Monday, 15 December 2014


A few weeks ago, I thought I would use one of my (many) Leuchtturm A5 notebooks as a 2015 goal/project planner. There are enough pages in one to have 4 pages for every week, monthly planning pages and a few pages at the back for a year-review too. I would have set up the 249 pages as so:

Page 1: goals for the year
Page 2: Quarter 1 goals
Page 3: Quarter 2 goals
Page 4: Quarter 3 goals
Page 5: Quarter 4 goals
Pages 6-29: Two pages per month for notes/goals/lists/anything and everything
Pages 30-241: Four pages for every week (allowing for an extra week to overlap the end of 2014 and the start of 2016)
[The pages would be split into: notes for the week + Mon; Tue + Wed; Thu + Fri; Sat + Sun]
Pages 242-249: Review of the year

That, of course, was all before I hit burnout. Right now, I can’t even think what I will be doing in January, never mind the rest of 2015. Actually, I can’t even think what I will be doing tomorrow, never mind January!

Maybe I can just start to use a Leuchtturm A5 like this once I’m able to start contemplating planning again.

Does anyone else use a notebook for a home-made planner like this? If so, what do you use and how do you use it?

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Still in a compact?

Answer = yes, but not the Cavendish.

Ah, the colour pop. I knew it would get me in the end! I have moved back into the de Villiers after a brief foray into the teal Baroque! The Baroque looked as skinny as hell, even with the whole of 2015 WO2P in there and two lots of monthly planning pages, but that’s because they are mostly the Tomoe River paper versions and take up almost no space. It was more brick-like than either the compact Cavendish or the de Villiers, but then, I’ve not been out and about so much these days to realise it’s more brick-like. Anyway, after looking back through old posts, I realised I missed the de Villiers and shifted back into it yesterday (using one of the zipped wallets from Paperchase to hold a few random things).

As for planning... that’s just a disaster zone at the moment as some days I get up and feel (half) full of energy and can get on and do stuff and other days I crawl out of bed and can focus on almost nothing. I daren’t plan anything because I’m pretty sure it won’t get done and then I’ll be more stressed, but a wide-open diary with sod-all in it also freaks me out. I’ve been off for over three weeks and I can barely tell you what I have done in that time. I’ve done a bit of writing (book 6 is going to get renamed “Mr Blanding’s House” pretty damn soon!), a bit of reading, been trying to walk each day, been to counselling... but nothing like what was on my ‘plans for end of November to December’ lists. I’ll be doing well if anyone gets anything for Christmas to be honest. Mind you, we generally give Oxfam Present Aid gifts or Good Gifts anyway, so there’s no traipsing around shops to be done.

But, the red de Villiers colour pop is cheerful. Even if it is less of an ‘organiser’ and more of an ornament at the moment, at least it’s a very attractive ornament!

Friday, 12 December 2014

The madness of Paperchase reductions

I popped into Paperchase the other day (as you do...), to have a browse and cheer myself up and found that they have reduced their 18 month diary inserts for organisers. No problem there...! What seems to me a teensy bit bonkers is that the 18 month WO2P personal (which covers all of 2015) is now £3.50 yet the WO2P for Jan-Dec 2015 is £5. Similarly, the WO2P in pocket: 18 months (covering all of 2015) is £2.80 and the Jan-Dec 2015 is £4. Who is buying the 2015 versions at more than the reduced 18 month versions?? I bought one of each of the 18 month versions and saved myself £2.70, and I have some spare scrap paper from the 6 months of ‘useless’ diary... I used some of the savings to buy two zip-lock wallets in personal size (£1.75). I realise that because a third of the product is ‘useless’ they have to reduce them, but still, it seems daft to make them less than the new 2015 versions.

Anyway, I will endeavour to review them soon.

Friday, 28 November 2014


I know I have a zillion things to review but I'm under strict instructions from my doctor to slow down, take things easy, decompress etc. etc. etc. [In fact, his exact phrase was that he would rather be writing me a sick-certificate than a death-certificate]. Burn-out isn't pretty.

Hence the hiatus in posts.

Bear with me, chaps. I will get back to posting properly soon (I hope)!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Guest post from Gerard: Compact Setup, Compact Write-up

Thank you to my very good friend Gerard for this guest post on the set-up he is using! Read, and drool over the lovely stationery and binders!!

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time".

- T. S. Eliot

L-R Midori date-book, Davinci binder, Smythson notebook
It sometimes seems as though I barely touch down in one binder before moving on to the next. Apart from the simple fun in the exploration, each change offers a fresh look at what I'm carrying about with me, and why. There's often no big change, but the fun remains, and it's a way of staying engaged with my set-up, which currently spans a Personal binder, A5 journal and a pocket notebook.

