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The Best Day Planners [A Complete Review!]

November 15, 2017

By:

Erin Schrader

I will never, ever quit my obsession with all things Day Planners. I know that there is this thing called “technology” and “apps” and all that jazz, but I will always be a write things down kinda gal. If it doesn’t get written down, it will never happen. There’s also something deliciously gratifying about scratching something off of a list once complete that I don’t want to give up. I fear I will never feel accomplished in my life again if I do [that’s actually a true statement]. For years I have been using a planner meaning I’ve tried a few along the way. This year the LIY team thought it would be fun if we ordered several of the hottest planners on the market and reviewed them ourselves to see what we think! We also just all really wanted to place an order for planners for 2018 and needed to know which one was the VERY best so we could rest peacefully at night knowing we made the right selection for ourselves. All very important things, obviously.

This year we chose to order and test five different planners that our readers had recommended to us – The Day Designer, Erin Condren LifePlanner, Plum Paper ME Planner, May Designs Agenda and the Emily Ley Simplified Planner. On a personal note, when I started getting into this whole day planner craze, I started off with the Erin Condren LifePlanner and then the past three years have devotedly used The Day Designer. I couldn’t imagine ordering something different than that baby because, well I’ve been obsessed, but maybe, just maybe, I’m going to go a different route for 2018. Stay tuned for the rest of the post to find out. I’ll be sharing each of the five planners and our thoughts that go along with them. You’ll get to see the inside photos, learn a few tips/tricks and hear if any of the team decided to make the commitment to that particular one! Let’s get this planner party started! 

First up, we will start with the Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Here are the facts:

  • The average cost is around $55 for the LifePlanner which measures 7×9 [a little smaller than the others]
  • 12-month planner covering January 2018 – December 2018
  • This planner is available in a TON of different colorful cover options (all of which are laminated which means spilled coffee doesn’t become an issue!) and does have the ability to be customized and personalized at no additional cost which is awesome.
  • On the page styles, you get to choose if you want vertical, horizontal or hourly. We chose vertical which groups the day into morning, afternoon and evening. It does have a monthly overview every month and then Monday – Friday is covered in a two-page spread (see below). There isn’t a clear distinction between where you would write down appointments vs to-do’s so it would be at your discretion how you would want to do that.
  • At the back, there is a notes section complete with a couple note pages, coloring pages and stickers to use throughout the planner!
  • The coil on this seemed great and durable like it would hold up all year without a problem!
  • The paper is very nice and thick – almost like cardstock! When writing, it doesn’t show through on the following page which is nice!

While it’s a cute planner and I love the smaller size, I personally didn’t love the page layout as I love having each page be an entire day itself with both the hourly laying out AND a section to write down that day’s to-dos. None of the LIY team decided to go with this one for our needs! One thing to note – Erin Condren does also sell Teacher Planners and Wedding Planners!

Next up, the May Designs Agenda

Here are the facts:

  • Prices start as low as $20 which is the lowest priced planner we reviewed! With our customization, our final cost was $28.
  • Several sizes are available – we went with the largest at 7.5 x 9.75
  • 12-month planner covering January 2018 – December 2018
  • There are an insane amount of adorable cover options! You can then personalize your cover for an additional $5.
  • On the page layout, you do have the option to choose which style you would like from regular lines (free) to composition, appointment book, 2018 agenda, teacher planner, blank or dots (all an additional $3). We did elect to have the 2018 agenda.
  • Again, the whole week is on a two-day spread.
  • I did like at the beginning of the notebook was a page for 2018 goals and the first of each month had a page to write down goals, celebrations, and notes.
  • There are no tabs on this notebook or page markers so finding your page every day could be a little bit of a task.
  • The binding (stitching) feels good and like it shouldn’t have problems with use and wear.
  • The thickness of the paper isn’t too thick and does show a little through on pages when writing.

This planner is perfect if you are looking something very lightweight to throw in your purse. The amount of writing that you could do for each day is minimal [at least for my personal liking] so I didn’t go with it. None of the LIY team opted to purchase this one, however, if you are looking for a simple planner this could be a great cost effective [and very cute!] option!

Next up, I was probably most excited to see what this planner was all about –  the Emily Ley Simplified Planner.

