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The Happy Planner for Real Life

Are you familiar with the Happy Planner?

It's a solid planner that is well known by, well, people who love planners?...

Admittedly, I am one of those people. If you are reading this post, I am also assuming that you are too. Or you want to hear the opinion of someone who loves planners.

Either way, I'll continue on.

In the search for the perfect planner that helps in daily/weekly/monthly planning and organizing of your time, I think it helps to hear some information on planners out there to help determine if it may meet your need.

Because I am one of those people who love continuously evaluating my tools to keep organized and because I love planners, I will do the hard work of trying out some and let you know what I think of them.

The Process for Evaluation

I asked a fellow planner lover to join me in the process of using the Happy Planner and then talking about the best parts of it along with where it didn't quite hit the mark for us.

We both used the same Happy Planner for three months separately and then came together this last fall to discuss our opinions.

Disclaimer #1: All reviewers here have children, which in itself requires tracking of things for other people. It also adds a complexity factor that may not be present for you. Just putting that out there.

Disclaimer #2: Neither of the reviewers rely solely on a paper planner but instead use a combination of paper and digital tools to keep organized and tracking on our important things.

We committed to using the planner for a solid 3 months in order to speak to its advantages and potential disadvantages. We will outline both of those and you can decide if it may work for you.

What We Chose:

Classic Happy Planner (Vertical Layout) - 18 month

As you can see, it's lovely. Simple graphics and fonts.

Let's look at the practical design of the planner and what is included.

Size: 7 inch x 9.25 inch

Price Point: $30

The design that I chose has a 'Let Go and Grow' cover. The planner is spiral bound, which I personally prefer, and it has a laminated, sturdy front and back cover.

There are monthly tabular dividers for quick access to a monthly view.

For each month included, there are several different views:

Monthly Planning Sheet: It has a monthly planning sheet where you can identify 3 of the month's priorities, important items and a half page for notes.

2 page layout Monthly Calendar View: This design is a 2 page spread for the monthly calendar

Weekly View: On the weekly view spread, there are 3 "rows" for each day that can be used for tracking on whatever makes sense for you (personal, family, work, meals, workouts, etc.).

What We Love

  • Design - There are tons of design variations, both layout and aesthetic options available (stickers, add on sections, etc.). This makes the planner both visually appealing along with being super functional. I have included more options worth mentioning below the review just so you get a sense of some of the variations available.

  • Flexibility - The Classic Happy Planner has a planning page, the monthly calendar view and a weekly layout for daily task tracking. The different layouts offer the ability to track different levels of information across the month. Each of the reviewers tracked different information on this sheet so it's definitely flexible. Here's how I used them:

    • Monthly Planning Page - tracking of high level priorities for the month

    • Monthly Calendar View - tracking of family schedules

    • Weekly Layout - tracking on my personal, family/home and work tasks

  • Page size - The size of each page allows for entry of information that is readable. There is a good amount of space to write on each type of page. In smaller planners, you can't fit multiple items in a single day on the calendar view.

Ignore my chicken scratch but you can see that I can get quite a bit on a weekly page.

What We Don't Love

  • Overall size - This thing is thick - I mean, it includes 18 months of weekly tracking sheets. It's not exactly a grab and go format. We started mid-year and I naturally thought that we would love this planner so it would be great to have both the remaining months of 2023 along with 2024.... may have been overkill. It makes for a bulky planner. In the future, we would opt for a 12 month planner to keep the weight of the planner much more manageable.

  • No included bookmark - Of course you can purchase one separately but a quick flip for easy access to the current week and work would be much easier with a bookmark included.

  • Notes pages - Right or wrong, we like to store some general purpose information in our planners as the year goes along. There simply aren't enough blank notes pages available in this planner for doing that.

  • While we like that there are planning pages, I do much more planning than would even come close to fitting on this little planning page. I'd need quarterly planning and monthly planning pages....many more. There may be an extension pack that could be added in to meet this need but frankly, I like my current process and didn't look further into existing options here.

  • The weekly layout rows were difficult to decide on what to track where. Honestly, there are some very cool weekly layouts in some of the other specialty planners that Happy Planner has available. Want to track your mood for the day? Want to track your workout for the week? Want to track budget and spending for your week?

Other Notes

It would seem that some of the things that we loved about the Happy Planner are also some of what we didn't love about it.

We chose the classic vertical layout and it is very basic.

......Maybe too basic for someone with opinions on what they need in a planner.

The ability to customize what you need in a planner though is a major benefit. The classic layout that we reviewed here is highly functional and aesthetically neat. And you should peruse the options to choose one that offers what you need.

There are many, many other layouts that can be chosen based on your focus for the year or design preferences (budgeting?, food prep?, guided journal, wedding, baby, Disney).

If you take a look at the Happy Planner website, there are oodles of add ons as well that include extension packs, filler paper, bookmarks, stickers (for days) and printables.

Just know what you get in each layout and customize where you have specific needs.

We recommend taking some time to review all those options because going with the classic vertical layout without any add ins, left us wanting a bit more.

The point is that you can pretty much make this planner be what you want it to be. And that makes it a winner.

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