My History With The Erin Condren Planner

photo48Many moons ago…I think the first year I was the President of the theatre board at E’s high school…I bought an Erin Condren life planner. If you don’t know what that is, then just know it’s a customized (in some ways) day planner and it’s expensive and it’s gotten REALLY popular amongst the Pumpkin Spice Latte drinking crowd. (Which I am heartily a part of, I know.) The cool kids in the planner community (which kinda merges with the bullet journal community in many aspects and both communities ARE DORKY, I KNOW…BUT THOSE ARE MY PEEPS) now refer to it as an EC Planner. If you scroll through the planner tags on instagram, you’ll see that in a lot of profiles to explain what type of planner they use. It was a little bit of an ordeal just to get it, which I wrote about here, but I loved it when it came in. But – as you’ll recall – I was a planner addict. I would buy a new planner, totally adore it for a month or two…fade away..and then buy another one to start over with. However, I swore I wouldn’t do that with the EC because it cost SO MUCH MONEY.

And I didn’t. Quite.

I used it aggressively for at least the majority of the theatre season. It got me through planning a few shows but I always needed something else to carry with it. Like a note pad or a binder of notes. And then, when the theatre year was over? It went the way of the other planners. And I never even considered going back.


And I get it…I do…because I was a planner addict. But it just didn’t work for me. Because I learned that above being a planner addict? I was a LIST MAKING ADDICT. That’s why the bullet journal system of planning appealed to me so much, because it wasn’t about having a stereotypical grid-for-month, page-for-day, type of spread. It’s about a blank book that you just use one page at a time however you need. I have “book release dates” pages and “wish list” pages and “gift ideas” pages and none of that could have existed in my EC Planner. Except if I was smart with the blank pages at the end, which I never was.

I also can paste stuff into my bullet journal in the form of a type of on-the-spot scrapbooking. Like spectator maps from Ironman or theatre tickets from a night out with a friend. I put the kid’s art work in there or documents I might need to repeatedly consult for school. All things not easy to do with the EC Planner…or any planner for that matter. Using a pre-formatted planner means I lose flexibility to tape a coloring page into my journal on a day where I just need to color.

And the best of all? I get a new one when it’s full.

I think part of my planner problem was that I liked the feeling of a “fresh start” that a brand new planner gave me, but practically, you really can only do that once a year. But with the bullet journal? You get a new start when you fill up the old one! I switched to a Leuchtturm1917 from a Moleskin last volume and it has more than twice as many pages so it’s taken me 4 months to fill this one up and I’m itching for the new one which I’ll start in November.

When I stopped regularly using my EC planner, I could have flipped through it and seen things scheduled on certain days and maybe a few notes of experience here and there, but truthfully? There wouldn’t have been any point in keeping it. But my bullet journals sit on a shelf because in their pages are quotes I adore, printed posts I loved from Facebook, my kid’s artwork, my training logs…all peppered between daily To Do pages and monthly calendars.

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So, while an EC Planner might work for someone who is not addicted to writing things down, or saving bits of memories, it didn’t work for me. I didn’t know why for the 15’ish years I spent as a planner addict. I just kept feeling like I hadn’t found the right planner system yet. After EC I kinda gave up since it was so expensive.

I do feel kinda guilty sometimes. It would be like walking into a Starbucks and saying, “I actually prefer drip coffee from Folgers.” (Which I kinda do.) A lot of people in my circle of bullet journal and planning buddies (WHAT? WE GET IDEAS AND INSPIRATION FROM EACH OTHER. LEAVE US ALONE.) love their EC Planners and I hate to be all, “EH! Didn’t love mine.” But it wasn’t the planner itself, it was the SYSTEM. The planner itself was lovely, albeit a little geared towards some sort of female archetype with the “hair appointment” stickers and what not.

This entry is probably only going to appeal to 1 person out there…thank you for obliging me. Every since I started my bullet journal instagram account, and following other similar, I’ve realized how addicted people are to their EC Planners AND I HAD TO CLEAR THE AIR ABOUT IT.

13 thoughts on “My History With The Erin Condren Planner”

  1. I must be that one person! Thank you for this. The EC planner (I know the lingo now!) does appeal to me but I, too, am a list maker and I am just going to stick with my weird electronic calendar and list making in a circa notebook hybrid system I have going on right now. This was a good reminder it is all about what works for me that is most important. (Duh! Why isn’t that always obvious?)

  2. I had the same experience you did, with the EC. I swore it would be the end of my planner hopping, but it just delayed the next one, since they cost so stinking much.
    I need to make lists and doodle and have free form. I’ve adapted the bullet journal into a travelers notebook hybrid that seems to be working for me (knock on wood). It’s not as complicated as I thought I would need. Turns out I was my own worst enemy, making things too difficult and overthinking things.

  3. I didn’t love my EC either and sold it. Then I switched to happy planner which I liked for the customization possibilities. Now I also have an a5 Filofax. Your comment about liking the newness of a planner resonated with me. I get bored quickly and keep switching.

  4. Funny that you were the one who converted me to the Erin Condren (didn’t know the EC lingo). I like it, I don’t love it. I’ve tried to figure out how to use the bullet journal for future planning…you know like “to-do on this date”. It’s not like I sit down and goal plan but I definitely to-do plan for specific dates. The EC planner let’s me have future space for that. I feel like the names are fitting….journal – for the one who can be totally present in their life and capture it like a journal, and planner – for the one who simply cannot remember future things.

  5. I love this post and I’m not even a person who keeps a planner. I’ve always WANTED to be a planner person, but every time I try to start keeping one, I either forget to write things down in it or become so overwhelmed by using it that it becomes impossible for me to use it. You’re my planner/journal inspiration!

  6. I’ve been reading and loving your Bullet Journal posts for awhile but I have SUCH messy handwriting and I was letting that be my reason not to do it. So I bought a tiny 5.5 X 3.5 notebook the other day to see if I would actually use it and I have! So last night I finally ordered the Leuchtturm1917 and am going to see how it goes. I REALLY love the idea of it turning into a kind of memory book with movie ticket stubs and stuff along with ALL MY LISTS. 😉

  7. You should check out the Happy Planner system! You can add and subtract pages and items as you wish (I’m a convert from EC).

  8. That’s me too! I love the IDEA of the planner/journal, but then I forget to put important things in it. Or, I remember to put them in there, but I forget to check it.

  9. I loved my EC planner, and then discovered Bullet Journaling and felt a bit guilty for abandoning it. But, I discovered the planners from http://www.plumpaper.com, and I use mine along with my bullet journal. If I could figure out how to incorporate what it does, I’d just use the bullet, but…what I love about my plum paper planner is the daily sections of planning it allows me. Not sure if the photo will be clear, but the daily pages are divided into seven sections, which allow me to write notes for myself, my husband, my kids, my writing, my travel, and to keep track of the two vaca rentals we have. LOVE IT. /Users/christaallan/Desktop/IMG_2365.jpg

  10. My handwriting is TERRIBLE. If I really concentrate it’s DECENT but I’ll be honest – I re do several pages because it’s gotten sloppy 🙂 But it seems I just like writing stuff, so I don’t seem to mind so much. And I use different colors and stuff so that helps it seem prettier!

  11. You…YOU are my hero for introducing me to the Bullet Journal system and now future planning hack 🙂 I actually bought an ECLP over the summer b/c I saw it in NJ at a local Staples when I went to visit family. I wrote 1 thing in it. I did a Sharpie Pen test on a notes page. I gave it to my SIL. Hope she gets to use it or at least, use it for testing out sticker measurements and such.

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