Have too many to do’s to fit on a weekly planner? Of all the planner reviews I’ve done, The Daily Simplified Planner may be just the tool you need to simplify and manage your busy life.
I have always been obsessed with planners. I’ve had many different brands and each one suited the season of life I was in at the time. But as life changes, what I need from my planner changes also. I’ve tried my share of different brands and I love helping others find the perfect planner to help them through their current season of life. So earlier this year, I did an Ultimate Planner Comparison of the 11 best pretty and functional planners on the market today. Today, I’m doing an in depth Daily Simplified Planner review so that you can see its features, how I used it so you can determine if it will work for your lifestyle.
From my PowerSheets Prep Work that I did at the start of the year, I pinpointed what I wanted, and moreso NEEDED, this year was to simplify my life. Last year, I was guilty of trying to do all the things and half finishing a lot but not completing anything. So I made my word of the year SIMPLIFY and wanted to take action steps to simplify 4 areas of my life (finances, faith, home and blog).
Note: This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you.
I had heard wonderful things about the Simplified Planner* and so I bought two, one for the Ultimate Planner Comparison Giveaway and one for me to keep, test out and bring you an honest Simplified Planner Review. Be sure to visit me on my momssmallvictories and productivemomsplan accounts on Instagram for more pictures of the Simplified Planner in use.
Picture Walk Through the 2018-2019 Daily Simplified Planner
First, I thought I would walk you through my Daily Simplified Planner* in pictures.
I have the watercolor floral academic year 2018-2019 Daily Simplified Planner (coil-bound), doesn’t the cover just make you happy? Want to know what I’m using? Don’t worry, specific pens and products I used along with the Simplified Planner are mentioned at the bottom of this post. If you’re like me, you want to know all about the pens and accessories as much as you do the planner!
Here are the specs for the 2019-2020 Daily Simplified Planner from their website:
The Simplified Planner is a beautiful, joyful agenda for busy women in all seasons of life. Designed minimally on purpose, its open pages serve as a fresh start every day. We believe margin matters, and our mission is to inspire women to organize, simplify, and carve white space for the good stuff of life. The daily edition covers 12 months (with one day per page and shared weekend pages) and features a gold wire-o binding, a navy inside liner and pocket, 4 notes pages in the front, and luxurious Mohawk Via paper. With your Simplified Planner purchase, you’ll also receive monthly coaching (with videos!) from Emily, via email.
- August 2019 – July 2020
- Thick, 70lb., pure white Mohawk Via paper
- Space for schedule, to-do, notes and meals
- One day per page + shared weekend pages
- Full month views
- 4 notes pages in the front (new for 2019!)
- Hourly schedule from 6am to 9pm
- 4 pages of Simplified Prep-Work
- Monthly Simplicity Tips
- Simple color throughout
- Colorful stickers
- Gold, sturdy wire-o binding
- Hard cover with gold foil details
- Protective gold corners
- Navy interior
- Pocket inside the front cover
- Colorful, sturdy mylar tabs
- Navy + gold keepsake box
Please note that below described my 2018-2019 planner which is no longer available for sale. The 2019-2020’s have just launched and it is my understanding they are the same in format but please do check Emily Ley’s website* for most recent updates. Ok here we go!
Packaging, Cover and Binding
This bright, little beauty made me happy from the moment I opened the fuschia box. I noticed the elegant brushstrokes in the watercolor flowers, the little Emily Ley hidden pineapple icons and the sparkle of gold foil accents in the flowers and lettering. I am a sucker for flowers so I loved this cover. With gold reinforced corners and a gold wire-O binding, this is a sturdy planner that has stood up well over the last month of use. There are 6 covers to choose from in the daily if you like something more stripey, dotty or pineapply (is that a word)? Bottom line, the covers are all lovely and they seem to be well made. I’m interested to see how the goil foil on the cover and wire binding hold up after the year is through.
Simple, Clean and Colorful
The Daily Simplified Planner* cover is the most colorful part of the planner, the interior layout pages have simple, clean lines with little pops of color to help the day and date stand out.
Inside Pocket and Cover Page
The inside front cover of the Daily Simplified Planner* has a navy blue pocket to keep stickers, paperwork or a slim notebook. The title page has space for you to write your name and information. I kept a few sticker sheets and a slim traveler’s notebook in my front pocket so I could keep project notes, master lists and trackers since the planner does not have any note pages in the back.
There is a letter from creator Emily Ley following the title page.
