Review of the 5 best planners of 2016

Best beautiful planners

It was probably 2007 or 2008 when I stumbled on a weekly calendar from Kate Spade on sale at Anthropologie. It was a spiral paper back but and each page was beautifully illustrated and wonderfully inspiring. I had never seen anything like it! I heartily marked it up because I just wanted to look at the pictures. And in the mean time, I stayed organized. Sadly, I haven’t seen a similar version since.

Selecting a planner is a personal and potentially life-altering decision. Over the years I’ve had a number of systems that I’ve used for organizing my schedule and life. For a few years I was a dedicated Moleskin devotee. You know those mini leather-bound books? It comes in a planner form and I loved it! Small and fits into everything. Once phones started to take over as my primary scheduler I didn’t refer to a hard copy anymore and my Moleskin went the route of the dodo bird.

Now that I have a permanent office and many more things to juggle, I find myself using a number of scheduling platforms. I use the Sunrise app on my phone, which connects with Google Calendar and is great for combining all the different categories of my business and personal life. For example, I have an Intern Calendar, Content Calendar, personal calendar, and building calendar for my studio. It’s great because only the people invited to see them can see the specific calendar needed.

However, I find myself needing that tangible element.

See below to read my reviews of the 5 best planners out on the market now! And see which one I’m trying out this year! 

I need to write something down with a pen and paper. And I need something that will inspire me to be more productive, set goals and accomplish them. I’m on my phone so much anyway it doesn’t always feel permanent. It just goes into the “cloud”.

Perhaps you’ve noticed by now how many of our favorite companies are coming out with their version of a yearly calendar: A Beautiful Mess, Ban.do, Rifle Paper Co, Day Designer…there are so many to choose from? And you know what? It makes me very confused! Which one do I go with? Which one will help me stay on top of life? And perhaps even inspire me to become more organized and efficient?

I know we’re already into 2016 by two months and you probably have your system down, but for anyone in a pickle, like me, and don’t know which to turn to, I’m here to give you my review. Again, it’s a personal decision and what works for me may not work for you, but at least you’ll have some feedback.

My needs when selecting a planner are the following:

  1. Be beautiful. As superficial as it is, I want to be surrounded by beautiful things. It changes by attitude and every time I see it I know I will be excited. That means a beautiful cover, perhaps some fun illustrations inside, cleanly organized, great typography.
  2. Inspired me to organize myself. The planner I choose needs to inspire me to write down my goals and keep them. I’m now at a point in my life where I can’t just get by, I need to be keep my goals!
  3. Size. I’m not as concerned with size at this point in my life because I don’t need to stick it in my backpack every day like I did when I was a student. So, I can go for a bigger option. Hooray!

First up, the Ban.do 2016 plannerBan.do 2016 planner

What I like about it:

I love the Ban.do brand in general because it’s fun and doesn’t take itself to seriously, which I’m all about. I love their Florabunda pattern and was happy to add a dose of bright floral into my life (is it obvious by now?).

  • the bright, happy cover
  • the fun and unique illustrations spread throughout the planner.
  • the fun quotes spread throughout
  • the smaller size, 5.5 x 8.5″ is great for sticking in a bag and transporting around.
  • an interior pocket adds more functionality

What didn’t suit my needs:

  • though I do love the look of the bound cover, it makes it rather hard to leave open without bending. A spiral is more convenient in this instance, even though it’s not as enjoyable to carry around.
  • there was just enough room in each day to write down one or two items down, but nothing more than that. I need more of a space to write stuff down.

Next up is Rifle Paper Co. 2016 plannerRifle paper co 2016 planner

What I like about it:

  • It’s pretty and feels nice to touch
  • The inside graphics are clean with beautiful typography

What didn’t suit my needs:

  • There was basic space for writing your day to day but not much besides that

Day Design by Whitney English

Day Designer by Whitney EnglishDay Designer

What I liked about Day Designer planner:

  • It’s not just a planner, it’s a lifestyle change. Like a Franklin Covey, you’re committing to a way of living
  • spiral isn nice for leaving it open
  • good sized pocket
  • lists for to-dos AND timed events
  • great daily quotes (and I’m not usually an inspirational quote type of gal)
  • space for budgeting and “daily gratitude” which I’m into

What doesn’t suit my needs:

  • It’s a little too large for carrying around all the time
  • It’s not my favorite cover though it’s still nice looking (you know I prefer a floral as much as possible 🙂
  • the paper is really thin

A Beautiful mess 2016 planner: 

2016 A Beautiful mess planner

What I like about A Beautiful Mess planner:

What doesn’t suit my needs:

  • I found the space for writing not suitable for my needs. It wasn’t large enough for me and pretty basic.

And lastly, the Kate Spade 2016 planner

Kate Spade planner

What I like about the Kate Spade 2016 planner:

  • the quality of the planner feels really nice

What didn’t suit my needs: 

  • though I like a good stripe, I’m much more into something more vibrant
  • basic scheduler information

SO! Which one did I go with?

WELL, I gave my two employees the Beautiful Mess planner (so pretty!) but for myself….

Day Designer by Whitney English

I’m trying out the Day Designer for the year. I needed a lifestyle change so I can track my goals and keep on them. So far, it’s going well. I’m still trying to figure out how to use the money space since I generally need to do a lot of bookeeping. It’s a bit large to bring to and from work but I have a big bag so it works out alright. I’m really excited to see the results from using it for a year!

What about you? What do you find works best for you? Any tips? And are there any that I’m missing? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Photos and styling by Brittany Jepsen

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