So a while back I shared one my favorite and most positively received posts about how I stay organized in medical school. In that post I shared exactly how I use my 2017-2018 Erin Condren Planner to stay on top of my schedule. I’ve always been obsessed with organization and Erin Condren has been my go to for years. If you’re interested in seeing my organizational system, be sure to click the link above or click here. Today, I’d like to expand upon my last post and write up an Erin Condren Life Planner 2017-2018 review. A bunch of you guys (and a few of my classmates) asked me to share about some of the features and what I like best about the planner and accessories. If you’re interested in seeing my top picks then keep scrolling down!
Erin Condren Life Planner 2017-2018
Okay so when you order your Life Planner you have multiple options to choose from:
- Binding: Spiral vs. Hardbound
- Layout: Horizontal vs. Vertical (this is the one I use) vs. Hourly (Note: small hardcover planners only come in horizontal layout and the large hardcover only comes in the vertical)
- Cover: Spiral bound planners have various cover options to choose from that you can personalize/ monogram. They are also interchangeable so you can switch them out throughout the year. Hardcover bound planners have 4 color options (black, linen, turquoise, and cherry blossom)
- Inside Color Scheme: Neutral vs. Color (Note: For hardcover books, you can’t mix and match color schemes and covers i.e. black hardcover books are the only hardcover option with neutral pages and the three other cover options have color on the inside. However, the vibrancy of colors and patterns used vary depending on the cover so be sure to look at the samples of the pages before deciding)
So you used to only be able to get spiral bound Life Planners but the hardbound covers are new for this year. Spiral planners start at $55 and the hardbound planners are $30 for the small (horizontal layout) and $35 for the large (vertical layout). The price difference is because the spiral planners are fully customizable and made to order. You pick the cover, the layout, the color scheme, monogram/ personalization options, and when you want your planner to start. The hardbound planners don’t have as many options and are pre-made, hence the cheaper price. If you simply want a planner and don’t care for the frills then a hardcover planner will be fine. If you care about putting your name on your planner and picking each detail (cover, text color, spiral color, color scheme, etc) then I suggest you go for the spiral planner. I almost got a hardcover planner but I prefer the spiral bound since all the accessories can snap into the coils for easy storage and accessibility.
Erin Condren Stickers
So what’s the deal with stickers? Honestly, I asked myself this same question when I first started getting into planning. I never understood the obsession with them until recently. Truthfully, they’re not necessary and your Life Planner comes fully equipped to keep you organized without any additional stickers (plus they include free stickers in the back). With that being said, after finally caving and using stickers (I avoided them for a long time) I must admit that they have helped me stay even more organized than I was before. As a result, my final verdict is that the decorative stickers are optional HOWEVER the labels, note pads, and customizable ones are a must-have for me.
Customizable Event Stickers
These are my absolute favorite stickers. In fact, if you get any accessories, I recommend these the most plus they’re only $2!! I’m actually ordering new ones this week because I’m almost out of on-call call stickers. I use these custom labels in my monthly calendar view so I can keep track of days off, test days, on call days in the hospital, photography days for the blog, and when I have to go to my second school campus. Surpisingly using stickers doesn’t take as much time as I thought it would. For instance on first day of my current internal medicine rotation, once I got home, I made sure to spend 5 minutes labelling all my on call days in my calendar. It was super easy and quick to do. And the plus side is that now, I don’t have to worry about keeping track of my on call schedule and can spend my energy remembering other things.
The best part about these stickers is that they’re so cheap ($2) and you can change the colors to your liking! If you’re interested in designing your own, you can do so here!
Erin Condren Life Planner Stickers (in the back of your planner)
So if you order a spiral Life Planner, it comes with free sticker pages in the back, an extra plan for it pocket, which includes a bunch of free goodies, and a folder in the back.
I absolutely LOVE the stickers and labels in the back of the Erin Condren Planners. It’s crazy because I never used them in my past EC Planners and I finally started using them this year. In fact I’m mad I threw out my old planners (you guys know I hate clutter) because I could have ripped out the sticker pages to use this year.
The stickers in the Life Planner are BEAUTIFUL and the colors pair perfectly with the colors inside the planner. I tried to capture the pretty metallic accents but my camera doesn’t do it justice. I use these stickers to highlight things, create one-off events, label pay day (for my tutoring job), and so much more (see the pic above of my July monthly view to see what I’m talking about).
These stickers also include labels that look like the Customizable Event Stickers but they’re not pre-printed so you have to write on them. I ran out of my custom green stickers so I used a few of these to tide me over until I order more customizable ones. I use these mostly for one-off events. I prefer to have my recurring events pre-printed.
Also as you can see above, behind the sticker pages is a double-sided folder pocket that is built into the planner. This is where I hold my customizable event stickers, stamps, and a calendar print out of my schools exam and vacation schedule.
Monthly Sticker Book
So I went against every thing I originally believed in and ordered a sticker book and I chose the 2017 monthly sticker book option (there’s several you can choose from). So when I first started using Erin Condren, I noticed that people would spend HOURS decorating their planners with stickers. I originally thought that this was frivolous and a waste of time. HOWEVER my best friend (who is also a medical student) admitted to me that she actually decorates her planner 1x per week. She has different themes for each week and uses stickers that matches whatever theme she chooses. She spends about 30 minutes decorating, labelling, a and planning for the upcoming week.
I finally caved and tried this out and I’m eating my words. I don’t know why but it’s actually really therapeutic to decorate my planner. My friend has a ton of stickers so she decorates each week. Personally, I prefer having a lot of white space in my weekly view, so I use most of my stickers as accents and on the monthly pages and because I have this sticker book I don’t need to sift through piles of stickers to figure out which ones I want to use. I usually add these to my planner at the beginning of each month and it takes about 15 min max.