The binder is a Davinci Compact Personal - which the Japanese call "Bible" size - with the evocative model name DB1703. It's a very well made bridle leather binder, with 15mm rings, a single retractable pen loop and a slip fastening. I chose the dark brown colour, and it's a nice rich chestnut shade. The inside covers are pale tan leather, with two-full height pockets and three credit card slots inside the front cover. The back cover features another full-height pocket and a handy secretarial pocket. The binder also has ring protectors, to prevent the rings showing through to the outside leather. As a bonus, the Davinci refills use the lovely Tomoe River paper, so I can finally use fountain pens for writing in all three books.

The Davinci’s contents are arranged using standard Filofax subject tabs, and the following is a brief outline of what sits behind each tab:
Diary: 10x monthly planner sheets, 16 weeks of standard Filofax WO2P Diary, printed sheets for Birthdays/Anniversaries and Annual Leave.

Monthly planner pages
Close-up of the monthly planner pages

Notes: plenty of lined paper, with a tabbed flyleaf to mark a subdivision.
Projects: GTD Lists at the front (Next Actions, Waiting For, Errands), followed by another tabbed flyleaf to mark Project Plans and Checklists, and a Someday/Maybe List, and finally a supply of blank paper for notes and planning. Each month I create a simple list of 12 goals, two relating to each of my six defined Life Areas. I use these as an overall guide to manage my time and attention, as I’ve found that anything more rigid is likely to go by the board.

Monthly goals sheets

Information: specific printed checklists for Holidays and other purposes, plus more notes.
Financial: a handful of sheets for household bills etc.
Addresses: Three sheets printed double-sided with full details for almost 90 contacts, a sheet for noting new contacts and two sheets for WWW addresses. Closing off the binder is a business card holder for cards and postage stamps, and a top opening envelope that carries paper slips and a lovely guinea fowl card that was a gift from Amanda!

The back of the binder
Essentially, all I'm carrying now is a diary, task and to do lists, some pages for planning and information on the go and plenty of notepaper. The overflow diary leaves, along with high level planning sections stay at home in an old Succes compact binder.

I use a Smythson Panama pocket notebook for book notes, and as a sort of commonplace book. It's just three by five inches and comes along in my pocket for evening outings, as well as travelling in my briefcase by day. It holds quotes and random notes, and the fact that they are permanently bound in chronological order makes for, uhhm, diverting reading, and some surprising changes of direction.

The final component of my setup is an A5 Midori Datebook for journalling, which only occasionally leaves home. It contains a two-page overview for each month, followed by plenty of undated lined pages. These lined pages are each divided by thicker lines into four sections, so that a two-page spread can accommodate six or seven lines of notes for each weekday, with an additional space for memos. Being undated, these pages work equally well for periodic journalling.

Midori - monthly overview pages

Midori - lined pages, and GORGEOUS pens
That’s the Paper side of things covered, but what about the Pens and Ink?  The pen loop carries a Graf von Faber Castell ballpoint, for times when a biro can’t be avoided. For all writing on Filofax paper, I use an Aurora Optima rollerball fitted with a Pilot G2 gel refill. A Sailor Pro Gear fountain pen with Sailor Yama dori ink serves for notes on the lovely Tomoe River, Smythson and Midori papers.

Beautiful trio!!

So, that's it - a simple, compact system in three parts, each perfectly adapted to its purpose, that allows me to carry precisely what I need at any time.

Is anyone else using a range of formats? Please share any thoughts in the comments.

Friday, 24 October 2014


Photograph is by Colin Nicol
See his website here
reproduced with permission

I’ve come to realise that the most important part of my weekly planning session is not so much the planning for the days to come, it’s reflecting on what has passed. Why did I clear my list so easily this week? Why did I get almost nothing done this week? It’s only when I stop and think back about why I did or didn’t do things that I can make better plans for the upcoming week/month.

For example, the last few weeks have been less than productive for me, but I know why. I can look at the plans I made with hope and enthusiasm and then look at and understand the reality that followed. Of course, reflection needs to be honest. Sometimes I know I didn’t do something I thought I would because I wasn’t well. Other times I know I didn’t get things done because I spent ages faffing about online, looking at notebooks or filofaxes or a zillion other things. Sometimes I realise I’m not doing something because I’m scared of failure, or because I don’t believe in it.

At other times I can get on and clear a to-do list before lunch and am powering through the day. Knowing why that day was productive is incredibly valuable. Was it because I was full of enthusiasm or energy? Or was it just because the Wi-Fi was off? Knowing that I will write much more (and much better) if I get my backside in the chair and start before 9 a.m. is also valuable knowledge and helps me plan when to do other things, so that my least productive writing time is when I sort the laundry or do the shopping.

I realise I have a very set ‘clock’ and if I schedule the wrong kind of thing into a time slot, I might as well not bother. Running (when I am well enough to do it – I am craving those days!!) is best in the morning, but that’s also when I’m the most creative, so I now know better than to expect creative juices to be flowing after I’ve spent half the morning running/stretching etc. Much better to run and then do chores. I also have a creative lull after lunch, but this is an excellent time to go for a walk (my current saviour as I’m not able to run) and when I come back, I’m often good at editing or making notes for writing.