Here are the facts:

  • The average cost is $58 which measures 7 x 9.
  • 12-month planner covering January 2018 – December 2018
  • This planner is available in four different pattern options and doesn’t have the ability to be personalized.
  • At the beginning of the planner, there is a folder page to hold things, a page of stickers and a 2018 Bucket List page which is fun!
  • Every month is tabbed a different color and there is a monthly overview at the start of every month. For the daily pages, each day is its own page with an hourly agenda from 6 am – 9 pm, a to-do list with 16 lines, a section to write down your meals for the day and a section to write notes. Saturday/Sunday does share a page and on Sunday it has a weekly prep checklist for the week ahead of consisting of reminders to plan meals for the week ahead, tidy up for a clean slate on Monday, write tasks/appointments for the week and fill your “tank” enjoy what matters most.
  • The coil on this seemed great and durable like it would hold up all year without a problem!
  • The paper is nice and thick! When writing, it doesn’t show through on the following page which is nice!

This planner is the most similar to The Day Designer that I have been using for years. The biggest difference to me is the size and weight [this one smaller and lighter] which is nice for carrying around and the pages are thicker on this one. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles as The Day Designer, but it has everything I need. This is the planner I decided to order for 2018! 

Next up, we have the Plum Paper ME Planner, which ended up being the MOST popular planner of the LIY team.

Here are the facts:

  • The average cost is $42 which measures 8 1/2 x 11 [the largest of all of the planners]
  • This planner is the most customizable planner we came across! You can choose the format of the planner [original, teacher, homeschool, hourly layout, etc] along with the start date of the planner, how many months you want it for and so on. We opted for a standard 12-month planner in hourly layout covering January 2018 – December 2018.
  • This planner is available in a crazy amount of different cover pattern options and can be personalized on the front free of charge! Another awesome option with this planner is that you can add sections (ie: budget, meal planning, blog planning, fitness planning, etc) We added the meal planning section for $5.50.
  • At the beginning of the planner, there are a few pages to write down special dates and ideas, plans or goals.
  • Every month is tabbed a different color and there is a monthly overview at the start of every month. There is also a page every month to write down three goals, birthdays, events and things to remember. For the daily pages, the entire week is on a two-day spread. There is an hourly list from 7 am – 9 pm and a to-do list with 4 lines.  At the very back there are two folder pages to hold papers and notes.
  • The coil on this seemed great and durable like it would hold up all year without a problem!
  • The paper isn’t as thick as Erin Condren or Emily Ley and the writing does show through a tiny bit through pages, but nothing distracting.

Because this planner is SO customizable, it’s hard for it not to be a great contender. Three of the LIY girls chose this one as their planner for 2018, however, I think for me personally it is a little large and I need more than 4 lines to my to-do list every day!

Last but not least, my dearly beloved, The Day Designer.

Here are the facts:

  • The average cost is $59 which measures 9 x 9.75.
  • 12-month planner covering January 2018 – December 2018
  • This planner is available in ten different pattern options and doesn’t have the ability to be personalized.
  • At the beginning of the planner, there is folder page to hold things along with several pages on goal setting for the year. It also has pages where you can plot out what your ideal month and week would look like.
  • Every month is tabbed and there is a monthly overview at the start of every month. For the daily pages, each day is its own page with an hourly agenda from 5 am – 9 pm, a to-do list with 17 lines, a section to write down today’s top 3 to-dos, a spot to write down anything that is due, dinner, dollars (take that as you will – maybe it’s a goal of how much money you want to make that day, how much you can spend that day, etc) and a don’t forget box. Additionally, it has a spot to write down notes each day and a little box to write down something you are grateful for that day. Saturday and Sunday do share the same page and at the bottom of that page, there is a section that says “Next Week” and has boxes for each day of the week for you to write something in.
  • The coil on this is my least favorite of all of the planners. For the past three years, the coil has come undone around November which makes the last month or two of the year a pain to use.
  • The paper isn’t as thick as some of the others, however, the writing doesn’t show through on the pages.

I know one of the LIY girls is ordering this one for this year. It pains me a little bit to say that I don’t think I am ordering this for 2018, however, I am excited to try something new for a year. We will see if I go back to ole faithful in 2019!

Well friends, that’s a planner wrap! If I missed anything or you have any particular questions – ask away and I’ll be happy to answer! Are you going to give any of these planners a try this year?! I’d love to hear your feedback! Cheers to a year of organization in the chaos 😉

photos shot by tina herschberger photography

share this with your best girlfriends:

  1. Megan says:

    Very informative!! I’m just starting to jump on the planner bandwagon after many years of keeping everything on a wall calendar. This will really help me pick out a good one next year! Have any of y’all used the create365 planners? They’re a little big for my taste but seem really popular, and I do like that they can be customized so easily. I also really like the reminder binder. The cover is not my favorite and I don’t like that there’s not options to change it, but the page layouts are bright and very user friendly! If y’all review any more planners soon, give both of these a try!

