The Planner That Helped Me (Finally) Get my Act Together


Hi, m'dear! I'm raving about my favorite planner EVER. I have included an affiliate link to the planner I love, meaning I receive a very small commission when someone orders their planner using my specific link (just enough for a Chickfila combo--yay!). If you don't mind using my link, then you'll find it HERE and throughout the post by clicking any picture. Thanks for your support and belief in the products that I love and love bringing to you!  


By nature, I'm a messy person. Most of the time, I can function fairly well in chaos, can roll with plenty of punches, and can nearly always tap my photographic memory to recover a "lost" item. 

But the more I learn on this #Momlife journey, the more I recognize that I need systems and strong organization skills/tools to keep straight all the important things. Especially my thoughts, which swirl around in a non-linear fashion and frequently escape my brain, never to be recalled again. 

Does that sound at all familiar?  If so, then I am honored to be in the company of a kindred sister. 

Whether you stay at home with your children, work from home, work outside of the home, or are attending school full time, you've got so much that you are responsible for, in your home and outside of it. A planner is an essential tool to help you lasso and organize all those thoughts that are firing in your busy brain.

In short, I went through a Bachelorette's season's worth of planners, all having some redeeming qualities yet all leaving me longing for something more. After more than a half dozen tries, I decided not to settle or throw away my money on inferior matches anymore and got serious about my search for the planner that would work for me.

To see which planners weren't the one for me and why, check out my lonely hearts section at the bottom of the post. (Yep, I'm kissing and telling! #namingnames)   

I have also become more discriminating with my money as I've gotten older.  I'm a little tougher to impress than I used to be. Maybe it's too many years of making due with wrong fits, from actual boyfriends to jobs to day planners to shoes that pinch that have empowered me to say enough is ENOUGH. 

For me, a planner isn't about simplifying my life; it's about keeping up with all my sheep, my spinning plates, my juggling balls, a place where all my hats can exist together. Yes? YES!  

Allow me to introduce

The Day Designer by Whitney English 

Everything about this planner is both luxurious AND practical. From the beautifully designed cover, with corner protectors to the weight of the paper, to the packaging it arrives in, to the helpful values and goal-setting pages in the front, it is all so so lovely. 

Those first pages in the planner feel like sitting down with your own personal Yoda. Easy to read and navigate pages help you reflect on where you are to learn where you want to go in life and how to then plan each day according to you purpose. 

My favorite page was the My Reality Check sheet, which helped me to have an honest conversation with myself about which life segments have my time and my money. Think Career, Social, Family, Chores, TV & Distractions (HELLO, speaking to me), Spiritual, Physical, Volunteering and so on. I was able to map out where I give my attention and my dollars and then reflect on that amount to set goals for each segment in the coming year. (Less time vegging out on social media, more time engaging with my spouse) 

Next up was jotting down my core (values + passions + strengths), which the sheet made very easy to do. I actually did all of the sheets in a window of an hour before Iris woke up one morning, but you could take each sheet by itself in small 10-15 minute windows if you find that easier for you)

I noticed some clear trends in my core were the need to be creative and to write, in addition to loving on my family, spending time focusing on my spiritual walk, and pursuing a healthy lifestyle. These aren't your shoulds; these are things that matter to you, and without these things in my life, I don't feel like me. 

After that, there were easy sheets for plotting out goals in your life segments, broken out by 3, 6, 9, and 12 months with a beautiful and easy breakout page to help you dissect these goals into daily habits and progress. By this point I was feeling so encouraged that I can reach my goals for 2018. As I said, it was like Yoda took me by the hand and in a few words told me the answers were inside of me, and I was drafting the plan for my life, designing it based on my values, which no one else can do quite like you. 

The planner also includes pages for mapping out your ideal month and ideal week. This was a great exercise in figuring out what it takes for me to feel like my day has been a success, which also showed me what I realistically have time for (like exercise 3-4 days a week, not 5; and how I need to carve out 20 minutes each night for an actual grooming routine of washing my face, brushing my teeth and slathering on night cream, something I long for but forget to budget time for).   

After that, the planner and I were off and running! 

One of the coolest things about the way my journey with Day Designer unfolded was that we "talked" for three weeks before I gave Day Designer my number. What I mean by that is that I printed off 21 copies of their free daily planning page to test drive before I ever gave them a dollar. Try before you buy is my favorite method of product trial.    

Those 21 days when I critically put Day Designer through the paces were markedly more productive than life before the planning page. I looked forward to plotting out the next day's To-Do's and took advantage of the sections, which I'll outline for you:

Top 3 Must Do Tasks for the Day- This section alone maximizes every day's productivity by providing me with a bottom line. Do these 3 tasks to consider the day a success. End of story.   

Due- pressing deadlines. Put them here. 

Dollars- I jotted down my daily spend including Starbucks trips, stops for gas, emergency Target runs during lunch. 

