New Year = New Planner.
Basically, that’s the most exciting thing about the new year to me. As December slowly melts away, I’m closer and closer to a fresh, clean planner full of dreams and promise. It’s like getting brand new school supplies, but for grownups.
Judging by the countless hours it took me to choose my new planner online, I am not the only person who feels this way. There were so many options! So many blogs dedicated to reviews! So many videos! Bright ones, serious ones, artsy ones, structured ones, planners for every taste and every need.
So how is it possible that it took me, a (self-labeled) planner expert, so long to choose the right one? I’ll tell you why- I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for. Last year I used the Spark Planner (now known as the Volt Planner) and I really thought it was perfect for me. Weekly and monthly goal pages, writing prompts, 30 day challenges- all this stuff I think I want to do, but, it turns out, I don’t. The planner is definitely right for some people, as evidenced by many great reviews, but for my scattered, ever shifting life, it became one more thing to do, instead of something to contain the doing.
I have a husband who lives in another state with his own crazy schedule (often including his three kids), an acting career, blogs and other writing work, many freelance jobs, a rotating list of current projects, multiple classes and workshops, not to mention my (attempt to have a) social life. I need organization. I need peace. I need everything in one place.
I did not need homework to prompt more goal setting.
So for me, what I needed was everything together so my brain could rest. I wanted to look at it all, and be able to plan ahead- somehow. I wanted to stop putting some things in my planner, some things in Evernote (which I still love), some things on my bill tracking worksheet, some things on another calendar, some things set as reminders, some things on my “to do list” pad….you get the idea.
Also, as mentioned, I don’t have a 9-5 job. Not even close. I have to be able to block out the hours of my day and prioritize tasks, or I will never get anything done.Yes, I need to think about the big life picture, but really, that life happens one day at a time. I need a planner that helps me to remember that.
Thus, the Day Designer. The best thing that ever happened to me. (Except my husband.) (Ok, and my family.) (But, really, it’s third.)
Here, for you, is a little walk through of this planner, so you can see if it would fit your needs as well.
The first thing I LOVE about the Day Designer is how beautiful it is! I’m ten times more likely to use something if it’s lovely, so this matters to me. This is one area where the plain black Spark Planner fell a little short, in my opinion.
Day Designer offers many different designs, and I chose Painterly Floral from the Flagship Collection. It just made me feel happy inside.
Pretty, right? Totally inspiring.
It arrives in gorgeous packaging, and you really feel like you’re unpacking a little treasure. Very luxe.
The beginning of the Day Designer has a few goal setting pages, or really what I would call “check in” space. Here you can do a “Reality Check,” charting how you spend your time and money, and how you wish you did. There is a page to help you pinpoint your “Core Values.”The next two pages are dedicated to HEART goals (Help Yourself, Everyone Else, Attitude & Academics, Resources, and Trade & Career- HEART), broken down into chunks of time, followed by space to sketch out an “Ideal Month” and “Ideal Week.” My schedule changes so much, I glued a piece of paper over the “Ideal” pages and listed some broad 2017 goals instead, which is more useful for me.
That’s one thing about this planner I love- as structured as it is, it still has the room to make it exactly what you need.
Here are some examples from the planning pages in front:
The layout is simple, beautiful, and organized. The corners of the book have little gold protectors, and the months are divided by these gold tabs:
While there is no ribbon or band to hold your place, that’s a detail I personally find I don’t miss. If you feel differently, you could easily glue one in, or insert any kind of bookmark you like.
Each month has a monthly calendar view first, which I use to mark big things like trips, birthdays or anniversaries, kids’ weekends, etc. This is a great space for a quick overview of what’s to come, and there is a blank space on the side to write monthly goals, things to remember, anything you like. The major holidays are already marked as well, a very helpful feature for someone like me who always forgets when I shouldn’t expect the mail to come. (Come on, residual checks!)
