The Day Designer 2018 Flagship Planner

Day Designer (affiliate link) began in 2010, the brainchild of business strategist Whitney English. She was feeling overwhelmed by a busy, chaotic life and none of the planners on the market at the time were doing it for her. She thought about how helpful it would be to see and use a To Do list alongside a Schedule, so she created it. Day Designer is sometimes referred to as “the original daily planner,” and it’s been going strong long enough to live up to that claim.

Whitney English wanted a tool to help women find balance. For some people, a highly structured tool like this can be the difference between organization and chaos. Whitney English is clear, however, in saying that this planner is a tool–it needs to be used to work:

This planner isn’t magic, and it can’t live your life for you. But it can, through a simple, guided framework, help you figure out a focus for intentional living. It can be a trusted tool for setting goals, creating a plan and taking action each and every day.

I used a Flagship Day Designer to help me get through my last year of graduate school, but unfortunately, it got lost in the mail when I moved across the country. It was a sad, sad day. I really wanted to review this highly structured and lauded planner, so I reached out to the Day Designer team. They kindly sent me one of their 2018 Flagship Day Deisnger planners to review for you all. 🙂

The Day Designer planner comes in two sizes, Flagship (9″ wide x 9.75″ tall) and Mini (6.625” wide x 8.3” tall). The Flagship planner runs $59, and the Mini is $49. Day Designer also has a line of planner and paper products in collaboration with BlueSky, which can be found at Target.

Function

Day Designer is a highly functional daily planner. It includes beginning goal setting pages to guide you as you delve into clean monthly spreads and meticulously structured days.

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The Day Designer begins with a blank piece of paper (this can be ripped out–it’s there to protect the rest of your pages) and then a nameplate page. A unique addition to this nameplate page is the “My Word for the Year” box, where you can write in a word that helps guide you throughout the year.

Then you get a letter of welcome from Whitney English and a “How to Use Day Designer & Purpose Pages” section. This provides a breakdown of how to use the goal setting system that Day Designer provides in its first few pages. It also goes over what you’ll find on your daily page spread and how to use it as it was intended, with the stated option of just doing whatever you like with the space.

There are six goal setting pages, which Day Designer terms the Purpose Pages. You get a “My Reality Check” worksheet to help you gain awareness of ways that you spend time and money in key areas of your life; a “My Core” page (my fave) where you articulate your values, passions, and strengths; a general section for “My Goals”; how to turn those goals into intentions; and two pages for visualizing your ideal month and week. These can take a bit of time to work through but are nice places to return to throughout the year and check in with.

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Then you get your 2018 at a glance page, which provides more space for notes than most other year-at-a-glance pages I’ve seen. This is a great place to note big trips, track school schedules, or quickly look at for important dates that you need to remember (birthdays, etc).

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The month-on-two-pages is a simple but roomy spread. There is plenty of blank space at the top of the pages to write in anything you wish–create a habit tracker, extra notes, super important travel dates, etc. Or decorate it to add a pop of color.

This planner has a Monday start on the monthly spread, which allows your weekends to be paired together. I personally love a Monday start, but it is not what you will usually find in monthly spreads so keep that in mind.

Important dates are denoted with a small yet bold gray flag and written in a semi-bold sans-serif at the bottom of the day’s box. There is a notes bar on the lefthand side of the month, providing lined space to write in. The monthly spread is fairly simple–no bells & whistles here, just plenty of space to keep track of your months.

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The daily page spread has not changed much over time–once Whitney English found her ideal layout, she continued to consistently offer it in the Day Designer. This means that you usually won’t be surprised by huge changes from year-to-year in the Day Designer. If it works for you, rest assured that this tried and true format won’t be going anywhere.

The daily page begins with the day and date, as well as a quote. I actually really like the quotes. There are tons of them because it is a daily planner, so they serve as a jumping off point for inspiring or motivating you every day. Then you get the Top Three section, which forces you to set priorities every day. What do you absolutely need to get done? What cannot be moved or ignored? You could approach this by writing down all of your to-dos and then picking out the tasks that really need to get done today. Or this space could be used for writing in things that are happening rather than things that you need to do. Whichever way works best for you, the structure is there but the format is open.

