Posts Tagged ‘planner’

A Beginner’s Dive into Ring-Bound Planners: Part 4 – Inserts


This is Part Four of  6-part series about getting started using ring-bound planners. If you would like to read the series from the beginning, check out Part One: Why?, Part Two: Paper Sizes,  and Part Three: Binders.

Planner Inserts:

Most of the major planner manufacturers also make planner inserts. Companies like Franklin Covey and DayRunner offers an array of printed designs. Filofax makes a very simple planner layout but it is available in two paper stocks: white and cream. I’ve seen some reviewers suggest that the cream paper stock from Filofax is thicker than the white stock and better for fountain pens.

Most planner manufacturers offer an array of inserts, including calender layouts in many different configurations but you are not beholden to use the planner pages that came with the binder you purchase. The advantage of a ring-bound planner is that you can add and remove pages or sections to suit your needs. You may love a planner binder form a certain company but prefer a different set of calendar insert pages. Heck, maybe you are looking forward to making your own!


Depending on how many daily activities you need to account, you can choose a day-on-two-pages, a day-per-page, week-on-two-pages or month-on-two-pages. I’m probably forgetting about a dozen possible formats but you get the idea. Figure out how many things do you want to write down each day and use that as a guide for how much room you need.

If you prefer weekly calendars that start on Sunday, planner binders offer a lot of options. Filofax offers week-on-two-pages with a Sunday start day. Several of the Etsy sellers also offer a Sunday start too.

In some cases, it may be convenient to combine several of these layouts too. Maybe you need to have a month’s worth of daily pages then week pages for the following month. The month-on-two-pages may be added for planning out the whole year, adding in birthdays or holidays and vacations. Since its easy to add pages or take them out, you may start a routine where you choose a day of the week to review your planner, add in future planning pages and make sure everything is up-to-date.

(via Pretty Organised on Etsy)


The best thing I found about binder-based planners is that there are dozens upon dozens of folks selling printable planner pages on Etsy (and other online shops). For me, I was not attracted to the look of the many of the commercial planning pages so when I saw the Hello Forever pages by Marcy Penner, I knew I’d found the right option for me. I was able to choose aesthetically appealing pages and then print only the pages I need and as many as I needed. I went ahead and purchased the Hello Forever planner pages in 2015 set in Grey along the Contact list pages and the Work Add-On set.

Another set of planning pages I really likes is from an Etsy seller called Pretty Organised called Pretty Documented Planner Pages but they are only available in A4, A5, US Letter and US Half-Letter sizes.

Britta Swiderski makes graph paper-style inserts including simple filler paper as well as calendar planning pages for 2015. Her pages are available in Personal and A5 sizes.

Filophaxy and My Life All In One Place both offer a plethora of printable inserts, more than I could possibly list here.

In a future post, I’ll go into more detail about how I print and trim printables if this is a option that appeals to you.

(via Hello Forever by Marcy Penner)

Beyond the Calendar:

There is more that can go into a planner beyond just a calendar. There are address/contact inserts, inserts for fitness, finance and bills, password lists, to-do lists, plain paper and so much more. I found specific planner inserts for planning blog posts and home improvement projects. There are options for reading lists, movie lists, goal, meeting notes, and so many more. Search for “planner printable” + (your preferred size, like “personal” or “half-sheet”) on Etsy and you will have more things you can plan or organize than you could have possibly imagined.

Next up: Accessories and Add-Ons

A Beginner’s Dive into Ring-Bound Planners: Part 3 – Binders

Original Person Filofax in Teal


This is Part Three of  6-part series about getting started using ring-bound planners. Please check out the previous articles, Part One: Why and Part Two: Sizes.

So, by now you’ve decided if a planner is something that might interest you. You’ve even thought through what size binder and paper might work best for you. Now its time to shop for the “big purchase”. The binder is where the majority of your expense will be. That said, you don’t have to buy the most expensive planner binder in the world for this to be the best option for you. You might prefer to start with a binder you can find at your local big box retailer. Secondhand binders occasionally come up on Ebay and last season’s colors or designs might pop up on Amazon or Ebay as well so there’s the potential to do some comparison shopping.

Binder Materials:

Obviously, aesthetics and personal preferences are the first order of business when choosing a binder. Binders come in an array of materials from Italian leather to canvas and fabric. There are leatherette options as well. Most manufacturers feature sturdy, durable leather for the majority of their planners. This is fine with me but other folks might want to consider the non-leather options for price or personal reasons. Some leather planners can get very pricey (I’m talking to you, Smythson of Bond Street.) so proceed with caution. DayRunner, Filofax, Franklin Covey and Kikki K planner binders can all be had, in leather, for less than $100. On sale, you can find them closer to $60 or $70.

Non-leather binders at the Personal/Compact size can start around $40-$50. In a world where an A5 Moleskine notebook costs upwards of $20, $40 doesn’t sound so bad for a reusable notebook cover.



Pictured clockwise from top left: Filofax Original Personal Size with a snap closure, Filofax Malden Zip in Pocket Size, Filofax Domino in Personal size with horizontal elastic closure, and a Kikki K Medium Mint with vertical elastic.

