How I fell down the Midori notebook rabbit hole

I knew before the school year started that I had to get my planner game straight. I’ve used many different planners over the years. From the simple ones you get at office supply stores or Barnes and Noble, to even the coveted Erin Condren planner. But none of them satisfied my needs.

midori-notebook

I need a planner that l can modify depending upon the day because I teach at different times every day, and I need the weekend days to be given as much space as the weekdays. I need a planner that gives me space to put in the appointments and meetings I have, plus room to create to do lists for freelance and Dominion House stuff. And if it could allow me to track how I use my time throughout the day, that would be great. Oh, and it needs to be sturdy. The planner will be thrown in a bag of doom with textbooks and a laptop, as well as a Nalgene water bottle and whatever else I choose to carry with me that day.

Obviously, none of the planners from Office Max/Office Depot/Staples could handle this challenge. Though, they tried. And the Erin Condren planner is designed in such a way that you aren’t given enough space to make multi-tier to do lists on every day, and it honestly made me more disorganized than I was before I used it. I’m not saying it’s a bad planner. I’m just saying that I have very specific needs, and a way that I like for things to be done, and the Erin Condren planner does not accommodate that. Also? The cover of that planner is made of laminated card stock. I remember opening mine when it finally came in and thinking to myself “I paid $50 for this?” (Side note: I’m pretty sure Chris paid $50 for it because it was a Christmas present. Seriously, find yourself a lover that will buy you a planner. That lover is a keeper.)

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I had pretty much resigned myself to the idea of making my own planner for this upcoming semester. I created a rudimentary design using free calendar page downloads so I could do all my forward planning in a monthly view. Then, I created daily pages based on this prioritizing list from Kim Graff. Only, I made a 6-tier system of to dos to cover all areas of my life. Because, again, I have very specific needs when it comes to a planner.

Then, one day, as I was scrolling through popular posts on Bloglovin’, I somehow came across this video from Vasseur Beauty. And thus was a Midori notebook obsession born.

I searched Etsy options for Midori notebooks for a while, but nothing really struck my fancy. I wasn’t convinced yet. Google brought me to My Life All in One Place and Ray Blake made me believe that I needed to get into the Midori notebook game. I have seriously watched this video of him making Midori inserts 4 times. It’s a total ASMR experience. I love it.

Then I decided to search through Pinterest and YouTube. That’s how I found Carie Harling, Robyn Lott, and John Rush (he’s a fellow Oklahoman!). I can now say that I’ve watched all their videos pertaining to Midori-style notebooks. (Psst. If you’re interested in making some inserts, I recommend this video from John, this one from Robyn, and this one from Carie.)

I began to obsess. I knew I had to have a Midori notebook. Carie Harling (who hopefully wants to be my friend because I love her videos and how she organizes her life) convinced me to go with Chic Sparrow.

I chose the Distressed Creme Brulee Deluxe in the narrow size, which is the equivalent size of a Midori notebook.

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midori planner

And for the inserts, I’m using these from Ray Blake’s site. But, I had Chris put a DIYFish-style hyperdex on the PDFs. I believe he used the watermarking function in Adobe Illustrator to make this happen. This is one of the perks of dating a graphic designer. He knows how to use Adobe products without ruining everything, which is what I do when I open Photoshop.

These pages allow me to mark appointments at the proper time, list tasks that are necessary for the day, track how I actually use my time, and also make further lists beneath my faux hyperdex.

I’ve also had fun making different inserts for this Midori notebook so I can have a notebook, all my page markers and Post-Its, and a folder to keep bits of paper.

Post-Its for Midori notebook

Homemade Midori folder

So, let’s talk cost. I can’t very well call out Erin Condren for charging for laminated card stock without disclosing what I paid for my new set up. The inserts themselves were free. I just printed them out and made covers out of old file folders. (Sure, I paid for the ream of paper when I bought it, and the file folders too, though I bought them in packs of six from the dollar store.) I did go to Michael’s to purchase a rotary cutter and a sliding paper cutter thingy, as well as some glue. So, there was about $20.

engraved chic sparrow notebook

Then, of course, there’s the luscious leather cover from Chic Sparrow. It was expensive. I won’t lie. Approximately $100. But I don’t mind paying for leather. Or for things that I’m allowed to personalize with the phrase “stay gold.” Or for things that last. Just ask my pair of Doc Martens I’ve had since the sixth grade.

