Tag: planner

Review: Filofax Lockwood Personal Planner & 2017 Illustrated Stripes Insert Set

Filofax Lockwood Personal

The Filofax Lockwood Personal sized planner in aqua ($102.15) might not look like a huge change from my Original in dark aqua but, its not the color that’s the change so much as the overall construction. The Lockwood is the freakin’ MacGyver of planners! Its got pockets and slots galore where the Original is stripped down to the essentials. The Lockwood is a higher quality, more supple leather too where the Original is a thicker leather but much more rigid.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

From the inside views, you can see the narrow slit pockets on the Original and the black elastic band on the Original. The Lockwood could easily be filled with business cards, ID and bank cards and double as a wallet and planner. OR the pockets could be filled with items to color-code, annotate or decorate the planner. I haven’t quite decided what to put in the pockets yet. After years with the mostly useless pockets on the Original, I’m stymied with the options.

The plus for the Original (for me) is that the elastic pen loop is on the left hand side and pretty flexible making it capable of holding a lot of different pens and quick-access for a lefty. A lot of right-handed users found the left-hand loop awkward. The Lockwood puts the pen loop under the clasp. Its still elastic but its a tighter elastic and the placement makes it more difficult to put any but the thinnest pens or pencils in it since they bump right up against the inserts and are restricted by the length of the strap.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

Inside the back cover, the Lockwood features a long secretary pocket and a smaller horizontal slit pocket as well. The Original has the secretary pocket too and a top slit pocket as well as the mysterious lower slit that I never actually found a use for.

The Lockwood has a more finished look on the inside with the stitching on all the pocket edging and the leather facing carried under the ring binder. I feel kind of grown-up with the Lockwood. Its like my “big girl” planner. Even though its mermaid-colored.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

Hey, look! One of my letterpress notepads with the side binding fits perfectly in the secretary pocket. Brilliant!

Filofax Lockwood Personal

On the backside on the cover is yet another pocket, this is a zippered pocket that looks perfect to hold receipts, coins or other small bits. This planner is the total cargo pants of planners, I swear.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

Here’s a top view of the Lockwood planner filled with my regular calendar pages, notes pages, assorted bits, page markers and my notepad in the back. Well stuffed, indeed.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

I tucked my Fisher Space Pen in the pen loop which was one of the few pens that fit comfortably without reeking havoc with my tabs. So, I’d definitely recommend a slim pen or pencil in the pen loop or skipping it altogether sadly. Its the only flaw I’ve found in this planner. Everything else is fabulous.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

The front slit pocket easily holds another notepad, pad of sitcky notes or, as I discovered later, my iPhone. It makes this a great planner for meetings or someone who goes back and forth to a lot of places and needs to be able to juggle a planner and a phone.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

I discovered that the horizontal slit in the back of the planner is perfectly sized for a small pad of stocky notes, if that floats your boat.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

I also thought it would be handy to compare the personal-sized Lockwood to an iPad Mini. Its almost the same dimensions, just a good deal thicker when filled completely. I could certainly carry fewer pages in the planner but I thought I’d stuff it completely as a contrast to my month of austerity. I will probably trim it down a bit but I’m enjoying having ALL THE THINGS at the moment.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

The Lockwood is such a lovely planner. The fact that it has a million pockets and places to squirrel away bits of paper and cards just makes it better. The overall quality is excellent and the color is fabulous. I wish the pen loop was a little more user-friendly but I can stick a pen in any of the other cargo pants pockets on the Lockwood so I really don’t have anything to complain about.

And one more thing….

I also wanted to show the new Filofax 2017 Dated Illustrated Stripes refill set ($19.99). The set is also available for A5-sized planners ($26.99). Its a week-on-two-pages layout with lined pages and tabbed months that include a monthly calendar. The tabs and pages alternate colors in an array of interesting colors including tomato orange, navy, orchid, lime, and biscuit tan. The set also included an assortment of lined and blank note paper.

Filofax stripes inserts 2017

The big news was that the paper was listed as 80gsm which is considerably higher than the standard Filofax refills and better than the Cotton Cream which was always better than the plain white but has gotten worse over the years. So I thought I’d put it through some pen tests to see how it performed…

Pens used to test Filofax insertsFilofax stripes insert writing test

I didn’t hold back. I hit the paper with all my currently inked fountain pens next to this year’s Cotton Cream and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Illustrated Stripes paper held up to the abuse. The lines are usually pretty narrow on the Personal Filofax paper anyway since the books are pretty small so I tend to use fine pens, gel pens or pencils mostly. However, every once in awhile, I end up with a fountain pen in my hand when I have to jot something down so its nice to know that the paper can withstand a few lines without completely withering.

reverse side of Filofax stripes insert writing test

From the back of the paper it looks like the worst show through was the Edison Collier and a lot of red and pink inks are a bit more liquidy anyway. Everything else is completely tolerable. Especially when compared with how poorly the Cotton Cream did.

I’m so excited to start using the Illustrated Stripes Insert set. It looks good, works well with lots of pens and is readymade. As much as I like all the DIY options, I’m happy to just buy a pre-dated planner set-up and go. I’m not much of a planner decorator. I’d rather spend my free time drawing, painting or knitting and less time making my to-do list look fancy so these inserts totally solve a problem for me. They work, they look good and they are easy to acquire. I hope that Filofax will continue to innovate their planner inserts in the coming years so I won’t be forced to make my own.

DISCLAIMER: These items were sent to me free of charge by Goulet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

One Book July: Halfway Point

One Book July Halfway

I have to admit that after more than two weeks of One Book July, I’m about to lose my mind. I already fell off the bandwagon by putting a pocket-sized Moleskine sketchbook in my purse so that I have a portable-sized notebook for jotting notes on the go.

So my first downside to One Book July is not  always having a book that fits in my bag or pocket.

One Book July Halfway

Then, there’s the issue of the whole Bullet Journaling system… its not been my strong suit. I have been planning several trips that are coming up in August and October. Normally, I’d write all the details down in my Filofax which I keep a whole year in the binder at a time. With a Bullet Journal, there’s the need to write and re-write things in sections like “Forward Planning” and a monthly list and then later in the weekly pages. With my Filofax, I only have to write it down once in the weekly page and maybe on the monthly pages if its an all-day event or something that extends several days. So, that’s the next issue I’ve faced – I miss my Filofax.

I don’t really like keeping my personal notes in the same book with my work notes either. I seldom need my work notes once I’ve gotten home. I do tend to think of things I want to do when I get home or over the weekend while I’m at work so I do tend to carry my personal notebook back and forth with me. So its been weird to try to keep all the notes in one notebook. I’ve ended up cheating and keeping a lot of work notes on 3x5s and sticky notes rather than in my notebook just so I don’t have to keep the notes in my One Book July. So, its another fail for me.

One Book July Halfway

I know I need to continue for another two weeks to be true to the One Book July challenge but I’m not sure I can handle the compromises for two more weeks. I know it sounds ridiculous to need more than one notebook to survive but I’m that OCD.

On the plus side, I really like the the Midori MD notebook ($16) I’ve been using. The paper quality i excellent and has held up to all the pens and pencils I’ve used with it. I purchased the plastic cover ($3.80) for it which has made it feel much more durable and provided pockets to stash loose paper and keep the cream paperboard cover from getting dirty. I will certainly continue to use the Midori MD notebooks in the future. It’s some of the best paper I’ve used yet if you don’t mind the ivory cream stock.

One Book July Halfway

I wonder if I had chosen a Traveler’s Notebook with multiple booklets, if that would have more easily fulfilled my need for work, personal and calendar needs as well as being able to pull out a booklet for portability sake? It’s something to consider for next year.

Ask The Desk: Fountain Pen on Washi Tape?


Shana asks:

I recently got a fountain pen after having lost one many years ago. (A noodlers Konrad, go flex!) I’m using it often in my planner, which also has a lot of washi tape marking appointments. So far the few inks I’ve tested seem to not like washi tape as a surface to be written on. What inks work on washi tape?

Shana, I went to my planner-and-washi-tape experts, AKA my secret society of enablers, for some information. First thing I discovered is that washi is a word that gets used by a lot of tape sellers to describe a wide variety of paper tapes, some more papery than others and others more shiny. The original paper tape from Japan, MT stands for “masking tape” and actually, the term “washi” refers to a specific type of paper made in Japan. So technically, the tapes we use in our planners is paper tape or masking tape.

I asked my pals if they’d had any good experiences with tape and fountain pens and, with the differences in tape shininess, your results may vary from theirs. In field tests, all my secret society testers agreed that, while they could theoretically get some fountain pen and rollerball ink to adhere to washi tape, it tended to bead up and take way too long to dry to be useful. Most recommended that if you wanted to write on the tape itself, to use a permanent pen like Sharpie Extra Fine Permanent markers, Staedtler Lumocolor permanent markers, Stabilo Write4all permanent or American Crafts Slick Writers. The testers also suggested that ballpoint pens and gel pens do as well, but the gel pen needed a lot of drying time. One tester had some luck with 6B, 7B or 8B pencil but a pencil that soft may have the tendency to smear.

You may want to look for some plain paper stickers as an alternative to washi tape to use in your planner if you want to use them for appointment notations and write on them. Particularly Flex nibs will be a particular challenge since they lay down a lot of ink in regards to dry time as well. Quick drying inks might help like Private Reserve’s Fast-Dry line or Noodler’s Bernake series.

So, the short answer is no. Fountain pens and washi tape are not the best of friends. Best of luck in finding the perfect pairing.

Planner Review: Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

Last year, when I first started dabbling in planners, I downloaded the Marcy Penner’s Hello Forever printable inserts for my planner. Since then, Marcy Penner has started designing her Hello Forever planning products for Studio Calico including a line of A5 planners (8.25″ x 9.5″ x 1.375″).

While Studio Calico is most known as a company that create products for memory keeping and scrapbooking, over the last few years, they have started moving into the creative planning world with a planning subscription service and the Hello Forever line of planning products. What I love most about both of these products is that, even if you are not into the decorative planning stuff, the designs are clean and well-designed. I’ve been a subscriber to their planner kit for several months and its one of my favorites offering clean, simple planner add-ons like stickers, washi tape and rubber stamps. When I saw the planners, I couldn’t resist.

