Simplified Planner vs Day Designer: Planner Comparison & Review

When I reached out a couple of months ago asking what planners you were interested in seeing me review, a lot of people mentioned both the Day Designer by Whitney English and the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley.  I’ve been hearing a lot about these two planners over the past year, so I picked up the 2015 releases of each to have a look.  They’re quite similar in terms of design, size, and style, so I thought they would be perfect to not only review but also compare.


From first glance, both the Day Designer and Simplified Planner look very similar.  They are both practically the same size and are constructed the same way with a heavy duty cardboard cover and an almost identical double brass coil.  They even both share matching gold corner protectors.  Both planners include two-page monthly spreads and day on a page calendars for 2015 with monthly tabs on the side.  The calendars themselves are structured similarly with minor organizational differences, which I will explore more thoroughly in each planner.  They also cost roughly the same.  Let’s take a look at each planner separately to see what each design offers.

Day Designer by Whitney English


The Day Designer is designed by Whitney English, a creative entrepreneur who closed a successful wholesale stationery business back in 2012 to dedicate her attention to Day Designer and helping people organize their time and realize their goals with her Authenticate process.  The 2015 Day Designer is her third edition.  I picked out the limited edition gold stripe back in August when the planners first went on sale.  While this cover is no longer available, there are eight other beautiful designs available right now.  The Day Designer is primarily sold through Etsy and costs $59 plus shipping.  The planner ships internationally, but be sure to check out their shipping policies about customs and import taxes before placing an international order.


The Day Designer arrived on my doorstep approximately one week after ordering.  It came in a plastic overwrap and was also wrapped in decorative tissue with a velvet bow.  The planner measures 9″wide (from the coil to the edge) x 9.25″ long x 1.25″ thick (at the coil).  It weighs in at just over two pounds.  It is constructed with a heavy duty cardboard cover that is coated to wipe clean.  It is bound with a brass “Wire-O” binding.  There are gold corner protectors for reinforcement.  The interior of the planner is lined in a teal coated paper.  There is a horizontal slip pocket on the interior of the front cover.

The planner pages are printed on 50 pound white paper.  The Gold Stripe (shown) and Black Stripe January 2015 editions are printed on off-white French Paper Co. stock.  There are eight worksheets included in the front of the planner, which are designed to “challenge the user to dig deep and uncover the important elements that are core to their personal brand.”  Beyond that there is a two-page spread 2015 year-at-a-glance calendar for planning.  There is also a 2016 planning calendar located in the back of the planner.  The Day Designer is made in the USA.


The bulk of the planner is dedicated to twelve months of dated pages.  The planner is divided by month, and includes monthly dividers on card stock with gold laminated tabs that stick out slightly along the long edge of the planner for easy reference.  Each month begins with the two page monthly spread calendar, which is designed with minimal decoration to maximize space.  The monthly calendar is clear and provides a lot of room to write.  There is a small section on the top righthand side for monthly goal planning, as well as the Whitney English Authenticate Challenge on the bottom left to help guide you through the process.  Purchase of this planner allows you access to monthly Authenticate Challenge worksheets and a year-long subscription to the exclusive private Day Designer planning community.  Please note that holidays are not notated in the calendar.

The daily pages follow the monthly spreads.  A page is dedicated for each weekday while weekends share a page.  There is quite a bit of time management guidelines built into the design of the daily pages.  The top of each weekday page includes a checklist for Today’s Top Three and smaller sections for Due, Dinner, Dollars, and Don’t Forget.  The bulk of the page is for the daily schedule broken down into two columns: the left column is a timed schedule from 5 AM to 9 PM and the right is for Other To-Do’s.  There is a large margin on the bottom left of the weekday page for Download, which I am assuming is a place to brainstorm, and a smaller section just to the right of it for Daily Gratitude.  The weekend page is split down the middle between the Saturday and Sunday schedule from 5 AM to 9 PM.  The top margin of the weekend page differs slightly from the weekday design with a space for Fun Things To Do, What Worked, What Didn’t, Next Week, and Don’t Forget.  There is still a large Download space in the bottom margin and a Weekly Gratitude box instead of a Daily one.  The only decoration on all of the pages is an inspirational quote in small type on the very top of each page under the date.

