MiGOALS 2018 Goal Digger Planner

Can I just say that Australia is killing it with the planners? Emma Kate Co., Amelia Lane Paper, and now MiGOALS! I’ve been so into Australian planner companies lately and I continue to see incredible planning products from them. If there is an Australian planner you’ve been ogling, email me or leave a comment and let me know!

MiGOALS is a small company based in Melbourne, Australia with a goal to create products that they would want to use themselves. They define themselves as a leading empowerment stationery brand and use their newly launched Goal Digger Planner to coach you into productive goal-setting and achieving. If there is one word you got from all that, it should be goal. MiGOALS is allllll about the goal setting and getting.

We’re on a mission to help you unlock the potential within yourself to DREAM, PLAN and take ACTION on the life you want. More than a stationery brand, we’re a global community of dream chasers and action takers helping you GET SHIT DONE.

I reached out to MiGOALS with an interest in reviewing their new Goal Digger Planner, and they kindly sent me one to show all of you! ❤ While MiGOALS has been producing their Diaries since 2010, which do have a strong planning component to them, the company decided to launch a (successful, reaching 427% of its funding goal) Kickstarter to create a 2018 planner that focused specifically on goals and acted as a coach to lead people through the process. I have the Goal Digger Planner in grey, which retails for $44.95 AUD ($35.24 USD) plus shipping. If you are shipping to the USA, it runs about $21 AUD ($16.46 USD), which makes the planner cost a total of $51.70 USD. Personally, I think that $36 for this planner is a steal, but would waver a little at the shipping costs. Of course, it’s international, so what can you do?

Function

The Goal Digger Planner is structured and highly functional. This planner is designed with helping you achieve your goals in mind, so its function is definitely geared towards that.

When you open this planner, you get a title page with the MiGOALS name and logo, followed by a page introducing your 2018 planner. This is a short message from the founder of MiGOALS, Adam Jelic. After this page, you have a place to write your name and sign & date your commitment to turning your dreams into reality, juxtaposed with an inspirational statement.

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There is a lot of content in the Goal Digger Planner, but MiGOALS keeps it well-organized. The first portion of your planner focuses on digging deep and really conceptualizing what your dreams are. Your introductory page to this section is a checklist that feels lovely to complete.

You begin with your Purpose section, which guides you with thoughtful questions into creating a solid foundation for articulating your goals. It starts with a little self love and thinking about what fulfills you.

Next is your Toolkit for Success. This page contains groupings of three asking you to write down everything from your accountability partners to the places that make you happy. Then you have a page for Wins & Lessons Learnt in 2017, which I really love. This section asks you to think about and articulate the amazing things you’ve accomplished in the past year–there really is so much that we do in a year, and so easy to forget the milestones we hit when they aren’t immediately rewarded, acknowledged, or super shiny.

The next page is to Rate Your Life. One a 1–10 scale, you are asked to rate your life in different areas. MiGOALS gives you a start of the year scale and an end of the year scale so you can return to this page and look at how your ratings have changed. (Or not, evaluation is still important!)

Following is a two page spread prompting you to think about “Mi Future”–in 3 months, 12 months, 5 years, etc. You are asked to fill out “I will be, I will have, I will see…” The last page in this prep section is Mi Vision for the next 1–5 years. You get a two-page spread to create your vision board, in whichever iteration you most prefer.

The next section is Goals. One of my favorite things about the Goal Digger Planner is that it uses these black pages to separate sections in an easily visual way. So you know you’ve stumbled on a new section of the planner when you reach one of these pages.

As I’ve mentioned, the Goal Digger Planner is really designed to coach you through the goal-setting process. MiGOALS doesn’t just create structure and then leave you to figure it out. It has carefully mocked-up pages showing you the intent behind how to use the planner. The Goal Setting 101 and 5 Reasons Why We Should Set Goals pages are introductions to goal setting and the benefits you get from writing your goals down. You then turn to a How to Set Goals That Will Help You Grow as a Person page, which breaks down the goal setting process that MiGOALS helps you implement. This essentially breaks down to:

  • Dream Big.
  • Decide what is is you want and why you want it.
  • Write that sh*t down.
  • Make a f*cking plan.
  • Work on that plan, every single day…

Then you get some coaching pages on how to set short-term and long-term goals, with thorough examples. MiGOALS definitely holds your hand through this process, which can be a great thing if you are new to goal setting or feel like you need help to organize and prioritize your goals.

The Short Term Goals section gives you 7 one-page spreads for your short-term goal setting. You can really break these goals down, from Things to Do to Key Milestones, writing in a Reward to indicating your Type of goal, & etc.

You get three long-term goal spreads because these are huge undertakings, not something simpler like making a photo album or cleaning out your emails. The Long Term Goals section has 5-page spreads for each goal. You get brainstorming space, a place to write the basics of your goal, record milestones, break those milestones down, and review your goal.

Now that you’ve done all the prep work, you reach the 2018 Planner section itself! This begins with some coaching pages on how to plan in the monthly goals, monthly spreads, and weekly spreads. Again, examples are provided along with a thorough mock-up. (My favorite part is the “Netflix & Chill” plan on January 13th.) Then you reach the 2018 and 2019 years at a glance. These spreads actually give you some space to write in important dates along the bottom of the page, which is nice. Next, you get a page overview of Public Holidays. Now, keep in mind that this is an Australian planner. Nevertheless, you get many of the US holidays, as well as UK and AUS ones.

Before you get into your planner pages, you have a page for My Yearly Bucket List, which specifically asks you to list 10 things you would like to do or see in 2018. Next you turn to the monthly goals page, which you’ll find at the beginning of each month. The idea behind this page is to choose three goals to work on for the month, writing down focus areas and any needed notes. There is also a section on the monthly goals spread dedicated to your morning ritual, which is a helpful directive.

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Then you get to the glorious monthly spread. Maximum use of space, Monday start, plenty of room to fill up each day’s box with information, appointments, etc. The weekends are shaded in with light grey and are a bit wider than the boxes for the week. The monthly spreads are also devoid of any holidays or notation–they are 100% for whatever you need. The weekday boxes measure 1.5″ x just a hair over 1.5″. Weekend boxes are 2 1/4″ x a hair over 1.5″.

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Next is the weekly spread. This unique two-page spread spans the days of the week as well as helping you keep track of habits, gratitude, tasks, goals, and notes. The first page starts with Monday and has an equally-sized horizontal space for the day of the week. Half the horizontal box is lined and the other half is blank. These aren’t overly roomy, but they don’t have to be with all the sections and space provided on the second page of the spread.

You get a quote for each week, a top 3 for gratitude, weekly goals, and things to do. While there is a top three for things to do, there is also plenty of space for listing more tasks. The habit tracker has space for 7 habits you can track each day of the week! The notes section is blank, and below that is the top 3 wins for the week. There is also a little space to rank your week.

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At the end of each month, you get a review page, which prompts you to think about what you accomplished, how you feel about those accomplishments, etc. You are asked to think about challenges you will face moving forward and how you plan to overcome them. Valuable thinking strategies. Then you get a dot grid notes page, just ’cause.