Dinner- Thank you, Day Designer, for reminding me to consider dinner BEFORE time to eat, when I will invariably default to frozen pizza. This section makes me take a little more pride in my dinnertime repertoire. 

Don't Forget- Such a perfect little square for that ONE thing you really need to not forget about! For me, during the 3-week trial, I was a nursing working mom, pumping three times a day while away from home. Most days my Don't Forget was THE MILK from my office fridge or THE PUMP if I planned to work on my freezer stash overnight. This magic square is also perfect for nudges about dry cleaning, eggs at the grocery store, or to place an order for flowers for someone special, pay your final installment on your vacation plans, get your measurements to the bridal shop, visit your professor during office hours, etc. 


At the bottom of the page is a section for notes and my personal favorite, daily gratitude. I actually use the notes section or the lower half of the gratitude box to log outfits I wear or plan to wear. You could also track your workouts here. 

The day's time log covers from 5am until 9pm, giving far more coverage than traditional planners. Because Day Designer knows that you are doing things far more hours than 8am-6pm. 

Plot out your morning run, carve out daily devotional time. Track baby's nap schedule or log the number of poops and pees (for non-moms, this is a Thing for newborns to be sure all plumbing is working properly). 

Size Wise
Day Designer planners come in Flagship and Mini sizes. I've only used the Flagship size, which is about an inch shorter than an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. The wire binding makes it every so slightly wider than 8.5 inches. I love this size. It is substantial but still fits into a tote bag. If you like something smaller, then the mini is the same format but a bit more compact and a few dollars cheaper. 

The covers are hardboard and beautiful, capped with metal corners to keep from getting bent. You have 10 beautiful covers to choose from, and I've now owned three of them (one was a prize from an Instagram giveaway!). Here's the style I had for 2017, Blue Tile: 

For 2018 I went with Bloom Where You're Planted because it features ALL of my favorite colors: red, coral, blue, teal, aqua. I gave so much thought to this decision and really didn't need to. This cover spoke to me from the moment I saw it, I just like to be thoughtful about commitments of all kinds, especially something I will use every day for 365 days. :) I also added the wall calendar to my cart this year and it is truly beautiful. I actually plan to use it on my desk versus the wall. 

A note about shipping: 
Day Designer ships by Priority only and arrives in 2-3 days. This makes the shipping charge $14.50. Keep your eyes peeled for FREE SHIPPING promos or buddy up with a friend who is ordering as well because right now there is free shipping for orders over $100. You and your friend can both enjoy free shipping that way!  

But wait, there's more
Here are some of the extra perks of linking arm in arm with Day Designer. These are the nice touches that are not required but are SO nice. Like a man who pumps gas for you or always saves you the last brownie.   

Package Appeal
Your Day Designer will arrive in the most beautiful box. Maybe the extra thoughtful packaging doesn't do much for you, but I appreciate the loving attention to detail because you know that if they take the time to think about the box, they have put a LOT of time and thought into designing this planner. 

Details in small things = Details in ALL things. 

Even the spine of the planner is labeled in this mint-lined storage box. Some people keep their past years planners (not a bad idea if you're ever asked to provide an alibi?? Just saying. We've all seen Dateline.) and this sleek, streamlined box is a tidy way to store your planners by year.  

Day Designer also gives you the opportunity to be refunded the full cost of your planner when you post a photo of your planner on Instagram and use #daydesigner AND tag them @daydesigner. On the first day of every month they pick a winner to receive their order refunded. Pretty cool! Make sure your account is public at that time to qualify.

Big Plans
Day Designer includes some serious Life Planning/Mapping pages in the front of the planner that will get you thinking about living more intentionally. There's even a page called My Reality Check that has you consider where your time goes, where you waste it, and where you want to be instead. This isn't a section to approach flippantly. Pour yourself a strong cup of coffee or tea, nibble on some steel cut oatmeal with walnuts (brain food), and start that often dreaded look inward so that you won't dread where you are in life this time next year or even six months from now.

Day Designer even offers a catalogue of free printables, free webinars and challenges designed to improve your productivity and good habits. You'll find worksheets to track fitness, meals, shop for groceries, wrangle your entertaining plans into one place, keep up with your summer bucket list and books you hope to read, plus chore charts, bill pay sheet, and one of my favorite tools, a packing checklist that helped me so much when we left for Tampa last week. 

My household favorite is the chore sheet, which helps me plan to do certain tasks each day (ie vacuum on Saturday mornings, wash sheets on Sunday afternoon, etc) plus I plug in a few deeper cleaning monthly tasks. The sheet has boxes to check off each day/week as you complete them. 

So let's recap the initial pages:

Reality check. Where do you spend your time and money?

What things matter most to you? 

What's Your Goal? Everybody's Got a Goal.
Day Designer also coaches you through goal setting for the coming year and breaks it down by quarter as well as actionable steps so you can achieve success rather than merely daydream.