I purchased the Hello Forever Planner in Clear Sky blue ($54.99) with a decorative floral pattern on the inside. I think of it as my “Missouri Compromise” — business on the outside, party on the inside. The simple, grey vertical elastic closure kept the exterior of the planner clean and simple and unfussy. The floral design on the inside is bright and cheerful and my little secret.

The overall construction of the binder itself is very good. The material used on the exterior of the planner is a smooth faux leather and lightly padded. Inside is a screen-printed pattern on white fabric. There are three pockets on the inside front cover and a secretary pocket. On the back cover, there is a loop of grey elastic for a pen loop. I would have liked a slot or pocket in the back for a notepad but, for the price point, I’m not too upset.

The ring placement is standard A5 6-hole and the rings are very tight. This means that the binder can accept inserts from any other A5 planner system or can use printables and a standard 6-hole punch.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

The planner came with a complete set of undated inserts for the year, two clear decorative plastic dashboards, a black striped plastic movable bookmark, monthly tabs with pockets, half-sheet perforated to-do lists, two page protector sheets for holding photos, cards or paper ephemera, four pages of kiss-cut stickers, half-sheet perforated photo-a-day list sheets, month-on-two-pages undated calendar pages, undated week-on-two-pages weekly pages, monthly reflection pages, future planning pages, a year at a glance for 2016 and a perpetual planning booklet that can be tucked in the front pocket. There is also an additional sheet of sticker tabs tucked in the front pockets.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

The front acetate sheet has a floral design, the second dashboard acetate has the red fishnet pattern and then under that is a cover page that reads “Today is the day”.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

I can see the appeal for some of the photo-a-day perforated sheets but I’m not sure I’d have much use for these. I do like that they are perforated and can then be moved to a specific month in your planner.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

I love the clean, simple typography for the days of the week and the diagonal stripes on the moveable acetate bookmark. Striking design that could be embellished or kept clean and simple.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

The tabs are color coded and each one already has a pocket on the front of each month to hold receipts and other papers which is very handy.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

In the back are handy perforated half-sheet to-do lists like the photo-a-day sheets. I think these will be much more useful and include check boxes.  Perfect for grocery lists and other errands.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

And of course, the big question everyone had was how does the paper perform. And I was a little worried because this is such a make-or-break issue and I didn’t want to be disappointed. I was THRILLED to discover that the paper far exceeded my expectation. Our best guess is that its about 70lb smooth and there was no bleed or show through with any of the pens I tested. If Studio Calico keeps using this paper for all the refills they make for this planner series I will buy everything they make for it. The Platinum Carbon Black fountain pen ink didn’t even show through! That alone is a reason to try out this planner!

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

This is the reverse of the paper and trust me when I say I did not manipulate this photo. No show through at all. I didn’t abuse it with a Sharpie marker or anything but the black Staedtler Triplus Fineliner had no issues with show through nor did my Franklin Christoph with Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses. with a Medium Stub. So, I did put it through a standard pen nerd’s everyday carry.

The A5 planner is also available in a greystone and melon with different interior accent colors.   If you’re looking for an alternative to the more business-y Filofax and Franklin Covey style planners but are finding the Carpe Diem and Color Crush planners a little “too much”, the Studio Calico Hello Forever might be the perfect balance between them. I hope that in the future Studio Calico will consider adding a smaller personal-sized version of this planner to their offerings since the size is the only thing holding me back from being madly, passionately in love with it. I’m not sure yet whether I can commit to carrying around a full A5-sized planner. But for the paper alone, I may try out carrying an A5 just to use the beautiful design and the fabulous paper. Studio Calico and Hello Forever really did make a beautiful planner and I’m looking forward to seeing how it wears over time.

Ask the Desk: EU EF Nibs vs. 0.5 mm gels, 3-Hole Personal Size & Planner Stamps


Renee asked:

I was interested in getting a pen that writes with a line similar to that of a .5 mm pen. I was considering a Kaweco sport given your enthusiastic reviews. Would a European extra fine do that?

The Kaweco might give a little bit wider stroke depending on the paper and/or ink combination than a 0.5mm gel or rollerball pen. Let’s do a little experiment!


I got a bunch of my favorite 0.5mm gel pens and pens I felt wrote comparably to 0.5 like a Sharpie Pen and the Staedtler Triplus Finalizer. Then I got out a bunch of European (and American) EF and F nibs and a few Japanese, just for comparison sake, and wrote their name and then drew a slow line using a ruler to try to get as close and exact idea of their line widths. I stand by my theory that the Kaweco EF and F are almost indistinguishable and about the same width as the Pilot Metropolitan M. I’d say those are a bit wider than the 0.5mm gel pens. The Pilot Metropolitan F, TWSBI EF and Monteverde EF were closer in width to the 0.5mm. For some reason, I did not have a Lamy EF in house.  The Lamy F was wider than even the Kaweco F or the Pilot Metropolitan M so if you’re looking at a fine line from Lamy, definitely aim for the EF. But if you are dabbling in the Japanese pens, you could go as broad as a M and still get a very fine line. Good luck on your fountain pen adventures!


Steve asks:

I have a small cache of 3.75″ x 6.75″ 3-hole ruled paper. The 3-ring binder has long since died. Any ideas on where I might find a new binder?

I was unable to find any 3-ring versions of a 3.75″ x 6.75″ binder. However, I was able to find 6-ring binders. The size is the same as the Filofax Personal-sized, DayTimer (portable), DayRunner (small). Mead even makes loose leaf notebooks in this size  for about $10. The paper might need to be punched with additional holes but the current popularity of the personal sized Filofax and similar planners means that 6-ring binders and refills will continue to be available for years to come. A copy shop might be able to punch the holes for you or you could purchase a hole punch and do it yourself.

Sarah asks:

Do you have any recommendations for planner stamps? I initially wanted to use the Pilot Frixion stamps because they are self-inking and erasable, but couldn’t find a complete set from any American retailers (except on Etsy and eBay, where I’d have to pay a huge mark-up). I bought this set last week and I’m pretty happy with it, but I wonder what other people are using.

This is a fun question, Sarah! Thanks for submitting it. I have found that I really like the clear cling planner stamps from either Hero Arts, Studio Calico or Studio L2E. Since they come on small flat sheets, they are easy to store and carry. You can even pick and choose from a variety of different planner sheet sets to build your perfect set for your planner. Most clear stamp sheets come on sheets ranging in size from about  4″ x 6″ and larger with lots of word and symbol stamps on each sheet.


  1. Studio Calico Stamp Set: Bullet By Hello Forever $15.99
  2. Hero Arts To Do List $15.99
  3. Hero Arts My Week $15.99
  4. Studio L2E Plan It Stamp Set $15

I keep a small acrylic block, similar to this set, in my pencil case and a small stamp pad for stamping. If you discover that you have specific stamps you use all the time, you can also just  adhere them onto something more permanently. Some are small enough to fit onto the end of  a bottle cap, old marker or dowel to make a more permanent stamp.

Happy stamping!

If you have a question for The Desk, use the “Ask The Desk” link at the top of the blog. Thanks!

Moving Into My Hobonichi Techo 2016

hobonichi techo 2016

The first step into getting prepared for 2016 was to set-up my new Hobonichi Techo A6 with the blue-green cover ($47). The color combo is absolutely PERFECT! Lime green loveliness inside with my second favorite color, turquoise, exterior. I had a decorative plastic protective sleeve I purchased a few years earlier from 1101.com that I added to the book. I quite like the overall look but sadly, this particular cover is no longer available. There is a different printed over available though or a clear cover.

hobonichi techo 2016

Inside, in the array of card pockets provided, I put lots of tidbits like stickers, washi tape wrapped around old playing cards and a few other tidbits. I’m not hugely inclined to do a lot of decorating in the Hobonichi at this point but the washi tape will give me a way to attach receipts, notes or other ephemera into the book as need and the stickers can be added to the monthly calendar for events and birthdays. Mostly, I plan to use the Hobonichi as a daily journal so the decorative bits are really for those days when I haven’t got a lot to write about and may be inclined to doodle or draw or just put a great big “X” on the day and call it done.

I wanted a pencil board to put between the delicate Tomoe River paper pages so I made one from a piece of index card (read: plain manila file folder), cut to size with a decorative tab at the top. I used the fancy tab punch and some scrapbooking paper to make the tab and the adhesive tab sticker to cover it. It wasn’t necessary to add the tab but it makes it quick to pull the card out and flip it around from page-to-page. It only took a few minutes to make it so I can use it as a blotter card as well if my inks are not completely dry. If it starts to look dodgy after awhile I can make a new one. I used a bit of washi tape to put in the ticket stub from Star Wars: The Force Awakens opposite my pencil board as you can see in the photo below.

hobonichi techo 2016

In the back of the book, I added a little A6 plastic folder that my friend brought back from Japan for me several years ago. As I was setting up the Hobonichi, I realized it was the absolute perfect size to fit into it and gave me a place to put a few more cards and stickers.

hobonichi techo 2016

The Hobonichi provides the last two weeks of December as half-page sheets so that I have been able to slowly start moving towards using it as a daily journal. The narrow half columns are a bit limiting so I’m looking forward to having a full page to write or draw the day’s events. I have been using an extra large Moleskine softcover notebook so the Hobonichi was seems incredibly small in comparison. I’m hoping moving to the full page will help alleviate any feeling of being cramped since the Moleskine XL was a bit larger than I needed per day most of the time.

I’m also still a little concerned about ink smudging and adhesion on the Tomoe River paper. The whole left-handed thing can be a bit of a pain and I get caught up in writing and forget to make sure the ink is dried before I run my hand through it. I’ve already run my hand through it a couple times so I will definitely need to make a point of finding a few pens that are the best match with the Hobonichi and keep them with the book to avoid future messes. So far, my favorite pen with the Hobonichi is the Platinum Carbon Pen. The super fine line allows me to write very small on the graph lines and the ink dries pretty quickly. I’ll play more with the gel pens I stash in my office at work in the next couple weeks and see if any others become favorites.

Are you moving into your 2016 system yet?

New Products for 2016

There are lots of new products hitting the market for 2016 and some are already available for pre-order so I thought I’d include a few here if you wanted to squirrel away some of your holiday funds for a few of these.

