Frederik Fekkai once wrote that it is essential to choose a planner with a beautiful cover, as you’ll be looking at it every day. And I, being sixteen and endlessly impressionable at the time, memorised this line and made it my annual agonising mission to find such a thing, at a time when Paperchase stocked only rainbow hues and ladybug prints.
It’s a task I’ve continued to undertake, each December – even when I worked for the NHS, and using a personal diary was technically against the rules. Over the years I’ve gradually come to appreciate that Frederik, while excellent at hair, perhaps doesn’t have the same planning requirements as me, especially as he is a celebrity hairdresser with probably approx 10 clients, and I’m a mother and entrepreneur running a portfolio business through a fog of perpetual sleep deprivation and gin. So while a pretty cover is nice, the layout inside came to be ten times more important, and so the momentous task of planner selection has really become, if anything, more arduous.
But oh, it’s a struggle I kind of adore!
The 2017 shortlist
Every year I whittle it down to 5 or 6 of the best planners, then agonise for weeks.
Here are 2017’s main contenders, and the ultimate winner in my book.*
* no pun intended.
Pros: The batik-inspired, monogrammed cover is super chic, as are the gold foiled page edges – this diary would definitely make Frederik proud. It’s also lightweight and a great handbag size. I’d feel super profesh whipping this baby out in an important meeting.
Cons: It’s an any-year diary, meaning you write your own dates/numbers in. This should be no problem (I can recite that little days-of-the-month catchetism by heart), but I swear I have dyscalculia. It all just swims in front of me. I always always make some heinous mistake, and my lovely new diary is sullied with weeks’ worth of crossing out and error fixes.
Pros: Minimal, chic, inspiring – there’s a bit of a Cereal-mag-meets-Instagram vibe to this baby. Big daily squares, and note space to the side for each week.
Cons: Undated again, with all the issues that brings. I could enlist the help of my more laterally minded husband, but his handwriting is appalling, so it would need to be a dedicated team effort, which seems ever so slightly princes-ish. “Sit next to me and tell me what number to write, Rory!”. Also, the pictures are lovely, but they aren’t actually mine. Should they be mine? Should I make a diary with my photos in? Should I SELL diary with my photos in?? This is a distracting train of thought.
Pros: I LOVE the Frankie Planners for their fun and surprises – I was tempted to order this just to get a closer look at it! Also, RIBBON PAGE MARKER! More of this please, planner makers of the world! And take a look at the bonus stationery kit that comes with!
Cons: It is awfully colourful – perhaps a little bit too colourful for me, truth be told. Also, though the colourful margins allow for scribble room, it’s really more of a date book than a full-blown planner.
Pros: Simple! And it’s from Korea and a beautiful duck egg blue! I’m almost willing to overlook the any-year DIY-date issue for this, because I adore ICONIC’s minimal but classic approach to typography and design. It combines a leather-like cover with a spiral binding too, which is pretty genius, don’t you think?
Cons: A page a day sounds brilliant – there’s dedicated columns for dates and note space on each day, and the grid paper keeps me neat. The problem is the lack of weekly view this provides – and that heart sinking feeling when I turn a page and discover I’ve got a deadline in 12 hours and I’ve done nothing to prepare. I’m not disorganised, dammit – it’s the daily planner’s fault! 😉
Pros: It’s oh so simple. A monthly page view shows all of your appointments, and then the rest of the space is dedicated to note space for the real nitty gritty. This makes sense for me, as most of my work is more deadline-based than appointment based, and I make a lot of lists and notes that are related to each month. Also, dot-grid is the future of note making for sure (except in the future we will all make notes using only our brainwaves and a smartphone apps obvs).
Cons: I’m not sure I love the typography. & kraft paper makes coloured ink look funky, and are the boxes really big enough for all my commitments and plans?
My choice for 2017:
Pros: This is a Planner with a capital P – with project breakdown pages, daily to do lists, note space planned into every page and monthly review spreads to help you plan for the next four weeks. It’s also fat and chunky enough that in a pinch I can use it to rest my macbook on and raise it up a couple of inches, saving my back from extra slumping.
Cons: It’s not pretty. In fairness, it isn’t striking to be – ‘distraction free’ is the aim, and it definitely delivers on this. It’s also heavy, and I’m always on the fence about whether I should take it with me on London trips and working holidays. It is also available in loose-leaf form for punching and using in a filofax-style binder, but the pages are smaller, and can you imagine the time and energy I would waste making pro-con lists whilst trying to choose a cover? Aint nobody got time for that.
So, the Get to Work book it is! I’m not a very neat or pretty planner (though I live in hope – I dream of becoming one of those instagram girls with the washi tape and pastel bullet journal spreads!). But if it’s useful, I might share a bit about how I use the pages in a month or two. What do you think?