I’m currently trying to choose my diary and journal system for 2018, as they are a staple of my Christmas list. I think being a stationery lover comes with a certain amount of indecisiveness and over-analysis, especially when trying to commit to a product for a year. I’ve narrowed down a selection to share with you over two posts, alongside some highly first-world-problem thoughts about each one. This first post looks at diary choices for the year – my day-to-day solution for noting down appointments, things I need to remember and all manner of jottings. Can you help me choose?
I use a daily diary to note down things to do, places to be, important tasks or things to remember. I carry this around with me every day and usually use it many times a day. Being able to use fountain pens would be a bonus, so paper quality is definitely something to consider. I would rule out anything smaller than an A5 slim notebook (a Travelers Notebook size), because cramped diaries are not conducive to being organised.
Daily Diaries: Contenders
I used the Frankie Diary as my day-to-day planner in 2015 and I loved it. Frankie Magazine is one of my favourite creative magazines, full of stories from interesting people and crafty ideas. Each year, Frankie Magazine produce a cloth-bound diary with a week to two pages, with just enough space to note down your key tasks and plans for the day. There is also a monthly planner, notes pages, and small useful things like tear-out tags, labels and stickers. The Frankie Diary looks like a little productivity nudge to me; I can imagine it sitting on my desk saying “look at me, I’m so pretty, don’t you want to write things in me that you need to do”?
I remember my 2015 Frankie Diary as being beautifully made, sturdy with proper book-binding, with a lovely cloth surface texture and full of lovely paper designs. It’s hardback, so it is likely to stand up well to daily wear and tear, although I did find my 2015 Frankie Diary picked up a bit of dirt over the year (partly to do with the 2015 light blue cover choice). It’s one of the larger choices as an A5 diary but it doesn’t really seem bulky, although it could probably get chunky if I used it to store sheets of paper or ephemera. Out of all of the choices, it’s probably the least flexible in terms of putting my own stamp on it. Coming in at just under £16, I think this is incredible value (not taking into account shipping costs). Also, it’s one that needs to literally travel the globe from Australia to my desk, so I need to get a move on if I want this in time for Christmas.
Each year, Midori produce a 2018 setup consisting of a monthly refill and weekly refills (which contain two dated notebooks for the whole year, to avoid making the notebook too thick). A monthly view is important to me, so I would have to go with both the monthly and weekly notebooks. I feel like this setup most functional of all of my choices. But it does give you a huge amount of flexibility to embellish it over the year and really make it your own.
Over the last couple of months, I have been using a Midori 019 free refill (a weekly diary) where you fill in dates yourself. The 019 is a week to a page setup with an adjacent blank page (with grid lining) for you to fill in with notes, reminders and ephemera as you wish. I have enjoyed this setup and I like the flexibility of the blank page, which I have been making good use of, scrapbooking ephemera that I come across, recording little items from my day or writing reminders to myself. It also gives me a chance to use my black Travelers Notebook on a daily basis. I also think that this setup has the potential to act as both a diary and a (very concise) daily journal if I was savvy with the blank page space, although I’m not sure I really want that. At £32 for both the monthly and weekly options for the year, I think this is fairly pricey, although I know the writing experience is good.
Continuing from the Midori Travelers Notebook setup is the Soumkine One-Task Planner. As it says on the tin, this notebook contains a week to one page with an adjacent, dot-grid blank page to fill up with notes or jottings. The key difference with this notebook and the Midori setup is that it encourages you to write one key task, note or appointment on the diary page itself. I’m not sure whether this is genius or wasteful: there seems to be a lot of wasted space on the diary page (taken up by the date itself), which is a shame. On the other hand, I could definitely do with a nudge to prioritise one important thing for the day, and I could use the blank page to note down anything incidental rather than using it as scrapbook space (as I have been doing with the Midori 019 free weekly refill). Also, Soumkine has a “slim” option, so it would fit in my Travelers Notebook. It only has weekly space, so I would still need a monthly diary to supplement this notebook.
I have been mightily impressed with Soumkine’s workmanship, paper quality and design in the past, so this could offer an enjoyable writing experience for the year. The One-Task Planner is a definite contender, although part of me things that perhaps this diary would be better for another use, such as a gratitude journal to note down one thing every day that I’m grateful for (I do this sporadically in my current 019 refill but is something I would like to do consistently as it’s great for my wellbeing, I think). It costs just under £27 however, so gratitude wouldn’t be cheap in my case!
My goodness this diary is a thing of beauty. Mark + Fold is a British company based in London that I follow closely on Instagram as it just produces the loveliest stationery, none of which I have used yet. This is a diary with a monthly and week-to-two page overview, clad in a stunning deep green-grey rigid paper cover with gold foiling. Absolutely dreamy. It is full A5-sized with brass page markers to help you keep track of where you are in the diary. I think this setup would work for me just fine, and I like the simplicity of carrying one diary for the year. However, it concerns me that this lovely diary just wouldn’t stand up to the daily wear and tear of my bag and that it would be ragged with jostling and handling by the end of 2018.
I find it interesting that this diary is £45 and is limited edition, elegantly-crafted and made in London, compared to the Midori Travelers Notebook setup which would cost me £32 for a yearly setup (not taking into account the cost of the leather Travelers Notebook itself, which I already have). The Midori refills in comparison feel like a relatively standardised product and are produced on a much larger scale elsewhere in the world. I know what I’m getting with Midori, but for an extra £13 I think I would be getting quite a lot extra with the Mark + Fold diary in terms of experience, quality and investing in a British brand. Just something I’ve been thinking about.
Sigh, how to decide? My biggest indecision is around whether I should stick with a tried and tested system (i.e. the Midori Travelers Notebook) or mix it up completely with a whole new setup. I am also drawn towards a combination of the Frankie Diary for planning and the Soumkine One-Task Planner for gratitude journaling. But I love the idea of the elegant and British Mark + Fold diary. What would you recommend from my choices? Or what other recommendations do you have? What’s worked for you this year, or not worked at all? Please get in touch via my social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Part 2 of this two-part series is going to look at my daily journal options and will be live on Thursday 16th November.
Photo sources are noted throughout this post. Where no source is listed, I took the photo myself.