How I Manage Anxiety and Life With My Midori Traveler’s Notebooks

Deconstructed Midori Traveler's Notebooks. Image by Jules Sherred
Deconstructed Midori Traveler’s Notebooks. Image by Jules Sherred

I’m late to the world of the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. It wasn’t until a friend showed me how she uses stickers as positive reinforcement that my brain exclaimed, “I need this! This is the best thing, ever!”  Three weeks into using my Midori Traveler’s Notebooks, my anxiety had been dramatically reduced, my overall mood is much better, and I’m falling asleep much faster at night knowing everything is done and not running lists upon lists through my head.

There are two sources for my anxiety: complex PTSD and I’m on the autism spectrum. While the sources may be different, I have managed to find tools that work to reduce my anxiety regardless of the trigger.

Having my autism spectrum brain means I live and die by a schedule. It also means OCD and everything must be in its right place and its own category. Living and dying by a schedule can lead to huge anxiety and internal meltdowns for simple things, like not being on time for an appointment—which actually means arriving 10 minutes early to be considered on-time. The same goes for everything needing to be in an exact certain way. With my Midori Traveler’s Notebooks, I’ve been able to take advantage of that part of my brain and turn it into giving myself rewards.

I used to live and die by my Franklin planner. I’d use it for everything, including scheduling showers, eating, and sleep, to trick my brain into treating it as an appointment so that I wouldn’t get stuck in a task for 12 hours without doing things necessary for life, like eating, bathing, and sleeping. And while it would work for some things, it also caused anxiety in other areas because there was no separation. The result: I was constantly organizing and reorganizing my day planner that had a million sections but they were in all in one place so not really different sections, in order to get the right categorization. It completely negated the other goal of spending less time on compulsive behaviors and spending more time taking care of myself.

I’ve also tried electronic planners and organizers but they were easy for my brain to ignore and I didn’t get the same rewarding feeling I get when writing something down and physically marking something off as completed.

Then, my world was literally forever changed when my friend shows me exactly how she uses her Midori Traveler’s Notebook, which included awesome stickers instead of simple check marks. She told me exactly how she uses hers and immediately I went shopping.

After I went shopping, I decided to watch a bunch of YouTube videos with people showing off their Midori Traveler’s Notebooks. Quickly, I became discouraged because they were really not my style and more about making it look nice rather than functionality. Then, I reminded myself that the great thing about this system is that you can make it whatever you want it to be.

I came up with a plan for my system that I thought would work.

The reason I tell you all of the above is to help you figure out for yourself what you need from your system and to make my system make sense to you, so that you can pick and choose pieces from it or adapt items for your own unique use.

Let’s walk through my system.

What Is a Midori Traveler’s Notebook?

Whenever I tell someone about the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, one of two things happen. The first, they ask, “What is this?” The second most common question is, “What is so great about an expensive piece of leather with an elastic?”

Let me attempt to answer both. Basically, a Midori Traveler’s Notebook is the brand of a specific leather cover, that has an elastic to hold it shut, elastics to add inserts, a bookmark, and specific Midori-brand inserts plus other accessories. When you buy the Midori brand, it also comes with a blank insert. The leather cover is handcrafted. They are expensive if you must have the brand name product. At the bottom of this post is a list of resources of where you can purchase the brand name, purchase fauxdoris, or make your own cover and inserts, plus find other things mentioned in this post.

Midori Traveler's Notebook and Refills. Image by Jules Sherred
Midori Traveler’s Notebook and Refills. Image by Jules Sherred

The Midori Traveler’s Notebook is completely customizable. Traditionally, they were used to document travels, including adding sketches of where you visit. Now, people use them for everything from journaling to an art book; as a planner to a project keeper. You could even use one insert as a bullet journal, if that is how you like to do things.

When I first got my Midori, I only got one.  I was convinced one cover could hold six inserts: three for work and three for personal use; plus a craft folder to hold stickers and other items. Quickly, I realized one cover was not enough. With six inserts, it was cumbersome, difficult to write in, and it wasn’t creating the separation I needed between work and life. When work was over and I was supposed to be relaxing, it was way too easy to flip back to work.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

Part of the reason I got the Midori Traveler’s Notebook was to help me leave work at the end of my work day. I work from a home office. My problem isn’t getting into work-mode. My problem is leaving work at the end of the day and doing the necessary things to remain healthy, both physically and mentally.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

The solution, was to buy another Midori. Now, I have one for work and one for personal. As you read through the anatomy of my Midori Traveler’s Notebooks, keep in mind, I need separation in my life. Everything must be in their own category or place but can be easily cross referenced.

Before adding an insert, I number every odd page in the top-right corner, and I add a title, with dates, on the insert title page.

The Anatomy of my Work Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Work Midori Traveler's Notebook

The first thing that goes into my Midori Traveler’s Notebook is a Refill 020 – Kraft File Folder. It has pockets in the front and back that hold my stickers and sticky tabs.

