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.


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.


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.

IMG_5698 (2)

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.


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?).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

IMG_5664 (2)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


PurpleTrail Planner

PurpleTrail (affiliate link) is a small company based in the Seattle, Washington area. It was founded in 2007 and has seen a lot of growth since it started as a custom invitation stationary business. I think that custom stationery and invitations (especially wedding-related) are still PurpleTrail’s main business endeavor, but they do offer a lot of paper products in their line-up. Notably, they have an awesome customizable planner line.

PurpleTrail started with a mission:

The PurpleTrail service is based on the idea that we are all different, and there is a designer within each of us. PurpleTrail provides the tools and inspiration, and lets you do the rest.

I wanted to show my audience (that’s you!) a customizable planner option, and so I reached out to PurpleTrail. They generously worked with me to send me a planner of my own design to review. I tried to include add-ons that were unique to PurpleTrail or that I thought were particularly useful so that I could report on this planner accurately. I think I chose a pretty excellent set-up to tell you about.

PurpleTrail lets you choose your own start month, so really you can order this planner at any time. I chose to have a January 2018–December 2018 planner, but you can pick any start month. There are 12-month and 18-month options. You can add up to four add-on sections to your planner as well. I chose: Notes, To-Do List, Appointments, and Games. There is also an option to include a double-sided pocket and/or stickers in the back of your planner. I decided to add both so that I could tell you about them!

There are three sizes to choose from: Tiny (4.5 x 6.25″), 6 x 8″, and 8.5 x 11″. I went for the middle option of 6 x 8″ and chose the Lotus Flower Mindfulness Planner cover design. As this is a customizable planner, the price point isn’t going to be the same for everyone. This means that you can get a planner for as little as $36.95 if you’re going bare-bones in 6 x 8″, or you can spend as much as $86.80 for a 8.5 x 11″ planner with all the options. I’ll go over the choices I made as we explore the planner, but the exact planner I got ended up being $62.75.


The functionality of this planner depends on the type of planner you are. There are multiple layouts to choose from (multiple weekly and daily), several add on options, customizable covers, and more. But whichever type of planner you are, PurpleTrail probably has an option that will fit you. 🙂

The beginning pages include a nameplate page, 2018 and 2019 holidays (American), and 2018 + 2019 year at a glance pages.

The nameplate page is simple, with a “This Planner Belongs To” header and plenty of space to write in your name and contact information. The PurpleTrail logo and website are at the bottom of the page, which means that they do not put their logo anywhere on the cover. The space to customize your cover is 100% yours!

The Holidays page is designed to pack a lot of information in, which it does. You get the holidays and dates for both 2018 and 2019. The page adjacent to the Holidays page is blank–you could put a vision board there, or write in yearly goals, or use that space however you wish! Then you get two pages for your years at a glance, one for 2018 and one for 2019. These are simple and colorful and provide a good spread for those of you who want to know what day your 2019 birthday falls on at a glance (mine will be on a Monday!)

Then you get into your months and weeks. Each month has a cover page with tab attached. The colorful option has a different color for each month, which is featured throughout the monthly and weekly spreads. The cover page includes the month’s name in large, bold text against a background in the color assigned to that month. The page itself is dot grid, which you can either leave blank or use to write in monthly goals, habits, or just decorate.

The back of the tabbed page is just dot grid, which, again, you can use however you please. The tab does not immediately take you to the monthly layout, but to this cover page. Then you get a kind of dashboard for the month ahead with a place to write in birthdays, events, and things to remember.


Then you reach the monthly spread. The monthly layout is simple with boxes laid out in a 6 x 7 format, which means that the boxes are evenly laid out every month, and the ones that don’t correspond to the dates are left blank. The boxes are perfect squares and roughly 3cm (or just a tad over 1″) in width and height. The righthand side of the spread has a long column for Notes.


The weekly spread (I chose a different month to show how the colorful layout works) that I chose was the Vertical option. PurpleTrail has several options, however, including Horizontal, Vertical, Vertical Hourly with 1-hour increments, Vertical Hourly with 15-minute increments, Three Section, and Quad.

The Vertical layout has columns of 24 dotted lines and a larger blank space at the bottom of each weekday. Saturday and Sunday share a column and don’t have any blank boxes. This is a simple but effective layout that provides a good combination of structure and flexibility. I personally plan to break the daily columns up into multiple sections. The weekly layouts also begin on the 1st of the month. Notice in the May spread above that there is no date for the column that represents Monday–this means that you get an extra column or three of space at the beginning of each month, depending on the day when that month begins.

