Monday, April 13, 2015

Midori Traveler's Notebook

I want to apologize to everyone who has ever recommended I try a Midori Traveler's Notebook (including Rori, Steve, my mom, and many others) and I ignored their advice. I have plenty of excuses: I didn't want to get into another planner system. I thought I was wedded to bound books and the booklets seemed too impermanent. It was a rabbit hole I didn't want to go down.

But recently I changed my mind. We had a weekend trip over Easter, and as I always do when I travel I discovered my bag is too darn heavy. So when I got home I started thinking of ways to lighten up the load. One thing I did was to buy a cotton crossbody bag to use instead of my (nice but heavy) leather one. Then I started thinking about my planner situation.

Long story short, I've switched around my planners a lot this year. A lot. Every planner I've tried this year has been big, and most have been heavy. And, I was still using a large Moleskine notebook as my Bullet Journal (as detailed in this post). I was tired of carrying so much stuff around.

Now I can't remember what made me think of trying the Traveler's Notebook. My mom sent it to me awhile ago, probably more than a year ago. She used it for awhile then switched to something else, maybe a fauxdori?

Anyway, I like the Midori, the brown leather, and the way my mom had already decked the whole thing out with several pockets, a pen loop and some other stuff.

Here is the cover, I love the character marks! I have updated this photo to show the thistle charm (representing Scotland, where I live) that arrived after I originally published this post. At the bottom you can see the Thor hammer I got in Iceland last year hanging from the pagemarker.

Here is a closeup of the thistle charm. I just love it. I got it from and the shipping was fast.  There are a few thistle designs to choose from, I got this one. There's a really cool page on their website showing how they make the silver charms, I had no idea the process was so complicated!

Here is a closeup of the Thor hammer. It was actually a keychain the but the keychain part broke off. I didn't know what I was going to do with it but this is a perfect purpose for it!

I have four booklets in the Midori: Monthly, weekly, daily and lists. I'm using the undated monthly booklet (refill 017), the undated weekly + notes (refill 019), a grid booklet for my daily pages (refill 002) and a blank booklet for my lists (refill 003). The monthly booklet has 14 months of month-on-two pages calendars plus some pages for notes. The weekly booklet has 6 months of weeks. The grid booklet has 64 pages so about 2 months of dailies.

Here is how I have the four booklets in the cover: Three are held in using elastics. Two side booklets are held together with the orange elastic. The brown elastic that is attached to the cover comes up between them to hold the middle booklet. I saw this online somewhere, I don't know if I would have thought of this on my own!

Here is the back of the book. On the left is a card pocket that goes through to the front under all the booklets so I have pockets front and back. It is awesome. My mom sent it with the MTN. It holds some positivity cards she also sent, love them. Those are staying in. On the right is the blank booklet that I'm using for all my lists.

The photo below shows the inside of the back booklet showing how the back cover is attached to the inside of the MTN cover. My mom stuck a clear plastic side-open pocket inside the back of the leather cover. The booklet's back cover fits in there perfectly. It is held securely with the clip-on pen holder.

I'm using the monthly pages in two ways: as a forward planning overview, and as an index. I fill in a brief summary of what happened each day, for example the day I filed my taxes or when my kids stayed home sick from school. If I want to see details, I know the date to look up in my daily pages. I used to use separate monthly pages for these two purposes, one for future and one as my index, but using one for both definitely simplifies things.

In my weekly + notes pages I use the left schedule page for all planning, and the right page for my weekly lists for both home and work. I know the digital-style spaces at the top of the left page are to be filled in with the dates to look like digital numbers, but I don't do that. I just write the month and year.

I thought the grid pattern on the notes page would bother me but I like it. Something I really like are the slightly heavier lines that come out from each day's space, so you can divide the notes page to correspond to each day if you want. I use the divisions to create separate categorized list spaces for personal, home and work.

