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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Experimenting with Large Moleskine day per page planner

As I wrote in my Ideal Planner post, my goal is to settle on a planner by the end of January and use it for all of 2011. This would be an enormous feat for me. The last time I used one single planner for an entire year was 2005.  (For those of you who are curious, that was a day per page Time Traveler diary, in the A6 size that they unfortunately no longer make.)

After using literally a dozen different planners each year for the past two years (and who knows how many I used per year before that, I didn't keep count) I'm tired of flitting to and fro.  I'm ready to settle down and commit to one single planner. Can I do it?  I don't know.  But I'm ready to try.

First up in my planners experiment is the large hard cover Moleskine day per page planner. I've been using these planners for several years as my journal. Back in the spring I pre-ordered the 2011 large daily Moleskine from Amazon at a really low price.  Not long after that I stopped writing in my journal for various reasons.  As a result I have both the 2010 and 2011 versions of the large daily Moleskine planner.

I spent some time (while snowed in at home) prepping both of these for use.  Since the 2010 Moleskines do not have monthly calendars, I drew one up for December on one of the Notes pages in the back of my 2010 planner (and no I won't post a photo of it 'cause it's a mess.  Think oblique angles and smudged pen.)  I wanted a fair experiment, and I knew that the lack of a monthly calendar would mean a higher chance of me abandoning the planner, when a monthly calendar could make all the difference in whether it works for me or not.

Here are the monthly calendars in the 2011 Moleskine.  I drew an approximation of one of these in my 2010 Mole for December:

I filled in my 2010 daily Mole with all of December's appointments and to-dos. I also filled in all my dates and events for next year in my 2011 daily Mole.

I've also been having fun experimenting with covers, trying my daily Mole in my purple fuzzy Rickshaw Classic folio:

my purple non-fuzzy but roomier Rickshaw Daily Planner folio:

and my heavy-but-gorgeous Oberon Designs leather cover (which looks absolutely bad-ass).

All of these covers work perfectly with my daily Moleskine.  I was surprised that the Classic Folio does fit the Daily Moleskine, although there's not enough room to put pens inside the cover.  The Daily Planner Folio has plenty of room inside the cover for my pens, phone, papers, and anything else I might want in there.

I've used day per page planners in the past, but I've never used one this large as my planner.  Having such a large page for every day allows me to capture loads of details that otherwise would never get written down in smaller day spaces. I can list and fill in my daily goals, jot notes, and write things to expand on in my journal later.

Something I've noticed when using a day per page planner is that it creates a sort of intimacy with the planner that you don't get with weekly planners.  Because it does have so much space for detail, I find myself writing in it and referring to it much more often throughout the day than I do when I use a weekly planner.

Originally I wasn't even considering using the large daily Mole as my planner, because I was looking for something more portable.  I was inspired to try this big fat book by several people. One is my husband.  I had a heap of potential 2011 planners I was going through and he (bravely) asked me which I plan to use (probably bracing himself for a monologue). I told him I'm not sure and plan to try several. He pointed to the large daily Mole and said, "Use that one."  I asked why. I assumed it's because it's a Moleskine, and he uses a Moleskine planner himself.  But there were several other Moleskines out there so I wondered why that one in particular.  He said, "It's gonna be a big year. You'll need all the writing space you can get."  Well, I can't argue with that.  He's definitely right about the big year and needing to write a lot to organize it all.  But can the daily work for me?  Can I effectively plan ahead with it?

Two other people I've found inspirational lately are themselves users of the large daily Moleskine (or are about to be).  Here is Laura Reyna's comment on one of my recent posts, about how she structures her large daily Moleskine planner's pages:

"After trying out various layouts I've settled on one that works for me right now. This is the current layout I'll be using for my 2011 Mole. As stated previously, I use a page per day format...

I separate my day/page into 3 main sections:
1. TOP-- Here I put my daily to-dos. I actually separate this section into quarters and mark them as Morn, 12:00, 3:00 & 6:00. This adds structure to my day. Certain tasks are for the morning, others for the afternoon & still others for evening.
2. MIDDLE--My food log. I recently started exercising & watching what I eat. (I've lost nearly 20 lb since June!:-) )
3. BOTTOM-- This section is for random notes &/or journal entries.

My system is one that emphasizes tasks/to-dos & not appointments or events. Keeping a detailed calendar is less important than making sure I get certain goals done each day.

I don't have an appointment heavy life so don't need a daily planner that enphasizes hourly appointments. The great thing about the Mole is that the hours are very subtle and can be ignored.... I think you've pointed this out in your past reviews.

Any appointments I might have are noted in my monthly calendar (in past planners calendars have been printed separately and glued to the front) and then noted on the very top section of the appropriate day.

No matter what planner I use I know I have to customize each day. By switching to a commercial planner it means I don't have to glue in a calendar each month or write out the date each day-- less stuff to do."

The other person I've found inspirational is someone near and dear to our hearts, Greg (with his gorgeous custom leather cover for his daily Moleskine, by Rennaisance Art):

Here is a comment Greg posted recently on one of my other posts.  He had been going back and forth between Franklin Covey binders and Filofaxes, and decided to make the leap to a bound book planner.  Here he tells us how it's going so far:

"The Moleskine daily planner I purchased for 2010 with the Ren Art cover is in use every day!!! The problem I ran into is that I really missed exactly what you were discussing, the "blocks" for every month. I "need" them!
So I've been fiddling with the Moleskine everyday, entering important information from my notes. But I have also been carrying my A5 Filo Kent I purchased on eBay. Both work well right now, but I really think I want that feeling of "permanent", which the Moleskine gives me. Like I said in a previous post, I really don't move tabs and paper around or add papers in my Filo once it's setup, so why a ring binder? Back to the Moleskine, here is my positives, the large for me is just the right size, I have it covered with the Ren Art cover but if I get the itch I can either change it for another one at a very modest price, with my NAME on the front cover or take it off completely. I like the paper bound and sewn, it lays flat when open, it has a place for addresses, and the 2011 has the blocks I'm looking for. AND if I fancy that I need a pocket or two on the inside cover, Ren Art makes covers that way also! The other part that just does it for me is the fact that, what I write, color, or draw is there to stay. I can't just pull the sheet out. Well I can but I'd ruin the binding. Permanent, that's what I want! If I write it, I may not think it's important at the time but what if I find I need that info later? If it was ring bound, I might have torn that sheet out and thrown it away. So for me, the Moleskine may very well be the 2011 planner."