Binder Closures:

Binder are available with an array of closures —  some have a strap with a snap or magnet to keep them closed, some zip closed, some have elastics that run horizontally or vertically, and some have no closure at all. Again, this gives you lots of options so that you can choose what look you prefer.

I mentioned in my previous post about ring sizes though its probably more relevant here. I’ve added it again here since it makes more sense in the context of selecting your binder.

Ring Sizes:

Be sure to consider how many pages you may want to carry in your planner when deciding on a size. The Filofax Compact and Slim line utilize smaller rings which will limit how many sheets you can fit in your planner. If you choose to cut down Tomoe River paper to fit in your planner, you might be able to use a smaller binder but if you plan on having lots of pages, dividers and additional content, you may want to consider a binder with a larger ring diameter. Some binders have a ring diameter at 1.25″ while others can have ring diameter as small as 0.75″.

Systems like ARC and Circa sell different sized discs that make it easy to swap out the capacity. Discs start as small as 0.25″ and go up to 3″.

Next up: Inserts!



A Beginner’s Dive into Ring-Bound Planners: Part 2 – Planner Sizes


This is Part Two of  6-part series about getting started using ring-bound planners. Part One can be found here.

Planner Sizes:

The most popular planner size is the Personal (with paper measuring 4.25” x 6.75″) or Compact (paper is 95mm x 170mm, or 3.7″ x 6.75″). DayRunner and Franklin Covey use the “Compact” size  and Filofax, Kikki K and others use the “Personal” sized pages though each company has their own names for the size. The divide between the Personal size and the Compact size seems to break along US and non-US lines. Franklin Covey and DayRunner are US-based companies. All the other big names else in the planner business are in the UK, Europe or Australia.

Filofax paper sizes

The Personal (Filofax) and Compact (US companies) sizes are the same height and feature the same 6-hole configuration (two sets of three holes placed to the top and bottom of the spine) but the Personal size pages is about a 1/2″ wider. Binders designed for the Personal sized paper are a bit wider to accommodate the larger paper. This size offers the widest range of potential planner refills, while the overall size of the planner is still portable. Using Franklin Covey or DayRunner inserts in a Filofax may be a little too tight and Filofax inserts in a FC or DR may have a bit too much excess space but the option is there. Also, the Personal/Compact size is used by a lot of people creating custom inserts which might be appealing if you need something specific.

To add to the confusion, Filofax sells a binder size called “Compact” which accepts the same paper sizes as their Personal binders but features smaller rings and an overall smaller binder profile, similar to the “Slimline” binder.

Other popular sizes are the A5 (also called the “half sheet” size since its  approximately 5.5×8.5″ making it half of a US letter-sized sheet or half an A4).

The Pocket size holds paper slightly smaller than a 3×5 index card in the Filofax sizing and just slightly larger than a 3″x5″ in the Franklin Covey sizing. This size might seem a bit too small for a daily planner but it is often used as a wallet since it can fit in a pocket.

For bigger options, the A4 or the Monarch/US Letter planner (depending on whether you are choosing an European brand or an American brand respectively) is a good desk planner option. If you have a job that requires a lot of daily meetings and tasks you might consider the A4/Letter size. This size is considered the least portable as a full binder large enough to hold A4 or US Letter paper is going to be heavy and bulky.

There are even systems built around the standard US 3-ring binder in either full Letter size or the half-sheet size (5.5×8.5″). Martha Stewart has created an array of products for Avery that use the half-sheet size. The Classic binder in Franklin Covey and DayRunner also use this size.

(via Staples)

(via Staples)

The last option is the disc system option like the ARC or the Circa planning system. These use the familiar ring discs and pages punched with divots that slip into the rings. It has the same level of customization regarding page inserts as well as a range of cover options from budget board covers to full leather cases. For the most part the disc systems are only available in half-sheet/A5 or US Letter sizes.

Ring Sizes:

Be sure to consider how many pages you may want to carry in your planner when deciding on a size. The Filofax Compact and Slim line utilize smaller rings which will limit how many sheets you can fit in your planner. If you choose to cut down Tomoe River paper to fit in your planner, you might be able to use a smaller binder but if you plan on having lots of pages, dividers and additional content, you may want to consider a binder with a larger ring diameter. Some binders have a ring diameter at 1.25″ while others can have ring diameter as small as 0.75″.

Systems like ARC and Circa sell different sized discs that make it easy to swap out the capacity. Discs start as small as 0.25″ and go up to 3″.

(This portion of the post has been moved to Part 3: Binders, where it makes more sense. Sorry for the bad edit!)

Which size is right for you?

I wouldn’t recommend that Americans purchase an A4 binder nor would I recommend that  Brits/Europeans purchase a Monarch/US Letter-sized planner.  If you plan to add your own inserts, I would recommend choosing a format that is conducive to the tools you have handy. Anything that I can print out or copy on a standard US machine and cut down to fit in my planner is fair game. If I have to hunt down a very specific size paper, that’s going to make me less inclined to actually use my planner. The whole point of using a ring-bound planner is to make my life easier, not more complicated.

