I’m sure most of you like to use some type of personal planner, diary, journal, notebook, or organizer on a daily basis. And, many of you enjoy having an everyday, go-to planner that is simplified and customizable, right? I do, too, and late last year, just before Christmas, I really needed a new paper planner… you know, one of those ‘old-school’ style personal planners. I’d tried using an electronic calendar in the past, but I kept going back to writing things down in a planner on paper instead.
Many years ago, I started using a ring-bound Franklin Planner with the original one-page-per-day inserts for work. Since I use a lot of meeting and project planning forms, graph paper, project timeline sheets, and lined pages, only three months of daily inserts would fit into that personal planner.
I really didn’t like bringing all of my personal information onto construction job sites or into architectural project meetings. I’d always bring along a lot of other ‘tools-of-the-trade’ essentials to keep my design business projects organized. So, over time, I’ve essentially customized my good old Franklin ‘classic’ size personal planner binder to suit my consulting design business needs. I tend to keep a small calendar in a pocket of my Franklin planner, just in case I need to ‘pencil in’ an appointment and confirm it later when I’m back at my office.
It became apparent that customizing and organizing my days between life and work by using one planning source wasn’t a good fit for me. So, I started to keep a separate paper planner for my personal lifestyle on my desk, which was fine with me. That’s just my choice. Besides, I really enjoy using a paper personal planner that’s clean and attractive, simple to use and functional for me. So, when I started my search last year for a new planner, I wanted it to be practical and customizable, with a weekly design format, high-quality paper, and, oh yeah… affordable. As in, under $50.00 (‘twas the holiday shopping season, after all!).
Since I wasn’t able to find what I wanted in local retail stores, I shifted my search online. Even though a printable planner being sold online can be very reasonably priced, I shudder at the thought of replacing the ink cartridges in my printer! Surprisingly, paying extra shipping costs for mailing anywhere in the USA was actually a more cost effective option for me. So, my search was on for a pre-printed bound paper personal planner, handcrafted by a small business that emphasizes customer service and satisfaction, and made in the USA. Also, I sought after a product from a company with strong ideals, values, and purpose, one that focused on helping its customers to live a more organized life.
I did a lot of research to find one that would work well for me. There were several great planners and calendars available in the marketplace that fit my personal criteria and preferences, although many were already sold out. However, while perusing Etsy, I came across one very cost-effective and pretty planner that stood out to me and met all of my personal needs…the Plum Paper Planner.
Not only was I able to customize the cardstock front cover design (I wanted mine without a monogram or my name on it), I added extra sections and notes to the inside of it. I really liked that this personal planner was available with a durable aluminum binding coil (spiral), so I could flip it around to double or single width. Also, unlike other planners, Plum Paper lets you order them year-round, and start with any month that works best for you.
I’d ordered the honeycomb and wood pattern for my personalized cover (it has a translucent over-cover to protect the printed cardstock cover). It was really difficult to make a final selection because there are so many lovely patterns and pretty colors to choose from. If you’re looking for or having a hard time deciding on which personal planner will work best for you, read on.
Plum Paper Designs offers a well-designed variety in their collection of planners, including:
- Regular Planners (with 4 weekly layouts to choose from, shown in the image below),
- ME Planner (My Everything, previously known as the Family Planner, which you can divide your week into 7 custom sections),
- Monthly Planner (with several notes pages instead of weekly spread layouts for each month),
- Teacher Planners (with 2 sizes to choose from, 7” x 9” or 8.5” x 11”, plus you can add custom classes for a nominal upcharge)
- Student Planner (with 7 class sections for each week, plus you can add custom classes for a nominal upcharge)
- Fitness Planner (keep track of calories throughout the day, weekly fitness goals, and daily workout plan)
They also offer an Address Book, a Memory Keeper Book, a Notebook, and a lovely Wall Calendar in their product line. Plus, there are an assortment of add-on sections and pages to choose from and are great tools to help in further customizing your personal planner. In my Regular Planner with the honeycomb cover, I’d chosen ‘Option 2’ (an hourly, vertical format) for my weekly spread layout.
I also added a Blog Section and an extra Notes Section. I haven’t used all of the pages in the Blog Section (such as the Advertising & Sponsors and Giveaways & Reviews pages), but I’m sure those will come in handy at some point. Plum Paper doesn’t offer page finders or coil clips in their product of accessories (yet?), but after watching a couple of videos on YouTube, I crafted a few of my own (did you notice them in the picture above?). The crafting tools and supplies that I used included old page finders, scissors, mechanical pencil, triangle, hole punch, filing tabs, and washi tape.