Lamy Al-Star Charged Green Pens

The limited edition Lamy AL-Star color for 2016 is called Charged Green and is definitely a Well-Appointed Desk-approved color. Fontoplumo has the pen available for pre-order in all its forms and will be shipping it in early 2016. Pen Chalet has the pen listed on their site but its not available for order yet but should be available soon.

The Lamy Safari for 2016 will be Dark Lilac but is not expected to ship until mid-year. The Dark Lilac will also have a matching ink! First confirmed sighting of it came from Goldspot Pens.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Metallic Purple: Special Edition

Goulet Pens has the new limited edition Kaweco Skyline Sport in Metallic Purple. The pen is still a reasonably-priced plastic pen with pearlescent coloring in the plastic to give it the metallic look. There is also a solid deep purple Skyline Sport if you like that better. Prices are $25-$27.

Kaweco Skyline Sport in Purple

Filofax UK 2016 planner covers

Filofax UK has already unveiled some of its new planner covers for 2016 in the UK. I’m not sure if any of these will come available in the US yet but you can get them shipped over if they are covers you must have. They are currently available in Personal and Pocket sized only. I really like the Tweet Organizer — just stick a bird on it!

Review: Agendio Planner


The Agendio planner was my first twin-ring planner and my first customize-to-order planner. So there are a lot of firsts for me and I will be making a lot of comparisons to ring-bound planners like Filofax or bound planners like a Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917 rather than other twin-ring planner systems, so bear with me.

I ordered the smallest size which is the Journal size (5.5×8″). The paper size is pretty comparable to A5 sheets in a Filofax planner or a medium Moleskine/Leuchtturm 1917 planner and the overall Agendio Journal book is just a little taller and a little thinner than my personal-sized Filofax. So, size-wise I didn’t make a big change in my planner size form what I’m generally comfortable with using. It makes this book quite portable, easy to fit in my bag or purse as needed and doesn’t require its own desk. Because of the hardcover, leatherette cover, the exterior feels good and looks understated and professional. In a very out-of-character move, I ordered the black cover with a dark green elastic closure. With a couple of weeks usage though, I’m finding I’m not using the elastic nearly as often as I thought I would. It probably wasn’t totally necessary to add the elastic but I like knowing I can secure it closed and I like the aesthetic accent.


Inside, I ordered the combination of monthly calendar (Model 32060) with weekly calendar (Model 32057) and then spent an inordinate amount of time customizing the details. There are so many elements that can be tweaked to your personal taste from fonts and colors to the placement of the numbers on the monthly calendar. Then I was able to add personal events to the calendar like important dates or repeating activities. I added family birthdays and my weekly Knit Night. Agendio allows you to choose holidays to add to your calendar as well by country and/or religious preferences. You can even add specific US State holidays.


On the weekly page layouts, I have a simple layout with the days of the week on the left and a space for notes on the right but the notes section is divided up into Divisibles to help organize my activities. I have a section for Work, Home, Blog and Misc. At the top is a Top 3 Goals and the inside left column is for general notes. Sunday is listed at the bottom of the right hand page but gets equal space as the other six days which I appreciate.


I also had some extra notes pages added to the back of the planner, just in case. And this is the perfect place to test some pens. For the most part, since my planner is on the small side, I tend to use fine gel pens in 0.38mm or thereabouts but I thought I’d test a bunch of pens to verify if there might be any issues with pens bleeding. I tested an array of fountain pens, some gel and rollerballs and even a couple of the brush pens I carry with me for drawing and lettering.  There was no feathering with any of them. Ink dried quite quickly and when I turned the page over…


Very little show through at all! There were a couple tiny dots from the Retro 51 stock rollerball refill which I always find to be a gusher. I always swap it out for a finer refill or hack in a gel pen refill anyway but I thought I’d test it for your benefit. I think heavy fountain pens with dense black ink might cause some show through but overall the performance was very good. Grab that rainbow assortment of gel pens, Frixion pens, or your favorite multi-pen and keep it close to your Agendio and you’ll have a match made in heaven.


There were a couple more extras that I added to the planner as well. I got the pocket in the back so I could pack rat some goodies and I got the Agendio page markers which are simple laser-etched steel clips to mark your week or month page. The clips are low profile and good looking. Etched on the back of each clip is the message “Follow your own agenda” which I think is charming. Its a lovely addition to the planner.


Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the whole experience and the incredible level of customization. It took about 10 days from placing my order for the planner to arrive and it was totally worth the wait. And again, the prices on the Agendio planners, even with all the extras like the extra pages, page markers and folder pocket is quite competitive with the Erin Condren, Day Designer, Inkwell Press and other wire-ring planners with or without customization. Agendio is also offering customizable inserts for Filofax and Franklin Covey planners in both A5 and Personal sizes now too. The best part of the Agendio system is that the planner can start on any month. Mine started with December 2015. I didn’t even have to wait for January 1 to start a brand new planner. How awesome is that!?! So many great options!

Due to a slight printing variation the folks at Agendio actually sent me two planners. My husband saw the extra one laying on the table and asked “Are you going to use this? Can I have it?” From him, that’s high praise! So, he now has his own Agendio with all my Knit Nights already marked as a reminder for him. I’m pretty excited to see how he’ll use his first planner. Aren’t you?

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

Planner: Get To Work Book

Get to Work Book 2016 cover

Several times this week, I’ve mentioned to people about the Get To Work Book. Its a beautiful planner made by Elise Blaha Cripe AKA Elise Joy. The Get to Work Book can be described like a lot of other planners on the market right now: twin-ring, tabbed with a vertical week-on-two-pages and a monthly calendar. It features a Monday start, It also includes note and brainstorm space, 16 “project breakdown” pages for large tasks, 13 “reflect and goal-set” pages and a pocket on inside back cover (View the page layouts here).

What makes it unique is how beautifully it is designed. It has 12 motivational text prints for each month that can be perforated out of the book and hung up or kept in the planner. The design is contemporary and beautiful but not fussy. The covers are kraft colored and all the printed elements are black and grey to be neutral and non-distracting. The paper is listed as “Sharpie friendly” which suggests that it might handle some fountain pen inks and other tools pretty well.

The pages are 7″ x 9″ and the overall book dimensions are 8.25″ x 9″ x 1″ so its not necessarily a petite, pocket-sized planner. But its comparable in size to a lot of the spiral planners on the market. The new 2016 edition starts with January though I believe they launched this past July with a mid-year edition so they may offer that again in 2016 as well.

The Get to Work Planer sells for $55. The price is comparable to a lot of other planners. While the Get to Work Book is not blingy nor does it come with a community of sticker makers and decorate-with-me videos, it will set you on the course to get organized while giving you plenty of space to bling and decorate, if that strikes your fancy.

Elise also has some really great ideas for goal setting and planning on her blog.

Get To Work Book

Review: Inkwell Press 4th Quarter 2015 Planner

Inkwell Press Quarterly Planner

This fall, Inkwell Press released a sort of “filler” planner for folks who didn’t get in on their first release of the 2015-2016 planner which I think debuted in June. This “filler” fourth quarter planner is a staple-bound, A5-sized booklet that provided folks with a taste of their larger planner and it spanned from September 2015 through December 2015.

The original Inkwell Press LiveWell planner is a larger 7×9″ sized spiral-bound planner which is available in two weekly layouts but its already sold out for 2016. I am not inclined to love the idea of a large closed-ring planner system anyway, especially one with exposed rings. I just envision taking something like that in and out of a bag and getting my keys or a knitting project tangled in those rings… oh, the horror.

Since I ordered the booklet, Inkwell Press is now offering the A5 quarterly booklets as a regular part of their product line. They will be available for purchase as a bundle for $35 starting December 9. Their products sell out fast so mark your calendar if you think you might be interested in purchasing these.

I had heard that Inkwell Press used some of the thickest paper in the business for their  planners so I thought this booklet would give me a chance to test it out without buying a full year planner.The paper is listed as 140gsm (approx 80lb text). Despite the thickness of the paper, it did not do as well with fountain pens as I’d hoped. I got a good deal of squish — the ink just sort of absorbed into the paper blurring my writing and then got dots of bleed through on the back. With gel, felt tip and rollerball pens in a whole array of colors though, the paper worked splendidly and I had little-to-no show through at all. So, this is not the magic bullet paper I had hoped for.

Each month is color coded with two interesting colors. September was blue grey and lilac, October was orange and grey, November is aqua and grey (with a golden yellow accent), December is coral orange and golden yellow. It makes discerning each month easy without being too distracting. The start of each month is a monthly calendar view on two pages followed by  their signature hexagonal “mission board” page. I’m not sure if I would use it or exactly what its for but the colors are pretty and the facing page is a notes page which is handy. Following this is a week on two pages with a Monday start and Saturday and Sunday get equal treatment with a space at the bottom for additional notes. To the right of each day is a colored box for a “top three”.

Anyway… So a nice small staple-bound booklet seemed like a nice change of pace for the end of the year. I’ve been carrying a personal Filofax for the last few months so this is definitely lighter and more compact but lacking in a lot of pockets, slots and extra sections for various notes so I had to start improvising right away.

Inkwell Press Quarterly Planner

Unlike the full Inkwell Press planner, the booklet style planner does not have any tabbed sections so I put some clips to use to mark pages and stuck a binder clip inside the front cover to hold notes. At present, I have the DMV notice to renew my license plate stickers clipped there as a constant reminder.

Inkwell Press Quarterly Planner

As you can see, I’m pretty much an “all-business” planner. I try to color code with pen colors but mostly I use whatever color is closest and call it a design decision. I use washi tape to denote travel dates or an extended project and call it “decorating”.

Inkwell Press Quarterly Planner

I did glue an envelope into the back cover to create a pocket for stamps, business cards and other detritus. You’ll notice that the bottom staple is already starting to pull loose from the cover. By the time I finished photographing this, it had come apart completely, after just two weeks of regular (ab)use. I’m not sure how well these booklets would hold up to four months of daily carry wear-and-tear without a protective cover of some sort.

Inkwell Press Quarterly Planner

Inside the front cover, I glued in another pocket for sticky notes, page flags and more business cards (I must be a magnet for those things!).

In the end, the paper did not live up to the hype and that was really why I ordered the planner in the first place. The mission boards are pretty but I am not the type of person to be introspective enough to know how to use them anyway so I just think “ooo, pretty hexagons”. So, I’m inclined to go back to one of my tried-and-true systems that can handle more abuse and are not quite as difficult to acquire.

