Erin Condren Back To School Collection 2021


The school supply shopping list. Of all the mail I would receive over the summer (not much, incidentally), receiving my copy of the school supply list was a special day. Why? Because my Mom (along with every other parent within a 100 mile radius) would take advantage of tax-free weekend and whisk me off to Target and Staples and Office Depot. Anyone else? I would try to convince my mom to buy me everything on the list, and then some. The rush of picking out new pens and markers, notebooks and binders, and somehow fitting it into one backpack – it was all foreshadowing for the planning obsession I carry with me today. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but…I miss school!

Even though summer just started, pretty soon it will be time to go back to school. Thankfully, our favorite planner brands have us covered with planners and accessories galore! In today’s blog post I’ll be covering Erin Condren’s 2021 Back to School Collection. I’d like to thank Tori and the team at Erin Condren for sending me these products for review. If this is your first experience with the Back to School Collection, I’m here to break it down for you. There’s a healthy mix of kid-friendly planning accessories with more sophisticated adult products. There’s something for everyone, adult and child, in the collection.

The Academic Planner

The headliner of the Back to School Collection is the Erin Condren Academic Planner. About a month ago, I covered the launch of this Academic Planner over on my YouTube channel. To recap, the Academic Planner is a horizontal weekly planner on the Academic Year layout (July to June), complete with the dashboard and notes pages you find Erin Condren’s signature LifePlanner. The planner is made with quality paper and binding, including a bound and a coiled option. If you opt for the Focused version, the theme is minimalist and functional, which allows you to focus on your plans. If you like a little more pop in your planner, the Mid Century Circles theme is an elegant and timeless design and a favorite of mine!

The thing I love about the Academic planner is that it’s a cheaper alternative to the LifePlanner with a nearly identical layout. Seriously, about 95% of the interior of each planner is the same. The Academic Planner starts at $38 compared to the LifePLanner, which starts at $59. And the main difference between the two comes down to two dashboard pages designed specifically for the Academic Planner – the Exams & Projects dashboard and the Class Schedule dashboard. Believe me when I say you don’t have to be a student to use the Academic planner. Because of the project dashboard, it can actually be a great planner for home or work projects. And you can always skip the Class Schedule page.

All in all, if you have a student – or if you are a student – the Academic Planner is a wonderful planner.

Child-focused products

The first child-specific item is the A5 Kids Diary. The diary is 80 pages with 40 pages dedicated to guided journaling and 40 blank pages for open-ended reflection. I love that there is space for gratitude on the guided journaling spreads. It is never too early to practice and encourage giving thanks! The one feedback I have for this product is the layout. It’s three consecutive pages of guided journaling, followed by a front-and-back notes page, then one guided page, then two more blank notes pages. It’s asymmetrical and I’m not sure why it’s designed this way. I think my nieces will love this diary. I don’t think they’ll care about the layout, but I feel it’s worth mentioning!

The second child-specific product in the collection is the Kids Ultimate Checklist Notebook. Adult me loves the concept of this notebook. Can we get an Adult Ultimate Checklist Notebook? In all seriousness though, I would be interested to see this released for adults at some point. The notebook has sections for routines, habits, chores, allowance, and notes. Some things don’t change much from childhood to adulthood I guess, since I still give myself an allowance!

I’m not sure if I would have loved or hated this as a child. I think it really depends and you know the children in your life best. It’s never too early to model responsibility and contributing to a clean home. And healthy routines and habits are hard enough to form as an adult, so I think there’s tremendous value in encouraging kids to be self-aware of their routines.

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Speaking of the routines page, there’s space for a morning routine and evening routine with lines for each part of their routine and for each day of the week. The habits section and chores section both follow this same logic with chores in the left column and the days of the week on the right. I feel that the A5 size might have been more appropriate – there is room for tracking 21 habits, which to me is overwhelming as an adult, let alone a child. However, I love that the allowance tracker has a guided section for reflection, including what they want to save for, what they want to buy, and how they want to share with others. The overall design is strong.

Desk & Planner Organization

Set aside the child-specific Back to School products for a minute and you’ll see the rest of the accessories can be divided into three categories: Desk & Planner Organization, Pens & Markers, and Productivity Accessories.

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In the desk and planner organization category, we start with the desk organizer. One of the things I struggle with most at home is finding and keeping a place for everything. These desk organizers save my life. They encourage me to separate my sticky notes from my pens, and my sticker kits from my washi. In this year’s launch, we have two options for desktop drawers. I recommend these particularly if you have a larger desk, though they may crowd a smaller desk. The two beautiful designs are Colorblends and Mid Century Circles. Desk drawer sets will sell for $32, and include four slide-out drawers.

While my dream is to one day own a DreamBox to organize my planner supplies, I use desk organizers for now! If the desktop drawer organizers aren’t your taste, or if they are too big for your desk, consider these desk organizers. They are modular and sized differently to help you organize your pens, snap-in accessories, folders, papers, and miscellaneous planner accessories. This is what I keep on my desk in my home office! The desk organizers sell for $26.

