2018 Setup Part 1: Choosing a Daily Diary

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?

Diary preferences

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 

Frankie Diary

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”?

The 2018 Frankie Diary. It’s orange! One of my favourite colours. (Photo source: Frankie Magazine)

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.

An example of the week-to-two page spread. Pretty no? (Photo source: Frankie Magazine)

Midori Travelers Notebook Diary (Monthly here, and weekly here)

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.

The Midori 2018 Travelers Notebook monthly refill. (Photo source: Midori / The Journal Shop)

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.

An extract from how I’ve been using my Midori 019 free weekly refill recently. I enjoy the notes and scrapbooking page as a chance to get creative on a day-to-day basis.

Soumkine One-Task Planner

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.

Blank example of a Soumkine One-Task Planner. I’m quite drawn to this pink paper. (Photo Source: Soumkine)
The Soumkine One-Task layout. I think it looks minimalist, functional and useful. (Photo credit: Soumkine)

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! 

Mark + Fold 2018 Diary

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.

A stack of Mark + Fold 2018 diaries. Stunning. (Photo source: Mark + Fold)

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.

Close up of Mark + Fold’s 2018 Diary. (Photo source: Mark + Fold)

In summary

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 (priya@thelondonparchment.co.uk).

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. 

4 thoughts on “2018 Setup Part 1: Choosing a Daily Diary

  1. All of these are solid choices. I think the Mark and Fold looks good, as you said you’re backing a British brand and it looks so very pretty. You’ve had the Frankie before so maybe trying something new is a good idea. And the Midori planners you can get at any time with the undated versions.

  2. Oh, wow. That Mark + Fold diary is gorgeous! I’m really curious about the paper quality. I love how freeform it is, and would be willing to fork over $$$ to buy and ship it to the US as long as the paper can hold up to fountain pens. I can’t seem to find a review that discusses paper quality.

    Worst case scenario: you buy it and it underperforms, and you replace it with something like the traveler’s notebook setup. More money in the long run, but then you quell the doubt and what-ifs behind never buying it in the first place, right?

    1. Isn’t it gorgeous? I know… there’s a disappointing amount of information online about the paper etc. Mark + Fold has a store in London so I might just have to pop in and see them in person! I’ll keep you updated! Thanks for commenting 🙂

    2. Hello! We are very touched to find this thread and to hear all these wonderful comments about our 2018 Diary.

      We take great pride in our paper choices, which stem from years of research into finding the best papers for our notebooks and diaries. I am sorry to hear that you couldn’t find info about this online, as we are always talking about this and it is really central to our work.

      So — our 2018 Diary uses Olin Smooth Cream 120gsm, which is milled in Aberdeenshire Scotland. It is beautifully smooth and the creamy colour makes it feel very classy. It is certainly thick enough for fountain pen.

      Please do let us know what you decide and how you get on with it.

      Very best wishes
      Amy x

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