Hold on to your ideals.
If you don't know what the dream is, how can you build it? Day Designer gives a space to map your ideal month and week (and even day) so you can visualize how small changes can affect your success in reaching your goals.


Give yourself the gift of an amazing planner that will serve as your planner, journal, compass, and accountability partner in 2018. I'm glad to answer any personal questions about using the planner. Just message below this blog post and I'll reply! 

I wish you the BEST 2018 and can't wait to share my intentional living walk with you via the blog and Instagram. 

Stylishly Yours,

Lonely Hearts Club

Not a match: Franklin Covey $100+ initially; $65 annually after that

In my mid-twenties, I took Dr. Stephen Covey's class The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, which was offered through the company I worked for at the time. The course included a Franklin Covey planning system, personally dubbed by yours truly as the fully-loaded Escalade of planners. Just the binder cover for the Covey planner ranges from $50-180, and the annual classic planning package is comprised of two 6-month installments of $35 each. Plus the weekly compass do-hickeys. 


 The class and the system were significant in terms of acquiring valuable life skills and practices to pave the way to a more productive and successful life by learning the art of working with others and prioritizing tasks by four major categories. I don't diminish the value of the course in any way and am so thankful that I got to take the class, which was pricy and sponsored by my workplace. Otherwise, this professional gal just starting out would not have been able to afford such a fancy planner or class. 

Over time, I retained the skills from the Covey training, but I drifted away from the planning system for a few reasons. 

1- I didn't like not being able to carry the entire year's dates in one volume. See, I had to keep 6 months or less in the binder due to sheer size issues, so I had to decide when and where to make the lines of delineation. Plus I had to store those future page inserts somewhere. It wasn't convenient.  

2- The Covey planner also demanded a lot of time applying the class principles, and I basically spent a huge chunk of time planning my week. Every week deserves planning to maximize productivity, but this was getting to be too much. 

Not a Match: Lilly Pulitzer $24-40
Next up, I decided to embrace my desire for color and beauty by checking into visually interesting planners like Lilly Pulitzer, citing that a fantastic cover would certainly inspire me to productivity and regular planner use. The Lilly planners come in a variety of sizes and designs, all with Ms. Pulitzer's vibrant and stunning patterns.

My journey with the Lilly planner coincided with my working in a university as a career counselor.

I confess that I simply felt too OLD to carry the same planner as the sorority sisters, who were 10-15 years my junior, that sat across my desk on the daily, their eyes welling up over identity crises regarding their major, their career choice, and even their load of extracurricular commitments. I definitely know what it is like to struggle with those questions, so I could relate to them, but in terms of the Lilly planner, I personally felt like it was designed for a younger woman in a different stage of her life (though I know multiple adult women who carry one and do it gracefully). 

Lilly IS widely targeted toward college-age young women.  Maybe it was the fact that Lilly's planner came with cute stickers that reminded me of a younger time in my life? I don't know. I didn't over-analyze that one, I just knew that there were some things I didn't love about the system, namely that I prefer to see my days of the week lined up vertically rather than horizontally. 

Not a Match: At-A-Glance $18
Next up, in an effort to make life simpler and less chaotic, I picked a no-frills At-A-Glance appointment book. Nothing fancy. Basically, I could list my appointments from morning to night but there was no space for notes or To Dos. It was like accepting a date with a perfectly nice person who you don't click with on any significant level. Conversation isn't painful, just relatively pleasant and one-dimensional. It didn't take long before I realized that I needed a little bit more from a day planner than a lunch companion.

Better...  but yet another Not a Match: Erin Condren $55-60
After searching high and low on office sites and Instagram and Etsy, I uncovered more of the top names in planners. I kept seeing the Erin Condren Life Planner come up and though the price point was high for me personally at $60, I liked the array of beautiful cover choices and options for format. So I ordered it plus a pack of colored pens. 


I was pretty disappointed when the Erin Condren planner arrived. The writing space was very, very small. The cover looked like it was laminated using the same machine my kindergarten teacher employed back in the early 80s. It didn't look worth the price, even though I had picked it up on sale. 

The pens were nice. So I kept them and packed up the planner for a refund. 

Getting closer... but still not The One: Emily Ley Simplified Planner $58
The next Bachelor was Emily Ley's Simplified Planner. 

She, like Erin Condren, offers gorgeous covers. Emily Ley planners also boast a format that is intentionally about more white space on the page for visual rest and a sense of calming serenity. Emily's planner even has a square for jotting down meals every day which I definitely found charming given how much I think about meals.  

Emily Ley's Simplified Planner was truly a contender, one of the final two that I would ultimately choose to give my last rose to, Bachelorette style. 

I found her planner to be overly simple for my goals. I wanted a place where I could keep track of a LOT in one handy spot. 

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