Like the Powersheets, there are some helpful Prep Work pages that creator Emily Ley walks us through to help us simplify our lives, easy steps and things to ask yourself so you can figure out how to”choose what matters” when deciding what projects to take on or how your time is spent.
There are a couple pages of year at a glance calendars for 2018 and 2019 and a list of holidays for 2018 and 2019.
The Looking Back and Looking Ahead pages help you analyze what worked and didn’t work in your last year so that you can develop new routines and healthy habits this year.
The weekly and daily routines pages help you develop a routine that makes sense in your current season of life. I rely on the routine I’ve figured out to make sure that all the roles I’m juggling get tended to. When my routine changes, I can feel out of sorts until I figure out a new one.
My weekly routines include home tasks like laundry and cleaning, days I have to take kids to soccer practice, the fun things we’ve carved into our week (like family movie night Fridays and church, dinner out and at-home date night Saturdays), and what days I cook versus eating leftovers. I’ve done great figuring out my home and family routine, but I need to also incorporate my blog routine to make sure it all gets done. Simplifying blogging is one of my goals for this year and it might be the hardest because of all that has to be done to run a profitable and successful blog.
Next we have the 30-day Simplicity Challenge which is a list of 30 tasks that are supposed to take 15 minutes or less and will help you simplify and declutter the unessential. Easy tasks we know we should do but forget about doing. I love a good checklist to help me stay focused so this one serves as a quick win action plan, you’ll feel like a load has been lifted when you get these done.
The Yearly Bucket List is your fun page to dream big and get those biggest adventures and goals out of your head and onto paper.
The Monthly Calendars has a few lines for notes to add any that you wish. Calendar week starts on Sunday. The design again is simple, clean with a little color on the month’s title. My favorite feature on this calendar is the Simplicity Tip at the top of the page, they match some of the items on the Simplicity Challenge prep work to remind you to do them! Monthly tabs add another pop of color and are laminated so they won’t get damaged.
On the left side of the page in the picture above, you can see the weekday page layout. The day, date and “my day”, “to do” and “notes” are in color but all other text is in black. Dates of U.S. Holidays are in red font so they stand out. The header space can be used for a reminder or gratitude about the day. There is space for your hourly schedule from 6am to 9pm, equal space for a long to do list and a section at the bottom for notes so you can write in whatever you like. I like the freedom and flexibility of this notes space. It’s large enough that I can use it for my health and water tracking, meals and some journaling about my day.
The page size is 7″x9″ so it’s smaller than the Purposeful Planner (daily format) and Passion Planner (weekly format) that I was using earlier this year. I have large handwriting so I have to abbreviate my to dos but I am able to get everything onto a page.
The right side of the page in the picture above shows the weekend pages, where Saturday and Sunday share a day. The “my day” section does not have hourly time slots like on the weekday pages. In the Sunday header space, there is a prompt and room to write a favorite memory of the week. In the Sunday to do list space, there are 4 preprinted “weekly prep” tasks so that you simplify your week ahead and it runs smoother. I like that having those tasks already printed on the page makes sure that I do them and get a balance between tending my family, home and my self care.
Color Coding and Time Tracking
I try to color code and track my time so that I can make sure I get a good work-life balance. I completed the Powersheets prep work at the beginning of 2018 and they helped me analyze my life in 8 different categories:
- Spiritual and Personal Growth (red)
- Finances (orange)
- Work/Blog (yellow)
- Family and Friends (dark green)
- Health (lime green)
- Home (turquoise)
- Fun and Recreation (blue)
- Spouse/Significant Other (light purple)
Since the colors were already laid out for me, I use the same Powersheets colors for tracking my goals and how I spend my time in my planners. I got Papermate Flairs* and the colors matched the Powersheets categories perfectly. So here is how I color code my tasks in the to-do section so I can ensure that I get a good balance of work, home, family and self care needs.
Emily Ley has a Simplified Planner color coding scheme on her free printables library that coordinates with the colors in the planner, her Pilot Precise pen set* (the pens shown in my pictures above) and her color coding*, icon stickers*and flag stickers*. That’s the color scheme I will be using in my planner for 2019 since I just bought all those stickers! It simplifies the amount of color categories I have from 8 to 6 (and holidays won’t be used much) so see I’m simplifying already! Small victory!
