Here we are! I know that this post is long-awaited. I appreciate y’all’s patience as my husband and I moved quickly across the country, visited family for the holidays, and settled into a new apartment and a new life. I’m hoping that, as the dust settles, I can return to more consistent blog posting. Luckily, the time between receiving these planners and writing this post means that I have spent over a month carrying around and using my Northfolk Paper Companion Planner–I have lots of insight to share! 🙂
So let’s dig in!
Northfolk Paper (affiliate link for $10 off) is a company owned and operated by two friends, one living in Alaska (Sam) and one living in Colorado (Rachel). Sam and Rachel both have backgrounds in website design and branding. They joined professional forces in 2014 to create Northfolk, “a boutique design company specializing in custom brands and websites for creatives.” But they began to feel the need for the perfect planner to manage their careers and personal lives.
Two busy moms, running a long distance business and raising five total kids – chaos found them in desparate need for control of their busy lives. The quest for the perfect planner, something both functional and stylish, ended with their first experience in product manufacturing.
The Archive Paper Planer was born, and after one run Sam and Rachel decided to merge their companies. Archive Paper merged into Northfolk, a company specializing in planners, website design, and budgeting tools. The planners are part of the Northfolk Paper branch of their company.
This 2019 planner lineup represents their second year of creating comprehensive, undated planners. I have a review of their 2018 release, the Archive Paper Planner, here. In this blog post, I will be reviewing the Northfolk Paper Companion Daily ($72) and the Northfolk Paper Desk Agenda ($64), which is a weekly planner. These planners ship within the USA for $8 flat rate, to Canada for a $12 flat rate, and to all other countries for a $15 flat rate. So yes–these planners do ship internationally!
For this review, I will be going over the functionality of each planner, and then continue with my normal structure for Aesthetics/Design and Fit.
The Northfolk Paper Companion is a daily planner with a brilliant undated system, which we will get into. This planner offers monthly, weekly, and daily spreads so you can have everything all together in one convenient book! The weekly Desk Agenda planner offers weekly and monthly spreads with notes, and is also undated! Both planners run for one year.
These planners have a lay-flat Swiss binding, which we will discuss further in the Aesthetics/Design section. When you open the cover, it lays completely flat, which makes it easy to write in no matter how thick it is. The first “page” is a white chipboard interior cover that has Northfolk branding repeatedly stamped into it. Of course, you get a lovely welcome booklet that helps you get started with your new planner.
The actual first page of the planner is a nameplate and title page. You have the Northfolk logo and tagline, designed with intention for intuitive planning, centered at the top of the page. “This planner belongs to” comes next, with three lines for writing whatever information you would like to share about yourself. When you turn the page, you get all the Northfolk copyright information. Adjacent to that is a welcome letter from Sam & Rachel! I love when planners include welcome letters. 🙂
The beginning pages of your Companion planner include examples of how to use the Weekly and Daily layouts within. Next, you have a page for writing down your Goals. The Goals page is friendly and unintimidating–you have the space you need to parse your goals into Financial, Personal, Work, Family, Lifestyle, and whatever else you need. You are given several lines to write out your 5 Year Goal, and several more to write out your 10 Year Goal. This can help you visualize where you want to be in the future, which is (I think) an important component of planning.
Next, you have a page for Debt Payoff, with two listed options for how to use it. It’s a great visual for keeping track of your debt. Terrifying, of course, but helpful. Then you have a more uplifting page–52 Week Savings! This worksheet/tracker instructs you on saving $1,000 in a year by following the deposit suggestions.
You also get two year at a glance spreads. One is for the Current Year–since these planners are undated, that can be whenever you decide to use it. The second spread is for the Following Year, again–whenever you like. These spreads provide small cells for jotting down important notes for the year ahead.
Ah, the beautiful monthly spread! Stunning in its clean simplicity. Sam & Rachel have managed to make an undated planner elegant to use. Each monthly spread includes the three-letter monikers for January through December–you can circle, highlight, or underline the month you want to use this spread for. The daily boxes include a clear space in the upper lefthand corner to write in the date. This helps with keeping your spread neat. There are five weeks of boxes, which can accommodate even the most annoying start and end dates & days of the week. (I’m looking at you, Saturday!)
On the lefthand side of the monthly layout is a column for extras. Northfolk gives you a Monthly Tip, and beneath that is a lined Notes column followed by a few lines for Important Dates. I personally really like the Important Dates column, because I can write unchanging stuff there–birthdays, anniversaries, etc. and they don’t interrupt the functionality of the monthly spread. It is also worth noting that this monthly spread has a Sunday start, as the days of the week are set.
After the two-page monthly spread, you get two supplemental pages. There is a Finance Tracker, which gives you two separate spreads for tracking accounts/bills. This is pretty straightforward and undaunting, which is great for those of us who are a little frightened of writing out financial planning.