Then you have the four D’s: Due, Dinner, Dollars, and Don’t Forget. You can, of course, use these boxes however you like, but they are designed as specialized spaces to keep track of money, menu, and reminders. “Due” could be a bill–or a homework assignment. “Dollars” could be used for keeping track of spending, or how much income you brought in that day (great for keeping track of tips–shoutout to my college barista job). Or you can cover up the heading and use the boxes however you like.

Then you have your Today section, which is your schedule. This goes from 5am to 9pm in hourly increments. At first, I was perturbed by not having half-hour increments, but I just wrote the exact time for things in parentheses and bracketed for time blocking, and that worked just fine.

Adjacent to the Today column is the To-Do column, which has 17 lined spaces for writing in your to-dos for the day. There is a checkbox on each line, so you can have the satisfaction of checking off tasks as you complete them. The lines are just over 3 inches long, which actually gives you quite a bit of space to write tasks in, whether your handwriting is big or teensy.

The bottom of the page includes a long box for Notes and a compact box for Daily Gratitude. This is an important section for Whitney English–she often talks about developing a practice of gratitude and how it changed her life for the better. Every day, jotting down something you are grateful for can help you see silver linings in the darkest of rain clouds.

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Weekends share a page. You still get the days and dates, as well as a quote for the weekend, but you don’t get the long task list. You get a top three To-Do section for each day, and then it goes into a 5am–9pm schedule. Of course, if you cared more about what you needed to get done than what your schedule was, you could just use the schedule space as a running task list.

The bottom of the weekend spread is a Next Week section, with small boxes for each day of the following week. This is a great place to write in preliminary plans, reminders of important upcoming events or due dates, or just get a basic idea of the week ahead at a glance.

There are also occasional notes pages throughout the planner. These are organized in three columns so that they can serve as running lists. This planner does not have a notes section, however, so keep that in mind if you are someone who needs lots of notes space.

Aesthetics/Design

We are going to start with The Day Designer Unboxing Experience, which is special. I let my husband unbox my Day Designer because it truly feels like unwrapping a present, and I wanted him to experience that special #plannerbabe feeling. He was way impressed.

The Day Designer comes in a seafoam green box–so right away you know it’s an important package! The inside of the box has white and gold foil stripes with the Day Designer logo, and your planner comes bubble-wrapped in a gorgeous white box with a pull-out drawer. You can keep the box as a keepsake storage box for loose paper goodies, a place to keep your Day Designer once you’ve finished using it for the year, or store stickers and pens in it like I did last year. Day Designer also encourages you to post on Instagram–as an incentive, they refund one person’s planner cost every month. Just tag @thedaydesigner and use the #daydesigner hashtag in your post, and you could win back the cost of your planner. 🙂

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The Day Designer team releases new cover designs every midyear launch and keeps them for the following calendar launch as well. This means that the cover designs for the 2017-2018 planners are the same choices as for the 2018 planners. I went with the “White Marble” cover design because I thought it looked classy AF.

The covers are gorgeous and have a gloss finish and (depending on the cover you choose) gold foiling. I believe–although I could be incorrect so don’t quote me–that Whitney English designs/paints all the cover options. Being able to choose a bright and fun planner cover if you want that pop of color is important because the inside pages are monochrome.

The front cover has a gold foil brand nameplate with the name of the company (“Day Designer”–which is also what the planner is), the dates covered by the planner (January 2018-December 2018), and the tagline The Strategic Planner and Daily Agenda for living a well-designed life. The back cover also has a gold foil plate, near the bottom. It says Life, Designed and tastefully includes the disclaimer, copyright, and website. These additions are well-designed with a clear eye for integration into the overall cover pattern. They work with the look of the planner rather than taking away from it.

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Each planner has an inside liner on the front and back covers. The colors vary to match whichever cover design you chose. White Marble comes with a pale almost seafoam green, which corresponds beautifully with the slightly greenish-gray marbling. There is also a folder affixed to the inside cover. It’s a bit tight, but cut high enough to hold a few cards or pieces of paper without fear that they might get loose and escape your planner.

