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

2018 Ink+Volt Planner

Ink+Volt was created by Kate Matsudaira and started as the Spark Notebook, which launched with the assistance of a 2014 Kickstarter.  The Kickstarter aimed to raise $14,000 and ended up with $138,572. After receiving feedback from their community, they launched another Kickstarter in 2015 to make a planner version of the Spark Notebook. This raised $460,602. There was definitely a response to Matsudaira’s idea!

Matsudaira brings her years of experience as a technology executive and software engineer to crafting a planner that is as functional as it is elegant. While her original target audience was (presumably) business professionals, she has since broadened her approach. The Ink+Volt planner is a beautiful, sophisticated book that can help you stick to your goals and always have a space to write down that next great idea–no matter where you are.

The Ink+Volt Planner has gone through a few name changes while Matsudaira and her team found their groove. From the Spark Planner to the undated Volt Planner and now the Ink+Volt Planner, this book has been carefully evaluated at each turn to bring you something better each year. As they say on their website:

From the moment Kate printed the first book her goal was to make this into something that evolved through feedback and would be refined over time. With each version of the planner Kate makes updates and improvements to layout, materials, everything. And that same philosophy of continuous iterative improvement is core to Ink+Volt.

The Ink+Volt Planner is $40 for the signature edition (in black, beige, or navy) and $45 for one of the limited edition options (several colors to choose from) plus shipping ($6.75 ground shipping). Shipping is free for orders over $100. I am reviewing the 2018 Signature edition of the ink+volt planner in black, which the lovely folks over at Ink+Volt were kind enough to send me.

Function

The Ink+Volt Planner was designed as a workhorse paper machine that helps you set goals, achieve them, and track your path throughout the 2018 year.

 

The first page of this planner is the nameplate page. It is simple and embraces white space. Then you turn to the 2018 and 2019 years at a glance, one on each page.

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As the Ink+Volt Planner is a product that helps you focus on your goals, the beginning pages include prompts to help you Bring Your Year Into Focus. There is definitely power in writing things down. Thoughtful questions like “What do you want to leave behind this year?” can help you shake off whatever is holding you back from achieving your goals. Although the box you get for writing/drawing/stickering in your vision for 2018 is not a two-page vision board spread, it still helps you document your hopes for the year ahead.

Next, you get a 2018 Theme page, which encourages you to choose a theme for 2018 and then write down yearly goals on a checklist. This could be a bucket list, a way to track a huge, overarching project like a dissertation, or just a list of goals you would like to challenge yourself to complete this year. There is also some blank space at the bottom of the spread for anything additional.

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Then you move immediately into the monthly layout, which is spread over two pages. The monthly spread has a Sunday start and the weekend days (Saturday and Sunday) are shaded in gray. There is a Focus box on the righthand side of the layout and a column for Notes in a dot grid format. Each week is numbered–if you look closely you can see the low-opacity “CW 1” in the top lefthand corner of the first Sunday box. Each week thereafter is numbered throughout the planner. There is plenty of white space at the top of the pages, as the heading (“January 2018”) takes up very little space.

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Each month has a Goals page, where you can write in This Month, I Will… items on a checklist. The bottom half of the page is a dot grid where you can write notes, brainstorm ideas, or fill in however you like.

There is also a 31-Day Challenge page, which encourages you to commit to something for 31 days. The format is open and stated simply with the prompt “For the next 31 days I want to…” This could be used as a habit tracker, a pledge of productivity, or whatever else you may need an extra kick of motivation to start doing. There is even a day-by-day log where you can keep track of whether or not you did what you pledged to do. One of the details I love about this page is that there is a place for you to sign your name and pledge your commitment to fulfilling your 31-day challenge!

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This planner includes a four-page weekly spread, separated into two sections: (1) Weekly Goals, and (2) Weekly Outlook.

The Weekly Goals pages include a journaling prompt on one page and a catch-all space for goal setting and reflection on the other. The prompt changes each week, and is one of my favorite things about the Ink+Volt planner. You get timely, thought-provoking, and mindful prompts and almost a full page of dot grid for writing out your response.