The next page is a Habit Tracker, which has a landscape orientation and provides 31 perfect squares for ticking off adherence to a daily habit. You get 14 spaces to assign to habits if you want to use them all up. There are an additional 7 spaces specifically for Around the House habits, like dishes or planning out the next day’s outfit, etc. Whatever helps you. I love the separation of these habits, because you have space for growth habits–i.e., habits that help you grow as a person–and regular habits that you feel like you should probably adopt, like emptying the dishwasher every day instead of using clean dishes out of the dishwasher but never putting them away like (my mother assures me) a barbarian.
In the Companion Daily Planner, you then turn to the weekly pages. These spreads have a week per page, with five weeks total. They sit together before you start the daily pages. Each day of the week has a horizontal spread including the day (T for Tuesday and so on), a space for the date, and Meal. You can use these blank spaces to write in things you don’t want to forget but want to plan ahead for, meal plan your weeks, and/or do some lowkey project management tracking and mapping.
Then we hit the daily pages! One of the things I really love about the design of this planner is that Northfolk has numbered the pages from 1–31. So you have the date (1st, 2nd, and so on) for each day, and with 31 pages you will never run into a month where you are left bereft of a day. With 31 full days per month, your weekends can each have their own page! No sharing weekend pages here! Very exciting. 😀
But let’s look at the structure and function of this daily layout.
The number of the day (the date) is in the upper corners of the daily layout. You also have a similar structure to the monthly spread, where the days of the week are spread out before you from Mon–Sun and you can underline, highlight, or circle whichever day matches up with the date. The rest of the page is divided into two columns taking up most of the space and a blank horizontal section along the bottom.
Your first column is for your Priorities and Tasks. Like last year’s 6-month daily edition, the Priorities section is made up of three lines. No checkboxes, no asterisks, just three lines of space. This means you can easily use one line per priority if you want a Top Three for your day. Or you can have one priority and plenty of space to write it out! Up to you, which is nice. 🙂 Then you have your trackers. You get an icon for Health/Exercise, eight water droplets for water intake, and a pill icon for Vitamins/Medications. Simple, elegant, and easy to use. Below that, you have your daily Tasks list with one line per task and a delightful circle to check them off!
The second column is for your Daily Agenda. This goes from 5 to 11, which can be 5am to 11pm, or 5pm to 11am if you work the night shift. One of my favorite things about this planner is that the schedule column uses dashed lines and includes a small but noticeable break in the middle of each line. This can be written past/over and not thought about, or you can use it for half-hour increments!
The bottom of the layout has a generous blank space for notes or sketches or meals or however you want to fill it up. 🙂
Desk Agenda Weekly
Ah, the weekly. This is a new layout for Northfolk, and they did not disappoint. The pages have been utilized to their fullest to give you as much writing space as possible for each day of the week. This weekly spread uses a vertical layout. The days of the week are already stipulated–Monday through Sunday with a Monday start.
The day of the week with a blank space for the date is at the top of each daily column. This is followed by three unadulterated lines for your daily Priorities, which can be used to write in as many or as few priorities as you like. Below that is a small box for writing in your Meal–whether you want to keep track of breakfast, lunch, dinner, calories, or squeeze it all in there. Then you get your trackers, same as the Companion Daily. There is an icon for Health/Exercise, eight water droplets for H2O intake, and a pill icon for Vitamins/Medication. This is followed by lines all the way down! The rest of each column is for whatever you want it to be. Lists, schedules, notes, etc.
Saturday and Sunday share a column, although Saturday gets one additional line of space. You don’t miss out on any of the sections, as Priorities, Meal, and your tracker are all the same “size” as the days of the weeks’. You get five weeks each month to accommodate for any odd start dates. This means that you will probably have some overlapping days from month to month, but personally I think that’s preferable to falling short a day or two.
Now one of my favorite features in the weekly–two full pages of monthly tasks/to-dos/lists. Generous lined spaces and four total columns of check-circles to listing your heart out! Yes please! You get 37 lines per columns for a whopping total of 148 check-circles for each month! Keep a running list or break the columns into different sections. This is a lister’s dream.
The list spread is followed by two lined pages and two blank pages each month. So in the Desk Agenda Weekly, you get five two-page weekly spreads, a two-page lists spread, two pages of lined notes space, and two pages of blank notes space. Fully-utilized weekly layout? Check. Plenty of notes space? Check. Amazing space for keeping lists and to-dos? Check!
Both the daily and weekly planners have one tabbed section of lined notes spaces (14 pages) and one tabbed section of graph pages (11 pages). These tabbed sections are included at the end of each planner.
