2019 Pinnacle Planner

Hello everyone! 🙂 Hopefully you are reading this review in a timely manner––I’ve been behind on my blog, well, pretty much all of 2019. There are some deep & personal reasons for that, which I may get into on IG sometime, but I wanted to thank all of you for reading my reviews, continuing to ask questions, and providing your wonderful presence and support! My collaborators have been so very kind and patient with me and I’m excited to finally get this review to you all!

The 2019 Pinnacle Planner is brand new to the market. It’s a beautifully compact, silky blue book that combines a 12-month planner with monthly leadership coaching. It is a planner and a coach, a place for your plans and your thoughts.

Founder Mel (Melinda) found herself in a period of transition when she moved to Washington, DC to start her dream job in international education. She recently married and took on more leadership responsibilities in her position, which made her look for tools to stay organized and informed. This brief video tells you a little bit more about what she came up with:

The Story Behind The Pinnacle Planner from Melinda Sims on Vimeo.

Leadership is hard. We learn, live, and lead differently so you can find comfort in being coached throughout the year with one leadership trait each month and 52 unique weekly leadership tips, productivity challenges, and monthly reflection questions.

The details: this planner retails for $52, but is on sale right now for $32. Currently, Mel only ships to the USA, and orders process in 2-3 business days. Shipping is USPS Priority Mail and costs about $10.

Let’s dig in!


This planner is designed to help you “identify your core values and set purpose-driven goals for the year.” There are goal-setting pages and prompted reflections each month to this effect.


The first page you see when you open your planner is a title page with the company’s tagline: “Pen your Pinnacle.” Then, you turn the page for copyright necessities and information about Mel Sharell Paper. You get a nameplate page with the prompt “This Planner Belongs To”, with two lines to jot down your information. There is a lot of blank space here, which you could utilize for anything you like, or just leave as-is!

This planner comes with a Table of Contents page! Fancy! It lays out what you can expect to find in this planner: Letter from the Founder, Get to Know Yourself Again, Your Picture of Success, Yearly Game Plan, Short & Long Term Goals, and January–December. Each month has a leadership-inspired theme.

The Letter from the Founder is next, which is a welcome note from Melinda. It lays out a bit more about The Pinnacle Planner and the goals for this book. 🙂


Next, we move on to the prep pages! There is one page for Get[ing] to Know Yourself Again, which prompts you to think about and write down your Calling, desired Legacy, and how you want to Define Your Way moving forward. This is followed by a page with room to draw/write/collage/map out Your Picture of Success. Kind of like a vision page, where you can think about and commit to paper what success looks like for you.

Next, of course, you have 2019 and 2010 year-at-a-glance pages. I really like the way Mel has designed these–they have Sunday starts and holidays listed with the dates for them printed in what looks like a steely teal color. The holidays that have this designation are the ones that US workers would typically have off.

Your Yearly Game Plan page comes next. This instructs you to write down your known obligations for each month of the year so that you can better plan how to use your free space. Once you know what you’ve committed to for the year, you can figure out your availability for working on your goals. The next page looks at Short-Term and Long-Term goals. You get three blocks for each and are prompted to plan out how many months the goal will take you to achieve.

Then we get into the calendar pages!

pinnacle 2019-9

Each month begins with this sort of title page. One one side, you have an explanation of the month’s designated theme. January, for example, is Vision. On the other side, you have the number of the month and its name.

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The monthly spread only gets one page. The calendar has a Sunday start. It’s a very simple design, and one that includes horizontal lines but no vertical ones to completely box off each day. This is great if you like to write out things smoothly over multiple days, but a little frustrating if you (like me) enjoy the precision of everything in its little box. 😛 There is a lined section for notes at the bottom of the calendar as well.

Each monthly spread comes juxtaposed with a sort of monthly prep page. There is an inspirational quote, which I always enjoy. Then you have a space to write your Monthly Promise, which could be a goal you are working on or just a promise that (for example) you’re going to say no to anything extracurricular that requires you to miss out on family time. Then you are provided with a Monthly Prep Checklist, which gives you a standard, repeating set of tasks (Review schedule and write in all projects and appointments, review finances and establish a budget, organize and declutter), and leaves you three spaces for your own things. What habits can you build to keep you organized?

