Tuesday, October 4, 2016

my favorite cheap planners

When I talked about my goals, I talked about my planners - specifically, using them more and not letting them collect dust. A few people wanted more info so I'm happy to share.

I went the Erin Condren route a few years ago, and it just wasn't for me. I didn't carry it with me, so I didn't need the pockets or pouch, it was a little bright for my conservative workplace, it was bulky, and it was expensive. After that, I decided Target planners were for me moving forward.

Craft paper: Sugar Paper Signature Planner | Green + Gold: Ashley G Blue Sky Planner | Pink + White stripe: Sugar Paper Weekly/Monthly Planner

After my less-than-great experience with a nice planner, I have exclusively gotten Sugar Paper planners from Target. They normally come out in November for the upcoming calendar year (and then again for the school year). In 2015, I got the basic Weekly/Monthly Notes layout. It's spiral bound with a clear, rigid plastic cover, laminated monthly and notes tabs, and is about the same size as the Erin Condren Life Planner but much, much thinner. The notes section is pretty ample - about 30 pages. The pages do suffer from some bleed-through, so if that bothers you, this isn't for you. I typically press down hard when I write so bleed-through is just a fact of life for me and I don't mind. The spirals were about the same size as the Erin Condren planner, so I was able to use the ruler/placeholder from that planner in this one.

Weekly/Monthly Planner: Monthly layout | Weekly view. I liked the pink accents throughout.

For 2016, I wanted something a little different. For a $15 investment, if I hated it, I could get something else. I decided to try the Sugar Paper signature planner. It's a little larger than the Monthly/Weekly (about 1" wider and longer with a similar thickness). It's spiral bound with a craft cardboard cover on three sides an an elastic band to keep it closed. The monthly tabs are all laminated but there's no notes section in the signature model.

I use my planner to keep up with dates and make checklists for work, so this model was really appealing to me. Each month has a page for monthly notes, work goals, personal goals, financial goals, a focus, important dates, and "etc." As I've mentioned, I'm not a goals person, and those pages are inconveniently placed (between the monthly spread and the first week of the month), so I never use them. I think they would be a really good place for others to get organized and plan for the future, though. Each month also gets its own traditional two-page spread.

The weekly spreads are my favorite part of the planner, though. On the left, there are spaces to write your top three for the week, lists labeled To Call, To Do, To Email, and To Buy, a don't forget box, and a place for this week's goal. My top three are normally things that need to get done that week. To Buy works really well for me as it's where I list any catering or other supplies I need to order for events. To Call/Email reminds me about vendors I need to reach out to for any reason, and then general things that need to get done go under To Do. Each line has a check box next to it and getting to check something off of my list - literally - is very satisfying. The right hand side of the spread is divided into seven parts  by each day of the week. I don't like that Saturday and Sunday are each in separate boxes, but because of how I use the planner, it doesn't bother me too much. I write reminders, meetings, or events in each day as well as notes of things that come up that need to get done that day from people who pop by my office.

Sugar Paper Signature Planner: Cover with elastic band | Weekly View | Monthly Notes and Goals | Monthly Calendar Layout

My office planner lives on my desk. I'm fortunate to rarely have to bring work home with me. But, I found that I needed somewhere to track my home life a little better - everything from plans with friends, dentist appointments, work-outs, when the dog needs his medicine, and stuff like that. I was also always full of ideas - blog posts I haven't written yet, podcasts to try, chores I needed to do, and other things that needed a place to go. I wanted a monthly calendar so I could keep up with dates along with a notes section to keep up with ideas. Target to the rescue, again. I was browsing around in late July and flipping though every calendar I could find when I came across the Ashley G for Blue Sky planner. It's very, very plain, but perfect for my needs (and it was only $9, I think). The first 24 pages are nothing but monthly layouts that run from August 2017 - July 2017. There's a pocket divider and then a ton of notes pages. No tabs, which is kind of annoying, but I solved that problem with a few post-it flags. The cover is just cardstock; it's very basic and gold spiral bound. There are some polka dot accents on the notes pages, but that's about it. For what I need, it's perfect. On days where all I do is go to work, I try to at least write down some kind of highlight from my day if nothing else. It's a good memory keeper.

Ashley G for Blue Sky planner: Monthly layout | Notes pages

This is what works for me, at least now. I'm already thinking about next year's planner and while I was in Target over the weekend, I saw the Sugar Paper Daily planner that had a page per day with sections running from 7:00 - 6:00, a box for evening plans, a to-do list, and a top three list. I thought about getting it, but I'll at least wait for the 2017 version to come out. Tell me about your planner use - I can always use mine more.


  1. YES! i saw all of these planners at target and wanted to buy them all ... because planners :)

  2. I never used a Sugar Paper (though they look wonderful!) but I used probably 3 or 4 Blue Sky planners from Target and I loved them. Never saw that line by Ashley G though, but I did almost get suckered back in when I saw there was a Day Designer line for Blue Sky. As of this year I've gone almost 100% digital (and the non-digital part is just in a regular notebook, not a planner) but every time I look at paper planners I have to force myself to step away—I already bought a beautiful one for this year that I never used! Digital is just better for me for now.

  3. I love the layout of the 2016 Sugar Paper weekly pages. That absolutely appeals to me. I got an at-a-glance for 2017 (I need a 5x7 size so it can go in the back pocket of my purse if need be) but I might check something like that out.

    Interesting that you use the second plain planner in the way I use my notebook.

  4. These are all really pretty, I never look at the planner section at Target. I need to!

  5. Same! I just can't get past spending a lot of money for a planner - although I totally get why some people do. I have the same Signature planner with "2016" on it, but mine is polka dots. It's worked well for me!

  6. I had not asked, but I'm so glad you posted this! I have been wanting to buy a planner to keep track of personal stuff, but I did not want to spend a ton in case I don't actually use it. Love this post!

  7. I had a Sugar planner from Target last year and I quit using it after about 2 or 3 months because I hated the quality of the paper :( The bleed through drove me nuts!!! But I did like the layout of it and it really has everything anyone would truly need for a lesser price. I debate all the time about ordering myself a "fancy" one but I just cant bring myself to do it for fear I wont use it for the year.

  8. These planners are so cute! I will have to check out the Sugar Paper Daily one.

  9. I love my Target planners!
    I used to have a separate workout calendar, but I've since started just planning out my workouts for the week in my (Target) planner and highlighting them as I complete them.
    Lovely collages :)

  10. I just recently discovered the fun that is a Target planner, when school was starting. For $20 I got a really cute one, that functioned better than any $50/$60 I have ever ordered!

  11. oh, this is fabulous. i have already bought my 2017 planner but i might keep this in mind for next year. i used a plum paper planner for 2016, and that's the one i bought for 2017. i just changed the layout because i wasn't a fan of the vertical. i'm not into decorating my planners or anything - i think it looks cool and i might try it but eh, i just like writing stuff down. love the idea of writing a highlight each day, i wanted to do that for 2016 but i kinda hate the layout so i never write anything more than i have to. i'll try it for 2017.


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