Sunday, 30 August 2015

Traveller's Journal - update

Stamford Notebook Co.
Traveller's Journal

I've now been using the Stamford Notebook Co.'s Traveller's Journal since June 15th so it's time to tell you how well it's working out. I blogged about the set-up here.

Order of stuff in the TJ:
At the front, I have the zipped pocket/two slip-pockets Midori insert (Midori 008, blogged about here). That's wrapped around a card-holder insert (Midori 007, blogged about in the same blog post).
I did have them around separate elastics, but then slipped them around the same one so the cards are in the middle.
Then there is a Moleskine (spit, spit, spit... horrible quality, NEVER buying them again) cahier with the week plus notes diary.
At the back is another Moleskine cahier (still spit, spit, spit, horrible quality, never buying it again) - this one is lined and is for notes.

How it's all been working out:
The home-made week plus notes diary (blogged about a lot - see here for main post) is working REALLY well. I may not continue blocking the RHS into eight zones next year, but I will continue to write next-action lists based on life areas. The only reason I might not block the RHS out into eight equally sized blocks is because I sometimes need more space on some things than I do on others.

Week plus notes diary
The tracking boxes are also working really well and remind me to do stuff I keep forgetting to do!

The notes cahier is also useful - I've always had a notes section in my Filofax, so no great surprise there.

The Midori inserts are okay. Because there's no pen holder in the TJ, I've popped an erasable pen (uni-ball signo TSI; freebie from Cult Pens!) in the zipped pocket and that's okay as long as I don't have a lot of cash. If I do have a lot of cash, the pocket gets a bit bulky with the pen in there too.
The cards can sometimes seem a bit loose in the card holder. They won't fall out, but sometimes they do move significantly towards the outer part of the slot. For a couple of them I've put two cards in because the slot really has seemed too loose and things were almost falling out. Likewise with the slip-in pockets (other side of the zipped pocket insert) - receipts almost fall out and the paper money in there feels like it's held very loosely. I'm contemplating getting something else to hold the wallet aspects of it all but I'm not sure what. Suggestions? (Remembering I'm based in the UK and shipping from the US can be prohibitively expensive).

What I do miss is an address book. Yes, I'm only needing to look for addresses at home and yes, I have them in a Filofax at home but for some reason I want them in the TJ. Though probably not enough to get an address book insert for the TJ! I know - go figure...

Other than those minor niggles, it's still working out well for me.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Quo Vadis APB 2 - update

It lies flat!

It lies flat!!

Look away now if you like your stuff pristine...

Okay. It was a bit resistant and so I broke its spine in a few several places and now it lies flat just fine.

However, it now looks like this:

A bit battered
Major spinal injuries!
Less pretty; more useful though

But, it lies flat!

So, for those of you who like the thought of the APB 2 but wanted it to lie flat (and don't mind beating it into submission), then rest assured, it will lie flat!

I started near the start of the diary, opening it out (hideous cover removed) and flattening out the pages, then I decided that the best solution would be to go to the middle and work outwards. I found the middle of the book and then bent it completely back on itself so that the two covers were touching. This (naturally) broke its spine (something I would hate to do on most books!!). I then worked my way out, section by section, re-breaking the spine at each junction between sets of pages and again at the mid-point of each block of pages.

I realise this is quite brutal, but my stationery has to work for me! I didn't buy it to look at! I bought it so it would work! This wasn't going to work if it wouldn't lie flat. I don't care that it looks a bit really quite battered. It's not going to be out and about with me as it's my daily planner and will sit on my desk.

Has anyone else brutalised some stationery to make it work for them?

Monday, 17 August 2015

Quo Vadis APB 2 - review

[Sorry for the lack of posts - a family crisis pulled me away from pretty much everything! All is well now though!]

Quo vadis APB 2 diary

Today's review is of the Quo Vadis APB 2 daily diary for 2016. I bought this to use as a better quality version of the reporter's notebook that I've been using as my day-planner! In the reporter's notebook, I've drawn a line down the middle of the page, added times to the LHS and then used the LHS to time-box activities and the RHS for to do lists, notes and so on. This has been working brilliantly (except on weeks when family crises occur and throw all my planning out the window...), but I thought I would try a 'proper' daily diary with a similar layout for next year.

Enter the Quo Vadis APB 2.