It’s only because I’ve spent the time thinking about why things have gone well or not that I’ve really become in tune with my rhythm. It doesn’t work 100% of the time and life will always throw spanners (and I can always waste time browsing stationery!) but it genuinely feels like I’m making better plans as a result of taking the time to assess why things have or haven’t worked.

Does anyone else spend time reflecting? Have you found it helps?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Kindle v physical book

I love books. I love reading. I wish I had time to read more than I do. I have always loved real, physical books, with covers and pages. I have a brain that seems to remember where I have read something in a book (left page or right page? Halfway down the page? About 40 pages ago... that kind of thing) making it easy to flip back to find something if I need to.
I thought I would hate a Kindle. I resisted getting one for a long time. I thought I would miss the physicality of a book.

Well, I do and I don’t.

Why I prefer a physical book:
  • When I read a Kindle book, I miss the spatial memory – I have no idea how many pages back I might have read something and the left page/right page aspect is of course absent. That’s all crystal clear with a physical book.
  • Unless I am reading a physical version of a book, I frequently have no idea what the proper title of the book I’m reading is, or who the author is, unless it’s a book with which I’m already quite familiar. I assume this is because I don’t see the cover except when choosing to read it, whereas with a physical book, I see it every time I pick it up.
  • ‘Bookshelves’ on the Kindle are just not the same as real bookshelves. I also find it easier to browse real bookshelves with physical books – pick them out, flip to the back cover, read what the blurb says.
  • I can lend/borrow physical books. I can leave them in my will (assuming anyone has the same eclectic taste as me!).

Why/when I prefer the Kindle:
  • I keep a note of what I read and also whether it was on Kindle or physical book. The first year I had a Kindle, I read about twice as many physical books as I did Kindle ones. The next year it was about half and half. Now I would say that I read more Kindle versions than I do physical versions. I also note how long it takes me to read a book and, even comparing books of the same length, I read Kindle versions in less time than I do physical ones. I’ve recently got a Paperwhite and I think I will read even more on that than I did on the older version. I don’t know why I read faster on a Kindle, but I suspect that it’s because I can change the font size and line-spacing and can speed-read more easily.
  • When I’m travelling, I can just take my Kindle and have several books available to read (saving luggage space!!).
  • I have the Kindle app on my phone, which means that if I have a few spare minutes and my phone with me, I can read a few pages of a Kindle book, whereas I may not always take a paperback out and about with me.
  • I have terrible joints in my hands and the Kindle weighs less (even in its cover) than even the smallest paperback. The cover can fold back on itself and has a hand-slot so I don’t even need to hold the thing!

I have been surprised by how much I love my Kindle and how much I read on it in comparison with physical books. I haven’t shifted away from physical books entirely (I’ll keep my pledge to read the printed word!) but my Kindle is fab.

What do others prefer?

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Trial swap into the Cavendish

In my last post, I said I had bought a compact Cavendish as a spare/back-up for the de Villiers. I have now moved over into it and will trial it until the end of October (though I suspect that I may need more colour and will then move back to the de Villiers...).

Everything moved across just fine. The binder is heavier than the de Villiers. Unloaded, the de Villers weighed in at 156g; the Cavendish was 183g. It’s also ‘puffier’ leather than the de Villiers (which has almost a lacquered feel to it). I needed to make a protective plastic sheet for the front, but since I have a box of overhead projector sheets, this was pretty easy! The ring size is the same (I think). Seven cards and two books of stamps went into the front slots; the rest went into the zipped pocket on the back. Paper money went into the back full-height pocket; coins went into the zipped pencil-case at the back (straight transfer from the de Villiers).
I think it’s because the covers are thicker/puffier but it feels bigger than the de Villiers. Not so much that I am thinking brick though, so that’s okay!

I’ll keep you posted. Right now I’m not convinced that the pen-loop and strap benefits outweigh the ‘feels bigger and it’s not colourful’ disadvantages.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Another compact...

Apologies for the silence!! Work has been hell and non-work has been busy (but in a really good way, so can’t complain there!)
Anyway, my news is that I think (think...!) that I have finally solved that personal/pocket conundrum.

Use a compact.

Not so hard, huh?

See, the regular-size personal can feel like a brick and the pocket-size, though lightweight, can’t cope with cards well enough to be planner+wallet. But, the de Villiers with its 10 card slots in the cover and small rings is just grand. So grand, that I have been on the look-out for another compact to have as a spare/back-up. There are a number of compacts out there, but if they don’t have oodles of card slots, they’ll have all the same problems that the pocket-size does – i.e. ring space gets taken up with card-holders.

Enter a Cavendish...