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Plus, the simple and durable style is my jam. And it will work well with my Duluth Trading Company leather bag that I will be lugging around campus. Or, with my multiple brown leather Fossil purses for non-campus schlepping.

Now I really want this brown pen roll to match my notebook. I have a lot of Sharpies and highlighters that I need to carry around.

And I apologize if you now have an obsession with the Midori notebook. But know that you’re in good company, and if you ever want to hang out, I’m totally down to make some inserts with you.

And just try and tell me that once you fall down the planner rabbit hole, that you don’t want to use a Midori notebook as a wallet…

Thanks for sharing!
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26 comments

  1. Have really enjoyed dipping my toe into this new phase of my organization attempts!!! I have disposed of my wallet, checkbook, and old Brighton planner (ug). After trying the Covey system, Day Runner, some organized mom things when my kids were little, big portfolios… nothing worked. Trying to cut down on the weight of my purse due to a rotator cuff injury, and this is making it happen. Still polishing the inserts, but this is the best way for me to keep “stuff”, make notes (poor memory!) keep a pen handy, my business cards, and hope that this is the semester that get it together! I supervise several adult education programs, and there are lots of meetings, reminders, (and little bits of paper, notes) to keep track of that are beyond our work Outlook calendar! Thanks for sharing!

    • I agree that it’s the best way to keep stuff! I love how organized it is just by letting you put everything like the inserts and business cards all in one place!

  2. I am not a little bit in love with this. I am so over it when people refer to things like planners and pens and paper as “sexy”—and I’m a total office supply whore over here—but this is a sexy damn planner. *RAWR* Totally going to check this out and that little hyperdex thing because I think I need a “this is how much time you really spend playing those games on your iphone” intervention. Love.

    • Man, the hyperdex is really keeping me honest these days, which is awful because I really just want to read Facebook for like 17 hours a day.

  3. Hi! A planner is very new to me….I may have used one 30+ years ago. I am now a baker of decorated cookies. I need help in finding a calendar that will work for me. I have purchased so many calendars and NONE have worked out.
    Please help!!!! I’m not computer savvy but, I do have a pretty good laptop and a printer that practically speaks but has never been used.
    I’d appreciate any type of help. Thank you so much. Really enjoyed your post

    • Hi Lally! I’d recommend going to Ray Blake’s site and taking a look around. He’s designed a ton of different options, and all you have to do is print them and cut them down to size. But if you’re looking for something a little prettier, there’s always these inserts from Wendaful.

      What sort of calendar do you need? What are looking to track? Are you a to do lister? If so, I’d recommend getting into bullet journaling. But if you want more of a planner layout, definitely take a look at the two links I put above.

  4. You referenced the chic sparrow referral code to get 10% off. Where is that exactly?

  5. I really enjoyed your blog as I’m also collect notebooks and Travel notebooks except I don’t have “Midori” as I find it expensive so I settled for faudoris and journals. I’m also crazy about “coffee” planners which is popular in my country (Philippines) especially during December.

  6. My fall down the Midori rabbit hole was very similar to yours. And like you I ended up going with Chic Sparrow. The Chic Sparrow TN is the first notebook I’ve actually wanted to carry around on a daily basis. But how could I not carry it, the look, the touch and the smell make for a very delectable planner.
    I hope you’ll do a review of the Chic Sparrow pen roll if you manage to snag one.

  7. I just love this phrase….”Fell down the Midori Traveler’s Notebook Hole!” And I’ve dragged my son and niece along with me! 😀 I was never able to find the “perfect” planner that would allow me to keep track of and journal my life all in one place….until I came across the traveler’s notebook pins on Pinterest last November. I was hooked!
    Being pretty broke and fairly crafty, I watched tons of youtubes, ventured into buying a square(or 3) of leather and crafting my own covers, a few cardstock weight sheets of scrapbook paper and using up notebooks, sketchbooks, printer paper to make my own inserts. I’ve never been as faithful to planning/journaling as I am now. Or having as much fun doing it. Now, to get my hands on a Chic Sparrow…… 🙂

    • Wow! You made your own? I’m seriously impressed. I don’t have a crafty or capable bone in my body, so I definitely had to buy. But I totally get what you mean about being faithful to planning and journaling. For some reason, this set up makes it so easy to keep up the habit, and you never get overwhelmed with it because it stays so organized.

