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Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner came on the scene a few years ago and quickly took it by storm. It’s easy to see the appeal with its pretty covers and easy-to-use layout, but I wanted to test it out in a more rigorous challenge. So I applied it to my daily life, which is pretty damn hectic and crazy.
First off, I noticed the nice coil binding and hardcover. Both are very durable. The cover is a matte finish, and it’s a manageable size (7.75×9 inches) for large purses and backpacks, but it does have some weight to it. It’s clear from the beginning that this is a very well-made planner.
Get the Look and Feel
Inside the front cover is a nice, tall pocket folder to house your loose paper. It’s the same matte finish as the rest of the cover. This is a 17-month planner and each month gets a laminated tab to mark the beginning of the month. The signature Emily Ley colors are the focal point of the Happy Stripe cover and they’re also used throughout the pages of the planner. The tabs are square, so there’s room for all of them along the length of the planner, and while they’re well-made, they feel too delicate to me. I’m worried I might end up ripping them off because I tend to be a little rough with my planners. (That’s my own personal issue, though.)
Emily Ley boasts Mohawk Via paper in her planners. This was the first time I’ve ever seen, touched, and used this paper, and I have to agree with her—it’s quite luxurious. The paper is an amazing balance between silky and textured, which creates a top-notch writing experience. There’s a slight transparency to the paper, but it’s thick enough that most writing utensils (save permanent markers) won’t bleed through.
The Main Calling Cards
After a quick explanation of The Simplified Planner and how to use it to its full potential, there’s a bucket list and then it jumps right into the months and daily pages. The monthly calendars are exactly what you need and expect: The traditional two-page monthly spread with a left-hand column for notes and monthly tasks or goals.
The daily pages are what’s so appealing about The Simplified Planner. It’s called The Simplified Planner for a reason—the daily pages have what you need and nothing else. There’s a schedule from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., a lengthy to-do list, a large box for your dinner plans, and a box for notes.
At the top of the page is the date next to a color flag with the letter of the weekday (this is the only color on the daily pages) and an inspirational quote. Overall, the daily pages are all about white space and delicate font in order to help you create clarity and cut the unnecessary noise. If you find that your days often end up feeling hurried and hectic, this layout can really help you hone in on the important things and ignore the distractions.
Now, since it’s an extremely simple layout there are some elements not included. Some of these might be really important to you. For me, the main missing puzzle piece is space for workouts and meal tracking. I’ve used the dinner box for all of my meals and the notes box for my workouts, but the problem with this is that I don’t have space for actual notes. There also isn’t a designated space for tracking water consumption or spending.
The Weekend Pages
In contrast to the daily pages, the weekend days share a page. The top half of the page is for Saturday and the bottom is for Sunday. Because weekends tend to be a little more lax than the weekdays, there’s no hourly schedule. Instead, the right half of the page is simply lined. This allows you to loosely jot down your plans, write down your workout, or pencil in whatever else you want to for the weekend days. The left hand side is still designated as a to-do list for Saturday and Sunday—the to-do list doesn’t take off on the weekend after all.
The difference between Saturday’s space and Sunday’s is that Sunday has an open blank space above the lined space and to do list for you to write down a happy memory from the week and the to-do list is called “Weekly Prep.” The weekly prep list also has four things pre-filled in for you:
Plan meals for the week ahead.
Tidy up for a clean slate on Monday.
Write tasks/appointments for the week.
Fill your “tank.” Enjoy what matters most.
These four things are added in so that you remember to use Sunday as a day to prepare for the week ahead and also enjoy the remaining weekend hours. I know Sunday is usually a day I dedicate to being productive, so I have a lot of things to do all day. Conveniently, these four things are almost always on my Sunday list, so I’m good with their inclusion. If this is something you feel won’t add value to your Sundays, then really consider if The Simplified Planner will work for you.
Goal-Setting Pages? Nah?
The main negative with The Simplified Planner, for me, is the lack of goal-setting pages. There aren’t any at all. As a lover of goal setting and goal tracking, I like to have that built into my planner. I don’t want to have my goals and plan for achieving them written down in another notebook. That’s a lot of flipping between two books. If you’re not a huge fan of goal setting or you like to have your goals written in a separate book, then this won’t be a problem for you and might even be a bonus—The Simplified Planner will work great for you because there won’t be any wasted pages.
If you do love goals but also want The Simplified Planner, I recommend using the #PowerSheets from Lara Casey. Lara and Emily are good friends and are open with the fact they use each other’s systems and products to create focus on the important things and achieve their goals.
Sayonara Notes Pages
Another main missing piece is note pages. There aren’t any included in The Simplified Planner. Not at the back. Not at the beginning. Not throughout the planner. I rely heavily on the notes pages in a planner. They provide a place for me to brainstorm, write lists for the future (like Christmas shopping) and record all of my passwords. The lack of them in The Simplified Planner is a major disappointment for me. This is something to think over thoroughly before deciding if this is the right planner for you.
Bonus 2018 Update: Stickers!
This time around, Emily Ley included a cute sticker sheet to go along with the 2018 daily pages. They’re cute, but still simple — on-brand AF.
Overall, The Simplified Planner is a beautiful, helpful tool. If you like to keep things simple, clean, and focused on your main priorities, then you’ll love using The Simplified Planner. However, if you like to house all of your plans, lists, ideas, and dreams in one place, then you’ll likely struggle making it work for you. I recommend purchasing The Simplified Planner if you’re in school, if you need added focus, or if you want a paper planner to act as a complement to other tools and notebooks.