Here’s something very cool, sent to me by a longtime reader:
From an exhibit at the Ohio State University library honoring the late John Glenn.
Here’s a new entry in the growing market for highly formatted planners. The Archer Planner from The Active System Co. comes in a 3-pack of stapled booklets. The 3 notebooks are differentiated by the colored block that wraps around the spine, in red, yellow or green, but they are otherwise identical.
Each notebook is designed to be used as a planner for a single month. The outside of each notebook has space at the top where you can date and number it. The inside front cover has space for a sort of index of project codes or abbreviations and quick reference notes. Then you get a 2-page month-to-view spread where you can lay out events or deadlines for the month ahead. Then you have a few monthly log pages that have space for notes or sketches, as well as lists for things like “cities,” “restaurants,” “books,” “sports/games,” “people met.”
Then the main body of the notebook has 2-page spreads, each for one day, subdivided into spaces for tracking all sorts of things. You have slots for appointments– these are numbered rather than broken up by specific hours, which will work well for people who don’t keep 9-5 hours. Some of the suggested items for logging are rather amusing, like “hair” in a section with circles to tick to rate each item from worst to best. There’s also a box for “vices,” to force you to track your consumption of cigarettes or alcohol or worse! Other items are more typical– expenses, meals, weather, action items.
At the end of the book are a couple of blank pages for notes, and a page where you can recap the past month with some prompts.
The design of the notebook is really nice– very clean and straightforward. It seems uncluttered despite having a lot of items on each page. The 6×9″ size is lightweight and portable while being large enough to lay out on a desk and fill with lots of daily items.
The paper used inside is a bright cool white. It feels great to write on with fine point gel ink pens– but these and pencils may be the only pens you’d want to use– I found that many of my other pens bled through. Even my pH test pen bled through, which I don’t recall seeing on any other notebook! But other than that, showthrough was average with the pens that didn’t bleed.
This system will undoubtedly work well for some people but not others. I like the idea of being prompted to log certain things, but for my personal needs, the formatting would be overkill. The advantage of a totally blank page is that each person can use as much space as they need for the things that matter to them– once you’ve got lots of boxes to fill, the ones that are irrelevant to you will just be wasted space. But if you really want to log your life in great detail, there’s not much that this notebook leaves out!
My only other complaint was the number of page spreads. There are 20 2-page daily planning spreads per notebook. The makers say that is enough for a month’s worth of working days, but what about weekends? If you are committed to tracking your hair and meals and exercise, etc, why would you only want to do that on weekdays? And a 31 day month would have more than 20 weekdays. And if you are going to use a monthly planner booklet, it’s probably easier to have one notebook per calendar month rather than having to start a new one a few days before the end of the month because you ran out of pages.
I couldn’t help comparing this to the Moleskine Color a Month Planner that I reviewed several years ago. Monthly planners are nice when you don’t want to carry around the bulk of a whole year’s worth of daily pages, but they work better as log books rather than forward-looking planners where you’ll have to copy a lot of stuff forward into the next month’s booklet. The Archer notebooks will probably work better for backwards-looking logging unless your career and life are more ruled by short-term planning than longer-term scheduling and appointments. Given that they have included a feedback page at the back of each booklet, I hope the makers (who sent me these free samples to review) are considering improvements and updates that might address some of these concerns.
You can buy the Archer planner 3-packs at Amazon. And if you want to try one out, you can also enter my giveaway! Two lucky winners will be randomly selected and each will receive one Archer notebook. Enter in any or all of these ways:
On your blog, post something containing the words “Archer Planner” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.
The deadline for entry is Friday April 15 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.
2011 is already a few days over and I’ve yet to 100% decide what I’m going to do for a diary. I say “diary” and not “planner,” since I tend to use a paper diary only to record past info on diet, exercise, health, and other little notes, as opposed to noting future events. In 2010, I used the Moleskine Color-a-Month set, which was handy in terms of having small, lightweight booklets to carry each month, but I didn’t like all the wasted pages at the beginning of each booklet, and I sometimes found myself away from home for a few days at the beginning of a new month while still only having the previous month’s booklet with me.
Since I’d also bought a softcover page-a-day Moleskine 2010 planner and never really used it beyond a few pages, I’d thought I might repurpose it for 2011– the days of the week would be off, but that didn’t seem like a big deal. But what to do when I got to days I’d already written on last year? Ultimately I decided I didn’t want to carry such a chunky thing around with me anyway. And I’m away from home enough that I didn’t want to count on leaving the diary there and and trying to record things while they were still fresh in my memory.
So here’s what I think I’m going to try to do– I’ll just use whatever notebook I’m using for everything else! Each week, I’ll take a page spread and turn it into 7 days of space to record stuff. I’ll flag the current week with a colored tag so I can easily flip to it. I’ll use my handy-dandy date stamp– not because I am too lazy to write out the dates, but because it looks cooler that way. I’m also thinking this will be a good way to use up my current notebook faster– it’s an unlined Moleskine that seems to have more show-through-y paper than others I’ve used in the past, so I’m not totally happy with it and already want to move on to something else.
As you can see from the above, I hadn’t quite worked out how I wanted to space out the page– I think I’ll end up doing 3 or 4 days on each page to get one week on a spread.
We’ll see how I end up liking this method– I’m a little reluctant not to have a separate notebook for this information, but I actually don’t refer back to it enough for that to be an issue. It’s the act of recording it that gives me a sense of discipline about what I eat and how often I exercise, and though it might be nice to go back and count things up at the end of the year for some sort of scorecard, I know I’m just not anal enough to do that!
How about you? What’s your 2011 diary/planner plan?