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The Day Designer uses 70 gsm paper (would equate to about 47# paper in US measurements). It’s a little thicker than your average printing paper so you can’t go about using heavy pens and expecting no bleed through. The Day Designer is a daily planner, so each day gets its very own page (excluding weekends, which are shared). If the paperweight was super high, you might get an impossibly thick planner. The Day Designer is already a big planner in its flagship size, so the choice to have a thinner paper to avoid adding more bulk to this already 2.1 lb planner makes sense.

The tabs are a slightly shimmery gold with white text and flow in a single line down the length of the planner. The pages they are affixed to feel like a light cardstock–certainly thicker than the other pages. The tabs seem sturdy and last year I had no trouble using them consistently without any tearing.

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The Day Designer has 356 pages in total, and each one is numbered in the bottom corner. The planner is 1.5″ thick, which is a hefty book! The coil is a brassy gold Wire-O and it is very strong.

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As the weekend is grouped together on the monthly spread (Saturday and Sunday next to one another), there is a very slight diagonal lined shading in the weekend boxes. It denotes them as weekend days without impeding their functionality in any way.

Holidays are marked with a little flag in the top righthand corner of the daily box. This design choice makes the days stand out but gives them a little flair. The holidays are also written in at the bottom of the box in a semi-bold sans-serif text.

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The inside pages are, as I mentioned earlier, monochrome. Day Designer uses gray text, which is easier on the eyes than a super bold, dark text would be. While the logo and beginning letter from Whitney English use a serif font, after that everything is in a simple if blocky sans-serif. Headings are in a semi-bold sans-serif in all caps to cleanly but clearly denote the different sections of your planner. I do like the outlining of the months on the monthly page–last year I played with the design a little by coloring them in.

Overall, the Day Designer is a minimalist interior bracketed by artistic and beautiful patterned covers. White space is used generously and well–the daily pages are packed with information but still manage to look clean and uncluttered.

Fit

I did a pen test to try out the paper. (I can’t write in a straight line, it seems, sorry about my wonky column of text.) It actually held up pretty well to most of the pens–obviously the Sharpie Permanent Market bled through, and the super inky pens I used hovered dangerously close to bleed-through. Most felt tip pens worked just fine, even the Papermate Flair. The Stabilo Boss highlighter left some ghosting. Otherwise, the paper, while not as thick as many other planners on the market, held up well to most of my pens.

So, is the Day Designer the daily planner for you? Let’s explore!

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Are you someone who wants a lot of function and use out of your planner? Day Designer will hold up and provide you with a structured canvas for all your plans, tasks, and whatever else you’re keeping track of (finances, gratitude, meals, etc). Are you overwhelmed with what’s on your plate and need help breaking it down? Day Designer can help. Are you new to planning but need a lot of structure to help you figure out your life? Day Designer has your back.

Do you just want a neutral planner without a lot of color or brightness or bells and whistles? (Do you want the antithesis of an Erin Condren Colorful planner?) Day Designer is exactly that. It’s minimalist in design and looks professional. You can bring a Day Designer into a business meeting and look fly with it. Its professional and clean aesthetic blends well into an office environment or a desk at home. It fits in a student’s backpack or a gorgeous work bag. The Day Designer says “I took it up a notch–and it looks fabulous.”

The Day Designer would be a good fit for anyone who wants more structure in how they plan their days. If you want a planner that gives you plenty of space to plan for each day as it comes, then look no further. If you want a planner that is going to make you feel like you are more in control of things than any of us ever are, the Day Designer will help. If you want a planner that is your home base planner, your “When in doubt, check…” planner, your master schedule, and/or your life in one place planner, then Day Designer could be that for you.

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If your planning process includes a practice of decoration as art therapy or exploration, then I would not recommend this planner for you. There is room to play, but ultimately the structure does not lend itself overly well to sticker planning or watercolor. If you need flexibility in your planner and get frustrated when there are boxes or sections that you don’t fill out (rather than not caring if they’re filled out or not), then I would not recommend this planner for you because it might stress you out a little. If you need to keep track of your schedule and it regularly does not fall along the 5am–9pm timeframe (you work the night shift, for example), then I would suggest finding a planner with a more open format.