Simplified Planner by Emily Ley


The Simplified Planner is designed buy Emily Ley, a self-taught designer who created her stationery and product brand to “help women focus on what matters most by building simplicity and joy intentionally into their lives.”  Her business also includes specialized coaching and mentoring for designers.  I believe the 2015 Simplified Planner is her fifth edition (although I couldn’t find anything to verify that).  The evolution of Emily Ley’s design and concept for this planner is very interesting to follow on her blog.  The current edition is available on her website in three designers, including Happy Stripe (shown), Navy Dot, and Pink Key and costs $58 plus shipping.  All three designs are available in the daily format.  She also offers a weekly edition in the Navy Dot design ($42).  The planners are available internationally, but buyers are responsible for any customs or import taxes, which you can read more about here.  Emily Ley also offers great free printables on her website.


My Simplified Planner arrived within a week of ordering.  The planner comes packed in a plastic overwrap.  It measures 8.75″ wide (from the coil to the edge) x 10″ long x 1.25″ thick (at the coil) and weighs in just shy of two pounds.  Like the Day Designer, it is constructed from a heavy duty cardboard cover with protective gold corners.  The design is vibrant with gold foil detailing.  The surface is smooth but is not coated like the Day Designer.  The planner is similarly bound with a double brass coil.  The interior of the planner is lined in the brand’s signature navy and the front interior includes a slanted reinforced slip pocket.

The planner pages are printed on thick white paper (I don’t know the exact weight of the paper although it feels thicker than the Day Designer pages and I can use my felt tip pens on it without bleed through).  The Simplified Planner is a bit simpler in design and organizational structure than the Day Designer.  There are two worksheets in the front of the planner with guidelines for time management.  It also includes a 2015 at a glance calendar, although there is no room to write.  There is also a 2015 Bucket List checklist included.  One of the most notable differences between this and the Day Designer is that the Simplified Planner comes with a built in gold elastic band.  It is printed and bound in China.


Just like with the Day Designer, the bulk of the Simplified Planner is dedicated to twelve months of dated pages, starting in January 2015.  Unlike the Day Designer, however, the Simplified Planner does not include monthly divides.  The colorful monthly tabs are laminated and popped right onto the monthly spread calendar pages.  The month on two pages spread is large, clear, and easy to navigate.  There is a section for notes on the lefthand margin.  A previous month and next month at a glance calendar is included on the top right margin as well as a small inspirational quote.  Major US holidays are printed on the monthly calendar pages in a light grey banner.  There is no 2016 planning or at a glance calendar included.

The daily pages follow a slightly simpler layout than the Day Designer as well with a few less bells and whistles in the layout.  Each weekday is given a full page and the weekends share a page.  The weekday pages are broken down into two major columns, with a large timed schedule section from 7 AM to 7 PM on the left.  The right column is split between a checklist To Do section and smaller boxes for Notes and Dinner.  There is a small inspirational quote included on the top right margin.  The weekend page is split horizontally between Saturday and Sunday.  Each day is given a Today scheduler with lined spaces for am, lunch, and pm as well as a smaller To Do checklist area.  Saturday includes a Notes section and Sunday has a Weekly Prep checklist.  There is space to write A Happy Memory From This Week as well as a small inspirational quote on the top left margin.

A Note About the Coil Binding


I find both of these planners to be beautiful, functional, and easy to use between their aesthetic and organizational designs.  One thing to note, however, is that the brass coil binding that is almost identical on each planner is not extremely durable in my experience.  Both planners came to me packaged well without visible damage to the shipping packages, and yet both planners exhibited signs of wear on the coil almost immediately after opening before actual use.  The top and bottom coil seem particularly vulnerable.  The state of the coil impacts how easy it is to open the planner and turn the pages.  If I were carrying this planner around in a bag on a daily basis I would be very careful of how I pack and place it to protect the delicate coil.  The only suggestion I have for each company to enhance their planners is to use a sturdier coil.  For example, the spiral coil of my Erin Condren Life Planner is the most sturdy, durable, and well made one I have ever seen on a notebook style planner.  If the Day Designer and Simplified Planner were constructed with something as sturdy, they would be flawlessly designed, in my opinion.