Tucked away at the end of the planner you have a Budget section. These are fairly simple budget spreads for each month, but provide plenty of space for keeping track of expenses each month. After the budget page, you get several notes pages, which alter between being blank or lined. The planner has a total of 304 pages.

Aesthetics/Design

This is a unisex, neutral, and minimalist planner. It’s designed to be functional and provides you with all the information you need to use this planner to its functional capacity.

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Your Goal Digger Planner comes in a nifty black keepsake box, which has the goal digger affirmation printed on it. The planner itself is a B5 size, which is 230mm x 160mm (9 1/16″ x 6 19/64″). This is a portable size while still being large enough to easily write in.

The planner box has a nifty pull-tab mechanism for lifting your planner out so you don’t claw at it like a madwoman/man. The planner comes in two colors–grey (pictured) and black. The planner has a soft cover that feels a bit pleathery to the touch. The design is very minimalist, with the name of the planner and the year subtly debossed along the edge of the cover. The back cover is the same grey (after all this is a book bound planner) with the MiGOALs logo debossed near the bottom of the cover.

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The planner is about 3/4″ thick and has two black ribbons to use as placeholders. These ribbons feel like a thick, soft shoelace material which makes them heavy but malleable. The edges of the paper are tinted grey, so you get a very monochrome experience.

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The font throughout the planner is a combination of a clean serif for headings and a simple sans serif choice in different weights throughout the rest of the planner. The sans serif mostly appears in all caps, while the serif font casually sits at the top of your pages, with normal capitalization.

The pages are a creamy off-white color, which works well with this particular planner cover because it’s more of a French Grey. The pages are pretty packed, but there is always a small margin of white space that helps to visually balance the content-rich pages. It is also worth mentioning that this planner is delightfully floppy. The planner has a lay-flat design, which works flawlessly.

Overall, the Goal Digger Planner is designed to be structured and functional. There are no colors used throughout the planner, just the black text on cream paper. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you couldn’t bring in some color if you liked. While the design of the planner is minimalist, the textually packed pages make it look a little heavier than you might imagine a “minimalist planner” to be.

Fit

Pen test, duh!

The paper used in the Goal Digger Planner is 100 gsm. While most of the pens ghost, they do not bleed through the pages (except for–you guessed it!–the Sharpie Permanent Marker). The paper feels smooth without being glossy, and every pen I tried wrote smoothly on it. Inky pens didn’t smear, felt tip pens didn’t sponge. As long as you can deal with some ghosting, you should be good to go with your favorite pens!

I would recommend this planner for someone who has large, longterm personal projects or goals and wants to keep track of them in a thoughtful, functional way. Or, if you are using this primarily for work and keep track of your appointments in Outlook or something, then this planner would make a great paper companion to your digital planning.

If you are a student, I think this would be a great planner for you. Especially if you are in graduate school or you are in your last year or two of college. The goal setting system will help you stay on top of large projects like your thesis, as well as preparing for entering the workforce. The weekly spread is enough to track assignments and tests, as long as you don’t want to write down your appointments each and every day.

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This planner would also be a good fit for an entrepreneur starting their own business. If you need help strengthening, setting, and sticking to your ambitious goals, then this planner could be an excellent tool for you.

If you are looking for a planner that will hold your schedule and list of meetings/appointments, then I would look elsewhere. This planner is designed to coach you into realizing your goals and is heavily focused on that aspect of planning. If you are intimidated by goal-setting, you might want to start with a planner that has a gentler goal setting system. This planner wants to help you be serious about your goals.

Loves

I love the consistent emphasis on recognizing your achievements and wins throughout this planner. It really is such a valuable exercise to step back and think about what you accomplished in the past year, month, or week. I also love that the Goal Digger Planner doesn’t just give you templates for goal setting and then just “k thx bye” you. MiGOALS leads you through the goal setting and planning system with written and visual directions and advice. I also love the use of space in the monthly spread and the habit tracker in the weekly spread.

Nopes

I wish the pages were bright white instead of cream, but that’s just personal preference. The planner lays flat, but the binding is slanted a bit, which drives me a little bonkers because I like things to be just so–I know, I know, tough sh*t, Ara. I would love to see a pocket included in the planner somewhere, and think that an elastic closure band would really help keep everything together!


There you have it! My review of the MiGOALS 2018 Goal Digger Planner. I hope you enjoyed it! Do you have a goal-setting planner, or even a Goal Digger Planner from MiGoals? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you!! 🙂

Until next time!

xo
Ara

2018 Happy Balance Planner

Sherbert Shop is a small paper goods business founded by Hillary and Jordan, a couple with a shared passion for finding a happy balance between all of life’s demands. Based in Atlanta, GA, Sherbert Shop sells quality paper goods and is best known for their Happy Balance Planners. These planners are produced in small batches in collaboration with a local printer in Atlanta and are 6-month planners with launch dates in November-December and again in May-June.

Sherbert Shop has a clear mission behind their business:

We believe in dreaming big, constantly working to be our best versions, filling our days with only things we are truly passionate about, being persistent, being focused and being driven. We believe in seeing the positive in everyone and everything, choosing happiness, loving big, and helping others. Our creations are a reflection of these values, what we hold dear and what we truly find helpful for making the absolute most of every day!

Hillary is a Ph.D. student with a lot to juggle and had trouble finding a planner that worked for her. One night, her husband Jordan suggested that she make her own planner. Thus began the Happy Balance Planner in 2015. When I wrote to Sherbert Shop with an interest in reviewing their planner, Hillary told me that,

It’s been incredibly rewarding in more ways than we could have imagined but what keeps us motivated is hearing and seeing how our planners are truly helping people define their days according to what fills them with joy. When we get the emails about how someone has reached a big goal by simply writing the steps out and carving out time for it all, it’s an amazing feeling to know that your planner was one tool that helped them accomplish that!
Happy Balance Planners are 6-month daily planners, although there is also an undated weekly version of the planner. They cost $42 plus shipping–although right now Sherbert Shop is offering free shipping! Their quantities are quite limited and they usually order based on pre-orders and projections.

Function

The Happy Balance Planner is a clean, functional planner with an emphasis on providing lots of space for you to write down everything you need.

The first page of the planner is a nameplate page with space to write out your name, phone number, and email. The title of the planner is printed in a clean sans serif font. Next you have the copyright information, and then you get into some introductory pages.

“Lovingly crafted for you” is printed as a dedication to all Sherbert Shop’s planner users. Then you get a blank page that you can use however you like–keep it blank, make it a vision board, etc. The next three pages include a letter from Hillary telling you the story behind the small business, the organization of the planner, and some suggestions for how to use it.

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The next spread is a 2018 year at a glance and a 2018 Special Events page. The year at a glance is simple and clean and exactly that–a year at a glance. The 2018 Special Events page has lined sections beneath each month for writing out special dates/events for the year.

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Then you get a page for writing out your yearly goals. The goal setting pages are very simple and provide plenty of room to brainstorm and write out your goals in a detailed manner. There is a column for the date, and then a larger one for the goal. Below these is a large box for notes. The simplicity of this layout provides a lot of flexibility–you can use the notes box for brainstorming, multiple lines for a goal, etc.

