Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Review of Going Places Planner

Going Places Planner

I was absolutely delighted when Laurie from Plannerisms asked me if I would review one of her Plannerisms Going Places Planners and jumped at the chance. Well, it arrived earlier this week (sadly whilst I was in the throes of marking undergraduate exams and couldn’t look at it properly) and today I’ve managed to have a proper rummage through it and write this review.

I was given the choice of colour for the cover and I asked for the teal colour. The book is a nice size – not too large and heavy so those of you who like to carry these things around with you will be able to, but not so small that space becomes an issue. The dimensions are given as 5.5” x 8.5” (142mm x 220mm which is 10mm taller than A5 and a few mm narrower). It being slightly taller than A5 will make it not fit in a slip-cover designed for A5, but Laurie has listed suitable covers on her blog for those of you who want to protect it from the ravages of your bag or want extra features like a pen holder or card slots. The paper inside is high quality and the cover reasonably sturdy, with a vertical elastic closure and two ribbon-markers.

The cover is made of PU and has minimal branding – in the bottom right-hand corner of the front is the Plannerisms logo and 2014 over the top of it and on the reverse is the maker’s logo of H+O. The teal is a light teal and the elastic closure matches well.

Back cover
The inside cover has a quote from Mark Twain printed on a nicely matched background paper. The first page of the planner proper is for personal information. The listings have a decidedly American slant (understandably) – for example I would always go and see my doctor rather than my physician and my shorthand for ‘number’ is ‘no.’ not ‘#’ (which, as I teach in a medical school instantly makes me think ‘fracture’!).

Mark Twain quote
Personal Information page

After the personal information page, the next double-spread is a reference calendar for 2014 (LHS) and 2015 (RHS). I’ve said before that I never really know what these are for, but presumably others out there find them useful (let me know in the comments of you do and what you use it for?).

Reference calendar

The next double spread is for ‘Goals this year 2014’ with lined pages. The year is in a different coloured font (as they have been in the reference calendar), which makes my OCD tendencies squeak a bit. The lines don’t go right to the edges of the page, have a line spacing of 5.5mm, with a page margin marked in a dark blue top and bottom.

Goals for the year

The following double-page spread has quarterly goals for 2014 (again, the year is in a different colour, as is the middle month of the three in each quarter).

Goals for the quarter

Then there is a Year Planner for 2014, with the months vertical and the weeks marked off (which is a nice touch), then a double-spread of international holidays for major countries. After that there is a double spread of international dialling codes for major countries and some of the cities within some of these countries followed by conversions for weights and measures. Again, maybe I am unique in this, but I never, ever refer to any of these pages and would prefer to have more space for notes. Again – let me know in the comments if you do use these?

Year planner
Information pages
Information pages
Information pages

There then follows a double-page spread titled ‘How to use this planner’, but my personal feeling is that the order isn’t quite right (forgive me Laurie!). My personal preference (and I realise this could be just me) would be to put all the reference stuff either at the back and let people dive right in with the planner (if the reference stuff has to be there at all), or right at the front and then have the ‘How to use this planner’ and THEN have the goals for the year, quarterly goals etc. rather than break up the year goals to quarterly goals to monthly plans flow. This could of course be a reflection of how I set my planners up of goals to next actions to monthly lists.

The ‘meat of the planner’
a) the monthly section:
There is a double-page spread for each month with lined paper to list your goals for the month. These would naturally flow from the yearly goals (and quarterly goals) and which is why I think then breaking this flow with the information pages and ‘how to’ page isn’t quite right. The goals pages are then followed by a double-spread monthly calendar, with a grey-shaded column to the left of the week and the weeks starting on Monday. Each day-box is 30mm wide by 37.5mm tall (just under 1.25” x 1.5”) with the date clearly in the top left-hand corner and any holidays printed in a fairly small font across the top. Thankfully, the ‘New Year’s Day’ doesn’t then list all the countries for which January 1st is New Year’s Day (as Moleskine and other diaries do, which takes up the ENTIRE box!!).

