It is with delight that I bring you my review of the 2019 Unbound Planner! This planner is a casebound weekly planner with goal setting pages and a combination of visual time blocks and organized lists. Before we get into the structure of the planner, let’s delve into the company’s background!
Unbound Planner became a reality in 2018 after a successful Kickstarter campaign. The planner came with two cover options–a standard and a limited edition. I actually backed this Kickstarter campaign and used this planner for part of 2018. It was super easy to carry around and had lots of room for organized lists and daily notes. While I posted pictures of it on my Instagram account (@plannerisma), I didn’t get a chance to review it due to a packed schedule of blog posts. This year, Unbound Planner reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing their planner. I happily accepted, and bought my husband one to boot!
Unbound Planner is a small, family company based out of Denver, CO and run by husband and wife team Annie and Brant. Annie had the idea for the Unbound Planner for years before finally committing to her vision and launching the 2018 edition Kickstarter. The project–and now company–has been a labor of love undertaken by Annie and Brant, and everything from social media to finding the perfect printer has been handled by the duo.
We are dreamers aspiring to live our lives to the fullest, one day at a time. And our mission is to help you do the same.
In this review, I will go over all the things you know and love from my reviews–Function, Aesthetics/Design, Fit, Loves and Nopes. But I will also do a little bit of comparison between the 2019 edition of the planner and the 2018 one, as I have both.
The Unbound Planner has both dated and undated versions, as well as a Five Year Journal. Planners come in Classic and Limited editions, the main difference being the cover options. The Classic 2019 Unbound Planner is $40, with a current promotion for free shipping. The Limited Edition 2019 Unbound Planner is $45 but currently on sale for $40, with the same shipping special.
Let’s get to it!
This is a casebound planner with monthly spreads and four-page weekly spreads. It runs the length of 2019, from January to December. It is super portable and packed full of good planning content. 😉
The planner’s first functional page is the nameplate page. I appreciate how the main focus is on the year and whatever information you would like to write down in your framed, lined space. I wrote a little message in mind, but you could easily just share your name and a form of contact. Whatever floats your boat! 🙂 The Unbound branding is centered at the bottom of the page, but it doesn’t take up all the attention.
Next, you get a whopping four years at a glance over two pages. Each year takes up half a page. You get 2019 through 2022! (So crazy. Wut.) The year at a glance layouts are a little small to add much information to, but it is easy enough to highlight blocks of days for future planning.
The Unbound Planner has goal setting components and is designed to gently remind you every month and week of the goals you set. But we will get into that later–for now, let’s focus on this wonderfully organized Self Reflection spread! The Self Reflection questions are designed to pull thoughtful responses concerning where you are in life and where you want to be. It’s a space to determine where you are at the beginning of your planner, so you can better visualize where you want to go. This spread even includes two pie charts to map out how you spend your time and how you want to spend your time and asks you to rate areas of your life for quantitative visualization of where you might want to focus your valuable time and energy in the year to come.
Next comes your Goal Brainstorm pages. Unbound Planner believes in writing down your goals in order to achieve them. With that in mind, they provide a Four Step process for goal brainstorming. Step 1 is to identify your themes, Step 2 is create your goals, Step 3 is make your goals specific, and Step 4 is organize into timeline. You get three dot-grid pages to essentially use as goal setting scratch paper. I made mind maps with mine.
Next, you have a 2019 Goal Timeline. If you followed the directions in the previous pages, you should have a list of goals for 2019. A goal is great! Something to work towards, something you know you want to achieve. Right? But you also need to map out how you are going to accomplish these goals. The 2019 Goal Timeline spread asks you to categorize your goal list into actionable tasks/things repeating monthly, repeating weekly, and as habits.
Then you get one whole page for listing out your goals, one lengthy line at a time. Each line has a circle for checking the goal off once it’s accomplished, as well as boxes to check for Jan–Dec. Did you work towards this goal this month? Check it off triumphantly! No? That’s okay, keep your head up! Don’t let procrastination lead to more procrastination. It’s a sucky cycle.