Nope, not the Cavendish with the humongous rings (have one of them... ‘brick’ doesn’t come close). A compact Cavendish. Same internal layout but with oval 15mm rings (11 mm in the smaller diameter).

I’ve seen compact Cavendish binders come up on eBay in the past and thought “Who buys a Cavendish with small rings??? Isn’t the point of them that they have HUGE rings????”

And then it turns out that I buy them. Who’d have guessed.

Anyway, unlike the big-ring version, it seems like few people (other than me) want the compact version so I got it for a pretty good price (about £20 including p+p). The rings are perfect and though it needs a bit of a clean, it’s otherwise in pretty good condition. I don’t think it has been used much and the dings in the leather are from storage I reckon.

It has exactly the same layout as its bigger brother, but with smaller rings. The inside left has eight card slots and a full-height pocket behind. The inside right has a full-height pocket and a ¾ height pocket in front (hmm... maybe nearer ⅞ height). On the outer cover (back) there is a zipped pocket. The pocket is not useful enough to put money in but is pretty good for spare cards that don’t need to go in the front slots and things like stamps and so on.

Back, with the zipped pocket

Unlike the de Villiers (and another reason I bought it) the Cavendish has both a pen-loop (smallish – fits my Zebra diary pen perfectly) and a strap to keep it closed. Also unlike the de Villiers it currently (empty) doesn’t lie flat-as-a-bat but I think when the contents go in, it will. It is also black (and I normally need a good colour-pop but we’ll see how I get on!).

Has anyone else ever had one of these “light-bulb moments” when after faffing about for ages over the different sizes they suddenly have a Goldilocks find that’s just right?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Da Vinci Tomoe River paper inserts (aka I’m in love)

A while back, I mentioned that a friend had sent me some samples of Raymay Davinci paper (from JetPens) and I said that I was considering putting an order in to JetPens with him and we would split the postage costs. Well we did just that and I am finally getting around to reviewing some of it!

What did I order?

In personal size:
  • A 100 sheet pack of 6.5mm lined paper
  • 2x packs of the undated week to view inserts (30/pack, so I ordered enough to do a full year)
  • My friend added a pack of plain paper to the order for me!

In pocket size:
  • A 100 sheet pack of 5mm lined paper
  • 2x packs of the undated week to view inserts (30/pack, so I ordered enough to do a full year)

(I know I am still utterly in love with the personal size de Villiers and indeed, wonder if I have reached planner peace with it, but just in case I get that yearning for the pocket size again, I thought I would avail myself of the gorgeous paper!!).

Over the weekend I went through the undated week to view pages and created my 2015 diary. The paper is just divine. I used my Parker italic nibbed pen with Diamine deep dark purple ink in it – a combination that Filofax paper would dissolve under – and there was NO feathering and NO bleed-through and the paper is ultra-thin. Filofax – if you made paper like this, I would buy it. But you don’t. Despite a zillion people asking for your diary paper to be at least as good as your white notepaper, you just ignore us. So instead, I have shipped this from the US! Yes, for those of us who want good paper, we will go to those lengths!

Here’s a double-spread to show you the layout. I know that some people might get bugged by there being Monday to Thursday on the left and Friday to Sunday on the right (most WO2P seem to split at Wednesday not Thursday) but you’ll see that Saturday and Sunday get the same size space and there is another box labelled memo. This little box is a godsend for me because (as you all know) I am pretty inept at turning a page, so this gives me space to alert me to things coming up early in the next week. If there isn’t anything all that exciting coming up, I can just use it for doodles or notes.

Davinci WO2P (in my navy Portland for storage)
The layout is beautifully simple. I never need those tiny-font, month calendar things at the top of the page, nor do I need a crash-course in 5 languages (that only teaches the days of the week). THIS is the kind of thing I need – a space to note the year, space for me to write the dates that the week spans, enough space for me to write the date next to the day, and unfussy fonts.

There is a bold green line across the top of the page and another at the bottom, then days of the week are printed in charcoal grey, except for Sunday which is in dark green. That bugs me a tiny bit, but not so much I’m having a hissy fit. The days are separated by a fine charcoal grey line.

Did I say the paper was ultra-thin?? I can’t emphasise enough HOW thin! I tried to take pictures of comparisons, but it was tricky. I counted out 52 sheets of cotton cream paper (assuming the Filofax cotton cream diary is printed on something the same thickness) and found a Filofax diary to try and compare the three sets. In this first photo, the Davinci paper is on the left and the Filofax diary is on the right. In the second picture, the cotton cream paper is on the left and the Davinci paper is on the right. Even with my terrible pictures, hopefully you can see the difference.

Full year in Davinci (l) and Filofax (r)
52 pages of cotton cream (l) and Davinci year (r)

The lined paper is going to be used for the weekly sheets that go at the front of my planner. I’ll only label them up when I’m using them. Incidentally, a nice (and very subtle) touch is that there are little marks on the top and bottom lines so that you can draw vertical lines easily on the page. They are definite enough to be useful but slight enough to be missed. Fabulous!

