Planner Reviews: How the Best Ones Stack Up!

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I am a total planner addict!  I'm a shameless jezebel when it comes to planners.  I'm {almost} ashamed to admit that I rarely stick with the same planner for an entire year!  I discover new ones throughout the year and they lure me away with their promise of organization and their tease of keeping my life on track.  But it never lasts!  Another sweet, sweet planner is just on the horizon to taunt me some more!  

If you're like me, today's post will either be a god send or a nightmare! I'm going to walk you through the pros & cons of several of the cult faves and perhaps even introduce you to a few new players!  Time to buckle up your wallets, friends!

Over the past several years I have tried them all, my friends!  Erin Condren's Life Planner...check; the Day Designer...check; Passion Planner...check; ARC'ed printed DIY planner...check!  

While ALL of these planners are fabulous and have many many pros, they just weren't quite "the one" for me.  I feel a little like Goldilocks, only instead of trying to find the perfect bowl of porridge (or chair or bed), I just keep searching for the perfect planner!

The perfect planner has to exist, right??

I *think* I may have found it for 2015, but since I've yet to start using it, I can't say just yet.  But before we get to that one, let me walk you through the others that I have tried.

Erin Condren's Life Planner

If you are even remotely into planners, you know the Life Planner! It has a cult-like following and with good reason.  It's an AWESOME planner and I used it for about 2-1/2 years before the love affair ended.  That's the longest I've stuck with a planner, so it should be a top contender if you're in the market.

What I loved about this planner

  • This planner is not flimsy at all.  It's very well made.   It's sturdy and high quality and will easily carry you through the year with minimal damage (unless you're really hard on your stuff!!).  
  • There are many different covers to choose from.  I LOVE that she has numerous different options for the cover, including the ability to customize the colors, add photos, and even add text of your choosing.  Since I had the Life Planner, she now offers the ability to interchange the covers, so if you are like me and have a hard time deciding on one, now you don't have to (genius!).
  • It's colorful.  Some people don't like this, but I loved it.  I loved that it was colorful and fun and it made writing in my daily tasks more enjoyable.
  • I really love the concept of splitting the days into 3 sections - morning, afternoon, night layout.  That just really worked for my brain!
  • Plenty of extras.  There are plenty of lined pages for notes, blank pages for doodles, and 2 types of pockets to corral loose notes and papers.
  • Plastic tabs for each month.  I like to be able to flip between the months and these tabs are not only sturdy and durable, but it makes adding future appointments and notes a breeze!

What I didn't love about this planner

  • The days are  a little cramped for me.  I needed more space to write for each day.  I like to jot down my to-do's for each day and that just needs a bit more space than what is given in the Life Planner.
  • There wasn't anywhere to really probe me on my goals nor a place to easily write them down for each week/month (there is a section on each weekly view, but it seemed to me to be more like a space for a quick list...I like have a bit more space to think through my goals).

Note:  I didn't include a photo of the cover because for some reason, I selected the most boring cover the last year I used the Life Planner (2013)! I couldn't make up my mind so I went the safe route.  Also, they added a few extra things on the weekly pages, but for the most part the feel and overall layout is essentially the same.  Be sure to check the Erin Condren website for the latest layout, though!

If you're interested in buying a Life Planner from Erin Condren (or any of her other products) and its your first purchase, you can save $10 on your order with this link --> Save $10 on your FIRST Erin Condren order!

Passion Planner

The Passion Planner is another fantastic planner!  I used this for about 5 months earlier this year and even did a detailed review back in March.  Even though I stopped using it for my daily planner earlier this year, I've picked it back up and I've been using it as my blog planner for the past few weeks and am loving it for this purpose!  I've already ordered a smaller version for 2015 to use specifically for blog planning and I can't WAIT until it arrives!

What I loved about this planner

  • This planner is dedicated to helping you reach your goals via goal mapping and monthly goal check-ins.  I LOVE this and for blog planning, this is really helping me focus on what I want to accomplish.
  • The weekly view is chock full of good features.  There's a space to note your focus for the week (as well as for each day); a section to list your various to-do's for the week; a large area jot down notes, drawings, or brainstorms; a place to note good things that happen during the week; and daily planning with half hour notations to really plan your time efficiently.
  • The monthly view shows the calendar for the month, and provides space to list your goals along with the action items for meeting these goals.
  • There are also pages at the end of each month to reflect back on the month.

