Do you end up feeling frustrated because you can't seem to decide between a Filofax style ring binder, a Traveler's Notebook style cover, or a single bound notebook for your everyday planning system? Keep reading to find out how I aim to enjoy the best of both worlds in my new setup.
If you have followed my blog over the years you may already know that I have a love-hate relationship with Filofax ring planners. I have a fatal fascination for the ring planner system, but I have never been able to feel at home in one.
Then I discovered the Midori Traveler's Notebook, all the way back when it was still called a "Midori", and I realised that I had discovered "planner peace". I happily settled into the lush leather notebook cover for all of my planning and journaling needs.
But every now and then I find myself tempted by new Filofax colours and designs, the allure of the coveted highly organised and attractive tabbed system, and the freedom to add and remove pages without making the planner look like a scrapbook.
I have always swiftly ended up moving straight back into my trusted Midori after a detour back into the ring planner realm. But here I find myself once more, with a brand new Filofax, many good intentions, and fear in my heart that I have yet again spent a fortune on a beautiful planner that I am never going to use.
I have decided to try something out though, in order for me to be able to enjoy the best of both worlds. Before we get into exactly what I am doing, why, and how, let's take a look at the pros and cons of the Filofax Vs. the Traveler's Notebook Vs. a single bound notebook.
The Appeal Of A Bound Notebook
I have always found comfort in a bound notebook style diary or planner because of the straightforward chronological and permanent nature of using a bound notebook.
This probably stems from my Uni days when I used a simple black Moleskine Diary with the week on one page and a blank side on the other.
The great thing about Moleskine I found was that it was smart, easy to fit in my bag amongst a tonne of other Uni stuff, and it did the job I needed it to do, which was to record assignments and deadlines, and provide plenty of space for doodling when I was bored during lectures!
I think there is also a kind of satisfaction that can be gained from working one's way through a bound notebook from start to finish throughout the year, whether it is in the form of a predated daily, weekly or monthly diary, or a more free-flowing bullet-journal-style planner.
The Charm Of A Traveler's Notebook
When I first acquired a Midori Traveler's Notebook it spoke to "the writer" in me because of its romantic old leather journal vibe. I fell in love with the leather cover and the fact that it was totally okay to get it scuffed up and worn in. It felt like a very personal belonging of mine that was going to grow with me as I used it, and for this reason, it was extremely easy to get attached to.
The fact that I could add as many notebooks as I needed meant that I could keep my planner and journal separate, but also keep them together in the same leather cover so that they felt like one. The notebook refill that I used as my main planner mimicked the design of the Moleskine that I was used to, and there was still space for other inserts I wanted to try out, like a sketchbook. It was, in my opinion, perfect.
The thing I have enjoyed most about journaling and planning in my Traveler's Notebook over the years is that I feel like I can be myself in it. I can be messy because I am not concerned about it looking perfect. I can express my creativity and allow it to gradually acquire a "lived-in" look and feel. Plus all of my notebook refills are the same size which has made storing them much easier and aesthetically pleasing.
Each time I move into a new notebook refill, it gives me the opportunity to put a fresh spin on my setup with a new cover design too, which is fun and makes it feel like I have a brand new journal. Here are some of my old journal notebooks.
The Allure Of A Ring Planner
I feel like a ring planner is always going to look and feel more professional somehow than a Traveler's Notebook. When you take a Filofax out of your bag as opposed to a leather journal, it just looks like you mean business, even if your Filofax is bright pink with fluffy charms. I think it has something to do with it essentially being a binder. Binders are filing systems, and filing systems reflect organisation and order, with everything in its place and easy to reference.
I'm not a naturally orderly person, I am very creative, visual, and a bit scatter-brained. I tend to flow organically and make up my own order amidst the beautiful chaos. This has meant that whenever I have moved into a Filofax I have felt intimidated by the tabbed dividers. After using a Filofax for a little while I have ended up only using one or two sections for fear that I will lose or forget where I have put my information if I dare to file it away into the relevant section. This has led to a lack of connection and a general feeling of being a "lodger" in the Filofax, only taking up a small amount of space inside of it.
I also have an obsession with getting each page to look perfect, whether I am creating a table, a list, or even just freeflow writing, I feel like it must be beautifully presented and coherent, like a school project. This makes the Filofax feel very unnatural for me to use because I tend to prefer to scribble and sketch and tape things in. For some reason, in a bound notebook, I am not concerned with things looking orderly, and I don't take a considered approach to my planning at all.
Here is an example of what a page in my planner looks like when I use my Traveler's Notebook. It is a kind of freeflow bullet-journal-esque method that may randomly change on the next page to something more structured or less structured depending on how I am feeling that day.
Why It Is Time For Me To Try Out A Filofax Again
The problem I have found with the system I have naturally developed is that because I have essentially merged my journal and my planner together I have also unintentionally merged the two, once separate, activities together.
My planner has become less and less like a planner where I create goals, break them down into tasks, and plan ahead, and it has become more like a journal where I record things I have done afterwards, and reflect on life as I go.
Sadly, as a result, I am actually using my journal less because it feels repetitive to reflect upon things in a long-form journal manner when I have already brain-dumped using mini-reflections and journal snippets amidst the pages of my planner.
So I have two options. Either I do away with the main journal and just keep a micro-journal incorporated into my weekly and monthly planner spreads, or I make a conscious effort to separate the two by introducing a separate planner and using it more efficiently.
I have decided to do the latter because I feel that proper journaling is important as a therapeutic tool for self-reflection, sorting and working through my thoughts and feelings, and maintaining good mental health. I also feel that proper planning is necessary because it gives us the opportunity to break down what we want to achieve and create a clear plan of action so that we can more effectively record our progress in different areas of our lives.
I struggle a lot in life with feeling a bit lost, disorganised and unsure of what I have achieved, so I think that addressing my journal and planner confusion may help me to create more clarity where I need it.
So here are the products that I intend to use;
My Midori Traveler's Notebook leather cover with a single notebook insert to use as a journal (I have mercilessly ripped a Moleskine cahier down to size) will be used to write down all of my personal thoughts, talk about things I have been doing, explore feelings, and record memories. I can be as creative as I want, which means being able to fully express myself with artwork, stamps and stickers, doodles, sticking things to pages etc. but equally not feel pressured to do anything more than just write down whatever I need to get out of my head.
My new Original Filofax (charcoal personal size) from The Centennial Collection will strictly be used for breaking down goals, planning ahead, recording dates, tracking personal and professional progress, keeping tabs on my health, storing useful information, and generally everything you would expect to find in a personal planner when it is being used effectively.
Being a creative person I know that I will only respond to and enjoy using my planner if I find it attractive so there will be plenty of decorative keepsakes to give it that journal-vibe, but these are basically included in order to help me feel connected to the Filofax, and I may pair it down if I find it too distracting.
Here is a sneak peek inside my Filofax and TN. I've got a pretty Autumn theme which helps to make them both feel like they are connected even though they are separate and have different functions.
So tell me, have you found planner peace? What is your favourite system for planning? Do you like to journal separately or incorporate your reflections into your daily planner? I'd love to hear about your thoughts and methods, so please take the time to leave a comment under the blog post.
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Thank you, Zara M. | Filofancy, Life On Paper
Images & Illustrations by Zara M.