The first insert is Refill 005 – Daily Planner Grid. It is supposed to be a two-month daily planner, but I use it slightly differently. This insert is 64 pages broken up in to two sections for each month. Each section has days numbering 1 – 31, has a blank space to add a title, and check boxes to select the day of the week. At the beginning of each section is a master index where you can make notes that correspond with the day/page number.

Images by Jules Sherred
Images by Jules Sherred

I use this as a Monday – Friday work planner. In the ‘title’ box, I put the date. I check off the day of the week. On each Monday, I add a tab and write the month and date on in to quickly go back to any week and day. I use the master index to put notes or add quick references.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

On each work day, I write down all tasks for the day, separated by client. At the very top of these tasks, is a “Daily Tasks” area with numbered check boxes that cross-reference with a longer daily tasks index found in my second insert. I do this to save space.

Sometimes, tasks get added the day before if I know what I must do for a client the next day. A lot of days, the list builds as clients contact me for things that must be done now. Other tasks are cross referenced to a longer list of tasks found in my second insert. Each time a task is complete, I give myself a sticker. It really is much more rewarding than just marking something with a checkmark.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

And on extra busy days where I have to juggle five to seven clients, and put out immediate fires that don’t get noted in my daily grid, I give myself extra special stickers as a reward for surviving a stressful day. I also give myself extra special stickers at the end of a week in which I got everything done that I wanted to accomplish.

This insert will last me well over the two months it is intended to last.

My second insert is Refill 002 – Grid. It is also 64 pages. I have small sticky tab notes stuck on the inside of the title page with notes to self of things I must do whenever starting a new client punch list.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

The first half if dedicated to longer punch lists. Currently, I have a tabbed sticky note as a menu. When I am done with this insert, I will be dedicating the first two pages of my next insert to the table of contents as I quickly ran out of room on the tabbed sticky note.

Each client starts on an odd numbered page and continues onto the reverse page. If two pages is not enough room for a punch list, I continue the list on the next free odd numbered page, then add it to the line in the table of contents for that client. Example: CLIENT 1… 1, 5, 11 all on one line.

At the very beginning of the second half of this insert is where my daily to-do list is found for very easy access. This is followed by a page for business blog ideas; then a page for blog posts notes so I don’t forget to mention something; then blog post notes for other sites for which I write. My ‘blog post ideas’ page can be easily cross referenced with my ‘blog post notes’ pages by adding ‘p. x’ after the topic.

This insert should last me at least three months.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

The last insert is Refill 003 – Blank, which has 64 pages. This is simply a sketchbook I use to sketch out website architecture when it will take up less room than writing out the architecture in the punch lists found in my second insert. These pages are also numbered so that I can add the page number of a sketch to the corresponding item in a punch list.

This insert will probably last me through 64 clients, which equals many months, if not a year or two.

As mentioned before, having everything in one cover didn’t allow my brain to leave work at the end of the day. Now, when my work day is done, I close my work Midori, wrap the elastic around it, and leave it in my office when I pack up for the night and move to the living room. Doing this has helped immensely with allowing my brain to switch out of work-mode.

The Anatomy of my Personal Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

The first thing that goes into my personal Midori Traveler’s Notebook is also a Refill 020 – Kraft File Folder. Like with my work Midori, it also holds stickers. In the back of my kraft file folder in this Midori is also postcards. Held in place by the Midori pen holder is the discontinued Mirdori 2016 Traveler’s Limited Edition Pan Am Plastic Sheet, which was extremely hard to find. This is used as a hard writing surface, plus it has a grid and ruler that can also double as a writing guide for blank paper.

The first insert is Refill 019 – Weekly Planner with Memo. It is 64 pages and will last just over six months. The first four pages of this insert, after the title page, is 12 months at-a-glance references. I use the first six months for big appointment or reminders, and the second six months for birthdays. And I use the reverse side of the title page for master reminders, such as, “Don’t forget about Crackle.com and Robotech!” These can easily be copied over when it’s time to replace this insert.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

The weekly section is broken up into two pages for each week. The left page is made of up seven blank sections where you add the date above the day of the week. On the right page is a grid, divided up in seven corresponding sections.

I use the left side for appointments, some chores, and for other things I’d like to accomplish every day. Except for appointments, it’s all “no pressure” things that if my health is acting up, I can easily put it off to another day. On the right side, I have that divided down the middle in to two section: self-care and mindfulness.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

The self-care side is for when I do small things that give me spoons. Historically, I’m really bad at self-care. So, having it there and giving myself motivational stickers when I do something is a great incentive. I must reward myself and get over the guilt that accompanies self-care. An example of this is, “Did not give into ‘must tackle tomorrow today!’ thoughts.”

The mindfulness side is an exercise given to me by my trauma therapist. It’s a really simple exercise that attempts to keep you in the present moment throughout the day so that anxiety has fewer opportunities to take over when triggered. The exercise is: List three things, the simpler the better, every day that made you happy. It must be written down at the time of the event.