What I didn't love about this planner

  • There is no space for my daily to-do's.  As I explained above, this is a big issue for me with planners.  I need a space to write out all the things I need to do each day.
  • While not a bulky or heavy planner, it is a large planner.  It is nice to have full size pages, but I didn't like having to carry around a large planner in my bag everyday (update: this is now available in a mini size).  
  • Lack of color...the entire planner is in black and white.  This is a very small dislike, but still something I noticed.
  • There are no tabs for each month.  I remedied this by adding my own, so this wasn't a deal breaker, but I would've loved having tabs already attached with the cover accommodating them so they're neatly tucked within the size of the cover.

Seriously, though, this planner is amazing and if you are trying to achieve major goals in your life, this planner is definitely one to consider!  If you want to see more photos and get more details, be sure to check out my prior review!

ARC'ed Printed Planner

Since I wasn't having much luck finding the perfect planner, I decided to go the route of buying a PDF planner, printing them myself, and using the ARC notebook system to bind everything together.  This worked pretty well since I could select the specific pages I wanted to use.  Etsy has a ton of useful options!  The pages seen in these photos are the Rainbow Planner by A Bowl Full of Lemons.

What I loved about this planner

  • I could customize this to exactly(well, almost 'exactly') what I wanted.
  • I could move pages around or add in other pages as I saw fit.

What I didn't love about this planner

  • Printing out all of those pages!  This became a big annoyance very quickly.  I would generally only print out about a quarter's worth of pages, which I'd then have to punch with my ARC puncher.  This was soooooo time consuming!  I started to dread the end of the quarters knowing it'd mean hours of work to keep my planner going (my printer is a bit of a pain, which was the big source of my frustration).
  • I don't have a professional level printer, so my pages never looked high quality.  It looked like I had printed my own planner.  This may not bother some, but it really annoyed me!
  • Like the Passion Planner, this was a big planner and I started to get into the habit of leaving it at home because it took up so much space in my bag!  This is the exact opposite of what I needed, so I finally ditched it!
  • I thought by printing my own pages, it might be cheaper than other planners, but between the ink, the paper, and my time, I actually think it was a lot more expensive!

Day Designer

The Day Designer is another really popular planner these days and it's what I'm currently using until the end of 2014.  I still really love this planner, but it's just a bit more than what I need.  It's beautiful, it's nice quality, it looks nice, and it has a ton of space for keeping track of things.

What I loved about this planner

  • Each day is on it's own page, so there's PLENTY of space for writing everything down!
  • On each daily page, there is a section with hourly time slots for appointments to plan out your day as well as a section for noting your daily to-do's. Hallelujah!  The to-do list is what got me so excited and it's definitely my favorite feature!!
  • Space on each day to note what you are planning for dinner, 3 main tasks that must be completed, money notation, and other notes.
  • Durable tabs for each month.

What I didn't love about this planner

  • This is a very big planner!  It's not as long & tall as the Passion Planner, but it's easily the heaviest and bulkiest of this entire bunch.  Even though I love this planner, I hate carrying it in my bag everyday. 
  • Each day is on it's own page.  I know I listed this as a pro, and it is, but it's also a con.  While the weekends share a day, it's still a LOT of pages to accommodate each day having it's own page!  That means there is no room for any other frills or extra pages.
  • Lack of color
  • The pages are a little thin(due to the number of pages needed) so if  you're not careful, your pens will bleed through.

Design Love Planner

The Design Love Planner is my new wonder planner for 2015 and I'm SO excited about it!!  I'm going to come back later this week with a more detailed post showing all the bells and whistles, so for now, I'll just give an overview of my likes and dislikes.

What I loved about this planner

  • It's's the smallest of all of the planners I've used in the past few years and I LOVE that!
  • Despite it smaller size, it's packed full of well thought out pages - there are to-do list pages, appointment pages, monthly pages, and more!
  • It has pages like the Life Planner that separate the day into morning, day, and night.
  • There are pages for monthly goals, budgeting & expenses, and notes.

What I didn't love about this planner

  • No monthly tabs, but I can fix this by adding my own tabs.
  • Lack of color.  While I'd love a bit more color, I don't think it'd fit with the overall design and it's a small complaint.  The functionality and layout is much more important to me!

So, that's my planner review wrap up!  Each of these planners served me well for the duration I used them (well, except the last one...haven't started using that one yet!).  I highly recommend every single one of them even though they didn't quite work for me (here's hoping the last one is a perfect fit!).  If you like the look of the Design Love Planner, be sure to come back later this week when I'll give you a much more detailed look at this little gem!

Update: Here's my full review on the Design Love Planner:  5+ Reasons Why I Love My Design Love Planner!

Also, be sure to check out how I use my Design Love Planner to plan my week, with my 5 Tips on How to Successfully Plan Your Week!

Your turn!  What is your choice for keeping your life organized..a paper planner or are you all digital?  Leave me a comment and let me know!