I used to get a paper planner every year. During grad school I would go to Staples for a monthly/weekly planner each January. They carried the only planner I knew of that had a month at-a-glance spread (which I need and love) in addition to the weekly spread (which I need and love). I recently found my stack of old planners and had fun reading back through them—now that I’m removed from the stress of those old to-do lists, of course.
At some point I stopped buying a new planner every year though. I think it was when I started my current job 6 years ago, which is, of course, CRAZY. But we have Google Calendar at work! And Post-Its! And an iPad with the Reminders app! Somehow I’ve been able to manage.
But one morning I came across a blog post in a speech newsletter I subscribe to. It was a talking about the Erin Condren LifePlanner. I was familiar with Erin Condren a bit, as she is quite popular in the circle of speech bloggers I follow on Instagram, but I never thought I could drop half a Benjamin on a PLANNER, so I didn’t really consider the possibility of actually owning one myself. However, since my husband’s grandma had recently sent us some Christmas gift money, once I saw that video I KNEW this was going to happen. And after finding out my college roommate had also recently acquired one of her own (thanks for sharing your coupon code, Elisa!), it was basically a done deal.
Here’s a quick walkthrough, then I’ll go into a quick pro/con list.
The ability to personalize the cover was a huge selling point for me. There are over 50 basic designs (florals! stripes! metallics! sugar skulls!), and many of them can be further customized with your color choices. I’m a green fanatic, so I was all over that. You can also add your name, photos, initials, or a favorite quote, depending on the design chosen. I love that my cover is 100% unique, and it makes me so happy to look at that I KNOW I’ll use it.
The coil color is customizable too; I chose the platinum as it doesn’t cost extra, but you can choose black, gold, or rose gold for an extra $10 (this was not worth it to me).
Here’s the back cover (just as pretty as the front), and a removable clear zipper pouch that came with the planner. I keep my special planner pens in there so they’re always at hand—since I color code my entries, I can’t be without any of these 10 colors, just in case! And yet…
…there are 26 more I keep at home! I am borderline obsessed with good colorful felt-tip pens. Christmas gift card to Amazon? Spent! They are Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens, and they do come in smaller quantities if you’re not as crazy for colors as I am (also good for adult coloring books, I hear).
Anyway, the monthly layout looks like this:
There’s a nice space for monthly goals off to the side. I opted for the neutral color scheme for the inside (I liked the font better), but you can also choose a colorful theme.
Here’s half of a weekly spread. Again, this layout is customizable. I chose the vertical option, with the three boxes for each day. To me, it made sense to designate them for morning, afternoon, and evening, but I have seen examples of using each for to-do lists, events, journaling, Bible verses, menu planning, etc.
If you prefer, there are horizontal and hourly options as well. There’s also space off to the side that I use for things I need to focus on sometime during the week. I also appreciate that every week includes space for a Thankful Thought, because who doesn’t need reminders to practice gratitude more regularly, right?
I use this page near the front of my planner to document/plan my monthly essential oil orders. It would be a great place to track all kinds of monthly goals, projects, lesson plan themes, memory verses, or anything else you might need twelve of throughout the year.
The pocket in the back can hold whatever you need it to. In the photo are all things that came with the planner. There are a couple notecards, a sticker sample book, and a perpetual calendar that I thought were nice extra touches.
I love the random inspirational quotes sprinkled throughout. My husband made fun of this feature, which I will choose not to comment on.
I also appreciate the lined pages in back for all. the. lists. Obviously the year is off to a productive start for me. #itsonlyjanuary?
There are graph pages too, for more lists! I stole this idea for tracking chores from my friend and it’s one of the things I’m most excited about. Because who can remember the last time they cleaned their kitchen floor?
(Covering my ears because I don’t want to hear that you clean yours every day or week, ok?)
There are also some unlined blank pages for doodling or handwriting practice or taping pretty leaves to…whatever your heart fancies.
There are four pages of stickers that I’m using for my monthly spreads. There’s a whole page of birthday stickers, some fun event stickers (mani/pedi!), and then a bunch of blank stickers to fill in to meet your needs.
Overall, I’m thrilled with my decision. Why oh why did I ever move away from a paper planner? Now all my to-do lists and scheduled events for work and home are in ONE PLACE!
- Very customizable, from cover design to weekly layout to inside color theme. When doing my research, I was not able to find a planner at this price point (and there are lots) that had so many personalization options.
- Plenty of space for notes, goals, doodling, etc.
- Monthly and weekly spreads. SO key.
- Seems sturdy so far. The coil is thick metal and seems like it will withstand me carrying it everywhere (because I love it and can’t let it out of my sight).
- Bonus accessories: clear zipper pouch, pocket, wipe-off list areas on the inside covers, a few handy stickers. You can buy more online but, like Elphaba, I’m not that girl. I prefer to keep it simple. I’m happy with what was included.
- Pricy, but no more so than any of these other higher-end planners. If you’ve invested something, chances are you’ll use it more. Kind of like that whole gym membership philosophy, right?
- Took longer than I expected to arrive. I placed my order before the end of the year but it didn’t ship till January 5. I even paid extra for slightly faster shipping and still didn’t receive it till January 11. So if you know you want one for next year, order early.
- For planner to be most effective, you must actually DO the things you have written down in pretty colors. Although I don’t think that’s unique to my planner.
You can read more about the Erin Condren LifePlanner here: https://www.erincondren.com/lifeplanner.
If you’re interested in purchasing one of your own, I have two 20% off codes I’ll give away if you comment that you want one!
Melissa Harden is a full-time elementary school speech language pathologist and mama to a little man who will be, unfathomably, two this year. Her kitchen is chronically messy and her best friends are those people for whom she doesn’t feel she needs to clean it even a little. Melissa loves reading, coffee, grammar, colorful pens, snuggling, essential oils, and snark. She spends way too much time on the internet but vows to change that someday.