more… austere? cover options. There are a lot of bright, cute options but not too many that are simple or classic versus cute. With such clean insides, I think that Clever Owl would do well to have some cover options that were a little more subdued and minimalist. Then again, that just might not be their brand, and that’s okay too. 🙂 Otherwise, I’m not wowed by the pocket folder–it’s simple and does the job but the pocket is a little low for keeping stuff together. These are all nitpicky things. I have no substantial nopes for this planner.
So now the surprise! The Clever Owl Paper Company generously provided me with a $25 gift card to give away to one of YOU. That’s right! You can get your very own The Clever Owl Paper Company Planner, notebook, or whatever else you see & love on their website! I’ll be doing this giveaway on my Instagram–so head over there to enter! 🙂
If you want to see a review of one of Clever Owl’s other planner layouts, check out my planner friend Amanda’s YouTube channel (Amanda’s Favorites) for her review of their daily planner!
Until next time!! Which will be soon, I promise. ❤ You’ve all been so gracious and patient with me as I continually postponed blog posts. I’m so lucky! ❤