Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Doing the Math: Pinpointing Planner Perfection

So what have I learned after 3 years and more than 30 planners?

1) I like variety.

2) I have a short attention span.

Yes yes, but what about the PLANNERS?!?  Okay:

3) I love the idea of using a day per page planner, and when I do use one I love how much space I have each day to record lots of details.  But every time I try to use it, the daily format falls down on me in the planning department. I learn and remember things visually, so I have to see an entire week at a time or else I forget upcoming events.

4)  Similarly, I am very out of sight, out of mind so I have to have my to-do lists for the week on the weekly pages. Therefore I have to use some form of week + notes format.

5) I like to write a lot each day. Tasks, appointments, things to remember all go in today's space. Lots of weekly planners have failed me because the day spaces aren't big enough.

I started comparing failed weekly planners with ones I've had success with, and noticed a trend with day space sizes.  So I did a little math.  Below are measurements of day spaces in planners that have failed me mainly because of too-small daily spaces, and ones that I've had success with.


Moleskine large weekly notebook day spaces (weekdays): 39 square centimeters.  Weekend days half that.

Life Book day spaces: 41 sq cm (all days).

Filofax week on 2 pages (personal size) weekday spaces: 45.25 sq cm. Weekend days half that.


Quo Vadis Minister: 67.2 sq cm (all days except Sunday).

Quo Vadis Trinote: 87.4 sq cm (all days except Sunday).

Both of these planners have been very successful for me.  Whenever I've stopped using these, it's not due to the day size (except for once last year with the Minister during an extremely busy time), it's due to some other reason.

The next planner contender is the Moleskine Extra Large weekly notebook which starts in July. Its weekday spaces measure 68.4 sq cm (weekends half that).  That's well within my successful day size range.  And having the entire opposite page for overflow, lists and notes will be beneficial too.

I'm looking to move over into an academic-year planner this summer, so if the Extra Large Moleskine weekly notebook fails for whatever reason, I plan to go to the Quo Vadis Septanote, which is the academic year version of my biggest planner success so far, the Trinote (with only a few variations, read my comparison of the two here).

It feels good to finally have some hard facts on what works for me and what doesn't!  I think it's safe to say that the smallest day size that will work for me is probably 65 sq cm.  And I have to have space for lists on the weekly pages.  I also have to have monthly calendars, and if my planner lacks them I put them in (like I did with my Minister and my Trinote).

My planner has to have a pretty cover, and if it doesn't I'll hack one for it (like I did with my Moleskine/ Dodo Pad cover combo which you can read about in this post).

I do realize that large day spaces in a weekly format with notes means a large page size and therefore a large book.  I have come to accept that. Luckily I carry a large bag.

I feel like I'm closing in on Planner Perfection! Or, as close as is possible for me.


  1. Would you like me to send you the space sizes for my A4? Sorry I had to ask!!!

  2. A5 Filofax Week on 2 Pages, with equal space for each day, + 1 notes space for each week is 65 sq cm per day and the same for the notes space.. could be a possible....

    A4 Vertical format week on two pages comes out at 132 sq cm for week days and 66 for Sat and 45 for Sunday

  3. Steve I hadn't grabbed my ruler yet but I was eyeing up the day spaces on the horizontal week on 2 pgs in my new A5 Domino Filofax as a possibility. I'm very glad to know they are within my size requirements!

    A4 don't even tempt me!! That's all I need is to invest in yet another Filofax size!

  4. LOL Laurie... well you know me... all ways trying to tempt people!!

    The A4 size is working well for me, although I have to admit it doesn't move very far from my desk!

  5. But the problem I have with planners like the Trinote is I can't work with the vertical column for the day - I need a spread like the Moleskine Weekly Diary/Planner (not the notebook). But even with that, I don't like being shortchanged on the Sat/Sun space.

    I ran down to Staples last week and picked up their store brand desk size weekly planner until I figure out something else. I have a separate notebook for my non-work lists and notes.

  6. Laurie, how about the Quo Vadis inserts for your (new) A5 Filofax? You'd have your favourite layout (and space), but the flexibility of a Filofax. The bulk too, I have to admit ...

  7. Jotje, actually I've been thinking about that ever since Steve posted about it. The QV inserts you're referring to are from France, and even though it's possible to order them from the UK website (if they have any left), I'm too late because it takes 28 days and I leave in less than 2 weeks. And anyway I wonder if the day spaces would be big enough for me.

    Steve? Can you give us the square cm of the day spaces in the QV A5 vertical weekly inserts?

    terriknits I'm interested that the vertical columns don't work for you. I go back and forth: sometimes I like the structure of the vertical columns, and other times I would prefer just an empty, open box to write in each day.

  8. Laurie - Didn't you mention somewhere that one of the Quo Vadis weeklies ALSO has full month planners? I could hack, but pre-printed is prettier.

    As of this morning I started using my Quo Vadis Minister with a large Moleskine Cahier stuck inside it. I wrap the two together with the elastic band from the Minister and keep my place in the cahier with a movable Avery tab. Using the cahier for my daily planning, priorities, and random writings. Am not stamping dates ahead of time! Thanks!!

  9. Nancy, YES, QV does have some weekly planners with monthly calendars in them already, and for some reason I haven't gotten around to trying them. Two of the weekly planners that I know have the monthly calendars are the Space 24 which has the same page size as the Minister:


    and the smaller Space 17:


    I don't know offhand if any of their other weeklies have the monthly calendars. They have two daily planners that have monthly calendars, the desk size Journal 21:


    and the small Daily Pocket:


    I'm so glad to hear your Minister/ Cahier combo is working well for you! I love your idea of writing your daily details in your cahier.

