Ink+Volt was created by Kate Matsudaira and started as the Spark Notebook, which launched with the assistance of a 2014 Kickstarter. The Kickstarter aimed to raise $14,000 and ended up with $138,572. After receiving feedback from their community, they launched another Kickstarter in 2015 to make a planner version of the Spark Notebook. This raised $460,602. There was definitely a response to Matsudaira’s idea!
Matsudaira brings her years of experience as a technology executive and software engineer to crafting a planner that is as functional as it is elegant. While her original target audience was (presumably) business professionals, she has since broadened her approach. The Ink+Volt planner is a beautiful, sophisticated book that can help you stick to your goals and always have a space to write down that next great idea–no matter where you are.
The Ink+Volt Planner has gone through a few name changes while Matsudaira and her team found their groove. From the Spark Planner to the undated Volt Planner and now the Ink+Volt Planner, this book has been carefully evaluated at each turn to bring you something better each year. As they say on their website:
From the moment Kate printed the first book her goal was to make this into something that evolved through feedback and would be refined over time. With each version of the planner Kate makes updates and improvements to layout, materials, everything. And that same philosophy of continuous iterative improvement is core to Ink+Volt.
The Ink+Volt Planner is $40 for the signature edition (in black, beige, or navy) and $45 for one of the limited edition options (several colors to choose from) plus shipping ($6.75 ground shipping). Shipping is free for orders over $100. I am reviewing the 2018 Signature edition of the ink+volt planner in black, which the lovely folks over at Ink+Volt were kind enough to send me.
The Ink+Volt Planner was designed as a workhorse paper machine that helps you set goals, achieve them, and track your path throughout the 2018 year.
The first page of this planner is the nameplate page. It is simple and embraces white space. Then you turn to the 2018 and 2019 years at a glance, one on each page.
As the Ink+Volt Planner is a product that helps you focus on your goals, the beginning pages include prompts to help you Bring Your Year Into Focus. There is definitely power in writing things down. Thoughtful questions like “What do you want to leave behind this year?” can help you shake off whatever is holding you back from achieving your goals. Although the box you get for writing/drawing/stickering in your vision for 2018 is not a two-page vision board spread, it still helps you document your hopes for the year ahead.
Next, you get a 2018 Theme page, which encourages you to choose a theme for 2018 and then write down yearly goals on a checklist. This could be a bucket list, a way to track a huge, overarching project like a dissertation, or just a list of goals you would like to challenge yourself to complete this year. There is also some blank space at the bottom of the spread for anything additional.
Then you move immediately into the monthly layout, which is spread over two pages. The monthly spread has a Sunday start and the weekend days (Saturday and Sunday) are shaded in gray. There is a Focus box on the righthand side of the layout and a column for Notes in a dot grid format. Each week is numbered–if you look closely you can see the low-opacity “CW 1” in the top lefthand corner of the first Sunday box. Each week thereafter is numbered throughout the planner. There is plenty of white space at the top of the pages, as the heading (“January 2018”) takes up very little space.
Each month has a Goals page, where you can write in This Month, I Will… items on a checklist. The bottom half of the page is a dot grid where you can write notes, brainstorm ideas, or fill in however you like.
There is also a 31-Day Challenge page, which encourages you to commit to something for 31 days. The format is open and stated simply with the prompt “For the next 31 days I want to…” This could be used as a habit tracker, a pledge of productivity, or whatever else you may need an extra kick of motivation to start doing. There is even a day-by-day log where you can keep track of whether or not you did what you pledged to do. One of the details I love about this page is that there is a place for you to sign your name and pledge your commitment to fulfilling your 31-day challenge!
This planner includes a four-page weekly spread, separated into two sections: (1) Weekly Goals, and (2) Weekly Outlook.
The Weekly Goals pages include a journaling prompt on one page and a catch-all space for goal setting and reflection on the other. The prompt changes each week, and is one of my favorite things about the Ink+Volt planner. You get timely, thought-provoking, and mindful prompts and almost a full page of dot grid for writing out your response.
