Quo Vadis 2017 Plan & Note Planner

30 01 2017

Welcome back, my fine friends, to a new year. New year, new planners. While the Hobonichi Techo has got a pretty firm lock on my heart, I do recognize that it’s not going to be perfect for everyone, so when the good people of Exaclair reached out to me many moons ago to see if I would be interested in taking the Quo Vadis Plan & Note for a spin, I was all for it. This is a planner coming from a good paper family (Quo Vadis, Clairefontaine, Rhodia are all of the same family), and I loved the Quo Vadis Miniweek back in my pre-Hobonichi days.

– All of my friends have decided that the texture of the cover resembles the peel of a banana. I am now questioning the sanity of all of my friends.

This is the Desk size Plan & Note in Violet. The cover is a rubberized soft-touch cover, somewhat but not quite like the Rhodia Webnotebook in texture, of a mostly firm, semi-flexible cardboard stock. The binding is designed to lay flat, and can be bent back on itself for added firmness and convenience when writing on the go.

On the go. The phrase sounded normal popping out of my head, and now looking at it on the screen is beginning to break down into inexplicable nonsense. How does one get on the go? Is the go going, or is it gone?

A matching purple elastic band holds the notebook closed. Size-wise, I was worried at the “desk” designation – I pictured some vast and endless windswept plain of fountain pen friendly paper, bound by the gods upon some ancient varnished desk. But who would need an elastic to hold that sort of notebook closed? Who would ever be able to carry such a thing anywhere to need to keep it closed? My fears were allayed by the actual facts of reality — the “Desk” plan and note, at 6″ x 8.5″, is an easily portable and slim planner, large enough to be useful while retaining the convenience of a semi-compact size. For at least three months I’ve been carrying this planner around (packed always next to my guilt at not having reviewed it yet), rarely taking care to protect it in any meaningful way. It’s important to see how such things hold up to the rigors and abuse of ordinary life.

The tell-tale puncture marks indicative of a feline presence

Looking close, you can find signs of wear, but the planner is still looking sharp. If you take even the slightest amount of care (i.e. not throwing it unprotected into a giant lunch bag full of knives, misshapen objects, and miniaturized kitchen implements) I’d wager you’ll still have a sharp looking planner by the time 2018 rolls around.

Unnecessarily dappled shading brought to you by my backyard trees

On to the features. In the front, a standard Personal Notes page, a 2017 reference calendar; in the back, an inexplicable nine pages devoted to contacts. In spite of all the signs, it IS 2017. Who is using this many, or any, planner pages to keep an analog record of contacts in a book only designed to be carried around for the course of one year? If you really keep an analog record of contacts, I hope you have a nice, separate book dedicated to such records, one that is not bound to any particular year. If a contacts section absolutely must be present, give it one, two pages at most. The rest of that space should go to notes, which this notebook currently only has two pages (a front and back) dedicated to. A Plan & Note planner should push the envelope a little more in the note department. Perhaps have the back free notes section include more than one type of layout to better facilitate brainstorming. Instead of all lined pages, you could have two dot grid, two grid, two blank, two lined, etc. This giant contacts section feels like a missed opportunity.

The entire time I’ve been trying to edit this picture on my phone in bed, the cat has been trying to stand on my face, my hands, or both

Back to the front of the notebook, to the first intriguing feature–the Anno-Planner. It’s a two-page spread encompassing all of 2017 that gives each day a little usable line. The second page header bills this as “The Organization of your year at a single glance.” It makes me think of the Bullet Journal Calendex layout. I feel like you’d need to develop your own legend involving some color-coding and symbols to get maximum usability out of this feature, but it holds a lot of promise.

Top: March-April; bottom: January-February.

After the Anno-Planner, we have a feature I can’t live without–monthly grid pages. A monthly grid helps me best visualize my life, especially working night shift as I currently do. The layout is oriented sideways to allow for maximum writing space in each square, which feels a little odd but is admittedly useful. My biggest issue with these monthly pages is the repeating of lines at the end/beginning of months. Look at the last week of January and the first week of February up there. It is the same line twice. I find this visually off-putting and potentially confusing. At the very least, don’t print the dates in the same color–where you have overlap, use something like a light grey to print the beginning of February that’s on the January spread, and vise-versa the end of January that’s on the February spread. Or, given that the next line is right there, why print the overlap at all? This issue pops up on every monthly spread; several even end up with two weeks printed twice. It’s wasteful, inefficient, and really throws off my groove. If you’ve got page real estate to spare, leave it blank so it can be used for something like …notes!

