Planning the Planner

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I have been futzing around with what kind of planner I want to use for 2013. I’ve pretty much been hemming and hawing about this since my Exhaustive Planner/Calendar Round-Up back in August and now I’m feeling the crunch as the clock ticks down to January 1. I even went out and bought something thinking it was the right solution only to realize I was already on the road to planner fail — it was an insert for a binder-style planner like a Filofax or Franklin Covey binder and discovered I did not have the binder anymore.

Luckily, I found Plannerism’s How to Find Your Perfect Planner post. This was a great tool to help me think through my needs and help me narrow down the options to planners that met my personal criteria.

Here’s my preferred qualities:

  • Good quality paper: As much as I appreciate the layout and color of Moleskine’s weekly planners, the paper is not durable enough for the array of writing tools I throw at it.
  • Week-at-a-glance: can be all on one page with a notes page or actually across two pages. I’m not so booked with meetings everyday that I need a day-at-a-glance but do like to have room to write down important events and any specific to-dos I might have. So, daily would be okay but would prefer the more compact weekly view.
  • Lays flat: can be hardbound or softbound. Rings, spiral or binder are okay in a pinch
  • Fits comfortably between my keyboard and monitor (under 7″ tall). I usually keep my agenda open on my desk just above my keyboard so that I can glance at it for any upcoming events and also jot down any notes or reminders throughout the day.
  • Less-than-black lines: blue, brown, gray… anything but heavy black lines so that my writing comes to the foreground.
  • Beautiful typography: this can be a stumbling block. The Rhodia planner has great paper but the typography inside makes me cringe.
  • Price: more than $35 for a standalone diary seems like too much. Refills for a planner should less than $30 and since I don’t currently have a binder, I’d have to figure that into the cost of the planner and hope that it is a format I’d be willing to use for years to come to make it worth the investment.

This doesn’t seem like it should be impossible to meet all these standards but it does take some digging.

Notemaker carries a great selection of planners and agendas and is a good place to start narrowing down the possibilities. They stock binders and refills for Filofax which are getting harder and harder to find. They also carry Delfonics, Quo Vadis, O-Check and the charming Frankie Diary. They even have a full assortment of Moleskine planners if all else fails.

Referring back to my earlier post, I’m still considering the Paperblanks planners from Jenni Bick and We Are What We Do Action Diary. I am also intrigued by the Ciak Day Planners which have lovely typography. And I did love my Cavallini planner for two years but wonder if I should try something new.

Have you chosen your planner for 2013 yet? What did you choose and did it meet all your needs?

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  1. I had to switch to a computer planner. The company I work for works exclusively through Outlook calendars, and trying to keep a home planner plus the Outlook form was impossible (plus, it’s not unusual for me to receive calendar updates in the middle of the night or have to respond to them while on vacation or when flying or even when I take a break after a long MC ride, so it’s convenient to have the one small blackberry even if I hate hate hate the blackberry.

    So unless someone invents an electronic calendar that somehow draws from my work computer’s Outlook calendar and ANY program on the PowerBook and is then available on the iPhone as well as on the Blackberry, I’m stuck with Outlook even though it sucks on the blackberry and can’t be drawn onto my iPhone.

    Just because technology exists, that doesn’t mean it works as well as the old paper version. My old paper versions were pretty interesting:

    1. I also used week at a glance, but it was the format where one week was over two facing pages, and each day would be a long rectangle (as opposed to the grid that goes across with each day being below the date).
    2. There had to be a month at a glance calendar available for each month.
    3. There had to be a year at a glance for the previous year, current year, and next year.
    4. I didn’t used to care about the paper, but I didn’t used to use anything but ballpoint pens or pencils. Now I’d need something with paper that can stand up to my fountain pens (which are not super wet – I live in AZ!).
    5. No large margins. I wanted as much space as possible available inside the calendar.
    6. And finally, extra pages in the back for writing notes and things.
    7. NOT reusable. I love the feeling of a new datebook. I like to open it up and write my information on the front page. I want to file last year’s away AS IT WAS. It’s fun to look back and see the older years (unfortunately, they got lost under a roof leak, but I was all into unicorns and fluffy stuff in high school up to the nicer quality ones of later years)

    Preferred but unnecessary:
    1. LOTS of spare pages in the back
    2. Attractive but simple – A fun color, doodles in the margins, quotes, comics on the month at a day pages, etc. – all good. No photos inside the date squares that I have to hope my pen will show up through, no super bright colors in case I do need to write over the designs, etc.If it can’t be pretty then just stay functional. I think that I would also have to add no lousy typography – if reading the date makes me cringe then I’m not going to want to use it.
    3. Something fun that makes it stand out from the crowd. Perhaps a theme or extra pages between every month so that you can keep your notes WITH the months they’re from.
    4. An enjoyable tactile experience. Needing paper that my fountain pens work well with will help make that possible for the paper, but the cover and the margin edges should also be nice. I don’t need leather, but I would like something that doesn’t feel bad (so no cheap vinyl, none of that weird puffy paint).
    5. An extra month at the end so that I can plan January things in my calendar in November and December. Then I’ll transfer it over into the crisp and fresh new calendar. IT FEELS SO GOOD TO DO THAT.

  2. Hi! This is a first post by a long-time ‘lurker’ of your site (which is fabulous btw!)

    I have to say that I am a Moleskine addict so naturally my 2013 diary will be Moleskine (purchase from Notemaker – awesome online business). I’ve been trialling the various sizes and layouts of Moleskines diaries these past few years and for 2013 have settled on a red hardcover week-to-an-opening pocket size one. I have itty-bitty handwriting so find the pocket diary big enough and I need a hardcover because I carry it with me everywhere (sounds weird but I actually suffer a mild anxiety attack if I realise I have left it at home/work). Changing it up to a red cover this year to match my new red Moleskine notebook I’ll be using for my next journal.

    What I love about this particular layout is having the week on the left of the opened pages and then a lined page to the right – fabulous for writing lists, ideas, etc or a place to stick a favourite picture. I use Uni Style-Fit pens which are great on the Moleskine paper and suit my handwriting size 🙂

  3. I feel like I sort of settled for a Paper Source planner this year…only because I get the discount and it’s “fine”…it’s not perfect…I wish each month’s spread came right before the corresponding weekly pages (there is so much flipping) and I hate the spiral, and the PS colors are boring me right now (I wish they would re-do the interior pages with something other than beet, papaya & curry!), but like I said, it’s fine…Last year, I had this cute Peanuts datebook that was a giveaway from Mister Donut in Japan. My sister-in-law sent it to me because she knows my love of “Misdo”…oh how I’m going to miss seeing Charlie Brown & the gang eating donuts each week! 🙂

  4. I totally understand, I really wanted something cute and funky like the Frankie Calender but couldn’t get on board with the format. So i dragged out an invite.l magazine editorial notebook and carved myself some stamps to create my own week to an opening planner! I’ll do a progress post about it this weekend. BTW i’m having a competition for a set of my hand-carved stamps on my blog if you want to stop by!

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