Also remember that the bigger the planner, the less portable if will become. If your goal is to create a planner you feel comfortable having with you all the time, make sure its a size that will comfortably fit in your day bag or pocket. Some men might be inclined to use a Pocket sized planner because it will fit in a pocket. With every size and configuration, there are trade-offs. Too small and you may not be able to carry a year’s worth of daily or weekly calendars. Too big and you might not be inclined to carry as often as you might need it.

Planner Page Sizes vs. Moleskine and Midori

The diagram above is from My Life All in One Place. I think its super helpful in comparing paper sizes in planners to Moleskine and Midori Traveler’s Notebook. The actual planners will be a bit larger than the paper they contain, of course.

Once you’ve chosen your preferred size, you’ll be ready to start considering your binder and/or preferred brand. Stay tuned!

A Beginner’s Dive into Ring-Bound Planners: Part 1 – Why?

(Photo via thecrazylifeofj)

(Photo via thecrazylifeofj)

In the past couple weeks, I  fell down the rabbit hole that is the ring-binder planner. You might know them as a Filofax, Franklin Covey or a Dayrunner. There are other brands on the market as well like Kikki K, Van der Spek, and Gillio, to name a few.Initially, I thought I’d pull together one quick post with all the information you might need to venture into aring-bound planner. What I discovered, however, is that there is more information to cover than can fit into one post. So I’ve created a series of posts that will shed some light on the hows and whys of ring-bound, loose-leaf planners.

I have kept some sort of planner for the several years and never having quite the right one. I’ve used a Moleskine planner, a Paper Blanks, a Hobonichi Techo and a few others I can’t remember off the top of my head — and those are just the ones I’ve used since I started this blog! Each one resulted in some sort of planner fail at some point during the year. This year, I thought it was time to consider that a ring-bound planner might be the best solution for me.

To move over to a ring-bound planner, there are a lot of  factors to consider. There’s not just the binder itself, but also the size, material (leather, leatherette, canvas or fabric, etc), the format of the calendar pages and what additional pages will be included. There are also miscellaneous inserts that can be added like zip pockets, plastic sleeves for cards, and dozens of other options I might not have considered yet. So many options!

In my research, one of the things that made me a little hesitant was the predominance of the “crafty planner.” This is similar to a lot of the Hobonichi pages that have been posted online full of washi tape, stickers and other kawaii elements. I’m not opposed to adding a personal touch, using color to differentiate a to-dos, or including other meamingful elements but I was a little intimidated about the amount of time and energy folks invested in  these “decorated” planners. I want to get organized more than I want to scrapbook, doodle or make a collage.

In the end, just like the Hobonichi Techo or the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, a ring-bound planner can be as complex or as simple as you choose. I plan to choose simple though I do have an excess of washi tape. You might choose to make your planner more of a journal or sketchbook and make it as personal, complex or layered as you want. Its all a matter of personal priorities and time.

Ring-bound planners open up so many options.  With those options come the opportunity to choose exactly what you need and the chance to mix-and-match to suit your needs. I’ve been doing a lot research to choose the best options for me. Some you’ll might like but maybe you’ll find your own perfect system as a result.

Hopefully, the next couple posts will help you decide if a ring-bound planner is right for you.

Did I mention the rabbit hole?



Indie Planners for 2015

Indie planners from Etsy

If you’re still trying to find your “perfect planner” for 2015, Etsy may have some options for you. I found a search function on Etsy to search for similar items using keywords that gave me a mere 3400 items similar to “planner and diary”. There might be something in all those items that meet my needs. Or yours.

Happy hunting and let me know if you find the perfect one for you!

DIY Planner for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook

A full how-to tutorial for making the notebook is available on the Hello Forever blog.

A full how-to tutorial for making the notebook is available on the Hello Forever blog.

In my hunt this week for planners that start the week on Sunday, I discovered Marcy Penner’s Hello Forever site. She created a lovely PDF document to make your own planner calendar for 2015 for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook which is available for sale in her shop.

The PDF is $10 and includes the full calendar year in week-at-a-glance pages that can be bound into two booklets to fit a regular-sized Midori Traveler’s Notebook (approx. 5×8.5″).

Her blog includes step-by-step instructions for printing, folding and binding your booklets as well.

If you want to have rounded corners on the finished notebook like the sample, small handheld corner rounders can be purchased on Amazon for under $10 or can be found at your local big box craft supply store.


Ask The Desk: Ask The Readers (Sheaffer Lifetime 14K & Planners That Start on Sunday)


I’ve had a couple stumper questions sent to The Desk that I’ve tried researching but some are outside my field of knowledge so I thought I’d ask you, my dear readers if you could help solve these fine folks’ problems.

Image from The Pen Hero

Image from The Pen Hero

Vicki asks:

… i was given a sheaffer lifetime 14k nib pen it has the twist bottom that you fill up by pushing in, my quandry, problem, irks me to death situation is this, I can’t get it to write, if i give it a little flick ink splatters over the paper, but the darn thing will not write, any suggestions?

My first instinct is to ask if the pen has been cleaned and flushed to be sure there isn’t any dried flecks of ink but as I have no first hand experience with the Sheaffer Lifetime pens, maybe one of our readers has better advice? You could also search on Fountain Pen Network or post your question there.