For example, the first week of January 2018 is: “A fresh start means fresh possibilities. What are some ways that you can make the next 12 months incredibly awesome?” Flip forward several months and the first week of July 2018 is: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. What small things have caused you irritation lately? How can you take a step back and see the BIG picture, letting go of the stress associated with these steps?”

Then you get the Weekly Goals page, which has plenty of lines with checkboxes for your weekly tasks and/or goals, a box to Reflect + Celebrate, and a small reminder to review your yearly goals, monthly goals, last week’s progress, and your 31-day challenge.

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The second part of the Weekly spread is the Weekly Outlook. This has a Monday start and includes a column for each day with a shared Saturday and Sunday space. There are three low-opacity sections for Morning, Noon, and Night, but they are laid out in such a way that you can completely write over them if you so choose. This speaks to the flexibility of this planner. There is structure if you want it, but you can also choose to do something different with the layout.

There is also a decent chunk of white space on the top of the pages. Personally, I think it’s a little too much white space given the size of the book, but those of you who love a good blank space for decorating, keeping extra notes, or aesthetic pleasure will like the generous white space in the Ink+Volt Planner.

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At the end of the planner, you get a page for reflection. You set goals at the beginning of 2018, and Ink+Volt wants you to reflect on those goals and dreams that you wrote down for yourself. The questions are simple but pointed and overall positive.

There is also a page for 2018 Achievements. This is wonderful because it prompts you to flip to this spread every time you achieve something that you’re proud of and record it. As you do this, the 2018 Achievements page becomes a sort of “Happy Page” that you can return to every time you feel a little down. The format is completely open, too. You can be proud of achieving something as big as that promotion at work, or as big as quitting your day job to focus on your passion. It can be seemingly small, like remembering to dust every week or keeping up with your planner for a solid three months. This page is all about you, and all about recording your process.

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The planner ends, as most do, with some notes pages. There are about ten pages in all and each one is dot grid. You can use these for whatever you like–there are no restrictions.

Aesthetics/Design

These planners measure a portable 6″ x 8.5″, which make them great for taking on the go. They are 100% made in the USA, have a lay-flat binding design, and use soy-based inks and rainforest friendly paper. The pages are a bright white and the text is crisp.

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These books are about 1″ thick, so they pack in quite a lot! You get 280 pages, and each one is discreetly numbered. The paper is smooth and just the tiniest bit glossy and acid-free.

 

The cover is a matte, smooth material that looks slightly more textured than it is. When I run my hand along it I don’t see any sign of fingerprints left behind. It makes the planner a pleasure to hold and handle. The back cover has the logo Ink+Volt stamped in at the bottom center of the book. The binding is unembellished.

The immediate page inside the planner is a textured cardstock protecting the pages within. This same textured cardstock is present at the end of the planner as well, where you will also find a pocket folder affixed to the inside back cover.

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There are two page ribbons (in differing colors) to help you keep your place in the planner. Maybe one for the month and one for the week, or one to bring you back to your weekly goals and the other someone in the notes. However you prefer to use them, they are there. This is especially handy because this planner does not have tabbed sections. If you are the type of planner who really cares about being able to flip to your month immediately, then the second ribbon will be a huge help.

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This planner does an excellent job of gorgeously and effectively using typography. Ink+Volt uses a consistent combination of serif and sans serif fonts. Large headings and bigger blocks of text use a crisp serif font that adds a flair of sophistication to this book. Subheadings and smaller headings are given an all-caps sans serif font in regular to semi-bold weight.

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Throughout most of the planner, writing space is provided via dot grid versus lined format. This choice really emphasizes the clean and minimalist aesthetic of the ink+volt planner. Saturday & Sunday are denoted with a gray fill on both the weekly and monthly spreads. This visual choice helps you immediately pick out the weekends.

