Monday, November 30, 2009


Today, November 30, is the day my Quo Vadis Minister begins! Yay! So this week I will be Calling the Dog between it and my Moleskine weekly notebook. I have filled in all of my appointments and To-Dos in both planners, and already I can tell a difference. The most obvious, besides the fact that the Minister's days are columns and the Mole's days are blocks, is that the Minister has much, much more space to write each day than the Mole, especially on the weekend days. A lot more.

Here are the numbers: Saturday and Sunday in the Mole are each 2 1/2 inches wide and 1 1/4 inch tall, but some of that space is taken up by the day, date and holiday notices. By comparison, in the Minister the Saturday column (which is the same size as the weekday columns) is almost 1 1/2 inch wide, and 7 1/2 inches long! And Sunday, even though it is squished under the rest of the week, still has lots more room to write than in my Mole: 1 inch tall but 7 1/2 inches wide! With timed lines!

Having more space per day means there is less space on the page for lists. But something else I have already noticed while using the Minister: I write urgent tasks on the day space, and non-urgent tasks on the lists.In my Mole, there wasn't enough room to write tasks in the day spaces so I wrote all of my tasks on the notes page. Urgent ones were mixed with non-urgent ones, creating confusion. In the Minister my urgent tasks are written directly into the day so I can clearly see what I need to get done first and what can wait until later. And those categorized tasks list boxes keep me much more organized than I would otherwise be.

Another potential effect of having more space to write each day (and also times printed to the half hour) is that I’ll be able to map out my day much more effectively. I think the structure will do me good. Hopefully it will keep me on track with what I need to accomplish each day. Because to be perfectly honest, I've been doing a lot of procrastinating lately! 2010 will be an extremely busy year for me, and I need a planner that can handle the load and keep me on track to meet my goals.

Minister? Mole? There can be only one!!!!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Monthly calendar insert

Both of my warring planners (Mole weekly notebook vs. Quo Vadis Minister) lack a calendar format that I like to have in my planner: a monthly format with the days as squares that I can write in. Even though both of these planners have the year with the months as numbered days (which I use), the months as columns (which I use extensively) and the weekly view, I still need MORE COWBELL!! I mean, uh, calendars. Yes I have a monthly wall calendar, but I prefer to have it contained in my book.

So I got on the Quo Vadis website and found I had a choice between three monthly calendar formats, two of which are small and slim enough to tuck into the inside flap of the cover of my Minister or my custom leather Moleskine cover by Renaissance Art. The two choices are the Exaplan and the Visoplan. I went with the Visoplan because:

1) I wanted more space to write on weekends,

2) I like that the Visoplan shows lots of holidays, and

3) the Visoplan (a 12 month calendar) is slimmer than the Exaplan (a 21 month calendar, which I don't need right now).

Both use the gorgeous-to-write-on Clairefontaine paper, which is my favorite paper in the world to write on. (Fact: the draft of this post is written in one of my Clairefontaine notebooks. The yellow one, to be exact!).

I ordered up just the Visoplan calendar refill (without a cover, for maximum slimness) which was only 3 bucks on While I was ordering I threw in a few Clairefontaine notebooks I've been wanting too!

So no matter which planner wins, it will be complete with the addition of the Visoplan. Then I will have every permutation of calendar I desire in one book!

Perhaps the designation of The One with the addition of the Visoplan will allow me to find, as my sister calls it, Planner Nirvana!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

There Can Be Only One

Did you ever see the movie Highlander? If not, you should. Basic plot: immortals roam the earth killing other immortals (which can only be accomplished by chopping off their heads) until there is only one left. The last one wins The Prize, which consists of understanding all the secrets of the universe. The main character is Connor MacLeod ("of the clan MacLeod"), aka Highlander. The immortals' tagline is, "There can be only one!!"

My wise younger sister pointed out that my search for my Perfect Planner is very similar to Highlander. There can, indeed, be only one. It takes a lot of searching and picking off other planners one by one until The One is found. My sis said that once I find The One, I should somehow get a photo of it chopping off the heads of the failed planners and make my own movie poster. Now that would be something to see.

So it comes down to these two: the Moleskine large 18 month weekly notebook, or the Quo Vadis Minister Equology.

These both have certain features that I have determined are crucial for my planner:

1) A weekly view.

2) Space on the weekly spread for lists and notes.

3) A calendar with the months as columns.

4) A portable size book (absolutely crucial) but the page size is still large enough for all my writing.

