Midori Traveler Notebook

2016 Planner Review

My 2016 collection of in use notebooks

My 2016 collection of in use notebooks

After a busy 2016 I felt it was only right that I spend some time looking at the notebooks and planners that I have used over the past year. The idea was to figure out what has worked and what changes I need to make for the coming year.

2016 - What I used.

I used a lot, too much in fact. I was tracking lots of different things but I ended up doing it in too many places as I cobbled together different notebooks and planners. Below is a run down of the systems and notebooks I have used over the course of 2016 and how I have used them.

Hobonichi Techo 2016 - English version

I started the year with the Hobonichi Techo after a successful experience with my first one in 2015. I had been using my Techo to record the days events and enjoying the gorgeous tomoe river paper paired with my fountain pens. This had worked really well and the plan was to continue this into 2016 with a very minor tweak. I would take a photo a day and add this into the Techo, but I soon stopped once I realised how much it bulked out the planner.

After this bad idea I reverted back to what I had been doing in 2015 but as I reached May I was really bored with my Techo. I wasn’t enjoying the Techo and it felt like a chore to complete the days entry. Once I felt like that I cast it aside.

However after a quite successful foray into Bullet Journaling I decided in October to start using the Techo but this time as a planner. Shocking I know. For the past three months I have basically been planning my months and days in the Techo and it works really well. It’s a really simple set up, there is nothing that fancy here. On some days I may add a doodle to decorate the page but mostly it is a simple way to capture tasks and to dos.

Midori 019 free weekly refill

In 2016 I completed two of these notebooks. I have stuck to the same format throughout adding a snippet of my day on the left page.

On the grid page I capture anything interesting that has happened during that week. These could be letters, doodles, attempts at lettering or books I have been reading. When I have flicked back through these refills it has been really nice to see what happened week by week. It’s can be a very visual and simple reflective tool.

Travelers Notebook plus 1 refill

During my pregnancy and after my son was born I have been using a Travelers Notebook insert to journal. I keep this journal specific to documenting only personal memories. I am so pleased that I started this before my son was born and think that over the years I will enjoy looking back in these notebooks. I include photographs, ephemera from places we have visited and decorate them to make them a little bit more exciting. Lately I have started playing around with lettering in my most recent notebook using a number of different brush pens. These journals have become a place for me to experiment and to include lots of different journaling techniques.

Midori free monthly refill

Midori free monthly refill

Midori free monthly refill

The monthly refill has been used to track any of my blog or studying related tasks. In this refill I add in when posts are published, when assignments are due and when I have dedicated time to one of these activities. I have found this a useful way to keep track of time spent on my extra curricular activities.

Midori passport monthly calendar 2016

As I had been enjoying the monthly calendar for tracking my extra curricular activities I decided to reintroduce a paper calendar for my personal planning. I opted for the passport size as portability was key and have been using this in a passport Travelers Notebook throughout the year.

Bullet Journal

I used a Bullet Journal for about two months this year and actually really enjoyed it. I liked setting out my months and weeks experimenting with different layouts and adding in decoration. Including different ‘selections’ such as books read was a bit of a novelty as I had never tracked anything in this way before. But with a small person to look after it became impossible to maintain and I very quickly ditched this planning method. I think at some point in the future I may revisit this.

2016 Notebook and Planning summary

As you can see my 2016 planning and paper world was a bit hectic. It was too much and too busy, no question about that. I was trying to manage and track lots of different things but struggled to find one way to do this and as a result ended the year with several different notebooks. 2016 has undoubtedly been a year when I have really developed my planning processes but there is refinement needed in 2017.

I have made a short video running through my 2016 notebooks and planners which can be found below.

Next week I will be sharing a post outlining my 2017 planner and notebook set-up.

My Journaling Habits

My main journaling tools 

My main journaling tools 

Journaling has been part of my daily ritual for some time. Ever since becoming engrossed in paper and writing implements a few years ago I have found different ways to journal. Curiosity lead me to search online, find blogs and Instagram feeds for inspiration. This has developed my journaling habits to where they are today, a very different place to where I started.