I used the 2017 Day Designer as a graduate student, and it really fit my crazy life of meetings, classes, tasks, assignments, and my need for catharsis. I had tried the mini (I gifted a Day Designer Mini to a colleague and good friend and she loves it and takes it with her everywhere–the portability is just what she wants) but it didn’t work out for me. I needed more space. It turns out that the size difference between the Flagship and Mini was all I needed. I used the Due box to write down assignments, tests, papers, etc and the Don’t Forget box for deadlines (especially helpful for keeping track of my thesis). The Top Three box helped me create priorities from my multitude of endless tasks. The Day Designer helped me create a feeling of control in my chaotic grad school life, and for that, I will always love it.

Loves

I love how structured the Day Designer is. Once I allowed myself to leave sections blank if they didn’t apply for that day (like “Due” or “Dinner”), I really loved knowing that I had all the space I needed to dump my day into. I love the choice of cover designs, even though my planner often sits open. I love the gorgeous gold tabs and the touch of class they bring.

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I also love the feeling of having my entire year, day-by-day, in one portable place. The Day Designer is more of a desk planner for me, with occasional excursions out of the house, but I always liked knowing that everything important was written within its pages.

When I got my 2017 Day Designer, I was looking for something that could help me manage an overwhelming schedule of assignments, thesis-writing, fellowship duties, student organization running, classes, and meetings. I wanted a tool that could hold it all, and the Day Designer was, without a doubt, the perfect fit. I wanted something purely functional–a serious planner for a serious student. The Day Designer was that planner for me.

Nopes

My Day Designer had a small error with the coil. The back cover wasn’t aligning properly with the rest of the planner. Upon further examination I realized that the wire-o binding was imperfectly assembled, meaning that the pages near the back suffered some ripping. I reached out to the Day Designer team and was reassured that:

“As with all purchased Day Designers, our customer service team at info@daydesigner.com is always here to help and has a response time of 24 hours or less. If issues cannot be remedied, we always offer replacement planers free of charge. It is also very important to point out that Day Designers are made to open and close from the front rather than the back cover which generally remedies any issues that may arise regarding trouble closing the planner.”

So even if there is something the matter with your Day Designer when you receive it, the Day Designer Customer Service Team is on it and has your back. All of my correspondence with them has been positive and easy. 🙂


There you go, my review of the 2018 Flagship Day Designer planner! I hope this was helpful to you if you were looking at getting a Day Designer for the 2018 year. 🙂 If there are any questions you have, please leave a comment!

Here are some other resources that might be helpful:

Until next time!

xo
Ara

Day Designer for Blue Sky (Daily)

The Day Designer is often heralded as the flagship daily planner. In 2010, Whitney English wasn’t seeing the planner she wanted to use on the market, so she created her own. The Day Designer page on Blue Sky’s website has a message from Whitney:

I created Day Designer in response to my own desire for a planner that was both functional and beautiful. I envisioned a planner that would be simple to use yet robust enough to handle the modern woman’s busy, chaotic, challenging – yet ultimately rewarding – life. An efficient planning system was truly the key to helping me, and busy women all over the world, find focus, create balance and live a more inspiring life. – Whitney English

Based on some interwebs digging, I believe that Day Designer partnered with Blue Sky in 2015 to launch a new and more affordable line of planners in Targets nationwide. The launch was met with excitement, especially from people who loved the layout of Day Designer but not its price tag.

The Blue Sky line is far more affordable than the flagship and mini Day Designers. I picked this one up for $19.99 at my local Target although the 2018 calendar year sells on the Blue Sky website for $29.99. Either way, it’s cheaper than the hefty $59 price tag on hardcover flagship planners on DayDesigner.com. This price difference makes the Day Designer system accessible to more people, but you definitely get the quality that you pay for. The Blue Sky collaboration still offers a comprehensive daily planner with a functional layout, but the flagship Day Designers are clearly superior in quality. (They are also comparable in price to other leading planner brands like Emily Ley’s $58 Simplified Planner and Erin Condren’s $55+ planners.) Still, the Blue Sky Day Designers are an affordable, functional option.