As you can see from my 13 Planners post, it took me a lot of searching to narrow down to these two!

How ironic would it be if The One turns out to be my Mole that I have been using, straying from, and returning to for most of this year? If Mole turns out to be The One, I think I will have to name it Neo as in the Matrix movies. Neo was chosen by Morpheus as The One, although everyone, including Neo himself, was dubious. In the end it turned out that Morpheus was right, and Neo was The One all along. Which, in this analogy, would make my sister Morpheus. Although her appearance is about as opposite of Morpheus's as you can get, I can totally picture her kicking someone's ass Matrix-style.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

13 Planners

To chronicle my planner sickness, I have decided to detail my epic search for my Perfect Planner. My sister deserves a round of applause and a cookie for putting up with my planner insanity for years, and reading in painstaking detail billions of emails full of my angst in choosing and using planners. In 2009 alone I have used 13 different planner formats/ brands. Yes, this is sick. Allow me to explain.

1) When 2009 began, I was using my Filofax A5 Finsbury binder with the horizontal week to view planner format. In 2008 I had switched from the Personal size Filofax planner to the A5 size to have more room to write. But, the A5 book was too big for me to carry around, especially while traveling.

2) So I switched to an A5 bound day per page book. Where I live, most people use this type of book and I am fascinated by what they write in it. Meeting notes, phone numbers, directions, everything gets jotted onto that day's page. I love the idea of having such a detailed record of my day to day life. But, the hard bound A5 book was also too heavy for my liking.

3) So I ordered up a Time Traveler day per page book. I used one of these for all of 2005, which was a year when I had very little that I needed to plan, but a lot to record. I think that was the first year I can remember in more than a decade that I used the same planner every day for the entire year. I really liked it at the time, but the binding was very flimsy and started to fall apart before the year was even finished. And this was a book that didn't go in my bag much, just opening and closing it each day did it in. But, it has spectacular full-color maps, which I love, so I got another one for this year. I used it for about a month and had to abandon it because the day per page format didn't allow me to plan ahead. I have to see a week view.

4) At the same time I ordered the daily Time Minder, I also ordered an Exacompta Daily Pocket planner. On the website where I ordered the Time Minder I wasn't absolutely certain that the planner was daily and not weekly. So I ordered the Daily Pocket as a backup. I used an Exacompta Daily Pocket for some of 2001 and liked it at the time. When the Time Minder turned out to be a daily for real, the Daily Pocket became sort of redundant. Except not really. Because even after I abandoned the Time Minder entirely, I continued to use the Daily Pocket on those really busy days when my head was swimming with tiny details. The book really is small enough to fit in my pocket, so I can carry it around everywhere I go to jot down those little details before they escape me.

5) When I finally came to terms with the fact that I have to have a week view, I ordered up an Exacompta Visual weekly planner. Big plusses: the week view with the days as columns is very organized; the monthly calendars at the beginning of the book are extremely useful; the book is a portable size and the paper is scrumptious. But, after only about a month it just wasn't working for me because the tasks boxes on the weekly page are too tiny to contain all of my weekly tasks.

6) Because the Visual didn't have enough space for lists each week, I busted into my full size Uncalendar Lifestyle planner. Uncalendars are undated so you can start any time, and they have a motivational approach to goal setting that I really like. Uncalendar's website says things like, "Have your eye on a goal? Uncalendar will take you to it!" (Be sure to check out The Training Room on their website, it has lots of time management and goal setting tips you can use with any planner system.) It has this feeling of understanding that you are motivationally challenged (at least I am) and the planner promises to carry you along to help you reach whatever goal you want. It sounds really great, and I have used Uncalendars a few times in the past. But this time I decided that the full-size book is too big. I have tried their half-size planner in the past and didn't care for the format, so I found myself searching yet again for a different planner.

7) and 8) My sister uses a large Moleskine 18 month weekly notebook planner, and convinced me that I should get one. Problem was, it was only spring, and the 18 month didn't come out for a few months yet. I could have gotten a 12 month weekly notebook but they only come in soft cover or red hard cover, both of which I hate. I have to have the black hard cover, nothing else. So while I was waiting for my 18 month to arrive, I hacked a large Moleskine sketchbook that was lying around unused to make my own. I used my hacked planner, which worked pretty well for me, all the way until my Mole arrived. Then I went on a trip.