  8. Oh my goodness!! How did I not see this until now?! I love everything about this post, and I’m not saying that because of all of the awesome mentions you so generously dished my way! You’ve captured my love of these notebooks better than I could’ve myself. Thank you so much for sharing a beautifully detailed post!

    • OMG CARIE HARLING COMMENTED ON MY BLOG! Er, um, I mean, ahem…

      Thank you for so many detailed videos! Seriously, you sold me on Chic Sparrow. I now have 2 that I use daily (one for work, one for me), and your videos gave me so many great ideas!

  9. Happy to see I am not the only person in love with Duluth Trading Company bags.

    • They are so awesome and sturdy! I really wish they still made the millionaire laptop bag though…

      • mrs nilsson-dunaif

        Morissa I just saw your article and enjoyed the read very much i too am a little ocd when it comes to the perfect schedule book. Ive just started an Airbnb and its starting to pick up my friends tell me the summer is the season being a die hard “New Yawker” now living in a suburb outside of buffalo that thinks it’s the hamptons I don’t see the attraction to western ny…however it is a gorgeous norman rockwell town and we are only 30-40 minutes from canada so maybe…..when it comes to arts and crafts i must of been a c student in art i just don’t get it…my brain is wired for science in my previous career i was an assistant director of nursing and a huge hospital on the queens border north shore lij in the operating room so if its blood and guts i’m good arts and crafts scare the shit out of me as for my hubby he’s a veterinarian I don’t know if he knows how to work adobe. I don’t know if your still working on your PHD but would you be willing to make one for me if i payed for supplies and your time of course let me know…I anxiously await your response text is best 716 435 8338 please call me Patzi I was just a newlywed when i set up the account two years ago. I will admit I have such envy over your book!!!!! LUST is more like it LOL

  10. I was browsing Pinterest and lately I’ve been interested in switching to a Traveler’s Notebook for my Bullet Journal so when I saw this post I had to read it. But for me, the highlight of this post was UNEXPECTEDLY FINDING SOMEONE IN THE VAST WILDERNESS OF THE INTERNET WHO HAS ASMR. Excuse me while I am giddy XD (and now I really want to watch that video you mentioned because OBVIOUSLY I need to experience whatever ASMR you got from it XD)

    • Oooh, girl. Find yourself any of the videos by Carie Harling, or any video where people are making inserts, folders, or book marks. I love it.

  11. Thank you for writing this post. I thought I was the only one. I have had loads of planners really didn’t get the Midori thing even after watching Caries excellent videos but decided to give it a go as nothing else was working and it was like magic. I can now journal,art journal and plan and I actually do it !! I thought I was being daft because I have lots of planners and I still don’t know how a series of little books and elastic bands makes you want to do it but as you said it just works. I would advise anyone to give it a go and hopefully posts like this will help people find the midori hole lol

  12. Glenda Merkley

    Yay fellow Okie! I have a Midori issue with MTN’s AND CS….I never know which one to use!

  13. l too have fallen down that rabbit hole..l like to write diary’s/journals every time l have traveled overseas…l somehow tripped over a post on Pinterest about making your own faux Midori’s..and thus my journey began..l was going to try and make some from cloth as Christmas pressies last year but the sewing machine gave out on me so that got put asside..l then looked and looked for a material that l could make a journal cover out of and found in one of those cheap Asian stores we have in nearly every shopping centre here in Oz a bamboo placemat..when not in use it could be rolled up and l thought “this will be perfect’ cause it would allow for the addition of inserts and l would still be able to close it up..l created a material pen holder with wide elastic to wrap around the cover to keep closed and also made what l think you would call a sleeve with eyelets to run the elastic through to hold the inserts..also an decorative eyelet to hang a charm from eventually..l then scored from an op shop and old atlas that was falling apart and used the pages to make pockets for inserts to go into cauews this journal will be used for travel, and well, now l am filling in the pages..l cant wait till l actually start using it with my travels..am also thinking of making a quilted cover to put it into and hold extra pens to protect it during my travels..

    • That’s awesome, Carol! I love hearing how other people create their own versions of the notebook. I may have to steal that bamboo placemat idea…

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