Agendio: A New Planner System

agendio planner

Agendio is a new planner system that just launched. Agendio offers an array of customization as you order your planner on their step-by-step site. You can choose weekly or monthly planners (or the combination) in three sizes: from large desk size (8.5×11″ closed), medium (7×9.3″ closed) and journal (5.5×7″ closed). For the weekly planners you can then select from a column layout, a row layout or a grid layout and then get even more grandual and select section headers, spans, time formatting, holidays by country and/or religion, font styles and colors.

Agendio Planner

You can choose when you want your planner to start (if can even start in November if you want!) and what day you want your weeks to start — on Monday or on Thursday — yes, its that flexible.

One of the most interesting options offered is the flexible fields (Agendio calls them Divisibles). They are set up so they can be sub-divided and labelled as you need them. Are you juggling school and a job and need to divide information and tasks between those two categories? You can label your fields accordingly. Do you prefer to divide your daily tasks between family members’ activities? You can label the fields that way instead. In my case, I wanted to label fields for work, home and the blog (AKA my OTHER job). I loved that I was able to set up the sections accordingly.

Agendio Planner

You can add in you own recurring events too. Do you have a weekly meeting every Tuesday? Have it added to the planner at printing. You can even add a special event, birthdays, anniversaries or other events you want to include.

Agendio Planner

The Agendio uses 60lb/90gsm smooth white paper which is above-average quality paper. It might not survive the super juiciest fountain pens but should work well with most rollerballs, ballpoints, gels and highlighters. The Agendio books are bound with white double o-ring wires and covered with a leather-look hard cover material that lays flat and is durable (all while being non-cow). There are six different cover colors to choose from and I can’t decide which one I like best.

Prices range between about $35 and $50 or so depending on your size and level of customization but adding event and activities, divisibles or changing fonts or colors does not increase costs. Prices only go up if you go to a larger size, combine weekly AND monthly calendars, or add add-ons. Compared with systems like the Erin Condren and others the prices for the Agendio is almost half the price and just a tiny bit higher than an off-the-shelf Moleskine planner.

There are some additional add-ons like a pocket and vertical elastic (available in a variety of colors for some cover options like the black cover) for a reasonable added cost (about $2-$3 each).

Agendio is estimating shipping in 5-10 days after placing an order so plan accordingly. Maybe order the December start rather than the November. But again, that is wicked fast turnaround. I’ve heard people wait 4-6 weeks for planners from some of the other custom planner companies so jump in fast before they get swamped!

Agendio Planner

For diehard ring-bound planner users, Agendio will be offering their fully customizable sheets as refills for A5 Filofaxes and 7-hole Franklin Covey Classic and Day-Timer Desk sizes but those are not available yet. You can leave your email address with them and they will contact you around November 28 to order your custom pages for 2015.

I’ll be ordering one this week once I sort out all my options and then I’ll have a full review. If anyone decides to try one too, please let me know what you think. I’m dying to hear how these perform while I anxiously await mine.

Planner Subscription Services

There are a bunch of planner-focused, paper goods subscription services available to help you fill your planner, notebook, or journal with colorful additions. I thought I’d give a quick round-up of the options I’ve found. I’m sure there are many others but these are the ones I either subscribe to or know someone else who does.

The thing with kit subscriptions is that you will either have to check back regularly to sign up for the kit (there’s usually a specific window when you can initially subscribe) and/or you will need to make a minimum commitment of 3- or 6-months. In exchange for this enthusiasm and/or loyalty, you can receive a variety of products from planner inserts to stickers, rubber stamps, dashboards, washi tape and more, often at prices discounted below regular retail.

Studio Calico October Planner Kit

Studio Calico: Studio Calico is a scrapbooking company that is now offering planner subscriptions. You can purchase a month-to-month ($24.99/mo) or commit to a 6-month ($22.99/mo) or 12-month ($19.99/mo) subscription for better per kit pricing. They list out all the items that will be included in the kit. I ordered this kit but only received one of the two mini rolls of tape. I don’t know if it was a packing oversight or if I ordered so late in the month that they ran out of one of the rolls of tape. The tab stickers included this month were a perfect match for my dark aqua Filofax Original. The kit also came is a nice little zip pouch that can be reused for toting supplies to and from work. Overall, it seems like a reasonable deal but its definitely a better deal if you’re willing to commit to a full year.

Get your first month’s subscription for $1 + FREE shipping!. Use promo code: WINK1DOLLAR (only valid for 6-month or one-year subscriptions)

Planner Addict Box: The Planner Addict Box is an assorted box with a reasonable price — $15/mo plus shipping. Each kit comes with an assortment of stickers, sticky notes, clips, pens and washi. The upcoming November box is already sold out but you could probably get on the list for the December box. There is no time requirement as long as you cancel the subscription within their time frame so you can essentially subscribe for one month.  For a wider representation of the products in each kit, check out their Instagram to see previous kits.

Brimbles Box: This kit comes from another well-known YouTube planner celeb, Mrs. Brimbles. The kit includes a variety of products that would appeal to anyone who enjoys decorating their journal, planner or other memory keeping book. Past kits have included  cards, stickers, washi tape, pens, rubber stamps, etc. These kits ship from the UK £15.00 / month plus shipping. Mrs Brimbles also offers a Happy Mail Box for letter writers and postcrossers and custom themed boxes like the upcoming Geek Box and an Advent Washi Tape box. There are several unboxing videos available if you’d like to see the types of products that have come in previous boxes.


Happie Planner Kit: The Happie Planner Kit comes from the Happie Scrappie web site and is the cutest of all the kits– as in Kawaii, cute overload sort of way. If you want cute, fun, silly, kawaii, then this is the kit for you. Personal-sized kits start at $12.99 plus shipping and A5 and Fauxdori kits are $15.99 each per month plus shipping.

Planner Society Kit Club from Scarlet Lime

The Planner Society Kit Club: This kit was developed by indie multi-media artist Christy Tomlinson (AKA Scarlet Lime). Kits are designed to accommodate personal- and A5-sized planners.  Kits include a selection of decorative papers, clips, washi tape, stickers and embellishments.  There is a specific window in which you can subscribe to be a member of the kit club in order for orders to be fulfilled. Many of the items are custom designed for the kits. Planner Society will be open for new subscriptions starting Nov. 1 for December kits. There is an email sign-up list to be reminded when subscriptions are open again. The standard Planner Kit Club costs $24.95 plus shipping per month and this month they introduced a new Sticker Club. Sticker Kit Club is $13.95 per month plus shipping for just the Sticker Kit or $11.95/mo with free shipping for Planner Kit Club members.

Cocoa Daisy Planner Kit

Cocoa Daisy Planner Kit: Cocoa Daisy is another scrapbook company that has moved into planners and planner kits. They offer three options: the standard planner kit ($25.99, available in A5-, Personal-, or regular Midori/Fauxdori-sized), an Add-On kit ($15/mo) for those who can’t get enough paper goodies and a Planner Pages Only Kit ($8.50/mo). The Planner Pages Only Kits are available in all three sizes as well. The nice thing with the Cocoa Daisy planner kits is that each month, you will receive fresh week-on-two pages planner pages that are printed in full color on good quality paper. If you get the full kit, it will include a variety of embellishment items that coordinate with the pages. With the A5-sized inserts, you can choose 6- or 7-hole punched or no holes. With the Personal pages, you can choose standard 6-hole punch or no holes as well so if you are retrofitting the pages to a different system, you are not locked into holes you don’t want or need. The DaisyDori kit includes a monthly bound booklet to kit a standard Midori/Fauxdori notebook plus embellishments. Passport sized inserts are available as a printable.


Reset Girl Listers Gotta List: While the Listers Gotta List Kits aren’t specifically for planners. The Reset Girl developed the kits to compliment her monthly list-a-day challenge often done in Midori or Fauxdori notebooks. The contents of the kits include rubber stamps, stickers, decorative papers and washi tape that all work great for journals and planners. This kit does not require a subscription but there is a limited number of kits available. Current kit sells for $36.

(photo by Letter Writers Alliance)
(photo by Letter Writers Alliance)

Mister Ghost’s Highly Enviable Monthly Parcel of Simple Yet Amazing Wonderments: A Monthly Parcel of Evil Paper Goods: Each kit includes a 9″ x 12″ art print, two 32-page, pocket notebooks, two and two small stickers. Kits are available as a subscription or as a single purchase. The current kif is #007 and is available for purchase through October 31. The kit will ship out in late October or early November. And while not specifically a “planner” kit, the elements included are perfect for the planner with a humorously dark side.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 9.03.05 PM

Ali Edwards Story Kit: The Story kit is not specifically planner-related but more like a  scrapbooking or Project Life-style memory keeping kit. However, the products included in The Story Kit  ($24.99 for month-to-month, $21.99/mo for 6-month subscription and $19.99/mo for a year’s subscription) include many of the same items found in planner kits and are beautifully designed. There are small decorative cards, stamps, stickers, clips and embellishments  — all things found in most planner kits. Story Kits include free shipping in the US and a $2 surcharge for international shipping). Themes are revealed on the 15th of the month.

If having new things to embellish and decorate your planner or journal will help you stay excited to fill in that next entry or new month, then it may be a small price to pay to join one of these kit clubs. Please be sure to read all the fine print before you sign up and verify that shipping is available to your country and just how much it will be.

So far I’ve signed up for three different kit clubs but I’ve only received materials from one of them. While I don’t feel like any of  these are necessarily a big discount from buying proudcts individually, they offer a nicely, curated collection of themed materials and a little bit of joy in my mailbox each month. And with some of the kits, the materials in the kits are exclusive to the kits.

Planner Review: Leuchtturm1917 2016 Planner

Leuchtturm1917 Planner 2016

Somehow, no matter where my planning path takes me, I always manage to come back to the classic hardbound planner like the Leuchtturm1917 A5 planner. It really does have all the parts and pieces needed to plan out my schedule, take notes and basically stay on top of things. And it does all this in a relatively small package without sacrificing writing real estate.


Just to give a bit of size comparison, I sandwiched the Leuchtturm 1917 between my personal-sized Filofax Original in dark aqua and my A5-sized Finsbury in aqua (thanks to MJ for this beauty!) The paper size of the Leuchtturm 1917 planner is exactly the same as the A5 Filofax but it takes up considerably less space.


