My stationary addiction is strong. I’ve always LOVED a good blank notebook, finding that one pen that writes the best on the nicest paper, and yes, the smell of a bouquet of freshly sharpened Ticonderoga #2 pencils. So a few years ago when I found out there’s this whole community of women online still using paper planners and that crazy-amazing boss ladies all over the country were making beautiful paper planners…my mind was blown. Finally, I had found my people.
Like most of the planner-obsessed I love experimenting with different makers, styles, and uses for these pages. And since it’s that time of year, when academic year planners are starting and new calendar year planners are launching; I decided to put together a review of whats what, of three of the most popular planners. **not an affiliated post, all opinions are my own**
Simplified Planner by Emily ley
Since my first SP purchase was a year ago June when the 2016/2017 academic years launched, I stuck with the academic daily this year as well.
When it comes to simple, pretty, clean and well designed; this planner takes the cake. I’ll admit I get distracted easily by fun planner stickers and accessories filling my Instagram feed from other brands. But there’s something about Emily’s planner, about taking one day at a time, that’s refreshing. I love that its not just a spiral bound book with blank calendar pages, but that everything about it is intentional. And if you take the time to read the book she wrote, ‘Grace Not Perfection,’ you’ll totally get it. I love products that have a story, and wow hers does.
There are several different options when choosing your Simplified Planner. You can choose between academic year (Aug-July) or calendar year (Jan-Dec). You can also choose between weekly spreads and daily spreads. I have alway used daily spreads because I like time blocking my day, even if it doesn’t go as “planned.” (A toddler lives here soooo….) But if you don’t time block your day, and you like having blank space just to write appointments, reminders, etc then the weekly edition is just as pretty, with the same pretty cover choices. Mine pictured here is sold out in academic daily (sorry!) but the calendar year planners just launched, and they are gorgeous!
I really love how there’s a specific place in the daily planner for weekday meals. I totally believe in meal planning (that’s whole other post), and so I love that there’s already a spot there, so when I am planning dinners for the week all I do is literally fill in the blank. It’s awesome.
The only con, if you can even call it that, is that it’s a little big to fit in an average size handbag if you like taking your planner with you everywhere. Personally mine stays open on my kitchen bar top most days, since I don’t work outside my home, this works for me. If you carry a larger handbag, especially a tote style bag, then it totally fits no problem.
Order online at www.emilyley.com
Life Planner by Erin Condren
Erin was my first love. The first planner I purchased when I discovered they existed. Last year I ordered a calendar year version on Cyber Monday (great deal, sign up for her emails on her site if you want to find out if there will be a sale this year too!).
I’ve used both the vertical blank column version, and the vertical time blocked column versions, and I have to say I found both equally as useful in their own way. Both versions have a full week visible at once. In different seasons of life I’ve found this helpful or overwhelming, depending on what my life looks like at the time.
In the long run, for my current season, it’s overwhelming. I find myself not being able to focus on one day at a time and jumping back and forth because I see blank space ahead and think I need to fill it. But this is just me and how my weird brain works. There have been other times where I felt like I HAD to see the whole week at once in order to function.
Life Planners are also great for creatives. If you love washi, stickers, memory books Erin has you covered. Super cute sticker books, sticky notes and perpetual calendars that all match back to her pretty planners. Did I mention interchangeable covers?! And personalization? For reals. If you like variety (or just have commitment issues) you can order just the cover in another design, and get it personalized with your name or even your personal photos.
Here the only downside is I have noticed that when traveling with it a lot or getting pulled in and out of tote bags, the covers can show where and tear. But being as you can order a new one for about $10, not a big deal in my book.
Order online at www.erincondren.com
Happy Planner by MAMBI
The first upside to the Happy Planner is that more than likely you can walk into your local Michael’s store and find a huge display of their products. Planners (in multiple sizes!), stickers, accessories, you name it. And that’s a huge plus in that you can flip through the pages before you buy. The content is most comparable to the Life Planner, as they have a vertical weekly spread with 3 blank spaces per day, which makes it super flexible. I’ve seen them used as planners, memory books, prayer journals, blog planners, meal planners… the list goes on and on.
At the beginning of each month there’s a one page kind of overview for likes, dislikes, what you’re cooking, eating, loving etc for that month. Its a nice way to capture that moment in your life. I’ve enjoyed going back and looking at previous months, to remember new recipes I may have already forgotten about or movie or book I liked.
The major way these differ from the first two I mentioned is how they’re bound. Happy Planners are held together with unique plastic disks instead of spiral bound coils. The cool thing about this is they also sell their own hole punch (which is really more like a rectangle punch) so you can add your own pages. You can also purchase larger discs if your planner gets too thick to be held together with the disks it came with. All of this adds to the never-ending possibilities of this planner.
Like the others they make hundreds of stickers, washi, folder inserts, and more. (I’m a sticker book addict and I use their stickers in any and every planner I use)
My only issue with the Happy Planner is portability. The plastic disks that bind your planner stick out in a way that when thrown in a tote bag or purse, it often catches on things when pulling it out. Not a really big deal, but if you’re in a hurry and your fighting a toddler at the same time; its a little cumbersome.
There are so many more I could name, but haven’t used them personally yet. Let me know how you like to use your favorite planner!