Pashion // Passion Planner Compact [REVIEW]

Passion Planner Academic ’17 – ’18 (& Limited Edition Hardcover ’18)
Horizon Blue, Compact A5 size
Dated August 2017 to July 2018
$30USD (currently $5 on sale! –

This week’s layout~

I was in the process of working on one more post before the end of the year while still brewing some other ideas for more pen reviews. But given the extremity of busy-ness in the holiday season along with a mountain load of backlogged things to keep track of, I planned not to work on those reviews until the new year. That being said, I still wanted to post something in between the previous review and before my end-of-year post, so I thought I’d look at some of my notebook/sketchbook stationary instead of pens. This is probably long overdue, given that this planner and the amount of attention it’s gathered me on instagram have helped me jumpstart into a strange world of stationary addiction and writing about it!

And so, I present a mini overview of the Passion Planner. My first planner was a gift from a good friend of mine in hopes of venturing into some business ideas and planning, but so far it’s mostly served as a great platform for a doodle journal about the food I eat every day. It started off really really really halfhazard. If you look at my very early posts (actually videos) of my lunch doodles, compared to now, it’s really taken a wild upgrade in both elaborateness, detail and time consumption to produce them. Admittedly, I started the project because I was bored at work, having just started my current job, and I actually had time during lunch to doodle.

Some of my really early layouts (Fall/Winter 2016)

The Instagram planner community has been great — very supportive and friendly, full of passion, really, and it is from their support that I’ve been driven to keep improving and keep posting. My layouts are a little less conventional due to the higher volume of misc. doodles compared to actual organized planning. More recently, however, I’ve been trying to incorporate some more planning on top of food journaling to make more ordered and structured layouts. It doesn’t always come to fruition. Hehe. This is my second planner now, and I got an academic version because my previous one ended in July, and I didn’t want to wait a year to start from January for a fresh year.

My planner and documentation process has evolved — including some layouts I’ve been very happy with, to really sub-par scratches just to get something on paper to post. The goal was to get into the habit of doodling everyday despite being busy or tired. And if I were actually too busy or tired to draw every day, at the very least I would force myself to post something every week. I’ve compiled a gif that cycles through a few of my favoured posts, almost all of which can be found on my instagram for a closer look.

gify of my layouts through the weeks and months

As promised though, I will be adding some review thoughts about the planner — the community is nuff said though haha! Here we go —

The first thing that caught my eye for this version is the brilliant blue colour. I find I never claim to particularly like blue as a colour, but then I notice a lot of my inks or misc notebooks, or when I’m colour-picking in a colour wheel, I will go for blue-tones. In any case, I jumped on this limited edition release of the Academic Compact, to continue on from my previous academic (Limited edition Gamechanger Gray). Funnily enough, I was already out of school by the time I started my first planner.

Horizon Blue Academic Compact
Inside cover

The overall planner look on the outside is simple and elegant. There is nothing on the cover except the Passion Planner logo. I like to draw a white ring around mine. Not sure I have an answer why. Opening it up, the planner is a series of gray and white pages that start with an intro to the Passion Planner story and user tips, followed by two full year calendars. And then it jumps right into the main planner pages.

The planner pages have all sorts of goodies, including:

  1. a monthly calendar with sidebars for filling in monthly focus, things to do, etc.
  2. weekly columns for every day of the week (mine starts on Sunday) and time-stamps for every half-hour of the day from 6:00am to 10:30pm (mine start on Sunday)
  3. To-do list columns – one for ‘Personal’ and one for ‘Work’
  4. ‘Space of Infinite Possibility’
  5. Misc column with week’s focus, good things that happened, and a printed weekly quote and prompt for the week

Pretty jam packed weekly spread. I’ll admit, I don’t quite use the planner the way it’s laid out, I kind of just roll with the weekly columns and usually document or note my foods. It’s become more of a hybrid planner + journal, since I will write down what I have coming up, but for the most part, I write what had happened. When something comes to mind, I’ll throw it into the space of infinite possibility (usually a quote or a comic).

After all this jam packed weekly layouts is a monthly reflection spread that asks questions about the past month. As you can see, I’m not great at filling this one in…


At the very end are a series of blank and grid pages for whatever use. I really like these pages. I use them for misc sketches, drawings, jotting down ideas, writing random stories or clips of text down. Many things. And at the very back is a pocket for storing things. This pocket is common in many notebook brands such as leuchtturm1917, moleskine, dingbats (stay tuned!), etc. I might put some stickers here for convenience, but for the most part it’s not super full.