I ordered mine from Bureau Direct (no affiliation, just a long-term, happy customer) and asked for the black cover. It arrived (as ever from Bureau Direct) well packed and very promptly. Click on any picture to enlarge.

First impressions:
1. It comes with a vinyl cover in a 'pebbled leather' effect. That's hideous and I'm going to be removing it. I may put the diary in another slip cover, but I may just leave it coverless. It isn't a diary that will be going out and about with me, it will just sit on my desk. If I feel really inspired, I will re-cover it.

Pretty hideous cover
With vinyl cover removed

2. It probably won't lie flat without some brutal treatment. Which is fine as I have been known to be brutal with things to make them lie flat! It's disappointing in many ways though as I think it might annoy me. The alternative (if it really won't lie flat) will be dismember it and put it in a ring-binder.

3. The line spacing is tiny! We're talking 3.5mm line spacing!

Seriously narrow line spacing!

4. Apart from the line-spacing, the layout is great! It has timed slots down the LHS which I can use for time-boxing and space on the RHS for notes, to-do lists etc. There is also space at the bottom for other jottings (and sadly, one of those daft little calendars that are neither use nor ornament, but hey ho).

5. There are tear-off corners so you can flip to the right day without needing a bookmark.

6. There is a plethora of languages on each page which makes it a bit busy

7. There are maps and other information pages. I will probably use the address pages as space to write my monthly goals (or ignore them altogether...). The maps I might colour in if I'm bored. I never really need most of the extra pages in a diary to be honest! I know others love them though.

Front page
Info page
Holiday dates (to fill in)
2016 calendar
What a double spread looks like
(Saturday and Sunday get a page each)

2017 calendar
First of several maps
More maps
Address pages
List of Public Holidays for 2016
(plus signs of my brutality, making it open flat!)

I haven't done any pen tests on it yet - I'll post again when I have.

Does anyone else use this format? How have you found it?

Thursday, 6 August 2015

My Traveller's Journal Set-up

Stamford Notebook Company Traveller's Journal

Okay, so I bit the bullet (see this post) and moved into my Stamford Notebook Company Traveller's Journal. How have I set it up and how is it working out?

1. How have I set it up?
The SNC Traveller's Journal came with the booklets held in with leather cord and a leather cord to wrap around a button on the front to close it (see photo above). I've changed both of those. My inserts are held in with elastic cord. I've got 4 cords in total, threaded through the two holes (so yes, they are in the same place inside, but it's working without any problem - the inserts just move to the side). I found the leather cord too thick around the inserts so writing on the page was affected. It looked nice (and different to other Traveller's Notebooks/Journals) but it wasn't all that practical.
I've also swapped the leather cord that acted as a closure for an elastic loop that is secured to the back of the cover with a couple of buttons (to stop it falling off), but I may move back to the leather cord because I quite liked it. It's just that it makes a big lump in the back of the cover where the knot in the cord is and it's hard to write in the notebooks with it in.

Any organiser I use has to act as wallet, diary, planner and notebook or I'm lost. I've tried having them separate but I invariably leave the house without one and then find I need it. Hence the set-up I have.

First up are two Midori inserts - the zipped pocket and the credit-card holder. I have these around the first two elastics, with the zipped pocket first then the credit-card holder.

Coins go in the zipped pocket. I can't cope with not being able to see my coins now, having used a clear pocket for several years. I like to know when I go to pay for something whether I have enough change or whether I need to split a note. The zipped pocket insert is pretty sturdy and holds the coins well. I sometimes have my Zebra diary pen/pencil in here too as I haven't put any kind of pen loop in there yet.

Coins in the zipped pocket at the front

The other half of the zipped pocket insert has two slip pockets. I have paper money in one side and I put receipts and vouchers in the other side. For some reason, I thought I was short of card slots and so I put a stick-on one on the back of the slip-pocket. I could unstick it but I'm happy to leave it there!

Slip pockets. The paper behind them is to hide my cards

Next up are cards. I don't really want to show you them. I'm sure you all have enough imagination to be able to picture bank and credit and store cards in a plastic card holder. It holds three per side and 12 in total. I use one for stamps. The slots are quite loose and so some cards are doubled up.
Then comes the home-made week + notes diary in the (horrible) Moleskine cahier. The washi tape and sellotape holding it together are because I was slicing out some pages I had been experimenting on and sliced a bit too close to the spine! The stamps and washi are me just playing about. To be honest, I rarely even see the cover!

