Organization is my thing so naturally I'm obsessed with planners. I love anything that helps me pull my life together. I used to be a firm believer in Erin Condren Life Planners while I was in college, but since I've entered the professional world I've needed a planner with a different layout. To fill this need I chose to go with the Day Designer by Whitney English. I was so excited to purchase this (I actually bought it in October of last year. I just couldn't wait.) because of the introduction pages that are meant to help you create focus in the new year.
In preparation for 2015, I completed the intro pages and decided what I wanted to accomplish for this year. Unfortunately, due to the manner of life my year hasn't exactly gone as planned and some of the things I thought I would get done haven't even been on my mind. My focus has really changed and a lot of those things have been put on the back burner for now. Therefore I can't attest to whether or not this portion of the Day Designer is useful. I can, however, tell you what I think of the layout and overall usability of the planner.
Schedule and To Do Section
Initially, I chose this planner because of the 5a.m. to 9 p.m. hourly schedule for each day and the large section dedicated to "To Do's". In the past three months, I have absolutely utilized these portions of the planner. I always have a ton of things to do each day for work and my personal life, and I have meetings and appointments just about everyday so the hourly slots are the best. There is also a "Download" section at the bottom that has been a great place for me to jot down notes - okay, fine. I just write down the books I want to read.
Monthly Notes Pages
At the beginning of each month there is a double-sided, tabbed month page that is lined for notes. I LOVE this because there is so much space. I need to write down all kinds of things, like what gifts I need to purchase for coming birthdays or what I want to go buy or need to research. It's a great place for me keep long, running lists and it's easy to find when flipping through the planner.
Simple, Clean Aesthetic
I'm not a huge fan of a lot of pattern or color - especially in a planner that will be covered in notes and scribbled schedule changes. The Day Designer doesn't have color or designs covering massive portions of the pages, and I LOVE that. There's plenty of room for my stuff when the pages are clean. The only form of decoration are inspirational quotes in the top-left corner of the daily pages. I imagine the rule of designing the planner was "Keep it simple. Life gets hectic."
Today's Top Three
While I love the schedule and "To Do" section of my Day Designer, it's not perfect. There is a "Today's Top Three" section at the top of page that I thought was going to be SO great when I first started using the Day Designer. As I've been using it though, I've found that it has simply become an overflow for regular ole To-Do's. I could probably take some time to choose three things that are extra important for each day, but sometimes my days simply consist of a million little things, and this makes it seem pointless to me. If something is important then I can just put a star next to it or write it at the top of the whole To-Do list.
There are also spaces designated for money, things due, things to remember, and dinner plans. In my opinion, these aren't necessary. To me a "Don't Forget" section is a waste. If I need to remember to do something then I can write it as a To-Do. If something is due then I can jot down a reminder in the "Download" section. I have used the money section some, but only to say when rent is due and when pay day is. Rent can be jotted into my To-Do list (i.e. Pay Rent) and Pay Day can go into my "Download" or monthly page view. I also don't need a dinner section. I follow the Tone It Up nutrition program so each of my meals are planned in advance. I need to write down ALL of my meals, not just dinner. This box often goes empty for me, and I scribble all of my meals and snacks into the hourly slots on my schedule. Personally, I would have preferred the space used in these four sections to be used for more To-Do's.
In addition, the paper of the Day Designer is very thin. So thin that many pens bleed through the page. Because of this I can't use my favorite PaperMate felt-tipped pens (which I've been using to color-code for years). Day Designer recommends using the Pilot G2 pens, which are great and do come in a wide variety of colors, but it can be a bit of a bummer to be limited to one specific type of pen. It's not a deal breaker, just an inconvenience. I know that thin paper and plain Jane pens aren't the worst thing in the world, but pens are one of my obsessions and I can't help that. It's a writer problem.
No Weekly Calendar
My final problem, and perhaps the biggest issue, is that there are only monthly calendar views for each month and then daily pages. It might just be me and my crazy need to organize and plan absolutely every bit of my life, but I greatly miss having a weekly page view. Erin Condren Life Planners only do monthly and weekly calendars, and that wasn't working with my professional life, but now the monthly and daily page views aren't enough for me to adequately plan. I've found that only having daily pages causes me to forget about the other six days. I end up over scheduling one day because I don't have a visual of just what is going on throughout the week. Or things I need to get done fall through the cracks because I have to write my master weekly list in another notebook. And no one wants to carry around two notebooks everywhere they go. I've tried to use the monthly calendar to remedy this problem, but there isn't room for me to write down every meeting on every day in those little boxes. I simply need a week view in addition to the month and daily views.
Of course, my cons might not be issues for other people. This is just my honest opinion after working with the Day Designer for three months. And this doesn't mean I don't love my Day Designer simply because there are a few issues. I know I listed more cons than pros, but the pros are the most important parts of any planner, and the cons are minor problems that can be worked around. I do love my Day Designer and will continue to use it. However, it's not perfect. Nothing is. One company can't create the perfect planner for every single person. Day Designer has done an impressive job of creating a fairly well-rounded planner however. I definitely recommend them if these sections and layout will work with your life and fit your needs. Plus the covers are classic and stylish.
Here's a more comprehensive review of multiple planners written by yours truly.