Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Planner Alternative: Plum Paper Designs

There are so many planner posts among craft bloggers these days - I wanted to tell you about a planner that I found that has the fantastic features of Erin Condren planners but avoids one big problem.  (I am not officially promoting this planner, I just want you to see an alternative that works for me.)

I was definitely intrigued by the Erin Condren planners.  I'm a planner junkie.  I've been digital for quite some time and really don't want to add up what I have spent to try a variety of planner apps on my iPad/iPhone - even at only 99 cents an app!  There are a number that I really like, but I was starting to think that I needed to go back to a paper planner.  I can't tell you the number of times that I wanted to add one little note or to-do to my digital planner but decided that I'd just try to remember it because it wasn't worth turning on the phone, clicking on the planner and typing it in on the tiny keyboard (my thumbs don't work that well!).  Of course, at my age, I never remember anything, so I'd been thinking that a paper planner would solve that issue - it's not too difficult to pick up a pen!

I had some specific needs.

  • I knew that I didn't need a calendar.  I'm staying digital for that because it changes constantly given my family each maintains their own digital calendar but we all see each other's calendars to make sure we don't have overlaps that are problematic.  If it's a busy day, I'll jot the calendar for that day down in my planner so I can plan around it.
  • I love the Erin Condren feature for weekly goals but most planners don't have that.  I usually know what needs to be done soon, but it doesn't have to be a particular day.
  • My neat and tidy personality really likes columns.  Most planners seem to have blocks for a day, but then I can't easily scan down it.
So at this point, I had the Erin Condren planner in my cart, but I couldn't quite push the button because there is one thing that I really, REALLY don't like - and that's the divisions into morning, day and night.  My day doesn't fall into those blocks - I just have stuff that needs to get done whether it's at 5 a.m., noon or bedtime!  I've seen so many videos on how to cover those up with Washi tape and then stamp your own categories, but I don't want to do that either.  First of all, it's time-consuming.  Second, it still leaves me with three blocks and what if one category is longer than that - it would spread into a different block (oh, the horrors of a disorganized planner!)  

So I went hunting and found PlumPaperDesigns on Etsy and this is my planner!

There are many, many comparison videos out there - just search on Plum Paper vs. Erin Condren.  The first thing you'll notice from my planner is that the colors are more muted, which is a better fit for me.  Plum Paper is also slightly less expensive.  The cover on Plum Paper isn't quite as sturdy as it is actually a heavy protective cover over a very heavy patterned sheet (Erin Condren is laminated).  Plum Paper has blank note sheets within each month (I've heard EC doesn't have that) plus you can add more which I wish I had done.

Plum Paper has three page choices and this is why it wins for me.  Here's the layout that I chose - notice there's no morning, day and night!! I can make my own categories and I can make them any length that I need!!

They actually have four different page options.  You can just click on any of their planners and this option will come up.  (Looks so much like Erin Condren, it makes me wonder which came first!)

They are also completely customizable with teacher pages, student pages, fitness pages, family pages, blank note pages, pockets, etc.  Plus you can decide which month to start (allow at least a month delivery) and then add months after that.  For example, my planner started in November (because I couldn't wait until a new year) but I ordered it with two extra months so it runs from November 2014 though December 2015 and then next year I can order an annual planner.

After I ordered my planner, I ordered quite a few stickers, pens and washi tape based on the videos that I've been watching, but after a month of using it, I have it narrowed down to four key things for me.  (NOTE: because this is a cardmaking blog all of my pictures show cardmaking lists.  But I really do have a life - and there are lots and lots of lists regarding things besides cardmaking!) 

1. Frixion Eraseable pens by Pilot as promoted by Jennifer McGuire in her planner post.  They work beautifully!!  Even Simon Says Stamp carries them now.  Personally - I'm happy with the black, blue and red pack - but there are lots of gorgeous colors. Jennifer's links is to a beautifully colored set.  Just be sure you get the retractable version or you will forever be looking for the caps.

2. These are my favorite stickers.  I got them from KarolinasKrafts etsy shop here - she has many different patterns, even seasonal!  They are a pop of color in my "notes" section and I use them for listing the cards that I need to make that week.  I also list the required posts on the day that I need to post (such as Freshly Made Sketches every Wednesday) but often for me, making the card is separate from actually doing the post so I keep it in two different places.

