Back in my youth, you had a diary.  It was like One Book July, but all year.

It was usually teeny, and it had a collection of ruled spaces for the days of the year, coupled with a few extra pages for contact details as you had no mobile in which to keep them.

Today I keep a wide variety of planners and journals for different purposes including:

  • Filofax, Cross and Kate Spade Ring Planners
  • Personal Planner,, Sugar Paper and Kate Spade Bound Planners
  • Travellers’ notebooks in standard and passport sizes
  • Moleskine notebooks and collections notebooks

Like many people with a stationery addiction, I have been known to flit between several options during the course of the year.  Some very functional needs are met by different styles of planner, such as a recipe journal in a TN and travel journals in Moleskines.

One Book July

This week sees the start of One Book July.  This is a time when we planner folk are encouraged to use just one book for the coming month.  That’s one book for everything: planning, journaling, notes, sketching.  In short, if you want to write it down, that’s where you’ll do it.  It’s simplification of the highest degree.  And if you want to go even further, you can choose to use one pen too.

It struck me that this is a good time to work out what I love or don’t love about each planning format.  This will help me choose my one book.  I think I know already what it might be.  Let’s see if my gut instinct stands up to analysis.

The struggle is real: moving from this to One Book July.  That’ll be fun

Ring Planner

I have more than twenty ring planners.  Most are personal sized, although I have two A5s, one Deskfax and an handful of pockets.

Reasons to choose

  • Lots of readily available inserts and dividers
  • Plenty of flexibility and options to add and discard sections
  • The binder gives strength and protection to the contents
  • Easy to prop on your knee or a ledge for use on the move
  • It’s all set up for you: calendar, diary, notes pages, finance sheets, to do lists.  You name the insert, someone has probably made it for you.

Reasons to avoid

  • No matter how often I flex those rings, I still think they are going to trap a finger one day
  • There is a “ringsplosion” moment in everyone’s life
  • The binder adds extra weight to the contents if you are looking (as I assume most of us are) for a portable solution

Bound Planner

Reasons to choose

  • Sturdy covers give good protection to the contents
  • The weight is still relatively light when on the move
  • There is no danger of that ringsplosion
  • Your contents are sorted and well-ordered
  • It’s set up for you and raring to go

Reasons to avoid

  • There is no flexibility.  What you have is there, in a specific order, and that’s your lot
  • Some planners with metal rings can damage other items in your bag

Travellers’ Notebook

Reasons to choose

  • So very much flexibility.  Standard or passport size.  Plain, ruled, grid or dot inserts.  Chunky monkey or sleek beast.
  • Sturdy, especially with a leather cover
  • Or lightweight in fabric if you choose
  • Plenty of options to make your own inserts, or have them tailored for you – really useful if you like watercolour.

Reasons to avoid

  • Inserts can be ruinously expensive.  But thank you Tiger for currently stocking bargainous ones.
  • I find myself having to fight to keep the booklets open while I write.  I’ve not yet found a variety of booklet which will happily lay open.
  • You need to spend time on your setup.  Whether or not you are creating a bullet journal, there will still be actions you need to take to capture your life in structured form.  That needs some upfront investment.

Bound Notebook

Here I’m thinking a Moleskine or Leuchtterm 1917: a notebook, but one without a structure for planning.

Reasons to choose

  • The world is your oyster.  No constraints, no bountaries (save for the number of pages).
  • Very portable
  • The hardback covers protect your contents

Reasons to avoid

  • Set up will need some consideration, and take some time
  • Pages may not be suitable for watercolour and some pens
  • There’s a danger of stuff ending up all over the place, and being difficult to find.

My decision

really, really wanted to stick with my Kate Spade ringed planner.  I’ve used that planner since she and I met in the Nashville outlet, and I so wanted to spend the full year using one planner.

But she and I have one or two issues for July.  I’ll be doing Camp NaNoWriMo again, which means outlining a book.  And Kate, lovely as she is, will struggle to accommodate that many notes.  And that many inserts won’t be cheap.  I’ll be worrying that her stays will be straining as I stuff her with more and more paper.  It’d be Kate abuse.

I’ll also be away, so there will be some travel planning and travel journaling to accommodate.  If there had to be a challenging One Book Month, July was probably the month to choose for me.

I was quite tempted by my planner.  That’s a big beast, and with quite a few extra notes pages.  But I’d end up writing all over the pages I didn’t use last year, and I have other plans for them.

I was even more tempted by a TN.  Here I could corral everything into clearly defined sections, and then sort them afterwards.  Ruled notebooks for book planning.  A diary grid for my commitments.  A plain notebook for travel journaling.  A dot grid for finance and lists.  That all makes perfect sense.  But I can’t get past the awkwardness of using the TN.  It’s great to take out booklets to work on one at a time, then reassemble into a travel journal.  But on the go, it’s not quite so much fun for the fumbly of fingers like me.

The Final Choice

Moleskine Notebook: Travel Journal, Book Outline, Planner, Diary, Finances – Is there anything this book can’t do for July?

So…One Book July will be in a Moleskine notebook.  I’ve been using it for bullet journaling, so I’ve already got a feel for how the paper works with my favourite pens, washi and stamps.  I’ve used Moleskines as travel journals for a very long time, and they have accommodated all kinds of extras stuck in without complaint or loss of bindings.  I think I’m getting to grips with the indexing, so I should be able to find things scattered around in the notebook.

I’m going in.  Reckon I’ll last the month?  Watch this space.  And if you’re doing One Book July yourself, I’d love to know your book of choice.


Author: Bernie

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