Best Laid Plans

Best Laid Plans Ep #39: Midyear Planner Switchup & Review of Erin Condren Softbound Weekly

April 19, 2021

In this episode, I give everyone struggling with #plannerfail permission to switch. Kidding obviously – no one needs my (or anyone’s!) permission! But I did decide to make a midyear switch after spending ~5 months in the Wonderland 222. (Which, by the way, I still think is an amazing system!)

I honestly switched because a) I got tired of writing my full daily layout basically from scratch (precipitated by getting a copy of the Day Designer and realizing how much easier a templated layout can be sometimes) and because I wanted to write a little bit bigger & use gel pens without smudging which I absolutely cannot do on Tomoe River Paper, sadly. (I’ve tried many!).

The completist in me was also slightly irked at myself for not using every layout that W222 has to offer.

SO! I am now in a Day Designer / Erin Condren system, and today I will share some pix of the EC Softbound Weekly! Guess what — their site isn’t selling any Life Planners right now, so I cannot link the actual product. However, the 2021-2022 editions are out soon and they honestly look amazing — and there are multiple size options, which is really exciting. I will link once they are available!

If you are ready to order and would like a coupon code, leave me a comment with your email (or send me an email – here) and I would be happy to send you one for $10 off!

Pic of my system, as it usually sits during the day when I am home:

Daily on top, weekly on the bottom.
EC Softbound Weekly, Rose Gold cover, neutral layers inside
have not finished this spread yet! But I will. Those dots were an experimental way to mark vacation, but they did bleed through a bit. I used Zig Clean Color which is a very bleed-prone pen in my experience.
PEN TEST. Almost no bleed through other than the brush pens!
I have not completed this yet either, but I like the 12 boxes. Could be for 12 months or 12 areas of life. I like how they are blank!
Monthly dashboard! I love this layout. A little structure but so much flexibility. THANK YOU EC for not labeling so that users can decide how to use the space!
Example weekly. Where the magic happens . . .

The weekly spreads are, as expected, the most heavily used. I really like this hourly layout, but they also have vertical (3 boxes in classic EC style) and horizontal, all of which look quite functional. I really missed having my to do list on the left of my weekly calendar, which was always my practice in the Hobonichi as well. It seems like such a small thing, but I really prefer it.

So there you go! Cost = $35, though I got mine for $17.50 because I ordered it in March (they were 50% off!).

Other Products Mentioned:

Erin Condren Dual-Tipper Markers

Marvy Le Pen

Did anyone else feel the pull to switch planners mid-year? (Does April even qualify as midyear?) Happy Monday!

Episode Sponsor: Today’s episode is sponsored by Pineapple Escapes Vacations and their Travel Tidbits Podcast, out every Monday!  Let the experts help you plan a vacation with lasting memories! 

Leave a voice comment or question!


  • Reply Jen April 19, 2021 at 9:34 am

    Not so much that i want to switch but more that i am not using it the way i intended – it’s still helpful but more about missing ‘normal life’ – by now i would usually have the summer completely planned but here in Ontario (Canada) we are still fully locked down. Anyway, it will happen and my Plum Paper is still so useful but … i am ready to go back to ‘precedented’ times.

  • Reply Alyce April 19, 2021 at 10:23 am

    I recently switched from the Wonderland back to the Hobonichi cousin for a couple of reasons. I wasn’t doing any of the tracking that made me want the Wonderland in the first place, I found I really prefer the vertical rather than horizontal to do list area on the weekly pages, and I really really really missed having dated days where I can plan out things needed on that date. Like making a grocery shopping list on the day I’m going to be going grocery shopping, or making notes of things I need to bring up in meeting on the day the meeting will happen, or writing out packing lists for trips I plan to take later on this year. I forgot how much I valued that after a year where so few advance plans were made. I nearly never switch planners mid year – as someone who likes keeping their completed planners for sentimental reasons, switching planners undermines that – but since I previously purchased the 2021 Hobonichi and had it on hand, I moved back. But since I’m anal about

    • Reply Alyce April 19, 2021 at 10:39 am

      Meant to say at the end, that, because I’m anal about not switching/recordkeeping, I’m actually considering copying my calendar from the beginning of the year from the Wonderland to the Hobonichi. Grossly unnecessary, but an easy task to do next time I find myself watching tv.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 19, 2021 at 10:51 am

        Wow that is such dedication! I actually have no desire to do that but I might feel differently if I kept my planners. At this point I’ve switched so much I consider them generally disposable (I will keep select important ones and my 5 year journal of course!)

        • Reply Grateful Kae April 19, 2021 at 4:51 pm

          Just chiming on since I also use the Wonderland now and on the contrary, I feel happy continuing with it! Specifically about the To Do lists on the weekly pages…

          I keep my master/ ongoing to do list in Google Tasks (which is always open on the side of my Gmail browser). Then every week I actually utilize the very top of the weekly Wonderland 222 spread (the blank white space on the very top- ABOVE the dates) to jot down my major upcoming to-dos for the week (yes, it’s pretty small- but I can fit about 3 in a column x4 columns across if needed- so at least 12 items- and I rarely even list that many. (Like I said, I have master to do list in Google Tasks/ electronic all in categories- so this section really just gets my top of mind/high priority items anyway- not usually more than 12!).

          THEN, I use the bottom section, where you were listing your to do lists in categories for Work, home, etc to dos for my DAILY to dos- top 3-4 things I need to do that day (for each day, of course).

          This works perfectly for me! I love having the kind of “master brain dump list” at the top, and then each morning I can use that bottom space for a clean slate/ list for that day only. Wish I could insert a pic but hopefully that makes sense. 🙂

        • Reply Alyce April 20, 2021 at 2:21 pm

          It’s totally overkill, I know, and largely unnecessary given how boring my life has been over the last 3 months. But, I can’t help but feel compelled to preserve the possibility that I’ll enjoy looking back at this planner in the same way I enjoy looking back at the planners I had in college. I like looking back on them in the same way I think Laura likes looking back over her time logs. I can’t even comprehend a world where my planner is disposable, though I’ve always gravitated towards slim planners – my college planners were the small Moleskines. I’m pretty sure I’d be singing a different tune if I preferred big and bulky planners like the Day Designer.

  • Reply nicoleandmaggie April 19, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    Like I said on a previous thing, I plan to switch when the 2021-2022 academic calendars come out– that seems like it will be a good time and will fit with my year. Currently I have a small moleskine weekly calendar and a large blank moleskine. I hope to consolidate the two into a Passion Planner, but we’ll see!

  • Reply Morgan April 19, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks for another great episode!
    I am a busy stay- at – home Mom to 3 kids about to change up my planner as well. I can not seem to find a weekly /monthly planner that provides a full page spread for notes prior to the full page calendar spread. The Day Designer weekly is almost perfect for my needs but the notes section is not within the specific months tab and it’s driving me crazy!
    Can you suggest a planners that really allow a deep dive into monthly planning! (My favorite !!). I love to set monthly goals, shopping lists, kids needs, my clothing etc needs.
    Thank you!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 19, 2021 at 2:21 pm

      Why not the EC? The dashboard page I showed is monthly with a blank lined page for monthly goals!

      If not – could customize a plum paper or golden coil to contain even more notes pages after each month, I think! (Or for ultimate flexibility a ring or disc system!!)

      • Reply Morgan April 19, 2021 at 8:49 pm

        Thank you ! I just ordered the EC on Amazon at a great price. I’ll report back !
        Plum Paper and Golden Coil look so fun. Will definitely be investigating further!

      • Reply Morgan April 21, 2021 at 3:31 pm

        Omg just got the EC and I love it !! Must admit I am not crazy about her font but I can deal. I ordered the A5 but given the great price I might try the 8×10 out too. Thanks for the tip!

        • Reply Morgan April 25, 2021 at 11:26 pm

          Loving the 8×10 EC!
          Question: I need a bullet journal (dot grid) companion notebook to go along with my main system. This will hold my longer term thoughts and planning ideas across home, self and kids. I like each of these areas to be in separate sections but I can’t find a dot grid notebook that has tabs or sections.
          Any ideas ?
          Thank you !!

    • Reply Helena Murphy April 19, 2021 at 3:32 pm

      FYI Amazon has many A5 and 8×10 Erin Condren 2021 12-month monthly/weekly planners 50% off

      • Reply Morgan April 19, 2021 at 8:50 pm

        Thank you !

    • Reply Amber April 19, 2021 at 4:14 pm

      Morgan, have you checked out Plum Paper? It is highly customizable with the ability add notes pages, budgeting, meal planning, etc. Plus you can make the start month whenever you choose and you get to select the 12 months, 24 months, etc.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 19, 2021 at 6:41 pm

        I LOVE the layouts of Plum Paper. I do not love how smooth and smudge-prone the paper is. But many people love it!

      • Reply Morgan April 19, 2021 at 8:51 pm

        Thank you! I will definitely be looking into Plum in greater detail!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns April 19, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    I used EC years ago when they first became popular. I thought never again, especially after all the issues revealed last year. But you have me maybe rethinking that. I’m still leaning towards the W222 because I am a small writer and Im right handed so the smudging wouldn’t be an issue for me. I am using a bullet journal right now and have been since 2017! So I am not prone to changing approaches/systems! But I got pregnant in 2017 so my life has been in flux as I have adjustment to having a child. So I think next year will be the year I feel ready for a true planner!! So excited as you’ve introduced us to so many great products!!

  • Reply Rebecca Hindin April 19, 2021 at 11:10 pm

    Would love an EC coupon code! TY!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 20, 2021 at 5:53 am

      Emailed to you!

  • Reply Jeary April 20, 2021 at 4:37 am

    Spring seems to be a good time for switching things around. 😉

    Suprisingly, I am pondering getting a bigger daily planner. It was more of an experiment to order an A6 Hobonichi for this year — I considered myself more of a weekly person. After a few months I find that I use the daily pages especially in stressful times — it calms me to plan my tasks for the days of the week and then, on the day itself, to only see the scheduled tasks (and not the flood of other things that needs to be done over the week).
    But: If used this way in a consequent manner, an A6 page feels quite small — the task planning does not leave much room for “Things that were great today…” and the other positive stuff that I do not want to omit.
    But woah, it feels bad to abandon the Hobonichi, in the end it was quite expensive. (I guess I will keep checking ebay if someone tries to sell their second book of the A5 Avec… or try some print-outs… or just keep scrolling online shops…)

  • Reply Jenn April 20, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    I follow this lovely EC influencer named Saray Plans on Instagram. She is fabulous and always responds to my DMs and I think she would be a fun guest for your pod!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 20, 2021 at 2:55 pm

      Oh i LOVE her stuff!!! She would be a great guest. Good idea!!!

  • Reply Jenny April 20, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    I know you mentioned that you hate writing on such a small planner, but I actually prefer the A6 size for portability and was wondering if you would ever consider an episode on smaller planners or people who prefer small?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 20, 2021 at 3:54 pm

      ooh that’s a fun idea! one of my bffs will only use small planners. Her go-to is currently a Weeks but she definitely would NOT lug around the ones that I am willing to 🙂

  • Reply Alison April 20, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    I really like your current EC. I am surprisingly happy with my $10 planner from Amazon this year but would love an EC coupon! Thanks!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 20, 2021 at 7:16 pm


  • Reply Vicky April 21, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    I tried the wonderland 222 as well, and right around as you posted this episode, I was starting to feel the same that the setup required every week/month due to the emptiness of the pages was just too much for me. I found that I was spending more time that I really wanted to dedicate to setup and it became a burden, unfortunately. I really need to just fill things out and go. Not create columns, etc every week to get started. I’m too time crunched and don’t want to take time away from other things that I enjoy more. I understand some people love the setup and artistry, but that’s just not me, I’ve realized! I can’t find this on their site anymore, so I’m ordering from Amazon. There’s a few left.

    • Reply Vicky April 23, 2021 at 3:46 pm

      OMG, so I just could not get a hold of the weekly layout with the times of day in the weekly layout that you got. Arg! But I did get the weekly with the morning, midday, and evening blocks, and I think that could actually end up working out well for me since I do primarily use my google calendar for all of my scheduling. I’m thinking I’ll be able to use this to just generally layout what my obligations are for the week and I’ll see how the week is feeling in terms of busy-ness and all that jazz. I’ll report back!

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 23, 2021 at 7:56 pm

        The 3 vertical box layout is actually VERY functional. If I could only use ONE planner (ie no daily) then I probably would use that! I really like the hourly for an integrated visual view of the week. I am hoping hourly will come in softbound and A5 size (for the most compact version) but not sure it will!!!

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