How I use my Simplified Planner

20 November 2013

I ordered my Emily Ley Simplified Planner last September. Over the last year, t’s become an essential part of our household, so I thought I’d give you a little tour!

But first, a brief note on nomenclature: Emily has changed her product offerings in the last year, so what was known as the Simplified Planner is now being marketed as the Simplified Life Binder (I like the pool stripes in the new version!). If you’re interested in a more traditional day planner, that’s the job of the new Simplified Planner. I have to say, I think this change-up is a good move on her part, because as you’ll see, it’s much closer to how our family uses this product!


Along with the Simplified Planner itself, I started with Emily’s monthly calendar pages, tabbed dividers from the Martha Stewart line at Staples, and some of Martha’s lined paper (my favorite — very thin lines in a pretty turquoise color).

In our house, Emily’s binder is command central. It travels to and from work with me every day, and when I get home, I generally set it on the bar in our kitchen so John and I can both access it. Currently, we have sections for our calendar, Em for Marvelous, meal planning, household maintenance, and the community garden I work with. As you can see, not all the tabs are marked, because some sections are still awaiting a final purpose!

Each of the dividers has a pretty reminder taped to the front:


This one is courtesy of the lovely Kelly Cummings. I love flipping open the cover and seeing it greet me every day!

One of the main reasons I choose to use a paper calendar instead of an electronic one is that it is most helpful to me to see every event on every day of the month at the same time. So much of what I’m scheduling needs to happen in relation to other things, and I hate having to click back and forth between days or switch between the day view and the month view so I can see every event happening on a certain day.


I like to stick colorful washi tape over the days we’re traveling or on vacation.


Emily’s calendar pages have a “list” section on the left-hand side. I use this space for two things: to jot down my goals for the month (after writing my monthly goal post) and to keep track of John’s schedule (he works different hours each day of the week, and his schedule switches four times a year). Apparently I hadn’t written my goals for September down yet when I took these photos, but I promise you that that’s what I do.

There are about 16 months in my planner right now. To make it easy to find the current month, I paper clip it to the divider so I can flip to it immediately.


I’m going to post separately on our blogging, meal planning, and household maintenance sections, and each post will have accompanying printables! In the meantime, I wanted to comment on the quality of the planner. Given the abuse I’ve put it through (namely being stuffed in my work bag every day with a jumble of other things), I’d say it’s held up well. It’s still very clean looking, though it does have a few tears along the bottom edge on the front. It looks like Emily’s new binders are made out of a different material which looks even sturdier. I know some people wish it was more portable, but that’s really not an issue for me, because I already carry a tote bag (with my laptop, etc. in it) to work every day, not just a purse.

What do y’all use for your calendar? A day planner? iCal? GCal? I’ve used many things over the years, including a pink leather Filofax when I was in high school :)

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November 20, 2013 12:39 pm

I have the Pink Simplified Planner and use it for all things business related. Potential brides, current brides, vendors, styled shoots, blog schedule… They all fit nicely, with room to spare! Like you, I’m a huge fan of the Martha Stewart lined paper & also use her tabs, so I have them in my binder. I also LOVE the Free Printable Library Emily offers; I use the Month Calendar, as well as Client Info Sheets a lot. I carry an additional bag for my laptop to work, too, so this binder fits perfectly inside. I did order Emily’s New Simplified Planner because I found I needed something better for daily schedules, lists, etc. however I am a firm believer in this binder & love using for my business items! Great post, Em :)

November 21, 2013 8:14 am

I use the Erin Condren Life Planner: Like you, I really need to see the whole month at once, and this planner does that nicely with beautiful tabs. There is a weekly calendar in between each month, and I use this to plan meals, track exercise, write daily goals, etc. I also love that it’s reasonably compact and very durable. It also came with fun extras like a snap-in ruler, pockets, a plastic zip pouch, and lots of labels and stickers. It was a littley pricey for a planner at $50, but it was so worth it! I would recommend this product to anyone!

November 22, 2013 3:06 pm

I love this post because this calendar is so clean and beautifully organized. I just love it! I think I will have to get one myself. This is one of my first times stopping by your blog and it’s just lovely. Thanks for writing, Em! I have to admit, I don’t use a fancy calendar, I actually bought mine from Barnes and Noble but it’s very simple and seems to be the same size/layout. I also use my phone calendar but I’d like to condense it all. I’ll have to let you know my experience with this one if I end up purchasing it. :)

November 22, 2013 5:37 pm

I truly love this. I debated all year about buying the Simplified Planner and instead I finally decided to buy the Simplified Datebook which is perfect for me right now and it fits in all my everyday purses. But this is so helpful for future reference in knowing how organized you keep your life! I love the new binder/planner divide because for a single gal like me I can totally justify the binder whereas the planner may be a tiny bit overkill at the moment!

November 22, 2013 5:38 pm

yikes! I meant justify the planner not the binder…oops;)

November 25, 2013 4:40 pm

Don’t know HOW I missed this, but its FANTASTIC!!! I must have been in new Simplified Planner shipping land! Thank you, Em! I love seeing how you use your binder! It’s fantastic! Exactly the way it was designed to work! You are marvelous!!! xxoo

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