- Planning (navy)
- Family (blue)
- School (turquoise)
- Home (green)
- Pink (wellness)
- Red (holiday)
The picture above also shows you how I track how my time is spent. I started tracking my time several years ago to help me see where my time wasters were and get a realistic idea of how long tasks take me to do (I’m a chronic underestimator of how long things take me). I’m a stay at home mom and so inevitably, at the end of an exhausting day of mom life, I’d look at my goals or look around the house and think I didn’t get enough done. So I started tracking my time to help me see just what I did all day (there are so many little things that come up right?) and it helped me focus on my accomplishments instead of the unchecked items on my to do list. By focusing on my accomplishments, it gets me super motivated to get things done.
So here is what I was doing this year to track time…I keep appointments and must do’s with a deadline in my Google Calendar that I share with my family. I look at the Google Calendar the night before and again in the morning to make sure I know what’s coming for the day. I have reminder alerts set to my phone an hour in advance so I make sure I have time to finish what I’m doing, get ready and commute to the appointment.
I only write the appointment in my planner when it’s done. Because of my health, sometimes optional appointments will get canceled. Because of weather, my sons’ soccer practice might get canceled. I don’t like crossing things out in my planner and since it reflects how my time was spent, I only write it in when it’s completed.
I like to track my time in quarterly increments which worked well in the Purposeful Planner and Passion Planner because they had two lines dedicated per hour. Since the Simplified Planner only has one line, it doesn’t have as much room for quarterly time tracking so I have to be more general on what I put in the schedule section. However, the limited space in the Daily Simplified Planner* is forcing me to simplify yet again and make me rethink my time tracking system and how I can adapt it to meet my current needs and goals.
The daily pages end on August 1, 2019 (I have a 2018-2019 planner) and since this planner is already 1.25″ thick, there were no additional notes pages. I kept a slim notebook in the front pocket and bullet journal my master task lists and to do’s into it. I love the paper in this notebook*, it’s thick and smooth.
But for the new 2019-2020 planners, there are 4 notes pages in the front! Still I think I’d need an extra notebook for all my epic lists and now Emily Ley makes mini notebooks* that match the planner covers, I ordered one to review for you!
Here are some examples of other lists I plan to have in this notebook:
- Blog – goal projects
- Blog – 12 week year checklists
- Blog – courses to complete and progress
- Blog – stats
- Home – Decluttering, repairs and renovations by room
- Home – Cleaning and maintenance schedule
- Home – A Simplified Life* task list
- Family & Friends – Gift List
- Family & Friends – Vacation Ideas and Planning
- Spouse – Date Night Ideas
- Self Care – Self Care Ideas for bad RA days
- Self Care – Planning Routine (I consider planning self care because it helps my sanity and mental health)
- Self Care – Health tracking graphs to monitor my pain and fatigue
This little notebook really is a brain dump of all the ideas and miscellaneous to dos I think of. It helps having it all in one place so I don’t forget something.
Simplified Planner vs. Day Designer
The main question I get is what are the differences between the Simplified Planner* and Day Designer Planners, so I though I’d give you a quick recap here to help you decide which is best for you. This is based on my experience with the daily planners I purchased (Simplified Planner in 2018-2019 and the flagship size Day Designer in 2016-2017.
Both planners daily pages have ample space for your hourly schedule and plenty of space for your to do list.
I think the daily Simplified Planner* is better:
- paper quality is better at 105 gsm, bright white and smooth to write on
- if you want to carry the planner with you to and from work/school (the daily SP is 7″x9″ vs flagship daily DD is 9″ x 9.75″ and weighs 2.5 pounds)
- you like pops of color in your planner
- you like worksheets to help you simplify your life (tips, routines, and simplicity challenge)
- you like open space for notes to track whatever you like
- you like extra notes pages (new this year)
- you like colorful hand drawn stickers
- smaller space forces you to abbreviate, keep your list small and focused, in other words to simplify your schedule!
I think the flagship size daily Day Designer* is better:
- if you don’t mind thinner 90 gsm paper to have more space to write in (regular printer paper is 80 gsm usually as a point of reference)
- you need a lot of space to write down tasks as they come to you/want space for brain dumps
- you need a bigger planner that you can leave on your desk or at home
- you prefer minimalist daily pages (gray font with gold tabs)
- you like worksheets to help you set meaningful goals and break them down to get them done
- you like dedicated spaces on your daily pages for top 3 priorities, menu, what’s due, gratitude, dinner, etc.
- you don’t need many notes pages
You can see pictures inside and check out my full Day Designer review here.
The Best Pens to Use in the Simplified Planner
I did an ultimate pen test and tried to figure out the best pens to use in the Simplified Planner. The photos will be uploaded later in a separate post but I did want to give you the results of my pen test here.
