Moleskine PIM Hack

Updated on 2021-08-24



In 2009 I was searching the Internet for ideas of how to make a paper PIM (personal information manager). I came across a blog post by a Japanese lady named AK, where she detailed how she used a large Moleskine squared notebook to make a personal PIM/diary.

Note: The link to AK’s blog post may generate a javascript error window. If so, just click the OK button. The post is old and probably uses outdated javascript code.

One thing that turned me off to using a paper PIM was the difficulty of locating specific notes. I can’t remember exactly how or why, but I came across a post by Joel Lee on the Make Use Of site with tips on making a Moleskine notebook more useful. Three of those tips were: circle to-do lists, organizing note pages by quadrant, and creating an index for notes.

I create my Moleskine PIM for the calendar year. If you’re a student or teacher, you could create your PIM for the school year, starting on August/September, as applicable, and ending with the month prior to the start of the school year.

Some may ask, “Why use a paper planner? I always have my smartphone with me and there are plenty of calendar and planner apps that I can or do use.” Matt Reinstetle wrote a post on The Penny Hoarder site that discusses why some people may prefer a paper planner over a digital planner.

Unlike AK, I do not glue pages together. Yes, writing on the opposite pages does show through, but it’s not enough to bother me. The combination of AK’s Moleskine diary hack, Joel Lee’s tips, and some of my own little tweaks led to the current Moleskine PIM format that I currently use. It takes me many hours to create my Moleskine PIM, but I immensely enjoy using it.

Required Supplies

I recently purchased the Uni-Ball Jetstream Sport 0.7mm ballpoint pen and I’m smitten. The Uni-Ball Jetstream is the smoothest writing ballpoint pen I’ve ever used and it doesn’t smear at all. I also purchased a 3-pack (red, blue, and black ink) of the Uni-Ball Jetstream RT 1.0mm ballpoint pen just to compare the 0.7mm against the 1.0mm. I prefer using the 0.7mm for writing in my Moleskine PIM. The 1.0mm is nice for writing checks and signing documents though.

I like the Uni-Ball Jetstream so much that I’m considering replacing the Uni-Ball Signo 207 gel pens with a similar set of Uni-Ball Jetstream Color 0.7mm pens. The Uni-Ball Signo 207 gel pens write well in my Moleskine PIM, but the ink tends to smear and transfer to the opposite page unless you wait a minute or two after writing.

One thing that concerns me about making the replacement is the fact that the Uni-Ball Jetstream Color is only available in a body with a plastic end. The Uni-Ball Signo 207 gel pen is available with a metal end. In my many years of using ballpoint pens, I’ve found that ballpoint pens with a plastic body tend to crack over time. I’ll see how the Uni-Ball Jetstream Sport holds up and if I don’t experience cracking at the body end, I may go ahead and replace my Uni-Ball Signo 207s with the Uni-Ball Jetstream Color.

Following are a couple of posts to help guide you in selecting a possible pen candidate for writing in your Moleskine PIM:

Moleskine PIM Organization

There are 240 pages in a Moleskine large squared hardback notebook, 238 which are usable. The pages of the notebook for the PIM hack are used as follows:

  • 2 pages for the year view
  • 24 pages for the month view
  • Approximately 104 pages for the week view
  • 24 pages for monthly budgets
  • Remainder for notes, notes index, and task lists
Uni-Ball Ink Color Usage
  • Black/dark blue: regular dates in the month view, days of week and date in week view, page numbers on notes, tasks, and index sections
  • Light blue: month and year in month view; month, year, julian date, and week number in week view; month, year, and column titles for monthly budgets; page titles for notes index and task lists
  • Red: federal holidays, important notes, tasks, etc.
  • Purple/violet: non-federal holidays, special dates, etc.
  • Orange: Tasks in month and week views
  • Pink: precipitation events in week view
  • Green: pay day indicator in month and week views
3M Post-It File Tab Usage

1-inch tabs:

  • Yellow: current month in month view
  • Blue: current week in week view
  • Red: current month in monthly budgets
  • Lime green: Notes
  • Pink: Notes index
  • Orange: Tasks

0.625-inch tabs:

I use a green tab to mark the current page being used in the Notes section.

Year View

I call it a year view, but it actually contains a year view plus the first four months of the following year. I predominantly use this as an aid in creating the month views. Once I’m done creating the month views, I really don’t use the year view that often. The numbers to the left of the vertical lines for the month calendars are the week numbers. The circles around the days of the month in the following image are the result of my forgetting to write the day of the month, e.g. a federal holiday, with the appropriate color pen.

Month View

The month view provides a quick overview of appointments, tasks, holidays, etc. You can also use the month view to jot down quick notes, phone numbers, Internet links, etc. Although it can be a bit of a challenge (reference the error I made in the first image below), I like to use more of the month view for notes than AK’s original format.  The numbers on the right side written sideways are the week numbers.  In the future, I will also add the julian date (day of year) for the Monday of the week.

Week View

The week view affords more writing area, so you can provide more detail about appointments, special days, etc. I also like to use the week view as somewhat of a journal to jot down health issues, special occurrences, etc. I found myself sometimes needing more space to write things on Saturdays and Sundays, so next year I’m going to try using the full width of the page for both days. To accomplish the wider writing area for Saturdays and Sundays, I had to reduce the number of lines for Thursday and Friday; reference the second image below. The number at the top left is the julian date (day of year) of Monday and the letters WK and number at the top right is the week number.

Monthly Budgets

I use monthly budgets in my Moleskine PIM to track discretionary, grocery, and petrol budgets.


I don’t write many notes. I usually just write down email addresses I might need, bank mailing addresses, parts information for auto repair maintenance, DIY cleaner recipes, and tasks I complete so that I can quickly locate them rather than writing them down in the week/month view.

If you have recurring notes that you use from year to year, you can create a document using your favored word-processing program, print the document out, and then use a desired method to adhere the printout to one of the Moleskine pages. I’ve found using transparent tape around the edges of the printout to work fine.

Notes Index

The notes index is used to record the page number and brief description of what is on the page. The notes index enables you to quickly locate specific notes.


I use the tasks area to write down tasks that I need/want to accomplish over the year. However, instead of using Joel Lee’s circle to-do lists technique, I decided to just create a column of boxes.

Shading Key:

  • Blank — not started
  • Diagonal line — started working on task
  • Half shaded square — task partially completed
  • Full shaded square — task completed
  • X — task no longer required or I decided not to do it
  • 3 parallel lines — text continuation from previous line
ID/Personalize Your Moleskine PIM

I use a Sharpie fine tip black permanent marker to ID/personalize my Moleskine PIM by writing my initials, the year covered, and the word PIM on the top, bottom and side page edges.  The marker bleeds a little bit into the pages, but it’s not bad. The image below shows the word Planner. I’ve decided to start using PIM from 2020 onward.


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