The layout of the planner is compact and concise but still allows for a lot of space for planning, imo. I do have the compact version, so it requires writing a little smaller if I have more things to fill in. I’m not sure I would like the larger version though, so I’ve been quite happy with this size. That being said, to me, the printed layout is just a guide, so I like to experiment with biting over the boundaries of each day, or even just doodling something that goes right over the printed lines. Because the print is in gray, my black lines and hatching are visible over top, and I actually kind of like the effect of lines overlapping.

In terms of how the planner feels physically, it’s got a good heft to it, but because of the softcover, it’s lighter than some of my hardcover sketchbooks. Again, I do like the compact A5 size. It’s not much lighter though, because the paper inside is a little thicker than a typical notebook. Now about the paper!

The paper is a bright white some level of thickness paper that is relatively smooth and takes many many different types of mediums very well. I’ve tried my go-to pens — fountain pen + ink, fine liners, tombow brush pens, copics and watercolours. All of them go on pretty well. I’m satisfied with how the paper takes on these mediums. Of course the only one that truly bleeds through are the copics (see below), but that’s a given. Everything else shows almost no show through, bleed or feathering (in terms of fountain pen ink). When I leave my pen on the paper for a little too long, if I’m using fountain pens, it will end up bleeding through ever so slightly. Also when I use light watercolour (usually a brush pen with colour pans), the paper wrinkles a bit. Not a huge issue for me.

Copics front
Copics back
Layout using watercolour

The paper is great quality and I think there has been considerable thought into making it so. When the planner is meant for a range of users: students, artists, illustrators, parents, entrepreneurs, etc. who all have different pens and inks of choice, it certainly follows through as being flexible enough for everyone.

I use my planner pretty much every day, and it’s helped me set schedules and stay on track with my projects since I’ve started using it. For me to get the planner (with maybe a 10-20% discount), and then have it shipped internationally to Canada, with added customs and processing fees, the planner doesn’t end up that cheap (unless you’re buying it on a flash sale or whatever).  But if I were to divide out in a year, how often I use it, post about it on ig, doodle in it, etc, the dollar value per day really doesn’t come down to much. The quality of the planner, the usefulness and the planner community alone can make this little book (or big one if you’re up for that) very worth it.

Weekly layout in the making
Sketch then ink
Finished layout

Maybe the only thing I would argue against the planner is for the bujo-ers out there who love making their own layouts on a weekly or monthly basis. The fact that the planner has a fixed layout may seem restrictive or inflexible. I’m not quite down that rabbit hole right now, and I quite like the vertical arrangement of the passion planner versus the usual row by row versions. The Passion Planner and what it means to represent is something I avidly support. The layouting, the space for planning and projecting goals, the little quotes and supportive prompts on each page all come together in a tight package that I feel like any planner lover will appreciate. Not only that, I have been introduced to a very tight and wonderful community through ig and am very grateful and thankful for that!

Conclusion and MVPashfam

I have written out a very positive review of this planner that is in no way influenced or endorsed by Passion Planner themselves. The community I’ve experienced through my weekly posts have been very nice and supportive and somehow over this last while of posting and getting featured twice, really early on, on what they call #PCW — Planner Crush Wednesday.

Surprise surprise this year, I received a (amazing) lovely gift from Passion Planner itself (Herself? Themselves?) as a show of appreciation and support — TWO hardcover bound 2018 planners! I gave the second to my mom =) The box it came in was hand decorated and lettered, and there was also a hand written card inside thanking me for being an #MVPashfam! It was really nice to receive, definitely brightened up my day. (And also surprised it arrived in time for the holidays — it can’t have been cheap to get it to me >_<) I feel really blessed and honoured to be included in this. I still feel like I’m improving my layouts and doodles but I can definitely say that through dedicating myself to doing this daily or at least weekly, I am getting better at it, not only on the layouting and doodling end, but also on keeping myself on track. It’s been a ride, and it’s going to keep going in 2018 when I start fresh with my new hard cover >:D.


Close-up shots

This is my last review of this year, but second last post of the year so Cheers to 2018 and stay tuned! Merry Christmas forest friends~



  1. These pages, with your cartoons and entries, look amazing, like a professional comic book. It is a great record of your year. Your input has added so much value to the planner. Merry Christmas.


  2. I have to confess, I’ve never used a planner like this before – and I hadn’t actually heard of Passion Planner before reading this post. But seems like there are a lot of fans of these planners out there – maybe I should jump on the wagon and check them out 😉 x

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s