9) On my trip I took my Mole planner (which was in its very first week, beginning of July) and my trusty Filofax. I had wisely put the Filofax week view planner pages corresponding to the weeks I would be on my trip into my Filo, for whatever reason. While on the trip I found myself using my Filo instead of the Mole, and remembered all the reasons why I had fallen in love with Filofax in the first place. Mind you, I hadn't used a personal size Filo as my actual planner (only as an address/ reference book) since early 2008, and I abandoned it at that time for the A5 Filofax for more writing space. But while on vacation my Filo and I had a glorious reunion.

10) So after I got back home I was determined to use my Filo as my planner. And I quickly realized all the reasons why I stopped using it in the first place. So to try to make it more useful I started using the week + notes format, because I don't have many scheduled appointments but I do have a lot of tasks each week. While I was using this format (which wasn't working out all that well for lack of space each day) I discovered:

11) the Filofax Family Organizer (which is available in the personal size in the UK but not US, so I ordered it off the UK website). The Family Organizer is a great idea, with loads of forms to fill out for family information, reference, scheduling etc. The weekly pages have little boxes for each member of the family for each day. This would be great as a supplement to my own calendar, to see where each person has to be each day. But it was far too tiny to use as my main calendar.

**Mind you, each time I tried one of these and it failed, I went back to my Moleskine 18 month planner (which by now was in full swing) and back-filled all the things I had written each week. So at least if I had to look up something I'd done (which I have to do often because I have a terrible memory), I didn't have to search through a million different books to find it. This Mole size and format works pretty well for me with the entire page each week for lists and notes. But those tiny spaces for the weekend days are an ongoing problem. After each planner failure, I used my Mole for a few weeks until the next planner caught my eye.

12) Recently I received as a gift my "Dream Filofax," the personal size Deco in Ivory. It. Is. Gorgeous. I mean, it's crazy-beautiful. When I got it I was determined to figure out a way to make it work for me as my planner, small page size be damned! The Deco came with the Filofax Cotton Cream Week on 2 Pages (which is so classy looking it requires capital letters). I used this format for awhile back in 2004 and it worked okay, despite not having tons of space for my weekly lists. This time I used it for a couple of weeks and realized that I wasn't getting anything done. I had to put some of my lists behind tabs in other sections of my Filofax, and in general it just wasn't a large enough page size for me to see everything at once. So my Deco is now my main reference book, and back to my Mole I went.

13) Next week my new Quo Vadis Minister begins. I will test drive it for the week because I am very curious to see how it works. But I will hold off on actually transferring everything over into it until January, because we are traveling over the holidays and I need to be able to reference all the info I have written in my Mole from my last trip (back at the beginning of its use in July). So Mole will go with me on my trip, and then in January I will re-evaluate: will I stick with my Mole (which, as an 18 month goes all the way through the end of 2010), or switch to the Minister?

In general, my Moleskine works pretty well for me. I like having one page for scheduled items and the other page open for lists and notes. It's a great combination of a portable size book and a large enough page size. Yes those weekend day spaces are annoyingly small, but I can write on the notes page to make up for it. It works well for me most of the time. And yet, I feel compelled to give the Minister a shot. It is much more structured and organized than the Mole, with more room to write each day. Even though my Mole is working for me just fine, I can't help but wonder, could the Minister be my Perfect Planner? I won't know until I try.

To be continued...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Moleskine folios by Rickshaw Bagworks

Meet my newest obsession: the Moleskine folio by Rickshaw Bagworks! These are zip-around folio cases for the large Moleskine notebook or weekly planner (not fat enough for daily). They hold numerous pens, cards, papers etc. They come in a mind-boggling variety of colors and fabric styles, which you choose at will. Check them out:

I literally stumbled across these today as I was on the Quo Vadis blog, which had a link to an Equology planner review on Unposted which has in its sidebar a link to Rickshaw Bagworks' blog, which I thought sounded interesting so I clicked on it, scrolled down, and lo and behold there was this image and a big description of these extremely cool folios.

I use a Moleskine 18 month weekly notebook planner, and so does my sister, so I sent the link to her. As soon as she saw it she called me up and we spent an hour and a half looking at the Rickshaw Bags website and Flickr photos discussing fabric and color combinations. Because you see, they will do whatever combination you want of fabric and trim colors. Especially interesting is the Bottles to Bags fabric, made of recycled plastic bottles.

Rickshaw Bagworks is located in San Francisco and sounds like a very cool company. The Mole folios are a relatively new addition to their product line which includes extremely cool-looking messenger bags in various sizes, wallets, baby bags and more.

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