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review of 2019 - planners and notebooks


When I look back to my post of January 2019 and my thoughts about the planner which I thought I want to use in 2019, and when I now look at the stack of four books which I have actually used in 2019 ... well, then it is always interesting to see that some things happen differently than I would have thought in the beginning!




my set up of 2019 - top to bottom: Stalogy A6, Franklin Planner Japan B6, Baronfig about B6, Take A Note Planner A5


I said "stack of four books" .. not really true because I have tried some others in between these four, but never for a long time because something never really worked out.

But these four lasted about 3 to 4 month each and that is actually a very long time for me.



But now more in detail:


Take A Note Planner 2019 in A5

this was my favorite one after I had written the blogpost in January 2019 because so many things just "felt" right about this planner. Tomoe River Paper in 68gsm, the layout of a week on 4 pages, the vertical layout, the monthly overview at the beginning.



Take A Note Planner from Taiwan 2019


monthly overview of Take A Note 2019


one week on 4 pages with a small weekly overview on the first page


But one thing was bothering me: the very faint print of this beautiful planner. I was writing in it and did not see the grid anymore. Tomoe River Paper does have some ghosting, not too much in this planner as it is made out of 68gsm paper but still, especially if you have written with a dark ink on the page before. And then on the next page the ghosting of this dark ink overwhelmed the grid print and the layout kind of blurred together.


So I have tried that planner for a couple of weeks at the beginning of the year, used it for my appointments (monthly layout) and for my daily tasks and journaling (weekly layout). But not seeing the grid made me stop using it.


But, there is one good news about this planner: the new one for 2020 has a much darker grid print, the lines are much better to see and the highlight color is red! Beautiful planner :-)






Franklin Planner B6 daily layout

I wanted to stay with Tomoe River Paper so I decided to use the Franklin Planner in B6 size with the daily layout.



Franklin Planner Japan B6 daily

At first I thought ok, well, might work out after all, but after some days I found out that I like a weekly layout for my tasks better than a daily layout. A weekly layout allows me to see a full week of my tasks and makes it much easier to transfer the unmade tasks to the next day.

In a daily planner you have to switch back and forth between days and flip to next Sunday and back to the current one and then to the Sunday two weeks later and suddenly I didn`t know anymore in which week I was and mixed tasks up in the wrong week, you name it!

In a weekly layout you just flip over one page and see the whole next week, no flipping between the pages and finding the correct week....



daily layout of the Franklin Planner B6


And, one other thing about this planner, the dates are printed on the page in the (at least for me) wrong order. When I see 4/9 this would be September 4th and not April 9th. Being from Europe I`m used to a date format where I start with the day and not the month.

But this Franklin Planner starts with the month and when I see 2/6 at the top of my page I always thought that I had opened up the wrong page and instead of February I`m writing something down in June!


In addition the month and day are in the same size, so there is no distinction between these two.



So, two things coming together, the daily layout and the date format .... I stopped using it after a short time of some weeks.


This planner might work out for just journaling where you use one day after the other without needing to flip back and forth.





next step

After my usage of two preprinted planners (which in the end did not really work out) I thought about a plain notebook where I could make my own layout as I need it, kind of a bullet journal but with more structure. Bullet Journaling has really evolved from a simple "notebook+pen " to elaborate premade drawings in various colors and layouts and whatsoever. Don`t get me wrong, if somebody likes to draw and embellish his notebook with colors and premake a whole book for one year, this might be nice and beautiful, but then, for me, it defies the original system of Bullet Journaling as it was created from Ryder Carroll. The original system was minimalistic and easy, this new style is more a premade planner for me than a bullet journal. But I would say, do as you like and if you have fun with it, just do it!


But I wanted to have a - I would say - selfmade premade planner in a minimalistic style. Months at the beginning, then vertical weeks for my tasks and just plain pages for my journaling.



Baronfig Confidant Notebook

This brought me to the Baronfig Confidant Notebook. I had it at home for a longer time and somehow never used it but looking through my stack of notebooks I discovered it again. I always liked the format, it is smaller than A5 but a bit bigger than B6, and the proportion are more wide than high (in comparison to A5 for example).

The paper is a bit of off-white, very good handling of fountain pens, very little ghosting and dot grid in 5mm.




Baronfig Confidant Notebook in big B6

The book has 192 pages, enough for a page per month, one week on two pages for half a year and two days per page for journaling.

I was able to premake the monthly overviews and the weeklies, and counted the pages and started with my journaling.


What I liked a lot: I was able to make a vertical overview of a month, not the box style of a month but really simple on day beneath each other. This gave me a very good overview of a month and mostly I only had one appointment per day so one line was sufficient.



monthly overview in Baronfig



daily journaling in Baronfig

And this really worked out! I had a one-in-all book for appointments, tasks and journaling, my fountain pens worked great, no bleeding, no feathering, minimal ghosting. I have transferred all the information from January from the other planners into this notebook and I knew it would last me until the end of June.