  10. Laurie
    I will get to this later this evening.

    I love this scientific approach, and I might take the idea and produce a table of 'Plannerisms Dayspace' for different formats and sizes.


  11. Thanks, Laurie, for your help! As for my minister and cahier co-habitating... they are newlyweds, so it's hard to tell if they'll live happily every after or end up in divorce. My planners tend to be promiscuous little minxes, not really the kind to stay married for long.

    Hope your preparations for the move are coming along.

  12. Laurie- checked out those links but I want my week to be vertical, like the minister. I'm going to print and paste monthly pages as you've suggested/done.

  13. Laurie, I went and read some of your previous Trinote, etc. reviews. I went to Staples yesterday and they didn't carry any QuoVadis products but I looked at their store brand weekly vertical planner. It's a pretty simple layout.

    With the 6x8" weekly horizontal one I got a couple of weeks ago, I did your measuring idea and each day gives me 9" sq. of writing space (except Sat/Sun which are a measly 4.5").

    With the 8x9" vertical column weekly planner, (actually not that much larger to carry around than the other one) each day's vertical column gives me 14" sq. Sat/Sun share one column, but I think it's still enough.

    I think my problem with the vertical column is my crappy handwriting more than anything. But I'll give it a try. With the vertical column I do actually have more "real estate" and that's what I need.

    Does anyone know someplace selling the TriNote that will ship to Canada without costing me an arm and/or leg?

  14. terriknits, Quo Vadis has a separate distributor in Canada, and their own website. You can look here to find a retailer (hopefully) near you, or ask them where you can order online:


    Nancy that's why I've never tried either of those QV planners with months already embedded, because I usually go for vertical columns. But if I ever reach a point where I'm not so busy, I might consider one of these because it sure would be convenient to have the great features of a Quo Vadis planner without having to print and tape in monthly grid calendars.

  15. terriknits, you can also click here to see Quo Vadis distributors in Canada:


  16. thanks for the links. I've checked at STaples and they don't have any in store; I've checked several online retailers (US and CDA) and they're all out. I'll have to be quicker on the draw next year and try one out.

  17. Laurie, so interesting to read your thoughts on weekly vs. daily views. A few weeks ago I posted about how I had used a Franklin 2-pager for many years but was flirting with the idea of switching to a Moleskine weekly. I bit the bullet and switched -- and my experiment lasted all of 6 days. I had the opposite reaction as you, although the source of the problem seems similar: I kept procrastinating on tasks because they weren't listed as things I had to do "today" ("it's on the weekly list -- there's always tomorrow to do it!"), which is related to your "out of sight" issue. And I had WAY more I wanted to write than the small daily space on the weekly layout would allow. Appointments, as few as they were, kept getting lost in my tiny, tiny notes. I was so relieved and happy to go back to my Franklin 2-page-per-day that I vowed eternal loyalty to it. I'm happy that I at least gave it a try, though.

    And I didn't waste the Moleskine -- I now use it to document books I read, movies we see, restaurants we dine in, etc. A good way to resolve discussions with the spouse about just when it was that we last had Thai food or the name of that awful Liam Neeson movie.

    - Tina

  18. Tina your experience is very interesting!! I'm fascinated by how our minds work with our planners. It makes total sense that a weekly would allow you to procrastinate too much. How wonderful to find *the* planner that works best for you! I aspire to that someday...

    And I love what you've done with the Moleskine! What a great idea. :)

  19. @MiataGrrl: I'm the same! I have often wondered, why I couldn't just use weekly pages, with some inserts for Todo's. But I need to put them on a specific day, or else I'm stuck in "Nah, tomorrow is still time to do that". 2PPD is how I roll.
    I do use weekly pages to jot down appointments, because it saves me considerable Page-turning-time. Furthermore, I only carry 1 month of daily, so I need the weekly for planning further ahead.

  20. And I think I'm the opposite. I need a weekly view to put down things I need to do. If I don't get them done on the day I assign them, they get a little => beside them and they get put on the next day. If I put them on a day page in the future, I seem to forget about them if I don't see them on my weekly view. Weird, huh?

  21. @ Jotje, I carry only one month of daily pages also, to cut down on the bulk, and I do long-term planning with the monthly calendar pages. But I'm curious about where you keep your weekly pages...? Behind or in front of the daily pages? I like the idea of consolidating appointments there to reduce page-turning, but I'd be afraid of forgetting appointments if they are too far away from the daily pages.

    - Tina

  22. I still can't believe that with your love of vertical daily spaces, that you've never tried a Planner Pad!

  23. Rori, so many people have recommended a Planner Pad to me, and I've been very tempted to try it. I'm hesitant though because the daily spaces are at the bottom of the page, and I think I would ignore them there--I don't think my eyes would make it all the way down to that part of the page with so much to look at up top. And to be completely honest, I think I would be overwhelmed having so much to look at all on the same page. I get that with large weekly pages--if I have too much written, I don't even know where to look to see what I should be doing next.

    How has your experience with Planner Pad been?

  24. Have just come across this post 6 months later...but want to mention my Plannerpad experiences. This format is great for people who don't need portability (although you can buy a small version, which has never had enough space for me). It really shines for making sure you don't forget to work on your big projects, which become categories at the top. The daily vertical at the bottom is really just to block out your committments, in order to see what time you have to work on the various projects listed at the top. Then you fill in the daily list in the middle depending on your time availability.

    I have a column for my part time job, errands/shop, book I am writing, illustration projects, spiritual goals, financial goals, and misc.

    Also I love that this paper takes all my doodles and ephemera. For a tactile person, the pages by the end of the year are soft and lovely to touch, and the book makes a great permanent record. What's not to like - well, the size. Also that I hate carrying two of them around in December! But I need my forward planning all the time. Then I am always tempted to go back to a ring binder.