Planning is becoming more and more popular in the UK, but it's the American YouTube channels I am subscribed to which first introduced me to planning and organisation on the level of the popular Erin Condren range. For over a year now I've had my eye on the planners, particularly the coveted Life Planner, but being an American brand I was always weary of ordering and being hit with custom fees.
Over Christmas I decided to take the plunge, taking advantage of a 15% off Boxing Day offer and being persuaded by one of my favourite bloggers and YouTubers sharing her own Erin Condren Life Planner, finding it impossible to resist. I headed over to the site, made my order - personalising my planner to suit me - and waited patiently for it to arrive.
The ordering process
There are tons of beautiful designs in the Life Planner range and if I'm honest, all of them caught my eye, but in the end I wanted to go for the simple design of the Honeycomb Life Planner ($50) - although I do wish I had order an alternative inter-changeable cover for those times when I want something bolder and brighter.
When it comes to personalising your planner you have quite a few options. First things first, the layout. The classic Life Planner layout is vertical, with horizontal and hourly being newer options available. I opted for vertical as I really like the way it's split into three, meaning you can either divide up your day into three sections or use each section for something different. I use the top box for family/life planning, the middle box for blog plans and the bottom box for 'other'; things I need to remember, little tasks and appointments, you get the drill.
Something else you can personalise is the colours of your covers, and whether or not it says anything. You can add your name, initials, even a quote. Now, this is where I made a mistake - the first picture of this post shows the way I wanted the colours of my planner to be and I had personalised it with my name. Upon arrival I realised I had selected the colours the wrong way around, so instead of grey with peach detailing, it was peach with grey detailing (like you can see in the last picture). The upside is that as the covers can be changed, I simply swapped them out, turned them over and popped them back in. It does mean that the front cover doesn't have my name and has the Erin Condren logo which should be on the inside of the back cover, but I'm not fussed. I was quite annoyed by my mess up at the time but now it doesn't bother me in the slightest, it's not like I need reminding what my name is anyway!
Ordering was very simple once I had selected and personalised my planner. Using the discount code was also super easy, as I find some websites can be really tricky as to where to put the code, how to make sure it's applied correctly etc. I was sent a confirmation email straight away and my profile on the Erin Condren site let me see the expected dispatch and delivery date.
There are two delivery options for those ordering to the UK. There's a 8 - 12 business days delivery which costs $19.95 or a quicker 5 - 8 business days delivery option for $39.95. I opted for the cheaper delivery, purely because I wasn't too bothered about it taking longer and I was happy to spend half the cost to get it within 2 weeks.
The original dispatch date was going to be January 4th but in the end it was sent out much quicker, being posted before the end of 2015 and actually arriving on January 4th. As soon as I had ordered it to the moment I received my dispatch email and expected delivery date, it was pretty much all I could think about. The excitement was intense!
Now, it's important to mention that Erin Condren very, very clearly states on the website that they do not cover any import/custom charges. That said, I asked a both bloggers I knew who owned the Life Planner themselves as well in general on Twitter, to which tons of people replied, and no one had been hit by any customs charges. This left me feeling pretty reassured that I too wouldn't receive any charges, especially as I was making an order significantly smaller than the ones I was being told about at the time from others who hadn't been charged.
So, imagine my surprise on January 4th when UPS knock on my door to deliver my package and ask for £20. Now for starters, I don't carry cash. I never have cash on me, certainly not £20, I use my cards for everything. My first reaction was to question why I had received custom charges and the poor UPS guy just looked at me blankly. I asked if he had anyway to take the payment via card and he said no but he could go and come back, gave me a number to call and make the payment over the phone, and he'd return with my parcel in 30 minutes. Cue me calling UPS and a whole faff trying to sort out payment. I asked UPS why I had been charged and they said "Any package from America over £15 incurs customs charges". I queried this and stated I know people had spent more than me and not received charges, so why had I? They assured me "That can't be the case, as everyone who orders above £15 gets charges unless covered by the company who you've ordered it from". Obviously this isn't the case, because I know of at least a handful of other bloggers who haven't received charges.
Unsurprisingly this put a real dampener on my excitement over my Life Planner. Had I known I would be getting customs charges I would have taken that into account when ordering it and I wouldn't have been so surprised, it wouldn't have bothered me. But because I didn't know, I wasn't expecting it and I also didn't expect it to be so much - coupled with pregnancy hormones on overload! -, it really ruined the excitement for me. So much so, I left my planner for several days before starting to use it.
It did take me a few days to sit down with my planner, go through it all and start using it. I was still pretty annoyed about the unexpected customs charge which had taken the shine off of things, but once I did start going through it that excitement quickly returned and I was a bit like a kid at Christmas!
When I first opened it I felt it was a touch smaller in size than I had expected from watching reviews on YouTube, but now I've been using it for a month it is absolutely the perfect size and any bigger would be too big. I also think it is set out amazing well; the sections are all neat and concise, there's enough room for everything you could need to include each month as well as extra pages for notes and adding anything extra in. Each month starts with an inspiring quote and has it's own colour theme and there's some great additional extras at the back such as the 2 Sided Pocket Folder which is great for keeping important notes or general bits and bobs in. I keep some of my larger stickers, the little notebook which came with my planner and some inspiring quote postcards which came with the January Birchbox.
At first I wasn't too fussed about the idea of adorning each page with stickers and so the first 3 weeks of January were just written in as normal, but then the lure of stickers and themes took over and I now have a lot of stickers from UK Etsy sellers, and even have the whole of February now sticker'ed'up and ready to go! I'll be sharing an Etsy sticker haul shortly, so make sure you keep an eye out! I store all of mine at the back of my planner in the handy wallet which came with the planner (and the only bit unfortunately that isn't moveable!).
Would I recommend an Erin Condren Life Planner?
Quite simply, yes. Although I was really annoyed by the unexpected charges and it did take away the shine at first, I am well and truly obsessed! I love that I can keep organised and on top of so many different aspects of life, I love the way you can make it fun and interesting with stickers and personalising every aspect of the planner to your own tastes. I really love the overall design and layout. I've never come across anything like it in the UK and I really, really hope Erin Condren branches out to the UK soon so that they are easier to get hold of - especially as I love the sticker and accessories range they stock but can't justify an order just for those unfortunately.
If you think an Erin Condren Life Planner might be for you then you can click here to sign up to the Erin Condren website and receive $10 off of your first order! You need to make sure you sign up via that link for the discount to apply though, but registration is super easy and of course, you don't have to pay a single penny to join the site!
Are you a fellow planner addict?