6.5 mm lined paper (in navy Portland for storage)
Teeny, tiny guide marks

Overall: five stars out of five!!!

Now, if only there was a UK supplier!! If anyone finds one, let me know??

Monday, 15 September 2014

My current planning system

In my last post, I described how I think (think) I have reached planner peace and a set-up that is really working for me. I have moved to using a slimline filofax which has necessitated me modifying my set-up a little, though in essence ‘The System’ is the same.

What I use now is a combination of the de Villiers which goes everywhere with me, and a regular-sized filofax which stays at home (currently I’m using the wine Holborn but I do have a selection to choose from!). Let me walk you through what is in each of these, then try to explain The System.

The De Villiers (wallet and planner combination)
From front to back:
  • Inside front cover: 10 card slots carrying all my bank and loyalty cards, stamps, donor card etc.
  • Plastic fly-leaf with Leuchtturm stick-on pen holder, holding my Zebra diary pen/pencil
  • Weekly list for the current week
  • Weekly lists for the next three weeks
  • Notes Tab
  • Three or four sheets of notepaper for scribbling things to remember into (‘capture’ list)
  • Diary Tab
  • Monthly sheets for the rest of 2014 (4 pages for each month: monthly list, month to view, review)
  • Week to view diary for the rest of 2014 (from Paperchase)
  • Page for forward planning
  • Information Tab
  • Personal information sheets
  • List of books to look for
  • List of maps we have
  • Note of my weight and miles run per week
  • Addresses Tab
  • Address sheets
  • Plastic zip-up pencil case with money in
  • Inside back cover: paper money in the outer pocket; receipts in the inner one
Left - card slots; right - fly-leaf with pen-holder, weekly sheet
weekly sheet
There are 4 weekly sheets in at a time; review space on reverse of the lists
Monthly list (r); review of previous month (l)
Month to view
Plastic pencil case with coins in
Paper money in back pocket

The Holborn (storage of non-current planning pages)
From front to back:
  • Nothing in either the front or back covers
  • Plastic fly-leaf
  • Page saying, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling” (quote from the film Inception)
  • Tab
  • General (big) to-do
  • Annual plans
  • Quarterly plans
  • Page(s) for each life area and their goals (mostly too personal to share), with next actions under each goal
  • Tab
  • Monthly review checklist
  • Spent monthly pages (kept only for the purpose of quarterly and yearly reviews – they will get thrown away at the end of the year)
  • Tab
  • Weekly review checklist
  • Weekly sheets – both from the past and the remainder of the year (only four weeks of these are in the de Villiers at any time). Again, all of these will get thrown away at the end of the year.
  • Week on two pages from the past (current are in the de Villiers – there are no more than 6 months in the de Villiers at a time)
  • Tab
  • Other information sheets that I don’t need to carry around with me e.g. peak flow record, notes, log suppliers, things bought for presents over the last few years, maps, packing lists

How do these two binders work together?The System
The key aspect is the weekly review (though the monthly one is important too).
Each week, I try to do the following:
  • Go through the notes pages and make sure everything has been dealt with/filed/sorted one way or another
  • Go through my list from the week just past and reflect on what did/didn’t get done and why
  • Tick off things in the monthly list; add anything that has come up
  • Transfer to the coming week’s list anything left from the one just finishing, starring them to indicate they have already had a week (or more) and not been done
  • Transfer the weekly sheet to the Holborn binder and get the next one to go in the de Villiers out (I keep 4 weeks of weekly sheets in the de Villiers)
  • Look at the monthly list and the week to view diary and note down in red pen at the bottom of the weekly list any appointments (ignoring work ones!) and things that I need to do like send a birthday card
  • Look at the monthly list of big to-do and next actions. Tick off things done and think about what might sensibly be achieved in the next week. Write these into the space at the top half of the page
  • Clear my brain of any other to-do into the bottom half of the page
  • If I’m feeling adventurous (or mad) I write the day on which I think I will do these next actions and to-do in the space next to them. This may or may not reflect reality!
  • Have a quick flick through to the rest of the month (and the following one if it’s near the end of the month) just to check what is coming up

What I try to do when I am not at work (i.e. evenings, days off, weekends):
  • Open my binder to the weekly list
  • Plan what I can do from it that morning/afternoon/evening
  • Do it

What I try to do monthly:
  • Look at my weekly and monthly list(s) from that month and reflect on what did/didn’t get done and why
  • Take out the finished monthly sheet from the de Villiers and file it in the Holborn
  • Transfer anything not done onto the sheet for the following month and star them to indicate they have been carried over
  • Look at the lists of big to-do and next actions and the monthly overview and try and think what I might sensibly manage to achieve in the coming month
  • Look at that list again and consider removing 20% of it because I know I over-allocate
  • Flick through the next six months of diary to remind myself what’s on the radar

Appointments go straight into the week to view diary (if I have them in the de Villiers – I can only carry 6 months of pages so for anything further forward than that, I just put it in the notes section and transfer it at the weekly review; 99% of things can go straight into the pages).