Your next page is for Future Goals and Dreams. What are your big dreams? Do you want to write a book next year, buy a house in five years, go to Timbuktu someday? (They have amazing archives there!) There is also lined space for you to write down notes or ideas.
Then you have your Year at a Glance page, which includes 12 boxes, one for each month. I used this space to write out big trips or visits I knew were impending. 🙂
After all this work on your goals for 2019, you get 12 two-page spreads for Project Plan/Goal Breakdown. You can use these for planning individual projects in different ways (thus having 24 pages of project planning), or use each spread for one goal or project. These are templates that allow you to storyboard your goal for a big visual aid. Then you can write down what Key Milestones for achieving this goal look like. This is accompanied by a big dot-grid space for Notes/Steps.
Your calendar pages come next! There is a lot of content here–you have a lot more than your standard monthly layout. You get a Sunday start, and a pretty sizable spread for how much of the two-page layout is devoted to other details. You can fit plenty in a daily box. The lefthand page is mostly calendar. You have a tiny month at a glance spread for the following month in the bottom lefthand corner, as well as some lined space for notes. The righthand page of the spread includes a box for This Month’s Focus, a checklist for This Month’s Goals/Things To Do, a shorter checklist for Gifts/Occasions, and a blank horizontal box for Monthly Reflection. That’s a lot!
This Month’s Focus is a great blank space to write out one thing you want to work on. Is it being a host/hostess for guests that month? Implementing your new workout routine? Saying no to as many things as possible? Whatever it is, write in down! The checklist for This Month’s Goals/Things To Do includes two important write-ins: Review yearly goals: list repeating & other goals for this month, and Review last month’s goals. These are included every month, and harken back to the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of your planner. Dont’ worry–you have plenty of lines for other goals/tasks!
The Gifts/Occasions checklist is one of my favorite things in this planner. I love keeping track of birthdays, sending gifts and/or cards, and marking special occasions. But I don’t like writing birthdays down on the main monthly calendar, because sometimes they interrupt the space I need to write down other plans! This is especially true if I’m tracking a birthday for someone that I usually just send a card to. I’m not going to fly across the country for your birthday, friend from college that I occasionally keep in touch with! I need that daily box for my dog’s vet appointment! But I will send a card. 🙂
The Unbound Planner has a four-page weekly spread. It’s a thing of beauty. The first two pages are all about your Weekly Overview. You have a box for This Week’s Priorities (top three)–you can use the circles as bullet points or checkboxes. There’s a blank box for your Morning Routine–sometimes it helps to write that down, because a productive/successful/sentient morning can really set you up for the rest of the day. You get a checklist for Weekly Goals, which also include some already filled-in lines: add repeating weekly goals, review monthly goals and last week’s progress, do something for others, and the oft-ignored do something for yourself. These repeat every week. They are small ways to remind you that you did set goals for yourself at the beginning of the year. 😉
My other two favorite parts of this planner follow. First, you have two columns of Things To Do. These are checklists separated into Easy Tasks on one side and Bigger Tasks on the other. I love this separation. It helps me think about and further plan out tasks that are bigger because I’m forced to recognize that they will take more time/have more impact. Below this section is another wonderful spread–the Habit Tracker. Habit Trackers are pretty sexy in the plannerverse right now, but I love the simplicity and effectiveness of this one. You have enough space to list 8 habits, and bubbles to check/fill in from Monday–Sunday. Love it.
The second page in this spread is pretty much up to you. You get half a page of lined space and half a page of dot grid. This space is for lists, notes, goals, etc. Whatever you need, really.
The second half of the four-page weekly layout is your Weekly Spread. This is a highly visual layout that can accommodate your schedule, daily to dos, notes, and more. It’s a vertical layout, so does lend itself well to listing if that’s what you want to do. I always end up with some combination of schedule and daily tasks, myself.
Anyway, you get an inspirational quote at the top of the lefthand page. You also get a little month at a glance calendar for the month you are currently in, with the week shown highlighted in grayscale. On the lefthand side of the spread, you have one column with 1/3 for Don’t Forget and 2/3 space for Notes. It is equal in size to all the other columns, each of which represents a day. Even the weekends get equal space to the weekdays! You have a Monday start for your week.
