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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Ideal Planner 2011

The search for my ideal planner continues.

My Ideal Planner would have the following features:

1) Large page size but portable size book (which eliminates Filofaxes, I have finally determined).

2) Week view with the days as columns.

3) Space on the weekly pages to write my lists.

4) Monthly calendars with boxes large enough to write in.

5) Space to write my annual, monthly and weekly goals.

6) Pages of international information like dialing codes, time zones and conversions.

7) A removable address booklet for my contacts and numbers.

8) Nice paper.

9) Pretty cover.

10) My absolutely ideal planner would have month tabs, but I can put those in if I need to.

I have several serious contenders for the title of My Ideal Planner 2011:

For the past several months I've been using my Quo Vadis Trinote.

It works really well for me, with its large day spaces, big weekly layout and space on the week spread for lists.  But there are some features it lacks that I would like to have in my planner.  I have fixed two of these issues by adding monthly calendars with space to write monthly goals, and replacing my black cover with a colorful cover.  The Trinote isn't terribly huge, but I wish it were a little smaller and easier to carry around in my bag.  If the rest of my 2011 planner experiments fail, I will happily use my 2011 Trinote for the year because it does work well for me.  But I just can't resist the urge to find my Perfect Planner!  So here are some possibilities for 2011:

First up, the beautiful Rabbit planner with the month-and-week layout that is so nice.  But the day spaces are smaller than I'm used to so I'm wondering if it will have enough space for me to write each day.  Also, it lacks information pages that I like to have such as dialing codes and time zone maps.  But it wins major points for the beautiful cover, spectacular paper, and unique layout.  Being able to see the entire month ahead along with my week's schedule might be very addictive!

My WeekDate planner has lots of features I want: pretty cover, weekly layout with days as columns and space for lists each week.

Even though it has space to write recurring monthly events, it doesn't have actual month calendars.  Also it doesn't have international information etc. that I like.  I'm intrigued by the format though, and the convenience of not having to re-write recurring events might be just what I need.

Another contender is my slightly tweaked Vertical Weekly Moleskine with space under the daily columns for my lists (click photo to enlarge):

Because the 2011 Moleskine planners now have monthly calendars, this planner is a firm possibility for my Ideal Planner.  It's a portable size and slim book, and has monthly calendars with space underneath to write monthly goals.
Other features it has that I love: international information, removable address booklet, hard bound book, and I can decorate the cover to make it pretty.  This is a real possibility.

Another completely different option I've been thinking of lately is to switch to a day per page book. I know what you're thinking: how many times do I have to try and fail with a day per page book before I realize they don't work for me?  But, I'm still enamored with daily books.  I love all the space each day to write details that otherwise wouldn't get recorded on smaller day spaces.  If I can learn how to plan ahead better, a daily book could be a good option for me.

One option is to use my Textagenda (with my pretty purple cover from France, not the Grenadine Pink cover that I don't like).

It doesn't have monthly calendars, but it does have the anno-planning pages that I could use as an overview and then use my wall calendar for the monthly overview.  This would give me lots of space to write each day, and is a nicely portable size.

Something else I've been thinking of is a Pocket size Moleskine Daily planner.  I have one of these for 2010 but didn't use it much because it lacks monthly calendars.  But now that the 2011 version does have monthly calendars, this could be an option for me.

Whatever I choose, I want to get it figured out by the end of January and then try to stick with it for the whole year!  This would be a major feat for me and I'm not sure I can do it.  But after using 13 planners in 2009 and 10 planners in 2010, I'm getting tired of having my year scattered throughout a dozen books. I would love to have my year encapsulated in one, perfect, book.