And, in case you’re interested, this is a list of various add-ons available, (but make sure to pay attention to the page limits when ordering your personal planner):
- My Home Planning Section
- Fitness Tracking Section
- Blog Planning Section
- Direct Sales Planning Section
- Baby Tracking Section
- Wedding Planning Section
- My Class Planning Section
- Notes Pages
- To-Do List Pages
- Bill Tracker Pages
- Monthly Cleaning Pages
- Checklist Pages
- Contact Pages
- Party Planning Pages
- Repositionable Stickers
I’m a bit of a pen and ink hoarder (did I just admit to that?). But, I’m even more of a stickler (aka, nitpicker) when it comes to paper quality. For my personal planner, I certainly didn’t want regular everyday copy machine paper, which is most commonly referred to as “20lb writing bond” or “50lb text” weight (74 GSM). Also, generally multipurpose paper used in the office printer is referred to as “24lb writing bond” or “60lb text” (90 GSM), which is also the most popular business letterhead or stationery weight. I’ve used planners made with these thinner paperweights, and I really wanted a heavier paperweight for my personal planner. From what I’ve read, the paperweight that Plum Paper uses is 28lb writing bond / 70lb text (105 GSM), and I believe it! In paperweight terms, that means the paper is excellent for 2-sided printing with minimal show through. I’ve found their planner paper to be really smooth and it has a very nice feel to it, too.
Throughout the year, I’ve used and tried several different ink pens, markers, and highlighters in my Plum Paper Planner, and I thought I’d share with you my experience and thoughts on each:
- Pilot G-2 07 – no bleed-thru, very slight shadowing (I use these a lot!)
- Uchida Le Pen – no bleed-thru, very slight shadowing (I use these a lot, too!)
- Sharpie Pen, Fine Tip – no bleed-thru, very slight shadowing (works great!)
- Sharpie Highlighter with Smear Guard – slight bleed-thru at ends of stroke marks
- Paper Mate intro Highlighter – slight bleed-thru at ends of stroke marks
- Sharpie Permanent Marker, Twin Tip – obvious bleed-thru at ends of stroke marks
- Paper Mate Flair, Medium Tip – very slight bleed-thru, shadowing
I haven’t used any stickers in my Plum Paper Planner, but I have used washi tape. I’ve had really good experiences using the Scotch Expressions Washi Tape by 3M and the Recollections Washi Crafting Tape on the paper of my Plum Paper Planner. The paper never tore whenever I repositioned the washi tape by these two brands, nor was any sticky residue left behind.
In my consulting business, I review a lot of features and benefits for the interior design related products being considered for our projects. The final selections I make are based on several different factors, including the product’s performance specifications, quality and workmanship of materials used in its manufacturing, durability for its intended use, the ability for customization, and of course the product’s overall costs. That same thought process went into my initial search for a personal planner last year, and I will tell you that I have been very pleased with the quality and performance of my 2015 Plum Paper Planner. So much that I recently decided to go ahead and order a new one for the coming year!
For variety, I opted for a different personalized cover pattern and color this time. I ordered a Regular Planner with the ‘Option 2’ weekly spread layout again, along with the Blog Section and an extra Notes Section. Also, I decided to add-on the Fitness Planning Section and To-Do List Pages in my new personal planner. Since I didn’t have to pay extra for expedited shipping this year, I was able to stay under my target $50.00 budget again (WhooHoo!). I’m not sure how other planner companies package their products for shipment, but I really appreciate the way that Plum Paper bubble wraps each personal planner in a sturdy box so it doesn’t get damaged before it’s even delivered.
I’d decided to order a new personal planner well ahead of the upcoming holidays so that I wouldn’t be in the same type of panic mode I was in at the end of last year. I’d placed my order for a new Plum Paper Planner on October 12th, and received it less than ten days later on Oct. 21st. Not bad at all for a customized order and regular shipping time! Little did I know that on November 1st, each new Plum Paper Planner would be made with a new durable cover material (a synthetic waterproof and tear-proof cover), that I’m sure will make a lot of planner fans very happy! Plus, interchangeable covers are now available for all the 7” x 9” planner varieties in their shop. I’m really pleased with the Moroccan Quatrefoil Lattice pattern design on the cover on the personal planner that I’ve received. But, in the event it becomes damaged or if I want a change, it’s nice to have that as an option.
There are a few nice changes and subtle differences between my 2015 Plum Paper Planner and the new planner I’d recently ordered for the upcoming year. There are double-sided tabs now, and instead of blank white space on the back of each page, monthly highlights have been added as an overview of activities. I’m looking forward to scheduling my priorities in my new personal planner!
PLUM PAPER PLANNER COUPON CODE:
After I received my new planner, I reached out to the wonderful people at Plum Paper Designs, and asked them if they would be so kind as to offer a discount or coupon code for you, my lovely readers! They were so gracious, and said you can use the coupon code TRIPPALUKA10 for 10% off. It is a one-time per customer use and will expire December 31, 2015 (hopefully, maybe even after then?). So, if you are looking for a new personal planner that’s affordable and you’d like to customize it to suit your tastes and needs, be sure to check out the Plum Paper Planner.
Do you use an ‘old-school’ style personal planner, too? If so, do you use more than one, or keep everything organized within a single planner? Do tell!
Disclosure Note: All items shown were purchased by me. This is NOT a sponsored post. The opinions are completely my own, and based on my own experience. This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience and to assist in the maintenance of this site.