Guest post: A review of the Academic Minister

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One of our recent contest winners was kind enough to write this review of the Academic Minister we sent her. She wanted to remain anonymous, but she graciously agreed to let us share her opinions here! Without further ado…

The short

4/5 stars. It’s the closest thing to a perfect (non-customized) planner that I’ve ever used, save a few teensy things that are not deal-breakers, and are probably due to me being picky rather than any fault with the product itself.

The long

The outer cover (dust jacket) of this notebook is a beautiful shade of green, and made of a soft, leather-feeling material, with a fine grain like that of real leather printed onto the surface. I felt the cover was a tad loose-fitting around the main book – I’m guessing this was a deliberate design choice to make it refillable, but I would rather the jacket be more “tight” around the planner covers so that I don’t feel loose material when I open the planner. I would also have appreciated a pen loop, but this is not a huge deal as I’m an avowed stationery lover and usually have a few (dozen) spares knocking around my person.

On the inside cover is the Quo Vadis company information as well as planner information. I didn’t look at this closely as I generally don’t pay much attention to branding on a planner or notebook. I have some personalized “morning/evening routines” and “chore chart” templates that I created and refer to regularly, and I stuck these on the first page since that’s the easiest place in the book to flip to for information.

Next up is a page for personal info. I didn’t want to fill this out completely because of identity theft concerns (it has a blank for, among other things, your social security number), so I filled in my name, email address, and emergency contact. It feels a bit weird to have so many blanks on this form though – so I may eventually cover it with a customized bookplate.

A page for international telephone access codes is next, which I don’t use as I can look the codes up on my Blackberry/computer. Next was a page on monthly average temperatures on major cities worldwide. I was really excited about this page! Until…. I realized that my home city, NYC, is not included. Could we take out Cairns? Still, I am a major sucker for weather information and this is my favorite “data page” in the book.

There’s a lined sheet for Notes, which I don’t use as I carry a notebook around with me, followed by a 2-page spread for your Schedule, which I don’t use (not a student) but would be invaluable if I was. However, being recently out of college, I can imagine that when I was a student I’d want this schedule to be on Page 1 of the book, not hidden behind the telephone codes and weather data, since I’d definitely refer to this WAY more often than either of those. In addition, since most (college) students are on the semester, trimester, or quarter system (i.e. class schedules may change 2-4x in 1 year), I would have wanted 2-4 sets of schedule pages, one for each term.

The main “planner” part of the book: I love the horizontal-week format as I cannot function with vertical-format week on 2 page planners. Since I work long hours (my day starts at 5:30am, ends ~9pm) I also like that the times (8am – 9pm) spanned in the Minister is longer than the average planner, which usually runs from 9am to 6pm or so. Still, it doesn’t encompass the entirety of my working day (most people will not have this problem!), so I can’t schedule 7am meetings in it. My ideal planner would actually have no time markers, just a division of the column into “Morning”, “Afternoon”, and “Night” – I can write in my own meeting times. The colors, lines, and fonts in this book are unobtrusive and classy, which is fantastic – I hate garish colors in my planner as I need it to “fade away” relative to the content I put in there.

Sunday is at the bottom, which works for me as I don’t usually have Sunday appointments, but people with many weekend appointments will probably want to find something with more space. Each day column has a Priority box at the top, which I use for daily goalsetting and task planning. On the RHS are a set of boxes for Phone (I don’t use this much), Email (I use this for computer context-specific to-dos), To Pay/Receive (which I use to track my spending), Notes (I use this for non-time-specific to-dos), and Other.

Jumping to the back of the book, there’s a 2013 year-on-2-pages spread – I haven’t used this yet, but will probably be recording birthdays, anniversaries, etc. sooner or later. The planner then has a series of time zones and world maps, which I don’t find useful at all. (Aside: why are maps included in just about every planner out there? I’ve never looked at them, excepting once to settle a happy-hour geography trivia argument…). I’d MUCH rather have more Notes pages, or maybe an envelope/pocket. Or a few pages perforated into business-card size rectangles so I have a slip of paper handy to tear out when I need it!

Finally, on the very last page, there are small annual calendars for 2012-2013-2014, which is a handy reference, and an address booklet insert slipped into the back cover, which I don’t use as I put contacts in my email software so that I can use the click-to-dial feature on my computer.

In summary

Love me:
+ Beautiful shade of green, very classy leather-like appearance
+ Excellent left-right planner layout, well-designed spaces for Priorities, Notes, etc that I fully utilize
+ Time-span from 8am – 9pm is longer than the average planner and should encompass most workdays
+ Unobtrusive lines and fonts that don’t detract from my content; plenty of writing space
+ Tear-off corner is easy to remove and allows you to find your page quickly.
+ Paper is top-quality – have not experienced bleed-through or smudging with any of the pens in my regular rotation (Uniball Signo DX, Uniball 207, Pilot G2, Sharpie highlighter, Pentel Energel, Zebra Sarasa, Hi-Tec-C and Hi-Tec-C Coleto).

Love me not:
– Dust jacket fits somewhat loosely around the book – I’d buy the Habana style described here
– 8am-9pm timespan still doesn’t encompass my entire workday’s planning needs due to long hours at my job
– Would rather all data pages (tel codes, weather, etc.) be relegated to the back of the planner or eliminated
– “About Me” page asks for information that could lead to identity theft (e.g. Social Security #) if one were to lose the planner

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