The last couple of years I’ve tried — and failed — to convince myself I could be a paper person when it came to planning. The story was always the same. I’d buy a super cute Happy Planner (or three) and all the cute stickers, fun pens, and accessories. Then I would use it for maybe two weeks before forgetting entirely about it for another month or two. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes I’d convince myself it was the planner’s format that wasn’t working for me and I’d buy a new one part way through the year. (Spoiler alert: that wasn’t the problem.)
A month or so ago, when I started to think about whether or not to buy a print planner for 2020 — knowing how I failed so spectacularly with my Happy Planner in 2019 — I decided to finally admit paper planners just aren’t for me. I love the customization options and it is fun to decorate them, but if I’m not actively using it it’s really not helping me stay organized. Right? I am who I am, and who I am is a digital person. It was time to embrace it and find a tool that actually fits my needs.
Enter Artful Agenda
I knew there had to be something similar to a print planner in terms of customization and aesthetic, but I just didn’t know what it was. So I did what I do best and headed to Google to see if I could find something to fit my needs. I tried *SO MANY* different products, but none of them were what I wanted. At least until someone on Twitter recommended Artful Agenda. I swear I heard the Hallelujah chorus when I opened it for the first time after signing up for the trial. It was exactly what I was looking for.
My spread isn’t super fancy, but I wanted to give you a peek anyhow. This view shows five different calendars and only really gets weird on New Year’s Day. I don’t use an abundance of stickers, but I love the option. I at least try to use them to mark special events. Or football games. 😂 (Not that the two are mutually exclusive, you understand.) It looks great on my iPad and iPhone, too.
Features I Love
Artful Agenda is a powerful app that offers a lot of customization options and views. Like a paper planner, it’s more than just a calendar. It can also be a to-do list, meal planner and, well, just about anything you want it to be.
The Technical Stuff
- Browser-based for the computer
- Mobile app (FREE with your subscription!) available through the Apple Store and Google Play
- Syncs with Google, iCal, and Outlook
- It’s easy to adjust a couple of calendar sharing settings in Google to access multiple calendars (personal and blog for yours truly)
- Daily and weekly to-do lists (priority tasks added to your daily to-do list also show on the weekly view! No double entry!)
- Fully-customizable lists! (I use them to track ARCs, among other things.)
The Fun Stuff
- Sticker packs
- Different (and adorable) covers
- Assorted handwriting fonts (all of which are so, so much neater than my own writing in a paper planner!)
- An abundance of colors to pick from to color-code your calendar (including hex color code input!)
- Daily, weekly and monthly quotes
- Daily meal planner and water tracker
I’d love to see push alerts in-app or even in-browser, but I understand the developers are working on that. (And hey, it’s not like my Happy Planner pinged me when I had something due!) I’d like to also see repeatable tasks added at some point, but there’s a fairly easy workaround now. (And again, it’s not like this is something I was able to do with a paper planner.) There’s a great group on Facebook where you can keep up with all the latest news and get ideas from other users on how they set up their planners.
Yes, I’m Obsessed
Artful Agenda was such a wonderful find — and quite the time-saver. Since it syncs with all of my calendars, it saves me the time of entering stuff in my digital calendars and on my paper planner. (Well, when I was using the paper version, anyhow.) I can easily plan out my to-do list for the day or week. (And no more covering incomplete tasks with stickers when I failed to get to them or changed my mind.) Instead, I just push them to another day. It happens more often than I should admit. Even still, all that time I was spending filling out my weekly spread in a paper planner can now be used to get things done. Or, you know, read. (It’s usually spent reading.) OH and side note, while I still love Trello for some things, I’m no longer using it to track my ARCs, so I’ve reclaimed even more time. Huzzah!
The Bottom Line
I’m all about saving some money where I can (usually so I can spend it on books) and Artful Agenda will definitely cost me less each year. (Well, once you factor in all the stickers and accessories I wind up buying because they’re cute and I’m weak. It’s also one less “thing” sitting around my apartment and, while I’ll never be a minimalist, I have been trying to do better with “stuff” lately. A year’s subscription for Artful Agenda is $35. Not sure it’s for you? You can try before you buy. There’s a two-week trial. If you use my referral link, you’ll get a free cover and sticker pack! (And, full disclosure, I do make a small commission if you choose to subscribe.)
I really do envy folks who have success with paper planners. I’m just never going to be one of them. I tried way too hard to fit myself into that box and felt like a mess when it just never clicked for me. Artful Agenda is the best of both worlds as far as I’m concerned. If you find you’re like me in that paper planners never quite felt right and a Google calendar wasn’t quite enough, I suggest you give it a shot. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Are you a paper planner person or do you prefer digital?
Have you ever tried Artful Agenda?
What’s your product of choice?