Deborah asks:

I cannot, for the LIFE of me, find a calendar/planner where the weekly pages start on Sunday. I do not know why all calendars/planners have monthly calendars in S-S (which is the way it should be), but then turn the weekly into a M-S. Am I the only one on this planet who likes to match my planning materials? Is my brain set up shifted one day to the right…or is it left?  :-) I truly have not found any explanation as to why this occurs (other than putting the work week together and the weekEND at the END)….and maybe if I did, I could conform. (NO!) :-)  Would you happen to know in all of your calendar/planning travels of such an item? My (un)organized life depends on it.

I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to find a solution for Deborah and I’m left truly stumped. I emailed her and recommended that she contact Plannerisms, THE site for all things planner-related in hopes that she might have a recommendation.

The first option I found was from Filofax, which offers a refill for their binder planners that starts the week-on-two-pages layout on Sunday. A 2015 set of refills is $11.03 but you would need to purchase a binder to put the pages into.

Levenger Circa Sunday Start 2015

Levenger has Circa Weekly Agenda pages that start with Sunday available for 2015 in either Junior (A5-ish) or Letter (not quite A4) size ($29-$34). There are also Since these sheets are pre-punched for the Circa ring system, you would also need to purchase a cover and rings set of some sort. There are lots of options on the Levenger site from simple plastic covers to fancy leather folios.  Also, there are a couple other formats available for the Circa system with a Sunday start, do a search on their site for “sunday start” to find them all.

Passion Planners

There are some DIY options as well. These require a bit more work on your part as you’ll have to trim them out and either glue them into a book or punch them to fit into a binder or other format. DIY solutions do give lots of options for customizing and adding your own personal touches though.

One option is from Passion Planner with a “start on Sunday” option in A4 and A5 sizes. Passion Planner PDF pages are undated so you can start today by either pasting a spread into an existing notebook or using the sheets in a binder. Passion Planner started as a Kickstarter project and also has some bound books available but they aren’t shipping until January as the first order has already sold out.


Marcy Penner of Hello Forever has made a PDF printable planner ($15) that starts on Sunday and is absolutely lovely. Its available in the yellow and turquoise colors or a simple and clean grey and black version. The PDF pages are designed to fit two planner sizes: 3.75 and 6.75 sized planner binders. There is a lot of options with her system and its customizable with add-ons and various extras. Check out her full detailed post for more information.

If any of you fine folks know of a planner that starts on SUNDAY, please leave a note in the comments. There aren’t too many options out there!

Beyond The Halfway Point: Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014

When I got my Hobonichi Techo at the end of last year, I was dedicatedly using it. But somewhere around the end of May, I lost steam. I just sort of stopped using it. I don’t know if work got slow, or crazy or monotonous but I just stopped writing in it. And I had been using my Hobonichi for more than just meeting notes. I would write what we ate for dinner, if we watched a movie, what days I exercised and so on. So, there really wasn’t any reason to stop.

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014

A few months after I got my Hobonichi planner and cover, I decided I needed to personalize it. The cover was already a distinctly TARDIS blue so the solution seemed obvious. I found some artwork online, resized it in Photoshop. I printed it out, trimmed it to size and then slid the artwork underneath the plastic sleeves. No adhesives were used so the cover was not damaged in my customizing. If I ever feel like removing the TARDIS art, it would just mean removing the plastic covers and pulling the art out. Easy Peasy.

At the beginning of September I picked it back up. Luckily, the Hobonichi did not try to shame me for the missed months. I just opened to the current day and started writing again. Its still a great notebook. Its an easy size to use — not too big, not too small.  The paper is good for fountain pens though I find some inks take to long to dry and I end up closing the book too soon and smearing the ink on the facing page.

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 top view

The plastic protective cover and the fabric cover have all protected the planner beautifully.

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 side view

Even the pen loops show minimal wear even though they see the most abuse. My TWSBI Mini fits comfortably in the loops and the Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku coordinates nicely though I often jot notes with whatever colored pen or pencil I have in my hand at the moment.

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 inside front cover

I haven’t collected too much detritus in the front pockets.

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 inside

I’ve been inspired by Patrick Rhone’s mini doodles so I’ve been trying to add my own versions. I’ve also started dividing my pages vertically. Meetings or activities on the left and lists of to-do’s on the right.

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 inside back cover

Someone brought back some classic Japanese planner stickers for me which I’ve tried to add to my planner here and there. I’m saving the fuzzy alpaca for a big knitting-related day.

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 back cover

Yup, TARDIS on the back too. Though it looks like the back cover TARDIS sheet is slipping a little.

My Hobonichi is definitely bigger on the inside.

Maire-Chantal Children’s Diary 2015

Marie Chantal Children's Diary 2015

Marie-Chantal is a London children’s clothing and gifts shops that was started in 2001 under the creative direction of Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece. For 2015, Marie-Chantal created a children’s diary designed to record the adventures and growth of your child, from first steps to sports activities and school days.