  1. Hi Laurie,
    This is my first comment but I have been all over your site! I sympathize with your search for the perfect planner. I have tried fillo personal, week date, and numerous pretty and portable spiral planners. But I always come back to Franklin Covey. Have you looked at their weekly pages? I recently bought the Giada, comes only in their classic size and it's not too big!!! After two weeks, I'm seriously attached to it. I use the daily on two, and have 5 tabs in the back with plastic pockets to hold little bits. The Giada came in a smaller ring size but my sales rep changes it to 1-inch rings at no charge. You might like the smaller size since it's similar to the slimline A5 that you were wising for. The Giada quality is reminiscent of good Filo leather binders.

  2. Welll...... I will be keen to see if the trinote carries you thru the year, although it's a lot more fun to see your posts about which planner you've switched to during the year! :)

  3. Hi Stefee, thanks for the suggestion. I've tried FC a couple of times before (weekly with days as columns in my personal Filofax, and also years ago I tried the size that's not quite A5 but I forget the name). I don't like the lined pages between the weeks, ironically. You would think I'd like the space to write. But, I prefer my weeks back to back with lists space on the weekly pages.

    Sarahb1, I've thought of how boring this blog might become if it's not fueled by planner angst and searching for the perfect one! I don't think there's anything to worry about, really.

  4. It sounds like we mostly want the same thing, except that I don't need large monthly spaces (although definitely some form of monthly overview), and I don't mind plain covers as long as they're not grey or fluorescent, in which case I'd wrap them up in something nicer. Plus of course I aim for recycled paper.

    I'm willing to carry a large planner with me - what I disliked about the Ecojot planner though was that it was so heavy due to the thick paper and cardboard cover. So I often left it at home. The Equology is like a feather in comparison, as I noticed.

    I'm considering the possibility of getting a 2nd planner as more of a diet, exercise and lifestyle account (I'm a nutritionist but have been neglecting myself), which I've wanted to do for years with regular journals, but I always forgot to write in them; they're so unstructured. Then I instantly think: If I get a 2nd planner, why not use the Molsekine as my health journal and get a better one for actual planning? (Making excuses, I think!)

    My little weekly+notes Mokeskine drives me crazy...if I could attach a photo I would because it looks wild...I sometimes have to write on the next day's slot, and by early Monday of last week I had used up all of the notes-space already!

  5. Laurie,
    I swear by Paperblanks' Dayplanners (I'm a sucker for anything beautiful). Have you considered any of their books?

  6. I also have similar interests as you. I especially like (need!) days as verticle columns, I'm a huge list maker. I made my perfect weekly layout, but I print it out and post it on the fridge each week. I would love to make it into a planner...lol. I'll have to email you the file one day.

    Right now I'm using the Plan Ahead Mom's planner. I love it except the days in the weekly layout go down and there are columns for each kid and times of the day. It would be PERFECT if it was opposite!

    I should be getting the Rabbit any day now...I hope that will work out, but I'm also worried that the day columns might be too small. We shall see!!

    But I agree with Sarah, if you ever found your perfect planner, we might go into withdrawals for your blog posts..LOL.

  7. Hi Laurie,
    I hope you find the perfect planner for 2011! But I hope you don't stop reviewing all the wonderful planners out there. I am fascinated by all the different types of planners/calendars out in the market, and all the specific requirements we all have to organize our days... Aren't we fortunate to have all these choices? And isn't it a comfort when we finally find a system that works for us? I refer to my planner of the moment as my brain; as I get on in years, I realize more and more that I have to write it all down, or else I forget! It's a luxury to not have to remember everything and know that you can retrieve that piece of info with a turn of a few pages! One major thing I've realized works for me is the One Planner rule: only use one. And feed it everyday!

  8. Zed, I agree the Paperblanks planners are beautiful. But, (and I am going to sound like a major snob here), I don't like that the covers are fake. I don't want a book that looks like it's leather-bound but is actually a paper cover. I'd rather get a real leather-bound book. Or covered in Sari silk, or Moroccan or whatever. That sounds horrible but I'd rather have the real thing or not at all. And, they don't have a vertical weekly + notes format.

    emelyn I would LOVE to see your planner format!

