I feel like getting my home, blog and head organized is an elusive dream. I want to be organized so badly but it seems way beyond my reach no matter how hard I try. Do you feel like that too? I think that is why I’m so obsessed with my planners and trying to find the perfect planner to help me fulfill my dreams. Today, I’m sharing an honest review of my Day Designer Midyear Planner for 2016-2017 that I started using on June 1st. Let’s see how she does!
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.
Chasing My Dreams = Justifying Another Planner:
Since leaving my full-time job 3 years ago, it has been a dream of mine that the next time I worked, I wanted to do something I loved. I had been blogging as a hobby for 4 years and realized blogging is my passion. I love lending a comforting, encouraging and positive space for other busy moms and chronic illness patients. In February, I decided I had to stop waiting for the perfect time to pursue my dream and turn this blog into something more.
The time may never be “perfect.” The house will likely never be perfectly designed and organized. Though my kids are in school during the day 9 months of the year, I never feel like I have an abundance of time. Every day I feel like I’m scrambling to get my usual SAHM duties done before the kids are back home again and then the after school craziness begins. Do you feel that way too?
I knew it was now or never. I wanted to chase my dream and see where my blogging journey would take me. I took the plunge and invested in Elite Blog Academy* (EBA) in February so that I could put more effort into making my blog successful. With the extra course load and assignments I needed to complete, the weekly format of my 2016 Plum Paper planner/blog planner/bullet journal would not be enough. I kept running out of room to track everything that I wanted.
EBA gave me the perfect
excuse reason to purchase the Day Designer Midyear Planner* to organize my daily tasks, health, water intake and gratitude so that my Plum Paper could be dedicated to my blog’s strategic planning, my habit trackers and my bullet journal collection lists.
I usually buy calendar year planners but I like that the Day Designer that I got is by the academic year so I can get the kids’ entire school year into it (don’t fret, the calendar year 2017 planners are preselling on Sept. 14). Now that I’ve given it a good couple months of use, I’m ready to show you inside and give you my honest Day Designer Midyear Planner Review for the 2016-2017 Flagship edition.
How do your planning needs change with your season of life and dreams?
Day Designer Specs:
Taken directly from Day Designer, these are the Features they list for my edition of the Midyear Flagship:
Overall Dimensions: 9″ wide x 9.75″ tall
Page Dimensions: 7.3″ wide x 9.5″ tall
Weight: 2 lbs.
- 12 Months of Dated Pages from June 2016 through May 2017
- 90 GSM White Paper (same great upgraded paper weight from our May 2015 edition!)
- Two Goal Planning Worksheets
- Daily Planning Pages with Scheduling from 5am to 9pm
- Daily Inspirational Quotes
- Today, To-Do, Dinner, Gratitude, Top 3 To-Do Prompts, Notes and more!
- Combined Weekend Pages with Overview of Upcoming Week
- Gold Foil Monthly Tabs
- Two-Page Monthly Views with a Monday Start Day for Each Week
- Two-Page Yearly View with a Monday Start Day for Each Week
- Daily Pages and Monthly Spreads Marked with U.S. holidays
- Tear-Out Pages in the Front and Back of Book to Protect Inside Pages
- Printed Grey Text on Inside Pages to Avoid Stark Contrast
- Durable Cover in our Signature Black Stripe (wipe clean with soft cloth)
- Protective Gold Corners
- Sophisticated Gold Wire-O Binding
- Inside Front Cover Pocket with Mint Cover Liner
- This Edition was Imported
My Cost: $59 + $12.50 priority shipping = $71.50
At 2 pounds, the Day Designer Midyear Planner (Flagship Size) is heavy duty. If you need a portable version, I’d suggest checking out the mini. I do not typically carry it around, my planner stays at home or in my car if I’m running errands so the Flagship size works well for me.
