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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Planner Permanence

The other day I visited Crathes Castle, which is very cool and you should definitely see it if you're ever in eastern Scotland.

Anyway, in one of the rooms they had on display a ledger that recorded something from hundreds of years ago.  I think it was a legal record of estate-dwellers who had broken the law.  I love old record books like this.  I especially find interesting kitchen finance books, where they recorded how much they spent on eggs or whatever in a month.  Seeing what foods people ate, and how much money they spent, tells a lot about their lives.  In today's digital age, many daily details like this will be lost to history.

I love that notebooks and planners can serve as an archive of information many years later.  I love to look back through my old planners and see the daily details of my past life.  My favorite planners for this are my Septanote from 11 years ago, and my Textagenda while I was in the Peace Corps because both of these planners contain a lot of details of my daily life at that time.

A common theme that I personally wrestle with often is Filofax or bound planner book.  Each has its advantages, of course.  And each has permanence, but in different ways.

A bound book encapsulates that one year.  It begins at the beginning of the year (either calendar or academic, however your year runs) and ends at the end of the year.  Then that one year is permanently archived in those pages. Often I have little notes written on the daily or weekly pages, cards and papers taped in, with addresses and phone numbers of people I contacted frequently written in the back pages.  It's my year, self-contained, for all of history.

A Filofax has a different sort of permanence.  The binder itself and anything else you choose to keep in it can travel through time with you year after year.  You could use the same binder, with the same reference pages in it, for decades.  Or, you could move pages around, remove some and leave others, change your diary inserts as often as you want, or even do a total contents dump.

I like the idea that I can keep certain things in my Filofax year after year (or forever).  But even when I archive my pages (which I always do) a Filofax doesn't have the same archival feel of a bound planner book.  The pages in my archival binders seem out of context.  I tend to get rid of random notes and lists because they take up too much room in my Filofax, so those little bits of information are lost. And the categorized tabbed sections with notes and information lack the chronology inherent in a bound book.  This is why I sometimes use a Filofax for my planner, but I never ever use one (or any type of loose leaf, ring bound or even perforated pages book) as my journal.  It's bound-only for journaling.

I love to ponder those ancient ledger books being read hundreds of years later, providing such a clear picture of day to day life at that time.  I fantasize about keeping a big bound planner like one of those old ledger books, with a complete record of my life that year.  I don't expect that my planners will be interesting to anyone hundreds of years from now.  But just maybe, one of my descendants will find it interesting to read what I did on a particular day, many years ago. 

Do you keep your past planners as an archive? Which type of planner do you prefer for its archival qualities?


  1. Here's my view on this bound or loose leaf conundrum... Bound to me implies a year that starts in Jan or in July and runs for 12 months.

    Sometimes in your life you want to capture odd periods that can be more or less than 12 months, it might only be a few weeks or then again it might be 15 months. With a loose leaf journal I can categorise the weeks in to periods easily especially at the beginning or end of a year.

    As an example this year I have a boundary at the end of May when I moved to France so it's a fairly significant event BF AF (Before France... After France)!!!

    But as you say each format has it's merits. I'm sure there must be a binding system that can turn loose leaf pages in to effectively a bound book in various thickness's for archival purposes. Lurking in a stationary catalogue somewhere there is an answer... or am I just using that as an excuse!

  2. Steve that is a very good point, I'm feeling the same thing since my move with time delineated into Albania and Scotland. Not only that, but now that we are on a school schedule I'm discovering it makes more sense for me to be on an academic year rather than a calendar year.

    If you find a way to permanently bind loose leaf pages in a bound book, let me know!!!

  3. I am constantly having this bound book vs loose leaf dilemma and have recently taken the decision to move to loose leaf for both my planner and journal, eeek!!

    The one thought that is sustaining me (sounds like such a traumatic decision doesn't it?) is that I have a gadget called a bind-it-all in my scrapbooking supplies which means I can spiral bind papers all by myself, phew

    That said, I do prefer book bound over spiral bound but you can have everything lol

  4. Karen, I'm comforted that I'm not the only one who tortures myself over this dilemma!! And yes that is excellent to be able to spiral-bind things yourself, but I agree I do prefer book bound.

    The saga continues!