From the side, the Leuchtturm 1917 is also much slimmer but you get the idea. If one of your goals for 2016 is to trim down your daily carry, the Leuchtturm 1917 planner may be the first item on your wishlist.

Now, back to the details of the planner —

The Luechtturm1917 planner features the same soft ivory paper as regular Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks and all the printing is in a light, warm grey that is subtle and not distracting at all. It makes for a very clean looking planner.

The book features two grosgrain ribbon bookmarks with (JOY!) sealed ends. One marker is solid and the other is striped. I think the grey-and-teal striped marker is fabulous!

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner year at a glance

Inside the Leuchtturm 1917 Planner is year-at-a-glance calendars for 2015, 2016 and 2017 which makes it easy to reference for forward planning. The year-at-a-glance include week numbers. Next is a month-at-a-glance laid out vertically and include the moon phases. Each page had three months on it for a total of four pages of month-at-a-glance. Then comes a two-page spread of international holidays for 2016. Only the dates are listed, not the actual holiday, so if you don’t know why July 5 and 6 are holidays in the Czech Republic, you can make something up.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner project planner section

Then there is a project planning section. I did a little googling to try to figure out how this section would be used. Say you are having the roof repaired on your house and the contractor says it’ll take two weeks and they will start the first week of April, you’d write roof repair in the first box and then at the first week of April draw a line or dot or “x” then another in the second box under April. Then you could plan your mother-in-law’s visit after those two weeks. I’m not sure how useful these pages would be for me as I’m more inclined to use a month-at-a-glance calendar for these sorts of activities but it seems interesting.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner week on one page plus notes

Then comes the meat of the planner — the week-on-one-page plus notes layout that occupies the majority of the book. Saturday and Sunday share the bottom box which I’m not thrilled with but the full page for notes would provide any additional space I might need for weekend tasks, projects or events. At the bottom of each page is the week number again and the holidays are marked by country abbreviations. The moon phases are also shown in the weekly pages.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner extras

At the end of the book are 20 blank pages: 10 pages have perforation to make them easy to tear out. In the back in a bright white writing board with grid on one side and lines on the other in a dark black to act as a guide sheet with the blank pages. Also included is a set of stickers for labelling the spine and cover of your planner and a small cahier address book that can be tucked into the back gusseted pocket.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner pocket

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner ink tests

I did some rigorous pen testing and found that most fine nibbed fountain pens and felt tips worked well on the paper. Of course, ballpoint and gel pens performed exceedingly well. Since the paper is slightly ivory, the yellow mildliner was too light to be much use but traditional yellow highlighters and other colors of mildliners should work just fine.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner ink tests reverse side

From the reverse of the pen tests you can see a little bit of show through with the Franklin Christoph medium italic and the Pilot Varsity with standard medium nib. I also got a bit of show through from the TWSBI Mini with Callifolio Oliphants but I think that’s the ink more than the pen itself.

The book I received is called “Emerald” but its more of a teal, blue-green. I think the color is magnificent. While I believe that the emerald green color is the absolute best color option, Leuchtturm 1917 has provided eight other colors to choose from for their planners including a classic navy, black and grey as well as radiant shades of lemon, berry, orange, azure blue and purple if emerald green ain’t your thing. The A5 size planner is available from Goulet Pens for $19.95 per book.

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

Quick! Field Notes XOXO, Planner and more!

Field Notes XOXO 2016 edition

Do you subscribe to the Field Notes mailing list? If you do, go quickly and check for today’s email to get a chance to purchase a few of the limited edition XOXO Field Notes for 2016. GO… I’ll wait….

FN 2015-16 planner

If not, subscribe today for special deals. But I’ll share the other new products available today like the new wirebound paper planner ($13.95) and a new edition of the tear-away desk calendar ($11.95).

Field Notes Planner in use

The weekly planner looks fabulous and I am looking forward to seeing more details. Its the same size as the Arts & Science edition at 4.75 x 7.5″ with a double wire spiral and 56-weeks of planning on Finch 70# text paper. The lines look like they are printed in a brown ink which is a great way to get your blue, blue-black or black ink to pop. Or if you’re like me, your purple, pink, turquoise, orange or lime green pen to pop.

Field NOtes 2016 tear away calendar

That’s some good sh*t! Enjoy!

Digital Printables for Planners

Ever since I bought a laser printer, I’ve been using it to print various printables for my planner. Previously, it was so expensive to purchase ink for my inkjet printer and it so frequently clogged that I had basically stopped using it. My little laser printer is SO MUCH more reliable and cost effective. Of course, I can only print in black and grey but it give me an excuse to indulge in the occasional sticker, washi tape or rubber stamp.

I’m always on the hunt for good planner, journal, project management sheets. I like seeing good clean designs that can be left simple and clean — or decorated, if you are so inclined.

Here’s a few of my recent favorites:

marcy penner midori planner inserts

Marcy Penner Midori Printables Last year, I bought her personal-sized planner set and it was really well done. Her new planner set for 2016 for Midori-sized books is even better. The design features week-on-one-page with either blank or gird paper on the right. Also included is month-on-two-pages calendar. Set includes October 2015 through December 2016 so if you’re itching to get organized, you could start today. $10 for digital download.

Clock is Ticking Notepaper

Clock is Ticking Printable Notepaper Is this not the cutest illustration? This FREE downloadable PDF is compliments of the talented Mayi Carles of Oh My Handmade Goodness. Once printed and trimmed, you can make them into your own tear-off pad with this tutorial from Playful Learning.

Elise Joy Quote cards

Elise Blaha Cripe, aka Elise Joy, made lovely, inspirational quote cards that you can add to your planner dashboard or dividers. The designs are clean and simple and there’s bound to be one or two quotes that speak to you. Even if you’re not inclined to decorate, pinning one to your wall near your desk might be all you need to inspire you to forge ahead on your goals and projects. Free download.

Do you use downloadable printables? Which designers or styles are your favorite?

5 Things You Should NOT Keep in a Planner


As I’ve continued to research planners, planning systems and how other people use their planners, I’ve come across a few things I think should NOT be kept in a planner. Please feel free to disagree with me but these are my top five things I won’t keep in my planner.

  1. Passwords: For all my passwords, I use 1Password which syncs across all my devices (computers, tablets and cell phones), creates complex passwords and allows me to use one password to access all of it. It will also store credit card information, shipping information and software serial numbers, all behind the master password. I don’t feel comfortable keeping my passwords in my planner in case it gets lost or I leave it laying unattended for any length of time. Besides, I try to employ a regular password changing schedule for my very important accounts like banking and insurance. Take my advice and migrate your passwords to a secure, online system like 1Password. Its not cheap but it is worth every cent.
  2. Frequent Shopper, Frequent Flyer & Related Cards: While I love paper systems, all these credit card-sized cards in my planner or wallet take up a ton of space and are often only accessed or used occasionally. I found the app CardStar several years ago and it is perfect for saving all these cards. The app will scan the bar code off the card and store it in your phone. When you need to use a card, pull it up and the bar code appears on screen for the cashier to scan. Often times, the bar code is bigger than on the original card and is not scuffed or faded making it easier to scan. I use mine to store pharmacy cards, library cards, hotel point and flyer miles cards. I even hide important account numbers under unused mileage categories like my husband’s social security number or my bank account number. The app does not have a secure log-in for the iPhone but since my phone is thumbprint locked, I’m not overly concerned that someone will get into my phone and into the app to find these numbers. The only cards I couldn’t store in the app  are any with magnetic strips rather than bar codes or numbers on them or warehouse club cards like Costco since I have to show them at the door. My Barnes & Noble and Panera cards still have to travel in my wallet because they have mag strips but hopefully, as more systems get upgraded, these cards will change to bar codes as well. I still store a copy of all my cards in Cardstar in case my wallet goes missing or I misplace a card. I have the numbers stored and Cardstar often stores contact information for commonly used vendors right in the app so that I could contact them should I need to replace a card, upgrade my account or contact them about another matter. The last hold over are punch cards for local coffeeshops and the like. I keep these in a small card case in my wallet.
  3. Home Address: Yes, it is vitally important to keep some sort of contact information in the front of your planner should you misplace it. Using your email address, cell number or office contact info is acceptable in hopes that someone might try to return it to you. I would not recommend keeping your home address in the front of your planner for security reasons — both personal safety and identity theft. I set-up a Google Voice account many years ago to have a phone number that is not my personal number. Google Voice allows you to block individual numbers, receive text-translated voice mail messages and many other great features. If you run a business and use your cell phone as your main means of communication, a Google Voice number might be the perfect solution to have a personal number and a business number. And it means you can put contact info in your planner without revealing your real phone number.
  4. Checkbook or checks: Lots of people use their planner to do double duty as a wallet but in 2015, there is no reason to carry your checkbook, with your address and bank account number printed on each and every one. If you have to make a deposit or mail a check, prepare and completely fill out the checks you need to take with you before you leave the house. If you’re mailing them, be sure they are sealed in an envelope before you leave. If you are delivering them personally, put them in an envelope and seal it with the intended recipient’s name on it as well. If you’re making a deposit at the bank, be sure each check has “For deposit only” written on the back with your signature which will make it less likely that a bank would cash it for someone else.
  5. Excess detritus: This is probably very obvious to most people but in the excitement of setting up a new planner, I often over-stuff it with things I think I’ll need but I don’t use. This just makes the planner bulkier and heavier than if I pare it down to the essentials. So, I’ve learned that I don’t need to fill all the pockets with decorating items, every coupon, every receipt, extra sticky notes and my kitchen sink. I have a couple sheets of Japanese calendar stickers that I reserve for vacations and special events and a sheet of washi stickers I use to cover up anything that gets moved or changed. I keep a short stack of sticky notes for miscellaneous lists. I have lots of extra bits at home should I get the urge to “fancy up” my planner. Be mindful that the more you cram in your planner, the heavier it will be and the less likely you will be to carry it with you thus undoing any good planning mojo you may have created by including extra stuff.

This is, for me, the things I think should not be kept in a planner, especially if you leave it laying on your desk, tote it around in your bag, hang it over the edge of the shopping cart at the grocery and basically live out of it. While I would be devastated to lose it, I know that if I did lose it, I would not be a potential victim of identity theft too.

If you are someone whose planner never leaves the house, than these tenets might not apply to you.

