You probably know the direction this Emily Ley Simplified Planner review will take, wink: we’re fans over here … plus, right-hand girl and associate copywriter Sarah spent time working for the brand—we love EL!
I get asked often how I organize my business and what planner I use, so in today’s blog and video, I want to take you behind the scenes of the paper planner that I’ve found to help me simplify life and keep track of what’s what.
I’m a huge don’t think it’s any secret that I LOVE paper products—part of the life when you’re a calligraphy and spend your days between envelopes and inky blots.
Productivity and organization is also my emoji-heart-eyed side-passion, no big surprise since my little sister used to pay me to clean out and organize her desk when we were little, until mom found out. 🤷♀️
I fell head-over-heels for Emily’s “grace not perfection” message while I was in eating disorder recovery, and invested in the planner back in 2015 because I was desperate for a little calmer in my life—the noisy internet and its (free!) calendaring tools are fab, but I needed something beautiful to sit on my desk with just enough space for me to write what I could actually get done in a day, and no more.
It’s not the cheapest planner in the world, but to me—this year marks my third!—it’s been well worth the annual investment.
In this video, you’ll learn:
- Why I love it so much and why it won the planner wars in my book
- How I plan out my days—and what I *don’t* do
- How to figure out which EL planner is a fit for your life & business
Why I Love My Simplified Planner
In a study published in Psychological Science, 327 students watched a TED lecture. Some took notes on computers, others on hand—you guessed it, they were tested on facts and concepts. While they both remembered facts, only those who took note by hand had a better understanding of conceptual ideas … and when tested a week later on their recollections of the talk, the hand-note takers performed better.
Digital calendars and tools are my love language, an analog tool allowing me to SIMPLY see my week one day at a time has been amazing.
I want to cultivate wise thinking and healthy habits in stewarding my time—honestly, sometimes my phone is an object of anxiety and exhaustion. Being able to organize my time with a tool that isn’t able to pop open 20 new tabs rocks.
Enter the Simplified Planner.
Aesthetically, it’s gorgeous. It’s basically desk art. Emily’s style is pretty cheerfully bold, and I’m a neutrals, navy, can-I-just-wear-black-on-black-daily kind of girl, there are usually a few designs that are simple and calm.
Also (MAJOR PERK!), this puppy travels well. We jetset a lot as a Delta family and between my speaking opportunities, so being able to have something that holds up—even if it’s on the bulky/heavy side—has been worth it. The spirals NEVER do that weird stretch thing, the cover stays almost spotless, and the pages don’t bend.
Finally, I like the brand’s message. Classic copywriter response, right? But really: Emily’s a working mom with a heart for entrepreneurship and a passion for editing things down to what matters—and no more. There’s not a lot of fluff with this planner. It’s beautifully simple, as I explain in the video, without crazy productivity hacks and goal-setting things tucked between the pages.
Just room for me to list what will go down each day, plan our meals, and see months at a glance.
How I Use My Simplified Planner
You’ll see more behind the scenes in the video, but basically, I sit down each Sunday and pop open my Google Calendar. We use Google Calendar for our family (Wes puts down his work schedule & we mark out-of-town trips inside!) and business.
I map out what meetings are planned, when we have evenings booked, when I have a solo night because he’ll be at work, and peek at my 90 Day Year goals, so I can make sure I selected the right “Big 3” goals to go after the Friday before (I plan out my upcoming week on Fridays, and my work days the night before—more on that in a sec).
If an Instacart needs to be ordered, that goes in, and if HelloFresh needs to be canceled the upcoming week, I tackle that.
I love the Sunday check-list that’s already in each week, with simple things that offer a good check-in for me!
The first(ish) day of each month is a Duty Day for me, so that’s typically the day I update the monthly calendar with anything we have going on. (Click here to read how I run a Duty Day.)
Le Pens or ball-point (hello, Caran d’Ache!) are my pen of choice for this planner, but I’m crazy about Sharpie Pens … they just show through to the other side a lil’ bit.
What DON’T I do?
- Use a color coding system. Our Google Calendar for the business is color-coded, but honestly, it’d just be one more step for my paper planner that I don’t REALLY need. The 7th grader in me that color-coded everything silently rolls in her grade, but yeah … no color coding.
- I also don’t have a rhyme or reason with the stickers, which, um yes pls, I use. I just decorate with them and it’s extremely therapeutic.
Emily makes great mini-notebooks that go in the front pocket, which I show in the video—but May Books, Val Marie Paper notebooks, and Field Notes slide in well, too! I always pocket one when I travel just in case.
And that’s in a nutshell how I use this planner! What kind of planner do you use—and are you half analog, half digital like me?