Inspired Stories planner, fountain pens, Happy Planner stickers, my own photos

As I mentioned previously, I’ve bought myself a 100-day Inspired Stories hard-bound planner and I’m going to take this opportunity to record my first thoughts then hopefully I’ll touch on it again later in the year as I get into the swing of using it.

I chose this Undated Daily Planner to buy because the 100-day format will take me nicely through to the end of this year, so that I have a completely clear field to choose next year’s diary during the coming months. I found the bound format and the layout of the daily pages very attractive. The best thing about the book is the size, with the pages being a narrow A5 at 210mm tall and 130mm wide. This makes the book very nice to slip into a medium-sized bag.

The cover is linen-style cloth and embossed in gold with the phrase “one day at a time”; I chose to have my name “PAM” added at the bottom and again this is in gold. Normally embossing is an extra cost, but I bought my diary as part of a bundle which included a notebook, and both of these could be embossed at no extra cost within the bundle pricing. The covers are available in a choice of Blush, Dusty Blue and White Pearl and I opted for the blue because I’m always going to opt for the blue and this is a particularly lovely shade. The insides are printed in a blush theme regardless of which cover option you go for.

The planner begins with 8 sides of preliminary material including pages to fill in your goals, a mind map, a wishlist and an ‘important dates timeline’ which I find a trifle odd. This is followed by four monthly overviews on double-page spreads. I expect these are supposed to cover the four months of this planner, but I’m not a monthly view person, so I’ve set them up to put in any important dates that crop up for the four months after this planner finishes (so, for January to April 2021). Following these, there is a page for affirmations with some suggestions from the producers printed at the top and space for you to fill in your own.

Each week begins with a spread that has an inspirational quote on the left and a weekly overview page on the right. The overview provides a small space for any appointments for the week, shaded boxes for the top 3 goals, space for eight important to-do’s and another shaded area set up as a tracker for 5 habits. This is the layout for Monday-Friday, but Saturday and Sunday each have a half-page of dot-grid only and I’ve got to say this is a huge disappointment to me. This planner quite clearly isn’t designed for a traditional corporate environment so the decision that the weekend is different to the weekdays is odd to say the least. What is particularly galling is that each weekly spread includes a dot-grid notes page, so all seven days could have had full daily pages without affecting the page-count at all. A weekly review page rounds it all out with shaded space for highlights and lessons plus a, thankfully blank, area for intentions, ideas and things to remember for next week. Every so often there is a fun page at the end of a week with its own little challenge like lists of inspiration or space to reflect on some gratitude points.

At the end of the four months covered by the diary there is a single page to reflect on the highlights of the past months, another quote page, then eight sides of dot-lined notepaper.

Speaking of the paper, my initial fountain pen tests have shown that it’s okay. There’s show-through, although less than on Leuchtturm pages, and tiny specks of bleed-through with some ink/pen combinations, but not others. I find it acceptable and I’m fussy.

I’m spending a bit of time setting up this planner, firstly by filling in the dates ahead of time. I know that a lot of people like an undated planner because it gives the freedom to let it lie fallow when nothing’s happening and only date up and use a page when it’s needed, but that approach doesn’t suit me. I never have lots of events happening, but the diary is where I note any that are planned, and it’s how I avoid double-booking myself, so having the dates filled in ahead of time just makes sense to me. I could simply date the weekly overviews, but doing that means the following pages are all going to be used for that week so it makes sense to fill in those dates too. I have also begun the task of placing functional sticker boxes onto the Saturday and Sunday grids to provide spaces to fill in any set plans and to list tasks. I’m going to be very interested to see how I like this element of the planner. I have also found the weekly inspirational quotes annoying (I want to write a quote that means a lot to me each week, not read something that somebody else chose), so these are being covered either with stickers or with photos from my archive. There is still space on the left-hand page for each week to hand-write a quote of my choice and I’ll continue to use the UK Top 50 Singles Chart 1974 for the rest of this year.

Weekly view set up to my preference
Weekend with stickers – definitely a compromise and not exactly what I want

Of course, all of the decoration I’m doing on top of the cost of the planner itself is making this an expensive option bearing in mind I would have to do this three times a year. I’m happy with it as an experiment, but my initial feeling is this isn’t a system I’d find acceptable in the long-term. I’ll be interested to see if this changes as I begin to use it.

Points in favour of the Inspired Stories Undated Daily Planner:

  • The size: this slightly narrower A5 format is well-suited to popping in a handbag and doesn’t add a ton of weight.
  • The cover: I’m loving that dusty blue fabric.
  • The 100-day aspect: I really like to see just a portion of the year and focus on that.
  • The daily pages: a nice combination of priorities, appointments, tasks and notes
  • The paper: not the best quality, but it’s plenty good enough for my fountain pens and that’s important to me.
  • The note space: I think there’s enough note space included to mean I won’t have to carry a separate notebook with me and, thankfully, the full notes pages are dot-lined rather than gridded.
  • The use of colour: the blush accents throughout the diary make it feminine without being too girly. I think it would be wonderful with dusty blue accents to co-ordinate with the cover, though.

Points against the Inspired Stories Undated Daily Planner:

  • That Saturday and Sunday spread: really not good enough, especially given how much we’re always being told to have a better work/life balance and the fact that the standard Monday-Friday week is less ubiquitous than once it was. Every day of the week deserves equal ranking, equal space.
  • The printed quote pages: just not for me.
  • Capitalisation: there are whole areas where capital letters are ignored and that really, really annoys me. However, it’s not consistent because there are other places where normal capitalisation is used. Then there are places where block capitals are brought into play. Yikes!
  • Dot grids: I know this is purely personal choice, but I am disappointed that the weekend space has a dot-grid format, especially as it isn’t used in the majority of other elements within the diary. The grid itself is (as far as my poor eyes can see) 3mm and printed in a mid-grey tone which makes it far too intrusive. The dot-lines are 6mm apart which are much more acceptable.
  • The monthly spreads: again, purely personal preference, but I doubt I’ll use these at all and so they would have been more useful as additional notes pages.

One thing that would have been nice:

Instead of printing an inspirational quote, the page facing the weekly preview could have been printed with an area to write one of your affirmations and one of your goals to focus on that week.

What do you think? I’m well aware many of the things I’ve put in the ‘against’ list would be on many people’s ‘for’ list. Would this sort of planner intrigue you enough to buy? Have you tried this, or any other 100-day planner? (The only other one I’ve tried was the Happiness Planner and that didn’t work out for me.) It would even be fun if you were to drop me a comment with your guess as to whether this type of planner will suit me at all or if I’ll be running back to my weekly layout in the blink of an eye.

More information about the Inspired Stories Undated Daily Planner, together with their other offerings, can be found at their website here.

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