It’s no secret that I love my Emily Ley Simplified Planner. Just so you know from the start how this review is going to go, OK? 😜 So instead of trying to share all of the pros and cons to this gorgeous, well … simplified planner, I’ll share all of the ways I use it to keep my life organized(ish).
I am a pen and paper girl to the core. While you might think differently since I’m a blogger and social media enthusiast and spend 60% of my time online, but when rubber meets the road and I have to get things done, my paper planner is where it’s at.
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. See my full disclosure policy.
I’m not a super detailed or organized person by nature, so my habits and daily uses will differ from someone who writes down every little thing. But, I’ll share what I do write down in case you can grab a few new ideas for how you utilize your planner!
I tried several daily planners before I bought my first Simplified Planner from Emily Ley more than 5 years ago. I find that it’s the most simple (hence the name), which is perfect for using it however suits you best. There aren’t a bunch of boxes to fill out or places to check off. But the beauty of that is that you can add to it if you find those things necessary.
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They release new covers every year right before the academic planners launch in early spring. And then the calendar year planners are available for sale in September every year.
Updated for 2022: I am using the Carolina gingham daily planner this year (2022), and I can’t wait to see what new covers they release for 2023!
More Options & Which Planner is Right for YOU?
Also, if you want to try the weekly planner at a cheaper price point, Target sells an Emily Ley x At-A-Glance weekly academic calendar planner on their website.
But I prefer the flagship DAILY planner. You can’t get it at any store, only at EmilyLey.com. I use the heck out of the daily pages and love the higher quality paper and binding.
Shop Simplified Planner Accessories on Etsy
Etsy is chock full of extra accessories in addition to the accessories already offered by Emily Ley. I keep my planner very basic, but I will show you a fabulous hack that I made at the end of this post.
Scroll and click the images below to shop:
Simplified Planner: How I Use the Monthly Spread
On the first day of each month (or before), I sit down and fill in all of my events/dates for that month.
This helps me visualize which weeks are busy and which weeks are a little slower. I get an idea of presents I need to buy ahead of time or events I might need to buy an outfit for. (Let’s be real here – I go to very few fancy things, but in the off chance that I do, I’ll be prepared. 😜)
I make notes of busy weeks when we might want to order a Hello Fresh box, or when we have a slower week and have time to meal plan. (I will go into my Hello Fresh app and skip the weeks we don’t need a box and select our dinners on the weeks we do!)
I use my planner in conjunction with the Lara Casey Power Sheets goal-setting system. This is my fifth year using them, and it is an AWESOME tool for taking a large goal, breaking it down into chunks and helping you accomplish them one step at a time. So, I can’t recommend those enough.
(I thought the Power Sheets would be overkill, honestly, that it would be TOO much planning and I wouldn’t track my goals for the whole year. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I was way wrong. They are AMAZING and keeping me on track. 💗💓💕)
Simplified Planner: How I Use the Daily Pages
I keep track of my daily pages in two ways.
As I’m going through my monthly calendar, I will write events on the designated days and write down when I need to order something or do something specific.
And then secondly, I sit down every night before I go to bed and write down my schedule and my top to-dos for the next day. This keeps my anxiety at bay and helps me go to sleep better knowing that I have everything written down. And it also helps me get focused quickly in the mornings when I sit down to work. I can clearly see what needs to be done first, second and third.
By the way, one thing I learned when I previously used another planner is that you should only prioritize your top three to dos each day. Something about 3 is doable and something you can accomplish in one day.
If you prioritize any more than 3 it’s just too overwhelming. And when you accomplish those 3 things, at the end of the day you feel good and that you did what you need to do that day. Try it!
If I’m feeling fancy I will place a sticker next to those top 3’s, but if I’m lazy or too busy I’ll just make a star next to them or number them with my pen.
I find that I am exponentially more productive when I have my top 3 ready to go in the morning when I sit down to work.
By the way, these navy rolling ball pens are HANDS DOWN my favorites, so I buy them in bulk and throw every other pen I have away. 😜
My Daily Planner Checklist Hack
I try to be the most efficient during my limited work hours at home. And I recently found myself writing down the same daily and weekly tasks every day/week. It seemed redundant and I would forget or miss things because I didn’t have a good system in place.
So, I set out to find (or create) a laminated daily to-do list that I could check off each day and wipe clean every night. Bonus: It would fit into my Simplified Planner.
It didn’t exist, so I had to create my own!
What you will need:
- Daily task sheets (or any paper will do)
- Coil Snap-Ins (that fit the Simplified Planner)
- Selt-laminating Sheets
- Wet Erase Marker (these are the best because they won’t smear)
Here’s how I did it:
- Write down the daily MUST dos on your to-do list.
- Follow the instructions in your laminating sheet and place the to-do list inside and press the edges down. Seriously follow the exact instructions for the sheet.
- Trim around the to-do list leaving about a half an inch, room for the lamination to stick
- Attach the laminated to-do list to the coil snap-in.
- Place the to-do list in your Simplified Planner! It serves as a bookmark as well!
- Use your wet erase marker to check things off and write new tasks at the bottom.
- Use a damp paper towel to clean off the list each day and start over!
What I DON’T do with my Simplified Planner
- Write down every little detail. I know my morning routine, so I don’t write it out every day. Instead I use a blocking technique. I will block out a section for “work” and then write the main tasks in the to-do list. Any more detailed lists are kept in Asana for my team, the back-end of WordPress or in my notes app on my phone.
- Color code. I don’t have a special coloring coding system with different colored stickers or pens for each person, etc. If you love that, then you do you. But for me, that takes away from the “simplified” of it all. I do love their sticker books, but they are mostly for fun & simple decorating. 🎉
- Keep it neat. I literally will write over every space on my planner. I’ll use empty old pages as a place to jot notes from a conference call and quotes in the margins. Whatever I want! If I mess up something, I scribble it out. 😉
Final Thoughts on the Simplified Planner
I hope this review and how I use my planner to help you make a decision about your planner needs. I have loved the Simplified Planner for 7+ years now and I don’t see myself changing … ever!
I frequently look at other planners to see if they are better, but they are all just so overwhelming. The last thing I need in my life is more overwhelm. I need something that will work for my schedule and be as simple as possible.
Additionally, I am obsessed with the covers of the Simplified Planners. They are stinkin’ gorgeous works of art and I’m so excited to use my Carolina Gingham this year. Their designer, Jessa Bray, is so crazy talented (and funny)!
One more thing. I know that these planners are not cheap. I get it. You can run down to the store and pick up something for so much less than what you will pay for an Emily Ley planner. But let me just tell you that …
- This planner will last all year without falling apart.
- The quality is unmatched (smoothest paper ever!).
- You are joining a community of their simplified sisterhood (not just buying a product)!
- You will get tactical tools for simplified living.
Let me know which cover is your favorite (are you a traditional Happy Stripe girl or a fancy floral kind of girl??) and your favorite feature of The Simplified Planner in the comments below!