Planners – What Works for You?


Are your thoughts turning to a 2010 planner or calendar? Yesterday I made it to the local art store for a Day Runner calendar that attaches to the fridge and suffices for a family planner. Simple and easy even for the Luddites amongst us but that isn’t enough for me. I need portable tools as well.

Long before I heard of Exaclair, I purchased a red leatherette covered planner “made in France for Barnes & Noble” hoping it would play nice with my fountain pens. Of course, the Exacompta Daily Pocket Diary delivered to perfection. The 3 1/2 x 5 1/4″ size was a good introduction to keeping a daily journal when I no longer need it as a planner. It still looks pristine and someday I will find a new use for it now that I need something larger for daily use.

Then a few years ago I adopted a 2 3/4 x 4 3/8″ red (again) leather Scully Personal Planner as my go-everywhere tool to keep track of appointments on the fly. The five lines per day format suits my needs nicely. The diminutive size adds zero weight to my handbag and fits in a pocket when needed. An Apica CD5 is tucked in the front flap for notes. Hardly an elegant solution but it works perfectly with all those little appointment cards doctors’ offices hand out. Sadly, the paper quality is inconsistent from year to year but I use a pencil in it so it doesn’t really matter to me.

My favorite though is the Exacompta Journal 21. I had one for 2009 courtesy of Karen at Exaclair and the paper quality makes it a joy to use with fountain pens. The page-per-day format is great for everything from keeping track of appointments to use as a daily journal. If one journal would do the job for me, this is the one.

A planner I’ve only tested is the Quo Vadis Equology Minister. Check out Laurie’s review at Plannerisms for all you need to know about the Minister then read my comment at the end of her review. The bleed-through would make it less than ideal though I do love the form factor and the texture of the paper. I like to use a pencil in my planner so the incompatibility with fountain pen ink wouldn’t deter me.

Now you know what works for me. How about you? What fits your lifestyle? Does a planner have to be best friends with your fountain pen? Or do you need a paper that holds up well to frequent erasing? What works for you?

Note: There are two versions of the Minister and my comments are about the Equology version that has recycled paper. The 90g version of the Minister has fountain pen friendly paper.

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  1. This year, I used a simple notebook & gmail combination, using the Inbox Zero system by Merlin Mann. I usually have a simple agenda to plan out my school stuff. This year, I will be using a bunch of different systems. I will use the Moleskine Color-a-month as well as a calendar, plus various others.

    • Sounds complex but life has so many parts to it, that it really can take multiple methods to keep it all together. And to think I used to carry one Day Runner with everything I needed in it. Never mind that it weighed several pounds and would have been impossible to reconstruct if I’d lost it. Compartmentalized works better these days for me. Hope it does for you, too.

  2. I swear by my Uncalendar (http://www.uncalendar.com) – it’s set up in a way that works for me, and it’s fountain pen friendly! (In fact, it has excellent paper that even my medium point Parker pens do well with!) It’s not, however, particularly snazzy looking (though I do like the color pages).

    • Uncalendar is new to me. The website doesn’t do it justice and could use some closeups of the inner workings of the planners. Good to know the paper is high quality and certainly the price is right. The half-sized version looks really practical. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. Thanks for linking my Minister review! It’s a great planner but for fountain pen users I think the regular (not Equology) version would be better. The regular version IS fountain-pen friendly (90 g Clairefontaine paper) and from what I understand is very popular with FP users.

    I have used the Exacompta Daily Pocket planner in the past and while it is great, the paper is very thin–even ball point pens show through easily.

    I will be reviewing a Journal 21 myself next month. I have been wanting to try out this planner for a long time so I am very excited to be getting one. I have used many day-per-page planners over the years so I’m curious how this one compares to the others I have tried. You can be sure I will be forthcoming with all the details!

    • Let me know when you get that review posted and I will add a link to it from mine.

  4. I have to have fountain pen friendly paper. I use Levenger’s Circa system (aka Rollabind) and I absolutely love it for a couple of reasons. First and foremost I use whatever paper I want and punch it to fit the notebook. Secondly, I have three different sizes of covers and various rings, so I can use any size I require. Thirdly, by punching a card, handout, memo, etc. I can add anything of any size to my planner! Finally, as time goes by, I can easily rearrange the order, add pages if necessary, etc. I love my Circa!

    • Good to know that Circa works well with fountain pens. One of these days I’ll have to test the paper since Levenger comes up so often in discussions of paper products.

  5. It will be my third year with a Filofax and it is working well for me. I bought the more expensive Cotton Cream paper last year, and I must say that there is less bleed through with that versus the regular white Filofax paper. But some inks do take longer to dry- such as Noodler’s Black, Ottoman Azure, but not Baystate Blue or TianAnMen. Nevertheless, I have two of those wonderful blotters from Richard Binder sandwiched in the Filofax for those quick jot and close moments.

