Earlier this year, Laurie Huff of Exaclair USA , very kindly sent a Visual Weekly Planner for me to test drive and review.
This is how the cover looks after months of living on my desk. I simply slipped the label back on so you know what you’re looking for. Your mileage may vary, as they say, but this should hold up to almost anything except a full frontal assault by a cup of coffee. I love the green color. Very soothing to the eyes, but easy to find in stacks of papers. Because it’s removable, I’ll be able to reuse it next year.
This shot gives you an idea of the size in comparison to my 13″ AirBook and the solar keyboard I favor when editing. There is plenty of space to fold a standard 8×11″ sheet of paper and slide it into the calendar. Because the cover is removable, it’s also possible to tuck smaller pieces of paper inside the covers, but I recommend keeping a paper clip to secure items as this calendar does NOT come with a pocket. Nor does it have a ribbon bookmark
I can see why Laurie thought it would be the perfect calendar for me. There are monthly, semi-annual and annual planning pages in the front, as well as another annual planner in the back for next year. Unfortunately, the boxes in these proved too small for my business use. The page that got the most use ended up being the country code list for international dialing. None of my religious holidays are on the page in the front and the address book pages in the back are so skimpy I used them for notes. I use my smartphone for addresses, phone numbers, emails, conversion from imperial to metric, and religious holy days. Given the global economy, I’d recommend turning those pages into blank or lined note pages.
If this were solely for my personal use, this would be my fantasy calendar. However, starting a business as an indie author and publisher simply proved too much for this little calendar. I ended up with a dry erase annual calendar on my office wall so I can read my scheduling at a glance from across the room and carry an 8×11 ARC System calendar from Staples so I can hole punch all the necessary paperwork required for my convention travels, appointments and securely carry all the detritus of the small business owner.
“But how does the Visual perform for fountain pen users?” you ask. I regret to say there is a fair amount of ghosting even with the 90g/m paper, as can be seen in the bottom left corner.
The ink is a saturated blue-black in an M nib, not even my usual B nib or larger. Not enough to interfere with reading a fairly dark pencil or ink on the following page, but enough that I would not recommend the paper for larger nibs. For the average user with ballpoints or rollerballs, the paper is lovely and smooth. It erases smoothly. I found I wanted bookmarks, so I tended to carry multiple paperclips to hold the pages open, secure business cards and otherwise mark my place.
If this format came in an 8×11 with larger blocks, I would buy it, cut the binding off, and punch the pages for my system. I simply asked too much of one small planner. While I still use it to keep my personal schedule separate from my business, that resulted in too much redundancy. Next year the Staples ARC System will hold my life with color coding and symbols to keep me separate from my business. For the average user, however, this lovely planner does almost anything a power user can ask of it. I highly recommend it unless you’re juggling an entire business from the pages of one planner.