And you can’t forget the back pocket! I love when book-bound planners have inside pockets. Northfolk Paper has a few surprises for you in theirs! You get a “cheat sheet” card of 2019 and 2020 year at a glance “charts” and–and–a set of stickers! As Northfolk produces undated planners, you can start/stop/pick up again whenever you want. I started my Companion Daily in December 2018, for example, because I had so much going on with the cross-country move, holidays in my hometown, and January apartment-hunting and traveling that it actually made sense for me to begin it then. The sticker sheet presents two clear-backed stickers for each month so that your tabs maintain a uniform and clean look. Then you get a bunch of smaller, functional icon stickers that you can use at-will.
Each Northfolk Paper planner comes with a thick ribbon page-marker. The daily has two and the weekly has one.
Northfolk Paper planners are premium-quality, gorgeously made, and complete with thoughtful details. These planners embody a minimalist aesthetic with clean pages, tight designs, and plenty of white space without leaving too much of your page un-utilized.
This year, Northfolk has decided to use durable fabric hardcovers for their planners. You have two options–black or oatmeal. These options come in both Companion Daily and Desk Agenda Weekly. The covers are simple and gorgeous, with the Northfolk logo of a compass-like star centered in gold foil and smaller icons associated with the brand blind debossed in an elegant pattern reminiscent of a constellation. The back covers are completely blank, save of course for the fabric. The textual logo of “Northfolk” is debossed on the spine of each planner.
Companion Daily planners are 6.5″ wide x 8.5″ tall x 1.5″ thick. This is a hefty little planner, with 504 pages / 252 sheets and delicious thickness. (I love thick planners–there is something comforting about the weight.) I haven’t found it to be overly heavy, either. The Desk Agenda Weekly planners are 8″ wide x 10″ tall x 0.75″ thick. This is closer to a standard piece of printer paper, which means you have lots of room to write! Nonetheless, it is fairly light and portable.
Northfolk has upped their game this year with a perfect lay-flat Swiss binding on both the Companion and Desk Agenda. They have reinforced the binding with black ribbon to make sure it holds steady. I will say that the only downside to this binding is that there is a slight gap between the pages and the spine when you have the planner closed, which does nothing to disrupt the utility of the planner. This gap diminishes with use.
The planners all use progressive notched tabs, or “staircase tabs” in a double layer, with durable mylar-coated tabs. These are easy to affix your monthly stickers onto and very forgiving if you need to adjust your sticker after a messy first apply (guilty!).
These planners have a clean aesthetic with minimal wasted space. Everything is beautifully aligned to look professional and neat. Northfolk uses a consistent font throughout, an all-caps sans serif (apart from their welcome letter and nameplate page) in varying weights of light and semi-bold to help headers stand out. The only exception is the font used in the Companion Daily to number the pages–this is a serif font, but clean enough that it doesn’t look out of place.
These planners are designed to be all-in-one books that can carry multiple facets of an organized life. From financial trackers to daily health trackers, these planners have a whopping amount of content in an attractively accessible package. There are little details that reinforce the planner’s aesthetic, like the Monthly Tips on each monthly spread with a small tree icon reinforcing Northfolk’s roots–Alaska and Colorado. Every layout is perfectly framed and balanced, making complete use of the page without crowding it.
The lay-flat binding is gorgeously-executed and comes in super-handy with the thicker Companion Daily planner. Branding is subtle–definitely there, but complementary to the overall minimalist aesthetic of the planners. It fits into the overall look and design rather than appearing as a jarring mark.
Overall, this planner is impressive to hold & behold. I thought I would be super into the black cover, but once I had the planners in my hand the oatmeal won out with its visible texture and more nuanced fabric. It truly is a gorgeous, well-made planner with top-of-the-line materials.
Pen test time! ❤
Northfolk uses 100 gsm Uncoated Luxury Paper in both their planners. While the paper is a nicely textured bright white, you will get some ghosting here with thicker pens and highlighters. You get a little bleed with the Sharpie Permanent Market and a heavy-handed use of the Pilot Varsity fountain pen. The paper is “tight” in the sense that it handles ink well–when you write your lines stay firm and clean, rather than ink seeping into the paper and spreading. I have been jolly using my Micron 0.38, Zebra Sarasa, and Pilot Juice 0.38. I prefer a finer point, but this planner looks just as clean with a 0.5 pen, which I use on occasion. The Zebra Mildliner highlighters don’t bleed or ghost and I’ve been using them to denote my months and days in the planner’s undated spreads.
But is this the right planner for you? Let’s explore!
I would recommend this planner to anyone who wants a functional but minimalist approach to planning. You have everything you need without too much extra content that demands attention. Don’t want to track finances? Skip those spreads, although I do recommend them as Sam & Rachel have lots of experience designing functional financial tools. Don’t want the use the daily trackers? Decorate over them with washi tape. There is a very light goal setting page at the beginning of the planner, but it doesn’t keep poking at you throughout the year. If you want to get intense with goal planning, I would recommend Lara Casey’s Power Sheets as a companion planner with Northfolk.
