On the Quest for Simplicity with Emily Ley's Simplified Planner | Do Say Give

On the Quest for Simplicity with Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner



Emily Post once said that the attributes of a great lady may be found in the four S’s : Sincerity, Simplicity, Sympathy, and Serenity. I think I am fairly good at four of those attributes, but I have to admit, simplicity is a hard one for me.

I know I’m not alone in struggling to lead a simple life amidst a culture that esteems busyness. As a wife and mother of three children, I am constantly trying to pare down my life. One way I have done this is by not letting my children sign up for too many activities outside of school because, frankly, my husband and I are our greedy with our family’s down time. Another way I have tried to simplify my days is by trying to be at home more by managing my errand-running more efficienltly. And long ago I gave up my designer agenda for my iPhone calendar, assuming that my life would be so much more organized with the help of technology.

This last one is where I went terribly wrong.

After a few years, and a few children, the iPhone calendar just didn’t cut it for me, so I upgraded to a fancier calendar in the app store. That didn’t work for me either. Over the past year I think I’ve bought three different calendar apps trying to find the perfect one. I’ve tried color coding all my children and synching our calendars to every device we owned. But instead of making me feel more organized, my calendar ended up looking like one big Tetris game and made me want to burst out into tears on a daily basis!

Note: if you are studying this calendar closely, the Botox on 4/9 was not for me! (My daughter has to get it for congenital muscle issues…)

What’s worse is that I often entered the time for upcoming events incorrectly and would be so embarrassed when I would then show up for those events 15 or 30 minutes late! I think being a refined, gracious person means that you are so thoughtful of others that you would not take advantage of their time or keep them waiting needlessly. So being late several times this past summer pretty much sealed the deal: I needed to go back to a hold-in-your-hands day planner.

About this same time, I randomly stumbled upon the Instagram account of Emily Ley, the designer of the Simplified Planner. Immediately, I felt like we could be best friends (in a non-stalker way!). And, if that was the case, she probably understood my life and, therefore, could probably design a pretty good day planner. The photos Emily posted of her Simplified Planner were so appealing and, even better, simple. Each day had its own page with an hour-by-hour calendar, a to-do list, and a spot for planning that night’s dinner, plus a thought-provoking quote at the top. And that’s it. Succinct, yet sensible.

emily ley2
Photo credit: www.emilyley.com

Lovely, isn’t It? Here website describes it perfectly: “It’s everything busy, intentional women need, and nothing more.” I was sold.

Photo: Megan Mueller-Weaver Photography

But you know what’s funny (and so typical of my jump-the-gun personality), since the calendar on the Simplified Planner doesn’t begin until January 2015 – and my “Type A” self really wanted to start the school year with a planner that started in August – I hastily bought a planner from another popular company, one that several of my friends use. But when it arrived in the mail, I knew immediately I had made a mistake! It didn’t feel as effortless as the Simplified Planner.

So do you know what I did? I promptly sold that day planner on my local Facebook online yard sale and ended up buying my first Emily Ley Simplified Planner! I am waiting patiently and excitedly until January to begin using it (although I’m already filling out 2015!).

I think you will LOVE the Simplified “Day” Planner, too, and here’s why:

  • You can manage your to-do list and plan your dinners for the week! (No additional to-do list pads needed!)
  • 7am – 7pm hourly schedule to plan out your day
  • Monthly calendar view as well
  • Your pen won’t bleed through pages because they are a nice weight
  • Inspirational quotes to start each day
  • Available in three fun color options

Order Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner here.




Photo Credit: Megan Mueller-Weaver Photography//www.meganmuellerblog.com

(I was not compensated or sponsored for this post).

**Facebook Giveaway Ends Friday, September 5, 2014 at Noon CST; color of planner to be determined **

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105 thoughts on “On the Quest for Simplicity with Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner

  1. What a beautiful website you have! I try to simplify my day by trying to stick to a schedule and routine, and stay willing to adjust when life calls for it! Have a great day!

  2. Wonderful Job sweet Lee! I try to simplify by planning the week ahead on Sunday nights, so we have fresh what is happening the upcoming weeks and who needs to be where and when!

  3. I try and simplify my life by taking it one day at a time, but that’s too often hard to do! I also use a planner, but this one just makes sense- definitely going to buy one for 2015!

  4. Love this site! Thank you Lee!! I’ve started cooking and freezing meals for those busy nights! Planning ahead helps us eat healthy, simplifies activity filled evenings, and reduces stress on Mama!!

  5. I have done the same thing! Downloaded every calendar/to do list app that exists and none have really done what I needed!
    I simplify my day by prepping Sunday night for the week!

