ShePlans 2018 Quarterly Notebook Planners

Hello hello! This week I’m reviewing a gorgeous set of 2018 quarterly notebook planners from ShePlans.

I have been a fan of ShePlans planners since 2015, when I purchased my first daily planner. My Jan.–Jul. 2016 Daily ShePlans To Do List Planner was the first high-end planner I ever purchased for myself and I loved it fiercely. It helped me tackle a difficult time in graduate school, learn how to separate and manage a busy task-based schedule, and went everywhere with me. To class, to meetings, on trips, etc. I even brought it on Christmas vacation when I wasn’t even in a position to use it yet, I loved it so.

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My reasons for loving this planner company have not changed. I continue to admire the functional, minimalist, clean layouts of founder Ashley Staum’s planners. She has the same unwavering standard for quality and the same feedback-oriented approach that helped her create a truly beautiful product when she launched in 2013.

The Quarterly Notebook Planners are new this year, part of the ShePlans notebook format for planners (Ashley also offers hardbound and soft cover options). I reached out to Ashley with an interest in reviewing one of her 2018 planners and she indicated interest in sending me a set of the quarterlies. I’m thrilled to review this gorgeous set! This set of Quarterly Notebook Planners is currently sold out, unfortunately, but goes for $42.

Function

These notebooks may be slim, but they are packed with functional content. Each notebook covers one Quarter of the 2018 year. Quarter 1 is January–March, Quarter 2 is April–June, Quarter 3 is July–September, and Quarter 4 is October–December.

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When you open your planner you are greeted with a large “Q#” to let you know immediately which quarter you are in. Beneath the (in this case) “Q2” title, you get the months that this notebook planner covers (April–June 2018), then the secondary title “A Weekly Notebook Planner to Create the Space to Let Life Happen.” The latter clause is the tagline of the ShePlans company.

There isn’t a nameplate area in these planners–I ended up just asking my bestie to use her awesome lettering skills to write my name beneath the “title” text.

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Next, you get a two-page spread allowing you to look at The Next Six Months at a Glance. These start from whichever month your quarterly notebook begins. As this is the notebook for Q2, “the next six months” are April–September. I love the thoughtfulness of this page and how it keeps up with which quarterly you’re planning in.

This spread is simple and flexible. A small month at a glance calendar tops each column, and then you get lines. You can write in important dates to remember, big tasks coming up, save this space for frantically writing down details about that event you barely caught those strangers discussing at the art museum (just me?).

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Then you get eight lined notes pages to “doodle, take notes & jot things down.” These are simple lined pages. You also get two lined notes pages at the end of each month, so there is plenty of room for the aforementioned doodling/jotting. Remember, this comes in EACH quarterly notebook, which means that you’re getting a total of 56 notes pages dispersed throughout all four planners.

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Ah, the monthly spread. Ashley uses space so well in her spreads. The calendar is a Sunday start with 1.5″ x 1.5″ boxes for each day–quite roomy! The name of the month and the year are located at the top righthand corner of the spread. On the righthand side of the layout, there is also a column for “The Monthly List.” This is simply a lined vertical column for lists, important dates, etc. Beneath The Monthly List is a month at a glance for the month following the one featured.

Important holidays are marked and centered at the bottom of the day’s box to which they belong. The monthly spread only covers the days of that month, there are no greyscale numbers taking you into the next month, the boxes are just blank.

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One of my favorite things about these quarterly planners is that they provide so much space for list-making. Every month has a two-page spread for Monthly Goals, The Monthly List, and Memories Made.

Ashley is a big believer in having an open and flexible planner–she doesn’t want you to feel like your planner is yelling at you with exacting instructions on how to use it. So she keeps the format open–maybe you really need space for a list of to-dos for that month, but not the following one. It’s just lined columns so you can shift their purpose to suit whatever planning needs you have.

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And finally, we reach the weekly layout. I think that this layout is clever and unique. You have one page that’s for your notes, lists, goals, etc. and another page for putting stuff into each actual day. The first page has three spots for your priorities for the week–notice that there aren’t check marks. Your priorities don’t have to be goal-oriented or task-based. My goal for this past week was to rest and recover from being ill, and frankly, I’m not sure if that’s something I can really mark as completed. I like the open format of “priorities.”

