Planner Set Up for 2017

We’re already in the second half of February and my planner set up still remains undecided. 

To be fair I didn’t really start thinking about my planner set up until mid January. After more than 3 years as a lady of leisure I started back at work a month ago and adjustments would inevitably need to be made. 

We also moved to Family Sharing on iCal so having a separate family calendar no longer seems necessary. Of course the paper planner in me worries about what would happen if the system crashed and we lost the information, but the other part of me thinks that would be a great excuse not to do something, plus I tend to remember important events even if I don’t remember exact times.

So ultimately I needed (or wanted) a planner to note events/appointments specifically involving me and to list my tasks. But then I thought about routines and projects and meal plans and studying and blog planning and garden planning and books read and films watched and money spent and the list grew longer. 

Obviously the idea of using a Filofax came up. I haven’t used a Filofax as my main planner for any length of time since I discovered Erin Condren Life Planners but I knew the Erin Condren wouldn’t be able to contain all the information I need. The ability to add sections and set up my planner my way seems essential.

Whenever I think about using a Filofax as my main planner I instinctively return to DIYfish Inserts. I have tried other printables but they never work as well for me. There’s so much choice with DIYfish and her print and cut instructions are so clear they’re easy to use. After trialling a lot of styles, I decided to go back to my old favourite, version 2.2.

The only problem is, I can’t decide which size. I like A6 but I couldn’t fit much more than the planning inserts in my Gillio so I’d need a second planner of some sort to hold the rest. Surprisingly I’m drawn to using a personal sized planner because the do1p style layout gives me ample writing real estate; the drawback is my appointment or Half box labels aren’t the right size so they would immediately be wasted (or look awful on the page). It seems like an A5 would be the best option but I find I’m just not reaching for it.

So I still don’t have my planner set up for 2017. For home, that is. My work planner set up is fully functional.

Too many planners

The problem with planning nowadays is there are too many options.

Sometimes my soul yearns for the simpler times when our only choices were either some type of Filofax or we could buy a standard diary from a Woolworths type shop.

Now we have planners rather than diaries – bound or spiral or looseleaf.  It seems like every other Kickstarter campaign is for a planner. And the number of inserts that are available? I laugh at my younger self actually using the inserts that came with the Filofax. But as well as your Filofaxes and your Franklin Coveys and your Paperchase, there are so many Etsy stores that sell printables or printed inserts. Desktop publishing has a lot to answer for.

But with greater choice comes greater procrastination. I spend so much time looking at different planners and trialling different inserts. I repeat information in several planners just to test what it looks like with different layouts. I admit there are other things I could be doing with my time. Each time I change my Filofax binder or Erin Condren inerchangeable cover or swap out the dashboards I’m taking some time away from doing things that are actually productive. The joke is we spend so much time planning or planning out our planners we don’t actually DO anything.

How much of this is true? Are there really people who don’t get anything done because of their planners? Wouldn’t these people be the type who wouldn’t get things done anyway? If someone is actually using their planners primarily for planning does it really get in the way of doing?

I don’t miss appointments or events and if a task has a deadline it gets done. So what if I change my planners with the seasons or try a different planner every week. It’s one of my hobbies. My planner addiction really doesn’t stop me getting things done.

But it would be easier with fewer options.

A Month of Planners

As we approach the home straight of 2015 my thoughts inevitably turn to my planning set up for 2016. I don’t strive for planner peace in my set up; I enjoy trialling new planners so much I don’t think I’m even looking for the perfect planning system.

But ultimately planners have to be functional, I can’t play with planners at the risk of missing appointments or forgetting tasks. In order for me to have confidence enough to keep my planner hobby going in 2016 I need to make sure my back up system functions really well. This year one of my failings was trying new planners without maintaining my back up. Or perhaps my back up wasn’t really working that well.

Also a part of me is constantly tempted to buy the latest version of a planner I’ve already reviewed in case there have been changes which affect how they function (on that note, review on Emily Ley Simplified Planner 2016 coming soon). But with so many new planners entering the market it seems a little counterintuitive to buy planners I’ve already trialled.

So in November (and maybe December) I’m going to try something a little bit crazy – I’m going to reuse the 2015 planners I’ve previously trialled. Not only can I update some of my reviews,  and remind myself why some planners didn’t work for me, it can also help solidify my back up planning system for 2016.

Obviously it would be ridiculous to use all the planners at the same time but I will use each one for at least one week. Inevitably there will be some planners I use for more than one week and I may use a planner for a few weeks but tweak the way I’m using it each week. I know this means I’m going to be writing the same appointments, tasks etc several times each week but I can’t see this short-term duplication (or triplication etc) being a huge burden. If I do get frustrated it should help eliminate layouts that aren’t working for me.

