Today, I'm blogging about planners.
(And they said my blogging dreams wouldn't come true.)
Today isn't a "typical" Lacy Blaine blog entry (if there is such a thing). I usually give screen space to more substantial matters, like spirituality and womanhood and pictures of flowers.
You know, deep stuff.
But today, in honor of summer, I'm serving up some lighter fare on the blog (because let's be real, it's far too hot to cook up anything heavy).
Despite the light menu, this post is gonna be a bit lengthy, because when it comes to useful and beautiful things. I have a lot to say. If you usually come here to read my 300-word musings, this post may not be for you. But if you love planner talk, welcome. I wrote this for you. And also, can you come over for dinner tomorrow night? Because we obviously understand one another.
Enough chit chat. Let's dive into the review!
Full disclosure: I LOVE planners.
The love affair began when I hit Junior High in all my awkward glory and my school started giving out flimsy blue planners with our Panther mascot emblazoned on top. I think some wise adult wanted us to master time management in the midst of our fashion faux pas and first crushes.
Well, I'm still a diehard procrastinator and I'm still pretty darn awkward, but I've coveted the feeling of a planner in the palm of my hand at the beginning of a new year ever since.
Nowadays there are far more tech-saavy options to "get your life in order", but the planner habit stuck with me through puberty and beyond. Despite my frequent iPhone usage, I've never been able to find a worthy replacement for good ole' fashioned writing things down. Besides, appointments, tasks, and reminders seem so much prettier when they're on paper.
Needless to say, as a long-term planner lover, once I got wind of the the Simplified Planner (SP) craze a year or so ago, I started paying close attention. The creator of the SP is Emily Ley: a lovely Southern gal, mother of two, and graphic designer with a shop full of squeaky clean and colorful paper goods.
It's not hard to love Emily Ley's design work and it certainly doesn't hurt that her planners have created big buzz year after year. The SP is notorious for selling out in a matter of days, and as new lines and designs continue to be added to her collection, Emily shows no signs of slowing down.
If I'm being honest with you (and with myself), I wanted a piece of the hype. I was following Emily's Instagram account, watching YouTube tutorials of happy Simplified Planner users all over the world, and asking most of the long-suffering people in my circle if getting one of these hot tickets seemed like a good idea. (As if they care what sort of planner I use, God bless them. I've decided that real friendship is humoring your friend's planner problems.)
So, just a couple weeks before 2015 commenced, I mustered up the $58 plus shipping (please don't laugh) and not-so-quietly rejoiced when a book the size of Tolstoy's War and Peace arrived in my mailbox a few days later.
Looking back, the size of that thing should have been a huge red flag.
But I saw the world through Emily-Ley-colored glasses, and nothing could have stopped me from diving headfirst into the crisp white pages, marking down important dates and listing ambitious goals on her "My 2015 Bucket List" page. There were 25 bucket list lines. I barely wrote 5. "Start to run again" was my 5th bucket list item, if that gives you any clue as to how lofty a bucket-lister I am.
That was the second red flag.
But before this becomes a cautionary tale, I want to give this beast of a planner some mad props, which brings me to the 3 PROS of the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley (because this blog post is a review, after all):
- PRO NUMBER 1: Great design. Design is in the details, and Emily Ley gets the details. As just one example, the rainbow-colored tabs marking the month of the year coordinate with the pineapple logo at the heading of each month. The pink January tab features a pink pineapple, blue February matches the blue pineapple, etc. One cannot underestimate the importance of a coordinating pineapple colors.
- PRO NUMBER 2: Plenty of room to write. Each day gets a full page of its own, featuring an hour-by-hour breakdown of the day (from 7am to 7pm, which was sort of strange for this night owl to wrap her head around), a to-do list, a space for notes AND a space for the daily dinner menu. Which brings me to my final pro...
- PRO NUMBER 3: What's for Dinner? The Simplified Planner was a game changer for meal planning. The mere act of writing down what we ate each night prompted me to look back on the past week and think about how to mix the menu up in the week to come. A simple "dinner" box at the bottom of the page took me to the top of the dinner game. I was never much of a meal-planner before using SP's layout. Now I take time every Sunday afternoon to come up with at least 4 original meals for the week, knowing we will usually fill around the other nights with leftovers or grab-and-go dinners about town. SPOILER ALERT: Even though I'm moving on to greener planner pastures, I give a heartfelt thank you to E.L. and her lovely planner elves for this one small "what's for dinner?" feature.