So, that’s The System. When I do all that, I feel more organised than when I don’t. There is then always a danger that I feel over-planned and then go ‘to hang with it all’ and ignore all plans, lists, goals etc. until I’m as organised as a bowl of cooked spaghetti, at which point I start doing The System again!

What do people think? What’s your set-up like (and would you like to do a guest post on it?)?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Planner Peace??

Have I finally got there? Jeez, it’s been like trying to find the end of the rainbow! Anyway, I think (think...) I have finally reached some kind of planner peace. To the point of not even looking at binders on eBay. Well... not every day.

So, what does this planner peace look like?

It looks like my de Villiers still!

I have made a couple of small changes to the set-up but nothing major. Instead of the giant to-do list at the front with a reminder on it to look at my next-actions list, I have gone back to my weekly sheets. These at least were split into ‘next action’ and ‘to-do’ (things that need doing but which aren’t part of a project or goal). The instruction: ‘turn over and look at your next actions’, somewhat as anticipated, didn’t work! I am incapable of turning the page it seems. Even when told to.

Another problem was partly to do with my next actions which were too big and needed breaking down into smaller ones. So, for instance, ‘finish book 6’ was a giant of a next action, whereas ‘finish the scene where x happens...’ was a much easier task! Consequently I have worked on making my next actions things that are achievable in a day/week (so that they can get ticked off the list!).

The weekly page set-up is shown below. Next actions go in the top half. You’ll see that I’m using up cut-down sheets from a non-filofax brand, just to use them up. Next year I will be using glorious, glorious Tomoe River paper (more on that in a future post). In the bottom half of the page I note other non-goal ‘to-do’ and any birthdays or appointments are noted in red at the very bottom of the page (to remind me to go to them or do something about them). Already written in, is a reminder to do the weekly review!
The reverse of the weekly list has space for the weekly review. Sometimes I do this following a set structure; often I just reflect on what did or didn’t get done and why.

Weekly list: next actions at the top, to do below
Review on the reverse; following week on RHS

By going back to the weekly sheets, it forced me to do my weekly reviews and to rewrite onto the following week’s sheet anything not achieved, something that generally spurred me into doing said thing(s)!

The only other change has been to try (try!) and use monthly sheets in as much as I have put highlighter on days I am not at work to try and help me see how much time I have ‘free’ (i.e. not at work) in the month. I’m still not great at working out what level of detail should be on there. I have got as far as marking off work days and birthdays and events such as away for a weekend. It still seems like it’s both too much and too little detail. But putting highlighter on and having a reality check over how many days I have a week/month to get things done in, has made my monthly lists more sensible.

Pink indicates not at work!

In the next post, I will do a review of my planning system as I realise it has changed a little since the last time I posted about it.

Has anyone else found planner peace recently? How long do you think it will last??

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Charity auction for Chimwemwe

The fabulous people over at Philofaxy are auctioning a gold Filofax, incredibly kindly donated by the excellent folks over at Filofax, in aid of Chimwemwe Children's Centre. You can see the details here.

Chimwemwe Children's Centre are in the process of building and equipping a Skills Centre for the children to be able to do after-school events at, have space to do homework in, to read in, have a space to learn life skills in and get vocational training at, so that they are equipped to support themselves in the long run.

All money raised by the auction will go towards the Skills Centre and will help some of the poorest people in the world to break free from the cycle of poverty.

Thank you so much to Filofax and to Philofaxy for their incredible generosity.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Stationery prize: World Cup bundle from Bureau Direct

A few weeks ago, I saw that Bureau Direct were running a competition to win a World Cup Stationery bundle and I entered it. I then thought nothing more about it (in fact I had actually forgotten all about it, as I was on holiday!). Then one day I was checking my emails and there was one from Dominic at Bureau Direct to say that I had won Spain 2010 in the Classic World Cup bundles. It was duly posted off to me and was there waiting for me when I arrived back from my holiday.

The bundle comprised:
  • A medium lined Leuchtturm notebook in red
  • A Leuchtturm pen loop in yellow
  • A Lamy Logo ballpoint pen in blue

The Leuchturrm Notebook:
I assume the interior is identical to the interior of the berry red one I reviewed in May (read that review here) so I won’t review it again. The red of the cover is a nicer red than the equivalent Moleskine (which has a hint of orange to it) and the elastic closure is a darker red (which matches well).  The ribbon marker matches the cover well, but is lighter than the elastic closure. In many ways, it would have been nicer if the elastic and the ribbon had matched (even if they were slightly different from the cover), but then, I am ridiculously picky about things like that. I will certainly use the book for book-plotting!