Did I forget anything you think shouldn’t be stored in a planner?

22 Planner Alternatives to a Filofax

There are a lot more options for planning than Filofax or other ring-bound planners. And the reality is that each one of us has unique needs when it comes to staying on top of everything. We have work projects, appointments, personal to-do’s, family activities, long-term goals, and many other things in our lives that we want to make time for and document.  How do we fit it all in?

I went through some of the systems I’ve used in the past as well as some planner options that might be new to all of us. In the end, what might work for you this year, might not be what will work for you next year. Lives change, jobs change and our priorities shift. And that’s okay.

And there may not be ONE book to rule them all. Your personal needs might require a giant bound planner and a small notebook to keep as a journal. Or alternately, maybe you will only need a small planner/agenda and a big book (or books) for writing or drawing.

So here goes!

Non-Traditional Options:

Hobonichi WEEKS

Hobonichi: The English A6 Techo, the larger A5 Cousin and the original Japanese A6 Techo are all currently available for 2016. To me, the most interesting item is the new WEEKS planner. The size of the WEEKS planner reminds me roughly of the dimensions of a standard business envelope. Its actually 7.4″ x 3.8″. It would combine nicely with another notebook for longer form writing, if you’re looking for an alternative to a larger planning system. It features a week-on-one-page layout with the right hand page for notes. It includes two bookmark ribbons and there are several posh cover options available for the WEEKS as well.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Comparison

Midori Traveler’s Notebook: For the better part of this year, I’ve been using a MTN for planning and organizing my notes and to-do’s. I used a 3-book system including a printable planner I purchased on Etsy. I kept a separate notebook for work notes and personal notes plus the planner. I liked the flexibility but I’ve outgrown the space available in the MTN. There are lots of fauxdori options available, some in larger sizes to accommodate more A5-sized paper as well as passport- and Field Notes-sized options. (available through Goulet Pens and Baum-Kuchen in the US)

Roterfaden WK-12

Roterfaden: The fine folks at Baum-Kuchen have brought the German Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter to the US market. There are A5- and A6-sized versions and a plethora of inserts for this system so there’s lots of options to meet your personal needs. There’s a new version of the Roterfaden that is less bulky called the WK-12 which is sleek, low profile and still flexible. While the Roterfaden does not explicitly come with a monthly, weekly or daily calendar, there are several notebook options available for the Roterfaden such as blank, lined, grid and dot grid that could be modified to support a bullet journal or more traditional planning system. Like the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, the Roterfaden is customizable for a very different sort of planning need.

The Classics:

Planner Pad in Green

Planner Pads: Planner Pads rethinks the planning system using a funneling system to organize projects, tasks and daily activities. The company has been in business for over 40 years so clearly, their methods work for people. They offer their system in a spiral bound book, a ring-bound planner option, a desk pad and a digital app. They are so sure that if you try their system, it will work for you that they offer a 6-month money back guarantee. This system is streamlined and very professional looking. I’ll have more about this planner soon.


Uncalendar: Depsite their slightly low-tech looking web site, Uncalendar is not something to be overlooked if you’re searching for a functional system to help you get organized and be more productive. The overwrap on the covers suggest that the Uncalendar can help you improve your grades, start a new business or become a better person. Pretty optimistic. Its a deceptively plain looking spiral-bound book with undated pages for monthly and weekly events and a system for organizing notes. The Uncalendar is available in two sizes and the price is right.

Quo Vadis Planner covers

Quo Vadis: Quo Vadis offers an array of planner sizes and formats in weekly, monthly and daily layouts. Leather and leatherette covers are available for many of the planners to create a durable book with good looks. They also offer insert pages for ring-bound planners in the lush Clairefontaine 85g fountain-pen friendly paper.

Notebook-style (Hardcover Bound) Planners:

Moleskine Licensed Planners

Moleskine Planners: Moleskine (despite mixed opinions on their paper quality) offer an array of sizes and formats in their planner notebooks. Overall, their planners are concise and there’s a format to fit just about any need. If you’re inclined to plan with pencil or a fine line ballpoint, Moleskine paper will work fine for you. Aesthetically, I love the simplicity of Moleskine’s light-colored text, ivory paper, clean design and relatively small desk footprint. Now if they’d just fill their books with Tomoe River paper, the books would stay petite and able to withstand any writing tool thrown at it. A huge appeal of the Moleskine planners is the new licensed designs like Star Wars, Peanuts and The Little Prince. Some are also available with a soft, flexible cover as well as the traditional hardcover versions.


Leuchtturm1917: From the outside, the Leuchtturm1917 line of planners looks quite similar to Moleskine. However, the paper quality is better.  If you are looking for a hardcover planner alternative to a Moleskine, this is a great candidate. Leuchtturm planners are available in a variety of page layouts (three different weekly layous and a page-per-day), sizes  and colors to meet a variety of needs. Several years ago I used a  Leuchtturm Planner and it was a good solution for me at the time. (available through Goulet Pens in the US)

Passion Planner

Passion Planner: Similar in exterior aesthetics to the Moleskine and Leuchtturm1917 planner with black leatherette cover and elastic closure, the Passion Planner reinvents the interior to help map out longer term goals while planning the day-to-day tasks. Available in academic, undated or 12-month formats and with a Sunday or Monday start (this will be a big winner for some folks) in an A4 and A5 size, the Passion Planner is an interesting option. Not sure if Passion Planner is right for you? You can print out free downloadable versions of their planning pages to try it before you buy it. How generous is that?

ban.do planner 2016

Ban.do: I recently spied the Ban.do 17-month planners out in the wild. Its a smaller, hardcover planner (5.5″x8.5″) and full of playful, colorful designs. This is the pop fashionista’s planner of choice with 80s-style stickers and bold graphics on the monthly dividers. While the academic (17-month) planners are just about sold out, I suspect that a 2016 12-month edition should be available soon.

Spiral Bound Planner Systems:

spiral bound planners

There are a slew of systems on the market right now designed to appeal to busy women. I’m not being sexist here, these types of planners are designed by women and are talked about all over YouTube by women who love and use them. This is not a bad thing. For years, those drab Covey planners in buttoned-up blue were the only options available so the injection of design sensibilities, color and pattern is a welcome addition to what can sometimes be the tedious task of to-do lists, appointments and meetings.

In this category, there are plenty of options. There’s the Day Designer, the Erin Condren Life Planner (which has a cult-like following), LimeLife, Inkwell Press (also available as A5 inserts for ring-bound planners), Happy Planner (uses a disc binding like the ARC system), Plum Paper Planners, Emily Ley Simplified Planner and probably dozens more I haven’t found yet. Most of these planners are spiral bound and offer options such as fitness tracking, meal planning and the ability to break planning into work, home and family activities. Some can be ordered with custom personalized covers, add-ons and other details to create your unique system. If you are someone who has to schedule your life plus your kids’ lives, some of the options these systems offer might appeal to you. But these systems sell out fast so get on their mailing list now if you would like to try on of these out for 2016.

KateSpade Planner 2016

Kate Spade: Kate Spade used to be a hot ticket in the ring-bound planner world with posh leather binders but in the past few years, she’s moved to offering beautiful spiral bound planners.

2016 sprial bound planners

Rifle Paper, Paper Source and Lilly Pulitzer are also offering their take on the spiral bound planner. They are available in 17-month and 12-month editions though the August 2016 start editions are beginning to be difficult to find.

Paper & Prosper (Colorvale) The Briefcase

Paper & Prosper The Briefcase: The Briefcase used to be branded as the Colorvale Briefcase but is now under the Paper & Prosper brand name. So you may have heard about The Briefcase before. The Biefcase is also a spiral bound planner but it comes undated so you can start using it at any time. And its core focus is on helping you manage your professional life. The design is clean and simple and this book has plenty of room to jot monthly, weekly and daily notes, ideas and to-do’s with a whopping 290 pages of space.

Phew! That’s a lot of options. When I started this list, I thought I’d have five options but it turned into four categories and a total of 22 different options. Are you using any of these options? Do you love them? What feature is missing?

Link Love: Quo Vadis Planning Addendum

Quo Vadis blog screenshot

I’ve got a  whole lot of Quo Vadis love going on right now. So much so that it felt like it deserved its very own shout-out. If you are not familiar with Quo Vadis, they are a division of the Clairefontaine/Rhodia/Quo Vadis paper dynasty specializing in agendas and planners and, of course, the delicious Quo Vadis Habana notebook line.

Over the last few weeks (and to be honest, pretty much all the time), the Quo Vadis blog has an on-going series about time management and planning techniques. It specifically related to their planner systems of course, but I’ve found that a lot of the tips and recommendations will work regardless of whether you use a Quo Vadis planner or another system. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner that the planning and time management tips Quo Vadis provides could apply to any planning system. Looking at it with fresh eyes, I realize that there is so much good content here!

And, of course, I couldn’t help but love the content since Laurie Huff of Plannerisms fame has been at the keyboard. This is a woman who knows a thing or two about planning!

The best thing about the posts on Quo Vadis, and the Quo Vadis planning tools as a whole, is that they focus on getting the content in your planner rather than the decorating or beautifying that is the focus of so many other blogs and videos. Don’t get me wrong, I love that people use their planner as a creative outlet. I love seeing how people embellish their planners and journals. However, I have been looking for the core fundamentals of effectively using a paper planner for weeks and it was right here all along.

So if you are looking for some great planning and organization techniques, you might want to check out some of these posts:

Quo Vadis is also gearing up for a 2016 Page Per Day writing challenge. If you’re considering writing more in 2016, this challenge may help to keep you motivated when facing those blank pages. There is a Facebook group for participants using Quo Vadis tools for the Page Per Day Challenge. You can “play along” with whatever tools you want to use, however, the group is exclusive to Quo Vadis users.

If you think you might be interested in participating in the 2016 Page-Per-Day challenges:


Rethinking My Planner System

I can’t believe there are just three months left in 2015. Where did this year go? For the better part of 2015, I’ve been using my Midori Traveler’s notebook for planning. My Midori has three inserts in it: a notebook in the front that was supposed to be for personal projects, a center insert with my planner calendar and an insert in the back for sketching.

While I love the size and format of the MTN, and I did find fabulous weekly planner pages, things are starting to get a little out of control, organizationally speaking.