Each daily column is divided into three sections. You have a small box at the top with three circles for listing priorities, appointments, whatever you want. Then you have a long space for your Daily whatever. Fill this with your schedule, reminders, tasks, etc. Then you have a small box at the bottom of each column for Gratitude. You can also use this however you like–sometimes I use it for meals. Whatever works best for you! Saturday and Sunday are shaded in grey, but it’s definitely light enough to write visibly on, even with a pencil. Lastly, there is a box at the top righthand side of the page for your Weekly Reflection.
After the month of June, you get a two-page Midyear Reflection Page. This is for checking in on your goals, but also for reflecting on your year so far. You are asked questions like, What are some of your favorite moments or memories so far this year? It is about checking in on your goals, but it’s also about gratitude for the year you’ve had so far.
Likewise, you have a two-page spread at the end of the year/planner. This is your End-of-Year Reflection, which asks you to think about your achievements, challenges, and memories for 2019. It also asks you to re-rate the same areas in your life that you rated at the beginning of the planner! What a great way to visually track your progress!
At the very end of the planner, you get 8 pages of lined notes and 8 pages of dot grid notes. The inside back cover does not have a pocket folder–I think it should, so I used one of the medium Erin Condren adhesive pockets and now I have a small place to tuck anything loose.
The Unbound Planner favors a clean aesthetic with lots of content.
These planners are simply but beautifully packaged! Mine arrived in perfect condition. 🙂
There are multiple colors to choose from, but the planner I received to review is in Forest Green. My husband ended up really loving this color, so I gave the planner to him and picked out one for myself in Lavender. Both are equally beautiful.
Covers–Linen is so hot right now!
Or, officially–“sturdy hardbound book covered in a premium coated-cloth material.” To their credit, Unbound Planners have always been offered with linen covers, ever since their launch in 2018. But they really upped their game this year with all the options! 2018 editions only had two cover choices. 2019 has seven. Seven. And oh, what pretty colors! The entire casebound cover is linen-bound, front to back. The corners are rounded, which makes them less prone to bending. The front cover has the textual company logo, “un|bound”, blind debossed and centered. There are no markings on the back cover or spine, meaning that the branding is mostly inside the planner and on the outside, your beautiful book looks like a gorgeous fabric-covered journal!
The planner is a portable 8.5” x 6.0” x 0.9″ and weighs about 1.2lbs. It’s an easy fit in most bags, even your crossbody purse. The planner contains 280 pages and has two ribbon page markers, which match with the planner color. There are no monthly tabs–but you have a ribbon to help you with that.
Text in this planner is relatively light. You have a simple sans serif font used in different weights and sizes. Everything is in this font, from your headers to your numbers. Body text is a lighter weight to differentiate it, sometimes in grey italics. Using a consistent font means that you will definitely get a uniform look throughout the planner, but not much embellishment. If you like a minimalist design (either so you can be the one to doll it up or so that you aren’t overwhelmed with color and pretties every time you open your functional planner), then this planner delivers. It is highly functional and precisely designed. There is a place for everything and everything in its place.
The entire planner is printed in black and white, so any added color is up to you! This provides both a clean slate to customize with your own style or an elegant planner that checks all the boxes without bursts of interrupting color.
The 2019 planners are the same size as last year’s 2018 editions. While the cover color options have exploded (in a great way!) the overall format and system is similar.
The margins are a little smaller in the 2019 edition, and there is a lined notes space in the monthly spread instead of a dot grid space. One month at a glance calendar instead of two. The Gifts/Cards section used to have check circles for “Bought” and “Sent,” but now they’ve axed those in favor of more writing room.
In general, each page is numbered in the corner–very inconspicuous, but there if you need it. Holidays are marked on the monthly spread with small, gray text.
Overall, this planner is rich in content but simple in design.
Pen test time!