Paper is hiding my cards. The notebook on the right is my week + notes diary
The week + notes layout

I've deliberately photographed an empty week! But it hopefully gives you a bit of an idea about the layout. On the left are the days and a box for tracking things; on the right, the page is divided into eight - six life-areas (currently unlabelled), 'other' and 'next week'. Tasks and to-do items are assigned to one of the boxes and the next week box is so that I know what's coming up as I am pathologically incapable of turning the page and looking.

The day stamps on the diary side come from a set I bought from eBay. The Things to Do stamp came from Hema. I use the Things to Do stamp to write down my most important tasks for the day. The rest of my day planning is still being done in a reporter's notebook that stays on my desk. I use that to block off time for tasks and as a general scribble pad and then throw it away when it's finished. Despite having written the date range of the diary on the front cover, I'm likely to throw that away when it's finished too. Don't all gasp in horror. I keep a separate diary in which I jot important things about the day that I will want to remember in the future, and knowing that I needed to arrange a chimney sweep in such and such week is never going to be important to me and so stays in planners that I throw away when they're done. It's a planner. I plan in it. Once the plan is finished, why would I want to keep it?
[Sorry - I've never understood why people do, unless they are planning and journalling in the same thing, which is also a concept that defeats me - why would you want to muddle all that up?]

Anyway, moving on...

After the diary is another (hateful) Moleskine cahier that I am just using up to use up. I will never buy them again. I learned my lesson. I'm using it as a scribble pad. In it are going order numbers (crossed out when the item arrives), books to look out for, things to remember to do (noted down while I'm out and about; things that occur to me at home tend to go on the reporter's notebook page) etc.

Back of the week + notes diary (l); notes cahier (r)

Okay, that's the set-up...

2. How is it working out?
It's been working out really well so far. The footprint of the Traveller's Journal is bigger than a personal Filofax but the layout is working much better for me and the overall weight is about the same as a personal Filofax (though more than a slimline, naturally). The larger footprint is no problem as it's not really much heavier/larger than the Filofax and to be honest, the better layout of the planning bit more than makes up for it. Being able to see my weekly tasks, set out in the different life areas makes me see where I end up doing too much and what I still have to do in the week. Using time-boxing in the daily plan in the reporter's notebook stops me from overloading a day (and procrastinating!). It's all working pretty well at the moment.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

I STILL do not get monthly pages...

This week, over on Philofaxy, there were several posts in the list of Web Finds for August 1st that featured how to use the monthly spread. I read them keenly - the monthly pages are something I can NEVER get to work for me. Maybe seeing how others use them would help?

I still don't get them.

Absolutely NO disrespect to all of you who use the monthly pages and who make them work well for you, but I really cannot seem to make them work for me. I either want to put too much stuff in the boxes and then can't see the wood for the trees, or I put too little stuff in and miss it. Or I don't transfer information to my weekly pages. Since I have the rest of the year in my week to view (or week + notes) to hand, I would never put an appointment in the monthly pages - I would put it straight into the weekly ones. If it's for a date after the end of the year, I write it on the last page/in the notes pages and transfer it to the new diary when I have it.

If I need an overview of the month, I flip through the weekly pages. Each month, when I'm working out what I want to get done in the next month, I look at my next tasks/project lists and the pages of my weekly diary and allocate tasks based on how much is already in that week. I don't have many externally imposed deadlines, but I impose deadlines on myself and allocate accordingly. Birthdays get written into the weekly diary when I buy it and reminders to send cards/presents/arrange something are put in the weekly diary, the appropriate number of days before the birthday.

When I plan out my week, I use a combination of the weekly pages and a daily scratch pad to sketch out my days. I allocate tasks to each day when I do my weekly review (usually on a Sunday) and then at the start of each day I draft out, using time-boxes, when those tasks will get done.

I have tried and tried monthly pages! I've tried them in my Filofax to be able to reduce the number of weekly pages that I need to carry, but I just hated it - the boxes were too small. I've tried sketching out a month on A4 squared paper so that I can have it on my desk to make me see what I have on for the month, but I then pile books on top of it/don't fill it in/feel as if the whole month is empty because not enough detail of my day to day schedule is on there...

I've come to the conclusion that if it ain't broke, don't try and fix it and despite admiring those who can really work the monthly pages, I have had to accept that I will just not be one of them!