  5. Funny we all seem to obsess about the same conundrums...

    Without being redundent, I agree with all the points made so far. I think I try to walk a middle line -

    My journal is a bound book (Moleskine day per page). I write in it daily and also note things like weather, mood, current events, etc. That gets stored away every year in its encapsulated form. One reason I have moved to a bound journal is that I have a tendency to want to "take back" entries (or I used to...life is better now) that were particularly sad or vitriolic. But with a bound book I can't do that because I tell myself it would wreck the book and I am far to OCD for that!

    For my planner I use a ring bound system so that I can (seemingly endlessly sometimes) change it with my needs. If I couldn't dub around with my planner constantly I would quite possibly go insane!! Or I would spend too much time and money buying new bound planners and recopy until my hand fell off! In that I also note the weather, mood, etc but on a less detailed scale as in my journal, so I have my little time capsule in my planner as well. Then at the end of the year I archive the pages and I have a little time capsule no matter which I look back in.

  6. I am afraid I am addicted to both forms. I think, in fact I am sure I inherited this trait from my Father who kept detailed notes on everything. He was a chemist, but also a farmer, rancher, and naturalist. You never wanted to get in an argument about anything, he would go to his notebooks, find the one covering that period, pull it out and tell you who was there and what happened. That impressed me. In addition to my journal (bound) and my Filofax, I keep a commonplace book. One (of many) quotes about records is from an English farmer in 1805.

    "There is not a single step in the life of a farmer that does not prove the advantage of his keeping regular accounts; and yet there isn't one in a thousand that does it"
    Arthur Young

    I would sure like to be able to read the man's notebooks.

    For 2011, I am going to the day on two pages Daytimer. That in addition to my bound journals, (Moleskine, Webbie, aand others) should provide everything needed.

  7. Before I started using Filofax, I had a wire-bound planner, which I loved. But once I saw the flexibility of a ring-bound planner, I never went back. I also have a bound journal - no particular brand, just whatever I see that I like. I use it to write down feelings and happenings, though I'm not very good about writing in it on a regular basis. Just here and there, and most times it's a long time before I get back to it, not because I don't like doing it, but I often don't find (make) the time.

    As for archiving - I used to only keep the last year's worth of information, but I'm going to start keeping more than that. I keep previous days from this year, as well as future days for this year in an empty binder. This way I can access it easily. My 2009 pages are bound together with a binder clip and stored in a box. Not the best system but it's what works for me right now.

    Laurie - Do you have office supply stores where you are? Sometimes they can bind things for you...

  8. Yvotchka, how you are doing it is probably how I SHOULD be doing it. I'm afraid I've severely slacked off on my day per page Moleskine journal writing this year. For the first half of the year I was so stressed out I didn't want to record it. But since then, even when I do have things I want to remember, I've fallen out of practice. I need to either back-fill my Mole, or start a blank book and just write some catching-up pages then jump into now. At the moment I'm paralyzed by indecision about it and so I write nothing. Not good!

    Crofter I LOVE the idea of your father's notebooks! That is what I aspire to: detailed notes of each day. Somehow I still haven't figured out the best way to accomplish that.

    Kanalt, there must be a binder like that somewhere in town. I'll have to look for that. Thanks!

  9. I just make my own. Large Moleskine, 2010 is a ruled. I put Monthly at a glance in the front, then skipped a couple pages and put weekly on two pages after that. This way I can see the whole month at once and I can have enough room to actually write out what I have to do each day. Next year I have switched to the squared version. Kids are in school so I make the next year in August. Works out great. I may even buy a pocket squared for portability.

  10. Interesting topic Laurie, I've always struggled with rings or bound. As I have been researching the history (which the 30's and 40's are my favorite) both were used but I struggle with archiving the ring bound. My question always goes in the direction that ring bound, unless glued and sewn could get lost. But I guess so could the whole bound book like a Moleskine.
    The positive side of using something like a large Moleskine diary is that they aren't expensive and you can have a cover made fairly cheap (Ren Art) with your name engraved on it.
    I also like the fact that Moleskine has changed their calendar format for 2011 to blocks.
    I really want to go back to the "old fashion" design of a bound planner, with a rustic cover, and use a fountain pen on a daily basis.

  11. Hey Greg if you want a day per page planner that has fountain pen friendly paper, you might check out the Journal 21 from Quo Vadis. The paper isn't as heavy weight as some FP paper, but from the reviews I've read people don't seem to have any problem with bleed-through. I can attest that the paper is silky-smooth. And, I am 99.9% sure the J21 will fit in your Ren Art cover. The J21 comes with a variety of cover options, or you can get just the refill.

    You can see my review of the Journal 21 here:



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