So a couple of caveats before I start –

  • I’m only including 2015 dated calendars – there’s no need to try undated planners at this time
  • where I know the planners have been revised for 2016, I’ll trial the layouts on that basis as far as practicable
  • I would like to have one planner as my back up system so I’ll be seeing how each planner could work towards that.
  • I’m concentrating on retesting weekly layouts, for my monthly layout I’ll rely on iCal.
  • I already have some notebooks set up which are working for me (e.g. for writing and project planning) and I don’t intend to change that.

Some of the planners I’m thinking of using over the next few weeks –



And of course Filofax using different inserts


To make sure I don’t miss anything during these crazy weeks I’m going back to basics and using a simple weekly layout for appointments and a list for tasks.


Wouldn’t it be ironic if this simple layout was my ultimate ‘planner’ peace?


Planners I’m using in 2015


Sometimes I wonder whether I have the most complicated planning system with my Erin Condren Life Planner, Day Designer, home projects Filofax, general Filofax & blog planner (another ECLP), and this doesn’t include planners I don’t use as actual planners.

This may be the refrain of the obsessed planner nerd but it really does work for me.

Anyway, you decide


Filofax Collection: non-A5s

I prefer the A5 size Filofax but I do have a few  organisers that aren’t A5-size.

Starting off with some Filos that have been in my collection for a while.


I have the mini Belgravia, Deskfax Kent and A4 Hampshire. I used the A4 for work and it’s certainly seen better days, but I absolutely plan to use it again when I return to work.


For personal-size Filofax organisers I have a purple Saffiano, black Knightsbridge, 2012 organiser, ruby Deco, ochre Malden, brown Kendal and brown Original.

Finally I have my non-Filofax brand organisers


starting with my oldest organiser which is from the London Organiser Company. I then have a zipped Kate Spade, Gillio Compagnas in grey and aqua and a Gillio Mia Cara in Brown.

To be honest I’m not using a personal-sized organiser at all at the moment so I need to think about rehoming some of these. But planning needs change so there’s always a chance I could use them in the future, right?


First Look at Limelife Planners

I love my Erin Condren planners but at the same time I’m on the look out for a cheaper alternative, of the same quality.

I heard a lot about Plum Paper Planners since they are cheaper, much more customisable and purported to have better customer service. They don’t usually ship to the UK, but a custom sale is possible although shipping is ridiculous ($43 for 1 planner & $78 for 2-7). To be honest, having seen photos and YouTube videos about them, they strike me as more muted and the laminated sheet over the cover makes it feel less impressive. I don’t know, perhaps if I lived in the US I’d give them a try but I can’t see that they’re worth the $70 I’d have to pay. [EDIT – shipping to the UK is now £12.96 which makes it much more affordable – perhaps I’ll put it back on my list of potential planners to trial]

I then heard of Limelife planners, available here,



which seemed quite similar to Erin Condren with some of the customisability of Plum Paper Planners. At the time the shipping to UK was $18 flat rate but I think that’s changed now. The basic calendar which has a monthly lay out is $35 and then you can pay for add-ons like weekly layouts, notes pages and menu plans. There wasn’t much information on the interwebs about these planners but I thought it was worth giving it a shot. I really liked the idea of the monthly layout with additional notes pages as a present for my sister. They also come in an unbound version

Limelife plannersAt the moment, they don’t have a huge number of cover options.

Inside LimelifeInside the planner is a year at a glance and important dates (for US folk) followed by a perpetual calendar. Each month has a tabbed divider which is nice but it does mean the last week of the month is under the following month’s tab. There are notes pages on the back of the monthly spread and the last page of the weekly spread, so plenty of writing space. At the back of the planner are some more note pages. I also bought a folder add-on but had to rip it out because the buttons made writing uncomfortable.

Weekly LimelifeBoth the monthly layout and weekly layout start on Sunday, which is hard for me to get used to. This alone would prevent buying a weekly layout add-on in the future. Also, although each daily section has a good amount of writing estate I do think the Wednesday is thinner because of the way the holes are punched. You can also see this on the year at a glance page.


Unfortunately I chose the floral cover for the planner with extra notes pages and, as you can see, the pattern covers alot of the writing space. I didn’t feel I could give this as the gift I’d planned.

Taking shipping out of the equation, to get the Erin Condren-esque weekly set up in the Limelife Planner comes in at $47. Erin Condren is $50, has better paper quality, feels more substantial and looks better quality. Overall, I’d prefer to pay the additional money for the Erin Condren, even with the higher shipping rate.

The basic Limelife Planner comes on sale at various times in the year. I think they’re due to be back on sale in October.