Function

The Day Designer is a functional workhorse, and the product created from the Blue Sky collaboration is no different. The planner’s beginning pages include a generous four years at a glance, a list of important dates/holidays, a welcome letter from Whitney English, and a few pages for goal setting. Whitney English is one organized lady, and her planners guide you into a more intentional planning way of life. She is all about goals and consistent reflection and shows you how to set meaningful goals and incorporate them into a daily planning habit.

There are four pages for goal setting. The first page (1) asks you to Start with the Big Picture, essentially creating a bucket list or vision board. Page 2 helps you Set Your Goals by asking you to divide them into five sections: Personal; Family, Friends, & Relationship; Heart & Spirit; Financial; and Work, Career, or Study. There is a bar on the side of the page where you can write in when you would like to accomplish each goal by. Page 3 asks you to Design Your Days, providing examples of Morning and Evening Routines that help you stay on track and keep the big picture in mind. Page 4 helps you Stay On Course and reminds you to check in regularly with your goals, providing a check list of stuff like Important Birthdays, Trips, Class Schedules, Events, etc. so that you remember to go through your planner and write everything in ahead of time.

 

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The daily layout is pretty packed and includes sections for Today’s Schedule, Today’s Top Three, To Do, Notes, Tonight, and Gratitude. Each day also includes an inspirational quote! The schedule is in half-hour increments–which I love–and goes from 6am to 8pm. The Tonight box is perfect for writing in nighttime events or reminders. It’s a great inclusion in this planner because the schedule ends at 8pm, but often your day does not. The Top Three section is fantastic for prioritizing. The only other daily planner I’ve seen that specifically asks you to delineate between priority tasks and other tasks is the new Inkwell Press Daily Planner. This small space is so important because it forces you to be intentional about what you really need to accomplish that day.

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Weekends are combined on one page and include sections for Take A Time Out! Fun Things To Do, Schedule, Weekly Gratitude, Next Week, and Don’t Forget. Like the daily pages, there is also a quote on each weekend page. The schedule is in hourly increments and runs from 6am to 8pm. The Next Week section is another favorite feature of mine. I like being able to look ahead at a glance, so this box can serve to remind you of important events, due dates, etc. that are coming up. The Don’t Forget box could easily be used as a place to record important weekend tasks that are more complex than one check-box, like “this week I need to clean my medical equipment,” or “this weekend my parents are visiting so I need to clean the guest room and make the house presentable so that they are comfortable/don’t judge me,” etc. It’s the kind of thing that you can use to future plan, where you know that in two months your parents are visiting so you leave a note/reminder for yourself ahead of time so that you don’t need to keep it in your head until the time arrives.

Aesthetics/Design

This is a simple planner. The front cover is smooth and satiny in the Day Designer’s signature black and white stripe with a frosted protective cover atop it. The logo and planner name is in gold foiling in a white box on the front of the planner, consistent with the Day Deisnger’s history of cover designs. The full title of the planner is printed: The Strategic Planner and Daily Agenda for living a well-designed life. The design is clean and adheres to a limited color palette with consistent serif fonts for larger blocks of text and bold sans-serif all-caps font for section headers throughout the planner.

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Because there are multiple versions of The Day Designer planner, I’ll briefly go into how the daily page layout in the Blue Sky product is different from Day Designer’s flagship. (I will also be writing a review of the Day Designer Mini, so keep your eyes peeled for that!) The Blue Sky Day Designer actually has more space for schedule and notes, but a little less structure. The flagship has a schedule in hourly increments adjacent to your daily To Do list, but also includes four small boxes: Due, Don’t Forget, Dinner, and Dollars. The bottom of the flagship planner includes boxes for Notes and Gratitude. The Blue Sky version has a much larger Notes section but is missing the four D’s.

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Tabs are the same cornflower blue as the design accents in the planner and run in a single line along the book. I find that the tabs are plenty durable and work well to keep your months organized.

Fit

Do you care deeply about the kind of pen you use in your planner? If so, this might not be the planner for you. If you are fine with using that random ballpoint pen at the bottom of your purse, then the paper quality won’t bother you. If you care more about the structure of the planner than the quality of the materials, then this planner is for you.