I use the grid booklet for my daily pages. Most of the time I'll use one page per day, on busy or eventful days I'll use more pages. I don't normally post images of what I write, but here you can see an example of a less-eventful day. If I don't fill a day, I still start the next day on a new page.

I keep my lists in the blank booklet in the back of the cover. Here is an example of one of my lists: things I usually get at Costco.

Nobody is more surprised than I am that I'm using a Midori. I resisted for such a long time. Wanting to lighten my load motivated me to experiment with it. But I think what really clicked was when I discovered the Midori archival binder (refill 011) online and I realized the booklet system, stored properly, is just as permanent as any bound book.

I know there is an endless flood of Midori and fauxdori info online. Videos, blogs, websites, DIY, etc. I'm avoiding all of that. I've just come through so much planner difficulty over the past few months, I just want something simple but effective.

These are very early days but so far the lightness of the whole thing (443g including my pen) is delightful. I love having just one book to grab, not two. I love being able to carry all my planning and my journaling in my bag all the time, not having to leave my planner at home because it's too heavy. I was surprised to discover just how wonderful the paper is, and the page size is almost as large as Moleskine's large pages, just a little narrower. So I still have the big pages I like, almost A5 size, but in a book that weighs significantly less than my personal size Filofax.

So to everyone out there who has been singing Midori praises: I finally get it!


  1. I'm glad it's working for you. I know how much you've struggled.

    I've read a lot of references to this type of system but never actually read anything about it. Thanks for sharing. I understand a bit more about it now.

    1. Thanks Patty. I hope I stick with this system for a long time! I have planner fatigue, and I think this could work really well for me.

  2. "Planner fatigue" - very true for me too. I'm glad this works so well for you. I tried a Midori but it was too challenging to hold the pages open every time I wanted to write. But I see the benefits and just wish the flattability thing didn't bother me so much.

    1. I use a Midori-style system, and I hold the notebooks open with binder clips when I'm writing. When I'm not writing, the clips serve as page markers.

    2. I use a Midori-style system, and I hold the notebooks open with binder clips when I'm writing. When I'm not writing, the clips serve as page markers.

  3. I was wondering why you had been so quiet lately. . . I figured you were happy with your system and just cruising along. Sorry to hear of the planner trauma, but maybe this simplification is what you have needed all along!

    - Tina

  4. Compare a MTN with ring binder and bonded notebook when traveling around, I do appreciate MTN. The cover leather of MTN is designed to accept all kinds of marks during travel; dose not have loose leaf but flexible enough to use or carry different notebooks for different purpose.

  5. The genius of the Midori is the binding that lets you customize to your heart's content. The MTN sizes don't work for me, so I made my own "fauxdori" to fit Clairefontaine notebooks about a year ago and absolutely love it.

  6. I hope this works for you. Planner trauma isn't fun.

    I've avoided the MTN because of the interior - I have a strong texture aversion to suede. I recently saw a video about a Gillio traveler's notebook that appeared to have lined interior with pockets just like binders. I've also seen someone convert a Flex to elastic-holder notebooks with Moleskine Cahiers as the inserts.

    Something to consider if my Boston A5 with custom inserts doesn't work.

  7. I recently bought an X17 planner, in a way it is similar to the Midori system but comes in A4,5,6,7 sizes and each book uses it´s own elastic. Depending on the model it can take up to 4 books and I really like about it that it is even lighter than a Midori and much slimmer in my bag. They have a good selection on different inserts and also other DIN A size booklets fit.
    @ Bree: The Giramondo is very nice but you could also have a look at the X17, they come in A5 with a non-suede interior, also there are `leather-free` covers.

  8. For those who want to stock up, The Journal Shop is doing 15% off today (29/4/2015) - code = natstatweek

  9. I recently stumbled onto your blog. And I love your posts. I'm looking into getting my first planner and quite frankly am overwhelmed by all the options. Thanks for demystifying them and the whole process of choosing one.