And so, in about May, I was looking at their webpage to order a new one for the second half of the year.

Baronfig just brought out a new notebook in black with copper print on the outside (nice and elegant looking), with a preprinted monthly overview (actually for "a line a day") but I thought it would make a great overview per month. And at the back of that notebook preprinted trackers, 12 for one year. And in between dot grid pages. Did not take long, I ordered that one and another notebook in the color of figwine (the same as I had before).




But, there is always a "but" somewhere --- I think they changed their paper. I started to write in the new black one and I was so disappointed, I did not even finish the first word and wanted to throw it out of the window! Bleeding and feathering with my inks where before none of that had happened. The figwine notebook still had the old paper but I was so disappointed about the black one, that I did not want to use the other one. Knowing that I only had this one notebook with nice paper and I would just delay my search for a good notebook for half a year I just knew I had to find another one.


I contacted Baronfig, told them about my experience with fountain pen ink and they were even nice enough to send out another one on their expenses for testing but still, even this new one had bleeding and feathering. They told me that the paper did not change but I saw a change in texture and in the color of the dots, so something did change. When you are using ballpoint pens then I would totally recommend these notebooks. They are very nicely made, have a great size and nice cover colors but Alas! not suitable for a lot of my fountain pens+inks!


This was in May and I knew I had another month to finish the current notebook but until the end of June I had to find another one. I wanted to stay in this layout, all-in-one and months/weeks/days so only another notebook would be the solution.




In a bullet journaling Facebook group I stumbled upon another Japanese made notebook:


Stalogy in A6

Stalogy is made by a japanese company, very nice thin white paper, very good with fountain pens. It is not Tomoe River Paper but maybe you are familiar with the new Jibun Techo of 2020, they are using Thin Paper and this Stalogy paper is very similar to this new Jibun paper.

They have various sizes, A6, B6 and A5. The A6 and B6 notebooks are made with a 5mm grid, the A5 one with a 4mm grid.




Stalogy A6 with my vinyl decal

This notebook is very minimalistic in design, the soft cover in black with a elegant gold logo design, a grid which is very faint (actually similar to the Take A Note planner) and with 368 pages in A5 size.

There also exists a slim version with just 192 pages and colored covers.


The A6 version is available as well in a thick version (368 pages) and a slim version of 192 pages.


I decided to use the thick A6 as my notebook for the rest of the year. And an A5 for all my lists and trackers (the set up of this one will follow in a future blog post).



Why A6 suddenly and not A5 anymore? I always liked that size, nice to handle, easy to take into your hand, not too heavy.


With so many pages I was able to fit a monthly overview on two pages (I actually turned around the notebook to have more space), a weekly overview on two pages and then one page per day for journaling for altogether 6 months (July to December). There were even enough pages to use two pages per day for journaling if I needed the space for more text or small pictures.



monthly overview in Stalogy A6 - book turned sideways



But, again this big "but", some fountain pens with a B nib joined my life in autumn of 2019 and although the paper of the Stalogy A5 handles ink very well, the A6 paper is a bit different and some of these inks written with B nibs started to bleed a bit.

Not very much but noticeable for me, I guess I`m a bit of a snob in regards of paper+ink combinations!


And, another but, although I`m really a fan of this small A6 size, it somehow is too small to write in. Your hand was hanging off the paper, the notebook is not too thick but still enough to have an akward hand holding.



So after another 5 months, in November, back to square one!


Fountain pen friendly paper and not too small?? This brought me back to the Take A Note paper with its Tomoe River Paper and A5 size.

Yes, the print was very faint but the Stalogy one`s is not darker, so I thought if I could handle it for such a long time in my Stalogy then it would be ok for another two months in my Take A Note.



And so I ended the year where it began, in my Take A Note planner!





here you can see the size comparison of A5 (bottom) to A6 at the top.



Just don`t think, oh, what an easy way in 2019, only 4 planners/notebooks in one year.... well, not really true, I tested a lot more! Some I hoped would work out but in the end didn`t, others positively surprised me, some might be an option for 2020, some I have dismissed for good.


I just throw some names in here: Archer+Olive, Artebene, Moleskine, Soumkine, Mossery, Citrus Bookbindery, Jibun Techo, Take A Note, Muji, GoodINKpressions, Wachstuchheft (a Swiss made notebook), Nuuna, Passion Planner, Hippo Noto, Nanami Paper and Cedon.

Together with covers from Jungholz Design and Foxy Fix.



I will let you know in future posts about the "good+bad", which worked for me and which didn`t.

And don`t forget, I`m looking at notebooks and planners from the perspective of a fountain pen user, I always test out if paper works well together with fountain pen ink and if it doesn`t then that paper is not "good enough" for me. But if you use other pens you might find a certain paper is very good where I say "not good".



Stay tuned, I`m looking forward to give you a lot of information this year!



Thanks a lot for reading and (planner) peace to everyone!


Andrea



P.S. sorry for all the blurring in the pictures, but all my appointments and private thoughts in my journals are not meant for the world to see!