My new planner

Are you a planner person? Do you still have a paper planner? I had one for as long as I can remember. I started using paper planners back in middle school and I’ve had one every single year since then. Back then, planners were not a ‘thing’. You could get cheap annual planners at the stationary store (but they were boring and blant) and you could often get one for free as a promotional gift from big companies. They were nothing nice to look at and I started early decorating the outside cover with pictures and the inside with colored pens and stickers, ticket stubs, and photos. My planner has always doubled as a planner/journal/to-do-list/notebook for me. It now serves in perfect unison with my Google calendar (because one thing it cannot yet do is “remind” me of things).
In the last decade or so, it seems like paper planners have gone through a huge popularity spurt. So many new companies sell planners + accessories now. It’s like a whole new market opened up. You can’t just buy planners, but all the accessories you can imagine. Stickers, pouches, stamps, you name it.  And the planners themselves don’t come cheap.

$50 for a planner are nothing. I mean, realistically, if you spread the cost out over a whole year (which is a little over $4/month), it doesn’t sound so bad, especially if you REALLY get some use out of your planner (and if you, like me, keep it afterwards, because it functions as a journal and memory keeper for you). Still, the initial investment stings a little.

I first purchased an Erin Condren Life Planner (ECLP) 6 years ago. I liked the size (7 x 9”), the weekly layout, the colorful design. I was so happy with it that I ordered a new ECLP three years in row. I liked the fact that you could customize the cover (even get a photo and/or your name printed on it) and that it came with some accessories, like stickers, to help you get organized

Two years ago, I got a little tired of the ECLP’s bright colors and when I came across a different planner with a similar size and layout, but in more muted colors, I made the switch to the Inkwell Press liveWELL planner. It just seemed to fit my taste better. Besides, I really fell in love with the quality of that planner; the hardcover with a slightly textured surface and with a thin, matte laminate coating (for easy cleaning), the double-wire binding (which makes the planner lie completely flat), an attached elastic band closure, laminated monthly tabs, and thick paper.

There is a snap-in ruler/page marker and a hold-anything accordion pocket, double sided pocket folder, yearly & monthly goal tracking sheets, and extra pages to track books, gifts and travel information. The only thing the Inkwell Press planner doesn’t include is stickers, but I don’t really use them anyway.


I’ve been an Inkwell Press liveWell planner fan since day one and I was pretty set on getting another one for 2017.  However, I wasn’t really thrilled with the new cover options (I’ve been so attached to my previous wood chevron design and the revised design is not my favorite) and I was looking around if there are other new planners out there (there have been so many!) that would appeal to me. What I realized in the process though is: I am super-picky.

I knew I didn’t want to go back to the ECLP, because I am not a big fan of the plastic-laminated cover anymore and the thinner paper (they feel cheap in comparison to the Inkwell Press hardcover + thick paper, but almost cost the same). I looked at the Happy Planner at Michaels, which also felt cheap in comparison and they were in fact cheaper (monetarily), but again, they have a plastic cover and I am also not a fan of the plastic ‘disc’-binding system.

My friend Sanna designed a really neat planner herself and I really liked what she came up with, but my issue was the size and the expenses involved in getting this thing put together.
A5 planners generally feel too small for me (I have large handwriting and need space), but the letter size planners are too big for my purse (because yes, I lug my planner around a lot). Sanna told me getting it bound, cut and printed at Kinko’s would have cost a fortune (not worth it) and printing it myself was not an option (because of the size issues).

I know, as I said: I’m picky.

I went to different stores, looked at different planners online, took weeks to make a final decision, but in the end, I caved and bought another Inkwell Press liveWELL planner last week. It really appeals to me the most in almost all aspects. The classic (vertical) layout  option was available through Office Depot this year, which meant there wasn’t going to be a run on the Inkwell Press website on release day, everybody anxious that they might run out of stock and you wouldn’t be able to get one.

I hem and hawed over the price a little bit, especially since I bought it after the new year and I was hoping to use a coupon or sale, which they didn’t offer, but I made a little fuss over it with the Office Depot employee and she was nice and at least gave me a 10%  ‘customer satisfaction’ discount. There you go, you just gotta ask ;) And ultimately, I think it was worth it.

Am I making this planner thing way too big of a deal? Maybe. But if you’re a fellow planner nerd, I know you understand. After all, I’ll be staring at this thing for the next  365 335 days.

