Shocking no one, the Simple Elephant is incredibly simple in both structure and function. By reducing clutter on its pages, this planner aims to reduce clutter in your mind as well. It’s undated, which means you can jump in at any point in the year and skip weeks for vacation without losing pages. Customizing it and filling in the dates as you go can also help you feel more connected to the process while minimizing any worry about when to use it.
This planner has a smooth leatherette cover in matte blue, and weighs in at a very portable 12.3 ounces. It’s soft but durable enough to take some dings and scratches. The pages themselves are not flimsy, and an elastic strap keeps the planner closed during transport so you don’t have to worry about bent or damaged pages.
This is the only planner we picked that doesn’t have a daily page with space for hourly scheduling. Instead, it features a two-page weekly spread with a few lines per day. (If you’re looking for something with more space for daily pages, try the Lemome planner, which has a dedicated page per day with a column for tasks and a column for hourly scheduling. The Lemome is structured for productivity, but there isn’t really enough space to use it as designed.) The Simple Elephant’s choice to go with a weekly spread means it can fit an entire year into one sleek book. This makes it the inexpensive planner to help keep your mind on your goals.
The Simple Elephant planner has an equally minimal philosophy: top of page, top of mind. The top of the first page of the weekly spread has a large box titled “Goals For This Week,” which you can fill out on Monday, or Sunday if you plan ahead. The second page of the weekly spread includes two boxes marked “Successes” and “What I Can Do Better” which you can use at the end of your week to reflect on your wins and areas for improvement. These boxes are not huge but do provide space for notes, and their location at the top of the page makes it easy to flip back to review past accomplishments and build on what you’ve learned.
You will have to do a little work before getting into this planner, but even this is pared down compared to the prep work required of other journals. In the front, you fill out a page with a list of what you’re grateful for and some affirmations. This way, if you’re feeling unfocused when you look at your weekly spread, you can flip right to this section to inspire yourself. On the opposite page is a list of five goals for the year. Again, this makes it easy when you’re planning your week to remember just what it is you’re working toward. The planner has three bookmarking ribbons so that you can pick which pages you would like to be able to easily turn to, eliminating the time you might spend frustratedly searching for a specific page.
The next two pages might seem hokey: a vision board and a mind map. This space is unlined, so you can use pens, markers, or colored pencils to depict the things you want and the way you approach them. The creators of the Simple Elephant claim that this engages “both sides of the mind” for maximum motivation, and reviewers seem to agree! But you’ll want to do a little thinking before you get creative there, since this is a yearly journal and the pages are not easy to remove.
The simplicity of this planner helps cut through the overwhelming feeling of working out how to achieve what you want. While that means you won’t have space to plan your day on an hourly basis (something you could supplement with, say, Google Calendar), for this price, you can’t beat it.