Marie Chantal Children's Diary 2015

Marie Chantal Children's Diary 2015



The Children’s Diary starts in September of 2014 and is filled with care and advice of children’s clothes and shoes as well as interesting places to visit with your children in London and NYC. The diary measures 21cm x 26.5cm (approx 8.25″ x10.5″), with gilt-edged pages. The diary is available in blue or ivory leather covers. Its beautiful, well-designed and very posh. It’s a very expensive however at $159 so this is a splurge for mom and dad or a keen gift friend or family. Every child should feel so royal.

Marie Chantal Children's Diary 2015

Link Love: Instagrammatical & TWSBIs (made-up words!)

Image credits (clockwise from top left: Noyolajose, Mary Kate McDevitt, Tuesday Next [that's me!],  FPGeeks, Rad And Hungry, MyCoffeePot, Rad And Hungry,  Elltbr, and GouletPens)

Image credits (clockwise from top left: Noyolajose, Mary Kate McDevitt, Tuesday Next [that’s me!], FPGeeks, Rad And Hungry, MyCoffeePot, Rad And Hungry, Elltbr, and GouletPens)

Yeah for awesome Instagram friends! If you’re not following the folks in the photo collage above, I highly recommend them for wonderful office accoutrement photo yummies.

In other news:

Paper and Notebooks:

Pens and Ink:


For Valentine’s Day:

(via Creatively Curated)

Download the hi-rez file at  Creatively Curated

Get Organized: Todoist Next

Todoist Next screenshots

Today, Todoist upgraded its platform with web-, mobile-, browser- and desktop-based versions of the app and an all-new, streamlined look. They are definitely setting themselves to compete with Wunderlist. The new version offers free collaboration and what appears to be extensive functionality, especially with the collaboration tools and could give Basecamp a run for its money for small teams.

The regular apps and web interface are free. The premium account ($29/yr) offers additional features including adding notes and file attachments, task search, color-coded labels, email or text task reminders, automatic backup and synchronization with iCal. I think the premium version will be the way to go since being able to add text, images and URLs to a task would make things so much simpler. The price per year is less than Wunderlist which is $49/yr for collaboration but Wunderlist allows notes and images in the free version but there’s no indication in a list or sub-list that a photo or note is associated with the item. So it works… sort of. I certainly don’t think I’ll miss the wood grain if I switch.

I waffle between loving the cross-platform convenience of digital to-do lists and missing its paper counterparts and physically crossing things off, adding details and saving the completed lists. Being able to add a task on my phone, then review it or deal with it when I’m parked in front of my computer has a lot of appeal though paper could do the same thing.

This app seems like its is the best of all possible to-do list apps, sleek, streamlined and upgradeable for a small fee. Would you or have you tried any of these digital to-do lists?

News: Planner Camp


Planner Camp is an online class, forum and resources to help you create your own planner to organize and plan your perfect year. Planner Camp starts on Monday and costs $49US. Some of the topics and features of the project include:

  • Three weeks of private posts, tips and video tutorials
  • Access to a private student Facebook Group
  • Pre-designed planner templates for you to customize into your perfect planner, fast!
  • Weekly video based lessons on customizing the planner templates using Adobe InDesign ®.
    Don’t have it? Don’t worry! Check the FAQ for details on the affordable month to month access option & 30 Day Free Trial.
  • Pre-designed templates that are customized to work with two tried & true binding systems: Filofax ® (A5 size) & M by Staples™ Arc Customizable Notebooks (Junior size).
  • Advice for printing at home or working with a professional printer, including strategies to minimize costs.
  • Unique design ideas to help you create a year built around your values & passions! From taking great care of yourself to accomplishing your goals, feeling fabulous, and having as much fun as you can dream up.
  • Weekly open office hours for one-on-one student questions, design support and troubleshooting.

(via Freckled Nest)

Link Love: The Deja Vu Edition

A lot of topics I’ve mentioned in the past, have made appearances on other blogs this week. I thought I’d start with those…

Note: In this section, the first link is my original post and the links in parentheses are the posts from other bloggers.

And now back to our regularly scheduled Link Love:


Pencils, Pens & Ink:


Winner: Frankie Daily Journal 2014

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing for the Frankie Daily Journal. Let’s have a drum roll for the winning number….

Daily Journal Winning Number

Daily Journal Winning Comment

Congrats to Dawn! I’ll be contacting you via email to get your delivery information. I hope the planner helps you meet all your resolution goals for 2014.

Preview: Frankie Daily Journal for 2014


I have always been curious about the incredibly popular Frankie Magazine Daily Journal ($26.95AU). So, I ordered one. In the time that elapsed between ordering the book and it arriving here in the States, I also received the Hobonichi which stole my nerdy heart.

This does not mean that I was not completely blown away with how lovely and romantic the Daily Journal is. Its full of gorgeous illustrations, decorative patterned borders and hand-lettered dates.

The planner is approximately 7.5″x5.75″. The cover is a beautiful heavyweight sage twill with the text stamped into it in cream. There’s a matching satin ribbon bookmark too. The binding seems sturdy but the book opens nicely. The paper is weighty (I’d compare it to American 80lb or 100lb text weight. Copy paper is about 20-30lb weight, if that gives you an idea of the sturdiness). My only concern for usability is all the printing on the paper may have added some coating to the paper that might resist some inks.