    Steffee, yes, my planner is definitely my brain. Details go right out of my head so I have to get them down on paper before they escape!

    Christine, you have much more patience with your small Mole than I would. As soon as a planner fails me for whatever reason, I'm on to the next one. I can't wait an entire year to find something that works better for me! Maybe you could get a different planner to use as your actual planner and use the Mole for your diet and exercise journal?

  9. Thanks, Laurie. It's probably a combination of patience, penny-pinching and trying to consume less. I've managed, and the year is drawing to a close, so only 4.5 weeks left of Mole-cramming.
    I'll let you know if I get another planner (partly because of my excitement)! :)

  10. oh my gosh - that is impressive! i generally do stick to one and i actually felt bad abandoning my space 24 in november rather than december!

    i still think you should consider the journal J -- i heart it.

  11. Stefee, out of curiosity I looked up the Franklin Covey Giada binder you mentioned. It is beautiful, but way out of my price range at $149.00. I had heard that Franklin Covey's shipping and handling here to the UK was high, so while I was there I thought I'd see what it cost. $39.37 for duties and taxes, and $36.03 for shipping and handling, bringing the total to $224.40, for the EMPTY binder! I didn't even bother to see what it would cost to add in the diary insert and other accessories! Way, way out of my price range!

  12. The perfect planner... It's a myth I think

  13. Hi Laurie, I agree the FC Giada is pricey, but I justified it by thinking if I used it every day for a year, it was going to actually “cost” me less than 50 cents per day. That ain’t so bad! Before I got the Giada, I had been using a 15-y.o. Scully blk leather binder/purse with 1.25” rings for my FC classic inserts. It was too clunky and thick to take with me everywhere. So I got a FC pink leather compact binder on eBay that I used for a while. But that also had 1.25” rings and I stuffed it to the max and it got unbelievably heavy! Then I went back to my vintage blk calf Filo (still smells soooo good and so shiny and soft!) with the FC compact inserts. But by then the pages were feeling too small (I felt like I was suffocating on the compact pages!) Then I switched to WeekDate thinking I was going to be more efficient and streamlined: write it once and then forget about it! But I forgot I love to write lists and plan and dream. The WeekDate didn’t allow me to do all that. Plus, I am a very tactile person and the WeekDate didn’t satisfy my need to feel (and smell!) good leather! I’ve had other flirtations with the FC Monarch in a cheap 3-ring binder (what was I thinking!), numerous spiral bound calendars, “mommy planner calendars”, and even for a dangerous period, sans planner with only a notebook in my purse. So in 2010, I began using the Filo again, this time with cute Kate Spade inserts. I love her style and the pages were colorful and fun, but it was the week on 2 pages, and again, I couldn’t make lists and all that. The tabs were unorganized and I never knew what was in what tab! BTW, the Kate Spade inserts are also of heavier paper stock, and takes up more space. I was doing OK, but not great when in late October, I was faced with planning a big birthday party for my daughter. I had lists to make! So I hauled out my old Scully and found some blank FC classic filler pages that I hacked to look like the Days on 2 pages. Aaah, old friend, I missed you! I love seeing my to do list, appointments, and my lists all at the same time. So now, I’m finally back to the FC classic size day on 2 with the beautiful leather binder. The Giada came with only .75 inch rings, but the nice salesperson immediately offered to switch out to the 1-inch rings at no charge! How could I resist? The great thing about the Giada is the portability. Compared to the Scully binder/purse, it has no outside zips or pockets so it’s less bulky in my hands. Also, it is not a zipper binder, so the binder itself has a smaller footprint than my old Scully. Plus I never had 1-inch rings before, which still allows me to add plastic pouches but keeps me honest because I can’t overdo it with the accessories. And as long as I’m being honest, I have the 2011 green WeekDate and two (!) 2011 Staples brand spiral calendars on hand that I bought back in late summer/early fall. I will return the Staples calendars but the WeekDate is already filled out. Oh well. And I really appreciate your blog because now I don’t feel so alone! Thanks for listening! And sorry so wordy. 

