Admission: I’m not just a romance writer. I’m also a librarian with OCD tendencies when it comes to keeping things organized. But since I’m not in an active library at the moment, my poor family is on the receiving end of my need to clean and catalog things in the house. Including the dog!
And one of my favorite ways to keep track of all things kid, house, and family-related is with the perfect daily planner. Through the years, I’ve used them all. Franklin Covey. Day-timer. At-A-Glance. Then I moved into digital planners. All went well until I had my twins and decided to stay home. Since I now spend most of my time in the car, on the sidelines of cross country meets, and waiting in Kiss and Ride lines and doctors’ offices, old-fashioned pen and paper works better for me.
I’m also very visual and like to play with markers, colored pens, and washi tape. Can’t do that on my cell phone. 🙂
Luckily, as my kids grew up, so did an entire industry of new companies that took planners to another level of usefulness and attractiveness.
I’m not going to go through all the lovely new planners out there. Honestly, there are so many now that I can’t keep up. Today, I’m going to talk about my favorite three brands that suit this stage of my life. As a wife, a mom of teenagers, and a writer determined to have a publishing career, I need a planner that can handle my career aspirations, my creative life, my home’s organization and budget, and my family’s schedule. I need a book that will keep my family and career goals front and center. And, like the shoes in my closet and photos on my camera, it has to be beautiful.
First up is the Erin Condren Life Planner.
So what makes this planner such a remarkable bestseller, besides the totally awesome removable/changeable custom covers that can be switched out during the year? It’s a weekly planner with a thick coil that won’t separate or snag. It has laminated montly tabs, pages to keep track of your goals, motivational quotes, and thick paper that won’t bleed through with your favorite markers. There is also a two-sided durable pocket folder, a plastic side-zip envelope to hold important things like pens, stickers, and invitations. (And the occasional parking ticket!?!) It also has notebook pages, a perpetual calendar, and two-page monthly layouts.
New this year, the weekly planner can be ordered in horizontal or vertical format.
I love this planner because it keeps everything in place. There is tons of room to take notes, and you can even order special coils that pop into the planner and hold things like Golden Heart Reception invitations and special photos. 🙂
Embedded below is one of the many videos which gives a good overall description of the planner, and I encourage you to check out the website. The company offers a ton of add-on products as well as wedding planners and teacher planners.
As much as I love this planner, this year I decided to move on to a more “adult” planner. My kids are older and there are more demands on my time than ever. So I needed a daily planner that allowed me to mark out my time in individual hours. Also, as cute as the Erin Condren planner is with the stickers and washi tape, it wasn’t the most professional planner to open up when meeting with my agent. So for 2016, I decided to make a change to . . .
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Emily Ley’s Simplified planner is a little bit smaller in height and width, but since it’s a daily planner instead of a weekly one, it’s thicker. Similar to Erin Condren, Emily Ley’s planner offers an inside front pocket folder, laminated monthly tabs, a perpetual calendar, space to write down dreams and goals, along with both motivational quotes and scripture verses. It also has gold corner protectors, combined weekend pages, and two-page monthly layouts.
The paper weight is thinner than the paper in the Erin Condren planner, and the company did that to keep the overall weight of the planner down. But the main reason I decided to make a change is because of the daily page format. For the first time, I can work out my day by the hour. There’s also space to keep track of to-do lists, dinner, and other notes for the day.
The other thing I like about Emily Ley is that all of the planner pages, plus others, are available on her website in free printable form. Before I chose this planner, I printed out the daily pages and used them to make sure the planner met my needs. The other free printables include blog post planner forms (which I love), password trackers, contact lists, etc. And they all fit into another Emily Ley product called the Home Based Binder. (which I also have and love!)
Here is Emily Ley’s promotional video. I not only fell in love with the planner, but I love the story behind the company.
There is one more planner I’d like to share, one that I almost purchased this year. It’s the Whitney English Day Designer.
It’s similar to the Emily Ley planner but has a few key differences. For one, it’s smaller in height, and the inside pages are a heavy white paper. The brass wire-o spiral coil is one of the nicest ones I’ve seen. The Day Designer has gold-foil monthly tabs, a perpetual calendar, inside front cover pocket, gold corner protectors, goal planning worksheets, combined weekend pages, two-page monthly layouts, and uses a grey-scale on white paper to avoid a stark contrast.
The Day Designer is also much more focused on a woman’s entrepreneurial life than a life with kids. That’s not to say it’s not a family planner. It is, but its focus is on building a creative vision for your life and your business. Not surprising since Whitney English is a successful creative business consultant. There’s even an entire section in the beginning where you work through your core values to help you come up with your goals for the year. As awesome as that is, I’m just not ready for that kind of planner yet. I’m still overwhelmed with orthodontist appointments, SAT prep courses, and science fair projects.
But, I have to admit, it is absolutely beautiful. And I look forward to the day when I can try this one out. (Would it be bad to have two–or three–planners?)
One of the things I love about this planner is the two-column format used for the daily pages. There are also added boxes for things like dinner, top three to-dos, money/budget, and there’s even a daily gratitude box. (I love that!) And, like Emily Ley, Whitney English has a free printable library so you can try out her pages before purchasing the book. (Definitely worth checking out!)
Since I don’t own this planner, I don’t have any of my own photographs. So I chose two videos from the company and they are embedded below.
Video about the planner . . .
Video about the designer . . .
I hope you enjoyed learning about these planners. Since authors don’t write alone in a cave (wouldn’t that be nice?), it’s critical that we all find a system that helps us keep our priorities clear and our word count flowing. But these planners aren’t cheap. They range in price from $50.00 to $60.00 which is why I always ask for mine as a Christmas gift. There’s another benefit of using a planner which helps me justify the cost. My previous planners are now on my shelves as memory books. They’re stuffed with photos, memories, notes and any other tidbits I’ve collected from our life as a family. My planners are one of the first things I’d grab if we ever had to evacuate because of the zombie apocalypse (which my kids assure me will happen)!
But before you decide between these or any other planner, I urge you to go to YouTube. There are tons of videos comparing and contrasting all of these planners as well as some of the other popular brands. But don’t go in unprepared! Set a timer because that Research Rabbit Hole is lined with irony. Researching planners to manage your day can be the biggest time drain of all! 🙂
Do you use a planner? Do you go to great lengths to find the perfect one every year? Do you have any planners you recommend?
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Unless otherwise attributed, all photos courtesy of Sharon Wray. Copyright 2016.