What I love about the Erin Condren Sticker Books are that they coordinate perfectly with the inside of the planner. I’m very anal about everything, so the fact that everything works seamlessly together makes me happy. Below you can see how I used the July sticker pages to add some color and personality to my July pages of my Life Planner.
Erin Condren Sticky Notes & Snap-In Sticky Labels
I am obsessed with sticky notes and sticky flags and use them all the time in my books, notebooks, and planners. I decided to try the snap-in stylized sticky notes because they came in the painted petals color option which matches the painted petals theme for this 2017-2018 planner (I told you I’m obsessed with matching things). Truthfully, I actually don’t reach for these stickers as often. I do use them but definitely not as often as my other sticker labels and the sticky notepad (more on that below).
I absolutely love the sticky notepad though, and I reach for this item a lot. I anticipate that I’ll need to reorder one pretty soon. I use it to write to-do lists, quick notes, or quick lists that I can throw in my wallet. The sticky notepad has sticky paper on the back but I wanted to snap it into the spirals of my planner instead. Thankfully Erin Condren has a solution for that and I attached Coil Clips to my sticky note pad so I can snap it in to the spirals and keep it with the rest of my stickers.
Erin Condren Dashboards
So when I first started using Erin Condren Life planners I got this meal plan planning dashboard for my planner. I did enjoy it BUT my only complaint was that I wished it was a bit bigger so I can fit more on it. I accidentally threw it away when I got rid of last year’s planner. This year I decided to use this wellness dashboard to plan my meals instead. I think it was originally designed to be a meal tracker so you can track your food and exercise, but instead I use it to plan my future meals and snacks.
The dashboards are all covered in a protective clear film and you can use wet-erase markers to write on them, which makes them reusable. I use the Erin Condren wet-erase markers because I wanted a pack of various colors but any brand should work. You can get other dashboards as well. There are some for travel, tracking bills, planning parties, and much more.
This is a necessity for me and I think it is worth the cost. Some people use the pages of their planner to track their meals. But I prefer this and I can use the planner space for something more important.
Erin Condren Colorful Dual-Tip Markers
Do you need these? Well technically no you don’t, but do I love them? Yes, I do. Would I purchase again? Absolutely! If you look at the pictures I shared of my planner you’d see that I mostly use the gray one. I use the other colors to highlight important details and dates that I don’t want to miss. Now that my schedule is a bit busier, I don’t always have my Erin Condren markers on me (I keep these at home so I don’t lose them) so sometimes I have to cave and use a regular pen.
I love the way these write and I love the colors. I think it is totally worth it if you choose to buy these! I wish I could get them separately so I can get a bunch of grey ones. Or another option is I wish they sold a pack of only black and grey markers. Either way, I love these and I’ll be especially sad when my gray marker runs out.
Extra Goal Setting, Inspiration, and Planning Pages
What I love about the Life Planners are that they are filled with extra planning pages, motivational quotes, and notes pages. They also include something called a Perpetual Calendar. In past years I think this was intended to function more as a place to store numbers, addresses, and recurring dates like birthdays and anniversaries. My goal is to use mine to jot down highlights and things I’m thankful for from each day. I was doing good for about a week and then I stopped. I’m going to try to pick up the habit again and see if I can last the whole year!
Erin Condren Hardbound Notebook
Guys I LOVE LOVE LOVE this notebook. I actually usually hate hardcover books (I prefer spirals because they’re better at laying flat) but I love this one. I actually was planning on using it in my white coat pocket (it fits perfectly). But I ended up switching it out because I wanted something smaller that I can just throw in there. I got this one during a promotion (free hardcover notebook with purchase). I wouldn’t have gotten it otherwise, but now that I have one in my possession, I absolutely love it. I don’t use notebooks that often so this one will likely last me a while but if I every needed a good sturdy hardcover notebook, I would consider getting one of these.
Elastic Trio Bands
I almost forgot to include this little accessory. I have the Elastic Trio Bands and I am really glad I have it. I chose the metallic color option so that I can use the rose gold band to match my rose gold spiral. My only complaint is that I wish I could purchase them individually. They come in a pack of 3 and I have no use for the gold and silver bands that came in my pack. I bring my planner to the hospital with me and when I go to study so the band helps keep everything together. If you have a lot of loose papers and items in the pockets of the notebook then this may be a good investment. But if you don’t plan on adding additional inserts or keeping loose paper in your planner then this may not be as essential for you.
I absolutely love my Erin Condren Planner and I use it multiple times a day, everyday. I know this post was long, but I wanted to share how I liked and how I was using all of the various Erin Condren Accessories.
I use everything I shared here (some more than others) but my absolute must haves that I reach for every single day are:
- The Customizable Event Stickers (my absolute favorite)
- The Sticky Notepad + Coil clips
- The Snap-In Wellness Dashboard (I use this to meal plan)
- Colorful Dual-tip Markers (particularly the grey one)
If you haven’t already, you may want to check out my Medical School Organization post, where I share how I write in my planner and how I use it to keep track of blogging, medical school, and my hospital rotations.
If you’re interested in getting your own Life Planner (or other accessories) you can use this referral link to sign up, create an account, and get $10 off your first purchase. Keep in mind that you will have 30 days to make a purchase using this code so if you want to save the $10 for later, perhaps you should create an account when you’re ready to purchase (or you can use someone else’s referral code at that time… there’s plenty floating around google if you do a quick search).
Anyone else organization obsessed like me? Let me know some of your favorite tips for staying on top of things in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Thank you to Erin Condren for partnering on this post.