The tabbed pages are a thin cardstock with sturdy coated tabs in alternating grey and white. The tabbed page itself is completely blank on both sides, which could serve as a plain, minimalist aesthetic choice or be used to keep notes, doodles, etc. for the month.

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Each month has a goals page. The design of this page mirrors the Yearly Goals page, it is just designated for monthly goals.

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The two-page monthly spread has plenty of space for all of your appointments, calendar notations, etc. There is an untitled lined column on the lefthand side of the layout, which can be used for whatever you like. Notes, important tasks for the month, reflection, etc. The monthly spread has a Monday start. You get two quotes, each beneath the month’s name and year prominently displayed in the right-hand and left-hand corners of the pages. The daily boxes feel roomy and unencumbered by the italic numbers indicating the days.

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You get another page for Weekly Goals. Again, it’s the same design as the Yearly and Monthly Goals spread. This consistent placement of the Goals page reminds you to be consistent in the pursuit of your goals and provides plenty of space to write out a multitude of important goals throughout the 6 months of the planner.

Then you get to your daily pages. This is a daily planner, so each day gets a page. Yes, even weekends have separate pages for Saturdays and Sundays, which is difficult to find in most daily planners. The daily layout is simple and comprehensive. You get a To Do list with circles for checking off completed tasks, a box of blank space for Me Time, a box for Notes, and a schedule that goes from 7 AM to 7 PM. The schedule includes half-hour time slots and a space for “early” and “late,” in case you have something scheduled outside the 7–7 timeframe. You also get an inspirational quote for each day!

There is one lined notes page at the end of each month. The very last page of the planner has important contacts on one side and a reminder to pick up your next planner on the other.

Aesthetics/Design

The design of the Happy Balance Planner is very simple and streamlined. The daily pages are comprehensive, the goal setting pages easy to use. This planner is designed to provide you with all the space you need.

There are four different cover designs for the January–June 2018 planner: Navy Brick, Blue Marble, Gold Marble, and Peacock. I have the Gold Marble design, which was created in collaboration with Kaitlin Noverr, the artist behind elysian market.

The cover is gorgeous–it looks foiled but is not. You can see some of the texture of the surface Noverr painted on in the print. The cover has a white box centered near the top with the title of the planner in all-caps sans serif font. The timeframe for the planner is below in an italic serif font (Jnauary 2018 through June 2018) with the by-line (by sherbert Shop) beneath. It’s a clean look that pairs well with the gold marble design.

The back of the planer is mostly the gold marble art, but includes the Sherbert Shop logo centered near the bottom as well as the logo for elysian market to credit the artist. The coil is a silver spiral 1″ in diameter but holds all the pages without feeling too small. The planner is 7.5” x 9” (8” x 9”, including binding) and about 3/4″ thick.

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The laminate over the covers extends beyond the cover design slightly less than 1/4″. This means that the planner tabs are visible through the clear plastic, which extends to protect them.

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The tabs are sturdy and I can grab them without worrying that I’ll tear the page they’re attached to. They alternate between gray and white and include the first three letters of each month.

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The Happy Balance Planner consistently uses a clean sans serif font throughout the planner. They use a balance of bold and light weighted text to denote headings and maintain the light, clean look of the planner. The sections of each daily page are in a lowercase, italic text. Even the times on the schedule are minimal: 1p instead of 1 PM, for example.

Overall this is a simple planner that serves as a canvas for your goals, months, and days. It is minimally designed and contains plenty of room for all the things you need to keep track of. The Happy Balance Planner embraces white space and a sleek, neutral aesthetic.

Fit

Pen test!

Sherbert Shop uses 80lb. paper. It is smooth in texture and feels light despite being 80#. The only pen that really even ghosted was the Sharpie Permanent Marker, which bled through a bit. Otherwise, this is an excellent paper that held up extremely well to my pens. I most enjoyed using felt-tip fens–Staedtler triplus fineliners for a slightly thicker line and Le Pens for a finer hand. Something about this paper made even my inkiest pens write smoother and finer than usual. 0.7 gel rollerball pens also glided smoothly across this paper with pleasing results.

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I would recommend this planner to anyone who wants a daily planner but doesn’t want to carry around a gigantic book. The 6-month format really makes for a slim planner that is light and easy to transport. If you want a 6-month planner because you’re trying to get back on track with a calendar year or midyear planner, this would be a great planner to carry you over.

I would recommend this planner if you just want a clean, simple, functional planner. The minimalist design of the planner actually allows you to color code effectively if that’s how you would like to organize your days. If you want to be the one who decorates your planner, then the Happy Balance Planner has all the blank space you need to do so.

If you want to start setting goals in your planner then the Happy Balance Planner has a gentle goal-setting system that won’t overwhelm you.

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I would recommend this planner to anyone who wants a schedule space for each day but needs half-hour increments. The Happy Planner has you covered. If you want full planning days for Saturdays and Sundays then this planner is an excellent choice for you.

If you want a high quality paper that can handle a variety of pens, this planner might work for you. If you are trying to implement more “me time” and self-care into your days, then this planner reminds you (gently) to do that with its “me time” box.

This planner looks sleek enough for the office and is versatile enough for any situation. There aren’t many notes pages, so it’s not going to be a place where you can easily journal or take meeting notes.

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This planner is easy to plan in. It’s great for a first-time planner who needs a day per page, or a super busy person with so much to do that they don’t have time to decorate or bedazzle their planner. I sat down on a coffee shop to do some planning in the Happy Balance Planner and found it easy to get into a flow with writing down my tasks, jotting down reminders for next week, looking at my schedule for the week ahead, and making suggestions to myself for ways to get some quality me-time.

I would not recommend this planner to anyone who needs to carry around a whole year at a time. The 6-month format might not work for you. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this planner to a student because I think there’s something about having the entire academic year in one place that is helpful for organization, but I went to a university that operated on the quarter system. If you are looking for a planner that can handle one semester at a time, then the Happy Balance Planner might be a helpful way to organize that.

If you want a planner that is super bright and comes pre-decorated with colorful typography and designs, then look elsewhere. The Happy Balance Planner definitely has space for you to spruce it up if you like, but it is a clean and simple planner.

Loves

I love that Sherbert Shop collaborates with artists for some of their cover designs! I also love that Sherbert Shop collaborates with other local small businesses to create their product. I love the simple layout of the daily pages and that you get full pages for Saturday and Sunday. I love the gentle goal-setting process and that you get reminders to set and reach yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. I love the clean look of this planner and how it has plenty of space to fit your life into. There is no fault with the quality of the planner you receive.

Nopes

I would like to see a full year-version of this planner–even if it’s a bit thick. I also don’t quite know how I feel about the cover having clear laminate so far beyond the actual design. I like that it protects the planner, but I’m not the biggest fan of how it looks. I also wish there were more notes pages in the planner. Lastly, writing “todo” instead of “to do” drives me a little crazy, but that’s just personal preferences.


