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Using planners to track appointments, goals

Karyn Kurshals, of Ronkonkoma is a planner-obsessed mom

Karyn Kurshals, of Ronkonkoma is a planner-obsessed mom whose passion for organization led her to create an Etsy store where she sells planner materials. Dec. 28, 2017 Credit: Raychel Brightman

Paper planners are turning a page — those basic organizers of years past are now used as a means of self-expression, solace and even socialization.

Chevonne Thomas says her planner is an essential part of her life. The Freeport mother of two uses a physical planner — not her iPhone — to keep track of everything relating to her family and herself: day-to-day activities, bills and to-do lists.

“I function better when I write things down as opposed to checking Outlook or Notes on my phone,” says Thomas, 32. “I have to see my plans on paper for it to make sense to me.”

Phones are primarily for other functions, Thomas says, and having a planner separate from a device allows her the opportunity to detach and focus on her tasks.

The pages of her planner also pack personality.


“Planners require their own accessories and decor that changes with seasons and moods,” Thomas says. “Decorating your planner is a part of planning and people are always looking for new accessories.”

That’s where craft stores such as A.C. Moore and Michaels, retail giant Target and come in. The retailers are responding with creative tools: themed stickers, stamps and other decorative accessories.

“I think people like having a physical copy of everything going on in their lives,” says Jess Castaldi, an A.C. Moore “craftologist” who creates do-it-yourself projects on the company’s website and inspirational content for its social channels. “Physical planners are a way to see everything right in front of you and easily be able to adjust or move things around if needed.”

For the planner-obsessed, it’s a relatively inexpensive hobby. A.C. Moore sells base planner books that cost less than $15 and a wide selection of decorative accessories such as reminder notes, stamps, adhesive pearls and gems that start at $1. The arts and crafts retail chain also offers add-on packs for planning exercise, healthy eating and chores.

Paper planners also have aesthetic appeal, Castaldi says, whether you prefer utilitarian, straightforward, simple layouts or elaborately decorated and creative designs.

“The options you have with paper planners are limitless and people enjoy when things can be tailored to them,” Castaldi says.

Thomas prefers ring planners. She owns three Louis Vuitton agendas and planners by Erin Condren and Happy Planner. She purchases most of her materials from Etsy and occasionally at Michael’s.


These days, there are entire online communities that focus on planners or accessories such as stickers or templates.

“Planning to me is more than buying a planner and writing down doctor’s appointments,” Thomas says. “Planning is also my hobby that thousands of women share.”

It was through her planning obsession that Thomas met Karyn Kurshals, owner of the Etsy shop Scrappydrew Designs, which sells personalized handmade planner paper clips that range from $5 to $10.

Thomas and Kurshals are among the 2,000-plus members in the Facebook group NYC Planner Addicts.“There are planner meetups that take place all across the country where women from all walks of life meet up and talk about planners,” Thomas says. “I’ve met some amazing women in this community and it’s sort of my creative outlet.”

Kurshals, 44, of Ronkonkoma, says for some people, planners serve multiple purposes: scrapbook, daily journal or travel log all in one.

Kurshals says the surge in popularity is relatively recent. She can remember visiting Michaels stores in search of planner materials and leaving empty-handed.

“You can go anywhere and find a planner now. It went from searching high and low to going to the nearest store and getting one. It’s that easy,” Kurshals says. “They even have starter kits. Planners for weddings, babies, pregnancy, diets, et cetera. You name it, they’ve got it now.”

And even with the popularity of smartphones and related devices and the emergence of intelligent assistants such as Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, Thomas and many like her prefer to rely on pen and paper to stay organized.

Paper is more reliable and less faulty than technology, Castaldi says of the appeal of planners.

“Sometimes data gets lost or a program crashes,” Castaldi notes. “With a physical copy, it’s always there.”

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