So, you've heard the good stuff. But the truth is, I'm not going to buy the SP again. Why, you ask?
I give you the 3 CONS of the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley.
- CON NUMBER 1: Cost. This is the part where you confess to me that you laughed when I told you about spending $58 on a planner. I know you did, and that's okay. I'm not laughing yet, but I imagine one day soon I will. I can't believe I spent 60 bucks on that thing. Yes, it features great design. Yes, I look at it every day. Yes, I believe that everyone should have a little great design as part of their daily lives. But this planner simply wasn't worth $58 + shipping, for a handful of reasons that I'll mention below.
- CON NUMBER 2: Quality. Emily, Emily, Emily. If I'm going to drop 60 cold ones via PayPal for paper and some binding, it better be darn good. And to be fair, the paper was good. But the binding was not. I followed her explicit instructions about "caring for your planner" and rarely moved TSP from its place of honor atop our coffee nook. But after just one bad move barely three months in to this year, the binding popped. My best guess is that someone sat on it, but I'm not sure. I don't know how or why it happened, but I do think that a planner meant for real-life planning should be able to withstand a little tough love, ya know?
- CON NUMBER 3: Size vs. White Space. At first, the thought of a whole page dedicated to a single day appealed to the ambitious part of me. But the truth is, I don't need a page. I write 3-4 appointments down each day, and I try to keep my daily to-dos down to 5 or 6. What TSP offers goes FAR beyond what I would ever use, and that adds up to LOTS of blank pages. Which adds up to a heavy planner. Which adds up to a sore shoulder when I lug that thing around from meeting to meeting.
I learned my lesson the hard way, but leaving the review here wouldn't be the whole story. In fact, I'd probably be happily paying YET ANOTHER $58 for YET ANOTHER 5-lb. planner if it wasn't for this fateful Instagram post a few months ago:
Jaw. On. Floor.
Anna Rifle Bond, Her Royal Highness of Paper and Founder of Rifle Paper Co., was announcing a PLANNER.
Rifle Paper Co. is my Favorite Company of All Time that Uses Floral Prints and has a Female Creative Director.
In case you need more proof, just look at my cell phone case. Or my grocery list. Or my journals for the last 3 years. Rifle Paper Co. is slowly taking over every paper good in my house, and I fully intend to keep it that way.
So, my favorite paper company and my favorite organizational tool were FINALLY meeting. And it was a match made in heaven (and long overdue one, by many fellow Rifle lovers' standards). As the new designs rolled out, I was caught up in the simplicity, the convenient size, and lack of unnecessary pages.
You can probably guess what happened next.
After a week or so of debating whether or not to order a planner online, I found a lovely letterpress shop in Portsmouth, NH that had the good sense to carry plenty of Rifle's goods and I dropped $36 + NO shipping for the prettiest planner I've ever beheld.
"That's still expensive!" you say.
To which I say, "It's cheaper than a spa pedicure!"
To which you say, "Spa pedicures aren't worth the money either!"
To which I say, "You clearly don't intend to savor your life. Also, beauty is worth the price."
I'm not going to bore you with another "pro and con" list, because a.) There isn't enough space to sing the praises of this smaller, more durable, and lovelier planner and b.) I haven't given the Rifle Paper Co. planner a fair trial.
And I'm all about fairness.
But there are features in this new planner that I'm so excited about, like hidden binding behind a hardcover, a small pocket page, a ruler, and to-do check boxes under each date. I can already tell that this planner is much more me: a working twenty something trying to organize (and simplify!) her life in a beautiful way.
At the end of the day, I'm glad I gave TSP a fair shot. It taught me a lesson about listening much too closely to what people on social media rave about, and it also set me up well to get SUPER excited on the day when, at long last, Anna Rifle Bond made her big planner announcement.
And plus, paying $58 for TSP made dropping $36 seem like a steal. ;)
All opinions expressed in this post are my own. I received no compensation, as Emily Ley and Anna Bond are both rockstars and haven't the faintest idea who I am. Yet. ;)