There you have it! My review of the 2018 January–June Happy Balance Planner from Sherbert Shop. Do you have a Happy Balance Planner? A 6-month planner? Any questions for me? I’d love to hear from you–leave a comment! 🙂

Until next time!

xo
Ara

2018 STIL Design Love Planner

STIL is a small independent design studio based out of Vancouver, BC, where founder Marissa designs minimalist products to help you live an organized life. She proffers a delightful collection of accessories, as well as two lines of minimalist but detailed planners. Marissa started STIL in 2014, bringing her experience as a photographer and graphic designer to develop a line of products that help women live intentionally. She created her first planner in 2013 as a hobby because she didn’t see something that she liked already on the market. People started telling her that they wanted one, so she made a few as Christmas gifts. Then she opened an Etsy shop and tried selling her planners there. Quitting her full-time job, Marissa had 1,000 of her planners manufactured and sold them all within the first four months.

After taking a year off to rebrand and name her company–she settled on STIL because,

There’s a Dutch design movement called De Stijl that uses a lot of primary shapes and colours, and black and white, which is literally everything in my life. So I decided to use the German word for style — Stil — and used it in a way that essentially means a way of living.

and reopened in 2016 with a fresh new line of planners.

I reached out to Marissa with an interest in reviewing her lovely, minimalist planner and she kindly worked with me to select the right one for this review. While STIL offers other options including a 6-month undated daily planner, we thought that bringing you a review of the 2018 weekly planner would be more timely!

You can find the 12-month weekly planner on STIL for $65, while the undated 6-month daily planner is $45. She currently has a special on her 6-month undated weekly planner$19.95, which is a steal. STIL also has several holiday bundles for sale, which allows you to bundle products for an overall discount. Plus, these goodies ship worldwide!

I will be reviewing the 2018 12-month STIL Design Love Planner in Dusty Rose.

Function

This planner is highly functional and uses a minimalist design to help you simplify and organize your living space, both mental and physical.

When you unbox your planner you get a lovely card of welcome along with a bonus Thank You card that you can send to someone else! The planner starts off immediately with a double-sided folder, which is great for keeping important papers front and center when you open your planner. Adjacent to this is the nameplate page where you can list your name, cell, address, and an optional reward for the return of your planner if you happen to lose it.

Then you move into the thorough introduction pages. You get a page with basic information about your planner and STIL, as well as the copyright. Next to that is a letter of welcome from Marissa as well as a small section about her and her planning process. Then you are provided with a full page of planning tips on How To Use Your Planner. Here Marissa outlines how she uses this planner and what it does for her. You can treat this like an outline of how to approach planning, take the advice and incorporate it into your own process, or glance over it and continue on your merry way. It’s up to you, but this is a very thoughtful and helpful guide.

Then you get a full lined page for recording A Few Genius Ideas throughout the year! And then you get into the calendar pages.

The monthly tabbed sections are, of course, chronological from January–December 2018. Each tabbed page is on a thick, silky cardstock which makes it easy to find and pull open. You get a month at a glance on the cover adjacent to a small but inspirational saying/quote. For example, January’s is “New feels, new chances. Same dreams, fresh starts” which is a lovely way to start the year.

Then you move into three pages of Monthly Goals and Planning before you get to your monthly spread. You have a page for highlighting three goals for the month, along with their action steps, your strategy for completing them, and the date they were achieved.

Next, you have a page for Bills + Expenses where you can keep track of your expenditures and compare spent and budgeted allotments. Then you have a Monthly Planner page for listing goals and priorities, monthly tasks, and important dates & deadlines. These are great pages for helping you set up your month in an organized, thorough fashion that doesn’t feel overwhelming.

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Then you get your monthly spread! The boxes are a good size for the planner and designed in an interesting juxtaposed pattern of clean lines and dotted lines. I like how Marissa has done this because I think it makes writing down events or trips that last multiple days a little easier. The day of the month is located in the top righthand corner of each box. It’s also worth noting that the STIL planner has a Monday start (where are all my Monday start people at!), which means your weekends get to sit together. The margins are big enough to provide some white space but not big enough to do much writing in–because you get your Monthly Planning pages, however, your need for a super packed monthly spread might not be as great. 😉

The monthly title is located twice on this two-page monthly spread, both times in the upper righthand corner of the page. There is a little bit of room in the margin at the top of the pages, but perhaps only enough to record a big event or important date that you must. not. forget. On the righthand side of the spread, you get a Notes column, which is blank. This makes it really easy to use however fits best for you–habit tracker? quotes? tasks? Etc.

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Like the Ink+Volt Planner, the STIL Design Love weekly planner has a four-page weekly spread–Marissa calls these “task-based” and “time-based” sections. I love this approach to planning because it allows you to separate your tasks from how you are actually spending your time. Sometimes I feel strange about writing a task down and then writing the task into a scheduled timeslot because it feels like I’m just writing the same thing down twice. The way Marissa has set up her weekly spread allows you to brain dump tasks first, then look at how what you need to do can be incorporated into your existing schedule.

The first two pages of your weekly spread include 12 spots to write down tasks for each weekday (6 for each weekend day) and a place to record a Memorable Moment. These are set up on dotted lines with large circles for checking things off. Each weekday gets equal space and the weekends share a section.

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The next two pages are your schedule with a Monday start. I like how this planner provides a larger box for your “Day” section and then slightly smaller spaces for “Morning” and “Night.” I’ve often struggled with M-A-E (morning-afternoon-evening) vertical planning spreads because I don’t have equitable tasks/happenings to distribute into the provided spaces. I like Marissa’s thoughtfulness in designing an open space for tracking your schedule and appointments that also takes into consideration that the bulk of your day probably happens between Morning and Night. Of course, this is not the case with everyone’s schedule, but if your schedule falls into this category then you might enjoy the extra space in your days. 🙂

Saturday and Sunday share a column and are evenly divided. You don’t get separate sections for your Morning, Day, and Night for the weekends. This is the overall layout and structure of the weekly planner until you get to the end.

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Once you have finished out December 2018 (you also get the entire week from 12/31–1/6) there is a two-page spread for a 12 Month Review. Here you can rank your overall Goal Achievement Level (from 1–10), record Things I Did Well and what I’m Grateful For, Milestones Achieved, Lessons Learned & Improvements to Make, and Action Steps to Take for 2019. This is a great space to reflect on your year and give yourself a little pat on the back (you deserve it!) before moving ahead to the next calendar year.

Next, you get a page for The Future Goals. Marissa gives you four blank, spacious boxes to write in or brainstorm goals for 6 months into the future, one year, two years, and five years. This is a great space for returning your focus to the big picture–want to have children but not for a year or two? Great, write it down so you remember to start thinking about it/planning it when that time comes closer. Want to start looking for a new job in 6 months? Write it down and come back to it to help you plan milestones in 2019.

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At the very end of the planner, you get 20 pages (10 double-sided) for notes. These are in dot grid format, which is my personal favorite. 😉 These pages are open and spacious–you can use them however you like!

Aesthetics/Design

The STIL Design Love Planner is gorgeous. Marissa had her customers help select the two cover designs for the 12 month Weekly Planners, and they did good. I selected the Dusty Rose cover, which I fell in love with at first glance for its whimsical yet minimalist aesthetic and delicate gold foiling.

The Dusty Rose cover has a sort of painted marbling design that fades into a very light blush pink. Two lines of delicate gold foiling intersect geometrically halfway down the cover and provide an asymmetrical touch to this otherwise balanced aesthetic. On the cover you get the STIL textual logo, which is gorgeously designed and almost blends in with the gray and white marbling, despite being embossed in gold foil.

