A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Booker-Palooza 2012 Review and Giveaway #4: Frictionless Planning Pad (Entries closed and winner announced)

Welcome to day 4 of Booker-Palooza 2012. This is the fourth givewaway of the week, with one more to follow, so make sure you check tomorrow.

The Review

Is there a prize for out of focus pictures?
Okay, so you're wondering why this is called the "Frictionless" Planner Pad. Does the pen really glide across the page that smoothly?

Well, before I answer that question, I need to point out that "Frictionless" refers to the company. The Frictionless website is all about reducing friction in your life — in your relationships, workflow, daily routine, you name it. These planning pads are one of two products offered for sale at the website to help you accomplish that.

Now, when I bought this, I thought to myself, "$12 seems kind of pricey, and I'm not sure what I'd do with that layout. I'll probably give it away on the blog." And here we are. Another prophecy fulfilled.

The layout is Cornell note-taking on steroids. A Cornell layout has a main notes area, a wide left margin for "calling out" key points, and a wide bottom area for summarizing the notes. The bottom area on this pad looks similar in size to other Cornell layouts I've seen, but the left "call-out" area is very wide, roughly a third of the page. (The Frictionless site describes the layout thus: "Just enough structure to help you plan, but not enough to get in the way.")

Gray and red boxes in top margin; grid in notes and call-out section

 The main writing area and call-out section have a grid ruling. I measured roughly 2.5 mm per square. Think of a typical Rhodia or Moleskine graph with each existing square made into four smaller squares. The summary area at the bottom is solid gray. (I could be off a little on the size of the squares. I found it easier to write on every other line on this paper than I do writing every line on a 5mm grid.)

The 50 sheets of 8.5 in. x 11 in. paper are, according to the website, "70lb. premium smooth uncoated stock to handle anything you can throw at them."  It pretty much lives up to that promise. I tried out half a dozen pen/ink combinations. The ink tends to spread, but without feathering, and more so with some inks than others. Platinum blue-lack delivered via a $3 Preppy seemed to do best; Noodler's Navy was the worst. Everything else was in between. But all of the fountain pen inks worked better in the call-out area than the notes area. The few gels, rollerballs, and ballpoints I tried all worked great on this paper.

You don't have to worry much about bleedthrough. First, because there isn't much (Noodler's Navy being the worst offender again.) Second, there's no ruling on the reverse.

The only thing I really disliked about this pad is that the backing is not very sturdy as a writing surface. Take this pad off your desk, and you'd better have some other surface to rest it on before you can write on it easily.

The glued binding was a nice change of pace from the usual perforated pages. Pages remove cleanly, and you don't have to be so careful about leaving some behind. It might make it a little less durable on the road, though.

The reason my giveaway prediction came true is that I cannot come up with a really good way for me to utilize the layout of this paper. Everything about the pad (with the exception of the backing) is great. If I had a practical way to use the layout, I'd definitely keep it.

The Giveaway

You can enter by email, by commenting, or by both. It's perfectly OK for you to enter both ways. Not everyone is necessarily going to take the time to do that (very few did on the first giveaway), so entering both ways may increase your chances of winning.

To enter by email, send an email to me at notebookeresqATgmail.com, with the following word, and ONLY the following word, in the subject line:

Lower case or upper case doesn't matter, as long as your email reaches me by 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, Friday morning, September 7. You may send only one email per person.

To enter by commenting, click in the comment field, then use one of the login methods displayed or click in the NAME field to comment as a guest. Please note that if you log in using your Twitter or Facebook account, I will not have your email and will not be able to contact you directly if you win. In that case, you'll have to return to this post to see if you are the announced winner and claim your prize. (If you are concerned about privacy, note that your email will not display in the comment.) Your comment must be timestamped no later than 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, Friday, September 7.

Good luck, and check back tomorrow for giveaway number 5 — the last giveaway of Booker-Palooza 2012! The last giveaway post will go up at 12:01 a.m. the morning of Friday, September 7, and entries in the giveaway will be accepted for 24 hours. Then, sadly, Booker-Palooza 2012 will be over.

UPDATE: The winner is . . . Millicent, who was also a winner of a Doane Paper A4 pad. I swear I don't know her, folks. She's just lucky this week. And, there haven't been that many entries, so the odds of a double winner have been pretty good.



  1. It's all news to me - the brand, the format, the whole concept. Thanks for the informative review!

  2. I have to admit I'll probably just use this as a regular old notepad if I win it, but still, it's an interesting concept. So much seems geared to helping people save time these days, it's a clever marketing strategy anyway.

  3. Count me in...Thanks,

  4. I've been following Aaron Mahnke and Frictionless for a while and would love to try this pad out!

  5. The pad looks nice. I use the cards (the ones that used dots instead of grid line) and really like them.

  6. This notepad looks really neat. I'm not sure how I'd use it, but I'm sure I'd think of something!

  7. Sure could make use of these. Thanks!

  8. Perfect for meetings, with a clipboard ...

  9. Would work great for mapping things out in planning meetings at work!

  10. Would love to try this!

  11. I want this! I would write my "to dos" in one column.

  12. Interesting format. I would love to give it a try. Thank you for the opportunity!