Monthly goals
Monthly overview

The monthly pages follow one month after another in a section, after which is:

b) the weekly section:
The layout of the week-to-view pages is a grey column to the left of the week, then equal-sized (30mm) columns for all of the week (no squashed weekends) starting on a Monday. The day-columns don’t extend to the bottom of the page and are untimed, but are lined. Across the bottom is a large, unlined space for extra notes, with one of those days:dates calendars for the month in the bottom right-hand side. At the top of the left-hand page each week is a motivational sentence/advice for sticking to your goals.

Weekly layout
Motivational quotes

Now, for me, the vertical layout will be a challenge. Whereas I LOVE the vertical layout for my work diary, in my personal diary I have never got it to work. My work diary is a vertical week on a page and a bit with a notes section on the right (you can see the layout here) but in all my filofaxes or other planners I have always preferred a horizontal layout for the week. I think it’s because for my personal planning, I have few appointments but lots to plan and so like a wide oblong to write in, whereas at work I have appointments that need blocking off and a big space for notes at the side. For this reason, I’m not sure how successful the planner would be for me. The yearly goals, quarterly goals and lined monthly goals pages will be brilliant for me, but the monthly spread of dates and the weekly pages will be a challenge.

c) back of the planner:
After the last of the weekly spreads is a double-spread year planner for 2015, followed by two pages for an annual review and four pages for notes. The very back page has some information about Laurie herself.

Year planner for 2015

Annual review pages

Notes pages

Back cover

d) the pocket in the back cover:
There is a slip pocket in the back cover with a notes-book in it. The pocket is made of the same, thicker paper that lines the planner, with a glossy inner to the pocket. As I understand, last year the little booklet in the planner was an address-book, but this year it is a notes-book. The notes-book is 109mm x 180mm (4 6/16 x 7 10/16 inches), has a front page for the same personal information as the planner then 15 sides of notes pages, lined with a very narrow 4.75mm line-spacing (3/16th inch).

Notes book

Inside notes book

Notes pages in the booklet

It might get better with use, but at the moment it is pretty resistant to lying flat and is in no way bat-like in its flatness. When the book is open in the middle, the cover is lying flat but the pages are a bit ‘sprung’ and writing in the day columns for Wednesday and Thursday will involve a bit of brutality to make it easier.

Ribbon markers:
Regular readers will know quite how much unmatched ribbon markers and elastic closure annoy me and make my OCD tendencies squeak. The two ribbon markers in the Plannerisms planner are green/teal and black. The black complements the planner beautifully and the green/teal is a close enough match that I’m not upset!

I haven’t done a fountain-pen test for a couple of reasons. One: I hate spoiling books by doing them and prefer it if I can just remove a page to do the test (which I can’t here) and two: I’m not ready to write in it yet as I am still in the I-don’t-have-a-clue-what-my-goals-are fog. I will update this/report back once I have.

It’s not the perfect layout for me, but it is a really beautiful book and very well thought-out. It is a great size and weight (300g) if you wanted to carry it around – it certainly weighs a lot less than my Baroque filofax (which is currently 585g, though this is my wallet as well as my planner). My preferred layout would be the week to view with a horizontal layout rather than vertical and I wouldn’t separate the yearly and quarterly goals from the monthly and weekly section. Personally, since I never use them, I would also replace all of the information pages and the year calendars with more notes pages (but I recognise I am probably in a minority over this!). At some point I will work out how to use the monthly spreads too (but the monthly note pages are brilliant!).

Thank you again to Laurie for sending me one of her planners to review!

You can order a Going Places Planner here.


  1. It's so cool that you designed and published a planner, Laurie. And a great review!

  2. Amanda, I have purchased Laurie's planner for 2014. I agree with you on a couple of items. I have no use for the information pages, although I do like the yearly reference calendars. I think she has fewer information pages this year than the 2013 and more room for notes.

    I also prefer the horizontal week format. I almost didn't purchase the planner because of that. I do like how she uses the vertical columns to checkoff her daily routines though. That is what I intend to do as well.

    I have also been experimenting with a modified bullet journal that I plan to use in conjunction with Laurie's planner.

    Here's to keeping my brain together in 2014.