  6. I love your new blog, Lee! I am trying to get our family “game plan” (including meals and activities) organized for each new week on Sunday evenings. Knowing what is coming up for everyone in my family helps me feel more organized (this is definitely still a work in progress 🙂 ).

    1. It seems like the Sunday night thing is a good plan for a lot of people. I am going to try to start fresh like that every week. Thanks Clayton!

  7. Great work! Loving your blog. So glad that you posted this. I’ve been getting so frustrated with iCal and even thought about getting the student planner from high school. Ha! Glad to see that you found this instead! Xoxo

  8. Yay for simplicity! This fall I started a loose dinner meal plan of Fish on Monday, Red Meat on Tuesday, Church on Wednesday, Pasta on Thursday, something prepped ahead and baked on Friday, Veggies on Saturday, and leftovers on Sunday. Sounds simple but it is so nice to just have a starting point for each night and know we will have some variety 🙂

    1. Ok I’m doing that, Lisa. You have always been my role model for planning meals- and good ones! Feel free to email your meal plans anytime

  9. LOVE these planners! I simplify my day by starting out praying about the right priorities, then accepting that I probably won’t get everything I “need” to do done, so then I just let it go. Ha!

    1. Wonderful advice! I need to be more accepting of this. If you follow Emily Ley’s blog, she’s really good at showing how to let our to-do lists not take priority over what’s important. Thanks Tessa!

  10. Love your site, Lee!

    My life is anything but simple, but in trying to simplify as much as I can…

    I do the Sunday night prep for the week like others mentioned —

    And I have the same meal game-plan that someone else mentioned as well – each day of the week has a loosely defined meal for both breakfast and dinner – it seems to help me focus in on specifically what to make each day (mon is pre-made casserole, crock pot on Tuesday, soup on wed, etc). So far I’ve had no complaints on serving the same thing too often, so I think there’s something about that routine that the family enjoys as well 🙂

    1. Kiki, you are a role model to so many! I totally need to better at meal planning and make them more consistent- breakfast, too! Thx for sharing!

  11. Love this Lee!
    I make one “to do” list of errands and then each Sunday night go over my week and see how I can most efficiently do what on what day. 🙂

  12. Yay!! This is exactly what I need in my life. I struggle with other calendars that aren’t functional. This is life – simplified. (Eh, hense the name! Ha ha!)

    Love. Love. Love.

  13. The ONLY way I make it through my day is by keeping track of all my activities in my planner (which, may I point out, is no where near as cute as Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner!) Would love to have this planner in my life!!

  14. i had my 4th baby a few months ago and i have learned the importance of simplifying! it’s a daily battle but so important as i’m trying to be a mom to 4 and a wife AND try and squeeze in a little me time. i may have to order one of these tonight 🙂

  15. Love your blog! I spend time each night straightening the house, laying out the girls’ clothes, making lunches (etc) to make our mornings run smoothly.

  16. I’m getting ready to have my 3rd little one so I’m always looking for ways to stay organized! One thing that has made my life a little easier is that we prep the kiddos lunches for the week on Sunday evening. If we are running late one morning I’m not losing my mind trying to fix lunches!

  17. I believe procrastination is what is getting in the way of simplifying my day, so I want to work on cutting that out of my normal routine!

  18. I am such a planner. I think I spent more time on my planner in college than actually doing any of the things I had planned. After having kids I had to stop because I realized with babies I was freaking out way too much if we didn’t do what was listed on my planner for the day. I moved to a wall calendar- which works well, except I can never plan anything while out and about. I’m like you- I don’t like calendar apps. I’m thinking it’s time I can and should move back to a planner. To simplify we do like you, limit activities and try to be very purposeful with family time. We he school, so we get a lot of family time- I’m so grateful for every second! And I’m glad to give the girls a chance to learn it’s ok to not have something planned for every moment!
    Love your blog. It’s been such a blessing to watch what God’s done in your life and how far Maggie has come! Blessings!

  19. Having 4 boys, age 9 to 7 months, is a challenge at times. I always feel busy so I try to plan out our week of homeschool, meals and events on the weekend so that we are ready for the week! Menu planning is a huge help and I can shop on the weekend by myself!!

  20. I currently use a spiral notebook as my planner. My written format looks similar to this planner, it’s simple enough for my needs, but not very sturdy! Excited to try one that the pages won’t fall out 🙂

  21. Like you, I put the limit on the number of activities my kids sing up for, but it still seems like too much. I rely on planning the week of menus ahead of time, and I think that’s been working really well to simplify meal times. All that said, I am still struggling…

  22. I simplify my day but starting every morning in quiet time with the Lord. He sets my priorities and guides me to do what is best for that particular day. Each day that I begin and end with Him is happier, calmer and more serene!

