planner love: my search for the perfect agenda

In this modern world of smartphones, I know a lot of people have abandoned physical planners in favour of digital calendars. Still, there’s something to be said for writing out your appointments by hand and seeing your schedule all on one page. During school, I depended heavily on having my To Do’s, classes, and meetings written down. This has carried over into my work life as well. So for me, it’s absolutely essential to have the perfect planner.

For a while, I had a very simple agenda that I would use strictly for daily To Do’s. But because I had trouble prioritizing and remembering everything, I started doing this kind of thing:

Makeshift Agenda

Every weekday would be mapped out from 6am to 11pm, and colour-coded according to course or category. I made my own printable template for my weekly calendars, and over two years, the sheet got more complex – I would add weekly goals, grocery lists, and other reminders to the sides and bottom of the page. There were three big problems with this method, though:

  1. My schedule and my agenda weren’t in the same place.
  2. I had a hard time keeping track of the single sheet of paper, and it would often get crumpled or otherwise damaged.
  3. My printer sucked, and I ended up getting streaks through my schedule.

So it was clear that I needed a change as I headed into my last semester of university. The standard agendas they handed out during frosh week weren’t going to cut it anymore. Since I was graduating, I’d need to look at the year as a whole rather than the academic year, and my To Do list was getting broader than just classes and assignments. Not only that, but I was looking for motivation in the structure of my life, and I needed a tool to help me find it.

(I should pause and mention that the planners I’m about to describe are pricey – as in, $50-$75. This is how I like to spend my money. You’ve been warned.)

When I first learned about the Passion Planner, I immediately fell in love. It was the perfect mix of goal-setting and life-planning! But unfortunately, by the time I found out about it, they were already back-ordered for 2015. They kindly provided me with printout versions of the interior – but I ran into all the same problems as my previous system. I didn’t receive my copy until February. When my planner finally arrived, I was all over it!

Weekly scheduling!

Weekly scheduling!

Monthly reflections!

Monthly reflections!

But just over a month later, my classes finished. Then I started work. Suddenly my scheduling didn’t need to be as rigid, and didn’t have nearly as many items to consider, so I barely used the planner.

Yeah, this isn’t helping me at all.

I found myself needing more of an organized To Do list, and less of an hourly schedule. Not only that, but I was finding the black and white, minimalist design of the Passion Planner to be a little demotivating for me. As you can probably guess, I’m not a washi tape and glitter kind of gal. I like planners with some colour, but I won’t be the one to decorate. (I want to point out that I would absolutely recommend the Passion Planner to students or anyone else looking to schedule a busy day and focus on their goals. It just doesn’t suit my life at the moment.)

Thus began the journey to find a motivating planner with lots of space for lists and customization, without requiring me to do too much of my own designing. I found many of the planners I came across were very much geared toward stay-at-home moms (go figure) with meal planning sections and the like, but I found one that suited all of my needs: the Erin Condren Life Planner.

The internet tells me that Erin Condren’s product is the Lexus of planners. I’d have to agree. It’s gorgeous and quite expensive, but it has all the features I was looking for:

  • Colourful and motivating interior:

    Love the quotes every month!

  • Vertical date layout with Monday to Sunday weeks (this is also customizable, but these are my preferences), with space for three categories of items plus extra To Do’s:
    Interior Weekly View
    Note: Over the past few months, I’ve switched up how I use the three daily boxes pretty regularly. Right now, it’s Work, Home, and Blog, but I’m sure that will change.
  • Some goal tracking, though not to the extent of the Passion Planner
  • Beautiful, customizable, and interchangeable covers, so I can always order a new cover if I get bored with this one:

    You can also use your own colour schemes, photos, or phrases to make a unique cover. I was a little lazy with my design but I still love it.

Another great thing about this planner is that there’s a whole suite of similar products in the shop – stickers, notebooks, laptop cases, you name it. I haven’t ordered anything else yet, but I’ve got a $10 eGift in my inbox as a bonus for my first purchase, and it’s calling my name!

What makes a planner perfect to you?