2019 Ink+Volt Planner

I am so excited to bring you a review of the 2019 Ink+Volt Planner! I reviewed the 2018 edition last year, and am planning on giving you the full lowdown on the changes for 2019 AND the wonderful new Ink+Volt sticker sheets that I was sent along with the planner!

Let’s do a quick overview of the company, for some broader context. Ink+Volt was founded by Kate Matsudaira, a technology executive and startup founder. The company began in 2014 with an idea for an innovative notebook that helped people achieve their dreams–the Spark Notebook. In 2014, Matsudaira launched a Kickstarter to break even on costs to produce the notebook, hoping for $14,000. The Kickstarter earned $138,572. In 2015, Matsudaira expanded on her brainchild to create the Spark Planner and launched another Kickstarter. People contributed $460,602 to support it.

I created Ink+Volt to help you be more successful in your work and life. From the products to the advice in our journal everything is selected to help you get closer to your goals.

Matsudaira and her team are committed to turning feedback into consistent improvements. Each year, she listened to reviews and feedback about the planner to make the next edition that much better. From Spark Planner to Volt Planner, and finally the Ink+Volt Planner moniker that we know & love, Matsudaira’s company has evolved with its userbase. Ink+Volt is based in Bellevue, WA and continues to make high-quality paper products that help people achieve their goals.

Ink+Volt has now become a passionate community of people enthusiastic about productivity, goals, and success. With thousands of users around the world, these books are helping people of all walks of life get a little bit closer to their biggest dreams.

I reached out to Ink+Volt to see if they would be interested in collaborating again for a review of their 2019 planner. They were interested and sent me one of their limited edition planners along with a set of their brand new stickers! ❤ Y’all know that we planner girls love our stickers. 😉 My review will be covering the 2019 Ink+Volt Planner in Cornflower Blue (my pictures make it look a little darker than it actually is) and exploring the new Ink+Volt Planner and Calendar Stickers.

This planner has two versions, the Signature Series ($40) and the Limited Edition Series ($45). The difference is that the Limited Edition Series has more colors to choose from and a linen hardbound cover.

Function

The Ink+Volt Planner is a 12-month, 280-page weekly planner with an emphasis on journaling and goal setting.

When you open the planner you get a thick cardstock flyleaf, adjacent to the nameplate page. A simple “This planner belongs to…” invites you to write down your name. The rest of the page is blank for either a minimalist aesthetic or whatever you want to write/draw all over it. Next, you have your year at a glance pages. One page for 2019 and one page for 2020. These yearly calendars are tightly designed but easy enough to use if you’re quickly referencing them for a date.

Next, you have the Bringing Your Year Into Focus page. It asks you three questions that help you design and set up your 2019 Theme.

  • What do you want to leave behind this year?
  • What are the things you want to learn this year? Books you want to read? How will you improve yourself in the year ahead?
  • What would it look like if this year went perfectly? What would you have/be/do?

Your next page is for your 2019 Theme. I think of this like having a word for the year, or a mission statement. What do you want to focus on in 2019? Not necessarily one specific goal, priority, dream, or thing. But a theme. Abundance? Charity? Self-care? How would that manifest in goals for the year ahead?

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Then you move right into your calendar pages. The monthly layout is spread over two pages and has a Sunday start. Weekends are shaded for distinction. Each Sunday box also designated the Calendar Week (CW) that you’re on. For example, January 27th is CW 5, while October 20th is CW 43. The dates are fitted neatly into the upper righthand corner of each box, and no holidays are printed.

The righthand side of the spread has a rectangular blank box for Focus. Maybe January is a really busy month at work? You can write that down in this box. Maybe you have a vacation coming up that month! That might be your focus. Beneath the Focus box is a dot grid column for Notes.

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Each month includes a Goals page and a 31-Day Challenge page. The Goals page is simple and effective, providing ten spaces with checkboxes for writing in and checking off what you want to accomplish that month. There is absolutely power in writing down your goals, and there is plenty of space on each line to do so. Below that is a dot grid space for any notes, brainstorming, mapping, or etc. that you might need.

The 31-Day Challenge is essentially a promise to yourself for the month. What are you willing to commit to for the next 31/28/30 (depending on the month) days? This could be used as a habit tracker, a promise to yourself to work on your goals, or a project that needs some extra attention. This page asks you to write out what you want to do for the next 31 days, why you want to make it happen, and what your plan of action is. You then have a space to sign and date your commitment to yourself. Below this is a place to track how many days you work on/accomplish/etc. your challenge. You can tick off each day you succeed!

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The Ink+Volt Planner makes use of a four-page weekly spread. The first two pages are for journaling/reflection and managing your weekly goals. Each week brings you a fresh new prompt for journaling. This consistent push to think, reflect, and search yourself helps you develop a beneficial weekly habit and exercise in mindfulness. You get most of a page in dot grid for your answers, which could be writing, drawings, bullet points, etc. However you best get it out of your mind and onto paper.