In many of my previous posts I have in some way outlined how I use various different tools, specifically paper. You can find two previous posts here and here. However since then I have changed up the way I am journaling based on the tools I enjoy the most. This post will give an outline of my current journaling habits.

Daily Recording

A simpler spread in my Midori 019 refill

A simpler spread in my Midori 019 refill

I like to record a snippet of my day, big or small. Last year I had been using my Hobonichi Techo to do this, however I now use my Travelers Notebook and the Midori 019 refill. This refill is an undated planner that I use to note down a few small details of my day. Sometimes I include some sort of ephemera, other times it’s purely writing on a page with no decoration. I have found that this format of daily journaling has stuck because it’s easy to do and I can commit to it. You aren’t overwhelmed by a large space on the page and pressure to fill it with something meaningful. A few simple lines will do.

And something with a bit more decoration

And something with a bit more decoration

For those times when I do need more space or have something special to record I use a blank Midori insert. I have been using this as a travel journal, a daily journal and somewhere I can try and be a bit creative with watercolours, doodles and washi. A lot of my journaling in this insert has been inspired by various different YouTube videos and Instagram accounts.

A bit of travel journaling from a recent trip to the Isle of Wight

A bit of travel journaling from a recent trip to the Isle of Wight

My deviation to the Travelers Notebook for journaling means that my Hobonichi Techo has fallen by the wayside. I found I was repeating myself in the two notebooks and at times I couldn’t fill the larger Hobonichi Techo pages - I was just going through the motions. I really enjoyed my Hobonichi Techo last year but as things stand at the moment I cannot see myself finding a use for this planner again this year.

Organisation and planning

The notebooks I use for organisation and planning also take a form of journaling. They are records of things I have done on a specific day or week and can be reviewed in a similar way to my journal. At the moment I have two systems, the first one is specifically related to organising everything related to my blog and studying. For that task I use the Midori 017 free monthly diary and a Keep a Notebook ruled insert. The calendar allows me to schedule posts and plan the time I need for homework. It gives me an overview of the month and from here I can plan out when I need to get things done. I find the monthly one page view really helpful in organising both of these side projects that I have outside of my day to day work.

My calendar view for my studying and blog activity

My calendar view for my studying and blog activity

The Keep a Notebook insert is where I capture blog post ideas and plan them out. I write down the main points I want to cover within each post and list out the photos I want to take. This system works really well and also acts as a capturing tool. I know by using this one notebook I have everything in one place. These two refills are housed in my brown Travelers Notebook and sit on my desk.

Blog post brain dumping 

Blog post brain dumping 

The second, and newest element of my planning, is the Bullet Journal. This is a new system for me and provides me a weekly and daily view of my tasks. This captures everything from when a post will go live that week through to my household chores and any personal or social events. The thing I have found really useful with the Bullet Journal set up so far is sitting down on a Sunday and thinking about my upcoming week. I can essentially empty my head getting all the boring and mundane things that are part of everyday life written down in the Bullet Journal. From there I can figure out what I can do when and try and make sure I don’t miss anything. As I said this is the newest part of my personal organisation but so far this is working well and I hope it is something I can keep up as I think it is helping me to become more organised.

My dailies in my Bullet Journal 

My dailies in my Bullet Journal 

On the go journaling

I have one final form of journaling but this takes a more relaxed format. I use my current everyday carry pocket notebook for writing down a stream of consciousness whilst on the move. I am currently using the Baron Fig Explorer Apprentice notebook in my passport Travelers Notebook. I work from the back of my notebook so that these small journaling entries are kept together. The front of my notebook is then used in the normal way. Entries are usually small notes about how I may be feeling or a little rant about something. Some days I don’t write down anything, other days I write down quite a bit. It's a very simple, no rules style of journaling.