I gotta admit the packaging was stunning with the gold-striped interior of the box. I felt like a kid at Christmas opening the robin egg blue box. Inside, another hard cardboard all white case held the Day Designer itself. I kept the all-white case so I can put my Day Designer in it when I travel with my laptop bag. I will not use it too often but I figured it will keep it nicely protected when I do.
As a completely impatient person, I loved that the planner arrived super quickly, I just was not thrilled that my only choice was paying for priority shipping. The cover arrived with a couple small indentations but it was not a deal breaker for me. I was just too excited to dig in and get to use it!
The planner starts with a letter from founder Whitney English and her story of what inspired her to create the Day Designer. Small business success stories like hers keep me motivated to pursue my dreams. She saw a need for a better planning system for busy women and she filled it with the Day Designer.
Following the letter are several Goalsetting Pages to help us articulate our own vision in different areas of our lives including:
- Help Yourself
- Everyone Else
- Attitude & Academics
- Resources & Finance
- Trade, Career, Biz
Once you have your vision laid out, the next couple pages are for you to break down your vision into quarterly goals and make your goals manageable to you can realistically achieve them. That’s what all this planning is for,
achieving crushing our goals, right?
I look forward to updating these pages for the vision I have for the next 12 months. Since I already keep my mission and goals front and center on my desktop, I can copy them in my planner too and it will help me focus on the truly important tasks to achieve my vision.
Monthly Calendar Pages:
The Monthly Calendar Pages are minimalistic in design with simple, clean lines. I loved the color in the Plum Paper Planner but the dark gray and white is sharp, classic and clean. If I want to add color, I have to add it myself in this planner which is fine by me. No fuss, no muss.
There is a sidebar where we can write our goals and small victories. We tend to be great at celebrating our big victories but it is equally important to enjoy the journey and celebrate our small victories along the way.
Daily Calendar Pages:
The Daily Calendar Pages are why I bought the Day Designer Midyear Planner*. Each page has a schedule on the left, hourly increments from 5am to 9pm. I was having a hard time finding a daily planner that covered the evening until the kids were in bed. As a mom, much of my busyness is in the evenings so I wanted to be sure my planner made it to that part of my day.
I have always liked to track my time, it helps me evaluate how long tasks take me. I’m notoriously bad about underestimating how long a task will take. The schedule helps me quantify my time management so maybe one day I can better budget my time with realistic expectations.
In my Plum Paper Weekly Planner, I was manually tracking the food I ate, my pain levels, gratitude, dinner plans and my top 3 tasks in a bullet journal format. It got to be kind of a mess once I started taking EBA* too.
With the Day Designer, there are already predefined space for tracking the following sections. It looks more organized and with plenty of space to write, I have yet to run out of room for my tasks.
- Today’s Top Three
- Don’t Forget
- To Do
- Notes (where I track my food, water intake and pain levels)
- Daily Gratitude
As you can see in the photo below, I still use the bullet journal method in my planner. I rapid log items on my to do list as soon as I think of them so I don’t forget. Mommy brain, brain fog from my Rheumatoid Arthritis/meds, whatever you want to call it, my memory is horrible these days!
I fill in task boxes as completed so at the end of the day, I can see at a glance any tasks still in-process (indicated by a half filled in box) or incomplete. These tasks are then either migrated to the next day (as indicated by the arrow through the box) or if it cannot be done the next day then the task goes into the nearest quarterly notes page where I keep my master to do list. Surprisingly I have yet to run out of space for the random thoughts that enter my head in a day but this day sure came close!
Inspiring quotes adorn the top of every page including the monthly and daily pages. I can always use a bit of motivation when starting a new unpredictable day with managing motherhood with my Rheumatoid Arthritis and kids!
I like to introduce color into my planner by color coding my tasks. In my Plum Paper Planner, I was color coding by the category of task or role I perform (household, cooking, kids, self-care and blog). I tracked my time like that for the better part of a year and it effectively showed me how much time I spent in each of my roles.
Now that I understand the areas where I spend my time, I am back to color coding my to do list by context like productivity expert David Allen suggests in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity* (GTD). GTD makes more sense to me now that I’ve learned about bullet journaling than when I listened to GTD on audio several years ago.