Then you get two columns for The Weekly List. You can make checkboxes or just list things without them. Maybe you don’t care for checkboxes. Maybe you prefer to just cross out things you’ve accomplished. Maybe you don’t need a task list and would prefer to have a list of assignments for school here, or a grocery list for the week. Again, openness. Beneath The Weekly List, you get a generous amount of blank space for Notes.

The second page in this spread is the week at a glance. This column of horizontal sections has a Monday start. Each day gets the same amount of space and is completely blank. Break it up into multiple sections, write out only the important things, use it only for appointments and keep track of tasks on The Weekly List, etc. However you want to use it, the space is there for you.

Aesthetics/Design

ShePlans has a very clear aesthetic–simple, clean, embrace white space. These notebooks are the standard planner size of 7″ x 9″, which makes them big enough to easily write in while also small enough to be portable.

The cover material is a smooth, flexible material that holds up pretty well to being thrown about (into bags, of course, not just for funsies). The four quarterly notebooks are each a different cover design that mirrors the options for the bound weekly and daily planners (Stone Blue Leaf, Black & White Dot, Pretty in Pink Floral) while still being set apart via color scheme. The Quarterly Notebook Planners are in designed in white and a soft, almost bluish gray.

The shortened quarter title (Q1, etc.) is centered on each notebook planner’s cover with the year just below it. The back cover includes the ShePlans logo centered near the bottom. The notebooks have rounded edges and a sewn binding.

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The notebook can take lots of transit and use, but the edges will get a little beat up as a result. As you can see, each notebook individually is about 1/4″ thick, making it incredibly easy to slip into a bag and carry around.

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Ashley knows her brand and sticks to one serif font throughout. Her style is simple and classic while embracing white space. Even though she does this in her monthly layout, you can see that she makes excellent use of the space on each page. The boxes are large enough to use comfortably but don’t look cluttered on the pages.

ShePlans planners may have colorful covers, but the insides are clean and in black and white only with crisp font choices and a balanced use of space.

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As I mentioned earlier, there is no nameplate in the quarterly planners. My bestie did some gorgeous lettering for me in the Q1 notebook. 🙂

Overall this notebook set is designed simply and beautifully. There is a generous amount of notes pages and list space for you to organize your planner however works best for you, and that openness keeps me coming back to these quarterly pages without worrying whether I filled out all the space or not.

Fit

Pen test time!

(Sorry for the odd white balance in these shots–I didn’t do them with the rest of the photos.!) I’m not quite sure what type of paper Ashley uses, but her paper has always held up to extensive highlighting and most inky pens. I want to say that she uses an 80lb. paper because it behaves like that text weight, but I’m not quite sure. As you can see, the Sharpie Permanent Marker definitely bled through, but nothing else did. Not the highlighters, not the inkiest of my pens. You can’t event see ghosting unless you’re looking pretty hard for it. This paper is excellent. It feels smooth without being glossy and I wouldn’t say it’s too textured or toothy. My favorite pens to use with it are the Le Pen and the Micron pens in 03 and 05.

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I would recommend this planner to students. It’s easy to throw in an already-full backpack, has plenty of room for writing down assignments and noting when papers are due or exams need to be taken. There are lots of notes pages for when you’re caught off-guard at a student org meeting, visiting office hours, or meeting with your advisor. I think the overall format and structure of this planner makes it an excellent option for students, from high school to grad school.

I would also recommend this planner to anyone who is a list-maker. There are so many opportunities to make lists in these Quarterly Notebook Planners–monthly lists, weekly lists, notes pages for Master Lists, etc. If you need a lot of space for your to-do lists, then this planner series has you covered.

If you are someone who needs a highly portable planner and prefers it to be as light as possible, this would be a great option for you. If you don’t want a planner that prompts you to set goals, then this simple option will give you all the functionality you need without pushing you to track goals or habits or whatever else.

