This year I’ve been fortunate enough to be sufficiently busy to need more than one planner. That’s my excuse, anyway, and I’m sticking to it. So I thought I’d set out my views on three of the best known bound planners, and what you might like or dislike about each. As such, there’s no one recommendation for which might suit you next year, or indeed what might suit me. Horses for courses and all that.
Basis for Review
I wanted to choose planners that had plenty in common, so the review would be more useful. So all three of the planners are bound with metal rings. All three have a thick card casing and storage pockets.
All cover 2017. The Ban.do and Kate Spade planners also cover the period August – December 2016, which is why I’m writing this review now. Stock will be appearing soon for next year.
Kate Spade Planner
The Kate Spade Planner I’m using is wider than a personal planner, but about as tall. I’ve pictured it alongside my Kate Spade spotty personal planner, so you can get an idea of the relative size. My version is in cream with gold spots, and you can also get cream with black stripes in a slightly bigger size.
Please excuse the sunshine, but at least you can see the beauty of the metallic spots.
The rings for the card covered Kate Spade planner are contained within the cover. This is great for carrying it with you, as you won’t be in danger of the rings snagging something in your bag. At the front of the planner is a page with a card pocket on each side, useful for corralling your bits and pieces such as receipts or stickers. You then get the usual calendars and pages to note celebrations, plus a list of holidays. There are 16 pages for notes before you get into the diary section.
Each month is tabbed, and at the start of each month, there’s a spread announcing that “this is the month to…” with a set of suggestions. June 2017 suggests, amongst other things, that we dive right in or take the long way home, both of which are fine by me. Before the weekly pages, there is a double page monthly planner grid with boxes. These grids are fine if you have small writing like me, but if you’re blessed with beautiful bold penmanship, abbreviations will be necessary.
Ring bound planner compared to the zipper personal planner: Kate Spade spotty love here
The weekly spreads start on Mondays. Weekends get half the space of weekdays, so if your life is busiest at weekends, you might struggle to fit your life into the available space. Each day has ruled lines.
As you’d expect from Kate Spade, this is a chunky and solid planner. I love the choice of spots or stripes, which is definitely my thing. I find the paper a little rough for my favourite pen (rather like the inserts for the ring bound planner), but as I’ve been using the same paper since October 2016, I can’t say I hate it! You’d fit this planner in a smaller bag, and I’d venture that it would stand up to being carried around pretty well.
Sugar Paper Planner
This planner is slightly larger taller than a personal ringed planner and not as thick. I really love the elegant stripe design. The black inner cover is visible when you open the pages, and the black tabs. Each weekly spread has a black spot design at the top, so you can see that all my design loves are met.
It’s an elegant planner, the Sugar Paper product. Sturdy but not chunky.
The planner starts with a yearly overview, and again two card slip pockets on a single leaf. There’s a list of holidays, and three pages of space for contacts. Each monthly tab opens to a planning grid with a teeny list for notes to the right. Again this is a compact spread, so be aware if you have large writing.
The weekly spreads are in the same format as the Kate Spade planner: Monday starts, and half the space for each of the weekend days. Each day is has ruled lines, great for people like me who can’t write in a straight line. There’s a seventeen page tabbed section for notes at the end.
This planner is smaller than the other two, so perhaps a good choice if weight and size are a consideration for you. The cover has plenty of heft to it, so I think it would stand up to use over the year.
This one is larger than the other two, fitting somewhere between A5 and A4. It comes in a slogan design or a pink floral, which is the one I have, and there’s an elastic to keep the planner closed.
Bigger than A5, smaller than A4, this is a BIG planner.
Inside you have the double sided pocket page for storage. You then have two pages of stickers to decorate the planner, a page telling you about Ban.do and the usual calendars. The calendar is tabbed, which is useful, as are the pages that follow for days to celebrate and holidays. Under The Best Days you’ll find some of those weird and wonderful causes for celebration such as National Cake Decorating Day. These are also shown in the planner.
A word on design here is important. I think that this is probably a Marmite planner. Don’t be fooled by the pretty pink flowers on the outside. This planner is a riot of fun, funky artwork and inspirational quotes. You’ll love it, or want to turn its volume down.
Sample monthly art spread from the 2017 Ban.do planner
At the monthly dividers, you have a double page spread of artwork. This is followed by a two page montly planning grid which has lots of space. There’s a double page ruled spread for notes. The weekly pages start on Mondays and again have half the space for weekends. This is massive planning territory; if you have small writing like me, you could fit a small essay in each day. There are eighteen ruled pages for notes at the end of the planner and some social media links to the design team.
This is a big beast in the planning world. Although I’ve taken it out of the house a couple of times, I don’t think I could manage it as an everyday carry. If you work somewhere where a sombre professional image is expected, then this planner may be a bit too exuberant. In other environments, people will love it, and want to know where they can buy their own.
My Choices for next year
That’s putting me on the spot. I will definitely be using the Ban.do next year as a blog planner. It’s worked really well for that this year, and it cheers me up when I’m having one of those days where brain and keyboard aren’t working for the same team.
If I’m still in a ring bound planner, then I will likely use either the Kate Spade or the Sugar Paper planner as a household planner. It keeps the routines out of my planning space for work and play, and I manage the house better with some kind of plannery intervention.
Have you used any of these bound planners? What’s your thinking on the pros and cons of each? I know lots of us picked up the Ban.do and Kate Spade planners in TK Maxx quite late in the year, so we could give them a trial for next year. So one of them may well get a spike in popularity. Which might it be?