The new planners are coming, the new planners are coming. H/T to Notebook Stories for sparking my interest here by noting that the Nolty announcements for 2021 were out. Covid-19 has really set back my keeping a daily planner so I am looking to reset soon and thinking ahead. I spend a lot of time thinking through how I will use a planner in the coming year, perhaps in hopes I might actually get my own actual life in order?
My current set up uses the Hobonichi Weeks Mega kept in a Galen Weeks Leather Cover. I spent weeks deciding what to use this year, including multiple visits to my local Jenni Bick store in Washington DC.
I was very excited about a number of the Mega Weeks features. I am completely on board with Tomoe River paper. It has the incredible feel that I love, plus can handle any pen, pencil or ink thrown at it. I also have a strong preference for graph/grid payout since I like to use my own habit trackers in different variations as my habits change. The two page / week payout with days on one side and open graph/grid paper was perfect for my normal tracking.
In the end, however, I found the space too small and limiting. I have small handwriting but even so I found the space was just not right for me. I prefer A5 notebooks overall and in 2019 I used a Japanese Discover A5 planner to great effect. I loved the layout and paper, but decided to try a smaller set up in 2020. You try, you learn. Now I know A5 is for me. Sadly it means I need to find another use for the Galen cover, which I adore. It is soft and so well made – a tremendous bargain and continues to look better and better as it gets more use.
So as I start to hunt for my 2021 planner, I keep coming back to what was my favorite set up so far – a simple Seven Seas A5 Tomoe River notebook from Nanami Paper. This remains one of the best, most underrated sources of quality paper and notebooks. I am amazed at how many of my analog friends into writing and paper have never heard of it. They are a great site, so please check them out. A sample page from 2018 Seven Seas shows a sense of how I used it.
So, how to go about your own search? Here are a few suggestions:
- Size – are you looking to carry your planner with you all the time or have it as part of your home or office set up. If the former, then a smaller version like Weeks or Traveler might be right. If you are likely to keep it as a desk set, then A5 or even bigger might make sense.
- Layout – Are you a self-starter and prefer to make your own layout, or do you want it all set up for you. A preset planner layout saves time and prompts you, but you have to know what you wants and like. A hybrid with 1/2 printed and 1/2 blank is a nice in between.
- Paper – I will write a lot about paper later but for now it comes down to something very simple – do you use a fountain pen or something else like a rollerball or gel? If you are a fountain pen geek (guilty) then you need to find something with Tomoe paper. If not, then you have a bunch more options.
- Source – I love most things Japanese and planners are at the top of my list. The variety and detail are just unparalleled. If that matters to you, then you have to do a bunch of hunting, and translating. If that is not important to you, there are dozens of quality US/UK providers. More to come on that.
As of now, I am leaning back in the direction of a Seven Seas or Discover planner, although I do have my eyes on the Nolty 2021 A5. Maybe that will help me get my life in order?