I would not recommend this planner to anyone who really likes to write down their plans/to do lists/everything else on each specific day. This weekly layout is versatile but doesn’t give you that much space for each actual day of the week. If you need to see your schedule laid out for you in an hourly format, then this planner isn’t for you. I also would not recommend quarterly planners to anyone who really needs their entire year with them at all times.

Loves

I love the portability of these notebook planners. They are slim and sleek and so easy to toss into my purse. I love the crisp, clean, white cover designs. They are soft and calming to look at. I love Ashley’s use of white space in her planners without giving up too much to the margins. I love the generous amount of list-making space in these notebooks. I love the quality of the paper–it’s truly excellent paper. I love that these planner notebooks are floppy and flexible.

Nopes

I wish there was gold foil on the covers for the “Q#” titles instead of a goldish sand color. It would look so amazing! Not sure if it would be possible with the cover material, of course. I also wish that the edges didn’t peel quite so easily (I don’t think I’ve been particularly rough with my planner).


There you have it! My review of the 2018 Quarterly Notebook Planners from ShePlans. Do you like quarterly planners? Leave a comment, tell me why/why not! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

A couple extras for you:

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

2018 Karen Adams Designs Agenda

Karen Adams Designs got its start in 1999 with a Stationary Show. It’s an award-winning family business based in Memphis, Tennessee and focuses mainly on stationery but also creates calendars, agendas, greeting cards, invitations, art prints, menus, and more. Karen Adams got her start with a degree in apparel design from the Rhode Island School of Design and worked in New York City for companies like J. Crew.

I want to be clever, innovative, classic but in a fun way. I want people to smile or laugh and feel good. You know when you are out for a walk and pass someone who smiles and says “hello” and you think “ I love that people smile and say hi, this world is pretty great.” That is how I want what we send out into the world to make people feel.

I’ve had my eye on the Karen Adams Designs agenda for about a year now, since I saw a review of the 2017 Agenda from Earn Spend Live. I reached out to Karen Adams Designs with an interest in reviewing their recently released 2018 agenda. I communicated with Karen’s daughter, Wallis (who also has a design background), who kindly sent me an agenda to review for all of you!

The Karen Adams Designs Agenda launched in 2017, so this is their second year of designing and providing a daily agenda. While Karen designs the complementary page of stickers in the agenda, much of the design is from Wallis, and reflects thoughtfulness and ingenuity.

This is a big agenda, measuring in at 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ including the spiral. It retails on the Karen Adams Designs website for $44 plus shipping, which is a little below the average cost for a daily agenda of this caliber.

Function

This is a daily planner. There is a generous page per day in this layout–shared weekends–along with monthly spreads and notes pages.

When you first open the planner you see a page of stickers (designed by Karen Adams herself!). These are creative, cute, and really just gorgeous stickers. There are a lot of holiday stickers as well as some more general ones. The inside cover includes a pocket folder. It’s loose enough to easily slip some papers in and high enough that they won’t immediately fall out again.

Then you have your nameplate page (adorably encased in a pineapple), along with the Karen Adams Designs logo and the dates covered by the agenda (January–December 2018).

You also get a page to record your passwords–there are prompts for Email, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and others. Nothing financial is included, which is generally a good policy. Then you get a page for 2018 Goals, with a checkable circle for each line.

You get a page to record must see movies and must see books. There isn’t a lot of space to record your entire To Read list for the year, but probably enough space to write down books and movies that are coming out in 2018 that you want to keep your eyes out for!

Next is a page for Dates to celebrate in 2018, which is a perfect place to record important dates, birthday, holidays to look out for, etc. They layout of this section is clean and roomy–lots of space for you!

You get your standard page for 2018 Holidays. Karen Adams Designs is thorough–you get New Year’s Day, but also some fun ones like Coffee Day and Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! Then you have your 2018 year at a glance on one page.

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The monthly spreads are two pages. Karen Adams Designs’ monthly layouts are unique because of the extra design elements that are included. Beautifully drawn thematic embellishments surround the monthly name. For example, January has snowflakes and a snowman. February has arrows, hearts, lips, and xo’s, in reference to Valentine’s Day. This adds a nice touch to your monthly layout. The designs are all in black and white, so you could even color them in if you want. Each month is different, and the hand-drawn designs add an extra pop of festivity to the spread!

