2016 Erin Condren Life Planner Review: Perfect for Every Student
My life changed the day I discovered the Erin Condren Life Planner in 2012. I’ve been a planner lover since high school, but never knew there was such magic in the world until college. When I say it changed the course of my life, I mean that with sincerity—I now review planners for a living—and it’s truly a planner for your life.
The thing about the Erin Condren Life Planner is that it doesn’t come with directions, exercises, or expectations. This is a good thing. As much as I love a planner with goal-setting worksheets and space for personal reflection, it’s also nice to have a planner that’s simply meant for being productive and organized in your daily life. This is what the Erin Condren Life Planner does, and it absolutely kept me on track in college. It’s a tool for keeping every appointment, task, birthday, and goal in its proper place.
Overall, the Erin Condren Life Planner is a bright, colorful, fun book. It’s filled with illustrations, summery colors, fun graphics, and uplifting quotes. There’s nothing bland about it. So if you love color, or feel like you would benefit from a little bright extra something, then this a great way to go. Energetic is the way I would describe this inanimate object.
Erin Condren is known for the graphic, laminated covers that accompany the Life Planner. They’re thick, but not so thick that they’re rigid. The slight give in them makes it easy to open the planner and flip the cover to the back. The laminate makes the cover design pop and shine. I know from experience that carrying it around in purses and backpacks can lead to scratching and frayed corners, but that’s a risk you run with all planners, and even though it’ll develop some damage, it’ll also handle it well.
The first few pages of the planner are fun. They’re covered in sketches of the Erin Condren paisley pattern and have a motivational quote to inspire you before diving into the planner. It’s a funky, unexpected touch. I can see myself doodling in the spaces next to it during a boring college class, and it can be colored in to make it personal and unique.
A few pages into the planner, there are two pages where you can jot down and brainstorm a few things you want to accomplish or do. There are no directions or rules for these pages; simply two quotes and 12 small rectangles. One the left page it reads, “If I can believe it, I can achieve it,” and on the right, “If I can dream it, I can become it.” That’s it. Six rectangles with a banner at the top of each fill the area below the quotes. This is where you can write down your dreams, goals, and hopes for the next year, and include notes that you want to remember for them or tasks you’ll need to do to make the dream a reality.
I love this space because it has a purpose, but it can be used for anything, in any way. This is a feature that you don’t normally find, and it’s refreshing for a planner junkie like me.
The Erin Condren Life Planner now comes in three layouts – an hourly weekly layout, horizontal weekly layout, and the classic vertical layout. I’ve always been a fan of the classic because it’s so versatile, but it’s always nice to have other options. The hourly weekly layout is perfect for the busy bees, and even though I’m not a fan of horizontal planners in general, I know that some people truly love it for the space to write. That all depends on what you want and need. For this article, I’ll be reviewing the classic vertical layout because I believe it’s the most versatile.
You get a two-page spread for each week, including a column for weekly notes on the left side, notes below each day, and a small space to jot down what you’re thankful for that week. The column for each day is divided into three sections (morning, afternoon, and evening), but isn’t labeled—so technically you can use it in other ways. For example, you could use one section for a class, one for work, and one for your social life. The lines below each day can be used to write down dinner plans, workouts, tasks, reminders, or anything else you want.
The only real downside to the layout is the space available in vertical columns, but that’s the same with pretty much any vertical weekly layout. There’s only so much space to write in each day’s lane before you’ve used all of the room or run into another column. Shorthand is important to utilize in this layout in order to keep things neat and tidy.
The monthly layout is also spread across two pages. It’s a traditional monthly layout with a calendar and a column on the right-hand side for you to write down your monthly goals. EC included phases of the moon and national holidays and observances in the monthly calendars as a nice bonus, but other than that, the monthly calendar is standard.
Notes and Doodles
One of my favorite things about Erin Condren Life Planner is the space to write notes and even doodle. I utilized this so much in college. I even used an entire notes page to write down lecture points when I forgot my class notebook once. With this planner, you get a full page for notes at the start of each month and several pages at the back. At the back, there are six lined notes pages, four grid pages, and five entirely blank pages for doodles or charts. That’s an awful lot of space for brainstorming in one planner.
All the Bells and Whistles
Erin Condren includes an amazing amount of extras with the Life Planner. These little details take the Life Planner to another level and definitely make it stand out among the market. From the moment you open the package, you’ll find little treats, like a pretty sticker reading “All you need is love,” and a sweet postcard you can send to a friend in need of a pick-me-up.
Erin Condren has always included fun gift tags with the Life Planner, but they’re even cuter now than they were when I first ordered my planner in 2012—and trust me, they were cute then too. They come in fun shapes and colors, and say things like “Cheers!” and “Thanks!” and will add a nice touch to any gifts you hand out in the next year.
In the back of the planner, there’s a double-sided, super sturdy folder to hold any loose papers you need, and in it, you’ll find a small date reminder book in the back that can be used over and over again. There’s a page for each month and a line for each day of the month where you can write down any birthdays, holidays, events, or anniversaries that recur each year.
Even better than the folder is the plastic zippered pocket behind it. The pocket is clear so you can see everything inside, and is perfect for holding all the small things that won’t stay in the folder, or important pieces of paper you can’t risk falling out, like checks. Inside the zippered pocket are small motivational cards you can give to friends or pin up to a bulletin board, $10 coupons for you to give to friends, one coil clip you can use to add a picture or something to your planner, and sample sheet for “Do-It-All Dots,” an organized sticker sheet to code your planner with.
In addition to the sample stickers, you’ll get four full sheets of rectangular stickers to use in both the weekly and monthly pages of the planner. They come in several colors, and half are blank while the other half are labeled. There’s an entire sheet of stickers that read “Birthday!” for you to use throughout the year, and then multiple for games, hair, dentist, doctor appointments, sales, concerts, mani/pedis, parties, and vacation.
I’ve had two Erin Condren Life Planners, and even though I’ve never been a huge fan of stickers in planners, I loved these because they were useful and added color without creating clutter. The blank ones are so useful for making important things—like assignments and tests for students, or children’s soccer games—stand out among the normal, daily noise.
I’ve always hated having to flip through a planner to find the day’s page, and paper clips have always given me anxiety (I don’t like trying to open them), so a big bonus in my opinion is the snap-in bookmark/ruler that Erin Condren has always included. It’s gotten a major upgrade over the years and is now clear so you can see the page underneath it. I’ve also found it’s incredibly useful when you need to measure something on the go. As far as bookmarks go, this is one of the best I’ve ever had (second only to the leather giraffe cut-out I lost in college).
Even though I’m an Erin Condren alum, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to see all of the small upgrades they’ve made to the planner. The same vibrant and joyful theme comes through, but the small tweaks add up to make the Erin Condren Life Planner even better. For college students, the layout and colorful design is exactly what’s needed to get through school without becoming overwhelmed or forgetful. Even moms trying to juggle multiple children can use this planner to keep a step ahead of the family train. It’s 100% customizable, which is the most important aspect of any planner.
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