Now for the extras! There is quite a list of add ons to choose from (the ones I picked are bolded): Notes Paper, To Do List, Password List, Bill Tracker, Check List, Graph Paper, Important Dates, Address Book, Puzzles & Games, Dotted Grid, Appointment Tracker, Student Check-List, Fitness Tracker, Nutrition Tracker, Account Tracker, Travel Itinerary, and Baby Tracker + Keepsake. Each add on is $3.95, so these can add up.

The Notes add on has a cover page in cardstock, same as the monthly cover pages throughout the planner. Then you just get notes pages with dotted lines, which are a little easier on the eyes than solid lines. This add on includes 24 pages of notes.

The next add on I selected was the To Do List. Again, you get the cover page. Just like the Notes section, you get 24 pages of lists. Each page has four lists, each with 14 lines. There is a low opacity green circle that you can check off to note completed tasks. This is a nice, standard format. I wish that the lists had space for a heading–it would be nice to have a blank space for the top line so that you could “title” your To Dos.

The third add on I chose was the Appointment Tracker. Again, you get the cover page. Since I chose the Vertical layout without hourly slots, I decided to get an appointment tracker to more easily record upcoming medical/dental/etc. appointments because you usually have to make them so far in advance.

You get 24 pages (I sense a theme!), each with four slots for appointments. I really like that this layout has consistent colorful themes but still has a different color for each appointment “box”–it helps to keep things separated. The appointment box has an option to check Medical, Dental, or Other with a blank space to write it in. Then there are sections for Date, Time, Who, Where, Number, and Address.

The last add on I chose was Puzzle & Games! I chose it because I think it’s a unique option. There are 4 pages of sudoku puzzles, 4 pages of labyrinth games, two pages for connect five (two player game), 2 pages for hangman, 2 pages for tic-tac-toe, and 4 pages of other half where you finish a drawing and can color it in. One last page (an answers sheet) is also included so you can check yourself before you wreck yourself.


One of the options you can choose to add to your planner is a folder and/or sticker sheets. I selected both (a $10 add on cost) so I could share them with you. The folder is a simple but heavy smooth cardstock with two pockets. It’s a sturdy folder and I’m impressed with the quality. Then you get three sticker sheets with lots of colorful fun & functional stickers.


PurpleTrail has three cover material options to choose from: 10 mil laminate (which I chose), hardcover, and synthetic soft with a frosted cover.

IMG_5195 (2)

The 10 mil laminate cover helps the planner keep its shape while also providing protection for the pages. The tabs are covered and by the cover as well, so you get that extra layer of protection. This planner cover has curved edges (less stabby and less likely to get caught on things in your bag). These covers are not interchangeable.

I was super pleased with how my cover choice turned out–the colors are bright and gorgeous and the font came out crisp and clean. PurpleTrail has a very immersive and detailed customizer, and I was able to write whatever I wanted as well as removing the quote that originally came on this particular cover design. PurpleTrail has so many designs to choose from–you can easily spend a long time picking out and tweaking your options. PurpleTrail also has an account system where you can save the designs you create–whether you are half-way through or completely done. There are a number of font choices and add-on images/quotes (think planner-y clip art) that you can play with. I definitely spent some time exploring different designs before I fell in love with this subtle but gorgeous Lotus Flower pattern.

IMG_5218 (2)

You can also play around with the back cover of your planner–I decided to keep it simple but you could easily add a quote, picture, etc. here to further personalize it and make it your own. The binding is a metal coil and is more flexible than, say, an Erin Condren coil would be (it doesn’t feel as stiff, rather) but is still sturdy enough to handle the book you create.


Now, if you’ve followed me here on or over on my Instagram account, you know that I looooove a thick planner. There is something so reassuring about the bulk of a thick planner, I don’t know what it is. I am very pleased with how much content PurpleTrail is able to fit into their planners. Their planner has a nice heft while still maintaining portability with its size. I really like the 6 x 8″ planner size–it’s a little smaller than the more common 7″ x 9″ planner size, but the extra inch makes this book feel so much more portable.


The tabbed pages are a thick card stock, and the tabs themselves are coated in plastic laminate. They are a white background with colorful text, as each month is represented by a different color. It’s a clean look and makes it easy to find your place. I really like that the tabs are wide–they are durable and strong and pleasantly layered.


