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The best planner for 2023 — Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner, Full Focus Planner, or The Golden Coil

I tried them all, and here’s my favorite

I’ve always been a planner lover. It seriously was my favorite thing each fall to pick out a new planner with a beautiful cover right before college started back up. And as crazy as it sounds now, considering how much my style preferences has evolved, I was an avid Lilly Pulitzer planner user. It housed all my assignments, internship dates, and extracurricular activities, always color coded down to the various classes I was taking. 

Since entering the digital business space, I’m obviously using a digital calendar, but I can’t let go of a paper planner. There’s just something about writing things out and checking things off a list that makes my Enneagram 1 heart oh so happy. 

Over the years I’ve tried a variety of planners to figure out which one would work best for my life and business. What would allow me to see the things I needed to see, feel organized, and support me as I took steps towards accomplishing my goals, while obviously also being pretty.

And after years of searching, I’ve finally found what I consider to be the one

But before I reveal my choice to you, let me do a little run down of the planners I tested on my journey, what I liked about them, what I didn’t like, and how it might work for you. 

And just a little reminder here — the best planner (or system in general) is the one that you actually use! Take what you need, and leave the rest 😉

Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Emily Ley and her company. The Simplified planner, and the Simplified sisterhood is such an incredible corner of the internet, and as a brand designer and marketer I’m always incredibly fascinated by her and the brand she’s built. 

I’m typically glued to Instagram and Facebook during their launch weeks each year, as I think they do such an incredible job at creating hype, listening to their customers, and providing a light in the world. 

I got my first Simplified planner in 2020 — yep, right in the early stages of the pandemic, but also, right as my business was starting to get some serious traction. 

I went with the signature daily planner in what I still consider one of their most beautiful covers to date — Gold Bee. 

It’s actually so pretty it’s still sitting out in my office!

I loved this planner, the paper quality was absolutely incredible, the layout was great, but after a while, I found that it wasn’t working for me. Something about the daily view felt like I was just adding more to my to-do list and making up time blocks to fill the pages, and then not really sticking to it.

Somewhere along the way I stopped using the planner (and after checking, I actually used it way longer than I remembered). I felt like I was missing the ability to see the bigger picture. While the daily layout is great if you’re a fan of time blocking and checking tasks off your to-do list, it can be hard to see the bigger picture when it gets so nitty gritty. 

It also felt like some of my “tasks” (you know the ones, the ones that are kind of important, but also sort of made up to fill time) made it difficult to see what really was important. 

So, I decided to try something else. 

The Full Focus Planner by Michael Hiatt 

Enter, the Full Focus Planner. 

This planner feels like it was made by an entrepreneur for entrepreneurs. Truly, it is gorgeous (neutral linen all the way!) and the entire premise is to help you achieve more while doing less. 

Sounds pretty awesome, right?!

I dabbled with this planner for a long time, and couldn’t quite convince myself that I loved it. Again, the daily view just felt overwhelming to me. 

This is also an undated planner, so I found myself not really using the monthly overview or any of the other weekly review sections – totally not using it to its full potential, put it just really didn’t feel like the one for me. 

I did love the notes section on the side though, but again, I found that I was adding tasks to my list simply to be able to check them off. 

And with the daily view, it wasn’t as easy to see what tasks kept moving from one day to the next without getting done. 

If you want to check out the Full Focus Planner, Ashlyn Carter has a great video over on her YouTube channel here

So once again, I decided it was time to try something new.. 

The Golden Coil Planner

I’d seen the Golden Coil Planner unboxed on various Instagram stories over the years, and there is no denying that this planner is gorgeous. 

My friend and client Cassie actually has been raving about this planner for as long as I’ve known her, and we’ve had conversations about this planner in the past, so I finally decided to text her to get her honest opinion on it. 

A couple minutes later, I had finally ordered the Golden Coil planner. 

First of all, the shipping is incredibly fast. I love that this is a totally customizable planner, down to your start and end dates, so you can truly order it whenever. So I was actually surprised that I got it in about a week!

You also have the ability to choose between a variety of gorgeous covers, an array of layouts, extra pages, Sunday or Monday start, and things like preloaded holidays.

I went with the neutral linen cover, and decided to do mine with a weekly layout – horizontal I to be exact (finally being able to get that full overview of my weeks again!), brain dump pages in between, and a book/reading tracker at the end. My planner is a 12 month one, but if you decide to do daily pages, I believe it will only let you do six months due to the size of the coil. 

After using this planner for a couple of months, I can honestly say that I am loving it. Like so much so that I already can’t wait to order my next one. 

The quality is amazing, and I feel like I’m truly staying on top of everything I’ve got going on. Finally!

I do think that for my next one I will do my project pages at the end rather than after each week, but it’s honestly not a big deal and I love that I have so much space to write in this planner. 

And the reading tracker is such a nice little touch to add a little more fun to the planner. 

Yes, this planner is expensive (and in my head I kept thinking it was more expensive than the Full Focus), but it truly has brought me so much joy and peace that in my eyes it has totally been worth it. 

Finding the perfect planner for 2023 has been a journey for me, and what works for me might not work for you. I’m curious to hear, which planner will you be using for 2023?

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