Thursday, January 4, 2018

Erin Condren 2018 Life Planner Review & Design Tips for Beginners

I can’t believe Christmas is over and 2018 has begun. If I had my way we’d still be celebrating the holiday season but I’m excited to start planning and setting new goals. An awesome way to keep track of your dreams, ambitions and accomplishments is to record them so you can look back and reflect on cherished memories. For my birthday on Christmas Eve my sister got me an Erin Condren Life Planner (thanks Amanda) and she custom designed the cover with my name and favorite colors. It also includes pages of fun quotes, inserts and pretty graphics.

My life is busy but full of excitement and adventure so this planner is a wonderful keepsake. It also lets me express my creative side while infusing my love of art and scrapbooking. The process is surprisingly therapeutic, enjoyable and relaxing.

I didn’t realize just how large the planner community was until I started doing some research online. There are countless groups of planner addicts who come together to share fun ideas, stickers, accessories and printable decorations. I started with the Bando Planner last year which was good practice but the Erin Condren is definitely the ultimate organizational tool. I will use it to schedule my daily blog articles, work objectives, press trips, meals, media events, parties and other social events like girl’s night, romantic dates, shows and festivals.

My sister Mandy knows me better than anyone so she chose a bright multi-colored theme called Painted Petals that is brand new for 2018. This motif features sophisticated water colors that float across the thick, durable paper. It came with a detachable pocket where I keep stationary, cards, photos, planner accessories and loose stickers.

The inspirational messages dispersed throughout the book are motivational and uplifting plus there is a lot of room to make notes/lists.

My planner has the horizontal layout with a standard monthly box calendar for important point form notes/highlights. There is some debate about which layout is better (horizontal or vertical) but since I write a lot and journal important events this format works for me. I can elaborate on events that don't fit in the smaller boxes and utilize the entire planner.

The back has a double-sided pouch which can be used for tickets, travel documents and work plus I love the floral coloring pages that have recently become popular for managing stress.

The stickers that come with the planner are color coordinated to the theme which makes it easy to create beautiful layouts.

My sister also bought me colorful glitter pens and a book of cool stickers for scheduling, errands and other important dates and appointments. You can order these booklets online at Amazon, Happy Planner, Etsy or other craft supply websites. I purchase supplies at Michael’s or Staples but you can also find seasonal stickers and decorative tape at the Dollar Store. Just let your imagination be your guide.

I like the paper quality and vibrant colors but removing the rulers and other inserts from the coil binding is a bit tedious (maybe I’m not using the right technique). The website has many design options available to help build your planner and reflect your personal style.

I use my Bando Planner from last year to experiment and establish my decorating style. Don’t feel discouraged if your first pages don’t turn out the way you hoped, it may take a while to get your groove.

My first layout for January 2017 was pretty terrible. I was overwhelmed with all the stickers and themes and had no idea what I was doing but after a few months I started getting the hang of it.

This is my first layout for January 2018. It isn’t finished since the month just started but I’ve decided I prefer a look that is fun yet not too busy. I usually have something planned everyday so I save space to write. I focus more on decorating the monthly view instead of the weekly horizontal layout because there are 8 pages in January alone and I just don’t have time to beautify and color coordinate each one.

I am still very new to planner design but I will list a few tips that helped me get started.

1. Do Your Research
I knew my layout wouldn’t be top-notch right away but I still wanted it to look neat and cute. I began by looking up photos online and skimmed social media for ideas to determine what I like. After that I watched a few plan with me tutorials on YouTube to see how other people develop their spreads and where to start placing things. I got the idea to do a New Years Eve countdown from a photo on Google.

2. Start Simple and Visualize
I’ve collected a few sticker books and supplies but I still don’t have a ton of accessories. I don’t create or print my own stickers nor do I have themed collections that I can whip out every day. I simply use what I have and decide on a theme that coincides with a major event or holiday. In this case I chose black and gold for NYE with pops of pink and shimmer. Washi Tape helps tie everything together.

The issue I had with my previous planner was lack of vision. It helps to conceptualize your design prior to sticking everything down randomly which can look a bit messy. Keep in mind that you don’t have to decorate your planner but it is fun.

3. Plan Ahead
Usually I schedule everything into my iPad digitally so it is easy to move things around. Since I got the new Rose Gold iPad Pro for Christmas I will be using that to plan ahead so I know which days to decorate first. You can also use sticky notes for this or the small purse size planner that is included with your Erin Condren. Give yourself enough time and don’t rush the process.

4. Keep Designing as the Month Progresses
You don’t have to finish everything in one sitting, plan as things come up and change your design accordingly.

5. Don't get Discouraged
It is great to get tips and ideas from other people but don’t compare your pages to theirs because everyone has their own style and preferences. It may take a while to develop your technique.

The Erin Condren Planners start at $55.00 + $8.00 for customized covers and additional charges based on which inserts and extras you choose. Many Canadians may be deterred from ordering because shipping costs are expensive and easily add up to $100.00. Another popular option is the Happy Planner which is available at Michael's and Staples. For more information you can visit the website

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