I loaded up on PurpleTrail stickers because I wanted to see how they would work in the planner and check out their quality before I recommended them. The sticker pages included in the planner are great and cover a lot of activities: work out, sportsing, party, holiday, date, list headers, etc. There are also stickers for birthdays, bills, errands, and more. The stickers have a certain stretchiness to them–they are easy to work with and feel durable. They are a glossy coated material so they will not tear easily.

I got the vertical layout, and noticed that the banner stickers fit perfectly on the page. I love the idea of using the vertical layout to create multiple columns, each with their own applicable heading, so I thought these sticker options were great.

This planner sticks with a sans serif font choice in multiple weights. If you choose the colorful option (versus neutral), you get a planner organized with color. Each month has a different color that is represented in the weekly and monthly layouts in the heading, days of the week bar, and the actual lines of the monthly layout.

This planner is also a little different from most in that the dates are in the lower right-hand corners of the daily boxes. I like this because it lets you evenly fill out your box from the top-down without running into a number.

I love these little birthday cake stickers, but unfortunately, they take up most of the monthly layout’s daily box in 6 x 8″ planners. That is definitely worth considering when you look around for stickers or use the PurpleTrail ones.


Pen test time!

Honestly, the Sharpie Permanent Marker (as always) had a little bleed through, but no other pen is visible once you turn the page. This paper is no joke, and handles highlighters, inky pens, and felt tip pens like a pro. I personally enjoyed writing with the Pilot G-2, Le Pen, and Papermate InkJoy the most on this paper.

The paper in this planner is very high quality. PurpleTrail uses an 80lb. writing paper that is bleed resistant and textured in a smooth matte finish. The paper is a joy to write on, and as you can see from the pen test, is resilient against most of the pens in my arsenal.

This planner would be a great fit for someone who really wants the most customizable cover options ever. If you saw the “PLANNERISMA” on my cover design and gasped because you would love a cover with your own name/tagline/etc., then this planner is definitely worth exploring. I highly recommend taking some time to investigate the PurpleTrail customizer. 😉

This planner would be a great fit for someone who wants a quality book on a budget–if you are going for a bare-bones options. The $36.95 price tag for a 12-month planner that you can customize is a pretty good deal. The planner does get more expensive as you add stuff to it, but this actually makes for a pretty accessible planner option for multiple types of budgets. If you don’t care about all the extras, then this planner doesn’t force you to have them.


My husband launched into the Sudoku puzzles! Unfortunately, he used pen for the first one!


I recommend this planner to those of you who want a thick planner that’s still easy to carry around. The size really is fantastic for portability without giving up too much space on the page. This would also be a great option with the Puzzles & Games addition for those of you who run lots of errands with or without children. While you’re waiting, work on a Sudoku puzzle. Let your kids figure out the labyrinths or occupy them with some of the simpler games included in this add-on. Even though I chose to have this planner start in January 2018, I’ve been carrying it around to occupy my husband with the Sudoku, which he immediately took to. Not that my husband is a child, but if it worked on him… 😉 (Pro tip: bring a pencil!)

PurpleTrail offers lots of different layouts, so different planner babes are going to prefer their planners set up differently. I do think that for those of you who need to maintain a strict and busy schedule, the Vertical Hourly in 15-minute increments is something that you don’t find often but would be especially helpful. I can just see a massage therapist loving that layout for keeping track of a busy day of appointments, for example.

Personally, I think that this planner is a fantastic size, but if you are looking for lots of room to write then you may want to consider the 8.5 x 11″ size. This planner is great for a light, compact, but functional option that you can fit your life into. I hesitate to do my standard I wouldn’t recommend this planner for beause there are just so many options that PurpleTrail has for you. There is a school add on for students, a baby tracker add on for new moms, & etc. But if I had to say then I probably would not recommend this planner for someone who wants a lot of content but is on a strict budget. $36.95 gets you the 12 months, but if you want all the bells and whistles then it can add up.


PurpleTrail has a cover customization plug-in that really lets you go to town with what you’re creating. You can do so much with their customizer. Although I did not deviate too far from the design I chose, I was incredibly impressed with how much control the customer has over how they want their cover design to look. I also love the bulk of this planner! It feels great to hold and carry around without being too heavy. I also love the coil–much stronger binding option than Wire-O, in my opinion. I have also never seen a Puzzles & Games section in a planner before, and added it because I thought it was a unique option. It isn’t even January yet, and already this section has been well-used!


I think that the printing could be a little bit crisper. I also wish there was an option for an elastic closure, even as an add-on, to better keep the book together when you’re carrying it around. I will probably use one of my Erin Condren elastic closure bands for this planner.