For example, the first week of January 2018 is: “A fresh start means fresh possibilities. What are some ways that you can make the next 12 months incredibly awesome?” Flip forward several months and the first week of July 2018 is: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. What small things have caused you irritation lately? How can you take a step back and see the BIG picture, letting go of the stress associated with these steps?”
Then you get the Weekly Goals page, which has plenty of lines with checkboxes for your weekly tasks and/or goals, a box to Reflect + Celebrate, and a small reminder to review your yearly goals, monthly goals, last week’s progress, and your 31-day challenge.
The second part of the Weekly spread is the Weekly Outlook. This has a Monday start and includes a column for each day with a shared Saturday and Sunday space. There are three low-opacity sections for Morning, Noon, and Night, but they are laid out in such a way that you can completely write over them if you so choose. This speaks to the flexibility of this planner. There is structure if you want it, but you can also choose to do something different with the layout.
There is also a decent chunk of white space on the top of the pages. Personally, I think it’s a little too much white space given the size of the book, but those of you who love a good blank space for decorating, keeping extra notes, or aesthetic pleasure will like the generous white space in the Ink+Volt Planner.
At the end of the planner, you get a page for reflection. You set goals at the beginning of 2018, and Ink+Volt wants you to reflect on those goals and dreams that you wrote down for yourself. The questions are simple but pointed and overall positive.
There is also a page for 2018 Achievements. This is wonderful because it prompts you to flip to this spread every time you achieve something that you’re proud of and record it. As you do this, the 2018 Achievements page becomes a sort of “Happy Page” that you can return to every time you feel a little down. The format is completely open, too. You can be proud of achieving something as big as that promotion at work, or as big as quitting your day job to focus on your passion. It can be seemingly small, like remembering to dust every week or keeping up with your planner for a solid three months. This page is all about you, and all about recording your process.
The planner ends, as most do, with some notes pages. There are about ten pages in all and each one is dot grid. You can use these for whatever you like–there are no restrictions.
These planners measure a portable 6″ x 8.5″, which make them great for taking on the go. They are 100% made in the USA, have a lay-flat binding design, and use soy-based inks and rainforest friendly paper. The pages are a bright white and the text is crisp.
These books are about 1″ thick, so they pack in quite a lot! You get 280 pages, and each one is discreetly numbered. The paper is smooth and just the tiniest bit glossy and acid-free.
The cover is a matte, smooth material that looks slightly more textured than it is. When I run my hand along it I don’t see any sign of fingerprints left behind. It makes the planner a pleasure to hold and handle. The back cover has the logo Ink+Volt stamped in at the bottom center of the book. The binding is unembellished.
The immediate page inside the planner is a textured cardstock protecting the pages within. This same textured cardstock is present at the end of the planner as well, where you will also find a pocket folder affixed to the inside back cover.
There are two page ribbons (in differing colors) to help you keep your place in the planner. Maybe one for the month and one for the week, or one to bring you back to your weekly goals and the other someone in the notes. However you prefer to use them, they are there. This is especially handy because this planner does not have tabbed sections. If you are the type of planner who really cares about being able to flip to your month immediately, then the second ribbon will be a huge help.
This planner does an excellent job of gorgeously and effectively using typography. Ink+Volt uses a consistent combination of serif and sans serif fonts. Large headings and bigger blocks of text use a crisp serif font that adds a flair of sophistication to this book. Subheadings and smaller headings are given an all-caps sans serif font in regular to semi-bold weight.
Throughout most of the planner, writing space is provided via dot grid versus lined format. This choice really emphasizes the clean and minimalist aesthetic of the ink+volt planner. Saturday & Sunday are denoted with a gray fill on both the weekly and monthly spreads. This visual choice helps you immediately pick out the weekends.