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The cover is a soft-touch lamination on 2mm hard board, which feels sturdy but light. This is a surprisingly compact planner for what you get at 7″ W x 8.25″ H x 1.25″ D (page size is 6″ x 8″). It feels portable and light. This planner would be easy to carry around without feeling like you are lugging a brick in your purse.

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Tabbed pages are printed on a silky cardstock that feels smooth and sturdy. These are progressive notched tabs (not going to lie–I’m not 100% sure what the industry term for this is), which means that December is a full page and each tab above (in reverse from November to January) is cut to provide an easily delineated tabbed section.

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You get a consistent font throughout the STIL Design Love Planner. While the textual logo for STIL is in a serif font and the message from Marissa is in what looks like a slab serif font choice, the rest of the planner (apart from monthly quotes in serif) is designed in a light to semi-bold sans serif. The font choice is also the same size throughout the planner, even on monthly spreads you get the same size for the title of the month as you do for each day and date.

On the schedule section of the weekly spreads, you have a very light gray designating sections as Morning, Day, and Evening. This is easy to write over but appears on every spread as a guide.

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The coil is unique in that it doesn’t run the entire length of the bound book. You get a good inch on either end where there is no coil. This can be helpful when writing in the book because there is less opportunity for your hand to smush up against the coil while you are trying to write. Otherwise, it’s a sturdy white wire-o coil binding.

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Another unique design touch includes these dotted corners for each page of the calendar sections. While these corners are not perforated, they provide a guide for cutting the corners to more easily find your page, if that’s something you would like to do.

Overall, this is a beautiful, thoughtfully designed planner with a minimalist aesthetic that fits both home & work seamlessly. The black and white simplicity of the inside pages simultaneously provides a canvas for organizational methods like color coding as well as the option to keep it simple with black pen. I would feel confident taking this planner into a work meeting, pulling it out on a planning date at my local coffee shop, or snuggling up with it on the couch for a cozy Sunday planning sesh.

Fit

Pen test time!

On the STIL website the paper is described as “70lb bright white paper stock, soft to the touch for ease of writing and minimal pen bleed.” While the only bleed was from the (always, alwaysss) Sharpie Permanent Marker and the inkiest of my rollerball pens (uniball vision), there was ghosting from almost every other pen I used. The pens with the lightest touch were the Pilot EasyTouch F, Pilot Acroball F, and the Pilot Frixion in 05. My Random Ballpoint pen also faired quite well!

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If you want a catch-all planner with a weekly spread that you can assess at a glance, then the STIL Design Love Planner might be the one for you! If you prefer weekly planning but often feel like you have too much to write down for a two-page spread and begrudgingly use a daily planner, then I would check out the STIL planner with its 4-page weekly spread. If you like to see your tasks separated from your schedule, then this planner would be a great fit for you.

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If you like to set monthly goals–not just daily or weekly goals–then this would be a great planner for you. It prompts you to set and reflect on monthly goals without too much pressure. This would also be a great planner for you if you want to start keeping track of monthly bills and expenses but need some structure that won’t overwhelm you.

This would also be a great planner for those of you who like a visual approach to planning (the time-based spread) but also like to write down tasks (task-based spread) because you get both!

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I would recommend this planner to anyone who wants to set goals and keep track of them without goal setting being the primary function of your planner. If you have a big project (work-related or maybe remodeling parts of your home, or even a thesis for grad school) that spans a large amount of time and you want to set realistic goals that you can revisit and be reminded of throughout the year, then this would be a great planner for you.

If you are interested in simplicity and trying to simplify your chaotic life, then this planner will help you organize your chaos into manageable chunks and sections. If you are new to planning and need a functional planner with a helpful guide on how to use it, then this planner will fit that bill.

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I would recommend this planner to career countesses who try to keep work and home demands under control. You can use the time-based and task-based pages in your weekly spread to keep things separate and organized. If you are a domestic diva, then this planner can help you keep a sharp eye on your tasks and how your days are mapped out. If you have a flexible, ever-changing schedule and struggle to keep routines because of external circumstances (project-based work, changing class schedule, etc.) then this planner will help keep you organized and focused on the task(s) at hand.

I would also recommend this planner to anyone who wants a simple, beautiful, and modern aesthetic for their planner. If you are so not into the bright and colorful vibes of Erin Condren, for example, and want a sophisticated and minimalist look for your annual book, then STIL has you covered. (This is fine! Everyone has different planning needs. :))

I would not recommend this planner if you deeply deeply care about which pens you use and need 80lb. paper or you just can’t even. This planner might also not work for you if you extensively use your monthly spread and don’t want to change up how you visually map out your monthly goals and tasks. If you are super rough with your planners and toss them around like yesterday’s forgotten lunch, then I shudder to think what you might do to this beautiful book. This is a portable planner, yes, but I wouldn’t test its sturdiness by tossing it around willy nilly. If you are a big user of stickers and other decoration then this planner is meticulously and purposefully designed and might not be the right canvas for you.

Loves

I love how engaged Marissa is with her customers! STIL planners have a loyal following and are beloved for their design-forward approach to planning and organization. I love love love the Dusty Rose cover–it’s seriously so beautiful. I love the four-page weekly spread–the comprehensive separation of tasks and schedule is calling to me. I also love how Marissa reflexively requests feedback from her customers–having her audience help select the 2018 planner covers is a prime example of excellent evaluation and engagement practices! I love the clean simplicity and design of this planner–it feels like a very intentionally designed product. I also really like the helpful “How To Use This Planner” section at the beginning where you can get some tips & advice from Marissa!

Nopes

I do wish the coil was a little tighter–y’all know I’m not the biggest fan of wire-o binding. Otherwise I wish that the time-based weekly spread didn’t consistently have Morning, Day, and Night written on the pages. Maybe if it was on the first week’s spread as a guide and then blank throughout the rest of the planner, it would fit in with Marissa’s minimalist design aesthetic a little better. But it’s also limiting–while I personally love having a greater amount of space for “Day” versus Morning and Night, not everyone is on a 9–5pm type of schedule. The design might be more inclusive if that space was left blank. Lastly, I think the paper could be a little bit better. I love the bright white and understand that having thinner paper helps to make the planner lighter in weight, but it’s hard to find a pen that doesn’t ghost or emboss.


There you have it, my review of the 2018 12m STIL Design Love Planner! I hope you enjoyed my take on this gorgeous book. 🙂 If you have additional questions, or examples of how you’ve used this planner, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Some helpful hashtags for further research into this planner:

  • #stilclassics
  • #turntosimplicity
  • #stilplanner

Until next time!

xo
Ara

Carrie Elle 2018 Intentional Life Day Planner

I am so excited to feature this Dallas, TX-based small business from a fellow San Diego native! Carrie (of Carrie Elle, of course!) is a blogger and small business owner, mother of two, avid reader (and writer! She has a book coming out in June 2018!), and works with her husband of 17 years to design & create planners of all kinds. Carrie Elle (affiliate link) was born when Carrie decided she needed more help with meal planning. This lead to the creation of her first product in 2015, a Meal Planner, which is still going strong. 🙂 Carrie’s mantra for her planners is:

If I control my day, my day doesn’t become a chaotic mess that controls me. 