The paper quality in my 2018-2019 Simplified Planner* was 70 lb Mohawk Paper (105 gsm) and is the same in the 2019-2020 planners according to their website. I think the paper quality is comparable so my pen test should be accurate.
I tested each pen with a colored dot which is what I usually do for coloring coding, the color name written and a squiggly line to see how it would bleed (run all the way through the paper so you can see what’s written) or shadows (where you can faintly tell what is written or that something is written).
I tested the following 9 brands of pens to figure out what the BEST pen to use in the Simplified Planner is. There are a combination of Emily Ley’s brand pens, gel pens and felt tip pens and one brand of highlighters.
Gel Pens, Metal Tip
- Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pens, retractable, 0.7mm, 10 colors in pack
- Pentel Energel Liquid Gel, 0.7mm, metal tip, 5 colors in pack
- Zebra Sarasa Gel Pens, 0.7mm, 10 colors in pack
- Pilot G-2, 0.7mm, 4 colors in pack
- Papermate Flair Felt Point Pens, Medium, 12 colors in pack
- Staedler Triplus Fineliner Pens, 10 colors in pack
- Sharpie Pen, Fine Point, 10 colors in pack
- Pilot G-2, 0.38mm, Black only
- Emily Ley Pilot Precise v5, Extra Fine, Rolling Ball pen, 7 pack
- Emily Ley Gold Dot pen with .7mm tip (website recommended to use Pilot Precise V5 RT liquid ink for refills)
- Zebra Mildliner Highlighters, 15 colors in 3 packs
If you like a gel pen, metal tip…
I love the colors in the Papermate Inkjoys* and the metal tip makes these pens glide when you write. The color is vibrant and inky so if you want a bold look this would be a good choice. I can feel the colored dots left an indentation of the paper on the other side of the page and colors shadow on the other side of the paper but do not bleed completely through. If you don’t mind shadowing (and I don’t), then the ink joys have a great color selection and are easy to find on Amazon or Target.
If you like a felt tip pen…
If you like a bold look and a medium point, the Papermate Flairs* rule this category. They come in sooo many beautiful colors for all your color coding and doodling needs. Just as bold as the inkjoy’s, the colors shadow on the back of the page some but the dots I colored do not leave any indentation on the other side of the page.
Because of the felt tip, the Papermate Flairs aren’t as smooth when writing as some of the others but this is a good choice if you like to feel the scratch of the pen on the paper. The tip is solid so if you are heavy handed, you’ll need this type of point instead of a flexible tip that’s bendable.
If you like a felt tip with a flexible fine point, the Staedler Triplus Fineliners* are my favorite. Now, I must warn you, if you have a heavy hand like I apparently do, you can and will bend or wear down the tip on these. I have worn down my black and blue Staedler and bent a few of the tips on my Sharpie pens so they aren’t good for me with daily use but I had fun testing them out for you!
But if you aren’t heavy handed, I prefer the Staedlers over the Sharpie pens because they seem to shadow less onto the other side of the page, come in a huge assortment of colors and the colors are more vibrant. The Staedlers are great for writing, color coding, doodling and coloring details in small spaces.
If you like a fine point…
The Emily Ley Pilot Precise v5 pen set is my favorite here. I love the extra fine point and there are enough colors to have a variety without an overwhelming selection. These are fantastic for writing, color coding and outlining doodles but I wouldn’t use these to color. These are the ones that I am currently using daily.
If you like a rollerball pen…
I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I like the Emily Ley Gold dot pen*. I’m typically not a fan of rollerball pens but this one writes smoothly and is a bit heavier and wider than the other pens I tested so it’s actually easier for me to write with. And can we just say, I just love the box it comes in with the magnetic closure. It would be a perfect gift for the pen lover or teacher in your life!
I only tested the Zebra Mildliner Highlighters* so far since they seem to be an extremely popular choice among planner fans like me and come in a huge assortment of colors. They are dual tipped highlighters, one side has a broad tip for highlighting and the other a fine tip for writing and coloring.
The pastel neon pack shadowed the least of the 3 packs I tested but that gold/orange highlighter matches the gold in the Simplified Planner perfectly! But I just gotta love the bolder colors and love the fine tips so you can actually write notes or color doodles you want to highlight in your day.These are the best pens to use in your Simplified Planner! Click To Tweet
Favorite Supplies Shown/Purchased
FREE Simplified Planner Printables
I love that Simplified Planner gives you free printables* to test out their planner pages and other fun and simple printables to help you simplify your chaotic life. Here are some of my favorites available to download:
- Daily planner page
- weekly planner page
- brain dump checklist
- brain dump quads
- brain dump graph paper
- blog planner
- meeting notes
- packing checklist
- party planning
- family meeting notes
- baby chart
- class list
- spring cleaning checklist
- sunday checklist
- password tracker
- borrowed items
- go to meals
- gratitude list
- holiday shopping list
there are a few more I didn’t name but there’s a lot to help you simplify various areas of your home, school, work and life!
