Posts Tagged ‘planner’

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? planner 2016 I recently spied the 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, 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


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.

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.


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?

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


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

Planner Inserts:

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

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


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

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

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

(via Pretty Organised on Etsy)


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

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

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

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

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

(via Hello Forever by Marcy Penner)

Beyond the Calendar:

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

Next up: Accessories and Add-Ons

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

Original Person Filofax in Teal


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

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

Binder Materials:

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

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



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

Binder Closures:

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

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

Ring Sizes:

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

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

Next up: Inserts!



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


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

Planner Sizes:

The most popular planner size is the Personal (paper is 95mm x 170mm, or 3.75″ x 6.75″) or the Compact (with paper measuring 4.25” x 6.75″) . Franklin Covey is the only company I’m aware of that uses the “Compact” size. Filofax, Kikki K , DayRunner, DayTimer and others use the “Personal” sized pages but each company has their own name for the size.

I’d recommend keeping a note with the measurements of your preferred planner size handy and always check the written size unless you are buying the refills to coordinate with your planner brand.

Filofax paper sizes

The Personal (Filofax, et al) and Compact (Franklin) sizes are the same height and feature the same 6-hole configuration (two sets of three holes placed to the top and bottom of the spine) but the Personal size pages is about a 1/2″ wider. Binders designed for the Compact-sized paper are a bit wider to accommodate the larger paper.

The Personal size offers the widest range of potential planner refills, while the overall size of the planner is still portable. Using Franklin Covey inserts in a Filofax may be a little too tight and Filofax inserts in a Franklin may have a bit too much excess space but the option is there. Finally, the Personal size is a common size for custom inserts which might be appealing if you need something specific.

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

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

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

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

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

(via Staples)

(via Staples)

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

Which size is right for you?

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

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

Planner Page Sizes vs. Moleskine and Midori

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

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

Edit: (12/24/2014) Clarified and corrected references to the Dayrunner. Thanks to reader, Cruz for catching the error.


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

(Photo via thecrazylifeofj)

(Photo via thecrazylifeofj)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did I mention the rabbit hole?



Indie Planners for 2015

Indie planners from Etsy

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

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

DIY Planner for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Image from The Pen Hero

Image from The Pen Hero

Vicki asks:

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

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


Deborah asks:

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

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

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

Levenger Circa Sunday Start 2015

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

Passion Planners

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

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


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

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

Beyond The Halfway Point: Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014

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

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014

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

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

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 top view

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

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 side view

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

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 inside front cover

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

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 inside

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

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 inside back cover

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

My Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014 back cover

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

My Hobonichi is definitely bigger on the inside.

Maire-Chantal Children’s Diary 2015

Marie Chantal Children's Diary 2015

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

Marie Chantal Children's Diary 2015

Marie Chantal Children's Diary 2015



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

Marie Chantal Children's Diary 2015

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

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

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

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

In other news:

Paper and Notebooks:

Pens and Ink:


For Valentine’s Day:

(via Creatively Curated)

Download the hi-rez file at  Creatively Curated

Get Organized: Todoist Next

Todoist Next screenshots

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

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

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

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

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