The Weekly Goals page provides ten lines with checkboxes for your weekly goals or big to-dos that don’t fit in any specific day. Below that is a blank box to Reflect + Celebrate. Fun party coming up? Fill it with the deets! Record your victories, no matter how small. What went well? What did you enjoy that week? What were your wins? Below this is a quick checklist to review your Yearly Goals, Monthly Goals, Last Week’s Progress, and your 31-Day Challenge. Then you get a little rectangle of dot grid for any notes/jottings.

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Now onto the Weekly Outlook spread! This is where you can visually map out your week. You get equal space for weekdays and half-space for weekends, which are shaded. This spread is organized vertically, with each column separated into Morning, Noon, and Night spaces. This helps you separate your day by time, but the designators are only in greyscale wording in Monday’s boxes. So you don’t really have to stick with that style of planning if you don’t want to. You could separate your days into three unique sections, or just ignore the delineating lines. The lines are light enough to write over, but there if you need the structure. There is also blank space at the top of the spread where you could write in a quote or big reminder.

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The end of the planner provides a two-page spread on Looking Back at the Year and your 2019 Achievements. This short but productive worksheet helps you take stock of how your year went and helps you set up for going forward into the next year with purpose. It’s a short & sweet space to reflect. The 2019 Achievements page is designed to be used as you move through 2019. Write down your achievements as they happen, so you can look over them at the end of the year and realize how much you have accomplished!

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You end the planner with 13 pages of dot grid notes. Simple, helpful, and waiting for whatever your note-taking needs are. When I was in college & grad school I would use notes pages to map out each term’s class schedule, for example.

That’s the bulk of the 2019 Ink+Volt Planner!

Aesthetics/Design

This planner is designed to be minimalist and functional, and the aesthetic reflects that.

The tight weave linen-like cover makes each one feel like a vintage book, but the vibrant colors give them a modern twist. Inside is crisp white paper, luxuriously smooth and thick. And it’s durable enough to carry with you all the time, from the office to your weekend adventures.

I have the Ink+Volt Planner in Limited Edition Cornflower (it’s a lighter blue than my photos make it look). It is bound with a durable linen-like hardcover and a hand-sewn, Smyth-sewn layflat binding. This means that it will lay flat no matter which page you have it open to. The cover is nondescript while being stylish–it looks like a beautiful notebook or journal in the vein of Moleskine or Shinola. The back cover has the Ink+Volt logo stamped near the bottom and centered. It doesn’t take up a lot of space on your back cover. The binding is bare. This cover design really lets the color you’ve chosen stand out. From Cornflower to Flamingo, Olive to Spruce, you can match your personal style with this beautifully bound planner. The wide selection of color options and clean design also make this planner equally attractive to men, women, and non-binary folks.

This planner measures 6″ x 8.5″ cover to cover and is barely less than 1″ thick. It’s extremely portable. The corners are rounded–no being accidentally stabbed by your planner. There are two ribbed ribbons to mark your place. It’s made 100% in the USA.

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The back inside cover has a built-in pocket folder. I love how it’s open on the short side so that it’s easy to slip papers and stickers in. No exasperated stuffing of notes into a super tight folder here!

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This planner is designed in a combination of serif and sans serif fonts. The sans serif font appears in all caps to designate secondary headers and dates, while the serif font makes up the rest of the text, from weekly journaling prompts to main headers. Text is in black and gray, with plenty of space to color-code, sticker, or highlight some color onto the pages. This combination is done in a clean, concise way that doesn’t jumble the varying fonts into visual disarray. The result is a minimalist and crisp aesthetic throughout the planner pages.

The planner has changed a little bit since the 2018 model.

While the planners are the same size, the spacing has improved (in my opinion). Last year (pictured in black), I received an Ink+Volt 2018 Signature Edition Planner, which had a smooth black cover. This year, my Limited Edition Planner in Cornflower adds a pop of color with a more textured cover. It feels nicer, in my opinion.

I put the two planners (2018 and 2019) next to one another to try and show the difference in spacing. The 2018 planner had large margins, and the 2019 planner has changed the spacing to give you more planning room. I’m a huge fan of the change! And of course, all the weekly prompts have been updated with new ones. 🙂 No recycled prompts here!

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Ink+Volt also sent me some fabulous stickers to review for y’all! They just came out with these Planner & Calendar Stickers, which you can find on their website for a very reasonable $7.50. I mocked up my monthly layout for January 2019 and the first week of January using these stickers, and I really liked their functionality and pop of color!

We love how our customers personalize their Ink+Volt planners, so we decided to create a collection of stickers to make customizing your planner even easier! These stickers are designed and sized especially for our planner, making it the perfect accessory to keep in the pocket of your Ink+Volt planner. These would also be great for a bullet journal, or even for a hanging or desk calendar.