Every time I list one, I give myself a sticker. If I manage to be mindful 12 times per week, I give myself special bonus stickers.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

The second insert is Refill 001 – Lined. It, too, is 64 pages. I don’t know how long this insert will last.

The first half of this insert is currently dedicated to the following:

  • Things I need to figure out;
  • I made a funny;
  • Lists of things I need;
  • Things said to me by others that put a huge smile on my face.

Other things will probably be added to it as I go.

The second half is dedicated to paper and pen journaling. Again, I started it in the middle for very easy finding.

And like with the second insert in my work Midori Traveler’s Notebook, it too currently has a tab post it for a table of content. When it’s time to replace this insert, the first two pages will also be dedicated to the table of contents.

Sometimes I use stickers in this insert to add extra happiness to different entries in the first half. I use lots of stickers in the journal half as mindful happy making.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

The last insert is another Refill 003 – Blank. This insert is titled, “Personal Doodles and Happiness Images.” And it’s exactly that. When I’m restless or bored and need to doodle, I doodle. I also put actual photos or other images that make me happy in it. It’s something to quickly look at when I need a quick pick-me-up.

When I’m done with this insert, I’ll probably make a third Midori Traveler’s Notebook cover to house all of these happiness books to have as a master album. The purpose would be to use it as a quick elevation of mood or an anxiety killer by simply flipping through it.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

Everything in my personal Midori Traveler’s Notebook is only positive things and I never put anything work-related in it, except for an upcoming reminder to register for the fall semester at school. Opening it is supposed to calm my anxiety, and simply make me happy and feel accomplished just by looking at it.

Miscellaneous Information About my Midori Traveler’s Notebook System

Aside from the Midori Traveler’s Notebook covers and inserts, there are a couple other Midori-brand accessories that I use. The first is Refill 021 – Connecting Bands. You need these to bind together additional inserts if you are going to use more than two. The connecting bands come with a tutorial. I also purchased Refill 016 – Pen Holder; one black and one brown for each cover.

Also, you may have noticed that my inserts have covers. I made them myself. My work Midori Traveler’s Notebook has business-themed fabric. My personal Midori has Star Trek-themed fabric. I also use the flaps of the inserts to hold stickers and other items. In the near future, I will write a tutorial for making these.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

Sometimes, I really don’t want to do a work task, for whatever reason. I purchased a bunch of emoji stickers. Items to which I’m not looking forward get a poo emoji. When I’ve completed that poo tasks, I add an extra special sticker for getting through it.

I’ve also subscribed to a sticker club. Every month, there are some stickers that arrive that are loose. I’ve added a handmade pouch with Velcro enclosure and keyring to the elastic found at the bottom of the cover to house those stickers and washi tape.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

Because of the way I’ve sectioned off certain inserts, the one built-in bookmark that comes with the Midori Traveler’s Notebook is not enough to quickly find areas. To solve this problem, I simply took some embroidery thread and tied it around the insert holder elastics, creating two additional bookmarks with every thread.

I also purchased a Polaroid ZIP camera to quickly print off happiness photos for my third personal insert. The photos are 2-inches by 3-inches, and have a sticky back.

In my personal Midori Traveler’s Notebook, I also make use of the lined post its with tabs to create master lists for large projects that I don’t want to keep a permanent record off. I also reinforce the tabs with tape, otherwise they get worn and rip very quickly.

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

Resources

You could buy the brand Midori Traveler’s Notebook and inserts on Amazon. However, the inserts and other refills can be more expensive than if you were to purchase them through a different online retailer. Also the shipping can take longer.

If you live in the United States, then I recommend purchasing your Midori Traveler’s Notebook starter kit and refills from Jetpens. Jetpens also has a great comprehensive guided of the Midori Traveler’s Notebook.

If you live in Canada, then I recommend Wonder Pens for all your Midori needs. Not only are they cheaper than Amazon Canada and the shipping is faster, but they also send you hand-written notes and a sticker with every order.

If you don’t want to spend the money for the brand name, then search “fauxdori” on Etsy. Prepare to spend hours in that rabbit hole. If you are looking for a cover for your Midori-brand inserts, then you want to buy the “standard” size.

The sticker club I signed up for is called Stickii. They are awesome. I recommend subscribing on a month-to-month basis. At the end of every month, you receive a newsletter with the next month’s themes, allowing you to unsubscribe or subscribe to a different theme, accordingly.

You can easily create your own cover. Just watch the following tutorial:

You can also easily create your own inserts:

If you’re into tabletop RPGs, check out this RPG insert for your Midori Traveler’s Notebook. You can also find other inserts to print off for free, here.

Finally, all of the non-Stickii club stickers and sticky tabbed inserts I purchased can be found here.

And that is how I use my Midori Traveler’s Notebooks. I hope you found the above information—of which there is a lot—helpful in helping you to come up with a system that works for you.

Jules Sherred is a parent, author, radio personality, blogger and freelance writer, gamer, tech enthusiast, website designer, science nerd, sci-fi freak, hard core Trekker, and has an unnatural obsession with Optimus Prime. He/him/his.