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Warning: This is a long-ass post. It’s mostly pictures, though. And they’re somewhat decent pictures for a change.
If you’re familiar with my weirdness you know I’m kind of obsessed with planners, especially lately. I recently made my own, and while it was hella fun and had a lot of potential, the one I made ended up being way more entertainment than tool. There are certain things I need from a planner, and I didn’t think I’d find them all in one place.
Enter the Erin Condren Life Planner. I’d seen people rhapsodizing over these things all over Pinterest – they’re the kind of thing that people make YouTube videos of themselves unboxing. The ECLP looked like it might just be perfect, but it’s also expensive (actually it’s no worse than a leatherbound Filofax when all is said and done, and even a nice Day Timer will set you back quite a bit at Office Depot), so I hemmed and hawed until one day I just bit the bullet and ordered one.
Customizing the ECLP is a popular pastime among its worshipers – the structure of the planner lends itself to endless personalization for whatever way your life works. People have come up with ways to change the headers and add in pages, to make them pretty in a thousand ways (mostly involving stickers and washi tape). I bought a pack of sticker paper and was off to the races.
Here, then, is a look into this amazing book that now occupies an enormous chunk of space in my bag. (It’s crazy heavy, but really no worse than the DIY one I made after I’d glued a million pieces of paper in it.) Down below I’ll list some of the supplies and shops I ordered to play with.
One of the cool things about the ECLP is that you can change the cover – they’re heavy-duty laminated and spiral bound, but you can remove the covers and switch them out really easily. And you can get a cover with pretty much anything on it; I liked the premade designs, but a lot of people have photo collages of their pets and kids and so forth.
I was making a planner charm for a friend, and decided to do one for myself as well – I started with a premade one I ordered from Etsy which, unfortunately, arrived broken. (Easily fixable with a pair of needle nose pliers, as are many things in life.) I ordered a bunch of charms and hooked them all together as a dangly thing; I was afraid I’d hate it or it would get caught on stuff, but so far I love it. It gives me something to fiddle with.
My planner was an 18 month – you can get either 18 or 12 for a $5 difference. June, however, had already passed by the time I got it, as had July, so I ripped both months out (this also helps make a little extra space to accommodate all the extra stuff I put in) and covered the front page with cardstock. I pasted a Smash pocket over that; the planner has a very nice pocket in back, but I wanted one in front too. Then, I made a menu planner and grocery list holder; I printed it out and used those self-seal laminating pouches, then the coil clips you can buy with your ECLP to add things to the planner. (There’s also a DIY version, linked below, which is better for less important items.)
Unfortunately the color of the menu came out horribly – I will probably make a new one later, but I hated to waste the supplies so I kept it for now.
All throughout the planner I’ve used double-stick tape and a glue stick to add in quotes and images I love, as well as pre-bought stickers. I want every inch of this thing to be me.
Now, this is what the weekly spreads look like before they’ve been futzed with. There are sections for morning, day, and night; and a spot at the bottom for notes, quotes, meal plans, exercise records, whatever. But I, like many people, don’t really need all three of those sections just for my schedule, so I came up with a different approach.
I made sticker boxes to cover the bottom two sections, and made stickers to cover the titles; the measurements of the sections are easy to find online (told you, people love to customize this thing). There are lots of stickers like this you can buy already made if you don’t have a printer or don’t feel like going to the trouble.
This is this week’s layout, partially decorated; it’s Tuesday as I write this, so obviously not much is filled in. Color coordination and weekly themes are popular among ECLPers, but I’m mostly just going for “fun and pretty” right now. I haven’t been filling out the self-care sections like I should, but I’m still getting used to all of this organization.
Also here you can see the awesome bookmark/ruler that comes with the planner. It snaps in and out and also makes a great guide for punching holes in other things to add to the binding.
The back section of the ECLP has both lined and unlined note pages, a pocket, a plastic zipper pouch, and a removable insert that acts as a perpetual birthday and event calendar. I had no real need of the latter, so to save bulk I took it out and wrote in my birthday list in the notes pages. I also added this bill tracker, made in Excel and printed in similar colors to the planner. It’s got two additional pages to cover all of 2015.
On the left is a selection of washi tapes; carrying rolls is a pain, so I just stuck strips to a page and they can be removed and restuck elsewhere on a whim.
You know me and lists – I’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest looking at planners and what I’d add to mine, and decided to put in a few in the notes section, like possible blog posts and a place to record books and such I want to look for. I printed the titles out in the same font as I used in other additions.
The unlined note pages are all decorated in the designs you can get for the planner covers; this is one of my favorites. I put in this list and added the Buddha from Sinfest (I just love the Bood) to add a bit of Zen.
Lastly, the inside back cover; the zipper pouch is full of stickers and paste-ins, but I added everything on the right – cards with important numbers, and two library pockets I colored in with Distress Ink to keep my planner stickers in. The top has things like shopping, cleaning the cat box, getting my period, and writing deadlines; the bottom is full of weather stickers. I put each in a handmade envelope and stuck it in the pocket so it can’t come open.
You may not have seen my stickers – over on my Etsy shop, I’m actually selling a couple, a set of Pagan holidays and another of weather icons. They’re my own artwork, and very cute.
Here’s a list of things and places I gathered for planner playtime. I’ve really enjoyed making my ECLP my own – in six months it might be a different story, but right now at least it’s damn near perfect for me.
The official Erin Condren 2014 intro video
DIY Coil Clips for Erin Condren Life Planner
How to make ECLP labels using your Cameo (a die cutting machine – but the awesome thing here is below the video where the host gives you all the measurements for the labels)
EC Coil Clip hack – this woman has some great ideas for getting the most out of your coil clips.
Etsy Shops for ECLP Goodies:
Petunia Paper – inserts and reminder stickers.
Organized Stickers – Daily section title stickers, checklists, exercise & habit trackers
Happy Zakka Life – dear God, the washi tape!
Karolina’s Krafts – lots of adorable reminder and habit tracking stickers.
TeeChic – elastic bands to keep your ECLP (or other planner) closed; I have a TARDIS coming in the mail.
Bohemian Findings – the charms I used on my dangly business. Very inexpensive and there are a million kinds, including pentacles and other spiritual goodies.
Pretty Sang – handmade planner charms, keychains, and the like.
Lastly, here’s my Pinterest board dedicated not just to ECLP but to planners in general: Planet Plan-It.
If you like the idea of a planner you can customize but don’t want to spend the money, all you have to do is search on Pinterest for “free planner printable” and you’ll be amazed at what you find. There are also lots of DIY versions on Etsy that have a similar look to the ECLP but are cheaper (usually because you print them yourself). My main problem with most of them is that I don’t want a binder – I wanted a tight, coated spiral binding because I’m left-handed and those hard binder rings are just no fun for writing when you’re sinister.
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