Check out my coordinating video if you’d like a closer look and to hear my thoughts on each planner:

I wanted to share the joy of these gorgeous planners, so I picked up two of each to give away to four of you.  That’s right, there will be FOUR winners!  The Day Designer vs Simplified Planner Giveaway will run until Friday, October 24, 2014 at 6 PM CT.  The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter.  Two winners will receive a Gold Stripe Day Designer and two winners will receive a Happy Stripe Simplified Planner.  You chose which planner you would like in the event that you win when you enter the giveaway.


You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways).   I’ll announce the winners on THIS blog and post contact the winners directly through email.  Good luck!


Congrats to the winners of the Day Designer vs Simplified Planner Giveaway

The Poll Results for *Which planner would you prefer in the event that you win?* out of 2226 entries:

Day Designer (1357) 61%
Simplified Planner (869) 39%

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties.  If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

Both the Day Designer and Simplified Planner are gorgeous agendas expertly designed to help with time management.  Even though they are quite similar in design, layout, and price, their differences lie in the details and it’s a personal preference that is the deciding factor in choosing between the two.  I am so happy I was able to learn a bit more about the two amazing women who created these lovelies and look forward to seeing where their journeys take them and their brands.  Check back next week for another planner comparison style review!


* All items shown, included the giveaway prizes, were purchased by me.  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are genuinely my own. *


48 thoughts on “Simplified Planner vs Day Designer: Planner Comparison & Review”

    1. I talk about that a bit in my video. They’re totally different layouts (daily vs weekly spreads) which is why I didn’t do a full comparison.

  1. Thank you so much for the giveaway. Your review was so helpful. I used Erin Condren last year, and wanted to try something new. These were the two that I was trying to decide between.

  2. Thank you so much for doing a review on the simplified planner! i just ordered their home organizer binder and look forward to receiving that in the mail. I would love to win the simplified planner! I really appreciate your opinion and thorough review on the planner:) have a nice weekend!

  3. I’ve probably never been more excited about one of your videos before. I’ve been obsessed with the Day Designer since about April (despite not being fully convinced yet that it is the best one for my needs) and have been wondering since then what your take would be on it. Thank you so much for the video and post!

    1. P.S. I have read every Day Designer review I could find and I don’t remember any being as detailed as yours. Thank you for going in depth and providing specific info.

  4. Thank you so much for your detailed review. Both are very similar and nice looking. I like how you go out of your way to share your thoughts on these planners, very detailed. Also, thanks so much for your generous opportunity for us to enter to win these nice planners.

  5. Thanks for reviewing these two planners in such great depth – very helpful!
    Interesting that they are quite similar. I love that you weighed them for us too 🙂 I guess because it’s a hard cover it’ll be heavier.
    I really love the Day Designer planner – I think that one would suite my planning style best! I also of course love that’s it’s made in the USA and not outsourced to China 😉

    Looking forward to seeing more of your planner reviews/comparisons, especially the Erin Condren one!

  6. thanks for the chance to win! I have put together my own planner from different supplies at staples, but would love to try one of these out!

  7. Hi Jen, I am a big fan and I am thrilled that you not only did this review, but pointed out the weakness of both planners which I totally agree with. If they used a similar coil to Erin Condren I would be over the moon. 🙂 I suggested this to Emily Ley, I hope she implements it for 2016.


  8. Thank you for introducing us to the Simplified Planner and The Day Designer! Like most of us, I love options when it comes to something so personal. I do love my Erin Condren Life Planner, but would also like to try the Day Designer. I love the neat little extras included in the design.

  9. Hi Jen!
    I successfully completed my first quarter of college and I’m currently in the process of decorating of my new bedroom. I posted some pictures of the before-look/”in-progress” on your Facebook page and I was wondering if you’ve seen them? If you enjoyed seeing them, would you be interested in seeing some pictures of the “after-look” of my new bedroom? makeover? Thanks so much for the links to your Thanksgiving videos and blog posts by the way! My aunts and godmother both really appreciate it! When will you be posting a Trip Recap blog post from your trip of Italy?
    Thanks for being such an amazing inspiration for me during the past couple of months!
    Take care
    Katherine M.

  10. Jen, I love your videos. Have you seen the Daily Greatness Journals?
    I don’t work for them or anything I just happened to stumble upon them. They are like a planner and journal put together. They have a yoga, training, or regular planner. It sounds like you might like their product.

