Until about three years ago, I had never heard of planners, and I certainly had never heard of Erin Condren. I had a small diary that I used to keep my various appointments, which means it was sparsely populated. It was the kind that starts in January and ends in December and has little maps and lists of area codes for calling across the world (that was clearly before Skype took off!). It was just what I needed. This said, I could often be found wandering the aisles of Paperchase, drooling.
Then I had kids and not only was my memory struggling to keep up but we needed to save money so I started menu planning. I did so on scraps of paper, until one December 2012 when I walked into the annual ‘Calendar shop’ that pops up around this time of year and is gone by January (goodness knows what they do the rest of the year) and came face to face with the Do It All Mom Planner. It had the usual diary things, plus tear-off shopping lists and to-do lists, stickers, and space; so much space to write all the million things I needed to remember. I also looked at Filofax, but two things put me off: it was too small, and it was pretty on the outside but dull as rain water on the inside. That’s when I realised I could never return to a small-sized agenda, and I haven’t looked back.
I am aware that I could go down the digital route and use my phone for keeping track of life but I’m not getting on with it. I keep forgetting it’s there; I can’t look at everything in one go as you need one app for this and another for that; it’s practical but I keep wanting to write things down in a notebook. From this I deduce that I’m a paper person and should own it. Isn’t the perfect planner the one that works for you?
My current planner is a really good French version, however the back cover completely fell off last month and I’m not prepared to spend the rest of the year with a ruin that I expected to use until December 2015. I needed to get a new one.
It coincided with the release of the Erin Condren 2015/16 planners, which seemingly generates a small explosion on the stationery addict community online every year. I’m the kind of practical person who can’t really get on with all the fluffy decorating that a lot of Erin Condren addicts seem to get down to (seriously, check out Pinterest, it is insane), but as much as I have a tendency to strip everything down to its most useful, I am also very visual and I like something colourful to look at. I scoured the internet for all the possible paper and digital versions I could find, and there are some really good ones out there but I knew my heart was set on Erin Condren, despite the steep price tag. When I asked Mumsnet if I was mad to want to spend $50 on a diary, someone asked me if I was a teenage girl. Don’t judge me.
It begs the question, why would you spend this much money on a planner? I will give you five reasons below, which highlight why I chose the Erin Condren Life Planner.
1. It is built to last: unlike my current planner, who I thought was pretty sturdy when I bought it, the EC has a front and back cover of heavy-duty laminate; the thing will not bend or easily get ripped. I’ve never seen a coil like this one either, it is one strong and solid binder.
2. The EC is big: it’s slightly bigger than A5, at 18.4 x 23.4 cms (that’s 7.25″ x 9.25″). You need a big bag to carry it around, but if you’re the type of person who needs a planner, the likelihood is you use a big bag anyway. The good thing about a big planner is of course that there is a lot of space to write in, and I don’t need to tell you just how much this is needed.
3. There is a choice of layouts: new this year, you can choose between a vertical (columns) or horizontal (rows) layout. I decided to get the vertical purely because I’ve never had one before and it looks like it might suit me better. Only time will tell but in the meantime, I am excited to start using it.
The headers are blank so it has a lot of potential as each box can be customized to suit individual needs. Standard headings tend to be morning / afternoon / evening but I’ve decided to separate between me and my husband, the kids activities, and either studies/blog or a to-do list.
4. Personalisation: this is the fun bit but it’s also where you can go a bit nuts. There is a great range of colourful, personalised and interchangeable covers; it’s usually the hook that grabs newcomers; they certainly grabbed me.
You can also personalise stickers to highlight important dates with your own wording of even your own photos, and that’s only the beginning. There’s a big range of accessories on the website, each more beautiful than the last. I’m not much of a label user, however all the planners come with a decent selection of standard ones so I will see whether it is worth the additional purchase. There are also a gazillion etsy shops that sell EC accessories anyway so the sky is pretty much the limit. In the meantime, I printed some free sheets on plain paper and even made some myself and will be testing (with glue) whether I am likely to be using them.
5. Attention to detail: the EC life planner has lots of useful little detail that add to the general luxurious feel in small and big ways. You can tell it has been designed by a planner user, which is a Big Deal.
The sense of quality extends to the way that the planner is delivered, in a colourful box, wrapped in tissue paper. It comes with a handful of gifts in the form of sticky labels, a discount voucher and a postcard.
it’s hard to explain how much more beautiful and solid the planner is in your hands. And inside, it is full of colourful and highly practical things:
- a clear ruler that acts as a page marker.
- At the front, a two-page month-by-month calendar from July 2015 to December 2016 and two pages for goal setting.
- The months are separated by laminated tabs (one of the main reasons I chose the EC).
- Each month starts with a page for notes and a two-page view of the entire month with a column for goals.
- Each week gets its’ own double page and a sidebar; some people use it to keep track of fitness. I think I’m going to keep a list of chores. I’m visual, it’s the only way it’s going to get done.
- At the back, there are 15 pages for notes in lined and unlined paper, a 2017 year-at-a-glance calendar and pages of stickers.
- And finally, another big hit or me: a strong double-sided pocket containing a perpetual calendar and a clear zip pouch. The pouch comes with some small gifts inside: a coil clip, 3 compliment cards, 3 referral cards and a sample sheet of dot stickers.
Conclusion & Practical Notes (plus a discount for new customers)
I am really excited to start using this planner. I can’t think of anything I wish was in there that isn’t, and aside from how attractive it looks, the biggest selling-point for me is how sturdy it is. It is a tool which I use on a daily basis and carry around everywhere. It is a pretty tool, but one that will only work if I use it well.
I bought my planner with a pen holder, additional coil clips and a meal planner clip-on. I chose my own planner colours in the classic Fleur Feliz design with a peacock background and pool pattern.
And now wish me luck, as I’m about to get stuck in and set the planner up for the coming year and a half, using this advice.
Do The Math: at $55 (£35) for an 18-month planner without add-ons, it amounts to just under £2 per month. Even if like me you buy extra bits to go with it, the planner is still only costing you about the same amount as one coffee per month, which I personally think is not extortionate. I’m completely biased though, as it is my idea of stationery heaven.
Don’t forget, if you want to get $10 store credit to use on your first purchase, follow my referral link to register on the website.