Carrie’s blog is wonderful and has all sorts of free printables that are helpful for anyone interested in organization, meal planning, having a more put together home, etc. Her blog has everything from Gratitude Journal Prompts to a plethora of crock pot recipes (yes please!). I highly recommend perusing it and enjoying Carrie’s generous willingness to share her journey with her readers. Carrie Elle also has a Facebook group that you can join, which comes with insider discounts, news, and a growing community of planner babes.

I reached out to Carrie with an interest in reviewing her Intentional Life Day Planner, because I thought the layout was unique and love how much Carrie engages with her customers. Carrie kindly sent me a Mini Planner of my choice, which I am delighted to share with you all!

Carrie Elle has a myriad of planner options, but the Intentional Life Day Planner comes in Full Size (8×10″) and Mini (7×9″). The Full Size runs $55, while the Mini is slightly less expensive at $45. This is a 2018 planner running from January–December.

Function

Carrie Elle has bright, functional planners that are perfect for the color-loving but busy planner babe! There are several cover options, from florals to the fabulous succulent print that I selected here.

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The inside cover has a nameplate, where you can write your name in Sharpie Permanent Marker to claim the planner as your own, or use a sticker if you so prefer. Then you get a lovely opening page which is the same no matter which cover option you pick. It says “She believed she should, so she did” and is surrounded by gorgeous, playful flower drawings.

After the first page (which is blank on the other side), you get a lined notes page and then immediately go into your tabbed sections. The lined notes page would be a great place to write down your 2018 goals, add more information about yourself in case you lose your planner, or brainstorm the year ahead. The first tab is Important and includes a 2018 year at a glance, Important Dates to Remember, and four pages of Important Contacts.

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Then you go into your Goals tab, which has an impressive 10 pages for tracking your goals for the year. I love this spread, because it is comprehensive and allows you to keep track of multiple goals of any size or breadth. Each page holds 4 columns.

You have the Goal itself at the top of the column, followed by Action Items. This is a lined section, which I like, because you can write out the Action Items as needed instead of trying to fit each one on a checkbox line. After that you get a Notes box, which is for whatever extra notes you need to write down, or if you run into a hiccup (“Run a marathon” goal but then you twist or ankle, for example). At the bottom of the column you have a Due Date box and then a place to check off when you’ve Accomplished your goal!

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Then you get into your calendar pages. Each month is tabbed in a thick, sturdy plastic laminate. The monthly spread on two pages itself makes excellent use of the page space with large (1 1/2 x 1 5/8″) boxes that can easily hold all your monthly plans. There is a blank space at the top of the page for your monthly Priorities and Goals, so they are right there when you need to refer to them. The monthly spread also has a lined Notes column on the lefthand side of the pages. There is plenty of room to write down tasks, reminders, notes, etc. Whatever you need.

Holidays are in a light gray and centered at the bottom of each daily box. The days of other months are numbered in the same light gray. Then you have the title of the month and the year in the upper righthand corner of the spread. This monthly spread is a Sunday start.

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The weekly spread is a unique design that really helps you break a vertical layout into functional sections. Each month has a color scheme (which I will get into more in the Aesthetics/Design section of this review), and the planner is designed so that the first of the month is always located in the tabbed section for that month, even if it means carrying the last few days of the previous month with it. You can see this above in the first week of February, delineated by color.

Like the monthly spread, you get a lined Notes column on the lefthand side. This is an open, spacious column that can be where you write a meal plan, habits you are keeping track of, weekly tasks, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Then you move into your week, with a Monday start. The days are in columns and a vertical layout. There are three distinct sections within your column: a small blank box under the heading for the day, a lined section, and three solid-fill boxes of varying opacity that are easy to write in. In the Full Size planner, which is a bit larger, Carrie breaks these sections down for you with headings. The Lined section is “Things To Do” and the three solid boxes are “Schedule.” In the Mini version of the planner, she’s taken out these headings to leave more room for you to write.

You can follow Carrie’s suggestion and use these spaces as she does, or branch off on your own and change things up as needed to match your schedule. The boxes could be meals for the day, for example, if you are using this planner primarily as a place to meal plan. They could be important, immovable appointments or events. They could be Morning, Afternoon, and Night. The lined section could be tasks but could also be a journaling space or where you write your schedule out, or notes for the day. The small blank box at the top of the column could be where you write important dates, like birthdays, or your top priority for the day. Each column is a little over 1 1/2″ wide.

Carrie has included lot of space for notes in her planner. You get two dot grid notes pages at the end of each month as well as two lined pages. You get 21 lines pages followed by 20 dot grid pages in their own tabbed Notes section at the back of the planner, as well.

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At the end of the planner you get a double-sided folder in thick cardstock. The pocket feels a little low to me, but there is plenty of room to add loose papers, die-cuts, stickers, or whatever else you would like to store in this planner. Then you reach the inside back cover, which has Carrie Elle’s logo and shop information, along with “Made in Texas, y’all!”

Aesthetics/Design

Carrie Elle makes bright, colorful planners. You can select a slightly more neutral cover, but the inside pages make great use of color to organize your planner.

I chose the Succulents cover for my Intentional Life Day Planner in Mini. I loved the bright art and the embrace of succulents as colorful, playful botanicals. So often I see succulents portrayed in subdued, flat tones and I just don’t personally enjoy that design choice for them. I grew up in Southern California, which has its fair share of succulents, and often found them to be bright, happy plants.

This cover choice includes the title of the planner centered towards the top and situated in a white box. I love that the design creeps over the outer white edge of the box and even into the title itself. Two fonts are used here, a playful script reading “2018 intentional life” and a larger serif font reading “day planner.” Everything is lowercase, adding to the playful vide of Carrie Elle’s aesthetic.

The back cover simply has Carrie Elle’s round pink logo centered at the bottom of the page. Both the front and back cover are a sturdy laminate, which makes this a surprisingly light planner to carry around.

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This planner is about 5/8″ thick and has a coil that measures about 1 1/4″ in diameter. It’s a pretty hefty coil and makes the planner feel delightfully floppy.

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As mentioned above, each month has its own color scheme. This comes through in the tabs, which are designed to match their colorful theme. Each tab is a different color, and you get some similar colors in the lineup but they are all at least slightly different. Each tab has the month (or section) written out in all-caps sans serif font, white against a solid color background.

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The weekly and monthly colors change with each new month as well. As you can see here, this weekly spread if from May, which is a pale green color. This means that your weekly spread will look a little different each month, which is kind of nice if you don’t prefer a monochrome approach to your planning aesthetic!

There are two main fonts used in this planner and they are a semi-bold script and a light-weight sans serif. The two fonts go well together and Carrie uses them well by primarily sticking with the sans serif and only breaking the script out for contrast and as headers/subheaders.

Fit

Pen test!

I was actually surprised by the quality of the paper that Carrie Elle uses, as the planner feels very light and the paper at first feels a little thin. It’s a smooth paper that holds ink quite well! It does tend to give felt tip pens a thicker line, but otherwise stands up very well to mot rollerball, ballpoint, and gel pens.