The biggest difference between the Day Designer and most other planners is that this one devotes a full page to each day. (The exception is the weekend- Saturday and Sunday are side by side on a shared page. I assume this is because the planner is already pretty thick, and obviously this saves an extra 50 pages.)
This is the part that gave me the most pause at first, and yet ultimately made me fall in love with the Day Designer. Here is a typical week day page:
I mean….this is genius. My schedule RIGHT NEXT to my to do list. Two things I consult every day of my life, all in one place. YES. This is a life saver, I’m telling you.
The hours are marked from 5am (a bit early for my taste!) to 9pm. That’s a lot of space to block out time in detail, if you want, or keep a schedule straight if it’s packed with meetings or a lot of different activities. I absolutely love it. If I could customize it, I might start at 6am and go to 10 instead, since my nightlife is more active than my morning life, but that’s just me.
We start with a quote at the top, some little inspiration or nugget of wisdom. The space right below this is proving invaluable, so far. First of all, you write your top 3 priorities for the day in a special place. For me, this is huge. I typically start each day with a to do list so long I either shut down and do nothing, or do the easy stuff because I know I can handle it. This box keeps me on track. If I do nothing else today, as long as I accomplish these, I’ll be ok.
The little boxes next to this are “Due,” “Dinner,” “Dollars,” and “Don’t Forget.” At first I wasn’t sure if I would really use or need them. I don’t plan out dinners, or really need to, for example. However, I’ve found use for each space! “Dinner” and “Don’t Forget” I use for the same purpose, ignoring the “Dinner” label. I went through the entire year and wrote birthdays, anniversaries, and dates we have the kids in these spaces. Then, in the “Dollars” box, I write any bills due that day, which I cross off once I’ve paid them. I use a separate bill pay checklist, but this way I have a backup reminder in case I accidentally skip something.”Due” is used for things like library books and class assignments.
Underneath, you’ll see “Notes” and “Daily Gratitude.” I’m BIG on listing things you are grateful for, so I love this box. I write one thing in the evening specific to that day. (I keep a gratitude journal as well, but this is a great supplement.) The “Notes” space is particularly great, because different people will have different needs, and you can make it whatever you want. I use it as a place to write a little checklist for things I should (or try) to do every day, like meditate or practice a language. I also write down the workout(s) I have planned for the day. I’ve seen other people use it to track their food, download their day, write down a new vocab word each day, log cute things their kids said- you can definitely make this space your own!
As I mentioned, the weekend days are together. I don’t love this, since my weekends are as busy as my week days, most often, but I can’t imagine 50 more pages in this thing, either. It is substantial, you should know. Not heavy or huge (it measures 9″x 9.75″, and weighs 2 lbs), just thick. Here is an example of the weekend page:
You have a quote, a few slots for “to do” priorities, and the same hourly schedule of 5am-9pm. Across the bottom, a small weekly overview for a quick glance, seven small boxes, one for each day. Helpful to prevent constant page flipping.
That pretty much sums it up! Really simple, yet beautiful and comprehensive. There are a few notes pages scattered throughout, but not many, so if you need a lot of free space to draw, brainstorm, or explore, this probably isn’t the planner for you. However, if you are trying to contain a lot of different pieces of you life into one place, I highly recommend checking this one out.
It isn’t cheap- the Flagship Collection is priced at $49-$59, and the gorgeous A5 Luxe Leather Binder is currently priced at $159 and comes with a starter pack. Shipping for me (to Michigan) cost a flat rate of $15, though I’ve seen a $5 flat rate advertised at times. It is worth the money, in my opinion, and if I continue loving it as much as I do so far, I think a switch to the longer lasting A5 Luxe Collection may be a worthwhile treat for 2018!
If you would like to check out more for yourself, check out their website: http://daydesigner.com/
You can even print out pages on the site to try it for free!
I am not receiving any perks or kickbacks for this review, so you know it’s honest! 🙂
If you have any questions, experiences to share, or other planners you love, feel free to post in the comments section or send me an email. Happy Planning, and Happy 2017!