There are so many planners on the market, it’s hard to pick just one (I mean, you have to keep it around for a whole year!). I realized this week that for the past three years, I’ve bought a different agenda. Since it’s my last year needing an academic planner, I’m doing a round-up and comparing my favorite and least favorite aspects of all three. This year I bought Lilly Pulitzer, last year I chose Plum Paper, and my freshman year I used May Designs. Here’s what I thought:


Lilly Pulitzer – Junior Year

Price: $17 – $36 (w/o tax)

Pros: The designs on the cover AND on the interior are so bright, colorful, and cheery. Each month you get a new quote to make you smile or inspire you. That is by far my favorite thing about this planner.

On top of that, Lilly Pulitzer agendas are surprisingly inexpensive; the price varies based on size and whether the spiral is covered or not. I went ahead and purchased a covered spiral, and I think it’s worth the money. It creates a sleek finish that isn’t there with an exposed spiral.

Cons: These agendas are 17 month planners, so you could never use one in its entirety. They run August – December of the next year. You would either miss the back of your old agenda if you bought a new one in August or the front of your new one if you purchased the next one in December. If someone understands this, I would love to know… To me it seems like it’s a way to avoid having to create two separate academic and regular planners (one that runs August-July and one that runs January-December).

Overall: I obviously have not actually used this planner yet, but I think I am really going to like it. Everything about it just makes me smile and that’s why I bought it. It is a great value and with free shipping and a free gift (a set of four multi-colored pens), I am more than happy with my purchase.

Planner Comparison: Plum Paper

Plum Paper – Sophomore Year

Price: $39.75 (w/ shipping w/o tax)

*I purchased the regular planner – not the academic planner.

Pros: You have 4 different formatting options for the inside pages. I chose hour-by-hour planning, and I loved it. It was highly useful and made me very organized. When I first picked it, I was worried my schedule wouldn’t fill it up, but in the end, it did, and I loved it!

There are pages for notes at the beginning and end of each month, which also helped to keep all of my thoughts and important reminders in one place.

After a year, it still looks the same as it did 12 months ago. There is virtually no wear and tear. The protective cover on this agenda was definitely a worthy addition.

Cons: First, it is the most expensive out of the three agendas.

Second, with the hour-by-hour layout that I chose, you only have 3 spots to write what you have to do daily. I have way more than 3 ‘to-do’ items a day. This was by far the biggest negative I found.

Overall: While using this planner, I truly felt that it kept me the most organized I’ve ever been in a time when I was the busiest. Everything was clearly laid out on the pages. There was room for quickly jotted side notes. Plum Paper offers a strong planner option.


May Designs – Freshman Year

Price: $29 (w/ shipping w/o tax)

Pros: The cover designs are so fun! And the choices are plentiful. May Designs fits a lot of different styles and offers the most exterior customization to your planner. They do preppy, retro, classic, girly, nautical, graphic, artsy… EVERYTHING.

One unique touch they add: if you purchase an academic planner, it comes with an adorable ‘design a life you love’ page, where you have space to fill in your goals for that year. The page includes goals for work, family, social, personal, etc.

Cons: After a year in my backpack, the cover was warn from rubbing in between my textbooks, leaving the design faded and splotchy.

Another cover issue: they’re not hardcover, which is definitely just a personal preference for me. On one side, not being hardcover makes them daintier and in a way cuter, but I need a durable planner.

Overall: I will be buying from May Designs again. I know that my May Book took a beating in my backpack, so I’m going to get a stay-at-home notebook for blog post ideas next time. They’re too adorable to pass up.


Is it fair to claim a favorite before I’ve even fully used one of them? Right now, my analysis is that Lilly Pulitzer wins out for my favorite based on looks. Plum Paper wins for functionality.

It’s a huge debate. Who creates your favorite planner? What do you love most about it? Just because I’m graduating in 2016, doesn’t mean I won’t need a post-college 2017 planner!


  • I really liked this post because you have actually used several different brands! Most people are just supporting their favorite when they do a planner post. I have the Vera Bradley agenda and it sounds like it’s basically the same as a Lilly. Personally, I like that style a lot for school but when I graduate I’ll be looking for something with a lot more flexibility! I always love how people decorate their planner with washi tape and stuff but I just don’t feel like the Vera gives a lot of options for that.

  • Jamie @ The Fashion Newcomer

    I absolutely love the way you laid out this whole post!! I fed into the “great planner debate” as most every blogger does and ended up choosing a Kate Spade, which I’m happy with. We’ll see how it goes through the rest of the year. I had Lilly all throughout high school and really liked it but was ready for something more sophisticated. I definitely agree that it is unrealistic to ever be able to use the whole thing! I did a sort of similar post if you want to check it out:

    xoxo, Jamie


  • I absolutely adore planners. I love your blog and if you fancy a read, then check onto my blog

  • I need to get a new planner haha! I had a Lilly planner a couple years ago and I liked it! Now, I love planners with a professional column layout, rather than boxes for each day. I’ve gotten so used to it this past year!

  • Ali Lowery

    That sounds a lot like my situation. I really liked the layout of my planner last year, but I’ve never had a Lilly planner, so I just had to give it a try! What do you think you’ll get?

  • Ali Lowery

    Thanks, Girl! I took a look at your blog. I love your images. They’re such great quality. I’ll be back!

  • Ali Lowery

    Thank you!! I completely understand! I went through a huge gold phase a while back, and a lot of Kate Spade’s planners go along with that, so I was trying to steer clear of that style (I kind of went in the opposite order of everyone else). I checked out your blog post; I loved that you mentioned the Day Designer. I looked into that one as well, but if I remember correctly, it’s more on the expensive side?

  • Ali Lowery

    Thank you! I agree 100%. I feel like every planner has great features. Why just narrow it down to one? But Vera Bradley is another great one for fun prints.

    And I love washi tape! I’ve never used it in my planner, but I see it all over Pinterest. It is definitely something I’d love to try.

  • Jamie @ The Fashion Newcomer

    It is expensive. I got it last year at the Smart Girls Group Live Smart Series in the goodie bag so I had no idea of the actual price until very recently when I actually looked it up! Definitely not an amount I would want to spend on my planner.

  • I have a plum paper planner, but chose the family planner option. I LOVE it. With that planner I was able to choose 7 sections to write in for each day and it’s worked out great. Really helps me stay organized!

  • Thank you.