The monthly spread also includes a Notes column on the left hand side of the layout. The bottom right of the layout includes two month-at-a-glance calendars, for the months preceding and following the current one.

This planner has one page per day. The daily layout is simple and elegant with the day and date, Today’s Top 3 Goals, To Do For Myself, Today, To Do, and Notes sections. If there is a holiday it is printed in the top right hand corner of the page, otherwise you get an inspirational or motivational quote. The Top 3 section forces you to prioritize your tasks for the day, or you could also put immovable appointments, reminders, etc. there. You could also write in your top three goals to keep in mind throughout your day–you don’t necessarily need to use this space for to-dos. The To Do For Myself section is nice because it just gives you a couple lines to use for jotting down some self-care, listing a couple tasks that are just about you, or even writing a sentence a day in gratitude or reflection. This section also reminds you to take care of yourself. This could be a nice reminder for these of us who spend most of our time and energy worrying about others.

The Today column is a one hour per line schedule from 6am to 9pm (or 6pm to 9am if you prefer). The To Do column includes 16 lines with circles that you can use to check off tasks. Again, this planner is pretty big, so there is a decent amount of space for writing in your schedule and to-dos. At the bottom of the daily page is a short box for Notes. This can contain anything you need it to–meals, gratitude, note taking, habit tracking, water intake, etc. It is a blank space that can fulfill any need you have of it.

The weekends are combined into one page. You get a column for Today and a column for To Do. Each day still gets its own quote! The today column just has lined space for you to write in whatever you need or want to record. The To Do space has 7 spaces for tasks.

At the bottom of the weekend page is a section where you can write in any big events happening “next week.” Similar to the Day Designer, this quick little layout allows you to see the upcoming week at a glance. This is especially helpful with a daily planner because sometimes you can lose sight of the bigger picture o your week.

The back of the Planner includes a few Notes pages for any additional stuff you want to write down or keep track of.

Aesthetics/Design

Packaging can be an important part of receiving a planner. It lets you know that there is a lot of care going into sending you the product and that your aesthetic experience starts before you have the actual planner in your hands.

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My Karen Adams Designs Planner came beautifully packaged with brown paper and white tissue paper. Wallis (my contact at Karen Adams Designs) included a lovely card with the planner!

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The agenda comes in a keepsake box, which is minimalist in design. It is sturdy and could easily be used to store papers/stickers/etc. or to hold your planner in for safe keeping once the year is over.

Wallis sent me a lovely little notebook and card along with the planner! And your planner, of course, comes with a welcome card printed on card stock and keying you into the social media avenues for engagement with Karen Adams Designs.

The planner itself comes in two color schemes–I chose the cream and tan option (Madame Gres) because I loved the way it looked with the gold foil and how it used a two-tone color scheme to make a busy design look clean and sleek. The planner cover is smooth to the touch and is a soft matte material over a hard board. It feels sturdy. The corners have metal protectors in gold, and the Wire-O coil is white. There is also a white elastic that keeps your planner together so that loose papers don’t come out as easily. The year (2018) is centered on the cover in gold foil embossing.

The back cover has the same image/design as the front cover of the planner, and includes a minimalist version of the Karen Adams Designs logo in gold foil.

This is a daily planner and thus it is a bit hefty. With its 9 1/2” x 9 1/2” size, the planner manages to stay manageably svelte. I’m not sure what the paper quality in this planner is, but it’s probably comparable to the Flagship Day Designer. This allows the planner to maintain a slim profile while still being able to hold enough pages for a daily format.

The Karen Adams Designs planner, in a change form last year, has a series of colorful tabs that run in a single line down the edge of the pages. The colorful palette includes blue, red, yellow, pink, and navy. The tabs are coated in plastic and the pages they are adhered to are a little thicker than the rest of the planner pages. The covers of the planner are big enough that they completely cover the tabs, which protects them.

