Question of the Year: What Planner / Journal Should I Get for 2016?

which-planner-canvaIt’s a few more days to September, and this time of the year always brings about an onslaught of questions about Next Year’s Planner. Yup, that huge question of the year that can bring you planner peace or planner hell in the new year.

I’ve been struggling to answer that question (within my budget) for the past month. If you’re also looking for your 2016 planner, and can’t decide, maybe we can think about it together.

I’ll only talk about Moleskine, the Travelers’ Notebook (Midori and others) and the Hobonichi this time, as these are the only ones I have used (or wish to use).

For the last three years, I’ve been using different Moleskine planners. 2012-2013 saw the 18-month Weekly Planner, I tried the Monthly Planner in 2014, and for the most of 2015, I have been quite happy with the Moleskine Daily (with a few simple notebook hacks) even though I don’t fill it in every single day. That was the one I have been planning to buy for 2016 too.

The size is perfect for my hands (large Moleskine is 13cm x 21 cm or just a tad taller than B6). Some days there’s not enough space on a page, some days a page looks bare, but I am okay with that. It is not too heavy, in fact I find it light for a day-per-page book, although the weight does not worry me as it only sits on my desk (too much personal info to carry around).

It comes with a yearly calendar (2 years), a vertical monthly-view (2 years), a few pages for listing anniversaries/events and travel planning and some (not quite useful) information pages about time zones, dialing codes and conversion. These last few listed pages are great for hacking or re-use.

I just discovered though, to my horror, that Moleskine has replaced the vertical monthly-view with a (calendar-style) month on a page. nooooooo…I love the vertical view! This sucks big-time and it is one big obstacle stopping me from buying it.

Daily and Bullet Journaling in One Moleskine - January update
Using the Moleskine monthly view as my BuJo monthly view

There is a limit to the amount of planning you can use it for. For example, you don’t have your week-in-a-page view, and it’s not suitable for basic bullet journaling. But again, these can be overcome with a few simple hacks or inserts.

True, the paper quality is terrible, but so far that is the only disadvantage that cannot be resolved with a notebook hack or two. I can’t use a fountain pen in it, but as an option, I have numerous gel pens in a rainbow of colours which I love to write with.

I also have numerous notebooks in which to use my fountain pens. 
I also have numerous notebooks in which to use my fountain pens.

As for the most important question, budget. I managed to snag my 2015 one at less than S$20, so it was quite a steal *buffs fingernails on shirt*. I’m scouring the site everyday now hoping I can get the 2016 one at a similar price.

I did come across something called the Weekly Dashboard Planner on the Moleskine store. It’s a vertical week-on-a-spread view. It could be new, as I don’t recall noticing it before, but don’t take my word for it.  I’m quite keen on this as well, because of the vertical layout, and it’s a good dupe for the similar week-on-a-spread view that’s exclusive to the Hobonichi Cousin (see below). The price is prohibitive though (and it’s only hard cover), so it looks like I need to find some good Moleskine hacks for this too.

Midori Traveler’s Notebook and other ‘fauxdori’ options (TN)

DIY watercolour palette in pillbox with traveller's notebook
DIY watercolour palette in pillbox with fauxdori traveller’s notebook

I’ve been trying to love my TN for the longest time, but I can’t seem to get into it because of a few things.

Size-wise, it’s almost perfect. At 11cm x 21cm, the inserts are only 2cm narrower than the Moleskine Large.  It can be as heavy or as light as you want it to be, depending on the number of inserts you put in. Three is my maximum, anything more just makes it too unwieldy.

Depending on the inserts, it can be anything you want it to be: daily, monthly, weekly planner, bullet journal, art journal or just a place to scribble in. The paper quality is also anything you want it to be. From what I have heard or read, Midori’s orginal inserts are extremely fountain-pen friendly, the watercolour paper insert stands up very well to water, and even the 64-page insert with very thin paper does very well too.  You can also use your own paper to print your own inserts, and obviously the quality will depend on the paper you use.