In the back cover is a printed pocket for loose sheets. There are also perforated cards, stickers and other goodies bound into the back of the book.


In the front of the book are month overviews with floral illustration. Weekly pages span two pages with Saturday and Sunday sharing a small space.


Its such a lovely book that I couldn’t bring myself to blemish it to do pen tests. Instead, I’d like to give it away to one lucky reader. In exchange, I hope that you’ll report back to me how well the paper performs so I can decide if I want to use one next year.

Let’s make this a quick giveaway so I can get this to the winner ASAP to start the new year off right. Leave a comment and tell me one of your goals, plans or resolutions for 2014.

Frankie Daily Journal 2014

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Wednesday, January 1, 2014. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Thursday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money.

Review: Hobonichi Planner 2014

Hobonichi 2014 planner cover

Over the last few months, I’ve heard a lot of interest in the Hobonichi Planner. The name roughly translates to ‘Just about everyday planner’. The first aspect of this planner that piqued my interest was that it is filled with the much-coveted Tomoe River paper, known for its fountain pen friendliness. It’s also considered one of the most well-loved, easy-to-use planners. The combination of those two things meant I desperately wanted to try it for myself. Since there is now an English language edition, there was no reason not to try it.


What I didn’t know was that the Hobonichi planner was part of a much larger project by Shigesato Itoi. He is a well-known figure in Japan for being a advertising copywriter, creator of Nintendo Mother 2/Earthbound video game, voice actor in the epic Miyazaki film My Neighbor Totoro and the founder of online publication Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun (Almost-Daily Itoi Newspaper). The planner was originally part of the site’s shop to generate revenue instead of selling ads. The planner has been made in Japanese for over 12 years but in 2013, the first English edition was published.

Following the 2011 Tsunami in Japan, many victims lamented the loss of their beloved planner so Itoi decided to give free planners away to any tsunami victim who had lost theirs in the disaster. Over 1400 people took him up on his offer and he’s received thank you notes and kind words for helping victims get their paper lives back. That shows the dedication of the fans to the planner and how much Shigesato Itoi appreciates that loyalty.

About the planner:

Hobonichi 2014 planner

Now, let’s get into the details of the planner. The planner itself is a small book, covered with a flexible black leatherette cover stamped with gold foil (¥2,500, approx. $24.50). The stamped charaters say “techo” along with the key logo for Arts & Sciences. The book is perfect-bound with the date and “HOBO” foil stamped on the spine. The standard planner is a lot smaller than I thought it would be: 15cm x 10.5cm (4.125″x5.875″). The planner is just 1.5cm thick (0.625″) which is due in large part to the Tomoe River paper’s thinness since this is a page-a-day planner so there are a lot of pages crammed into a small space (over 400 pages!).

Hobonichi 2014 planner

Hobonichi planner

Most pages feature a petite 4mm grid in dotted grey lines. There are blank pages in the back of the book for notes that feature a red dot grid (also at 4mm spacing).

There are tabs along the edge of the pages to indicate each month. Sunday pages are printed in red and Saturday and Sunday get FULL PAGES. Most planners give Saturday and Sunday a shared page, if that much so if you work a unique schedule or fit as much in on the weekends as you do during the week, then you will really appreciate this.

At the bottom of each two-page spread is a quote, many from Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun and well-known figures in Japanese culture. Some are thoughtful, some are light-hearted and silly.

Hobonichi planner

December is a “head start” with 2-days-on-a-page in a long vertical space. Its perfect for writing out all those holiday must-do’s and to get a sense of how the planner will perform for you. In just the few days I’ve been using it, the page size doesn’t seem so small. It seems just right. There’s room enough for my notes, to-do’s and calendar activities without being too large to keep it with me.

Hobonichi planner

In the back of the planner there are some informational pages like international calling codes, holidays, a guide to sushi and sake, and tea around the world. These might not be a necessity but they do provide some entertaining reading while you’re waiting for the next meeting to start. In the research I did, it appears that the 2013 edition included different factoids in the back. Something to look forward to for next year is what might be included in the back!

For even more detailed information about what’s inside the Hobonichi planner, visit the Closer Look pages.

Hobonichi planner

The paper is a unique experience. Its very lightweight and my instincts tell me that ink would bleed through it easily but that is not the case at all. I tend to use a multi-pen in my planner so total fountain-pen-friendly isn’t a key factor for me in selecting a planner but a planner that IS fountain pen friendly is a real bonus.

For a detailed review of the Tomoe River paper, the stock used in the Hobonichi planner, Azizah of Gourmet Pens did a fabulous write-up for FP Geeks.

Hobonichi planner

I tested an assortment of pens from my tried-and-true Marvy Le Pens to a range of Uni, Pilot and Zebra gel multi-pens, pencils and even fontain pens. None of the inks bled or feathered or did anything unacceptable. As others have mentioned, with heavier ink deposits on Tomoe River paper, take longer to dry so proceed with caution there so you don’t get transfer onto the facing page but it also means that you can use whatever tool you have in your hand from the finest of gel pens to the juiciest of fountain pens without the ink bleeding or feathering.