Assigning a context to a task lets me know what resources I need to be able to get things done in any block of time. If I’m in the carpool line, I can make a few phone calls at once by looking for the green “to call” dot next to the tasks. Or if I’m out and about, I look at my list for all the blue “to go” dots so I can group errands together and get more done. Same goes for the orange “to do at home” dots or the pink “to do at home on the computer” dots.
The weekend pages are two days to one page with Top 3 tasks, an hourly schedule and plans for next week at the bottom. Truth be told, I don’t know why they put Saturday and Sunday on one page. I don’t know about you but weekends are just as busy, if not more so, than weekdays. I need just as much room to write.
I like the concept of the Plans for Next Week area but it does not give too much space for a whole set of goals. Nowadays, I do my meal planning and grocery on Thursdays or Fridays, this is a great space to jot it down so I can refer to it each day and shift meals around depending on my time and energy.
Notes Pages & Pocket:
There are not too many pages for notes, two sides of pages before June 2016 begins, one side of a page on the September and January tabs and two sides of pages at the end. As you can see in the photo above, I try do maximize the space by splitting the Notes Pages into effectively 3 columns. I use it for a master do list caregorized by home, family and me & my blog. My separate blog planner still has the bulk of my blog ideas and strategic plan, this just has the immediate blog tasks I must complete.
There is one pocket in the front of the Day Designer which is handy for stickers and the kids’ schedules, you know, just in case I wrote something down incorrectly. It has been known to happen.
Best Pens to Use:
I was concerned at first that the pens would bleed or shadow through the paper since it felt thinner than the Plum Paper Planner’s paper. So I did a Pen Testing Page and below are the results, the top photo is the front of the page and the bottom is the back of the same page.
In general, I prefer fine point pens. My favorites are:
- the Sharpie pens* – the pens will shadow on this paper. The Sharpie permanent markers* work for writing on stickers but they will bleed through most planner paper.
- the Staedler triplus fineliners* – as seen on the daily page pictured and below
- Uni-ball Micro 207 pens* that has an ultra-micro point.
Everything I tried seems to shadow a little but it does not bother me enough not to use them. I like the boldness of the color you just cannot get in a ballpoint.
Summary of Pros and Cons:
- I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and need the daily format
- I like the flagship size, I tried a free printable of the mini version* and it was too cramped for me
- plenty of space to write all my random ideas and tasks
- hourly schedule goes to 9pm, when my blogging usually begins. Many daily planners schedules do not go that late into the night.
- minimalist design helps focus on tasks at hand
- An inspirational quote every weekday
- love the vision, goal setting and motivational extra pages
- packaging was superb, I kept the box it came in to transport the planner when I pack it for trips
- priority shipping was only option and it’s expensive
- paper does not feel as thick and smooth as the Plum Paper Planner, my favorite pens shadowed
- bulky to carry around so I leave it at home or in the car (there is a mini version available if you need a portable version)
- wish there was a place for habit tracking. I could use up the whole to-do list just for the daily habits I have in my Plum Paper in a bullet journalish checklist.
- wish there was a full page for Saturday and Sunday planning
- not enough notes pages for me to be able to keep my master to do lists and bullet journal collections to make this an all-in-one solution. That’s ok it just means I’ll have an excuse for more pretty notebooks. A planner addict can’t have too many planners and notebooks!
I LOVE the Day Designer Midyear Planner* for its minimalist elegance and its focus on creating and following your vision for a well designed life. With PLENTY of room to write, it is the only planner I’ve found where I can both track how I spend my time and corral the crazy ideas that rattles around my head all day. Overall, the Day Designer Midyear Planner has been fantastic in organizing my daily life and helping me work towards the life I want.
What kind of planner do you use? Day Designer has plenty of free printables* of their flagship, mini and A5 ring binder planner pages on their site for you to try and see if their method works for you.
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