How do you plan? Which planner do you use?

  1. I’d be lost without my paper planner too! I used to get the Erin Condren planners but stopped for the same reason as you – the bright colours were a bit much, and I didn’t find the quality really matched the price point. It cost almost as much to ship the planner to Canada as it did to buy the thing! I tried the Get to Work book last year – I liked it, but I think it would probably be better for someone more goal-oriented than me. I basically just use my planner to keep track of my family’s schedule and a running to-do list of chores, work, etc. so I don’t think I used it to its full potential. This year I went back to the Plum Paper planner. You can personalize it, purchase add-ons like a blog planning section, monthly bill tracking pages, contact pages, a fitness tracking section … I love it :)

    1. I actually looked at the Plum Planner too during my “decision process”… it was a bit too ECLP-ish for me, but I am glad that it works for you!!!

  2. I’m a paper planner person, too. This post makes me think that I need to consider trying the Inkwell planners next year, though, as your planner sounds beautiful! I’ve had an EC planner since 2011, I think? I’m totally sold and love it oh so much. I do use my outlook calendar at work if I need a reminder for things i have going on, but everything goes in my paper planner!

    1. We’re the exact same way… we do have a Google calendar at work that we all use (and which reminds you of meetings and stuff) but everything goes in my paper planner as well. I can really recommend the Inkwell Press planner.

  3. Because you use your planner for memory keeping and sort of journaling/diary (and of course for planning), it’s definitely worth it getting something you specifically want. I tried with the big planner, but ended up not using it so I bought the small one I told you about. I like have the full calendar month and writing small things here and there, but don’t use it much. My phone, on the other hand, is where I put everything, especially because I can share appointments with Matt so it pops up on his phone (via Google calendar because I have an iPhone and he has a droid). I do wish I had your sense of wanting to write everything down on paper and SO wish I was organized like you, but alas, I am not. I’m pretty much a disheveled mess!

    1. I totally get where you’re coming from…. the smaller planner works well for you then. And I also use Google calendar at work!

      … and you’re not a disheveled mess. Not everybody needs a paper planner in their lives as I do ;)

  4. I hope you might note ‘The City’ for April, and/or Yellowstone for May…..? The offer is still out there :)

  5. For YEARS I was an avid paper planner user & a few years ago I converted to digital only. I do miss the planner life but I still take notes on a paper calendar we have hanging in our bedroom and Google Calendar is my life now, ha. I LOVE your planner though, it is so pretty!

    1. Well, sometimes it’s the right thing to do to switch to something that is more practical in your life… :)

  6. Ooh, you may have sold me on this planner. I kinda love it. I’ve never been a huge paper planner person, so investing $50+ on one feels a little crazy to me, but damn, it’s pretty. And seems to have everything I would want! Oh, this is not good. ;)

    1. Sorry… or… you’re welcome? :)

  7. I’ve always, always been a paper planner person. But up until the last few years, I’ve had a really hard time finding a planner I liked. I’m also really picky. I’ve browsed the Erin Codren site, and even went to build a planner. I was going to buy one, but I wanted the changeable cover, and I don’t like any of the options for them, design-wise.

    I’ve researched and played with the idea of a bullet journal in place of my planner, but I’m not sure about that, either.

    I spend waaaay too much time thinking about planners, clearly.

    1. I like the idea of the bullet journal, too and was wondering if I could incorporate that into my IWP planner…. ;) I definitely feel you on the overthinking part… I do that too :)

  8. Finding the perfect planner is soooo hard. I started investing money in them too. 2016 I supported a crowdfunded one ( Ein guter Plan – they released an English version 2017) But it was not quite perfect so I switched to a “Klarheit” planner. I love most of it but don’t really like the monthly goal setting/review pages. Maybe I haven’t really gotten them. I guess there will always be things that don’t quite work out for me. I love looking at spreads on Instagram and found some contenders there. I hope you enjoy your planner. And if not, there is always next year.
    Have a great Friday

    1. Yeah, I will probably “look around” again next year (I always do), but so far I’ve come back to the IWP planner, because most of it works really well for me… I guess, it’s normal that there is always ‘something’ that you might not get use out of … have you ever thought about designing your own?

  9. I don’t currently use a planner. I’m attending PlannerCon in March to see if there’s a good one out there that’ll stick. :)

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