I’ve been using an Emily Ley Simplified Planner – in its various styles and forms – for almost three years now, and – as you know if you’ve read here for any time at all – I’m a huge fan of basically everything Emily Ley does! In honor of the new 2016-2017 planner launch today, I thought I’d give you a peek inside my personal planner and share a little about how I use it to keep up with my work, home, family, and personal commitments. There’s no cute washi tape (OK, maybe one piece) or professional, styled photographs (as much as it pains me) here, just a real mom/teacher, with my real planner, on my real desk, sharing what works for me! (Plus, at the bottom of this post, I’m showing off my brand new 2016-2017 leather-bound Weekly planner and talking about why I decided to switch to that style for next school year… Scroll down if you just want to jump to that!)
So, first, a look at my 2016* Daily Planner:
*Note that this is last year’s edition that I’ve been using since January. See the EL website for all of this year’s updates not mentioned here.
Even though I love ALL of the Simplified Planner designs, I went with Happy Stripe last year because it looks, well, happy to me. I love that the stripes and gold are preppy/classic looking, but the colors are bright and fun. This is Emily Ley’s signature pattern and one she says she will make every year, which is good news, because it’s pretty much perfect. (I’m also slightly obsessed with this year’s Fancy Floral.)
I’ve only been using this one for about five months, but it goes to and from work with me every day and gets thrown in my purse or school bag on the regular. I also fold back the coils every single day when I sit it on my desk (which Emily said on Facebook yesterday is totally fine now), and it’s still held up really well. (As a side note: I had a problem with my very first SP’s coils messing up. I emailed the team and they gave me a credit to buy a brand new planner ASAP. Since then, they’ve updated the coil technology or whatever it is, and I haven’t had any issues. Good product + Good customer service.)
This is the calendar year edition – which won’t go on sale until September for 2017 – so it runs all the way through December. I’m confident that it would work just fine for all that time, but I simply can’t resist the desire for a “fresh start” at the beginning of every school year and every calendar year – so I usually only use my planners for about six months. (Yes, I know that’s excessive. Some people have alcohol and drugs or Netflix – I have planners.) More about this below, but I love starting the school year with an Academic Planner (the ones that are being released today) because I can map out my whole year at one time. I still end up copying half of that onto a new one in January, but it’s nice to see it all on the calendar. (Yes, I’m crazy.)
Inside the front cover, I keep stamps, notecards, and anything else that might need my attention that week – receipts for returns, forms that need to be filled out for Sam, etc. The folder works pretty well, but I did find that it tore in the corner when I put one of the coordinating EL Maybooks in it. It isn’t a big deal because I just stuck a cute piece of tape on it, and I like attaching the tiny binder clip to hold things in and make sure they don’t fall out in my bag anyway. (This one is part of set I found at Target in the fall. They also have gold ones that would look great too.)
Each month is marked with a colorful laminated tab and begins with a two page Month-at-a-Glance section. This is the space I probably use the most in my day-to-day life because it serves as my “one stop shop” for jotting down all my long-term plans – events, deadlines, appointments, etc. I use this just like you would use any calendar: Whenever something comes up that needs to be added to my planner, it goes here first; and I worry about the other pages later.
For the first time this year, I established a little color-coding system for my planner. In years past, I’ve only written in pencil because I’m so anal about the neatness; but, I made myself promise not to be so nuts with this one, and I just use white-out if I make a mistake. The paper holds up nicely (even with white out), the pens (I use either Le Pens or Paper Mate Flair) don’t bleed through, and I’ve found that having a different color for each area of my life helps me make sense of everything visually.
It’s nothing novel, but I basically have a pen color for each “category” of my life: Orange = Work, Purple = Personal (things like my own doctor’s appointments, coffee-dates, etc.), Fuschia = Blog, Green = Family/Household (events we will all go to, vacations, and the like), Pink = Nora, Light Blue = Sam, and Dark Blue = Jeff.
If you look really closely, you’ll notice that I don’t use the colors perfectly because, frankly, I don’t always have all those pens around, but I try to whenever possible. (Like a total nerd, I keep a bunch of colored pens inside a little pencil pouch in my purse that goes everywhere with me.) I also use these same colors/categories on the Daily pages of my planner, and I have similar ones for each category on Google Calendar* as well.