Journaling on the go

Journaling on the go

My thoughts on my journaling habits

I wish I was a person who was able to have fewer organisation and planning systems and find a way to incorporate these things into one, but honestly I am not sure it would be possible. I could perhaps use my Travelers Notebook as a Bullet Journal which would mean one less notebook, but would increase the number of inserts I am carrying, therefore the benefit would be minimal. At the moment this is the set-up that is working for me. Most of these notebooks stay on my desk and I am not burdened with carrying them around. The one notebook that comes with me at all times is my passport Travelers Notebook.

Whilst arguably there is duplication here, all of these systems mean I get to enjoy the tools I love using. Each one enables me to play with something different. My Travelers Notebook and the Midori paper lets me experiment with my fountain pens and ink, the Bullet Journal and the Leuchtturm1917 notebook allows me to use fineliners and gel pens. I guess it’s not all about efficiency, it’s also about having some fun with pens and paper. It’s become a way for me to unwind and relax each day and that is something to be valued.

Keep A Notebook Review

When I first saw the Keep a Notebook branded notebooks some months ago I thought they looked beautiful. The lovely coloured card stock with the gorgeous logo in gold embossing instantly caught my eye. However at the time buying these notebooks outside of Asia was tricky.

Months later I contacted Keep a Notebook directly through their Facebook page to find out if there were any online retailers that shipped internationally. Turns out Stickerrific was the place so I promptly ordered a couple of these notebooks, plus some other goodies.

I picked up the ruled 03 insert and the travel journal 06 insert out of a wide variety of different options. So far I have used only the 03 ruled insert.

The Keep a Notebook travel journal insert and the ruled insert

The Keep a Notebook travel journal insert and the ruled insert

Background of the brand

I am not overly familiar with the background of Keep a Notebook but I have managed to find that the brand was started by an avid Travelers Notebook user Thomas H. He has fantastic photos on Flickr showing how he uses his Travelers Notebook, if you have time it’s definitely worth scrolling through.

The Keep a Notebook inserts are all designed to fit the regular sized Travelers Notebook, measuring 11 x 21cm or A5 slim. Like the Midori inserts most have 64 pages, however some of the more specific inserts, such as my travel journal insert come with 32 pages.

The good points

There are some really lovely elements to the Keep a Notebook inserts. I love the exterior colours that Keep a Notebook use. Each different style of notebook has a different colour cover stock making it really easy to tell the different notebook inserts apart. The colour of these covers are also really pretty and have a classic look.

The contents of the ruled insert

The contents of the ruled insert

I adore the logo and the gold foiling. The logo features a man and woman sitting back to back, taking notes. It’s distinctive and different. Keep a Notebook seem to have been inspired by a Jack London quote which appears on the paper sleeve of each notebook. It reads “Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it.” This really embodies the Travelers Notebook mentality of note taking and a very apt tag line for a brand of Travelers Notebook refills.

The paper quality is very nice. They contain a cream coloured paper making it easy on the eye. The paper performs very well with lots of different types of pens. It takes fountain pens without any feathering or ghosting, gel pens perform nicely as do pencils. You can see written samples of each in the photo below.

Paper testing

Paper testing

Some downsides

As I have used predominantly the ruled insert most of my somewhat negative comments are in reference to this insert in particular. Firstly the ruling design is quite off-putting. The lines in the notebook alternate in colour going from a solid blue to a dotted grey line. The solid blue lines also then have a couple of dots at different points on the page. It’s all a bit much for how I use these notebooks. I am not creating any form of tables, I am not splitting the page in two, nor am I crafting with these notebooks. I use it for general note taking, my main reason for selecting the ruled grid. All of these additional touches to the ruling in the insert make it a bit too busy for me.

Top is the ruled grid, the bottom is the travel journal grid system

Top is the ruled grid, the bottom is the travel journal grid system

Another small downside is the quality of cover stock used. If I compare the cover stock of the Keep a Notebook inserts and the Midori inserts, the Keep a Notebook inserts are much thinner. Overall this is not something to consider too much especially when they are used in a Travelers Notebook, however I wanted to point it out.