Unbound Planner is entirely made in the USA and uses “bright-white, FSC-certified, heavyweight paper. It measures 70lb (or 105 GSM), which is almost twice as thick as standard notebook paper.” Their paper is quite good, easy to write on, and not very toothy or heavily textured. Most of the pens I tested did quite well! The Sharpie Permanent Marker obviously bled through a tad, and the Pilot Varsity Fountain pen has significant ghosting. Otherwise, there is minimal ghosting. Heavy-handed writing will result in a slight debossing effect. 😉 Overall, I personally prefer using a Muji 0.38 pen or a Pilot Juice 0.38, but most of the gel pens I’ve used write super well!
But is this the right planner for you? Let’s discuss!
I would recommend this planner if you are looking for a comprehensive but portable planning option. Do you want a place to keep track of your goals, your dreams, and your busy schedule? Unbound delivers. Do you want to carry your planner in your bag or purse but still have everything you need in it, from notes pages to in-depth to do lists? Unbound can be that planner for you. At only a little over 1 lbs, this planner is easy to carry around and provides a great canvas for helping you manage a busy life!
I would recommend this planner for people who start out strong with fresh goals and plans to fulfill them, but get a little sidetracked after February. If you want a planner that puts you through a helpful goal-setting process and then reminds you to think about and refresh those goals each month and week, then Unbound Planner will help you stay on track. The reminders are gentle and not shaming, fyi.
If you are a student with a full course load and need a portable planner to track your schedule, assignments, and exams, then this planner is fantastic. It has plenty of room for all the intricacies of a busy life. Likewise, if you have a lot going on and need to put it somewhere that kind of organizes it for you, then Unbound Planner is a great option. It is tightly organized and will help you work out your goals and stay on top of your tasks. Need help remembering dad’s birthday? No problem, write it down in the monthly Gifts/Occasion section.
Two of my friends were delighted with and purchased this planner when I told them about it. They are both attorneys (DAs) and loved the simple functionality of this planner and the structured way it helped to organize their extremely busy professional lives!
I would also recommend this planner to the minimalist, who just wants a clean, elegant planner to help them feel like they are in control of things.
I would not recommend this planner for anyone who wants lots of cheerful colors throughout their planner pages, unless you are willing to decorate them. If you are, to quote Erin Condren, “loyal to the coil,” then this casebound planner might not be the one for you. If you don’t care about using your planner for goal setting at all, I might look elsewhere, as that’s a pretty big component of the Unbound Planner.
If you need a lot of freeform space to plan, or like change your planning style up, then the tight organization of the Unbound Planner might not work best for you. I also wouldn’t recommend this planner to someone who wants to plan things out hour-by-hour, because there isn’t really room for that unless your handwriting is super tiny. It’s a big picture planner, allowing you to keep track of the big stuff while still taking it week by week.
I love the size and quality of this planner. Right away, you can tell that it’s sturdy and going to hold up well throughout a year of use. I love that this planner is minimally designed to fit multiple aesthetics and needs. It comes in several attractive colors that aren’t culturally affiliated with corresponding gender identities. The simplicity of the cover design makes it an aesthetically accessible planner! I really like the organization of it, as well. I love the Big Tasks and Easy Tasks separation in the weekly spread, the combination of freeform and list-oriented spreads for each week, and the perfectly positioned habit tracker!
Inside pocket/folder, please! Would absolutely love one of these! #pocketadvocate I also wish that the weekly spread was more freeform than it is–the columns are a little tight, and with all the notes space on the Weekly Overview pages I don’t ever really find myself using the notes column on the weekly spread itself. The Gratitude box is nice, as well, but it takes up valuable column space!
And there you have it–my review of the 2019 Unbound Planner! I want to give another heartfelt shout-out to Annie at Unbound for being so patient with my publication of this review! She was super understanding about my lag–moving across the country can be quite disruptive. ❤ Thank you, Annie!
Do you have an Unbound Planner? How are you liking it? Anything I didn’t touch on that you have questions about? Leave me a comment–I love your comments! ❤
Until next time! (Sooner rather than later!)