<< *Jeff is a tech guy, and it works well for us to have a shared electronic calendar; plus, I really like having that feature on my Apple watch, but I still much prefer a paper planner. For now, I simply add everything to one of my planners (whichever is most accessible at the time) as they come up and then regularly – usually on Sunday evenings – check to make sure both are up-to-date and matching. It’s a little extra work, and it probably isn’t the ideal system, but it works fine and I like that it forces me to double check my schedule every once in a while. >>
I use the notes column on the left of the calendar to write myself little reminders for things that need to be done that month that aren’t necessarily date specific and/or to keep myself focused on my goals for that month, and I occasionally tape an appointment reminder card or stick a post-its on months down the road with notes to myself (like “launch eBook” or “start planning birthday party”) so I don’t forget to schedule and add them to my calendar when the time comes.
In the pictures above, you’ll notice the little “Best Day Ever” magnetic clip in the top corner. I ordered that from Emily Ley a while back and use it to connects the monthly spread with the specific day’s page. This makes flipping back and forth between the two super easy. (It’s only $5.00 and a nice little addition in my opinion. Of course, a paperclip or binder clip would work just as well!)
As for the Daily pages…
This may be different than how most people use them, but I actually keep these pages completely blank until the week of or – sometimes – even the day before. Then, on Sunday evenings (or later as needed), I simply flip back and forth from the calendar to fill in my daily schedule and assign work, personal, and blog “to dos” (from a running list I keep on Google Keep) for the day. If something doesn’t get completed on one day, I simply write it again on the next day. There is also a section for recording dinner plans and any other notes (I usually put my blog post topic) for the day.
I chose the Daily design this year because a.) I wanted to be better about managing my time and thought that scheduling out my days might make me more productive, and b.) I liked that it had a full column for listing lots of To Dos for each day. I like that the Daily layout gives me a full picture of every day and what, specifically, needs to be accomplished when. It does help me manage my time, pay attention to how many hours I have in a day, and be specific about my plans. I think the Daily is PERFECT for someone who is very organized, has a different schedule – with lots of meetings, appointments, etc. – most days, and who prefers to stick to a strict timeline.
Which brings me to to my choice for next year —
The 2016 – 2017 Leather-Bound Weekly Edition
It even surprised me, but I ended up finding all the extra space in the Daily planner a bit overwhelming and decided to make the switch back to a Weekly Simplified Planner for next school year. Even though I intentionally chose the Daily to give me more space for writing in a specific schedule and a longer to do list, it turned out that I really don’t need either of those features much at all for my current life stage.
The other big reason why I switched to a Weekly for next year is because I realized that the daily schedule just isn’t all that necessary or practical for my life right now. First, most of my days are exactly the same from 7 – 2 or 3 because that’s when I’m in school, so good chunk of space was just wasted every day or I wrote the same thing over and over which was silly and not simple. In addition, if I’m really being honest with myself, even my best laid plans don’t usually work out just right when it comes to a schedule in the afternoons/evenings. Sure, I stick to things like “Swim Lessons at 5PM” or “Doctor’s Appointment at 3:30,” but the little things like “fold load of laundry,” or “do exercise video” rarely get done when I say I’m going to do them. I’m kind-of OK with the fact that my time at home can’t be all that prescribed during this season of having little kids, inconsistent naps, etc. right now; but, to be honest, it was kind-of discouraging to see my plans written out (and not achieved) every day. Likewise, with so much space for making a To Do list, I often wrote WAY more than could ever reasonably be done in one day and ended the day feeling kind-of like a failure.
I like that the Weekly design leaves plenty of space to write in the “non-negotiables” of each day’s schedule (on the left) and just enough room for a couple of “top priority tasks” on the right, but it doesn’t hold me to an hourly routine or a big long list of things to do like in the Daily. I also really love that I can see my entire week on one spread which helps me pace myself (;)) and not overbook.
If I was at all undecided from all of the above, the reveal of the new leather-bound covers totally won me over! I’m kind-of going through a leather stage right now (bag, cell phone case, wallet, key chain), and I love the simple sophistication of a solid leather cover, especially the navy. (It still has the happy stripe pattern inside for a pop of fun too!) I also like that this style is much smaller and lighter, which is nice since it “lives” in my purse – not on my kitchen counter or desk like some stay-at-home or work-from-home moms’ planners might. In addition, I am hoping that the dark color will stay cleaner and that the leather will be easy to wipe off if I need to. (EL says that magic erasers or even baby wipes work great to clean covers.)