Final thoughts

I think that the Keep a Notebook inserts are designed beautifully and look great. I like the fact that they have lots of different insert options, some quite specific. Personally, partly due to the difficulties in buying these notebooks and the risk of custom charges, as well as the small lingering irritations with the grid designs, they are not for me.

Keep a Notebook and the Midori branded ruled insert

Keep a Notebook and the Midori branded ruled insert

I’ll be interested to see how Keep a Notebook develops over the coming years. I am glad I only selected a couple of the different refill options rather than going too crazy as once I finish my current refill I won’t be delving into another but going back to my trusty Midori branded inserts.

My Life All in One Place Leather Notebook Cover (or the Raydori)

If you have visited my blog before you may know that I have become a fan of the Travelers Notebook over the past year. I use two regular sized Travelers Notebooks and have also used the passport sized Travelers Notebook as an everyday carry.

After I found I was using the Travelers Notebook system daily and actually enjoying it I started to explore non Travelers Notebook branded options that would allow me to use my extensive collection of Field Notes memo books. I wanted to find a way of using the paper products I had.

I came across the website My Life All in One Place after watching various YouTube videos and looking at several different Facebook Travelers Notebook groups. I wanted to try something affordable and the notebook covers produced by Ray at My Life All in One Place were produced in the UK meaning I could support a local business and also wouldn’t get stung with customs charges.

The buying process

The leather notebook covers that Ray creates aren’t but made to order. The buying process starts by checking out this webpage which explains how the process works and shows the different leather colour options that are available. Once you have made your decisions you then send Ray an email outlining what you are looking for. Ray confirms the price and once he receives payment your leather notebook cover starts coming to life.

The buying process is smooth and easy. My order was relatively simple. I had a few small questions which Ray answered quickly and then production of my notebook cover started up. All in all it took about 10 days for my leather notebook cover to be produced and received.

My Raydori

I played it fairly safe in terms of colour options. I opted for the Field Notes sized Raydori in a brown leather with a red elastic closure. The leather is supple, a good thickness and has some lovely with some natural markings. Over time my cover has marked with use, which may bother some people but I quite like it. It gives the cover character.

The elastic in the Raydori all comes out of the spine of the notebook cover, slightly different to the Travelers Notebook set-up. I have noticed a benefit in this position finding it slightly easier to remove the cover elastic when it comes out of the spine. There is one piece of internal elastic to secure your notebooks. There are other options of leather notebook covers which give multiple elastics inside the notebook, like Foxy Fix, however the Raydori follows the Travelers Notebook set up in this instance.

With the Raydori you get two bookmarks included with the notebook cover which is handy when you’re using multiple notebooks.

My Raydori Set-up

I have gone over my every day notebook carry on several occasions therefore I won’t repeat myself too much here. I have two Field Notes memo books in my Raydori, my Midori passport sized clear pocket and my Midori passport sized monthly calendar. Using a couple of smaller sized inserts hasn’t been a problem, they sit in the cover comfortably.

To hold all of these notebooks together I have used my Midori passport rubber bands. I have already snapped one of these, so they may not be the best option available. A normal rubber band, or another piece of elastic would probably work better.

I have attached my Midori medium pen loop to the front of the notebook cover to allow me to easily attach a pen when on the move. As my Raydori is brown leather it doesn’t clash too much.

My feelings on the Raydori

I have been using the Raydori for about two months now. The quality of the leather cover and the production are all really high. The leather is soft and supple, the corners have been rounded off and everything feels really nice. It is not as polished as the Travelers Notebook and the type of leather used is different but I am happy to have one of these notebook covers and all for a very reasonable £22.

On top of this it means I am able to use my Field Notes stash of notebooks and I slightly prefer the additional bit of room you get with the Field Notes sized memo books.