  14. Stefee, I identify with your comment SO. MUCH! I too feel like I'm "suffocating" on small pages. I also need to make lots of lists and see everything all at once. And I tell ya, if I could commit to something like the Giada, it would be worth the price. I'm sure I've spent all that and more on my plethora of planners over the past year! And keeping in mind that, again if you can commit, the binder can last for years and years. Too bad I'm so fickle!!

  15. It's so nice to be understood! By the way, are you a fellow Gemini???

  16. I'm a Libra, so I see both sides of the issue. In the case of planners, I see all the different ways each planner can be useful. I love them all, for different reasons.

    My sister is a Gemini!

  17. For the past couple of years, I’ve used Quo Vadis agendas; I started with University and then graduated into Business. Now, though, I use a different weekly planner in the collection to manage my time: the IB Traveler Diary. I love how efficiently the Traveler is organized! Mine kept in a Chelsea cover, tucked in front and paired with the Visoplan monthly calendar tucked in back. Between the two covers, I have both my week at a view and my month at a view (each useful for me); both are compactly bound with a QuoVadis elastic bookmark, which also holds the address book in place between them. I use the monthly calendar to track social events and the week at a glance to schedule my work obligations.
    Per the suggestion of First Things First, I plan on a weekly basis, but confirm appointments daily. I even write my commute times into time slots, so my scheduling is more accurate. Honestly, I tried electronic calendars but found them too “virtual” for me. Seeing my schedule set in black & white just makes my life seem so much clearer to me. In the slot on the front flap of my Chelsea cover, I keep a Weekly Compass – What Matters Most card from Franklin Covey, outlining my roles and goals in life.
    Inside the flap is a slim stack of Tasker cards from Levenger, outlining ideas, calls, and a shopping list, among other things. Because the IB Traveller is so streamlined, I find that using it in combination with Tasker cards and the Weekly Compass allows me more space to get the big picture. That said, my Quo Vadis book still remains pocket-sized and portable. I even have a pen that clips handily onto the front cover. This arrangement is really the best of all worlds for someone who’s cycled through Daytimers, Filofaxes, and Seven Habits Organizers. Some were too bulky, others too complicated. This one is just right!

  18. K thanks for telling us the details of how your system is set up! That's fantastic that you have such a comprehensive system in such a portable size!

  19. Hi Laurie I have just been recently using a planner the one that has rings and I'm not quite satisfied with it that I whenever I go to the bookstore I end up looking at the planners section browsing through it. I have been having trouble on what sort of planner I should use. I've read your blog about the different ones but I still can't make up my mind. My scrawls are I think medium size, I've been trying to write mini-size but it's no use especially when I am holding the notebook as I write and take up space. I want something handy so it doesn't take space on my bag. In my current planner I only make use of the month tab and not bother writing in the week one, so I think either one would be better gone as long as the one that remains it bigger for me to write.
    Can you help me (T_T) I am so troubled.

  20. Hi LunaRain, thanks for your comment! Let me see if I can help you.

    If you only use the Monthly calendar section, you might be better off getting a monthly-only planner. These come in various sizes, I'm sure you could find one to fit in your bag. Moleskine makes a monthly calendar with pages for notes that would probably be a great option for you. Or you might be able to find an undated monthly planner and fill in the dates yourself so you can start it now and not have to wait until the new year.

    Feel free to email me if you want! laurie758 (at) gmail (dot) com

  21. Have you tried the UnCalendar?

    Got it during sophomore year of college and I've yet to find anything that beats it with the exception of making my own (I want lots of places to put down my writer-ly ideas!)

  22. Yep, I've used the Half Size, Full Size and Pro Uncalendars over the years. I've done some posts on Uncalendar planners:



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