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I would recommend this planner to anyone who wants structure but not so much structure that they are at a loss for what to do with the space if they don’t have something exact to put into it. This is one of my favorite things about the unique way that Carrie has structured her planner. You have the structure of her layout with absolutely no expectations for how you are supposed to use it. That means that you can mold it to fit your life.

This planner would work for you if you like to see your weeks at a glance, heavily utilize your monthly spreads, and like breaking your days into sections. Are you a goal setter? Then you would love this planner’s Goals tab with space to map out your goals and the action steps to achieve them.

If you love having space for notes then this would be a good planner for you because you get lots of extra notes pages but also get generous notes columns each week and in the monthly layout. There is space for your thoughts! So if you like ot brainstorm in your planner, this might be a great fit for you.

I would recommend this planner for students because I could see breaking the daily columns into classes, assignments, and extra-curriculars and using the small box at the top of each column for due dates or tests. I think this planner layout would work really well for students. I would also recommend this planner for anyone who loved vertical planning but needs specific sections to break their days apart. Personally, a long lined column just doesn’t work for me because I instinctively plan chronologically. I need some way to separate sections of my vertical layouts to make them functional for me.

I would not recommend this planner for anyone who tends to prefer a minimalist aesthetic or wants a consistent color scheme throughout the year. This is a bright, colorful planner and if you would prefer something a little more subdued, then that’s totally fine too. It’s just not what Carrie Elle offers. If you need very structured days, then this planner might not work for you. Its flexibility is one of the things that makes it a versatile planning choice.

Loves

I love the Goals pages at the beginning of this planner and how much room you have for them! I also love how much space you get with Carrie Elle’s monthly spread–she really uses all the space in such a great way. I love the notes pages included with each month and the mixture of lined and dot grid pages in the notes section at the end. I also love how light and easy to carry around this planner is, despite the quality of the paper! Going into this planner knowing that it is a bright and colorful aesthetic, I really enjoyed the alternating colors on the weekly and monthly spreads. It helps you organize by both date and color, which is awesome.

Nopes

The coil is a little unbalanced on my planner, making it difficult to align the bent ends evenly. This means that when I turn a page, sometimes it gets caught in the bent edging of the coil. It’s not a huge problem, just something to be conscious of while using the planner. I also wish that the pocket at the very back was slightly higher–I can just see loose papers falling out of it. My last point, a suggestion, really, is that I wish that the tabs included the title on both the front and back of the tab.


There you have it! My review of the Carrie Elle 2018 Intentional Life Day Planner! Do you have one of these planners? Do you have any questions that I didn’t address? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

If you are interested in this planner, you can check out Carrie Elle’s entire line here (affiliate link).

Until next time!

xo
Ara

2018 Refresh Weekly Planner

Jenna Murillo is a designer and the owner of J. Lynn Designery, a small paper goods business based out of Kansas City, Kansas. She launched her first Refresh Weekly planner in 2015 for the 2016 year and assembled planners in her apartment before shipping them out to loving homes. Jenna’s commitment to her planner product has only grown as she works each year to make the Refresh Weekly Planner a little better. This year is no exception to her dedication to quality.

I have admired Jenna’s planners for a couple of years now–I originally discovered them on Etsy. This year, I reached out to Jenna with an interest in reviewing the 2018 Refresh Weekly Planner, and she kindly sent one to me.

Both her 2016 and 2017 Refresh Weekly planners have had two cover designs to choose from and the 2018 planner is no exception! Jenna sent me her planner in the Geo pattern, which is a lovely soft gray and white combo. This planner (and its botanical print counterpart) can be purchased from J. Lynn Designery’s website or Etsy for $39.95 and reasonable shipping costs (currently $5!)

Function

This planner is the perfect size. It’s compact but large enough to comfortably write in, thick enough to feel substantial but not too thick–y’all, this is the Goldilocks of planners. It measures a smidge over 7″ wide x 8.5″ tall and is 1″ thick.

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Edges are protected by gold metal corners, and the cover is thick enough to serve as a solid writing support/surface but not heavy enough to weigh down the planner.

The planner’s beginning pages include a delightfully designed nameplate page with adjacent folder followed by a comprehensive list of 2018 holidays. This list includes holidays both foreign and domestic, from Mother’s Day to Guy Fawkes Night. Then you get a two page 2018 year-at-a-glance spread. The months are color-coded to represent the four quarters of the year, an organizational tool that the Refresh Weekly Planner uses throughout to help you stay on top of your goals.

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The Refresh Weekly Planner has one of my favorite goal setting sections. It’s simple and easy to use but still forces you to be reflexive when goal-setting. Jenna has developed easy prompts to follow that help you determine your goals for the year. First, you are asked What are your big dreams and goals for 2018? Thinking about the big picture is the first step in helping you identify actionable steps for achieving your goals and dreams. Then you are asked to (1) identify upcoming life events. I love this part and feel like it’s unique to the Refresh planner. It lets you write down what is actually going to be happening (Moving? New job? First child? Graduation? Important trip? Etc.) OR what you would like to happen (Lifestyle shift to healthier habits? Finding an organization to volunteer with? Working from home? Etc.) in your life, then has you (2) align your goals with that.

For example, I took my upcoming life event of “healthier eating habits with Husband” and turned it into the goal “Meal plan every week with Husband to build healthier eating habits.” Remember, a goal needs actionable steps to help you achieve it. The goal “get a job” for example is huge and overwhelming, but the goal of “get a job by checking job listings every day and making sure I apply for at least one job per day” is much more achievable because it gives you a clear action to accomplish. Then, (3) go do is the final step. Take action on your goals!

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But the Refresh planner doesn’t just leave you there. Each Quarter has a goal planning two-page spread to remind you of the goals you set for yourself. You take your three goals and break each one down into three action steps. Jenna designed these pages with plenty of room to write out each goal and each action step so that you can get detailed about what you need to do to achieve your aims. Then you create a positive mindset around your goals and come up with a positive mantra to repeat to yourself in moments of duress.

The Refresh planner includes December 2017, which is awesome for those of you who just *cannot wait* to move into your 2018 planner. For those of you who procure planners for the calendar year, this is a great way to cover the December & January holidays in one place without feeling like you have to sever Christmas or Hanukkah and New Years into two different planners.

After December 2017, there is a two page, full color spread introducing you to 2018. Then you get a notes page and the tabbed divider for January, which is slightly thicker than the regular pages. The tabs themselves are coated in plastic and feel pretty durable. Each month begins with a notes page headlined Important Things This Month for you to write down things that might not necessarily fit into a specific day or week.

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Then you get to the monthly spread. The monthly spreads are two pages with a Sunday start. Holidays are noted in a bold sans serif font at the bottom of their daily box. The boxes are sizeable enough to write in what you need at 1 1/4″ tall and a little over 1″ wide. There is a notes bar on the righthand side of the spread and two tiny months-at-a-glance calendars for the preceding and following months.

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Jenna did a lot of research before perfecting her weekly spread, and you can definitely see it in how she chose to design the layout. Each day has equal space–many of us #plannerbabes aren’t the biggest fans of teensy weekend spreads because life doesn’t always slow down on the weekend! The Refresh Weekly Planner has your back–your Saturdays and Sundays have just as much room to write as the rest of the week.