  11. Hi! I stumbled upon your site in a mad search to find my next planner. I’ve used the greenroom planners from Target for years and just found out they’ll no longer be printed. I like the look of the Erin Condren, but don’t care too much for the morning/afternoon/evening format of the weekly spread. Also, the price is a big leap for me (greenroom planners were roughly $10 for the 5×8 I believe). I was wondering if you knew or have heard much about PlumPaperDesigns? I really liked that you could choose the format for the weekly spread. Any input you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

  12. I liked your review. I am looking for a daily planner and I also prefer individual weekend days as my husband does not work a traditional week Monday-Friday. My weekend is friday and Saturday. Next year may be different if his schedule changes, do you know of a daily planner (not weekly) that is setup that way?
    Thank you very much!

  13. Just thanking you again for the comparason video it was so worth it I am undecided this help me and if I win then the choice would be made I’m a fan!

  14. Thank you so much for providing a detailed review of both of these planners. Based on your review (and Kristina Werner’s review) of the Erin Condren planner, I bought one for use this year. There are quite a few things that I really enjoy about the EC planner, but I find that I run out of room far too quickly with the week to a view layout. I will probably keep using EC for my crafting, art, social event etc. planning, but am hunting for a day-to-a-page planner for work/study. I really like the Day Designer and think that it will work well with my planning style, but want to see your other planner reviews before I commit to a new one. The detail you go into for the reviews is so helpful. Thanks again and also for the opportunity to win one of these planners; it is very generous of you.

  15. Just wanted to say I love your Erin Condren planner, don’t know if it’s the time of year (it’s nearly bonfire night here in England) but it reminds me of a firework!!!

      1. Well I’m moving away from my Filofax next year and have bought a super cute little diary that’s full of hedgehogs and owls – I’m just filling it in with birthdays etc., right now!

  16. Thank you so much for doing this amazing review!! It’s wonderful and has been really helpful to our customers too! I love your suggestions and we are definitely taking them into consideration for 2016. Keep up the awesome work!! 🙂 xo Emily

  17. Great review! I’ve been watching both of these for a while. I was going to go with Emily Ley last year, but when she debuted her new planner version, it seemed like a Day Designer knock-off. I used EC instead, but I’m thinking about switching to Day Designer this year! Thank you!

  18. Thanks for showing these planners in such great detail. I can see a couple of things that are deal breakers for me that I might not have known about otherwise. I can’t stand planners that assume that you don’t have much to write on Sat and Sun – I do MORE on those two days than any other day. And the printed “weekly prep” part of the Simplified Planner is just so annoying – I would much rather have that space back so I can write my own things.
    Thanks for this series of posts. It’s definitely on my mind at this time of year, and it’s so difficult to find just the right planner that fits my way of doing things.

  19. Hey, thanks for these great reviews. I am deciding between these two.

    Have you been in touch with the companies regarding the coils? It is the one thing holding me back from buying one- if they get ruined, then I won’t have easy access and turning.

    Also, since these are so similar, a comment here got me thinking– is one an original, and the other a knock-off?

    1. I haven’t spoken to the companies about the coil, but I think it’s a common request so they’re probably looking into it. I don’t think that one of these planner’s is copying the other…there’s a limited number if ways to set up a calendar when you think about it so some are bound to be similar.

  20. I purchased the Emily Ley for this year but very disappointed in the binder. I just think for the price you pay for these things, they should be more sturdy. I am going to try something new for next year. Enjoy your site and your reviews as well, Thanks !!

    1. Yes, that’s my only real complaint about it, too, the coil just doesn’t seem sturdy enough. Otherwise it’s a beautiful and well designed calendar!

  21. Thank you so much for the thorough review. I am looking for a 2016 planner/notebook and found this after looking at the sites for both of these. Love daily/monthly layout but, sadly, those coils are holding me back. The search continues…

    1. I have the 2015-2016 Simplified Planner and the coil was made better for this new year. I have no issues with it, it’s very sturdy!

  22. Love this review, it’s so detailed! Thank you for taking the time to do this. I ordered the Day Designer, because i felt like as a wedding planner and entrepreneur, it would work especially well for me, and so far I love it!

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