3. I also use these little banners for birthdays and other special days.  These are also from KarolinasKrafts here.  I like that I can't miss a special day.  They are removable and my plan is to transfer them forward when I have passed the day - but I haven't quite resolved the fact that I wouldn't have next year's planner to transfer them to!!  So the jury is still out on these.

4. I have a stash of teeny tiny sticker dots from the Ollie Emily etsy shop here.  They are tiny enough that they fit in the line ahead of the to-do item.  I use them for those things that if I don't do them - the world ends!! They highlight those things that are truly critical on that day.  I keep their use to a minimum so when I do use them, they absolutely catch my eye.

One thing that I use, but I can't call critical are big removable sticker sheets (from Amazon here).  I use them to print my design team requirements and I size the graphics down to fit in a column of my planner . I really like having my whole life in one place and just knowing that I have a card due doesn't help if I don't remember the challenge.  You wouldn't necessarily need removable - but I have one challenge that happens twice with the same graphic, so I just want to move it forward when I am done with the first.

I have also ordered pen loop but don't have it yet so can't comment - it's this brand in Amazon.  EDITED: Received the loop and it's not exactly perfect.  I double-checked Erin Condren's pen loop and it seems to have the same problem.  The problem is that my new favorite Frixion pens do not fit in the loop.  However, I dealt with it in this way.

I moved the adhesive part in slightly from where it would standardly fit since I was just using it for the pen clip.  It also gives it a tidy look when it is closed.

One thing that Plum Paper does not have is a bookmark.  Erin Condren has a ruler that snaps into the coils and marks your page.  That would be nice for Plum Paper Designs, although given that my planner is open 99% of the time, the lack of a bookmark hasn't been a real problem.  EDITED: I originally posted that the Erin Condren bookmark does not fit in the Plum Paper planner, which I based on a comparison video that I viewed.  Meanwhile, I have read that Plum Paper uses two different coil sizes based on the thickness of your planner.  (Many say to be sure to always ask Plum Paper to use the thicker coils when you order your binder).  I went ahead and ordered an Erin Condren bookmark/ruler and it fits!!!  Just be aware that Erin Condren charges crazy postage so you might want to order more - get the pen loop, or they have lots of other organizational tools.

There are some fabulous planner stamps out there.  So far, they have been out-of-stock when I thought about ordering them, so I have no idea whether they will work for me long-term.  Given my main goal for this paper planner was quick, easy and convenient - I'm not sure that I would take the time to stamp stuff.  On the other hand, my handwriting is almost illegible - so may be the stamps would be a good investment!

I'm sure you have seen too many of these planner posts already, but thanks for reading clear to the end of mine!  I hope I have given you some ideas for your own planning purposes.


  1. First I want to say that I always love your clear and comprehensive summaries of your research!
    In this age of technology and with everyone having smart phones I was surprised about all those posts raving about (non-digital) planners! Even I, who doesn't yet own a smart phone and is not the most tech savvy person fell in love with Google calendar and ditched all the paper ones. When I saw those planner posts I thought, sounds nice but not for me (especially at those price tags).
    But your post made me see planners in a different light because of your emphasis on the planning part while still keeping the digital calendar. I really liked the pages that you chose. After reading you thoughts on the planner thing I might have to rethink them and maybe try one to see if it would help me be more organized!
    Thank you so much!

  2. Wow you are organized! I use one of those desk blotter calendars and by the end of the month it is so covered with "test stamps" and scribbles and glue I can hardly read what I planned! But there is always a fresh page on the first!

  3. Wow that looks so cool !! Love how organized u r

  4. Hmmm, I think you've provided a solution to my current state of disorganization and accompanying frazzle! Food for thought...Thank you so much for sharing your research.

  5. Thanks for the enabling, Kim! I'll tell hubs to blame you when he questions the $$ spent!

    LOVE the flag stickers for marking birthdays, etc. but darn if that shop isn't on vacation and she doesn't make mention of any kind of time frame for how long. Unfortunately for her, I'm not ordering if I don't know at least an approximate date that she'll return. :(

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I've been on the fence about getting an Erin Condren. Your post pushed me to PlumPaper and I just placed my order. :)


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