You have no idea how inspirational these two are to me.

I would love to use the large daily pages to record tons of details of my life all year.  Then at the end of the year, my whole life for the entire year would be encapsulated in the book.

But the true test will be in the planning.  Will the monthly calendars allow me to plan without a week view?  Will I feel lost in "a sea of individual days" as I usually do when using a day per page planner?

Only time will tell.  The race is on. I have less than 2 months to settle on my 2011 planner decision.

Stay tuned...


  1. I think that might work Laurie, especially if you divide the day space up a little. Deciding on how much space to give to each section might take a few attempts to get it right.

    I've never tried a day to a page format myself, scared about what I'm going to fill all that space up with I suppose.

    And if it doesn't work out... blame your DH... he suggested it!!!!!!


  2. "Lost in a sea of individual days"---exactly the problem I've felt with the dailies! I wonder if you could make a small weekly calendar and paste it into, say the Sunday page, just to have that overview? I've experimented with printing a calendar on sticker paper and putting it in a notebook.

  3. I can relate...Myself, I think I'm too nervous about turning the page and - boom - see something I didn't expect that I had to prepare for. Which is totally illogical right now, though, since I don't have many appointments or deadlines anymore. Then again, life can change so quickly.

    I followed your photostream to Cecil Joan's images of her Moleskine. They totally reassured me that no matter what format I choose, it would work. She shows both her daily and weekly+notes Moles, and seeing her approach made me want to lighten up a little. I know everyone's situation and preferences are different, but at least *I* feel at ease now. :)

  4. Interview questions:
    1)Why did you 'prep both the 2010 and 2011 Moleskines for use'? (What would you do with the 2010 one - change the dates?)
    2) What fate will await your "heap of potential 2011 planners"?
    Just curious!

  5. Hi, I was reading your blog, very interesting! Could you tell me if the notebook pages are thick enough to write with fountain pen? I live in Argentina and do not know anyone who has one, and I'd rather find out before making the investment (Here are worth about $ 50, it's totally insane!)

  6. Oh, I was talking about the "Moleskine 2011 daily large black hard cover", that's the one I like, and worth $50 here in Argentina... :-)

  7. Christine: by "prep" I meant writing all my appointments, birthdays, holidays, school breaks, important days and other events into the day spaces on the daily pages and the monthly calendars. Doing that for the rest of this year was pretty easy (although quite detailed), but for all of 2011 it took a little while since Moleskine doesn't print the holidays on the day spaces. The countries with a holiday that day are indicated, but I like to write the actual holiday in on the day space.

    It is a danger to turn the page and see something I'd forgotten about or didn't prepare for. To prevent that, I check the monthly calendars often. I like seeing the month at a glance to prepare for things coming up later in the month too. I'm still only a few days into my day per page Mole, but if I can keep up with the future planning it should work for me. I am loving all the space to write each day!

    As for my heap of 2011 planners: I never get rid of a current-year planner. I change my mind so often, I like to have all of my planner options available to me at all times! :)

    Andres, I do not use fountain pens, but from what I have heard the Moleskine paper is not suitable for fountain pen use due to ink bleed-through. I don't know if you have access to Quo Vadis (Exaclair) products in Argentina, but their diaries and notebooks are fountain-pen friendly. Good luck!

  8. Wow. I wish I could commit. I love my Planner Pad, but really need more space to write "stuff" on the dailies. But I love having the week view, so all my "to-do's" are in one place for the week. I also really like my personal Filo that I use for my blog info. I need more just...open space. Don't need appt. times, as I have very few appointments. Would also love room for "cut and paste" from magazines etc. Such a dilemma...:)

  9. Rori, I hear you. A week view, with big day spaces, no times, lots of room for lists, and even places to stick in snippets, space to be creative, write motivational quotes, total up expenses, record my hopes and dreams... oh yeah, and all in a portable book! Now I KNOW I'm dreaming!

    *Sigh* My search continues!

  10. Laurie - why not start your own planner company? Being an expert in the field, you know what's out there - and what SHOULD be out there! You can make The Ideal Planner happen! You already have many readers who could turn into customers....

    BTW, not to threaten your new & delicate relationship with Mr. Mole, Laurie, but the Quo Vadis blog has a give-away for a story of how you use your planner...I think, ideally you talk about one you actually own, but I submitted a plan of how I would use one if I owned one. I'm so excited at the possibility of using one of their planners...as my health diary!

  11. Christine, I definitely need to create my own planner. First I need to figure out exactly what My Ideal Planner would be!

    Thanks for the reminder of the Quo Vadis Blog's request for stories on different ways people use their planners, I have submitted a modified version of my Daily Goals post and how I use my Trinote for this.

    Here is the link to the Quo Vadis page, everybody should definitely check it out:


  12. I hate to call it a Fail, but...

    My Moleskine experiment is over. See my post today (Wednesday Dec. 8) for details.

    *Sigh* My search continues!


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