Anyone else find the monthly sheets difficult to work out? Or am I alone on this??

Saturday, 25 July 2015

I should just bite the bullet, right?

I've been running two systems alongside each other for a few weeks - my Adelphi slimline which is acting as wallet, diary and address book alongside my Traveller's Journal which has my home-made week + notes in it.

The Adelphi is great as a wallet and carry-around diary (and addresses though I don't use them much) but what I am looking at to see what I'm meant to be doing each day is the Traveller's Journal week + notes. The TJ isn't coming out and about with me, but it could. I have the card-holder insert and the zipped pocket insert from Midori and it would be a piece of cake to move money and cards over. The inserts are in fact IN the TJ already, just empty.

So why am I persisting in running the two alongside each other?
Because I have my Filofax already set up for the year with all the dates written into the diary? True - but I have the diary in the TJ too and seriously - it would be a half hour job to check that the same info is in the TJ as I have in the Filofax diary.
Because it's too easy to leave it all as it is and have the TJ open on my desk and the Adelphi as a carry around? Hm. It is, but I've already spotted that I've written something in the Adelphi that I didn't transfer across to the TJ and running two diaries? That way madness lies! And missed appointments.

The fact is, I am not looking at the diary in the Adelphi and I've begun to not actually like it either. I am basically using the Adelphi as a wallet and no kind of planning tool. I've noted some appointments in it when I've been out at Rotary and things have been arranged, but for actually working out what I'm doing with my day/week, I am only looking at the week + notes I made myself. And yes, it's in the hateful Moleskine (still!) but no, I can't be bothered to make another one for what's left of 2015. The Moleskine is working okay (as long as I don't want to write in ink!). If it all goes well, I can change to the Rhodia version in 2016.

I should just bite the bullet and move the money across and see how it goes, right? The fact I've written out the dates on the Tomoe River diary in the Filofax shouldn't be the reason I'm not moving into the TJ. Right? Right??

What do people think?

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Hema Haul!

Well, I managed to waste spend quite a while on the Hema site the other day, and this is my haul:
  • Some C6 stripy envelopes
  • Some self-inking stamps
  • A5 notebook with ziplock
  • Stickers of cartoon jungle animals
  • A 2015-16 academic diary
  • Some stick-on envelopes
  • Storage tin
[but no, Steve, it did not include a selfie-stick...]

I'm not going to review each of these in detail (because I haven't had time to play with them all yet!) but I'll show you each of them and also give a bit of feedback about using the site.

Feedback about the site:
There's a lot of stuff on the site and it's easy to spend HOURS on there! A lot of things are pretty cheap and there is a danger that you then chuck a load of things in the basket that you don't really need (I know - is that phrase actually applicable to stationery??). There is also a slight oddity in that some items have a minimum order of two (or three) of the item. This doesn't seem to be related to price - there are some things that are £1 on there and you can order one of them; there are things that are £2.50 and you have to order at least two. For many things, that's all fine but on some of them I was thinking that I didn't really need two of them and was a bit irritated by being forced into getting two.
When the parcel arrived, the items were bundled into a carrier bag which then rattled around inside the much larger cardboard box which wasn't the best packing in the world.

1. Stripy C6 envelopes:

Stripy envelopes.
With hindsight, should have bought some address labels too!

For those who aren't used to the sizing of envelopes, C6 takes an A4 sheet folded in half, then half again (i.e. takes A6 paper). I write zillions of letters and so am always in search of envelopes and these were a bit different from the plain white ones you can generally get. I probably should have bought some labels for writing the address on.

2. Self-inking stamps:

Self-inking stamps

I only really wanted the lower one but they came as a two-pack and were only £2.50 so I ended up with both of them. I'll stamp envelopes with the other one probably. I've been using the lower one to stamp my home-made week + notes to note my 'two most important things to do today'.

3. A5 notebook with ziplock:

A5 notebook with ziplock
(Sorry about the shadows!)

I've seen much more expensive versions of this (Mark's Tokyo for example) but this was a pretty reasonable price. In essence, it is an A5 notebook in a plastic/polyethylene cover and the back cover has a zip-lock pocket, card slots and a pen holder. The front cover has slip pockets too. The idea is that you carry this around and slip things into the pocket as you collect them. I'm not sure if I will use it quite like that as I would use my Traveller's Journal instead, but if I was off to do research on something and wanted something cheap and cheerful and useful I would give it a go. I've yet to try the paper out in the notebook but I'm not expecting anything good. The bonus is that you can slip any A5 notebook in it if it's slim enough so you're not restricted to the one that comes with it.

