Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve been using a planner. Always a fan of organization and office supplies, there’s just been nothing quite like a fresh planner to start a new year (with Paper Mate flair pens), and basically keep my sanity. And ever since starting in the working world 12 (!!) years ago, a planner has been my number one way of keeping my life organized. This time of year I always do my due diligence and research to decide which one I am going to use for the year ahead. The planner world has become way popular in the last five years or so, too. And planner designers. You are not a planner designer unless you have an end cap at Target and/or an exclusive with a big supplier.
Over the years, I’ve used a lot of them. And over the years, people have asked me which one I recommend. Some even look forward to my yearly Instagram post (I just created its own hashtag, you’re welcome) so I thought this year since my blog is back, it’s officially time to do a post on planners. Talk about nerding out!
When it comes to planners, these are most of the big names and companies:
- Kelly Ventura
- Dabney Lee
- Emily Ley/Simplified Planner
- She Plans
- Whitney English/Day Designer
- Erin Condren
- Sugar Paper LA
- Blue Sky
Here is some feedback on what I’ve used:
Most customizable (if that’s a real word): Erin Condren
Erin’s Life Planners are super custom for every type of person. You can design one if you’re a teacher, a professional, a mom, a student, etc. I loved putting my name on mine a few years ago because I’m all about a monogram. And there are options for stickers and add-ons.
Most inspirational: Simplified Planner
Emily Ley’s approach to life is simplicity. Make things as easy as possible to get stuff done to make time for what matters most. I really like that and all the great goal setting and quotes in her planners. While a lot of the big brands have that too, there’s just something about Emily that inspires. Also honorable mention for Emily’s stretchy band bookmark to hold your page. I’m not sure if they still come with those or you have to buy as an accessory. Also, her stickers are really cute in theory, but day to day I don’t really use them. Emily is now available at Target, too for cheaper (and some of her cute accessories and calendars).
Most Beautiful: Day Designer
Don’t get me wrong — ALL of these planners are pretty. Sugar Paper has some amazing designs and Emily Ley’s sweet little stripes and pineapples are just too cute. But the Day Designer is the most beautiful thing. Whitney English’s designs are just my favorite and overall look the best.
Most Practical: Blue Sky
There is some overlap to this category because my current planner is Blue Sky but it’s Day Designer. For Target. Talk about confusing. But Blue Sky to me is most practical for day-to-day use. I don’t need bells and whistles… I just want to get shit done.
Overall, each of these planners have good qualities. Especially for the price you are paying. You can easily pay $50-$60. But they last all year. Just be weary of the spiral planners. I’ve had issues with them becoming unwound a bit mid-way through the year, but it’s an easy fix to get back. Oh and they will get dingy. That’s just symptomatic of you actually USING it!
When it comes to planners, these are the kinds they offer:
I won’t even get into all the different sizes and shapes — hard cover, soft cover, bound or spiral, small or big, personalized or not. Over the years, I’ve tried daily and weekly. What I like about daily is you have lots of space to write. However, you can only see two days at a time. You have to flip the page to see your week at a glance. To me, this wasn’t working because I plan my week out, then day to day. Also, I don’t write down every single calendar item, especially work meetings. Those are all on my Google/Outlook calendars and sync up nicely with my iPhone and alert me when I have a work meeting. I do write down bigger meetings though like planning sessions and presentations. And I always write down when I plan to workout/classes and after work events, parties, concerts, etc. So I didn’t need all that space for an agenda. What I did need, was more to-do and project list space, so I switched to a weekly version.
This was great but then I found myself using a separate piece of paper for to-dos. Something about breaking up to-dos day by day was just throwing me off. Basically, I write a main to-do list, a weekly to-do list, and a daily to-do list. On TOP OF THAT, I use the reminders app where I put the most minute, stupid things in there (“Don’t forget there’s been towels in the dryer for 3 days!” “You have ground beef you need to use up!” “Charge your fitbit” ← No wonder women are stressed, am I right? On top of all other obligations with children, work, home, etc. we have to remember to cook that ground beef before it goes bad! This article gets me.) YIKES. I digress…
My point is, I needed my planner to work harder and setups like these weren’t cutting it:
No designated to-do list area
Great weekly list but NO ROOM to write each day (this was my weekly from She Plans)
Almost there! To-dos but not in one designated area to see it all in one place (this is my current planner, Day Designer via Blue Sky from Target)
And now, the 2019 official planner selection: Noteworthy!
If you are still reading, thank you. Man do I ramble. But I am passionate about this topic!
As I was searching this month, I looked on the Blue Sky website and found this: “Noteworthy is the planner that you’ve been waiting for with everything all-in-one place. With six key features that include a weekly planner, to-do lists, goal setting, note taking, contact pages, and an extra pocket, this professional planner is going to be a #gamechanger.”
Finally, the set up I’ve been waiting for!
When you open it up, it has Monday through Sunday on the left. Perfect amount of space to write my schedule for the week.
And on the right is what I’ve been needing. A space to outline projects, reminders, notes and to-dos. All in one. It does not have bells and whistles though so if you want more goal-setting and words of wisdom, I’d recommend a Day Designer.
- If you are a planner newbie, start small and shop at Target for some name brands for less to get a feel of what you like
- If you do get a name brand planner, they are bulky (Day Designer especially). If you don’t want to carry that around, I suggest a Target version for half the size (and cost)
- One person’s to-do list and organization schedule is not another’s. Evaluate what you like in terms of scheduling and to-dos, and if you’re a daily or weekly kinda person, and then try out your planner
- Get a discount code! Blue Sky has one for signing up for their emails and I know most places will do a Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday deal
- You can’t go wrong! All in all, I’ve loved every planner I’ve ever owned because the people designing them are experts
I’ll try to check in mid-year to keep you posted to see if it’s lived up to its expectations.
Happy planning, friends!