In an effort to get more organized in 2016, I bit the bullet and bought my first paper planner since college (oh how I miss the one that came with my student handbook!). After a bit of research, I settled on Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner. This is not a sponsored post, I bought the planner and have been using it since January.

I was attracted to the simple design and fun colors. I like being able to look at something by the month as well as day-by-day. It’s very satisfying to write out my week ahead every Friday, and be able to quickly see my schedule, but five months in, I can safely say: while this is a great product, this is not the planner for me.


  • Construction. This is well made, and the spiral binding is REALLY useful – you can leave it open to any point and it won’t try to close. You can also fold it open. I found the paper quality to be good for most purposes.
  • Clean design. the design is simple and clean, with lots of room for writing notes and reminders. The emphasis is split between daily schedule and to-do list, but also has a place on each day for dinner planning and notes.
  • Quotes. Each page has an inspirational quote. I’ve found them really charming.
  • Monthly tabs. Not every planner has tabs for months, and they are really really useful for navigating.
  • Comes in Academic and Annual versions, as well as all kinds of different colors. You can match to your needs and wants.
  • The size: good for fitting in your bag and taking with you. If you plan on carrying it around, I do suggest getting one of the rubber bands for it, to keep it closed, especially if you tuck papers in it.


  • The schedule is divided up by hour. I have a lot of meetings that are on the half or quarter, and so I find I’m cramming A LOT of information into not a lot of space. I wish there was more room for the schedule.
  • While the paper quality is good, it’s not as thick as I would have liked for the price. Sharpies bleed through (expected) but so do some of my pens.
  • I wish it said “meals” and not “dinner”. I use it to plan lunches too, and this is just a tiny quirk that annoys me.
  • Weekends do not have a dedicated place to plan meals or write notes. Saturday and Sunday share a page, but I find I need more space on to-do on weekends. Weekends can be busy!

If you don’t need a more nuanced schedule, and are focused more on to-do lists, this is a great planner. I do not regret my purchase, but instead am using it as a learning opportunity.

For my own purposes, this was a good purchase, and has helped me get used to using a planner. I heavily rely on my electronic calendars, and use the paper planner more for reinforcement and reorganization. I also learned that I use the electronic version of the month view instead of the paper, so I don’t need a planner that emphasizes the month view. I learned that I need a more nuanced day, and that I’d like more emphasis on goals rather than to-do lists.

Next year I’m considering the Passion Planner — I especially like that there’s a PDF I can download to try it out before I buy it.

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Planner review: Emily Ley’s The Simplified Planner
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