Speaking of folders, there are two sets of 3-pack folders available in the Back to School collection. These are standard plastic poly folders. The folders are sized for regular 3 hole-punch binders. You can seamlessly incorporate folders into a binder you already own, as long as it’s a 3-punch. I’m excited to snag the Just My Type folders, as this is one of the first accessories sporting this funky design since it launched in the LifePlanner back in May. If Just My Type just isn’t your type – no worries! Your other option is to purchase a 3-pack of folders with the Mid Century Circles theme in pastel colors.

Pens & Markers

For pens and markers, we have options in this year’s launch. Personally, I am most excited for the stand up pencil cases, which sell for $16.00. Why is that? I love my planny pack and my pencil cases from Erin Condren, but my favorite pens always find their way to the bottom of the pouch. It’s practically a law of nature that I have to dig around my pencil case for a minute to find my favorite pen, only for it to have disappeared. I drop my other pens out of the case, it’s just a mess. Having a standup pencil case design, as simple as it seems, will save me time and frustration picking out my favorite pens when I’m planning on the go. 

There are four marker collection sets with this year’s Back to School collection. This starts with a 6-pack of gorgeous ballpoint pens selling for $15.50. These are black ink ballpoint pens and, I don’t know if you know this, but I love black ink. They are sleek and write evenly. If you don’t like ballpoint pens, there is a 24-pack of mini gel pens featuring assorted neon, pastel, bright, and metallic colors. This is the ultimate gel pen pack and – thanks to the small size – they take up half the space in your planny pack. This 24-pack of gel pens will sell for $20.00 and includes every color you need.

If gel or ballpoint pens write too thick, there’s a 12-pack of multi-color, ultra-fine tip markers. This pack also sells for $20. Ultra fine tip is not my thing. But you can get super precise lines writing with it, which I occasionally use to accent my more decorative planner spreads. The last of the bunch is an 8-pack of fine tip wet erase markers selling for $15.50. These eight colors show up brilliantly on whiteboards, like the one I keep over my office desk. Shopping tip: You will want a pack of these wet erase markers if you plan to buy the magnetic dashboards (see below).

Productivity Accessories

Magnetic dashboards snap over each side of the page.

I’ll start with the snap-in and magnetic dashboards. With Erin Condren introducing the A5 Ring Agenda LifePlanner this year, the snap-in accessories for the ring agenda are growing: There’s a habit tracker dashboard and a weekly schedule dashboard that snap-in perfectly on the ring system. In the A5-size coiled planners, there’s a weekly schedule and a daily focus snap-in dashboard option. All of these snap-in dashboards will sell for $4.50 – just make sure you’re purchasing for the correct binding. I’m excited for the large Projects & Exams snap-in dashboard, available for the coiled LifePlanner. This is taken straight from the Academic Planner (mentioned above). If you’ve wanted to try it, you still get the chance to use this super useful productivity dashboard to track and manage projects and deadlines.

So…about these magnetic dashboards. They are my favorite accessory in the entire Back to School Collection. They open and snap together over the page, almost like a bookmark. The magnets are strong enough to stay in place unless you intentionally move or shift them. This habit tracker magnetic dashboard will be getting a ton of use in my planner, as will the to-do list. I’d love to see this product line grow over time. As one final reminder, you will need to use the wet erase markers on these magnetic dashboards. Magnetic dashboards sell for $7.50.

There are some fantastic planning pads, notepads, and goal pads. All of these sell for $10, except for the larger weekly deskpad, which goes for $14. I’ve been a fan of the Focused collection in Erin Condren for years, and these accessories are a great complement to your main planner when you don’t (or can’t) take it with you. Tear out a page from your planning notepad and voila, there you go! These pads can fit into your planner and can be punched to go into your planner.

The sticky note ball doubles as a great desk accent piece!

The last productivity accessory is a ball of colorful sticky notes, which sells for $12.50 and doubles as a rather entertaining desk toy that I reach for and juggle. I use sticky notes for practically everything in my planner. This sticky note ball will occupy a corner on my desk. This is assuming that our puppy Minnie, who absolutely loves tennis balls, doesn’t make this one of her toys! Sticky notes are the ultimate Swiss Army Knife planner accessory to help you jot down thoughts, notes, and quotes. I can’t recommend this enough and I expect it will add a dimension to your desk.

All of the products in the Back to School Collection will launch on Wednesday, July 7. You will see and can purchase these products on the website on the 7th – but sneak peeks will continue in the coming days from planner influencers and the Erin Condren social media team. If you aren’t already, consider signing up as an EC Insider to receive early access and special deals during new product launches! Let me know y’all, what are you planning to grab at launch this year? If you have any questions about the accessories be sure to let me know!

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