The Bottom Line Review
Truth be told, when I first started using this planner, I thought it was too small to be able to track all my random ideas throughout the day. I was coming from larger planners where I had more space to write, time block and track how my time was spent in quarterly increments.
But what I realized the more I used the Daily Simplified Planner* was that it forced me to abbreviate and you guessed it, SIMPLIFY my planning process and routine. As it turns out, it does have enough room to keep up with my daily needs and the little notebook can keep track of any overflow that doesn’t get done or for longer-term projects. Realistically, there is enough to do space for what I could possibly accomplish in one day.
I love the Daily Simplified Planner for the ways it’s helping my simplify my life. I love the Prep work like the Simplicity Challenge for 30 ways to simplify my home, mind and mom life. Some easy things I haven’t thought of doing, some quick wins, and some things I procrastinate with and just need to do. I love the Looking Back and Looking Ahead pages as I think it’s important to see what worked, what didn’t and what you want to improve on. This is the sort of exercise I like to do weekly as well as part of my planning routine.
I love the clean lines and pops of color in the Daily Simplified Planner. I love the large notes space where I can track and journal what I want when I want. This planner is small enough that you could carry it around in your purse or work bag but it might be a little heavy.
I like that the weekend pages have a space for a favorite memory of the week. But I do wish that Saturday and Sunday had a dedicated page and I have mixed feelings about the preprinted Weekly Prep tasks since I tend to meal plan and grocery shop on Monday or Friday. I’d rather have that space available to write what I need.
This is a great life planner that works in conjunction with a goal planner like Powersheets but if you need something that will help you identify and track progress towards your goals, then this is not it. There is not much in terms of goalsetting, unless your goal is to simplify and then the Daily Simplified Planner* is a great start!
Bottom Line: I highly recommend the Daily Simplified Planner* by Emily Ley. It i is a simple, clean and colorful planner that helps me simplify my busy life, home and mind. By color coding my tasks and tracking my time, this pretty little powerhouse is an effective time management tool to help me focus on my goals and get more done so I can have more fun! The more I use it the more I love it! If you want to see how the Simplified Planner stacks up against other planners on the market, be sure to check out my Ultimate Planner Comparison post and download a free chart to help you decide.
More Productivity Resources and My Thrive with Chronic Illness Planner Now on Sale!
Today, I’m excited to tell you about something that might help in your quest for gaining more time and managing it well. A bundle of resources created by people (I’m one of them!) who understand that you’re looking for practical productivity solutions that will work in your lifestyle.
It’s called the Ultimate Productivity Bundle*and it was created and curated by people with real life responsibilities just like you: they have families, work part- to full-time jobs or run businesses, don’t have personal assistants or the budget for hiring lots of extra help. They want to help you (and themselves) conquer your to-do list, free up more time for yourself, and reach your goals.
When you buy the Ultimate Productivity Bundle you’ll get access to:
- 5 eBooks
- 14 eCourses & videos
- 26 printables & workbooks
- free bonuses including a Cultivate What Matters goal setting sticker book (while supplies last!)
I’m excited to announce that my newest product, the Thrive With Chronic Illness Planner + Journal is included in the Ultimate Productivity Bundle*on sale for a limited time! This planner is a labor of love and brings one of my life goals to reality.
While designed for the unique needs and challenges of chronic illness patients, the Thrive with Chronic Illness Planner + Journal will help you:
- overcome overwhelm from daily life
- take charge of your stress, physical and emotional health
- track your daily health and doctor’s visits
- identify your health and stress triggers so you can control what you can and let go of what you can’t
- set realistic, achievable goals
- get done what you need to so you can have more fun
- establish a customized cleaning routine and menu plan that works for you
- track and analyze your budget and actual expenses
- celebrate your successes and how you THRIVE each week and every day
- uncover lessons learned so you can improve your method each week
Check out the entire Ultimate Productivity Bundle* . At only $49.97 for over $1,500 worth of resources, It’s an incredible deal for everything you get!
This post is linked up with these fabulous linkup parties.