There you have it! My review of the PurpleTrail Planner! If you like the look of this planner, I have a surprise for you! My contact at PurpleTrail (shoutout to Josh!) was kind enough to provide me with a discount code for all of you! You can use the code Plannerisma10 at check-out to get 10% off your PurpleTrail order! 🙂 Just go here to start.

Anything I missed that you want to know more about? Do you have a PurpleTrail planner set up in a different way? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Until next time!


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.


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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.


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.

IMG_5117 (2)

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!


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!


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.


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!


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. 🙂


Ashley Shelly Signature Planner 2018

Ashley Shelly is a product designer and graphic designer with a passion for paper! She started her paper product brand in 2014 with her first Budget Notebooks and then launched the Ashley Shelly Planner for the 2016 calendar year. That means we are in year three of this colorful, organized beauty!

Ashley wanted to offer something different with her planner, and designed a book that would make planning both fun and functional. As she says on her website:

I saw a need for a planner that included a calendar for scheduling and to-do lists, with a mixture of inspirational planning at the beginning of each month. Life is so much more than just our daily schedules. To me, it has to include heart! It has helped me run my own business and live life to the fullest, so I know it will do the same for you.

This emphasis on “heart” is reinforced throughout the Ashley Shelly Planner via Ashley’s design choices. Little hearts serve as part of her header designs and can be found at the top left of almost every page in her planner.

I was instantly attracted to the Painted Floral design–both for its white space and the cool color palette. Ashley kindly gave me a discount code to purchase the planner for a review.


I chose the 2018 Ashley Shelly Planner in Painted Floral and Silver Binding (it also comes in Rose Gold!) It runs the 2018 calendar year and is a weekly planner with a functional yet flexible horizontal spread. After I ordered it, the planner was shipped out quickly and I received it super fast. This planner retails for $49.95 plus shipping and measures 7.25″ X 9.25″ including binding.


Part of Ashley Shelly’s vision was to create a planner that was fun and functional. She wanted it to incorporate inspiration into living your best life as well as standard calendar offerings to help you through the day-to-day. This planer includes perforated corners to help you mark your day and instantly flip to it.


The planner begins with a folder attached to the inside cover opposite from a clear catch all pouch. Ashley includes a sticker sheet for you with round icons that help give your planner pages a visual pop. The pouch seals very well and isn’t too bulky–which is nice, especially at the beginning of a planner.


Then you have the nameplate page with Ashley Shelly’s full logo. The planner comes with a welcome card letting you know all the relevant information for sharing posts to Instagram.


Then you get a page sharing Planner Tips from Ashley. She includes a thank you note, information about what’s inside the planner, describes the purpose of her Creative Spread design, and invites you to dig in to the planner and make it your own. Essentially, Ashley is providing you with a key for how she designed the planner, but inviting you to use it however best works for your creative life. 🙂

Next is a 2018 Inspiration Board page, where you can “Write, draw, and tape all of the inspiration here for the year ahead!” Use this space as a vision board, or a brainstorming space for priorities, or tape in clippings that inspire you. It’s a blank space, and it’s all yours.


Then you have a page for Important Contacts. Ashley leaves most of the space for filling in your contacts blank, choosing instead to simply write “Name” for each block of lines. I really like that she does this, because you never know what information you’ll need to write down for someone. Or, if you don’t use your planner for contacts, you can repurpose it for something else like @planningwithkristen did.

You also get a page for Favorite Meal Ideas, where you can write down go-to dishes for Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners. This is a great page for easy-to-prep meals that are a staple in your home, or for writing down impressive meals to cook for guests, or even for writing down meals that are gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, etc. if you need to keep track of that for you or a loved one.


Then you have a 2018 Planning Overview spread on two pages. There is a box for each month, which makes this an ideal space for writing down important dates, birthdays, season-focused things (foods, etc), mapping out a big project or goal (like a thesis), keeping track of monthly habits, etc. Ashley leaves this space open so that you can use it to meet whatever your current needs are.


You last beginning pages are a Yearly Overview on one page–very minimal, but you get both 2018 and 2019 at a glance–and a list of the 2018 Holidays. Then you move into your first calendar section!


Tabbed pages are a little thicker than the rest of the pages and feel like a standard cardstock. You get a month on two pages with a Sunday start. The weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) are noted with a bold text weight as opposed to the regular text weight used for the rest of the days. The monthly spread is lined, which allows you to divide up your space evenly or neatly.

