I have used academic agendas and planners since I was in the fifth grade. I continued using a planner even when out of school, so I would have important dates, meetings, appointments, numbers, all written down in one place along with my work schedule. Now, traveling so much for work and with grad school, there is no way I could survive without a planner.
All through college, I used Lilly Pulitzer agendas. I mostly used the jumbo-sized for my school days. Once out of school though, I had no need to eliminate fishing one out of a backpack, and I found the medium-sized agenda had plenty of space enough for me, and could easily fit in my purse or tote bag. Lilly planners have original and feminine designs, come with a stretchy fabric bookmark strap, and a page of fun stickers so you can make your weeks and months your own.
This past year, I found the most wonderfully affordable customizable planner option at Plum Paper Designs, the Etsy shop. I have raved and raved about these planners to friends, classmates, coworkers. Not only are there a ton of cover options to choose from, but you can also choose to add a monogram or your name to the front cover! (I’m a Southern girl, I love my monograms.) I chose to do a pretty mint and gold fishscale pattern with my name, pictured here, with the vertical weekly page design. Here is what’s really cool, you can completely customize your pages AND what they say! Do you need more space to plan dinner? You can add the columns. Do you need more than one extra column or row to write down meetings and commitments to specific clubs or organizations? You got it! Need to remember which kid has which practice where? Completely customizable guys.
If you are shooting for a teacher planning aid, a fitness journal or tracker, something to organize your bill payment schedule with, sticker add-ons, photo customization, I cannot stop bragging on these Plum Paper planners, they thought of pretty much everything. Now, where Plum Paper differs from the rest of the planners I will mention is that its covers are not hard cardboard, but they do come with a flexible plastic cover on front and back. (Even the covers are interchangeable y’all!) I can definitely say you would not be disappointed if you purchased a Plum Paper Planner.
Ashley Shelly planner, $54.95
I’m guilty guilty GUILTY of using multiple planners at a time. If I don’t write something down more than once, chances are I will either forget a piece of the information, or forget it altogether. Plus, when I discover new agendas I like to test all of them out to see which one works best for me! Sometimes I’ll even use a separate agenda for school vs work so my pages don’t get too crammed with information. Again, it’s all about what you prefer. Another agenda I discovered last year is the Ashley Shelly Planner. This hardcover planner is seriously designed with the user in mind. Check out this video of Ashley Shelly giving a walk through of her planner design, along with tips and tricks of how to organize your days and weeks!
I know this is something so incredibly minor, but when bookmarking methods can be difficult to use, the Ashley Shelly planner’s perforated corners are life-changing. You read that right–perforated corners. I’ve tried everything: cross-folding pages, using the stretchy fabric bookmarks, paperclips and binder clips, ughh everything! Something as simple as tearing off the corner of the paper to save your place so you can save your paperclips and binder clips for filing bill statements or important forms, etc. has made me come back to this planner every time!
Although notes pages and goal pages are something you can order with your Plum Paper planner, Ashley Shelly comes with them, and they are preciously displayed on the pages after the monthly calendar. On these pages, lines and space for your daily or monthly creative goals are included as well as space for what you’d like your typical day to consist of. It’s great motivation if you’re looking for routine, consistency, and a way to plan days that are conducive to striving for and reaching goals.
Even though I hate to have anything negative to say about a planner because I love them all, with the Ashley Shelly planner I found that the weekly layout did not provide me as much room as the Plum Paper weekly layouts did, and not even close to as much room as Lilly’s week pages. Each day is divided into two sections with a to-do list on one side and blank lines on the other, with space to list specific times if needed. Of course you can make the entire row your to-do list, or make the entire row a list of whatever you need to remember for the day, but it doesn’t take away from the lack of room in my opinion. Lastly, the Ashley Shelly planner is spiral-bound, as is the Lilly and the Plum Paper planner, but I found it overly difficult to fold the cover back. It wants to stick to the rings more often than not. BUT Ashley Shelly’s planner comes with super cute stickers too! (I prefer them over Lilly’s.) They’re even color-coordinated with the planner design. Talk about L-O-V-E!
I have recently purchased a couple of classic notebooks, so they’re about medium-sized, but I cannot wait to purchase some large notebooks for my classes this upcoming semester! These maybooks are another customization favorite. There is a cover design with literally any color or pattern you could possible want! I added monograms to mine (lol, obvi), and you can choose the type of lines you want on the inside (except no college-ruled). I love that the covers are canvas and the pages are thicker than regular notebook paper so ink-bleeding and page tears are minimum.
There’s nothing super special about these Vera Bradley notebooks other than that I’m obsessed with the patterns. They make me excited to take notes and color-coordinate my studying! Also, older or discontinued patterns always on major sale on VeraBradley.com!
BIC Mark It Ultra Fine Point, $21 for the assorted 36-pack
These have been my go-to note-taking pens over the last two years. The ultra fine point isn’t as thin of a tip as the ultra fine point Sharpies, or the Le Pens, but I find the colors are more vibrant and don’t get washed away or smeared with highlighter! Trust me, if you like taking your notes in color even a little bit, you will love these!
BIC Atlantis retractable ball point, $12 for a dozen
A friend actually got me hooked on these pens back in my undergraduate college career. They’ve been redesigned since then, but they still write equally as smoothly and beautifully. They don’t have the darkest, blackest ink that some are partial to, but I never had to repetitively go over my notes to get the ink evenly on the page. Best part about these pens, the small grip prevented crazy finger indentations that can make writing for long periods of time less than pleasant.
These are just a few of my favorites and must-have basics to get me through the day and through the school semester. I would love any recommendations or feedback on favorite agendas, notebooks, or must-have office/school supplies! Let me know in the comments!