  2. Nancy says:

    I love learning about new planners. Thanks for the honest reviews. I’m tempted to make a switch but I’ve already started filling out my tried and true MyAgenda/MomAgenda spiral planner. Maybe a new one to review next year? The only thing I wish it had were tabs marking the months (but I make my own!)

  3. Nothing is more exciting than finding a new planner! I will admit, I usually go through three a year because I get tired of the one I picked. I love all of the bright colored ones!

  4. Janet says:

    The first planner I’ve purchased since college (nearly twenty years ago) and actually USE is the Passion Planner https://www.passionplanner.com/what-is-it/. I love so many things about it, especially the weekly “Space of Infinite Possibility”.

  5. Jules says:

    I usually get a new planner for myself on Christmas and last year I forgot to do so and when moving to Spain I wasn’t able to find any planner that run from January to december…they all started either in july or august :(, I ended up buying a blank notebook and ‘creating’ one myself…. It’s great and everything but there are so many great choices here that I will make sure I don’t forget to get one this year 😀

    Jules – http://www.thekiwidiaries.com

  6. Allie says:

    Love this review! If you ever do another one, I highly recommend reviewing Inkwell press!

  7. Danielle says:

    I have used the Passion Planner for the last 3 years and have loved it! Like you, I ordered a new one for 2018, so I’ll see if the Beyond Routine one is any better (specifically for entrepreneurs!), as I don’t think that there is a perfect planner, but this may just be close. I think you have a great line-up, and I am excited that I am not the only one who prefers paper to digital. Thanks for such a great post!

  8. Anna says:

    I’ve been using PlumPaper for four years now and they just keep getting better! I love that I can customize my start and end month, which is perfect for the school year. They just started selling interchangeable covers as well that snap in and out on the coil! I’ll never use another planner!

  9. Allyson says:

    No Commit30 review? That’s the option I went with this year. The cover choices aren’t stellar, but I love the layout and the thought-provoking quotes and goals sections.

    • Sara says:

      I also went with the Commit 30 Planner this year. It has all the sections I need and fits easily into my purse for on the go notes/appointments/etc. I purchased the monthly tabs and stickers for ease and pizazz!

    • Amanda says:

      I’ve been thinking about ordering the Commit30 for 2018! I was hoping LIY reviewed it!!!

  10. Katie says:

    I was also going to mention the Happy Planner! I used to do Erin Condren but these are similar (not personalized) and WAY cheaper. Usually around $15?? Can’t beat the price! (I get mine at Michael’s.) They have a couple different sizes now too. https://www.meandmybigideas.com/create365-thehappyplanner/

  11. Thanks. So helpful. Love Plum paper one!

  12. Mindy Reighard says:

    I’m starting a new job very soon and this review is so helpful to me. Thanks so much. Love what you are doing!

  13. Allison says:

    Does anyone know the difference between the Day Designer planners available on their web that cost $59 (plus you have to pay for shipping AND they are non-returnable!!) and the Day Designers available for $14.99 at Target?? Other than maybe a limited cover design selection. Thoughts?

    • Liz says:

      No idea but I ordered the cheaper one on amazon back in October and LOVE it! I actually ordered the pricier one, too, and liked the cheaper one more! It has a daily schedule and LOTS of lines for to do list lists.

    • Liz says:

      No idea but I ordered the cheaper one on amazon back in October and LOVE it! I actually ordered the pricier one, too, and liked the cheaper one more! It has a daily schedule and LOTS of lines for to do list lists. And by no idea I just can’t rem why I didn’t like the other one more…

  14. Dawn says:

    I used a passion planner for 2 years and loved them. I have recently switched to a Bullet Journal instead.
    You can design your own layouts and it can hold anything you want.

  15. Denise Kraft says:

    I love the one from Plum Paper! Are you aware of any codes out there for free shipping? It’s in my cart waiting.

  16. Kim M. says:

    Thank you for this review! I have not used a paper planner in almost 10 years and I’ve been feeling so disorganized I decided 2018 is time to get back to it. I’ve been reading reviews and scoping out websites for the past week and yours is the most comprehensive I’ve come across. Even the videos on the planner websites do not go into as much detail as you gals did. So thank you for helping me choose from the overwhelming number of options out there. I’m headed over to customize and order an Erin Condren for 2018!!

  17. Kimberly says:

    Thank you for this! While I wasn’t in the market for one, I needed one and just placed my order for an Erin Condren Monthly Planner. PSA – i received a $20 off email immediately after signing up, no minimum order.

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