However, one woman’s (or man’s) Midori is another woman’s irritant.  One, the insert is a tad too narrow. My handwriting can range from quite small, to very big, depending on what I am doing. If I am in a hurry and scribbling quickly, or if I’m not at a table, my handwriting becomes very big and spread-out and the narrowness of the insert does get to me.  It’s also too narrow to support my (right) hand when I’m writing on the right-hand side, and I absolutely hate having nothing to rest my hand on while writing.  Even when using the thick Moleskine daily, I put another notebook on the right side to prevent my right hand from falling off the book.

I am the type of person who prefers a flat surface to write on, and the TN just has too many bumps, from the insert thickness, to the kraft folder inserts (and what I have in there), to the elastics. All these things lend to a rather bumpy writing experience, and I can’t seem to overcome this.

Budget-wise, again, it depends on what you use. At least, the cost of the leather cover is only a one-time cost. Inserts, even the original ones, aren’t too expensive, and if you’re crafty on Word or Excel, with access to a good printer, you can even get inserts for almost free.

Hobonichi Techo ほぼ日手帳
Ah, the Hobonichi Techo ほぼ日手帳, admittedly the holy grail of many planner junkies and journal junkies out there. I have not used one before, but I have watched so many Youtube videos, read so many blogs, and pored over the Hobonichi website so much, that I feel I know them inside out.

I am still undecided, but am very keen to try either the A5 or A6 in 2016. Weeks has become very popular with many planners and journalers out there, after people revealed how to access it from the Japanese side of the website. but I probably would not consider it for now.

The size is in metric: either A5 (original or english) or A6 (Cousin). I find A6 a bit too small (big handwriting, remember?), but I do fear the A5 becoming unwieldy, being both taller and wider than the Moleskine Daily.

As for the weight, I obviously can’t tell, but I think the Cousin will likely be similar in weight to the Daily.

The Cousin (more than the Original) has all that I need for planning, especially with that extra vertical week-in-a-spread view.  Remember how i was grousing about Moleskine replacing the vertical month view? Yeah, I have this thing about vertical views. Most people would want the usual calendar-style month-in a spread view, but for me, vertical views just seem to click in my brain.

Hobonichi vertical week-on-a-spread view, exclusive to the Cousin

The paper in the Hobonichi is obviously the most tempting point of all, smooth white Tomoe River paper that is fountain-pen and water-colour friendly. Some users report having hang-ups about the show-through due to the thinness of the paper, but I don’t think it would bother me.

The first hang-up I do have about the Hobonichi is: the price.  Being a stationery/journal/planner junkie on a budget is not easy. The Cousin alone plus shipping is over S$50! I don’t even want to consider any of the covers after looking at the price, but also because the covers add on a lot of bulk. I realise that Tomoe River paper isn’t cheap, but almost S$60 for a journal?  It may not seem a lot to some, but that’s just waaay above my budget.

Secondly, given the size (and possibly) weight of the Cousin, it isn’t likely that I’ll carry it around, so even though it has most of my planning wants/needs, it wouldn’t serve well as a bring-around daily planner.

So after all that, it seems … I haven’t come to a decision. What about you? Which planner/journal are you going to use in 2016, and why?


9 thoughts on “Question of the Year: What Planner / Journal Should I Get for 2016?

  1. I am right there with you on the change from vertical to monthly calendar in the Moleskine. I didn’t realise until my new 2016 diary arrived, so I shall live with it.

  2. Hi, I have exactly the same problem in choosing a planner for 2016. However, I also have a faux midori that is a large Moleskine size (21×13) and takes the large Moleskine inserts. I am also tempted by Hobonichi this year and am considering using either a WEEKS as an insert in my Midori or even an A6 in the large faux dori cover. Decisions, decisions…

    • Hope you managed to make your decision, and if you did decide on a Hobo, to snag the ones you wanted 🙂 I’m still fluffing about the ones I want, but I might eventually stick with a Moleskine… maybe??

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