 

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I tried a bunch of different pens–I know the Pilot G2, Papermate Flair, and Frixion are favorites in the planner community so I wanted to show you how they looked on the page. I checked off the pens that leave the least amount of bleed through/ghosting.

I tried a bunch of different pens to show you the difference in how they look on the page–I’m a bit of a pen snob and my favorite pens to use are Micron, Pilot Precise V5, and Pentel 0.3mm or 0.4mm Art Hybrid pens. I also took a picture of the back of the planner page to show you that, while you can use most of the pens I tested without bleeding, you can easily see the indentations from the pens and the markings from the back page.

 

 

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Most highlighters are going to bleed through, although you might be safe with the Pilot Spotliter <Flourescent> in yellow, as long as you don’t press down too hard. The Sharpie Permanent Marker is obviously not going to work, and the Pilot Precise V5, Papermate Flair, and Staedtler pens all leave a pretty heavy impression on the page.

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This planner is great for college students with a LOT going on each day (the Notes section in the daily layout is great for writing in assignments and tests!), who are on a budget, want to be able to toss the planner around without worrying that they are damaging a $60 tool, and who mainly use a collection of dubiously acquired ballpoint pens that say stuff like “Dr. Drew’s Dentisry” or are emblazoned with the names of random hotels and coffee shops. (I proudly use my Wandering Goat Coffee Company ballpoint pen on a weekly basis. Picked that up from their pen jar. No regrets.)

This planner is also good for professionals who want an at-work planner. I’m actually gifting this planner to a friend of mine who needs an agenda to leave at work that keeps track of daily tasks, a busy meeting schedule, and also has room for notes–I’ll do a #plannermatch post later on. 😉 If your days are packed, then this planner might work for you.

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This planner would also be a good fit for a work at home/stay at home parent who has a lot to keep track of every day. Worried about your toddler destroying your expensive planner? Spend $20-30 on this planner and free yourself from the shackles of perfectionism and pristine organization! Crayon marks all over your pages? Whatevs, just flip to the next day and congratulate your child on their budding art career. That is the beauty of a daily planner. Your week isn’t marred if one page gets funky. Just flip to the next page and you have a bright, clean new spread. Although I would be a little worried about the coil holding up against a toddler.

The Gratitude box is wonderful for reminding yourself to be grateful for all the big & little things in life and helps to calm your soul if you consistently use it. Whitney English is a big believer in gratitude as a positive force that can literally change your life, so if you are overworked, overwhelmed, and overstressed then taking time to use a daily space like the Gratitude box might bring you back from the brink.

 

Loves

I actually really like the daily page layout of this planner. I dig the pop of color, too! I’m a sucker for cornflower blue so I especially like this version of the planner. Other Blue Sky Day Designers come with different color schemes. I like the space you get for notes on each daily spread, and also really like the half-hour increments. I could easily see using this planner when I was in college–the half-hour increments make it much easier to write in class schedules.

Ultimately, if you are paying about $20, then I think it’s a great deal for the functionality of the planner that you get.

Nopes

The coil. The coil, the coil, the coil. If you’ve been following my blog at all you know that I am just not a fan of the Wire-O binding system. That being said, there are sturdy Wire-O coils, like the ones that Inkwell Press and Emily Ley use. This coil is not like that. I have barely touched this planner and the coil has bent out of shape. I had to pressure it back into shape before taking photos. The paper quality is pretty low, but honestly, it’s fine if you use ballpoint or very fine gel pens (I’m talking 0.38) and realize that a $20 planner is not going to come with the finest paper. One other small qualm is that the design of the daily pages seems to leave such a large margin of space at the top of each page. It drives me a little crazy. Of course, you always could just write there anyway.

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There you have it! My review of the Day Designer for Blue Sky planner. 🙂 I know that there are tons of options (monthly, weekly, daily; soft cover, hard cover) for Day Designers these days, and I do plan to write a review of my 2018 Day Desinger Mini (it’s gorge!). Do you have a Day Designer? Are there questions you have that I didn’t answer? Leave a comment!

xo
Ara