Hobonichi planner

From the back of the page, you can see the inks through the paper but there is no bleeding at all despite the thinness of the stock. Pretty amazing.

Hobonichi planner

I folded a page back so that it would be easier to see that even the printing is visible through the stock.

About the Cover:

Hobonichi 2014 planner cover

I received one of the simple nylon covers in a bright, true blue. It features loads of pockets and an interlocking pen loop that, when a pen is slipped through the loops, the planner stays closed. Quite ingenious. The loops are large enough to hold a thick multi-pen or a slender fountain pen if you slip the clip over the loop.

Hobonichi 2014 planner cover

The cover also has two matching grosgrain ribbon bookmarks. One has a triangle shape at the end and the other is a rectangle, both in a leather-like PU. As a user, you get to decide what marks what page. I use the rectangle to mark the month-at-a-glance calender page and the triangle to mark today’s page.

Hobonichi 2014 planner cover

Inside, the cover has lots of pockets and slots to hold cards, reciepts and paper ephemera. There are embroidered tags in the back with the words HOBONICHI and another with the year 2014.

Hobonichi 2014 planner cover

My planner also shipped with the protective plastic sleeve that fits perfectly over the nylon cover. The plastic cover includes a ziploc-style opening on the back to allow access to the outside pocket on the cover. While it feels a bit like plastic on the furniture, it does protect the outside of the planner cover, should I want to add additional customization like stickers or artwork or just slide a photo in between the cover and the protective sleeve.

There are lots of options for covers for the Hobonichi planner. The prices for covers range from ¥1,900 for a nylon cover to ¥31,500 (approx. $18.50- $300) for a leather cover with stitching (that high-end cover can only be shipped within Japan) at present. Several covers are scheduled to be restocked in the next couple days so check back regularly.

How to Order:

I think what’s stopped a lot of people from trying the Hobonichi planner is that ordering from Japan was a bit challenging. Well, that’s been remedied thanks to the work of Lindsay, a translator working for Hobonichi and a big fan of the planner herself. She’s translated the ordering process to be pretty seamless. The whole ordering process is in English if you use the links I’ve included here.

She’s even created a guide to help non-Japanese speakers order from any Japanese web site.

For more about the  Hobonichi Techo planner, it’s thriving community and other reviews:

In closing:

This is one of the best planners I’ve ever had. The size is good, the paper is exceptional, the light grid lines are easy-to-use with most ink colors and the details within the book are spot-on. If you’re inclined to use a planner this year, this would be my first recommendation.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Lindsay for Hobonichi Planner for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: Heart-Stealing Pens, Paper & Inks

Pen Buying Process

Pen Buying Process by Andrew Tan of Drewscape/Wibble Wibble


Notebooks & Paper:




The Standard Memorandum


Word Notebooks partnered with hand lettering guru Jon Contino to create a historically-inspired agenda called the Standard Memorandum. Its a slim volume at just  2.35″ x 5.25″ to easily slide into a pocket. The black cardstock cover is foil stamped in decorative lettering, “The Standard Memorandum” with the branding on the back in foil as well. Jon chose beautifully classic typography for dates and information. Word offers the notebook with its plain paper covers for $11 or purchase it with a sturdy leather cover in black, tan or brown (free monogramming available) for $45.



Disc World


The Circa system. Its been around for awhile and I’ve even made a foray into the “disc world” myself in the past but the Circa system had sort of fallen off my radar as of late so I thought I’d reconsider it.


If you’ve not familiar with it, its a series of plastic discs and a customized die cut or hole punch that creates divots in the edge of the paper to accommodate adding or removing sheets easily to the disc binding system. While Levenger’s Circa system is the most well-known, there are other options available like the Rollabind and the Arc system from Staples. They all look interchangeable which is appealing if you want to customize a system to your specific tastes and budget.


The Circa system has relationships with popular notebook companies like Rhodia and Behance while Staples’ Arc system beats out in the pricing and convenience arena. Pre-printed and punched sheets are available for meeting notes, recipes, agendas and planners and many other task specific activities. All three bands offer a range of paper but the real appeal to me is being able to select my own paper and then use the custom hole punch to fit it into a notebook. While I like Rhodia paper, I’d prefer dot grid or blank sheets rather than the customized meeting notes style available at Leveneger. Because of the way the disc system works, smaller sheets of paper can be inserted into a larger system and they stay in place. So, other pieces of paper, from 3x5s to photocopies, can be punched and inserted into the right spot in your notebook.

Lots of cover options are available from simple poly-plastic to leather zip cases. And of course, there are some unique discs that make the possibility of sitting in a long meeting, a little more tolerable.

Does anyone use a Circa-style disc notebook? How do you like it?

Ask The Desk: Pocket, 18-month and Fountain Pen Friendly

Ask The Desk Header

One of the questions on the docket for the Pen Addict podcast this week was from Anthony Sculimbrene (@everydaycomment) regarding a pocket-sized calendar agenda with good quality paper for fountain pens and 18-month or an autumn start was preferable. This is a seriously specific request and, sadly, not many options are available. But I was able to find a few options.