What’s ended up happening is that I tend to open the MTN to whatever blank page appears and start writing, so notes have gotten all jumbled. There are work notes in the sketchbook, grocery lists in the personal projects and just general chaos on the calender. I’m also running out of space in the weekly calendar to include all the various projects, to-dos and lists that I am needing to keep up with each day. I now understand what people mean about their planner system breaking down.

I need more space per page for planning. I need a place to take work-related notes that can then be collected or moved into specific projects. I need to have a more dedicated method for organizing blog content and personal projects. All of this is making me want to return to a ring-bound planner. However, I think that my current job assignments and life projects need something more spacious than the traditional personal size. I think I’m going to make the leap into the A5-sized planner.

rethinking my planner system

A switch to A5 will require new inserts and rethinking whether a week-on-two-pages will work. Not to mention I must now choose a new binder.

Great posts to re-started:

I think I’ll pair the new turquoise Domino with my Uni Style Fit in black with white dots and maybe a Zebra Mildliner in Mild Violet? And I might need a silver Binder Clip.

Are you happy with your current planning system? Are you working through it or ready to make a change?

Kikki-K 2015 Medium Time Planner in Mint

Kikki K in Mint

When I was trying to decide which planner I would use this year, the Kikki-K line was definitely in the running. When I saw the minty green medium Time Planner, I was all grabby hands. So, I ordered it. Of course, traveling from Australia during the holidays meant it took a bit longer to receive. So, in the meantime, I’ve really become attached to my Filofax Original in dark aqua. But I thought I’d unbox the Kikki-K in mint and give it a test drive anyway.

The cover closes with a wide, color-coordinated elastic that runs vertically down the book à la Moleskine. Its a thick dense elastic that seems like it should stand up to several years of wear.

Kikki K back cover

Can I wax poetic about the color first? It is a perfect match for an assortment of pens I own which absolutely warms my heart. The Sharbo-X is a perfect color match, as is the Pentel i+ multi-pen. For that reason alone, I should love this planner.

The Kikki-k web site claims that the Time Planners are leather but compared to the Filofax Original, it doesn’t feel like leather. There is a heavy texture on the exterior and the cover has a stiffener board sandwiched in between the two pieces of leather making it feel less like leather and more like PU.  But Kikki-k says its leather, so I’ll trust them but it doesn’t feel to me as much like leather and the thicker covers means it will take a little effort to train the covers to lay flat. The way that the binder is assembled also makes the cover feel puffy which could be a good thing but does not appeal to me.

Kikki K inside cover

Inside the front cover is a secretary pocket as well as an assortment of slot pockets. (Please disregard the white around the rings, it is the paper protector including in shipping). Kikki-K included some cards in the pockets with notes for best practices in opening and closing the rings and inspirational messages. The overall design of the paper products is really good. ITs all clean, simple and nicely designed. The paper goods have a classic yet modern look. Another reason why I should love this planner.

Kikki K tabs

The planner includes a full set of refills that feature a page for personal information, the full year as week on two pages plus a monthly calendar on two pages, a section for addresses, birthdays & anniversaries, shops & restaurants, to-do, and expenses. Each of the glossy navy blue tabs are labelled and each sections has clean, simple sheets as well. The tabs are cardstock and the filler pages are a lightweight paper. I did not do any pen tests but I suspect that anything more than a gel or ballpoint pen will probably have some bleed or show through.

There is also a removeable, translucent plastic “this week” bookmark. Again, really nicely designed. Its simple but it looks good.

Kikki K Week On Two Pages

On the week on two pages, Saturday and Sunday share the bottom slot and Sunday is highlighted in red. The individual slots for days have light grey dotted lines to keep your writing aligned.

Kikki K Gold Rings

The rings are gold which some people love and others don’t but more importantly for a planner, the rings align perfectly. There is no gapping,unlike when my Filofax arrived, so the paper can be flipped back and forth with no catching or snagging on a misaligned or gapping ring. The rings open and close with a firm click.

Kikki K vs Filofax Original rings

And the Kikki-K rings are a 0.5cm wider than the Filofax original. The Filofax rings are 2cm wide and the Kikki-K are 2.5cm. The Kikki-K rings are also slightly oval rather than perfectly round.

Kikki K with Pentel i+ pen

There is an elastic look on the right hand side of the binder to hold a pen. Its the same dense elastic used to close the cover. I put the Pentel i+ 3 multi-pen in the loop which is of average thickness for a pen and there was some wiggle room. This pen loop seems like it would be most useful with a 4-color multi-pen  like the Uni Style Fit. The Sharbo-X was a little too narrow and unless I caught the clip on the elastic, I would worry that it would fall out. And for most people, a right-side pen loop is perfect but I am so spoiled by the left-side pen loop on the Filofax Original that the loop on the right is annoying to me.

The back cover has one horizontal slot across the top to hold a notepad and one is included in the binder.

Kikki K filled with my stuff

My last test was to see if all the stuff that I’m currently carrying in my FIlofax Original would fit into the Kikki-K Medium. It all fit and it looked good contrasted with the minty green.

Kikki K filled

I did notice that if I did not loop the elastic around the binder when it was filled with real life stuff, it flapped. Now, this might lessen over time as its used but since this is only my third experience with a planner binder, I found it kind of annoying.

Overall, its super pretty. The fact that the planner ships with a full set of inserts makes this a great starter kit for anyone who wants to get into planners. That said, and it breaks my minty green heart to say it, this planner is not for me.


Inside My Filofax Original Planner (Personal Size)


Now that I’ve settled on the Filofax Original personal-sized planner in dark aqua as my planner for the year, I was ready to add my inserts and customize it to be mine. I’m not inclined to be too craftsy with it because I want to use my planner to get organized. I don’t want it to be another “project” I have to do each week. I just want to plan out all the projects I want to do (and need to do), but I wanted to add a little “me” to is as well. I thought I’d share the little details I added to make this my planner.

It’s not “finished” yet but I’ve been using for over a week and its meeting all my needs so far.


As you can see, I’ve stuffed it full already with pages and some other bits. Because its really just a leather cover, the bulk of the bulk is the content and not a big planner.


The pen loop is on the let side which a lot of people have complained about. As a lefty, this couldn’t be more perfect! Its the first time ever that the pen loop is on the proper side. There are a couple business card-sized slot pockets on the inside of the cover and the elastic is stitched in two places so there is theoretically room to slide other things under the elastic but I have discovered that the more stuff I stick in the inside front cover, the less pliable it becomes. Since its already pretty full, the stiffer the cover, the harder it becomes to snap the cover shut. So, for me, no junk in the inside front cover.

There’s a clear plastic flyleaf on the front that I’ve been paper clipping coupons to. It keeps them front and center to I remember to use them. Under that is one of my handmade, laminated dividers. I drank my own kool-aid here and bought a budget priced Amazon Basics laminator for about $20.


I’ve been collecting bits of pretty paper for years and this seemed like the perfect use for some of it. I used the stock tabs that were included with the Filofax as guides and cut out the tabs, ran them through the laminator and then trimmed and punched them. I used an electronic Dymo to print sticky labels on clear film and cut them to fit on the tabs.

Right now, I have five tabs:

  1. Calendar
  2. Lists
  3. Addresses
  4. Post Log
  5. Blank


Inside, I upgraded to the Filofax Cream Cotton week-on-two-pages inserts for 2015. I use these pages to write things I need to do in a given day, be it “stop at library” or “get gas” to “project due”. For activities that need to happen in a given week, I’ve been hole-punching a smaller card and inserting it in between the week. These can be things like a list of topics for the blog or “call the dealer to schedule car maintenance”. If the tasks don’t get completed, the card can be moved to the next week.

I’ve heard that the Cream Cotton paper is thicker and better quality than the standard Filofax bright white paper. I haven’t done any comprehensive ink tests yet but, in general, I think the best course of action with a planner is to keep a multi-pen filled with fine tipped gel inks rather than to try to make it work with my fountain pen collection. I’m willing to sacrifice some fountain pen time to not have slow-drying, smudging, bleeding, etc issues with my planner. Besides, my multi-pens frequently get neglected in favor of fountain pens so this is their chance to shine. At present, I have a Pentel i+ in the elastic pen loop but I’ve also used my Uni Style Fit pens (4 colors plus a pencil) and they both easily fit in the elastic loop.


I printed a year-at-a-glance fold-out calendar from What She Was on Etsy which is super clean and simple and gives me quick access to the whole year. I might also add a month-on-a-page calendar for tracking longer projects, holidays and birthdays.


Behind the “Post Log” tab is only a little glassine bag that I punched and filled with an assortment of stamps. This will eventually include the PenPal Mail Log sheets I purchased from Holiday Notes on Etsy but I am waiting to print them on a good color printer rather. Hopefully, I’ll have a few sheets in place by next week.


The addresses section is also the Cream Cotton pages from Filofax. I used a page or two for all my contacts. It took me awhile to transcribe them from my old address book but I love having all the addresses in one place, along with my post log.

In the Lists section is just a few sheets of the Filofax sample To-Do List pages but I plan on downloading and printing some To-Do Lists soon. I’d like a slightly different format than what is offered on the Filofax sheets but will have to shop around on Etsy and My Life All in One Place in hopes of finding a better option.

In the Notes section, I have it filled with the multi-colored paper samples that came with my Filofax. I am burning through this paper so I suspect I will need to order more soon. I do like the colored paper and the lines so I might buy some from KiddyQualia or Yellow Paper House.


Behind the black tab is a vintage air mail envelope that I’ve been tucking receipts into. It fit perfectly, I just needed to punch holes and voila!


Behind the envelope is the clear plastic sleeve which I’ve slid some loose papers into and stuck a large sticky pad to the back. Eventually I might swap out the large pad for a smaller pad but I had this one, so I’m using it for grocery lists and what not. Then there’s another clear flyleaf sheet. In the back slit, I placed a plastic pocket folder that friends brought back from Japan for me. Tucked into it are some calendar stickers that also came from Japan, some sticky fold-over tabs, business cards and other paper detritus.

So, there you have it. A tour of my planner for 2015. I’m sure, over the year, things will be added and other things will be removed. The nice thing with the Filofax is I can move things around, take out pages that aren’t getting used or add in more pages where I need them. I can even change the binder completely and move all the pages, tabs and all, with no issues. So maybe in the spring, I might try a more summery binder. For now, I am in love with how flexible and aesthetically appealing the dark aqua Filofax Original is.