The Leuchtturm pen loop in yellow:
I’ve had several of these pen-loops. I have a black one in my Leuchturrm Line a Day 5 year diary, another black one in my de Villiers slimline binder, a red one in the Moleskine diary (the diary I hated) and a pale blue one in another filofax. They are great – make sure you stick them in exactly the right place because the adhesive could hold an elephant up and you won’t be able to reposition it if you get it wrong!
My main gripes with them is that 1) there is always, always adhesive inside the elastic loop which then gets all over the pen you have in the loop and 2) the loop is really quite small – only a pen with a diameter of about <1cm will fit in it. The sticky adhesive inside the elastic eventually runs out but the one I had in my diary got glue on my biro for at least half the year. It rubs off okay (in a sticky sort of way) but it’s annoying that it does it.

The Lamy ballpoint biro:
I got a heap of despair from a good friend when I told him that the only pens I took on holiday with me were some bic crystal biros (I don’t trust my fountain pens to play nicely in bags). Anyway, the Lamy is lovely. It’s heavier than a bic crystal and has a very satisfying click to pop the ballpoint bit in and out. I haven’t written screeds with it yet, but it doesn’t (so far) seem to bleb anything like as badly as a bic crystal does, so maybe I will have to upgrade as the blebbing does annoy me!

The colour combination between the book, the pen-loop and the pen is delightful. Bright and summery!

All in all, this was a lovely little bundle to get! Thank you Bureau Direct!
[no affiliation, just a perpetually happy customer]

Friday, 1 August 2014

SO proud of my hubby...

... who has not only got a picture in the Fife calendar (September) but was also awarded the front cover too! This picture was taken last year and sadly, the doocot has since started to disintegrate and is now held together with ugly iron bands.

Front cover of the calendar - no copyright infringement intended!

All of the pictures in the calendar are fantastic - please do go and buy a copy if you're nearby.

So proud of my DH!

Review: Platinum Plaisir fountain pen

I actually bought this a while ago, along with a second Tombow Object pen (in a different colour from the first one). I won’t review the Tombow, because my review of the first one I bought (you can read it here) still stands! It’s a great pen and I love it.

But, I’ve still to review the Platinum Plaisir, so here goes.
It’s actually the second version, as the first one refused to write so was returned. I bought from The Journal Shop (no affiliation, just regular, happy customer) and there was absolutely no fuss or bother about returning it and getting a replacement and the replacement works just fine.

I bought it in a pale lilac colour (on the site it is just described as ‘purple’ – listing is here).

The length (capped) is 143 mm and uncapped (but not posted) is 123 mm, Uncapped and posted, it is 153 mm (but I never post my pens – the weight always seems too far back in my hand). The cap closes with a very firm and satisfying click. You can get adaptors to use bottled ink with it, but I haven’t. There is a small plastic insert to allow standard cartridges to be used with it (which is what I have in it). The small downside is that you can’t pop a second cartridge into the barrel, ready for when the cartridge runs out, although as I tend to use my pens at home, at my desk, with all my inks to hand this isn’t a problem.

The cartridge slots in to the insert, which is connected to the nib through a plastic barrel (nib feed). The main downside with the pen (for me) is that the ink bleeds into the nib feed and is sitting in the space between the outer barrel and the inner part. I can’t see a way of getting it cleaned out and even if I did, I presume it would leak into it again. It’s not a major issue as I will probably only use poussier de lune in it (an ink I adore) so there won’t be any mixing of ink there, but it’s a shame it leaks into the space there at all.

Pen uncapped and unscrewed - you can see the ink leakage if you look closely
 The rest of the pen is aluminium, so the pen is incredibly light in my hand. There are a variety of colours available for the barrel. The clip is a darker purple than the barrel (in a very pleasant, complementary colour). The silver bit has Platimun Plaisir Japan on it.

The writing experience:
The nib is described as medium but is a finer nib than all my other medium nibs – maybe not quite a ‘fine’ but a ‘medium-fine’ I would say. The nib is smooth and the pen is light and comfortable in my hand. For £12, it would be hard to beat this as a pen! I have written a few long letters with it now and it has left my hand un-cramped. I think the combination of a reasonable sized barrel with a light pen works well for me.

Overall, I would recommend it as a good, lightweight, cheap pen. The only niggle is the leakage into the nib feed.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

RAK #2: A4 MiracleBind book

Just before I went away (literally, the DAY before I went away) I received a MiracleBind notebook from Philofaxy Steve (via Filofax). I was sent a black A4 version, with 120 pages of 5 mm quadrille paper inside.

The concept of the binder is that, although the book seems spiral bound, the pages are removable and replaceable. The inner edge of the sheets have a waxy feel, like they are reinforced in some way and there is a slit from the hole to the edge of the page, allowing the page to be removed and replaced in a different part of the book if required.

