After a three-year-strong dedication to my beloved Lilly Pulitzer, my planning needs have changed. During the Fall of my freshman year, I was taking five classes; during the Spring semester, only four. Because of the fairly small amount of classes, I didn’t need as much room to keep track of my life, so the horizontal, lined layout of the weekly view in my Lilly was perfect.
Fall of 2015 is going to be a little different, though. I’ll have seven classes, a job, and a blog schedule to balance, not to mention any activities on campus I’ll want to participate in. I need a planner with a weekly layout that had separate sections to which I could dedicate the three main spheres of my life: school, personal (and activities), and blog.
Enter the 2015-2016 Erin Condren Life Planner.
EC offers several cover options. You can choose a ready-to-ship planner; you can personalize one of Erin’s designs (like I did); or you can design your own cover! After you’ve chosen your cover, you’ll decide between two weekly layouts: horizontal or vertical.
The planner pages themselves are not customizable aside from your choice of horizontal or vertical weekly layouts. Not to worry, though: the color schemes, although muted, agree with each other, and each month has an inspirational quote at its opening, just before the month-at-a-glance calendar.
When you open your Life Planner, you’ll see the cover page with space for you to write your contact information should you misplace the planner. I promise there are two lines there; I just didn’t include them in the photo because I’m not sure I’m too cool with blasting my cell number and email address all over the Internet. Sorry, y’all.
The next two pages are a spread with a quote set against a grid paper background. I’m a fan of typography, so I like the fonts and the design here. And on the next spread you’ll see the year-at-a-glance calendar that spans from July of 2015 to December of 2016, which is especially useful for planning vacations months in advance.
The two pages that follow offer a blank slate for you. No, the pages themselves are not blank. However, between them they feature twelve blank rectangles, each with a colorful banner of free space. This spread can be used for monthly goal-setting, social media tracking, blog statistics, or even an at-a-glance vacation spread. It’s really up to you to decide what you’ll do with this space. Because I haven’t started my school year yet, it’s hard for me to commit to what I’ll use this space for, but I’m sure I’ll find a purpose for it.
Each month is sectioned off with its own tab, but we’ll look at July in this post. The month starts with a nice quote (and even though I typically feel squeamish and uncomfortable about inspirational quotes, I can get on board with this idea).
Your month-at-a-glance spread follows the quote. It’s a pretty basic calendar, but one of my favorite things about these spreads is the goals sidebar. This will come in handy when I pick back up with school and will have to really schedule in exercise and personal time.
The game changer for me, though, was the vertical layout. With three unlabeled boxes per day, there’s plenty of space to pencil in my schedule. Because each column isn’t pre-assigned like the previous Life Planners were (where there was a Morning, Afternoon, and Night box for each day), you can choose what you’d like each box to be used for. In July, I have my Internship, Personal, and Blog boxes set up. When I go back to school in August, I’ll most likely have a School box, a Personal (to including cleaning and errands) box, and a Blog box. You’ll also notice that there is a series of four lines below each day for you to use for notes or as an extension of the last box (for the inevitable run-over). For now, I keep track of my water intake in these spaces.
I’ll be making another post in the future that will further detail planner necessities and organization, but right now you can see that I’m color-coding, where purple is for my internship, red is for personal things, and orange is for blog-related tasks.
There’s a sweet little Thankful Thought box in the top left corner of each weekly spread. It’s a small notion, but as I say, gratitude is so important for a happy life.
Toward the end of the planner you’ll see a hefty notes section. There are two spreads of lined paper, two spreads of graph paper, and two spreads of adorable printed paper. After this, you’ll see the year of 2017, followed by another cute quote to close out 2016.
In the very last few pages, you’ll see several sheets of stickers. Erin includes an entire sheet dedicated to birthday stickers, and then another sheet with more stickers: game, day off, hair appointment, dentist appointment, sale, doctor appointment, concert, mani/pedi, party, and vacation (plus two blank sticker sheets). I must say that I wish these stickers could have been customizable; the only reason being that I will not be using the concert, game, sale, party, and mani/pedi stickers often, if at all. I wish there were more doctor appointment stickers, but considering the amount of work put into constructing just one planner, never mind several thousand, I can understand why the stickers that come with the planner aren’t customizable. However, Erin offers other stickers, both ready-made and customizable. You also have the option of checking Etsy stores for Life Planner stickers, or searching online for free printables. If I don’t purchase supplementary stickers, I’ll just use the two blank sticker sheets that follow the labeled ones.
