Object Lessons: Moleskine 18-Month Monthly Planner

The family I live with is in the process of getting ready to move. That should explain some of my current neurotic evaluation of material possessions (but yes, only some of it). While I’m the lucky one right now because I have only two suitcases’ worth of stuff to haul the (maybe) five miles to the new house, I am still thinking about ways I can streamline.

Something I won’t be leaving behind–anytime, anywhere–is my Moleskine 18-month monthly planner. For some reason, I cannot find these listed on the Moleskine website, or the Barnes & Noble website (I bought mine in a B&N, so you’d think…), or even Amazon. Or anywhere else, actually. Typically when I like something, it seems to get discontinued shortly thereafter… but I really hope that is not the case with this gem.

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A horrible and boring photo of a lovely and boring thing.

In short: I love the thing. For my current life, 18 months is the perfect length for a planner. It also means that I can buy a planner that starts in January for my next planner, when I have (hopefully) gotten a few things in my life sorted. It has a page for notes between each calendar spread, and there are several sections for information before and after the main calendar pages.

It seems excessive, but for my current lifestyle, all those extra pages come in handy–and carrying one notebook is much easier than toting several. However, because I put passwords and that sort of thing in here, I rarely do casual traveling with it. Still, it’s travel friendly–with a soft cover, it’s very light.

But this is me, so let’s get a bit more philosophical. Does one need a planner? In an age of smartphones (when I have one myself), do we need paper planners? Is it an eco-friendly choice to have such an object? Isn’t this just some kind of status symbol or weird totem of faux-intellectualism?

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a possibly disturbing look into my November weekend plans

I derive great pleasure from the aesthetically beautiful qualities of this item. For me, that alone almost makes it worthwhile. Almost. But I do have to take other considerations… into consideration. Buying it was a funny experience for me, because my typical method of purchasing planners is haphazard or nonexistent. I rely on post-it notes, blank notebooks, corners of pages. It usually works. But I knew that this year was going to be one with a lot of changes, travel, and logistically complex situations. I wanted one thing that could keep information about all those other things corralled safely.

The Moleskine answers that call beautifully. The monthly layout is also perfect for my daily needs. In addition to numerous long- and short-term deadlines, I have a personal code of markings that makes it easy to track certain things over the course of a month. One mark means I’ve written and scheduled a blog post for that day. Another symbol means I went on a run. I’ve just started using the blank square at the end of the week (pictured above) to make prioritized to-do lists of the major things that must be accomplished by the end of that week.

While I started out with a pretty free and easy schedule–and I’m still far from booked–I have taken on more social opportunities and more commitments, and I’ve increased my goals for my time here. The planner is starting to look like I have a life! It also makes it easy to keep information about the hours I work and the amount I’ve been paid in one place. While it’s one of the most extravagant planners I’ve ever bought, I’ve never experienced the frustration that I’m used to with planners. It answers all my desires and was only $22. If only boyfriends came like that…

Still, I haven’t addressed the enviro side of things. That’s sort of the elephant in the room, isn’t it? Here I am, getting orgasmic about a planner, yet theoretically I should be out hugging trees instead of chopping them down for Moleskine & co.

It helps that the product is made with acid-free paper and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Yet more importantly than that, I’m sitting amidst a small pile of paper-based products. I have a handful of paperback sketchbooks for drawing, note-taking, etc.; I have a notebook for french classes; I have a journal friends gave me right before I left (filled up now!), and a simple school cahier I bought here for a journal when the first one ran out. While I spend way too much time on my computer, writing things out by hand is also part of my life.

This isn’t necessarily an eco-friendly choice in the sense that, yes, I’m killing trees. A friend of mine wrote in a yearbook that my sketchbook habits alone would get me locked up for killing rainforests. He may have had a point. However, all of this written and drawn expression is part of what keeps me sane. I have yet to find any computer-based solutions to the hard-copy planner, and honestly, I don’t think it’s possible–one of the primary uses I have for the calendar is taking notes on information I want available once I’ve shut down my computer.

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Can you believe it’s already the middle of November? I can’t!

Beyond that, this is a well-designed object. Unlike planners I’ve had in the past, that I’ve bought and gradually stopped using before they were used up, this is a planner that has become more and more part of my lifestyle. Although I initially balked at the price, since I use the item every day, $22 doesn’t seem like a lot for 18 months of organizational assistance.

It’s also found additional use in my life as a table substitute. When I find myself trying to work off-line for a bit, I sometimes need a hard surface to write on. At my disposal, I only have a tiny card table that is covered in green felt. The Moleskine’s rigidity is just enough to provide a smooth work surface.

While I’m still not sure I can justify the purchase in the name of sustainability, I can say that by being an extremely well-designed item, it has helped encourage me to spend more money (per thing) on fewer, higher-quality items. This is a sustainable principle, but it was one that, for me, needed positive reinforcement to stick.

If you don’t need a planner (WHO ARE YOU???) or you already have one you like, don’t go out and buy this. But if you are in the market, you’re looking around, and you’re wondering if this is really worth the money–yes, yes it is.

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