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With these sticker packs, you get 4 sheets and a total of 448 stickers. That’s about $0.016 per sticker. There are icon stickers (0.5″ x 0.5″) and mini stickers (0.25″ x 0.25″). The sticker sheets are 4″ x 6″, which means they fit perfectly in the back pocket of your Ink+Volt Planner. Each sticker sheet covers a category: Productivity, Personal, Household/Errand, and Holiday & Events. These are great for monthly holiday reminders like New Year’s Day or Valentine’s Day, because the Ink+Volt Planner doesn’t print holidays into their planners.

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The stickers are very sticky–once you place them firmly on the page, they are there. They also have a clear backing, so the colors pop. I really liked planning week one of January with them, and even filled out holidays for the rest of the year! For $7.50, I think they’re a great deal for functional planners who also want a little bit of color and oomf in their spreads.

Fit

Let’s talk pen test!

Ink+Volt uses high quality, ink-proof, acid-free, rainforest friendly paper. It’s bright white and fountain pen tested. You will definitely have ghosting with this paper, but no bleed-through. My Pilot Varsity Fountain pen wrote smoothly on the paper and didn’t bleed or spread everywhere on the page. The only danger of bleed through I saw was in excessively applied inky highlighter, like the Stabilo Boss. That said, I liked fine-tipped rollerball pens like the Muji 0.38 and Pilot Juice 0.38 best on this paper. Felt-tip came in second with great performance from Le Pen and Micron pens. I took an additional photo of the ghosting of my weekly spread, planned with the Muji 0.38 pen.

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No bleed, and no imprinting on the paper. Results: this is great, eco-friendly paper that can handle a lot of different pens without bleeding, but expect some ghosting.

But is this the best planner for you?

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I would recommend this planner to someone who prefers a weekly vertical view but needs just a little bit more–the 4-page weekly spread really gives you room to separate your to-do list and schedule. If you want to map out your schedule in a highly visual format but still keep a running task list for the week, then Ink+Volt’s 2019 planner is a beautiful way to do so.

I would recommend this planner to anyone who needs a portable but durable planning option. My husband absconded with my 2018 Ink+Volt Planner and has been using it this year. It travels with him to work, gets shoved into his backpack, and gets generally carted about with other books. It has held up beautifully. The corners haven’t bent, the cover is still clean, and the dents and nicks are minimal. He said that he thinks the Ink+Volt Planner is truly high quality.

I think this would be a great planner for students who are looking to prepare for life after college (or in grad school), as this planner is gently structured to help you with goal-setting. It isn’t overwhelming, though, so if you want “Goals” to really mean “To Do List” then you can totally use this planner that way. It would be a lovely planner for the professional who wants to keep a written record of how they spend their time that is both helpful and inspirational. Likewise, this planner would be an excellent fit for bloggers because the Weekly Outlook is a great place to map out blog posts and content.

I would also recommend this planner to anyone who wants to tie mindfulness into their weekly planning. With weekly prompts that ask you to both reflect and think ahead, Ink+Volt has a thoughtfully designed product with plenty of space to journal and plan. this planner would also be a good fit for anyone who wants to develop a weekly habit of journaling/reflection. The prompts will keep you going even when you’re not sure what to write about.

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If you want to use Happy Planner box stickers on this planner, it might get bulky pretty quickly. I would recommend thin stickers. If you don’t want to decorate your planner but want it to feel decorated for you, then you might want to find a more colorful option.

I wouldn’t recommend this planner for someone who needs to write every little detail of each day down. If that’s you, I recommend a daily planner. My husband has large handwriting and said that the weekly spread can feel a little cramped. I think the 2019 edition is more spacious because of the updated margin spacing. You have a little more room, and I think it makes a difference.

If you need just as much space for your weekends as for your weekdays, then you might want to look elsewhere. The weekends share a column on the Weekly Outlook.

Overall, this planner is a wonderful book with high-quality materials and years of careful thought put into it. It is made by a company that takes feedback and evaluation seriously and strives to improve each year.

Loves

I love that there is a unique and thoughtful journaling prompt each week! That’s 52 prompts! I also love the new spacing in the 2019 planner. There’s more room to write and the layouts look less cramped and more open. I also don’t feel like there is wasted space (I did with the 2018 planner because the margins were so big). I love the color options for the covers, and that the Ink+Volt branding isn’t taking up just a ton of space on the cover. This is a stylish and professional-looking planner that I could take into a work meeting. I also love that the goal setting system is simple and not overwhelming.

Nopes

This is super nitpicky, but honestly I wish that the nameplate/title page wasn’t affixed to the flyleaf at the binding. The bound edging is glued to the cardstock flyleaf, which makes turning to the nameplate page a tad awkward. The back pocket is lovely, but I would personally prefer an accordion pocket because I feel like it would fit more.


Well, there you have it! My review of the 2019 Ink+Volt Planner and new Stickers! What do you think? Do you like the stickers? Have you used an Ink+Volt planner before? Leave a comment–I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time!

xo,
Ara

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