When I started my new job, a few weeks ago now, I quickly realised that I would benefit from using a dedicated work planner. Not because I was lacking in the personal planner department, but as a new employee working in a position that had never been filled before, I wanted to make sure I kept track of all of my tasks and appointments. For this, I chose The Day Designer, a daily planner by entrepreneur Whitney English.
I received a complementary Day Designer during English’s session at the Wild For Planners conference in Austin in April. The planner, with its daily list format, organised checkboxes, and timeline spanning from 5:00 in the morning to 21:00 (or 9:00 PM) in the evening, makes it the perfect professional planner.
The model we were given is the January 2018 Daily Planner, which runs from January 2018 to December 2018, and everyone received theirs with a different cover. The cover of mine has a pattern called “Palm” and is made up of springy, palm leaves. The inside cover is lined in a lovely shade of vivid green, and has a tall, sturdy pocket on the front cover, which I use to keep my work’s social schedule in.
The Day Designer is a spiral-bound planner, with gold, wire-o binding, which compliments the front cover design, the gold monthly tabs, and the protective gold corners on the cover. The binding can drag its feet a little bit if you try to lay the page flat and it feels like it’s been twisted the wrong way. Within two days of using mine, the top coil decided to throw a wobbly, and now refuses to be bent back in place, which is a shame.
The planner measures 23 centimetres (9 inches) wide by 25 centimetres (9.75 inches) tall; the brand also does planners that are smaller in size, measuring 17 centimetres (6.625 inches) wide by 21 centimetres (8.3 inches) tall.
I would say its biggest drawback is that it weighs almost 1 kg (2.1 pounds) by itself, which makes it heavy and a little awkward to carry around. However, the overall feel of the planner is sleek and neutral enough that I can carry it to meetings, which is a good characteristic of any planner.
At the very front of the planner, there are eleven “Purpose Pages”. There’s room to keep track of goals and intentions for the year, a place to describe your ideal week and your ideal month, and a page that talks a little about the planner’s history. In my planner, these pages are blank, but my absolute favourite of these bonus pages is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the functional 12-month overview, which offers a bird’s-eye view of 2018 across two pages.
In addition, there is a blank page at the end of each month (except at the end of July, for reasons unknown), which you can use as a place to prepare for the upcoming month or as a place to reflect on the previous month:
The planner comes with a simple grey and white two-page monthly overview, which I use to indicate the days I’m working or have work-related events. Once I’m a little more settled in at my job, I’m planning to use the sidebar on the left-hand side, titled “this month”, for the long-term work goals I want to achieve.
And then, as its name implies, the Day Designer gives you a full page for every day of the year. At the top of the page, you get a different inspirational quote every day, which is one of my favourite features of this planner. The daily pages are further made up out of nine sections: Today’s Top Three, Due, Dinner, Dollars, Don’t Forget, Today, To-Do, Notes and Daily Gratitude. I must admit I only use four, sometimes five, of these sections, at most.
I use the “Today’s Top Three” section to highlight my three must-do tasks of the day and having them at the very top of the page ensures I can keep an eye on them as I work. Currently, I keep the four D-sections (Due, Dinner, Dollars, Don’t Forget) blank, but I’d use the “Due” section for deadlines, if necessary. The “Today” section comes in handy to note down meetings and my work times, which I have to keep track of myself when I submit them every two weeks.
The “To-Do” section simply contains a list of everything I need to get done that day – including my top-three tasks – and I colour in the boxes when I complete a task. If I’ve been asked to do anything that’s not on the list, I simply add it in at work, and work on completing the task either right away or at the end of the day, when I’ve finished my top three tasks. The final section I use is the “Notes” section, which I use for any questions I may need to ask a colleague and for writing down suggestions on how to further streamline the current systems we have in place.
Paper and Pen Test
But, really, my absolute favourite feature of this planner is its thick, white paper, which is the first thing I noticed when I unwrapped the planner. According to their website, the daily planner has 90 GSM paper. Since I’m not quite as much of a paper expert as I would maybe secretly aspire to be, I did some digging, and discovered that GSM stands for grams per square meter; according to this handy website, the quality of the paper fits nicely in-between photocopier paper and letterhead paper.
As a general rule of thumb, the heavier the paper, the higher the quality, and it’s something I put to the test by writing on it with all of the pens I could find in my pen drawer:
Despite using a wide range of pens, with varying types of ink and points of thickness, I found that the only pens this planner didn’t like very much were permanent markers and the erasable Pilot FriXion clicker pens. The permanent markers are easily visible when you turn the page, as is the small dent in the paper due to the friction created by erasing the FriXion pen:
Otherwise, the paper behaved more than admirably, and if you’re a fan of thick, stark white paper, this may be enough reason to spring for one of these planners next year. They retail for $59 and the more budget-friendly $29.50 when on sale.
Overall, The Day Designer Daily Planner is a great option if you’re in the market for a professional planner. Its pages are easy to use, its thick paper allows for the use of a variety pens, and its simple and sleek design is makes it a good choice for the office.
For me, the planner’s biggest drawbacks lie in its weight and size. Although I’m a big fan of the thick paper, I would have gladly exchanged it for lighter paper and a less bulky planner. And, as the mini version of this planner weighs 0.7 kg (1.6 pounds) as well, I will probably opt for a different planner next time around.
So that’s it for my review of the Day Designer Daily Planner. Do you have a planner for work? What do you use?