The Simplified Planner by Emily Ley: From Planner Dropout to 2 Successful Years of Growth

Blog, Goals, Motivation, Organization, Personal Growth

Simplified Planner Review

This post was NOT sponsored.

“I realized that joy is truly found in the journey – not necessarily at the destination. And that if I worried so much about ‘getting it right’ and ‘making it perfect,’ I’d miss out on the best moments of life – the moments of pure, imperfect bliss found in the white space of our days. For years I’d packed my schedule and overdrawn my to-do list. Now that my heart had been completely stolen by all that is good in the world, I knew I had to make a change by simplifying my days and refocusing my efforts.”

Emily Ley’s popular Simplified Planner is meant to be uncluttered, allowing you to focus and get through your daily tasks so that you have more free time. In this review, I’ll show you the features of this planner that are designed to reach this goal, discuss how I adapted the planner to work for me, and give some thoughts on who this planner is best suited for.


The Simplified Planner: Features and How I Made Them Work for Me

First, I’d like to start with the process of actually ordering the planner. Both times I have ordered one, it has been processed and shipped very quickly. I’m spoiled by Amazon Prime, so I really appreciate when other companies do customer service and shipping well.

These planners arrive in a gorgeous, sturdy box that could easily be wrapped and presented as a gift.

(Picture from Emily Ley’s website)


The Cover, Binding, and Tabs

The covers are one of the best features of the Simplified Planner. All of the designs are gorgeous and modern, with lovely bright colors and metallic details. They’re a sturdy, fairly spill-resistant cardboard with metal corner protectors, and both of mine still look pretty good despite being carried around nearly everywhere for a year.

Inside the cover, there is a durable pocket for loose papers, tickets, stickers sets, etc. The binding is a sturdy spiral, but is definitely my least favorite part of the design. It looks great, but seems excessively large relative to the rest of the planner, and I have trouble writing neatly on the left-hand pages because the rings are in the way, I’m sure lefties have the same problem on the right side. You also can’t fold back the planner to only show one side and save space on your desk.

There are very pretty, bright monthly tabs that coordinate with the covers and make the planner easy to navigate.


The Extra Pages in Front

The first page is a cover page where you can put “return to” info if you lose the planner. Then, there’s an introductory note from Emily and notes on simplifying your life and using this planner.


Next is an overview of all months and all of the major holidays.


Simplified Planner Holidays

The final page is front is a “Yearly Bucket List” page. I whited out the top title to use this page to write down my broad, but defined goals for the year.

Simplified Planner 207 Goals


There are no extra pages in the back. I used a blank space to do my end-of year reflections.

Simplified Planner Reflection

With the exception of the Bucket List page, I don’t find these pages particularly useful. I only referenced them once, when I first got the planner.


The Monthly Pages

At the beginning of each month, there is a monthly page with the days in calendar format (Sunday first). On the left, there is a notes column, and on the top right there are calendars of the prior and next month, and an inspirational quote.

Simplified Planner Monthly Calendar


I think it’s a lovely touch that each month’s printed title matches it’s tab color.

Simplified Planner Tab and Title

Spending time making your planner beautiful with washi tape and stickers is a really fun and relaxing hobby for some people, but I haven’t gotten into it myself. I would spend too much time fretting about making it “perfect”, and I’d rather use the that time on other goals. However, I do find that using different colored pens for birthdays, payday, bills, etc makes it much easier to see my month at a glance.

I use the notes space for outlining my specific goals each month. In the middle of the month, I pick a day and write something like “mid-month goal check” on that day’s page to remind me to stay on track. At the end of the month, I come back to the monthly page and reflect on whether I’ve achieved my goals. Goals I didn’t achieve usually get copied over to continue the next month. There’s no extra space each month, so I have to staple in a note for reflections.

Simplified Planner Stapled Reflections


Daily Pages

The daily pages are formatted as one full page for each weekday(week starts Monday), and a shared page for Saturday and Sunday. At the top, there are very pretty design choices again, as each day of the week has its own color. There is an inspirational quote at the top of each page.

On the middle left, there is a schedule, which is titled “My Day” and runs from 6a to 9p, with one line for each hour. In the middle right, there is a nice, long 16 item to-do list. That’s a lot of things to focus on, so any that don’t get finished get rolled over to the next day.

Below that, on the lower left, there is a medium sized box labelled dinner, which is meant for meal planning. On the right, there is a Notes box. In mine, I have whited out the dinner box. I may put one small note, such “Payday”, in the Notes box, but I use most of these two boxes combined for a short journal when I feel like it.

The weekend pages only have two boxes, with a lined box for the schedule and notes on the left, and a to-do list on the right.There is a box in the middle of the page that urges you to write a happy memory from the week.

Simplified Planner Daily

And that’s everything, proving that the Simplified Planner was aptly named!


Overall Impressions, and Should You Get The Simplified Planner?

Overall, I think that this is a fantastic planner. I had made several attempts over the years to use generic planners and Google Calendar before, with no success. I found that with a physical planner, I was reminded by its presence in my bag to update it, unlike apps. But I found the generic office store planners boring and ugly, so they were the first thing to get removed if my bag was too full, rendering them useless and forgotten.

Buying the Simplified Planner constituted an investment on my part. Not just monetarily, but in the form of showing a strong commitment to myself and my goals. When I decided to take a step up in my budget for something I would use every day, it opened up a whole new world of really cool planners!

However, as a newbie, I wanted something with no extra work or features. In my research, I was initially very overwhelmed by all of the Filofax, Hobonichi, and Erin Condren-type planners that people get so creative with. They’re truly impressive, but I didn’t want that kind of project at the time. I just wanted to be able to get both my laundry and dishes done without feeling distracted or overwhelmed! The Simplified Planner was a great answer to that.

Simplified Planner 2017 Cover

Also, it’s obviously a matter of preference, but I personally think that The Simplified Planner has the best aesthetic on the market. The designs are vibrant and beautiful without looking unprofessional, and the bright colors that coordinate through the whole thing make me smile. Despite the attention to appearance, it also functional and sturdy all the way through, so I don’t have to treat it like glass, either.

This combination of happiness-invoking design and rugged usability makes the Simplified Planner one of the items I always want and am able to keep in my bag, no matter what I’m doing. This makes it way more useful, as I can add items the moment I’m told about them, instead of having to make mental notes to add them later.


Who is the Simplified Planner For?

The Simplified Planner is great for beginners who want an upgrade from the ugly office store planners, but something low-pressure in setup, maintenance, and creativity required. It’s great for students, parents, or anyone else feeling overwhelmed with their day-to-day tasks and seeking more free time.

Simplified Planner Layout

On the flip side, this may not be the planner for people who are gearing up their career, or who have many different projects or goals they want to track. It’s more about getting through the day, and less about forward-focused planning.

All in all, I feel like I’ve outgrown my Simplified Planner, since I’m in a stage of my life where I’m looking to fill my days, not empty them. However, I can’t recommend this planner highly enough, and can thank Emily Ley’s design for helping me learn to make it a daily habit, enabling me to be more organized and effective in order to reach this next level.

Check out more pics or buy it on Emily’s website.

You can also check out a review for my new 2018 planner here!!


Do you use a planner, and if so, which one? What do you love or want to change about it?

Also published on Medium.

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