There are two tiny month-at-a-glance spreads for the month preceding and the one following the current spread. Beneath these, there is a narrow Notes column for anything additional you might want to put down for the month. Ashley only includes numbered day boxes for the days of that month–there is no grayscale “31” or “1” from different months on this spread. This is actually quite nice, because you get to use those boxes for whatever you want.


After the monthly spread, you move into what Ashley Shelly is known for: the Creative Spread. Every month you get a two-page spread dedicated to helping keep you inspired, motivated, and balanced. There is a blank box for “Your Word of the month/mantra,” where you can write in something important to keep you focused, relaxed, or inspired for the month ahead. Then come the ovals, where you can reflect on “What creates happiness in your life that you want to do MORE of this month?” It could be waking up early to read for fun or work out, spending dedicated time with friends and/or your significant other, setting time aside for self-care and relaxation, etc. Whatever it is that brings you happiness, Ashley has carved out a space each month for you to write it down and reflect on it.

Then you have a section where you “Say NO to distractions and negativity. What are you NOT going to do this month?” Need to kick some negativity out of your self-talk? Note it. Have trouble saying no to doing things that you really don’t care about? Write it down. The act of writing down what you are allowing yourself to say no to is a powerful productivity tool. If something isn’t meaningful to you, kick it to the curb. Don’t host that party or agree to spend your free time doing something that is only important to someone else.

Then there is a box for “What do you want to create this month?” It could be as simple as creating space every Sunday to plan the week ahead, or as complex as finishing a Masterpiece. Maybe it’s NaNoWriMo, maybe it’s working on a photo album. You do you. 😉 Then there is a smaller box for Routines & Habits, where you can list steps in a morning or evening routine or habits you would like to develop. Next to that are three boxes with checkboxes in them for Personal Goals.

The Creative Spread ends with a lined column for Special Dates that month–birthdays, appointments, etc. Whatever you need to put there. Then there is a list with checkboxes for your Monthly Bucket List. What do you really want to do this month? Read three books, take a weekend trip, book your vacation?

The Creative Spread is a section that encourages you to take some time every month to reflect on what your personal goals are, what habits you’d like to build, where to put your creative energy, what motivates you, and what brings you happiness. It is a mindful section that guides you in how to make the most of your time.


The Creative Spread is followed by two notes pages, One is broken into two lined columns for freeform list making, and the other is a standard page for notes.


Then you reach the weekly spread! There is a space at the top for you to write your monthly word so that it stays fresh in your mind. There is also a notes section in two lined columns at the top of the weekly spread. The week starts with a Monday and provides equal space for each day–no tiny weekend sections here! This weekly layout is unique and is designed with both flexibility and routine in mind.

There are 9 lined spaces for your schedule with space to write in the time something is happening as well as whatever the thing itself is. This means that you can write super specific times–11:10am!–in, and aren’t restricted by a standard hourly format for your schedule. On the righthand side of the day you get a To Do List with 6 lines with checkboxes. Below those are a Due Today line and a Dinner space.

The back of the planner includes a few lined notes pages, as well.


The 2018 Ashley Shelly planner comes in five different cover designs: Aqua Glam, Blush Glam, Black & White Stripe, Painted Floral in Rose Gold, and (the one I have) Painted Floral in Silver.


The front cover is a shiny, smooth material with a flat texture and metal corners to protect your book. It simply has “2018” in large text centered on the front. This really gives the design room to shine–the painted flowers and vines are cute and mildly abstract. From what I understand, Ashley painted them herself. so you get a little bit of her creative energy with this cover choice. There is ample white space so even though there’s a lot going on with this pattern, it doesn’t look cluttered.


The back cover is also kept quite simple–Ashley Shelly’s logo is centered at the bottom of the back cover, but it doesn’t detract from the overall cover design. I think that one of the reasons for this is that Ashley uses a very specific and deliberate color palette. This is reflected throughout the planner. Everything is laid out in aqua, lilac purple, and a few shades of gray. So while the Ashley Shelly planner is colorful and definitely doesn’t shy away from incorporating color–it’s not going to overwhelm you.