To wrap the book up, you have a Keep It Together double-sided pocket and a pouch in the very back (that holds several free goodies like samples and cards). The last thing that comes with the planner can be found in the Keep It Together pocket: the perpetual calendar and contacts book. You can use this book to keep up with birthdays, holidays, and other recurring events, and it can be easily stowed in a handbag in the case that you forget your planner at home, don’t have the dates stored in your phone’s calendar, and need to know when your second cousin’s husband’s birthday is. Another idea is to use the perpetual calendar to keep track of daily gratitude thoughts.
For a quick and dirty distillation of the above in-depth review, let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons:
- Pretty packaging that includes tons of freebies
- Personalized and customizable covers
- Simple, yet pretty design
- Lots of personalization by way of you choosing what to do with the blank boxes throughout the book
- Two types of layouts
- Cute quotes to start off your months right
- Gratitude and note-taking opportunities
- Double-sided pocket and storage pouch
- Many people have reported chipping coils, especially in the special foil colors (and mine, though it’s the standard silver, does show some chipping though the book hasn’t even been worn in yet)
- I’ve found that I have to be careful with my front and back covers because they can snap off very easily – not sure if this is due to a cutting error or if this is just how the covers are
- The pens I bought through the Erin Condren site that are specially designed for use in these planners are already drying out after having been used just a few times, even without being left uncapped or exposed to air
- The lamination on my cover does show some air bubbles, and while I’m not extremely bothered by this, you may want to look into this issue if you’re interested in purchasing a Life Planner but would be bothered by the air bubbles
- In the weekly view of November 2015 in my planner (I’m noting that this happened with my planner, because, to my knowledge, Erin Condren has not made it a standard thing for pages to appear upside down) the dates between 11/5 and 11/11 are upside down
Overall, I think this is a nice planner. It’s aesthetically pleasing and well-organized. However, I will be contacting customer service to resolve my issues and will post an update in this post when I receive a response. My past interaction with their customer service was nothing but pleasant and positive, something for which I’m really grateful.
Update #1: Customer Service has gotten back to me regarding the issue with my pens. They’ve kindly offered to send me a replacement set or to give me a $15 store credit. I am sending a response email and will update when I hear back from that.
Update #2: In response to my email regarding the other issues with my planner, EC Customer Service has offered to replace my “full LifePlanner.” They offered an alternative: “a further $15 store credit” (making my store credit to total $30). I chose the obvious option: the replacement planner. Now I’m wondering what a replacement of my “full LifePlanner” is. Will it include new covers or just the inner pages of the planner? (The covers are detachable, so either option is a possibility.)
Update #3: I received my “full LifePlanner” replacement (which is a completely reprinted Life Planner, covers and all) about a week ago. I flipped through each page to be sure that none were upside down or marred by serious ink spots, and all of them checked out. There’s still slight bubbling in the lamination of the cover (and tabs), and the coil is still rough, but this replacement is in much better condition than my original planner. I’m definitely satisfied with their Customer Service, or at least with the two representatives I worked with, because they worked to resolve my issue quickly and fairly. I will be using this planner for this year, but I’ve already begun to look at other options for my next planner (like this one).
If you’re interested in purchasing a planner that will give you tons of space to write and pencil in your tasks and errands, definitely look into the Erin Condren Life Planner. Be sure to click here to create an account and receive $10 off your first purchase!
Join me next Monday for a surprise post! (And by surprise, I mean, “I’m not entirely sure what I’m writing about because this week has been crazy busy, so let me consult my future-post list and guru gods and get back to you.”)
In the meantime, tell me: Do you use a planner? If so, which one do you like and why?
This post is not affiliated with or sponsored by Erin Condren or Lilly Pulitzer.