Each week includes a header depicting the dates. The weekly spread has a Monday start and gives you a notes section at the top/beginning of the week with a prompt, “This week, I’m focusing on.” You can write down your focus and/or use this space for notes. I like having a notes section at the top of my weekly spread because it is more visible and tends to be easier to write on–I always have trouble trying to write in notes boxes at the bottom of a page where my hand feels like it’s dropping off the book. There is also an “I’m grateful for” prompt at the top of the second page in the two-page weekly spread that gives you a compact space to practice gratitude.

The days include the date & day, an AM and PM lined section where you can write in any appointments, and a bulleted task section. The To-Dos and the AM/PM section are given the same amount of space and each take up half of the daily box. The bottom of the pages includes all the days of the month with the days of your current spread highlighted in a subtly different color. These could be used for habit tracking, circling important events/dates/trips coming up so that you don’t forget to prepare for them, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

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At the end of the planner, Jenna has included almost 70 pages (34 double-sided) of lined notes. It’s like having a notebook in the back of your planner. For those of you who love having notes pages, the Refresh planner delivers.

Aesthetics/Design

Planner unboxing can be an aesthetic experience. J. Lynn Designery does not disappoint–their packaging is beautiful and the planner was a pleasure to unbox.

The box itself is simple, but is filled with celebratory paper packaging. The planner itself is wrapped in white tissue paper with a gold foiled confetti pattern and includes an adorable round sticker. The whole ensemble is tied with a black ribbon. Jenna was kind enough to include a notepad for me (she also makes notepads and other paper goods)–it says “Actually, I can” and is just gorgeous.

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The planner cover is a smooth, satiny experience. It’s just lovely to touch and doesn’t leave behind any pesky fingerprints either! I have the Geo pattern, which is a minimalist geometric design with a light gray background and white geometric lines. The name of the planner is displayed on the front cover, centered and is a beautiful sans serif, light-weight font with plenty of white space.

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The back cover is a plain light gray matte with the J. Lynn Designery logo and the inspirational phrase “Good things are in store.”

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I am absolutely in love with the contrast between the soft gray and white cover and the colorful interior tabs. I just love it. The Refresh planner is organized in four quarters, each one represented by a color scheme. January–March is blue, April–June is pink, July–September is green, and October–December is purple. This makes it super easy to find your place in your planner without confusion.

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Just look at that gorgeous interplay of interior colors with the gray cover!

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This color scheme is defined by the tabbed pages of each month and in the monthly and weekly spreads. This year, Jenna has given the pages a gradient touch. Fonts are a tasteful combination of serif headings for the monthly pages and tabs and a bold sans-serif headings in the weekly spreads with serif italicized prompts. The days and dates are a clean, light sans-serif font and the bullets for the task section are little diamonds. I personally enjoy seeing something a little different from check boxes, so I like the diamond approach.

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The interior, colorful theme of the planner makes the Refresh Weekly Planner a wonderful minimalist book with a pop of personality. Jenna has masterfully combined a clean aesthetic with just enough color to make the planner feel lively and fun.

Fit

Full disclosure: I will be using this as one of my planners for 2018. (I use multiple planners because that’s how my brain works.) I love the portability, quality, and design of this planner and think it will be perfect for on-the-go planning. Because this planner includes December 2017, I am going to be using this as my primary planner when I visit family over Christmas & New Years.

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This planner has 80lb text weight paper with a matte feel to it. Jenna regularly uses PaperMate Flair pens, Le Pens, ballpoint pens, and the OptiFlow pen from Staples in her own planner. I, of course, did a pen test to show you how the paper stands up!

I was super impressed with how little bleed or ghosting occurred. Even the Sharpie Permanent Marker is barely noticeable. With the page flat against other pages or lifted up, the paper held up against most of the pens and highlighters in my arsenal. This paper is the real deal and should hold up against whatever pens you want to use in it. I wouldn’t recommend consistently using a Sharpie Permanent Marker, but there is definitely less damage from it than in most other planners.

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I do think that the goal setting section of this planner is accessible and simple. It would be a great fit for anyone who wants to start goal planning but is a little afraid of more intense planners. There are quarterly goal planning pages at the end of each quarter prompting you to return to your goals and make sure you are checking in with your action steps throughout the year. They serve as a gentle reminder, which would be great for those of you who sometimes have trouble remembering to return to your goals periodically to check in on your progress and process.

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The Refresh Weekly Planner would be a good fit if you want a portable weekly planner but don’t want to sacrifice quality. If you want a work planner to keep track of big-ticket to-dos and meetings but need to bring it home every night, then this planner might work for you. If you need a work planner to leave at work but also need a lot of space for meeting notes, this planner would be an excellent choice.

If you are a student and want a clean space to write down homework assignments, tests, and due dates then this planner would work for you, but I would recommend it only to students who are just using it in that capacity. If you are a student trying to keep track of assignments, due dates, deadlines, and a heavy extracurricular schedule then you will probably need more room than this planner provides.

If you are trying to develop a practice of tracking something like a newborn’s health, a medical treatment plan, or even something as simple as developing a practice of gratitude, then I would recommend this planner. The AM/PM sections make it easy to write in whatever notes you need, and the tasks section is a great place to write reminders for insulin shots, feeding times, or whatever it is you are tracking.

I think this planner would also work super well for anyone new to planning who is trying to create a more organized life. The layout is simple and clean, the goal setting sections are accessible and easy to fill out, and there are lots of notes pages for experimenting. If you are a young professional trying to improve your organizational skillset, this planner would be a good fit for you. If you are a recent college graduate trying to manage the transition from academia to the professional world, this planner is a gentle guide for you.

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This planner would also be a good fit for those of you who love having notes pages. There is no dearth of notes pages in the Refresh Weekly Planner. There are plenty of lined pages for whatever your heart desires. Running to-do-lists? Bullet-journal budgeting pages? Notes? Diary pages? Brainstorming pages? You can use these pages however you want and rejoice that you probably won’t run out of room.

Loves

I love this planner’s juxtaposition of minimalist, clean exterior aesthetic to a bright, intentional interior. I love the color coding by quarter, which I haven’t really seen in any other planner. I love the simple and effective goal setting system that Jenna designed. I am impressed with the overall quality of this planner and the materials used in its creation. The Refresh Weekly Planner feels fashionable and sleek with a pop of personality. I really like the inclusion of December 2017, which makes it easy to transition into a new planner at the end of the year. Jenna’s thoughtfulness is obvious and makes this planner feel like an intentional, helpful, and beautiful tool.

Nopes

I wish there was a little more space for writing in appointments and tasks in the weekly layout. But I understand that this would be difficult to do without making the planner bigger. Otherwise, as many of you know wire-o isn’t my favorite method of binding, but the coil that J. Lynn Designery uses is pretty strong.


There you have it! My review of the 2018 Refresh Weekly Planner from J. Lynn Designery. I loved reviewing this planner and hope that you enjoyed my rather in-depth review! If there are any questions you have or if you have a Refresh Weekly Planner and agree/disagree with my analysis, please leave a comment! I would love to hear from you. 🙂

xo
Ara