The lined notes space continues onto the second page.

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Now we get to the meat of the planner–your weekly spread! This planner uses a vertical, lined weekly spread with some time blocking. It has a Sunday start, for those of you who prefer that (or prefer consistency with your months’ and weeks’ start day). 🙂 Weekends get just as much space as weekdays here, as well! No compromising your weekends. 😉

The upper lefthand corner includes which week of the year it is and the dates for this weekly spread. Beneath that, you get a prompt for the week that corresponds to the monthly leadership theme. This is really where the leadership coaching part of the planner comes in. Each prompt is unique; there are no repeats. They range from actionable steps towards something to advice, but they reflect the accumulated wisdom that Mel has gained in both her work and her leadership research.

The top right-hand side of the two-page weekly spread includes the month and its corresponding theme. Below that is a mini month at a glance calendar of the month following the one you are currently in. There is a lot of white space here–I’m not sure if it’s for notes or not, though you could certainly use it that way. The right-hand column is reserved for Read, Learn From, and Follow-Up sections. Mel calls this the “Study Section” and has designed it as “space to document the steps you are taking to improve in an area.” It is meant to help you keep track of what you are learning.

Each day is organized in lined morning, afternoon, and evening sections. They are given time markers instead of words: 6AM, 12PM, 6PM. You could go ahead and number each line to create appointment times if you prefer to plan that way. I would recommend this primarily if you write quite small or only use a couple of words to jot something down on each line, as the columns are fairly narrow.

The planner continues this way, with a new theme and refreshed weekly coaching prompts until the end of December 2019. Hey, you even get the monthly spread for January 2020 to help you plan ahead!

pinnacle 2019-19

After December 2019 has concluded, you have a two page spread for your Year in Review. You are asked to reflect on what you are most proud of accomplishing this year, what you learned about yourself, and what advice you would give your younger self. This last prompt is especially poignant, as part of the reason Mel created this planner is that she wishes her younger self had had a guide like this. On the second page, you are encouraged to Dream Big about next year!

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At the end of the planner you have 25 Notes pages. These remind me of Cornell style notes pages, where you can make notes on the margins easily. The idea is that you take general notes in the lined space, review and add keywords and comments in the lefthand column, and prepare a summary in the bottom section. It’s a very academic way to set up a notes page, but the Pinnacle Planner is designed to help you learn. There is also a place to write the date, if you so wish.


This is a compact but beautiful planner, small enough to take everywhere and anywhere.


There is only one Pinnacle Planner–and only one cover! It’s a fairly thick hardcover in sapphire blue with champagne gold foil accents. The planner name is the biggest focal point of the front cover, in an evenly-kerned lightweight text. Beneath it, you have January – December 2019, the dates that the planner spans. Above, you have the Mel Sharell Paper & Co. logo, a sort of art deco, geometric “M”. The back cover has the company’s textual logo centered near the bottom. Both covers have a continuous lined pattern design zig-zagging along the top portion of the book.

pinnacle 2019-27

The Pinnacle Planner lays flat with Smyth-sewn binding. It’s a casebound/bookbound planner, so no coil. It totals 180 pages.

This planner measures the traditional A5 size of 5.83″ × 8.27″, and is about 5/8″ thick. This makes it fairly lightweight. It includes a navy ribbon page marker, and a folder pocket affixed to the inside back cover.


This planner makes use of three different fonts. An all-caps serif font for headers and monthly cover pages, a semi-bold all-caps sans serif font for subheadings, and a light sans serif for the remaining text. Three fonts can be a lot in one planner, but Mel has used them well in her design. The planner maintains a clear brand aesthetic throughout its pages.

The planner embraces white space, although I do think some of the margins could be improved. I like all of the geometric elements that keep this planner stylized but minimal, and the gentle presence of occasional color.

The daily columns in the weekly spread are narrow, but the lines appear to be wide-ruled. I showed it to my husband and we disagreed on who this would better benefit–I think this planner would work for people with big handwriting because the lines are wide, and he thinks it would be better to people with smaller handwriting because the columns are narrow. #impasse


Let’s get to the pen test!