The color pattern can be seen in the planner’s tabs, as well, which are laid out in a single line down the book. The tabs are coated in plastic and feel sturdy and thick. The paper used throughout most of the planner is 80# text weight, which gives you a small but hefty 1.5lb book with quality paper. The paper has a matte feel and is a little bit textured, which I tend to like. 🙂


One of the things that sets Ashley’s design apart from other planners is the lined approach to the monthly spread. The lines are aqua so they are relatively light but still heavy enough to easily use. As I mentioned, Ashley’s color scheme is used consistently throughout the planner. She also favors a consistent sans-serif font in varied weights, which adds to the feeling of consistency that you get with her planner.


Despite its thick paper and extra content, the Ashley Shelly planner is not going to weigh you down. It’s a good size–big enough to write in comfortably but not so large that you feel like it’s more of a desk planner than a bag planner. The silver Wire-O binding feels sturdy–it’s not Emily Ley or Get To Work Book, but I have no concerns about it bending out of shape on its own.


Is the Ashley Shelly planner right for you? Well first let’s get to the pen test! I used one of the Notes pages to test my pen collection on the paper.

Writing in the Ashley Shelly felt smooth–there wasn’t really a pen I didn’t like using. When you lift the page, you can see almost every pen, but when the pages are flat against one another you can barely see any indication that a pen was used on the other side of the page. The Sharpie Permanent Marker, as always, bled through, and the Stabilo Boss highlighter is a little noticeable, but the paper quality is there and should be able to handle most of the pens you throw at it.


The Ashley Shelly Planner would be a good fit if you want a weekly planner with a flexible format. If your days are varied and you don’t have a consistent routine, this would be a great planner for you because you could write in your schedule with complete freedom. This would work well for you if you want a place to write down appointments or your schedule but don’t have a 9am–5pm job. If your work mainly has you in meetings–let’s say that you’re a consultant–then this planner would be great for you because of the open-format schedule.

This would be a great planner for a busy mom who wants to keep track of appointments, meals, and important to-dos. It would also be a good fit for a student who wants to keep track of assignments and tests–the Due Today line could be a helpful tool for noting when papers are due, for example. You could use the schedule side of the day to write in when there are tests or assignments due in your classes. I could really see this working for both high school and college students. Plus, the colorful design makes it a fun agenda to use! Especially if you’re a Zeta Tau Alpha. 😉

This planner, as mentioned, is colorful but in a controlled way. The Ashley Shelly Planner is a great choice for someone who wants a functional planner but doesn’t just want an ultra minimalist design. What’s nice about this planner is that it manages to offer a lot of structure even though the design is inherently flexible. If you aren’t sure how you might want to use this planner, look through Instagram for some inspiration. There are several directions you could go–you certainly don’t have to adhere to the most obvious one. And that’s good design.

I wouldn’t recommend this planner to someone who needs to take copious notes and likes to do that in their planner. There are some notes pages (10, I believe) but not enough to carry a consistent habit of notetaking. I also wouldn’t recommend this planner to someone who wants a minimalist approach to planning–while the content is super functional, this isn’t the right planner for people who prefer black-and-white spreads and zero planner decor.


I love that Ashley Shelly is so open about how this planner has worked for her. She shares her Creative Spreads on social media and engages with her customers. I love that the layout is flexible and can accommodate multiple ways of planning. I love the inclusion of checkboxes in the To Do section, and that you are limited to giving yourself a relatively normal task load rather than feeling overwhelmed by a seemingly endless to-do list. I also love the lined design of the monthly spread. I always approach my monthly spread wishing that there were lined sections so that I could more easily separate and compartmentalize what I choose to put there. And, of course, I love the design of the cover.


I think that the monthly Creative Spread could be polished. The content of the page is thoughtful and comprehensive, but the layout could look a little sleeker. I’m not a huge fan of the ovals–they distract me from the prompt that goes with them. Perhaps if the lines were a little thinner, not quite so bold? Otherwise, as always, Wire-O is not my favorite type of binding, but the coil Ashley uses seems to be quite sturdy–they arrived with no damage whatsoever. 🙂

There you have it, my review of the 2018 Ashley Shelly Planner! Do you have an Ashley Shelly Planner? Are you planning on using one for 2018 (I’m looking at you, @planningwithkristen! ;))? How do you use your weekly spread and make the planner work for you? Share in the comments! I would love to hear from you!


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.


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.

IMG_4949 (2)

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.

IMG_4954 (2)

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).


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.

IMG_4956 (2)

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.


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.


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. 🙂

IMG_4947 (2)

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.

IMG_4948 (2)

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.


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.


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.

IMG_4961 (2)

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.

IMG_4959 (2)

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.


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!

IMG_4968 (2)

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.


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.


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.

IMG_4965 (2)

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.


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 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!