The planner’s Notes pages are wide ruled, which is perfect for those of you with large handwriting. If you have smaller handwriting and prefer a tighter lined page, then you might not like these notes pages. The inside back cover has a sweet affirmation in script: “She saw every ending as a new beginning.” This is a lovely thought to have at the end of a planner. It reminds you that even though you are at the end of one planner, one year, there is another one about to start, a blank page to carry you forward.

The monthly spreads are embellished with Karen Adam’s playful yet classic art. As mentioned above, each month includes a unique spread of artwork. November, for example, includes leaves, acorns, twigs, and berries. These conjure thoughts of Fall, Thanksgiving, and other November feels. The name of the month is always in a thin script font, which I love. It adds an elegant touch to the planner pages. The numbers are all a regular weight sans serif text, while the days of the week are in an all-caps serif font. You get all the font types in this planner!

Fit

As always, let’s start with a pen test!

The paper isn’t overly thick, but it is a bright white that holds most of my pens pretty well. The Sharpie Permanent Marker, as always, bleeds through. This paper also doesn’t handle super inky pens very well, like the Uniball Vision. The highlighters have a little ghosting. Otherwise, the paper held up pretty well. When one page is flat against another you can barely see most of the pens (although if you have a heavy hand you can see the indentation from writing, even if you don’t see the ink.) When you lift the page up, you can see the ink, but it definitely doesn’t come through when the pages are flat against one another.

This planner would be a good fit for someone who wants a comprehensive daily planner. I would recommend it as a desk planner or at-home planner that keeps track of a master schedule and list of to-dos. You could carry it around with you, of course, but it is a little hefty so might serve you better as a sort of home base planner.

This planner would be great for the home or office–it’s flexible enough that you aren’t being led into using it in any particular way. It could keep track of your work schedule and to-dos, as well as reminding you of more big picture goals for the day. If you work in an environment where you become overwhelmed by everyone else’s demands on your time, this would be a great planner for you because it subtly reminds you to think about goals for self care. If you flesh out your daily plans and to-dos the night before you go to sleep or the moment you wake up (but first, coffee, of course), then the sections for “to do for myself” and “top 3 goals for today” will prompt you into a moment of reflection. If you have a lot going on every day but need those reminders to think about yourself as well every once in a while, this planner would be a great fit for you.

If you want a daily planner but want it to be a step above minimalist design, then this would be a great planner for you. The monthly embellishments are adorable and fun, and add a pop of delight and seasonality to the planner. If you want some elegant design elements, the Karen Adams Designs planner is a great way to go.

 I probably wouldn’t recommend this planner for students, because there isn’t much room for assignments or due dates. (You could put those in the notes section of each day, however.) This planner would be a great fit for anyone who has full days to keep track of and wants a simple but elegant layout for doing so.

Loves

I love the color choices for the tabs this year, and how the pop of color is juxtaposed with the cream and tan cover I chose. The inclusion of an elastic closure band is always a plus! I love the top 3 goals and to-do for myself sections in each day–I think this is a very subtle and thoughtful way to provoke reflection without overwhelming the first-time planner or the person who has too much on their plates to fill out lots of extras. I am a bit of a sucker for daily planners and I love the simple layout this planner uses for its days. I also love the choice of script font. And I love the stickers. They are cute and delightful!

Nopes

I do wish that the Wire-O binding was gold rather than white–and of course I am not the biggest fan of Wire-O. I also think there is just a little too much white space on the notes pages and would like the lines to be a little tighter. I also wish that the numbers were in a serif font to match the other text in the planner.


There you have it! My review of the Karen Adams Designs daily agenda. Do you have one? Do you have questions I didn’t get to answer? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Karen Adams Designs is having a Black Friday deal for those of you interested in picking up this lovely daily planner! You can use the code HOLIYAY for 10% off all orders over $100 and Free Shipping on orders over $50. The sale runs Friday–Monday. 🙂

xo
Ara

The Day Designer 2018 Flagship Planner

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

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

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

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

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

Function

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aesthetics/Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loves

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

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

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

Nopes

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

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

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


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

Here are some other resources that might be helpful:

Until next time!

xo
Ara