    • Blotters are the best solution to ink that is slow to dry. I’ve been using the same one in my daily journal for years. All those little dots of color look like confetti!

  6. I have used Uncalendars in the past, full-size and half-size and they are great. I have a photo set on Flickr with descriptions of the features:


    Uncalendar is very motivational and I have found it very helpful in setting goals and working toward them. It has a lot of tips throughout the book for time management and motivation. Great planners!

    • Thanks for posting the images. It really helps in visualizing how the Uncalendar works.

  7. Oh and I meant to say, Quentin, have you ever checked out the Philofaxy blog? I am a contributor, and there are a lot of people on there who really love Filofax. You might enjoy reading about how other Filofaxers use their Filos.


  8. I second the vote for Circa. I keep three sizes going, and pages fly from one to another all the time. I love that flexibility, because it means I don’t have to have the right notebook with me all the time. Quite freeing. I also have the punch, so all sorts of things get added to my Circas — business cards, magazine clippings, index cards, coupons… I love it.

    My Lamy Al-Star gets along very well with Levenger paper — no bleed-through whatsoever. I do get some ghost-dots with my Levenger stub nib and my Montblanc, but then they are the heavy-drinking drama queens of my collection. My others pens (all various Levengers) all work fine on Circa paper.

    • So wide nibs or nibs that flow well can bleed through? That’s useful. Even if it is faint, some people are unhappy with that level of performance. However, the vast majority of FP users go for fine to medium nibs and would be unaffected by any bleed-through. Good to know.

  9. I feel like this year I’ve been doing the Goldilocks thing–trying and trying to find the planner that is just right. I had been using a Shinzi Katoh scheduler but they decreased the size and it doesn’t work for me as well as their previous model did. Then I ordered a Exacompta Space 24 planner which is wonderful–the paper is scrumptious for fountain pens and pencils but it is sized just a bit too large for my taste.

    I finally settled on the Delfonics planner and I love, love, love it. It is the perfect size–not too large, not too small. It gives me space to plan out my daily activities and make copious notes on the opposite page. And the plastic cover keeps the linen cover in nice shape–and allows me to insert cards on the inside flap. You can see it here: http://notemaker.com.au/products/delfonics-2010-b6-diary-linen

    • The Delfonics Diary looks very simple and straightforward. Thanks for introducing us.

  10. I’m hooked on the Journal 21. A little large to carry comfortably and I end up hooking a large rubber band around it, but it holds everything. Add a couple of large paper clips to make section tabs and I keep up with everything.

    • How do your broad nibs work on the thin paper? I am tempted to purchase a refill and use the Journal 21 just for ink/pen/paper notes.

  11. Hi B Irwin, good to see you here! I would love to learn details of how you are using your Journal 21. As a planner? As a journal? Both? If you could post on your blog an update/ year end review I would love to read it.

    I can hardly wait to get my hands on the Journal 21 and try it out!

  12. I’ve been making my own DIY planner with a piccadilly notebook. I have recently swtiched to a smaller, A5 version to fit in a new planner cover I bought. The smaller size makes it much more difficult to be creative. You can see my attempt at the DIY planner at http://schoolsupplydance.blogspot.com/2009/11/update-on-my-diy-planner.html

    In an earlier entry, I also reviewed the uncalendar. I used it all the time for work. It is also at my blog.

    • Your DIY planner really shows your creative side but it also got me thinking. Essentially one could use any pad of paper as a customized planner. The Bloc Rhodia No. 16 with the spiral at the top is my favorite for general use. The form factor is just right for my desk and it would be easy to turn it into a page-per-day planner. My daily doodles would be its decoration. This could be a lot of fun and who doesn’t need that at a work desk!

  13. Franklin Day Planner products and I just loaded up my fifteenth. It’s not so much the FDP program, although I bought into it seriously at the beginning, but just the tactile grooviness of the leather, the zipper, the rings, the pages, the dividers, the days, notes, drawings…all in a loose leaf format.

    david boise ID

    • Now that’s loyalty and by far the best recommendation for a product.

  14. [...] Inkophile has a great entry about planners. Which is perfect for this time of [...]

  15. You can’t beat the uncalendar. I’ve reviewed it on my blog (with pictures) if you want to take a look. Really, this is the planner you can for anything. There’s so much space, and so much freedom! I DEFINITELY recommend it.

    • Thanks for the tip.

  16. Your style is so unique in comparison to other people I’ve read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you’ve
    got the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this web site.

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