This planner looks sophisticated and feels clean and elegant. While I wish there was more use of the space for weekly spreads (I think there is a little too much white space considering the size of the pages), the layout does reinforce a minimalist aesthetic. This planner is also non-gender conforming. Its sleek and minimal look makes it a perfect fit for anyone–men, women, non-gender-binary conforming individuals, etc.

The binding is tight and the overall quality of this planner is high. The cover feels sturdy and soft, the pages are smooth and bright, and the minimalist design decisions make this a quality product with lots of space for your goals, ideas, plans, and tasks.

Fit

You know how this starts–pen test!!

 

The paper used in the 2018 Ink+Volt Planner is 70lb. and smooth but porous–I do not recommend using felt-tip pens in this planner, with the exception of Micron pens. The paper absorbs the ink in a way that makes the felt tip pens look a little less crisp than they might normally appear. Super inky pens will need time to dry or they might smear. I think the best pens for this planner are fine ballpoint pens like the Pilot Easy Touch and the Pentel R.S.V.P. The Pentel Slicci is also an excellent option–the finer the point, the more you are going to get out of the space in this planner.

I will say that my photos make the paper look a little thinner than it is, especially after the pens had a moment to dry. The paper holds ink quite well and doesn’t bleed–except for the Sharpie Permanent Market, as always.

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This planner would be a great fit for someone who wants a portable book that carries their life. Do you want to look professional AF in the office and on the go? This planner will help you achieve that vibe. It is a sophisticated and well-made book that’s sure to impress.

If you are struggling with goal setting, this planner will help you pull out and articulate yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. This planner is for the goal setter and go-getter. If you want a planner that motivates you without pushing you to the point of overwhelm, then this would be a great option for you. The weekly journaling prompts are especially gentle with encouraging you to reflect and develop strong, attainable goals.

I think that the four-page weekly layout is a great way to have it all without trying to have it all on two pages. You can keep your agenda in the Weekly Overview section and your goals and tasks on the Weekly Goals pages. I think this layout is especially helpful for people who work on multiple projects or do project-based work, like consultants or public program coordinators. My husband is an Economist and his work involves shifting projects, and he’s been eyeing my Ink+Volt Planner since it arrived!

I would recommend this planner to someone who wants a sleek, minimalist book with no frills but more content than, say, Moleskine. If you have always wanted a weekly instead of a daily planner but constantly feel forced into using daily planners because a two-page weekly spread just wasn’t enough, then give the Ink+Volt Planner a go.

When I was exploring this planner, I realized how helpful it would be in providing structure and accountability to people who work from home, especially in a freelance capacity. Writers, designers, marketing consultants, etc. would all find this planner beneficial in keeping track of an ad hoc schedule and self-administered goals.

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I would not recommend this planner to someone who is more interested in using their planner for managing a busy schedule than for setting goals (nothing wrong with that! Different folks plan differently!) The Ink+Volt Planner is focused on goals, so if goal-setting is not your jam, look elsewhere. I would also not recommend this planner for someone who loves decorating with stickers and washi, simply because it’s book-bound and will bulge if you fill up too many pages with stickers. But by all means, go for it with your Tombow pens!

Loves

I love that this planner is sleek and elegant and manages to be minimalist in aesthetic while still offering an impressive amount of content. I love the inclusion of weekly journaling or reflection prompts, which remind you to be mindful every week. I love this planner’s approach to the weekly layout–using four pages and separating schedules and goals is genius. I also happen to think that the paper in this planner smells good.

Nopes

I really think an elastic closure band would take this planner one step further. Otherwise, I think that this planner could make better use of the space available on its pages. There is a lot of white space on the Weekly Overview pages, and while it is pleasing to the eye, I think that the design could be improved to better use that space.


There you have it! My review of the 2018 Ink+Volt Planner! I hope you found this helpful, and of course if you have/use an Ink+Volt Planner, I’d love to hear about how you are liking it! Also happy to answer any additional questions! Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Until next time!

xo
Ara