I was absolutely tickled when I found out I’d be included on the Mäksēlife Review Crew this year! (It’s pronounced “moxie,” as in “energy, pep, determination, & courage.”) I discovered this company last year when the rumors of a new planner on the block had just started swirling through the planner community on Instagram. The thing that grabbed me first was the design of the vertical layout: it was lined and unbroken into segments!
As a planner mom who sometimes needs an hourly breakdown and sometimes needs to make a giant to-do list to get through different days, I knew immediately that the flexibility this provided would be HUGE for me. If you’ve ever bought a planner with high hopes in January, only to ditch it in March when life shifts and it no longer works for you, maybe you can relate. This planner seemed like it would accommodate a wide variety of needs.
Little did I know what 2020 would bring, right? Talk about a year when we needed flexibility in planning. Well, Mäksēlife really lived up to its potential: it adapted when everything got cancelled, and again when I was suddenly managing Non-Traditional Instruction days, and again now that we are on a Hybrid model for two public schoolkids and full-time traditionally homeschooling our youngest.
I’m telling y’all — I have put this planner through its paces, and it is still slugging it out for me like a champ.
Sierra, the creator of Mäksēlife, was kind enough to send me an advance copy of the 2021 planner to review. I am so excited to share my thoughts with you guys! First up, a few details: this planner comes in a vertical & horizontal layout, and with four covers to choose from. This year, the company did an artist series with Jess Park and Thobi Brown, who designed the peony and rainbow designs respectively.
The planner is 326 pages, printed with soy-based ink on recycled bright white paper — my photos don’t do it justice! At the end of this post, I’ll share a link to my video review, where you can see this year’s paper compared to the 2021 and see the beautiful difference. If you’re a paper geek, you’ll be so happy with this planner — the paper is thick and holds pen really well. It’s smooth enough that most stickers will lift, but not so glossy that your pens will smear. In short: it’s dreamy.
This is a 12-month (calendar year) planner. The monthly layouts are each on a two-page spread. There have been some design improvements over last year — the month & year are clearer, graphically, than before and the date dots were repositioned to the right side of the page. This planner has a VERY clean aesthetic. While there are pops of color throughout (the eight colors used on the Compass Life Assessment, which I’ll mention in a minute), they are not overwhelming.
The weekly layouts also get a two-page spread. Monday through Thursday are on the left page; Friday through Sunday are on the right with a sidebar and a built-in habit tracker. I really love that inclusion — drawing trackers by hand can be tiresome, and using stickers in the same spot every week can really bulk up a planner.
As you can see, there’s just a bit of color on these pages. It coordinates with the color used on the monthly spread. In my opinion, planners who prefer a very neutral, minimal, or professional look will be extremely happy with the design elements of this planner. If you’re more of a stickers and colored ink person, the columns are a standard size (1.5″) so full, quarter, and appointment boxes from all your favorite shops will fit perfectly.
But speaking of stickers, this year Mäksēlife has some GREAT designs! This sheet is coiled in to the back of every planner. There is also a 15-page sticker book being sold separately (retails $20) which will be available on launch day with more boxes, flags, and banners in those great Mäksēlife colors.
Now honestly, at this point if you’ve ever used a vertical weekly planner, you might be wondering what’s the big deal. Good paper and clean layouts are great, Michelle, but why are you so ga-ga crazy for this company?
Well, friends, that all comes down the the goal planning system. I did mention this was a goal-setting planner, right? The first section of the planner is Sierra Friend’s amazing system. After being a “planner girl” for decades and a life coach who helped multitudes of clients develop a vision and plan for reaching their goals, she has refined this system to a T.
You’ll begin with some excellent pages about how to use the planner, then take a two-page assessment (a series of statements you rate from 1-10 to help you give yourself a numerical score in each of 8 life areas). You’ll use those numbers to shade in the life compass:
There are then seven pages of “prep work,” in which Sierra will coach you through how to set goals for the year. What do goals look like in an area where you’re already satisfied? What might goals look like in an area where you feel you have so much you want to achieve that you don’t know where to start? These pages, in my opinion, are worth every penny of the purchase price. It feels like having life coach or therapist sit down with you and prompt you to consider things with a kind eye.
I really appreciate the goal approach of Mäksēlife because it felt like it fit me. Other systems left me feeling like I wasn’t enough of a “girl boss” or “momprenuer” to use them. I’ve tried approaches in the past that gave me a Goal Setting High for the first month of the year and then were left ignored and untouched for the next eleven. Mäksēlife is something else entirely.
The Annual Goals section includes plenty of space to delineate your goals, select a focus area with the goal if you want, and a question prompt to consider the ‘why’ behind the goal.
But here’s where I feel Mäksēlife separates itself from other planners on the market. After each monthly spread, you have two pages to create Monthly Goals. This is your chance to look at your annual goals and choose steps that will move you forward in some or all of the eight areas.
Plus, every week there’s a spread for Weekly Actions – one page has sections for the eight areas, and the other is a blank dot grid page. This is a perfect space to reflect on your week, evaluate your goal progress, and answer the question prompts from the goal-setting section of the planner. This space helped me all throughout 2020 to affirm, change, or reinvigorate my monthly goals.
The way I use this planner has been SUCH a wonderful part of my year.
- Every weekend, I lay out my week, then refer to my monthly goals and set a few weekly action steps. I look back at the prior week and see how I did with my previously set actions, and consider what adjustments I need to make.
- At the end of each month, I use the Monthly Reflections page to celebrate my victories & set intentions for the new month. Then I flip to the new month’s Monthly Goals page and create those.
- At the end of each quarter, I use the quarterly compass to re-evaluate the balance or disequilibrium I’m feeling in the eight life areas.
The cyclic nature of the process keeps me coming back to my annual goals and helps me stay mindful. I love that this planner helps me avoid complacency in the mundane parts of life — it reminds me that I have dreams and plans! I really can’t recommend it highly enough.
A few more details: at the back of the planner, you get a 2020 year-at-a-glance as well as a 2021 year-at-a-glance, 13 lined notes pages, the sticker sheet I mentioned earlier, and a double-sided coiled pocket. The back cover also has an accordion pocket, which I’ve found sturdy and helpful with full-time use this year.
The 2021 planners will retail for $68, and will be available for purchase beginning October 21, 2020. (Purchase here at the Mäksēlife website.)
You can watch my full review over on YouTube, where I also show off the sticker book, bookmarks, and interchangeable cover options — which will all be available at launch!
And over on Instagram, I’m hosting a giveaway! If you’re interested in trying this amazing planner for yourself, hop over there and enter to win one (with your choice of cover & layout).
(Disclaimer: If you purchase through my affiliate link I may be compensated, but at no cost to you. This is not a sponsored post; all opinions are my own. I’ve been using and loving this planner for all of 2020 and wanted to share an honest review with you! Thanks for your support!)