4. Stickers of cartoon jungle animals:

Jungle animal stickers

There are two pages of stickers - the other page has different ones but I only took pictures of one lot - sorry! These were one of the 'you must buy two' items but I can always use cartoon jungle animals stickers and they were only 75p per pack. The chameleons alone will always make me smile!

5. 2015-2016 academic diary:

Cover of the 2015-16 academic diary
Layout (plus LURID page marker)

Okay. This was only £1. The size of the diary is 12.5cm x 18cm which is a nice size. It's a school diary so there are several pages of class schedule and some pages for recording grades. Considering the page size is fairly small, the layout isn't bad, though Saturday and Sunday are, as ever, squashed into a smaller space and there is that pointless month summary taking up some of Sunday. I don't know what the numbering of 1-9 is for on each day - things to do? It's obviously not for recording appointments, even given some students' semi-nocturnal lifestyle. Anyway, I quite liked the clean font and size but I'm not sure, now I've got it, that I will use it. But it was only £1 so I don't feel too bad!

6. 6-pack sticky envelopes:

Stick-on envelopes
Another item that had a minimum purchase of two but again, I didn't mind (and they weren't horrendously expensive). I got them so that I could stick them on the home-made diary in my Traveller's Journal or in notebooks I use for writing. There are three of each size: 10cm x 6cm (holds a card 9cm x 5.5cm) and 16cm x 11cm (holds a card 14.5cm x 10.3cm). As you can see from the picture, the backings are a bit lurid (pink, orange and red) but bearable.

7. Storage tin:

Storage tin

I just liked this. I got it for putting ink cartridges in but it's a useful size at 7cm x 9.8cm. It also has a very positive click when it closes. Some other tins can have quite a loose lid that easily comes off, but this tin could rattle around in your bag without the lid coming off.

Anyway, there we go - that was my haul. I could probably have bought a LOT more stuff but I managed (just) to restrain myself.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Marvellous Monday

For two fabulous reasons:
1. I have been for a run!!!!

Okay. It was 10 repeats of {30s run, 1 minute walk} slotted into a 3.5mile walk, but...

It was a run!

And anyone who knows me will know JUST how much that means to me.


2. I have been sent some stationery to review and give feedback on. The lovely people at The Stamford Notebook Company have sent me samples of their diaries for the Traveller's Journal for me to play with and give them feedback on, so that's what I will be doing this afternoon.

So, all in all, it's a marvellous Monday!

Hope everyone else is having a good day too.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Creating a week + notes diary for my Traveller's Journal

In my last post I said I had been trialling a week + notes diary, mocked up in a (hateful) Moleskine cahier, to ultimately use the system in my glorious Stamford Notebook Company's Traveller's Journal. The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot that I hate Moleskine cahiers as the paper is stupendously terrible. Instead, I have used a Rhodia cahier. Infinitely better and cheaper than the (hateful) Moleskines. I got mine from Cult Pens (no affiliation, just a happy customer) and reviewed them here.

There are 48 pages (96 sheets) per booklet - not enough for a full year, so I opened the staples at the centre of two books, removed some sheets from one and slipped them onto the staples of the other, so that there were 54 pages in the book, then closed the staples back up. Then I trimmed the whole booklet to 12.5cm using a rotary cutter.

After trimming (R) - clip is just to hold the book closed for the photo

Now, call me picky, but the Traveller's Journal has rounded corners and now that I had trimmed the book, it had squared edges, so I bought a cheap 10mm diameter corner cutter and punched all of the pages and the cover so that the book now has rounded corners.

After the corners have been rounded
Inside, I will divide each page into 8 blocks and on the LHS have the 7 days of the week plus a 'tracking' block (as indicated in the trial version - see here). On the RHS I will have 6 of the blocks labelled with life-areas and the next actions for that life-area noted in the block; plus an 'other' block and a 'next week' block (again, as in the trial version). The week + notes diary is to be used in conjunction with a day per page plan and I will use either another squared Rhodia cahier or a lined one for that. I have trimmed all the Rhodia cahiers I bought and rounded their corners, in readiness!

What do people think?