I really need more commitment to the Note half of this Plan & Note theme

The rest of the meat of the planner is devoted to the year’s worth of weekly spreads. Each day gets an equal amount of space (which is really nice especially when trying to plan in a business that is open seven days a week), with a section at the end of each week just for notes (notes! finally!!). No complaints here; it’s a solid, standard weekly layout. Each page has a perforated tear-off corner in the bottom, to mark where you are in the notebook and theoretically make it easier to flip to. I prefer ribbon markers for that purpose, but the concept works. I might prefer the perforated corners to be on the top, for even easier flipping. After the weekly spread, there is a monthly grid for January 2018, a 2018 reference calendar, and a 2018 Anno-Planner spread to ease the transition into 2018.

I don’t know if any paper exists that does a decent job with the ink of those little stamps at the bottom. They were forged at the bottom of a volcano out of the decanted acid derived from demon blood. Probably

The pages of the whole planner consist of 90gsm white paper, very fountain pen friendly with no bleedthrough and minimal show-through. The paper shows off shading fairly well (not so much on the sheen factor), with a decent dry-time between around 7 and 11 seconds for fountain pen ink. Most surprisingly, I was able to lay down some watercolors with no bleedthrough and no noticeable buckling of the paper. Although the overall format of this planner doesn’t lend itself to the type of planning/journaling where watercoloring would typically be found, it can be done. Of course, with this brand I expected good paper; thankfully, Quo Vadis delivers.

(Exaclair provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)


Quo Vadis Miniweek with Blue Texas Cover

24 02 2014

I’ve heard good things about Quo Vadis planners, so when I saw one last Miniweek on sale at my local pen store, I jumped on it (even though they were all out of covers). I tweeted of my bountiful gain but lack of cover, as I proceeded to affix some soft polyurethane-type material to my Miniweek with tacky glue to serve as a DIY cover. Then, lo and behold, Quo Vadis tweeted at me to say they had an extra Miniweek cover that they would give me! Some tedious craft-glue-undoing later, a joyous little planner for 2014 was assembled. Thanks to Quo Vadis for the cover (and thanks to Office Supplies and More for having had the planner on sale).

Coin for reference. For some reason, 1 euro cent was the first coin I was able to find. If you've never seen a euro cent in person before, they are adorably tiny

Coin for reference. For some reason, 1 euro cent was the first coin I was able to find. If you’ve never seen a euro cent in person before, they are adorably tiny

The Miniweek is small and simple; the Texas cover serving as something to protect the little refill from the world. It’s a smooth polyurethane-like cover made with no PVC. There’s no branding, just the darker recessed accent mark and raised decorative “stitching” around the edges. It feels smooth to the touch—the kind of notebook you want to rub on your face. Time will tell if the cover will hold up over the course of multiple refill years.

Tiny calendars so I can see how far into the future that I STILL won't have certain choice holidays off.

Tiny calendars so I can see how far into the future that I STILL won’t have certain choice holidays off.

Being so slim, there isn’t much extra to the Miniweek. There’s two pages for personal information, little 2014 and 2015 calendars, address pages, and note pages, in addition to the main meat of the planner itself.

Work schedule, running schedule, blog schedule

Work schedule, running schedule, blog schedule. And oatmeal cookies

I like that each day gets an equal amount of space. Usually planners end up short-changing the weekend on page real estate, but as someone with an unusual work schedule I appreciate having equal space to plan out my days. And they even fit in a little space for notes!

(Ignore the part where I smudged the first Pelikan M150 sample, that was almost out of ink and other such excuses) LOOK AT THAT CRISP LINE AND SHADING ON "KR3"...so beautiful...

(Ignore the part where I smudged the first Pelikan M150 sample, that was almost out of ink and other such excuses) LOOK AT THAT CRISP LINE AND SHADING ON “KR3″…so beautiful…

But the best part about the Miniweek is this magical paper. It’s of an almost tissue-like thinness typically reserved for holy books, and typically not associated with the kind of paper you’d want to put a fountain pen to. But oh, how wrong you’d be. This paper holds fountain pen ink beautifully. No fuzz, no feathers, just clean, crisp lines. With such thin paper, showthrough is inevitable, but none of the fountain pens bled through (the Parker and Sheaffer rollerbals are another story). And the dry times were surprising—Diamine Ancient Copper in a Pilot Vanishing Point M nib drying within ten seconds. This is a planner made for fountain pens.

Sorry hip art deer, but I'd like you better if you were actually some kind of silk ribbon attached to the planner.

Sorry hip art deer, but I’d like you better if you were actually some kind of silk ribbon attached to the planner.

My only complaint is the lack of a bookmark. The pages are too thin to use a paper clip, so I picked up some trendy page flags to keep track of my place in the year. Something built-in would have been nice.

Also maybe something to keep it better closed would be nice? But eh, slip it in a pocket and what difference does it make

Also maybe something to keep it better closed would be nice? But eh, slip it in a pocket and what difference does it make

Overall the Miniweek hits a lot of points that I’m looking for in a planner. It’s small, with a nice layout, and most importantly, fountain pen friendly paper.

Quo Vadis Miniweek Planner at Quo Vadis