  23. Lee, I love you’re new blog! I try to simplify my day by prioritizing what has to get done and what I’d like to get done.

  24. I’m trying to get better about planning ahead for meals! Hopefully more time planning will help make our day run a little smoother 🙂

  25. Love your blog Lee! These are great topics that we can all relate to:) Since I work, I find that I have to simplify by doing a lot of prep for the morning the night before. I pack lunches, lay out clothes, pack bags for the day, get the house *somewhat* picked up the night before so that it cuts out a few steps in the mornings. I also try to plan meals for the week. My question on the planner…. do you consolidate what Justin has going on for the week there too? Or is it just what you and the girls have during the day? I feel like we don’t have a good system to combine both of our calendars!

    1. So good question. I will put Justin’s stuff in here (like dad’s night or coaching soccer). This is the first year I’ve had a wall calendar, too. I didn’t think I needed it bc I had my own calendar, but ML kept asking me when stuff was and I realized she needed a visual so she could see, “ok, we are going to visit grandparents in two weeks.” I will have to post about my fave wall calendar. But I put the whole family’s stuff on that calendar; it’s really not for me, but for everyone else! (I did try to sync my calendars with Justin’s on the iPhone calendar but he would forget to accept invitations and it never seemed to work for us….)

  26. I’m in my last year of grad school so I am super busy, but I simplify my day by focusing on the most important tasks first. Even if I get interrupted later in the day and can’t complete everything I know I finished the important ones!

  27. I try to simplify my day by finding times to take little breaks. I love to go on an afternoon walk or go grab an iced chai from Starbucks. Taking these small breaks in between hours of staring at the computer really helps!!!

  28. I agree on limiting the kids’ extra activities and on the paper calendar…I never went digital! I always need to see the week ahead on paper. My next step is to try to declutter the house and try to keep it that way!

  29. I shared this on Twitter and follow on feedly and Facebook 🙂 I love. Emily ley she is remarkable and I hope. To simplify 2015 by really making time for my loved ones and being well prepared for each day (especially with meal planning. Love that dinner section!)

  30. Love your blog!! Especially the one on what to do when an invitation says no gifts please—really great ideas! I am a constant work in progress on how to simplify my life 🙂 I do bring the boys’ school clothes downstairs at night so the next morning we are all ready! It helps my mornings go more smooth 🙂

  31. Thank you so much for this generous give-away, I’ve become slightly obsessed with the Simplified Planner and was investigating it when I found your post. My planner is my key tool for staying organized but I really feel the need to make it more clear and simple, so this one will be my 2015 go-to. I love the look, tools and the values surrounding the SP. Your blog is lovely, I’ll be back and thanks again for sharing! 🙂

  32. I LOVE the “four S” attributes. It is worded perfectly, I’m so glad you shared that. I try to simplify my day by having my quiet time first thing in the morning before I begin my day. Having that focus early on gives me a positive outlook for the day. It makes everything so much simpler because it puts life in perspective and reminds me of what is really important – Loving God and Loving People.

  33. I have been eyeing this planner as well to simplify life with 3 little ones. I try to simplify by making a realistic goal for myself the night before for the next day. I try to focus on my children during the day and sneak in that one goal to accomplish either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. A good night’s sleep makes everything a little less hectic as well!

    1. Oh I am with you on the good night’s sleep! And love trying to do stuff before my children wake up (hard though bc mine are early risers!)

  34. This is a convicting and timely question for me, as I feel like somehow life has exploded at the start of this school year and nothing is “simple” anymore! I love reading through everyone’s thoughts and suggestions here and will definitely be picking up bits and pieces from the thoughts above. I have a few thoughts of ways and times i’ve felt like something has made life simpler recently: 1) teaching kids how to play outside in our backyard by themselves and without lots of toys or someone to entertain them (no mess, quiet inside, good for kids, and teaching them how to live simply as well!), 2) the “ziplist” app on my phone for grocery shopping and meal planning has been a gamechanger for me!, 3) learning how to say “no” to the million things that come up that might be fun but also introduce stress and 4) making a game plan every night before bed for the next day. Nothing revolutionary, I know, but still challenging for me!

  35. I adore your blog! As a mother to 3 and a wife I try really hard to simplify by keeping our family as my top priority. I try not to over commit or overbook our schedules too! Simplifying our lives as a family is still a work in progress but I feel like on the days we were successful at it everyone is much happier!!

  36. I simplify my day by making sure by taking five minutes each day to tidy my desk up before I start my day! I heart origination. 🙂 Great giveaway!

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