The Pinnacle Planner uses what Mel describes as “Premium paper”. It’s a smooth paper without being overly shiny/glossy. There was a little bit of bleed with the Sharpie Permanent Marker (which almost always bleeds), the Stabilo point 88 0,4 pen, the Pilot Varsity, and my Uniball Vision (which is fairly inky). The paper held up super well with my Pilot and Sharpie highlighters! The paper is tightly textured (instead of porous), so felt tip pens wrote smoothly and didn’t feather. I really liked fine tip felt pens (Micron) and gel pens (Pentel EnerGel) on this paper as well. The ballpoint pens didn’t “brail,” to use a word from Cindy Guentert-Baldo (@llamaletters).

Would this planner work for you? Let’s discuss!

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I would recommend this planner to someone who wants a compact planner that is always on-hand, or in your bag/purse. If you need a super portable planner where you can take notes in a pinch, this one will serve that function. This makes it a good option for your work planner if most of your tasks and appointments are digital, but you want a paper companion. I honestly think that this planner would work best in tandem with a digital calendar, because so much of its focus is on improvement and leadership coaching.

If you use a planner to track or write down just barebones information–your schedule, a few to-dos, some light notes–then this planner will work for that without giving you so much to fill in that you feel guilty when you don’t use it all. If you aren’t planning your days down the half-hour, for example, then this planner can help you tackle a lighter load without overwhelming you. It would be a good option for someone who is in a period of transition but doesn’t want to feel idle. The leadership coaching, monthly themes, and weekly prompts will give you something consistent to work on/think about without demanding too much of you.

Are you someone who needs light-touch guidance, but don’t want it to be overly structured or woven into each day of planning? (Like water trackers, gym trackers, etc.) This planner walks that fine line rather well. You likely won’t feel like you are wasting any space if you don’t fill in every line.

I would recommend this planner to someone who is starting a new career and is in need of a little guidance but doesn’t know how a paper planner will fit into their new role just yet. This planner is a good place to start. It is a great tool for keeping track of all the things you are learning and wanting to remember/study. 😉

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I would not recommend this planner for someone who needs a huge space for To-Dos. The weekly planning pages are more suited to appointments/schedules or “I want to do these two things in the evening” kind of tasks.

If you use your monthly spreads extensively, then I would not recommend this planner for you because the one-page monthly spread makes it hard to get overly detailed. The A5 size–while portable!–minimizes that space even further. If you need a lot of space to write stuff out in your weekly spreads, then this also might not be the best fit for you.


The aesthetic design of the planner is lovely. Wonderful use of typography and white space–if you want a planner that looks professional and beautiful, this one checks those boxes. I love the monthly cover pages–I think that they are beautifully designed and very visually pleasing. I like that there is a theme for each month, and that the weekly prompts correlate to that theme. I also really love that Mel’s mission behind this planner to provide a tool and space for marking your growth and encouraging leadership principles. 🙂


My biggest nope with this planner is that the monthly spread only covers one page. I need a two-page monthly spread, or I can’t fit anything functional in such small boxes. I think that the weekly spreads have some wasted space in the header section–I would recommend ixnay-ing the mini monthly calendars and providing more space in the daily columns. 🙂 I’ve been carrying this planner around a bit to test it out, and it gets scratches rather easily–most planners, of course, will. Lastly, I think this planner is a liiiiittle pricey–I would put it more in the $35 realm than the $52 it’s retailed at.

There you have it! My review of the 2019 Pinnacle Planner––first of its name! 😉 Questions? Comments? Let me know! I love hearing from you all.

Until next time! (Hopefully sooner rather than later!)


2 thoughts on “2019 Pinnacle Planner

  1. Hi Ara, just to say I really enjoy your blog and I come here and read your reviews to relax when I’m preoccupied. It’s excellent distraction from writing my thesis. I’m getting quite planner-obsessed (the U.K. lags behind sadly in the planner department which is occasionally frustrating… ) Based partly on your reviews, I’m currently using a combination of the 2018/19 Get to Work book (love the grid paper as I can make little checklists and tables) and the She Plans quarterly planners for portable daily planning (laid out rather differently this year, but I like it). Hope you’re well, and I’m glad to see the reviews appearing again!


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