This planner looks sophisticated and feels clean and elegant. While I wish there was more use of the space for weekly spreads (I think there is a little too much white space considering the size of the pages), the layout does reinforce a minimalist aesthetic. This planner is also non-gender conforming. Its sleek and minimal look makes it a perfect fit for anyone–men, women, non-gender-binary conforming individuals, etc.
The binding is tight and the overall quality of this planner is high. The cover feels sturdy and soft, the pages are smooth and bright, and the minimalist design decisions make this a quality product with lots of space for your goals, ideas, plans, and tasks.
You know how this starts–pen test!!
The paper used in the 2018 Ink+Volt Planner is 70lb. and smooth but porous–I do not recommend using felt-tip pens in this planner, with the exception of Micron pens. The paper absorbs the ink in a way that makes the felt tip pens look a little less crisp than they might normally appear. Super inky pens will need time to dry or they might smear. I think the best pens for this planner are fine ballpoint pens like the Pilot Easy Touch and the Pentel R.S.V.P. The Pentel Slicci is also an excellent option–the finer the point, the more you are going to get out of the space in this planner.
I will say that my photos make the paper look a little thinner than it is, especially after the pens had a moment to dry. The paper holds ink quite well and doesn’t bleed–except for the Sharpie Permanent Market, as always.
This planner would be a great fit for someone who wants a portable book that carries their life. Do you want to look professional AF in the office and on the go? This planner will help you achieve that vibe. It is a sophisticated and well-made book that’s sure to impress.
If you are struggling with goal setting, this planner will help you pull out and articulate yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. This planner is for the goal setter and go-getter. If you want a planner that motivates you without pushing you to the point of overwhelm, then this would be a great option for you. The weekly journaling prompts are especially gentle with encouraging you to reflect and develop strong, attainable goals.
I think that the four-page weekly layout is a great way to have it all without trying to have it all on two pages. You can keep your agenda in the Weekly Overview section and your goals and tasks on the Weekly Goals pages. I think this layout is especially helpful for people who work on multiple projects or do project-based work, like consultants or public program coordinators. My husband is an Economist and his work involves shifting projects, and he’s been eyeing my Ink+Volt Planner since it arrived!
I would recommend this planner to someone who wants a sleek, minimalist book with no frills but more content than, say, Moleskine. If you have always wanted a weekly instead of a daily planner but constantly feel forced into using daily planners because a two-page weekly spread just wasn’t enough, then give the Ink+Volt Planner a go.
When I was exploring this planner, I realized how helpful it would be in providing structure and accountability to people who work from home, especially in a freelance capacity. Writers, designers, marketing consultants, etc. would all find this planner beneficial in keeping track of an ad hoc schedule and self-administered goals.
I would not recommend this planner to someone who is more interested in using their planner for managing a busy schedule than for setting goals (nothing wrong with that! Different folks plan differently!) The Ink+Volt Planner is focused on goals, so if goal-setting is not your jam, look elsewhere. I would also not recommend this planner for someone who loves decorating with stickers and washi, simply because it’s book-bound and will bulge if you fill up too many pages with stickers. But by all means, go for it with your Tombow pens!
I love that this planner is sleek and elegant and manages to be minimalist in aesthetic while still offering an impressive amount of content. I love the inclusion of weekly journaling or reflection prompts, which remind you to be mindful every week. I love this planner’s approach to the weekly layout–using four pages and separating schedules and goals is genius. I also happen to think that the paper in this planner smells good.
I really think an elastic closure band would take this planner one step further. Otherwise, I think that this planner could make better use of the space available on its pages. There is a lot of white space on the Weekly Overview pages, and while it is pleasing to the eye, I think that the design could be improved to better use that space.
There you have it! My review of the 2018 Ink+Volt Planner! I hope you found this helpful, and of course if you have/use an Ink+Volt Planner, I’d love to hear about how you are liking it! Also happy to answer any additional questions! Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you. 🙂
Until next time!