I intend to stick to the same routine of color-coding and using the monthly spread to record everything up front and then filling in each week on Sunday evenings as I get ready for the new one next fall. This one (and the Daily, I believe) also has space for a 2016-2017 Bucket List in the front and a new 30-page “Notes” section in the back for recording memories, making lists, or whatever you want.
It’s a small thing, but a new planner really is the BEST in my opinion. I’m looking forward to simplifying even further with this planner in the fall, and I’m already counting down the days until August when I can start using it! (OK, I want to enjoy my summer first, but you know what I mean!)
A few other things you might be wondering about…
- I have used Le Pens (EL’s recommendation), but I really prefer Paper Mate Flair pens. I tested it myself and there is absolutely no bleed- through on the pages. (EL is really proud of her new paper this year. I can’t tell a huge difference from the years previous, but I’m not really into paper, and it’s all obviously high quality.)
- The Weekly planner runs from August 2016 through December 2017 (17 months), though we all know I’ll never make it that long before itching for a new one. Because you get five extra months (the Daily is only 12), and it’s leather bound, it’s the same cost as the Daily – $58.00.
- The Weekly planner comes with a ribbon page marker, but I’ll probably still use my “Best Day Ever” clip because I like it. 🙂
- The leather-bound style is called “lay-flat,” and it does – mostly. The cover lays totally flat, but the pages still pop up a little bit (see above photo of Weekly spread), and it’s pretty much impossible to fold one side behind the other; BUT, it is easy to write on and the page marker makes it easy to open and close as needed.
- Both editions come with beautiful colored, laminated tabs for each month, colorful details on each page, and inspirational quotes throughout. They really are the prettiest!
- All planners are shipped super fast (like, you’ll get it in a couple of days) and come in a lovely navy box (which I use to keep spare notecards, post-its, etc. in in my desk).
- In her Facebook chat yesterday, Emily assured us all that they DO NOT anticipate a sell out today (or any time super soon), so don’t stress!
So, there you have it. Everything you ever wanted to know – and more – about my Simplified Planner obsession. What did I forget? What other questions do you have?
One more thing…
I want to be fully transparent with you: The awesome team at Emily Ley sent me my new planner for free in exchange for this (100% honest) review. In addition, all the links in this post are affiliate links meaning I get a small cut of the sale if you buy through one of them. That said, I’ve purchased all my other planners and accessories from Emily Ley for myself at full cost, and I truly love everything I’ve ever gotten of hers. I would sing the Simplified Planner’s praises (and often do/have) for absolutely nothing all day long. I’ve used a lot of planners, and this is, by far, my favorite. It’s well made, it looks good, and the details are PERFECT. I really do believe it is well worth the (admittedly hefty) price tag.
Even more amazing, I love that Emily Ley is a busy working momma, just like me. She has a passion for making women’s lives more simple, more beautiful, and more focused on the things that matter. I absolutely LOVE her mission for her business and have been blessed to watch the EL brand experience incredible growth over the last few years while still maintaining the humility, grace, and faith that it was built upon. It is easy to support a business like this one.
Emily posted the following on her Facebook page last night, and I thought it would be perfect to close with:
I feel so humbled and proud that this little dream (that started as a solution to the overwhelm I felt in my own heart) is so much more than just *me* now. It’s no longer just me and my laptop in my guest room; it’s a team of seven incredible women. It’s becoming less about googling how to do “all the things” and more about deciding how to do “all the things” with sincere grace and intention… It’s about products that are so fine-tuned and full of heart that we are so proud to say they’re ours. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for supporting us the past five years. It just occurred to me that The Simplified Planner is officially five years old. What an adventure. May we never be a “planner company,” and always be a company that equips and inspires women toward the good stuff of life. xo, EL
Again, THANK YOU for trusting me and supporting this little ole blog! It is my HONOR to recommend great products from great women! (Click here – or the image below – to shop now!!)
So… What are you choosing?!?!