This is the 4x6" academic planner from Quo Vadis, available at ShopWritersBloc

This is the 4×6″ academic planner from Quo Vadis, available at ShopWritersBloc

First, I went to Quo Vadis whose reputation for fountain pen friendly paper is universally acknowledged. I was able to find three options, of a diminutive size, all with 64g paper and using an academic calendar (starting in August or September):

I love my current Paperblanks planner but its a larger size. Paperblanks does offer an array of sizes and configurations but are no longer listing their 18-month planners on their site. A few can still be found on Amazon with a couple different cover options.

And finally, you can always take matters into your own hands and use the DIY Planner site and print out the Hipster PDA onto your favorite paper stock.

I hope this will help you on your way. There are definitely more options available if you are willing to wait for the new calendar year.

Halfway Through: PaperBlanks 2013 planner

Paperblanks planner: halfway through

I’ve been meaning to do a “halfway through” post about my Paperblanks planner. Seeing as how its technically 3/4s through 2013, I decided I better get to it.

Since the book started off with a subtle distressed finish, the nicks and dings from riding in my bag, back and forth to work, have not marred its appearance. I have crammed it with various bits of paper, notes and markings so the covers have bowed a bit to accommodate it. I don’t use the elastic to close it since the book gets accessed multiple times a day so it has not stretched out though it does seem a little loose inside the back cover. I’ve written in it with pen, pencil and marker. I get a little show through with dark, bolder colors from page to page but no bleed through. The binding has withstood being open and closed repeatedly and stretched to get page to lay flat. I often keep the book open all day on my desk so that I can use the right hand page to jot notes, reminders and messages.

Paperblanks planner: halfway through

I tend to walk away from planners mid-year because they don’t do what I want, do too much or I get itchy to try something different but I’ve been pleasantly satisfied with the Paperblanks. The paper stock is an improvement over the Moleskine planners I’ve used in the past. The size is a good “desk size” (A5-ish). I love the clean simple typography inside. The two ribbon marks let me mark the page for the week as well as the corresponding page for the monthly view.

I don’t keep all my meetings listed in the planner since those are mostly kept digitally and get changed, moved and updating with a frequency that would require a personal assistant to update my planner hourly. Instead I keep track of personal tasks, project to-do’s and overall scheduling.

I’ve started hunting for a new 2014 version of my Paperblanks planner but I clearly selected the more obscure page formatting (the Verso formatting) and I’m having trouble finding an exact match at present. I’ve contacted Paperblanks directly about availability for 2014 and will elt you know what I find out.

Other formats are available and in multiple sizes. Visit the Paperblanks site or Jenni Bick to see the selection.

Poppin 18-month Planner

Poppin 18-month planner

Poppin has introduced a new line of 18-month planners in the classic A5 (5×8.25″) size. The books feature the same flexible leatherette covers, orange ribbon bookmark, gusseted pocket in the back and paper stock as their journal notebooks. What makes these different is the 236 pages of planning pages printed in a graduated ink color. The first pages are printed in bright cyan blue and the color slowly shifts as you got through the months to citrus green. This color shift is accented by the coordinating end papers — cyan in the front, lime in the back.

The planner starts with a list of US holidays and then features a 2-page monthly calendar followed by week-at-a-glance pages, starting with Monday. The right hand page features lines for note taking. Towards the back are extra pages including lined, a dotted line grid (not grid and not dot grid but a hybrid of the two), a map of the US, a celestial map, and a few pages with a “face grid”.

Poppin 18-month planner

Lightly debossed on the cover is the dates “13 14″ and the Poppin logo, all very subtle. The planner is also available with Pool Blue covers like my notebook and back. All planners have color coordinated elastics.

Poppin 18-month planner, inside view

18-month planners are $15 each and available directly from Poppin.

I’m mid-planner right now but am seriously considering buying a Poppin planner for 2014. Its been unwrapped from the cellophane but is unused. How about if I give this one away to a lucky reader? Someone just headed back to school or hoping to get organized before 2014?

Tell me how you’d get organized with this spiffy planner in the comments to be entered to win.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Sunday, August 25, 2013. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money.

Never Too Soon to Plan for 2014



As the back-to-school season starts its roll forward, all the major manufacturers are releasing their 18-month planners  as well as getting a head start on 2014.

Moleskine has released its newest planner format called the Turntable can be used in a vertical or horizontal format. Its available in a hardcover pocket-sized (3.5×5.5″) or large-size (5×8.25″) in several colors from great sellers like Jenni Bick (no, she is not paying me to say that but trust me, its a great shop) for $14.34 or $17.96 respectively.



Paperblanks are also offering their planners in 18-month formats or, if you are preparing for 2014, you can choose your 12-month edition now. They have lots of sizes and configurations available and the paper stock is better than Moelskine though not up to Rhodia standards.I have been using the Verso Format Black Moroccan Ultra size for 2013 and will probably purchase another Paperblanks for 2014. Some of the new textures and cover designs are gorgeous.


(For more about my current planner, visit my review of the Paperblanks 2013 planner. I also plan to provide a post-review of my planner after six months of use in the next few weeks.)

I am sure there will be more planners, agendas and calendars in the next few months to share. Do you still keep a paper planner? Do you have a favorite brand?

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