After a lot of searching, I came across Plum Paper Planners. Their planners have a lot of the same features as the Erin Condren planners I had considered, but they are much cheaper. The planner did take quite awhile-nearly a month- to arrive, but it is custom made after all. I have been using my planner for three months now and it is just about perfect for my needs. It was definitely worth the wait!
So here is a little tour and review of my new planner....with one caveat. My weekly pages are full of stuff-names, times, phone numbers, random jottings...but I'm only going to show blank pages in this review...which I think probably limits the usefulness of this review a bit. I know if I were reading this, I would like to see how the person is using the planner instead of just reading about it. But I am always hesitant to put up too much personal stuff online, so this will have to do.
First up is a heavy, clear, laminated page that protects the front and back covers. I love this, because someone is always spilling something on the counter where I tend to keep my planner, or putting a damp dish towel down on top of it, or setting their bagel on it or something, and this really keeps my planner looking nice. I can just wipe down the cover if something does get on it. I have had my planner for almost four months now, and it still looks great. There are tons of cover designs to choose from and you can choose to have your name on the front or do a monogram if you like. I chose a monogram.
The spiral binding is very sturdy. I have not had any pages come loose yet and the binding has not pulled out at all like sometimes happens with a spiral binding- our Rightstart Math manuals are notorious for this!
On the inside, first up, there is a year-at-a-glance calendar, which is always nice to have. I love all the color!!
The heavy-duty month divider tabs make it super easy to flip ahead to the month you need....
The first thing after each monthly tab is the Notes page. I use this page to jot down to-do's and ideas for the month at hand. For February, I have nothing listed, because it is a ways off yet! My October page, on the other hand, is full to bursting and includes things like: my Halloween shopping list, a note to order a long- sleeved leotard for Rose, a list of craft and recipes to try this month, and a note to try to vacuum the mattresses this month (due to allergy issues).... among other things. Basically, this page functions as my monthly to-do list. When I make my to-do list for the week, I refer to the monthly to-do list and pull off those items that can or should be done each week.
Turning the page, we have the month-at-a-glance page, my favorite (and most heavily used) part of my planner.
I write all appointments, classes, holidays, birthdays, and other events on here. It gets quite full, so I am showing you a month that I haven't filled out yet! I like to use colored gel pens on this page to make things stand out and just to have a little fun with it. Over to the left there are sections for "birthdays", "events", and "notes". At first, I thought the birthday and event boxes seemed redundant. But I have found that even though I do write those things on the date squares, I also like having them listed on the side. They stand out more and gently remind me of what is coming up. Under "Birthdays" I list any birthday that I need to do something for (mail a card, make a call, buy a gift). Under "Events" I list any events of note that I have to do prep work for, like a holiday, a trip, or a special outing. When I am making my weekly to-do list I glance at these boxes to see what is coming up. I paid a few dollars extra to have some colored stickers bound into the back of my planner (I will show you that page soon). I write appointments and other events on those colored stickers so that they stand out on my month-at-a-glance page.
After the month-at-a-glance come the weekly pages for the month, a double- page spread for each week. There is space for a weekly to-do list and a box for notes here as well. There were a few options to choose from for this page. I chose to have my planner divided into "morning", "afternoon", and "evening". I like to use my colored pens for appointments and other events and then fill in other notes and reminders in black ink. I use the Checklist section at the bottom for my three "must-do's" of the day. I write everything on these pages. Everyplace we have to be, everything I think of that needs doing, things I need to remember to ask someone about, phone calls I need to make, when I am going to run errands.... I love having it all written down. Saves me brain space.
In the Weekly List section I write down my priorities for the week. I love the little bubbles for checking off what I have done! I keep a big paperclip on the current weekly page so that I can flip right to it. I also keep a smaller paperclip on the December notes page where I am keeping a running list of Christmas ideas. Anytime an idea floats through my mind I can quickly jot it down. The other day Rose mentioned that she does not own a book light like her siblings do. After she ran off, I flipped to my December notes and jotted the idea down. If I had not done that, I probably would never have thought of it again. Now obviously I do not write down every single thing that comes through my mind, but I find that the more I do write down, the more relaxed and prepared I feel.
At the very end of the planner there is a Special Dates page, which I haven't filled out yet.
There is also a list of holidays, a contacts page, and then a 2015-2016 year-at-a-glance calendar, which is always nice to have. It is kind of hard to make out in the photos, but the holiday page has dates for each holiday for 2014-2016.... kind of a neat touch.
At the very back, I have my sticker sheets bound in. I love this. They don't get lost and whenever I make a new appointment or commit to an event, I stick one on the appropriate square of my month-at-a-glance page, and write the info right on the sticker. It really makes the event "pop" and makes my planner look more fun. And fun is good.
The very last thing in my planner is the "For Keeps" pocket. There is a heavy pocket on each side of this page. I stick appointment cards, forms, cards to send out, whatever I need to have with me in there.
And that's a tour of my Plum Paper Planner! I am pretty much in love with it:).