Walk through:

The cover is a very stiff board, covered with black vinyl. There is an embossed oval on the front, to indicate where a label could be placed. The cover of the one I was sent was quite dinged, as if it had been scraped against another binder and the rings had dug into the card cover, but they aren’t very noticeable and anyway, it was a RAK!

Front (still wrapped in plastic)
Back (still wrapped in plastic)
Front (unwrapped)
Close-up of label

There are 11 rings, split into 4 at the top and 7 at the bottom, with a gap between them. I’m not sure what the gap is for? So that a label can be put on the spine?

Rings (with gap that makes it look like one is missing)
The first page has an explanation of the system, in several languages.

First page

After this, there is an index page (which is used in conjunction with the index flags – see later), the reverse side of which has an info space and a message from MiracleBind saying thank you for buying the product.

Index page
Info and 'thank you'

Next up were the 120 pages of 5 mm quadrille paper, which had a small margin around the edges. The inner edge has the reinforcing I mentioned, then there are fine perforations so that the page can be torn out cleanly, if required.

After this is a page of peel-off index flags/stickers for the sides, front and spine of the binder.

Right at the very back there is a plastic pocket – the pocket slot is halfway down the page, with two business card slots right at the bottom. It too is repositionable.

Fountain pen tests:
Naturally, I have tried out all my inked pens on it to see how the paper stands up.
It wasn’t too horrendous, but the paper was quite ‘grabby’ and almost sticky with a couple of the pens. There was a little bit of bleeding (the line being laid down thicker than the nib intended) but not much feathering or spidering.

Fountain pen tests (front)

The reverse of the page was better than I expected. There was some bleed-through to the reverse but it was almost (almost!) usable on the other side. The Sharpie was naturally a disaster zone.

Fountain pen tests (reverse)

It’s an interesting product. Thank you to Steve for having it sent to me!!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

SO many things to review!

I’m back!! And I have SO many things to review!
  • Two RAKs
  • Two new pens
  • A stationery prize I won (yay!)

Today though, I will do RAK #1 where my good friend sent me some paper samples from an order he put in at Jet Pens.

He sent me:
  • An old Filofax ‘letter planner’ insert
  • Enough monthly inserts by Davinci for a year’s worth of planning
  • A check list sample
  • Some Raymay Davinci lined refill for personal size planners (6.5mm line spacing) and some plain paper

1. The old Filofax ‘letter planner’ insert
Interestingly, the top edge and inside edge look as if they have been torn from a perforated sheet – I don’t know if it was a larger sheet that was then separated, or why these edges look perforated. Anyway, I do have a ‘letters filofax’ (A5) and I do keep notes about things I have written to people (to try and stop repeating myself too much!) but I have never used a specific insert for this – I just jot notes on notepaper. I get the feeling that the letter planner insert was more for a business letter than for a personal one (I only really write personal ones!).

Front page
Reverse side

The top section has space for date, to, address, copies to, enclosures and file. Then there are two sections for ‘main points’ on the first side and three of these sections on the reverse side.
The copyright date for the insert is 2010 (somewhat surprisingly – I would have thought these would have been discontinued earlier than that...).

2. The monthly inserts by Davinci
These are printed on thin, cream paper (though my friend says that it isn’t on the Raymay Davinci paper, but from the fill from a binder he bought). It feels about the same thickness as Filofax diary paper (70 gsm?).

Undated monthly pages

The picture shows a double spread. The months are undated, with a quick 1-31 on the left hand side, then the days of the week across the top and six boxes deep on the left page and five boxes deep on the right, with the bottom space labelled ‘memo’.

3. Check list
Again, on thin, cream paper with grey and green inks. I don’t know what the Japanese symbols mean, but there are two check boxes on each box – one open and the other lightly shaded green. Personally, the boxes are too deep for me, but as there are two check boxes per large space, they could be divided into two. The depth of the box is 17mm.

Check list

4. Lined refill
Nice, simple design with a top margin of 9.5 mm, a bottom margin of 4.5 mm (with a bold line border) and lines at 6.5 mm spacing in a feint grey. The lines stop 9 mm from the inner edge and 5.5 mm from the outer edge.
The lined paper is the only one that I did a fountain pen test on. Oh, if only Filofax could make paper like this!! The paper is silky smooth to write on, with no feathering or spidering at all. And despite the paper being incredibly thin, there is almost no bleed-through to the reverse – a little, but certainly not so much (except with a Sharpie) that the reverse isn’t usable. The paper was a complete delight!

Fountain pen test - front
Fountain pen test - reverse

5. Plain paper refill
Um, not much to describe – same thinness that the lined paper has, and the same light cream colour. I haven’t fountain pen tested it, but I would be surprised if it was different from the lined paper.

Anyway, a HUGE thank you to my friend for sending me the samples and also for the offer of a combined order (to split the postage costs) – I may well be putting in an order for a lot of these beautiful papers!