This planner is a dream for functional planners who want a clean, professional planner. You can easily take this gorgeous book into the office and look professional af doing it. You can keep this planner at your desk and use it to manage your days, weeks, and months. You can really go to town with every last detail and all the space you need to write it down. If this planner had existed while I was in graduate school, I would’ve pounced on it. I had so many meetings, classes, extracurriculars, projects, and social obligations to keep track of. I would’ve loved the half-hour increments, the reminders to track my health, and the long to-do lists of the Companion Daily.
Despite looking the part, Northfolk planners are truly well-made. I used and carried around the oatmeal Companion Daily planner for all of December and January so I have a pretty good idea of its durability! While the corners of the planner will bend inwards a little with use, the planner is a sturdy, intuitive book with lots of space for pen only spreads or a few stickers if that’s how you roll. If you want a planner that looks good but keeps your life together, this one will do just that. I’ve gotten so many compliments from friends and strangers alike while carrying this planner around!
I would highly recommend this planner–both the Companion Daily and the Desk Agenda Weekly–for graduate students with a lot to keep track of, the busy professional who wants everything down in one place, and the small business owner with financials to keep track of and deliverables to produce in a timely manner. My friend Allie owns and operates a small bakery with no storefront, so she does lots of pop-ups, farmer’s markets, and pick-up/delivery orders. She loved this planner when I showed it to her and bought an Oatmeal Companion Daily to help her keep track of her growing business and all its demands and needs!
I would also recommend this planner to anyone who hasn’t found the right combination yet of functional, minimalist, and beautiful. If you are not a spiral-bound planner lover and prefer something casebound and a little sleeker, then Northfolk has you covered. If you want to plan month by month and don’t know if you’ll need it for March but definitely February and April, then this planner is a perfect fit. You do have to commit to a month at a time, but the undated design gives you some flexibility. If you want to start your planner on a month that isn’t part of the standard plannerverse (academic, midyear, calendar year) then you will find a willing companion in Northfolk.
This planner is also neutral enough that it can work for anyone of any gender identification. While elegant, it doesn’t scream “lady planner for girls only!” and will look comfortable in anyone’s hands.
I wouldn’t recommend this planner to someone who wants a functional planner on a budget. This is a premium planner with a price tag to match. If you are on a strict budget, there are other planner options for you that may not be as high-end but are still perfectly functional! I have reviewed some of them on this blog. 🙂 If you need tons of space for your weekends, then the Desk Agenda Weekly might not work for you, although the Companion Daily would. If you want an undated planner but don’t want to commit to at least a month at a time, then the structure of these planners might not be the best fit. Finally, if you are a very decorative planner, then spiral planners are better designed to fit bulking up your planner with stickers & washi. Northfolk Planners will take some stickers, but they will bulk up with consistent stickering.
As an added bonus, my dog Fitzgerald approves of this planner. He loves the fabric cover and likes to sleep on it. 😉
There is so much to love! I love the clean aesthetic, the Swiss lay flat binding, the neutral design, and the comprehensive planning pages on both the Companion Daily and the Desk Agenda Weekly. I adore a casebound planner and am pleased as punch with this one. I found the materials to be high quality and the layouts easy to use. I love the thoughtfulness Sam & Rachel have clearly put into the design of their planners. I love the undated format that lets you start whenever you want, but that the Companion’s pages are numbered to give you consistency. I love that Northfolk includes an expandable back pocket with stickers that keep your planner looking tidy and uniform. I love the Desk Agenda Weekly’s monthly list pages! What a delight to find that! I love the Habit Tracker page for each month, especially that it delineates between general habits and “Around the Home” habits. the Habit Tracker is super useful without taking up too much space in your daily/weekly spreads. I love just about everything about these planners.
It drives me a little bonkers that the Swiss lay flat binding shies away from being uniform with the spine of the cover. This is alleviated a bit by using an elastic closure band–I’ve been using the silicone ones from Emily Ley. While I don’t think an elastic band would be quite right as a component built into this planner, I do think that Northfolk could expand their products with elegant but functional silicone elastic bands to help keep the planners closed. 🙂 With use, the corners will bend in a little bit. Lastly, I think the Goals page at the font of the planner, which is by no means the focal point of the planner (and that’s okay!), could use a tad more room for writing things out.
There you have it! My long-awaited review of the Northfolk Paper 2019 planner lineup! Don’t forget–you can get $10 off your first Northfolk Paper Planner using my referral link here! Any questions, things I didn’t address, etc? Leave me a comment–I would love to hear from you! ❤
Thank you for reading! Until next time!