Giveaway: Word. Memorandum 2015

Word. Memorandum 2015

Several weeks ago, I decided I wanted one of the Word. Memorandum 2015 notebooks ($11). I ordered it at the same time I ordered the Polygons and Indigo Word. Notebooks. Then I went full-tilt on ring-bound planners so it feels extraneous to keep this beauty to myself.

The Memorandum us beautiful with a rich brown cardstock cover, stamped in gold foil. Inside is fabulously, classic design elements for tracking your days (week on two pages) as well as spaces for indexing and personal information as well as a list of holidays.

Word. Memorandum 2015

The Memoradum is just 2.35″ x 5.25″  so it will slide easily into the smallest pocket. A fancy leather cover is available for purchase from Word. Notebooks ($40).

Word. Memorandum 2015

Designer Jon Contino is responsible for the stunning typography and design and it is awesome. He has a great eye for classic design and it shows.

Word. Memorandum 2015

TO ENTER: Since I’ve decided to rely on a ring-bound planner, I’d like to give this to a lucky reader. Do you want to account for your days with this fabulous planner? Tell me in the comments what events you’d like to track in the Memorandum to be entered to win.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday, January 9, 2015. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Saturday. 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. This giveaway is open to all readers! 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.

My Planner Journey

After putting together the Ring-Bound Planners series, I decided that I needed to take my own dive into planners too. First, I ordered a green Franklin Covey Giada binder in the compact size. The compact size in Franklin Covey-speak is similar in size and ring configuration to the very popular Filofax personal sized binders.

Ring comparison FC vs Filofax
On top, the Franklin Covey Giada in Compact Size and on the bottom, the Filofax Original in personal size. See how the rings don’t quite line up?


The hole placement of the 6-rings is CLOSE to the same on the Franklin Covey to the Filofax.

Since the FC compact-size planner is designed to fit slightly wider paper than the Filofax Personal, and most of the planning sheets I want to use are designed to fit the Personal-sized Filofax, the Giada might end up feeling to gappy for me. But, oh that color!

Franklin Covey Giada compact planner green

The Giada binder was on sale (thanks, Christmas discounts) but it was still not the cheapest option available. The Giada ships without any inserts at all so there is an additional cost factor to consider when choosing Franklin Covey.

The thing I noticed first about the Franklin Covey planner is that it did not ship with any inserts at all — not undated planner pages, no plain  lined paper, no dividers, nothing. So, despite the sale price, there would still be an additional investment to build out the planner. That wasn’t a huge deal breaker for me since a big part of my interest in a planner came about when I discovered how many custom inserts were available for download on the internet. But still… nothing but two plastic slip cards for the front and back (what are these things called anyway?).

Inside the Giada

Inside, the Giada features lots of pockets for cards in the front and a zipper compartment. IT also has two pen loops with elastic on the underside to accommodate a variety of pens.

Inside the back of the FC Giada

Inside the back cover were two slit pockets placed quite low but would probably support a reporter style notepad or hold a few loose pages.

I never really unwrapped the Giada because I just wasn’t sure about it.

The more I thought about the size and the weight of the FC Compact planner, the more I started thinking I might prefer a Filofax Original in the Personal size. Its narrower than the FC Giada and the color options were different. I was able to find a Filofax Original on clearance which was actually a bit less expensive than the Giada. Also, Filofax planners do ship with an assortment of filler pages though including a week-on-two-pages diary, ruler-page marker and a sampling of paper including to-do list sheets, ruled colored paper (in an assortment of colors), address pages and a clear plastic envelope. While I may not end up using the sheets that ship with the Filofax, the fact that it comes with these tens-of-dollars worth of add-ons, may be a consideration in your purchase if you’re just starting out with a ring binder planner.

Franklin Covey Giada vs. Filofax Classic Personal

I kept the Giada long enough to photograph it with the Filofax Original. I wanted to be able to see for myself the size and feeling difference between a Franklin Covey and a Filofax before I made a decision about which planner I would stick with for the year. As much as I love green, I didn’t let that be the deciding factor between these two planners. When the Filofax arrived, the feel of the leather, which was much more pliable while also feeling more durable was immediately more appealing. The FC Giada has board stiffened covers which are then wrapped in leather. Add to that the abundance of pockets and zips and the Giada just felt bulky before I had even put anything in it.

Franklin Covey Giada vs. Filofax Classic Personal

From the profile, the rings on the Filofax Original seem larger but the binder clamp looks more streamlined. As you can see from the profile, I took to the Filofax very quickly and I’ll go into a more in-depth review and flip through tomorrow. I just wanted to walk you through my own experiences and show you the differences between a Franklin Covey compact planner and a comparable Filofax personal-sized planner. The Giada has been returned to Franklin Covey. Maybe it will be the “just right” planner for someone else but its not for me. The pockets, the color, and the wider size would be the pluses for the Giada but in every other way, the Filofax  was the clear winner.


A Beginner’s Dive into Ring-Bound Planners: Part 6 – Additional Resources


(photo via Philofax Facebook Page)
(photo via Philofax Facebook Page)

This is Part Six 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, Part Three: Binders, Part Four: Inserts and Part Five: Accessories.

Just like the pen, ink and pencil community, there is an extensive network of blogger, video bloggers and independent shops that specialize in all things planner-related.  I wanted to include a short list of the sites I found most helpful in my research and that I’ll regularly be referring back to.

YouTube is a huge resource for unboxing videos and tours inside filled planners. Some show how people are using their planners, comparing various planners; and reviews of specific binders, brand or sizes. Just try searching for the brand, size or name of a given planner to find dozens of review videos. Some will be useful to you and some will not but it is a great way to see these products in use.

Planner Companies:

I’m sure I overlooked a couple binder manufacturers so please let me know if your favorite is not listed here. I know a lot of people like the Kate Spade planners but the binders are not currently listed on her site; only bound planners and refills for 2015.

Other resources, blogs and info:

Printables on Etsy:

There are so many more options for printable pages, just start searching on Etsy or the web for “printable planner” and then add your preferred planner size like “personal”.

There was way more to choosing a planner than I ever imagined. I hope my research has helped you to see the possibilities of using a ring-bound planner for organizing your best year ever.

To read the rest of the series:

A Beginner’s Dive into Ring-Bound Planners: Part 5 – Accessories

This is Part Five 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 and Part Four: Inserts.

More than a Calendar:

Once I started researching planners, I discovered that there was more to a planner than just calendars and contact lists. There are pages and inserts to store passwords, track and account expenses and budgets, track fitness, and so much more. What are your goals for 2015 and what do you want to accomplish? Whatever it is I bet you can find insert pages to track and organize your goals and activities.

Filofax personal pen pal mail log

I love the Holiday Notes Pen Pal Mail log. I’ve be keeping my mail log in a separate book but often the book is not with me. A planner page would mean I always had a record with me.

I’m hoping to find recipe printables that fit into a Personal-sized planner. I’m not a good,  nor a particularly enthusiastic, cook so I’d like to have my dozen go-to recipes with me so I can stop at the store and pick up the necessary ingredients on my way home. I’d also like to find printables for book lists and web sites to check out. If I can’t find any, I might end up making my own.

Dividers & Pockets:

There are also other planner considerations like tabbed dividers, movable book marks, and storage for loose items like zipper pouches or pockets. Some binder companies will include a starter kit with at least a few of these items included. If they are not your taste, you can make new ones with decorative paper, office supply files folders or whatever else tickles your fancy. Many independent sellers offer downloadable or purchasable designs on Etsy, Ebay and web shops.


(via Inside The Crafter's Studio)
(via Inside The Crafter’s Studio)

A lot of people use a “dashboard” in the front of their planner which is a decorative piece, usually laminated or plastic, and attach sticky notes. This is where to put the “hot notes” or to put a stack of stickies to use inside the planner. This page is also referred to as a flyleaf or page turner.

Other Add-Ons:

6-hole adjustable punch for filofax

If you are interested in trying to create your perfect planner using a ring-bound binder you’re probably going to want to invest in  a couple things. A hole punch of some sort will make it possible to add additional pages to your book, be they scraps of notes, stray index cards, or printable add-ons. A single hole punch will work fine for on-the-go needs. Just use one of the tab dividers as a guide to punch holes in your new sheet. But, if you plan on adding a lot of customized sheets or printables, you may want to invest in a multi-hole punch with the correct hole placement for your chosen binder. Brand specific punches can be pretty pricey but I found a reasonably-priced adjustable 6-hole punch on Amazon.

Muji Corner Rounder

I also discovered that I really like my pages to have rounded corners so I’ve been using a small corner rounder I got at Muji to round the corners. Any craft supply shop should sell a corner rounder that will accept about 6 pages at a time for less than $10.

Amazon Basics Laminator

If you get really serious about making your own dividers and dashboard, you may want to invest in a laminator or a Xyron. I have a old Xyron 910 and the nice thing is that you can swap out rolls mid-use and use adhesive, magnet or laminate — if you are feeling extra DIY crafty.

New #filofax charms!  I'm still wanting a beaded one though.

Some folks like to add a charm to their binders to add a little personal touch as well. I’ve seen cell phone charms looped around the rings as well as specifically designed planner charms. So if you feel the urge to “bling it up”, you have options!

Fauxbonichi and Fauxdori:

I think the allure of a ring-bound planner is the same thing that makes the Hobonichi Techo and the Midori Traveler’s Notebook so popular — the endless capacity for them to be whatever you want them to be.

In my research, I found an assortment of “fauxdori” pages to turn a Traveler’s Notebook into a planner or vice versa. I also found printable pages for planners that looked like the gridded pages from a Hobonichi (dare I say “fauxbonichi”?). I even found a video on YouTube where someone cut down sheets of Tomoe River paper to fit into a ring binder. So, clearly, with some ingenuity, a ring-bound planner can be whatever you want it to be. While much of this series has been about traditional ring binder planners, there are other options to create a flexible planner. Using a Midori Traveler’s Notebook cover (or one of the many similar style leather covers available from other sources), you can print and bind your own booklets to include inside these covers.

Alternately, you can take the best things about a Hobonichi Techo and integrate it into a ring-bound planner, whether that’s the paper, the layout or something else you love about it.

In the end, we each have to chart our own path to organization and success planning. What method do you think works best for you?

To read the rest of the series: