28 May 2014

Review: Life is Crafted Planner Inserts

Life Is Crafted, is the enterprise started by Arienne Gorlach back in 2012. It has made quite a name for itself with a wide range of inserts being made available to buy in PDF (Print Yourself) or in pre-printed formats.

Looking through the Life Is Crafted website I get the impression that Arienne and I both suffered in a similar way for a long time... constantly looking for that perfect planner insert that suited our needs but couldn't buy it, so we made our own.

Arienne says on her site:
We aim to give you the inspiration to dream, plan and schedule the life you want so you can LIVE IT OUT!
I'm sure you will agree after you have seen the planner pages that you will be able to do all of these things!

Recently Arienne contacted me and offered to send me a set of her inserts to use, naturally I'm always interested to see how different inserts are designed/produced. I was a bit surprised when a large package arrived in the mail this week with four versions of the Life Is Crafted 2014 inserts in day per page and week per view formats in both A5 and Personal size!

These are the two sizes available from Life is Crafted. They are available as PDF's that you print yourself, or as printed pages. The pages are printed on high quality 80 gsm weight paper.

I'm going to take you through the A5 size inserts and compare the Day Per Page and Week Per View (Week on Two Pages) formats.

The first thing you will notice is that the day per page insert is quite a huge stack of paper compared to the week on two pages inserts.

Fortunately it has been designed with being able to separate the months out and there are month tabs. So just loading say three or four months should make it more manageable.

But I had to try it in my 30mm size Malden... it just about fits... but not comfortably... 'so don't try this at home!' 6 months worth should be more than enough I would think for most people. Then as you complete a month load another month so may be keep the last 2 months, and the next 3 or 4 months live in your organiser. 

So we start with the introduction page on the Day per Page insert.

The reverse side is packed with information about how to get the most out of the Life is Crafted planner and how to connect with the team at Life is Crafted.  There is then the 'owner' page.

We then have 'Important contacts', being at the front of your planner these will always be easy to find.

Similarly, accounts and information. This could be utilities and suppliers information, again things you might need in a hurry.

Password reminders, with important tips as well you will notice. The tips are an integral thing of the design of these inserts and you will see them on most pages as we run through them.

Part of the whole philosophy behind the Life is Crafted Planner is to make you think about your path in life, and this is where you get started on that path with a summary of your goals and your intentions for the year.

Then a description of your 'Ideal Day' as you can see... mine is very empty!

A set of Master To-Do Lists, which offer short and long description boxes is a useful feature. You can divide these up as you wish. Personal, Family, Work etc. or any way you would like.

Goal planning is then very neatly broken down and presented in a way to help you set yourself some meaningful goals and to guide you through the process and meet your goals.

Projects can be a variety of things from re-landscaping your garden to emigrating to a different country, big or small it helps to break these large or small projects down in to series of tasks.

We all have routine repeating tasks we do each week or month. So record those here. This helps you see where your time is being spent and how you can squeeze more in to any day.

Special dates, is your master list of birthdays each year, fill it out once, up date it periodically and you are set for each year.

Plenty of space for each day to have something recorded in it. February even has 29 days in it, so you can use this for leap years as well as ordinary years.

The calendar page has 2013 and 2014 on the reverse side of 2015 and 2016, so you can do some long term planning easily. The facing page has space to record those events and appointments beyond this year.

And then we start with a month divider, these are made from quite thick card with plastic tabs There is a strip of plastic reenforcing plastic on the reverse side too so they will last you many years.

Each month starts with setting your goals and important things for the month, and some reminders at the foot of the page too.

Then there is a month on two page calendar to give you an overview of the month.

And then a monthly review sheet to complete at the end of the month.

And here we are at the day per page diary pages. As you can see the day and date is nice and clear in the corners. The appointment span and space should be big enough and wide enough in range for most people I would think.  There are then spaces for notes and to-do's for each day remember. Reminders sit at the top of the page, so birthdays and other important things can go in there. Tracking could be used for heath information or progress on projects etc.

Thirty one day months are padded with a notes page to end on an even numbered page. This ensures that you can file away past months easily.

Then after December 31, there is a Dates for Next Year section.

Followed by a Gratitude List, I know I have a tendency to forget things like this in the context of when it happened. So collecting them together like this is a bonus and helps your memory.

Life's highlights and Life Lessons, will help you form your life in a better way and set better goals in the future.

I did it!! All about stuff you accomplished no matter how big or small!  As well as people and things that help you on the not so good days.

We then come to a series of lists with tips on how to fill these in on each one.

Listing your friends as well, honest I do have friends... I didn't get to list them!!

To finish off there are then pages to list the following:
  • Gift List
  • Places visit or to visit
  • Books
  • Films and Shows
  • Music
  • Websites
  • Bucket list of 101 things to do in my life
  • Blank check lists 
  • Notes. 
Yes.... we got to the end of this thirty something millimetre pile of paper! I didn't photograph all of the pages as you can see, I figured your scrolling finger needed a rest!

Now turning to the Week on Two page version. The design of the pages is similar I've not tracked every single difference. But the main difference of course is the actual diary insert pages themselves.

And here is a double page spread in the middle of a typical month.

So as you can see each day gets its own column, this is divided up in to a blank check list at the top, then the appointment area, then priorities and to-do's and remember at the foot of the page. The very right hand column balances the page layout with priorities for the week, a blank notes area and 'gratitude' at the bottom right hand corner of the page.

I like it that each day gets equal space. I'm not so sure that the rest of the space on this A5 insert has been used as efficiently as it could be. This will of course how your typical days split between tasks and appointments. I'm sure some people might need more room for appointments than this design allows for as it is currently laid out.

When a month changes at some point in the week, the diary insert doesn't allow for this, it just continues to flow from one month to the next as shown here between June and July.  Despite this though there are still monthly calendars and monthly 'dreams' and review pages included; they just don't appear quite where you expect them to appear. In this example below (July) we have the last day of June separated by six other pages from the rest of the month.

There is however a huge size difference between these two in A5 size the day per page including dividers measures in at 32 mm thick, the week on two pages a much reduced 18mm thick including the same monthly dividers.  As I indicated earlier it isn't intended that you hold a full 12 months of the day per page inserts in your A5 organiser, and nothing except a 35 mm Van der Spek will get close to holding all of the pages and dividers... that is if you are happy to carry around 815 grams of paper plus the weight of the organiser! Mind you the week on 2 pages tips the scales at 500 grams.

These inserts are not printed on light weight thin paper... so fountain pen and other 'wet' pens shouldn't be too much of an issue here!

If you want something lighter, how about the personal size day per page... only 450 grams! for the stack of pages that is 34 mm thick, including the monthly dividers!!

So moving on to the personal size in both formats. The first thing I noticed is that the personal size isn't just a rescaled version of the A5, the proportions are totally different. The designer has taken the trouble to design the inserts around the proportions of the personal size page format, but to keep the same layouts were possible, but adjust them to suit the smaller page size.

For instance the year planner on the A5 is a double page spread with six months on each page. The personal size year is spread over 4 pages with 3 months on each page.  It is attention to details like this that convinced me that a lot of thought has gone in to the design of these inserts, making the most of the different page sizes and proportions.

To re-cap here is the A5 day per page design shown across two days:

And here is the personal size:

Notice how the 'tracking' area is shifted across to be under the other task areas. This allows the appointment boxes to be a reasonable size and not be too cramped to write in. For some reason the order of the columns is different too, although I can't see any disadvantage or advantage for either really. The layout of the day and date also allows the better use of the smaller page too.

It is only when you look at the two side by side you notice these little changes.

The personal size week on two pages goes for a totally different layout compared to its A5 big brother. Again one month flows in to the next, but I actually think this is a better layout compared to the A5 one.

As you can see the design is so much simpler than the A5 version and I think the personal size layout would work much better in actual daily/weekly use.

Here is the A5 again:

When comparing the two I can see why this is my least favoured of the four designs. For me it is just too busy! I like the simple well structured layout of the personal size week on two pages of these two.

As with all diary inserts you have to make the decision as to what size you are going to use, then decide what format to use. Sometimes it's possible to mix formats. Some formats adapt better than others to this.

Before deciding which size or format to use, you should try out a size and approximate layout for a couple of weeks on ordinary paper. This applies to any brand/type of diary insert not just the Life is Crafted ones. You will then have a better idea of which one is best fit for your needs.

If you choose to go the Life is Crafted route, I think you will be making a good choice, there is lots of help already built in to the inserts in the way of hints and tips. Arienne herself has got lots of tips on her website too to help you make best use of the inserts. She's a great 'life coach' as well.

I don't have a recommendation as to which size/format you should choose, my requirements will not be the same as yours... you need a size and format that meets your needs. And this range of inserts has different styles I think to match most peoples needs in one way or another.

Thank you to Arienne for the samples. Be sure to visit her website at Life is Crafted.


  1. Thank you so much Steve for your thorough review! I wholeheartedly agree that everyone is unique and different people have different planner needs :) Haha, and yes, I don't recommend anyone carrying around a whole year worth of inserts at a time - save your back and shoulders :)

    Here's to crafting more of a life you love, whatever planner folder or inserts you use!

  2. Thank you Steve for this review. Very good review! I was looking at the inserts of Life is Crafted. Your review makes it easier to decide if I would like these inserts.

  3. God, this is so hoooooot! Thank you!!

  4. Great review! Now to decide which size...I am very tempted by personal size which would necessitate the purchase of a Malden :-)

  5. I love the life is crafted. I am currently using a mix of these with the DIY inserts in my personal. I love her tabs and extra planning sheets. I also purchased the a5 set which are currently being used as a health and fitness tracker in my A5 Chameleon. The goal sheets are perfect for this purpose.I do wish I had not waited so long to purchase them before now.

    1. Yay! and double yay for A5 Chameleons! So glad you're enjoying them and they are helping you with what you want to achieve.

  6. Great review, and I love this planner! I'm better at using a planner for day-to-day organization than getting the big picture, and this has it all in one system!

    1. Yay for all in one system (well for a lot of things anyway!). Steve did a really great review - so thorough and thoughtful. It must have taken him a lot of time and it is so nice to see that there are so many (including me!) that appreciate it.

  7. Thanks, Steve, for your thorough review. I have the LIC A5 week on two pages, and although I absolutely love all the additional pages--the goals, monthly review, and the like--I find that actual week on 2 pages far too busy for me. I need more space for appointments and blocking out time each day. It helped me find out that I need/want a much more minimal design for planning my week and a lot more white space than is included. The week on 2 pages would probably work well if that's the only planning pages a person wants/needs, but I keep notes on a lot of the other sections included within other sections of my binder. I wonder if it would be possible to buy just the packet of other pages/inserts that Arienne designs. They're lovely and really helpful for me.

    1. Hi Cathy! I'm working out if I can do the other pages by themselves - I'd love to, it's just down to time and resources like most things :) So glad they've been helpful for you!

  8. I have to jump in and defend the A5 week on two pages - It is my favorite layout! I used Planner Pages "funnel system' for years, but the size and paper quality just didn't work for me. I was so happy when I discovered Arienne's product. I use the A5 week for my planning, and the personal day per page for daily scheduling. It is a great product! Thanks for the review.

    1. Thanks Judy! A5 Week on 2 Pages is my absolute favourite too :) It really helps me plan the week and priorities and gives a really valuable overview for my life. I also use a DPP for more detailed daily planning. So glad you love it too. Everyone's planning works a little different, I guess that is why there is a gorgeous range of different pages out there.

  9. I just ordered the A5 week on two pages and finally, I have found what works for me! Everything just fell into place with these inserts and I will most definitely purchase these for 2015.

    1. Thanks Shan :) I'm starting work on the 2015 collection soon, so expect an email asking for suggestions shortly. That is truly wonderful that things are falling into place.

    2. I look forward to it.

      These inserts "Just Work". That is what it is...they work!

  10. Hey Steve, great review on what looks like a really nice system.

    I was reading along and hit this sentence.."Part of the whole philosophy behind the Life is Crafted Planner is to make you think about your path in life, and ..." And then I said to myself in response, yeah but what if you already know your path in life? Or what if you are at the point where you are not aspiring to be the next CEO Siemens? Or Apple? And the kids are LONG gone from the nest?

    Which then led me to ask you a question. In your travels across the web, have you come across a set of inserts that are NOT targeting 20, 30 40 somethings? That look more towards us in the Boomer generation? Those of us who actually will SAY they are a Boomer...:)

    You know, something in slightly subdued colors (read not fuschia), slightly dignified (maybe some scrollwork and nice fonts) and artful (no fairies please) at the same time?

    No no no don't tell me to do it. I have no artistic talent. Maybe someone would take it up some day.

    Anybody find anything like that out there??

  11. I have used these before and they were lovely. I had the print at home ones and even with my terrible printer they still came out lovely.

    1. Oh the joys of printers :) Glad they worked anyway!

  12. Thanks for sharing. These are beautiful pages and I love all the goal setting and analyzing pages. Very cool. Heading to the website now to take another look.

  13. Thanks for another view of the inserts. I have not gone the day planner yet. Still trying to decide what size I need the larger or smaller one? maybe both. I have been trying to see what would work for me and I have seen a lot of great choices and thank you for having this blog to guide us who don't know what they want. I for sure know more now than I did months ago. I can for sure use a day planner, it would make my life a easier. Thanks for the postings.

  14. These are wonderful pages. I may need to try these for next year. I love the styles offered and the layouts--everything just seems so me! Thanks for this great review. :)

  15. These look my kind of inserts. Love the personal week on two pages for the same reason you do. Might have to look into something similar for my A5...

  16. These are very nice planner inserts, and I've just reordered the mid-year printed Personal set for my OH. Arienne is lovely to deal with, and I get brownie points :-D

  17. These look amazing. I am soo going to take a look at these! I love the simple design of the personal but I only have an A5. haha.