As you may know already, as a follower of me on social media or as a friend, I have a little obsession with all things stationery. As a writer, it seems to go hand in hand with the chosen vocation. But in this digital world, I still prefer paper and pen. Lots of paper and lots of pens.
Something I still prefer to do with paper and pen is planning. Of course I have all the best productivity, agenda and calendar apps and yes I use most of them. I’m not at all a technophobe. Technology has brought us some gems of apps and software that has made life a lot easier.
But for the real meat and gravy of planning, I have always preferred a physical paper planner.
The New Year and the week before the new one begins has always been one of my favourite times of year. It is a week when I take the time to reflect back on the happenings of the current year and decide what worked and what didn’t, what I’m going to continue and what I want to change in the New Year. In this reflection and dreaming, I decide whether my planning system worked or not.
2018 As you can probably guess from my previous post, was a year of turbulence, chaos and change. It was also a year where I had all the best intentions to plan. But the year swept all those intentions away, because I wasn’t focused on planning, I was focused on just getting through the year.
But I’m not beating myself up about that. Instead, I’m realising that some years are less about planning and more about surviving by any means necessary.
But for 2019 I want a different year. I want different plans. I want to be able to plan ahead to make more room for white space in my life. More about that “room for whitespace” in my upcoming New Year’s Eve post.
You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. | John C. Maxwell
I have always been obsessed with pens, notebooks, and basically stationery of any and all kinds. The drawers in my roll top desk are filled with notebooks, beautiful paper and all kinds of writing and sketching tools. I am also an avid journaler and always on the lookout for a beautiful new journal to add to my collection. Over the last few months though I have stumbled down a whole new twisty rabbit hole: Traveler’s Notebooks.
Traveler’s Notebooks are a binder system that holds together multiple notebooks. The original brand of Traveler’s Notebooks are the Japanese brand of Midori. These are leather covers with an ingenious elasticated string system that holds together multiple notebooks.
The genius concept of the Traveler’s Notebooks are that they are rugged, minimalist, fully customisable – as to how you use them and they are the perfect travelling/desk/handbag/rucksack accessory. With a Traveler’s Notebook I can have multiple notebooks kept together in a hardy and durable cover. I always like to have a notebook or three handy at all times, because thoughts and ideas flutter in and out usually during the most mundane moments in life. With a TN I can catch those thoughts before they fly past into the Neverland of forgotten memories. There is also something to be said for the tangible beauty of a leather Traveler’s Notebook.
The Midori-style notebook has become so popular that it has inspired many other suppliers and artisans to create their own versions inspired by these Traveler’s Notebooks. Traditionally the Traveler’s notebooks are notebook covers that are made from supple leather and come in a cheque-book-wallet size *Regular/Standard Size* and a Passport size.
These other Traveler’s notebooks, made by independent artisans, come in a smorgasbord of materials from leather to material to paper. They also come in a variety of sizes from small pocket sizes to large art journal sizes. There is the perfect notebook for everyone’s needs.
I stumbled down this rabbit hole a few months ago and am still to come up for air. At first I wanted to get myself the traditional Midori Traveler’s notebooks (TN) but the Midori TN I wanted was temporarily out of stock.
So I then I started looking at the various alternate Traveler’s notebooks made and I was wowed. After stalking quite a few Instagram hashtags and YouTube videos, I settled on Chic Sparrow. Then it was a case of narrowing my focus down to which size I wanted and which leather/colour/texture I wanted. Although a lot of people use their TNs for planning/scheduling, I knew I wanted to use mine for journaling and for note-taking, perhaps even sketching. I also knew I preferred a leather that was thicker, firm but still supple and flexible and a leather that was rich in texture. I also wanted a TN that was personalised to me.
I ended up stalking the Chic Sparrow website daily for a few weeks. Chic Sparrow is so popular that they often sell out within a few hours each day. Eventually the leather I wanted in the size I wanted was finally available. *I got a Narrow size with overhang – the actual cover is slightly wider than the inserted notebooks/inserts.* I ended up choosing the Distressed CremeBrûlée Deluxe* (*Deluxe is a TN that comes with stitched in pockets/pen loop and is finished off externally with a beautiful stitching border.) I chose my personalisations and hit order. Then I waited. Nine days later my Chic Sparrow package arrived…
I was thrilled to see/feel the variations/texture in this gorgeous distressed leather. There is something very special to me about a distressed leather. One of my favourite parts of my TN is the deep natural “imperfectly perfect” scar on the back secretarial pocket. It shows a life well lived by this cow. It also reminds me that the page can always safely store both my scars and my joys. Catching my daily thoughts in this beautiful Traveler’s Notebook fills me with joy and fresh inspiration.
Again…this is keeping me true to my new mantra: Yo no Bi ~ Beauty through Use…Use through Beauty.
My next Traveller’s Notebook is going to be a limited edition Original Midori. I have waited to get the traditional Midori Traveler’s Notebook in a limited Blue leather edition: this one will capture my actual travels, adventures and road trips. But more on this blue-beauty when it arrives…
Tell me, how do you catch all your thoughts/ideas?
Are you a note-taker?
*Fair Warning: this is a long post. So get comfortable… 🙂 Feel free to skip to the end to read my personal thoughts. Please feel free to let me know – in the comments – how you “plan your day” if you do and what your favourite planner/planning system is. Thank you for reading.*
This year I have been focused on productivity and productivity habits/methods/systems/tools. One of the reasons I have been so focused on productivity is because I have been fighting a personal battle of being well enough to be productive. I have also had to learn to be kinder to myself. I am my own worst critic at the best of times but in the times when my own body is the enemy to my productivity, I am usually even worse at criticising myself.
As I have shared on here, a few months ago, I am a Migraineur and I live with Chronic Migraine on a daily basis. The last year has been particular difficult and trying as my Chronic Migraines went from bad to severe, from 10 a month to about 20 – 25 a month now. I have had to accept that on the bad days I can’t get writing done and beating myself up mentally about this does not get me anywhere and just ends up creating more stress for me. And one thing Chronic Migraine does not like is Stress. But I am determined that this Migraine will not steal more of my life and creativity than it already does. So I have been researching and trialling many different productivity methods/tools in order to turn my chaotic into calm.
The concept of “Yo no Bi” (Japanese)
~ transl. Beauty Through Use ~
I recently shared a post about returning to the world of planning Filofax-style in my new Kikki K. I also shared the fantastic Day Designer undated template I found for planning out my day. But after a few months of using this system, I was feeling underwhelmed and under-motivated. (*I meant to use “under-motivated specifically instead of unmotivated. The motivation was there but the system underwhelmed me.*)
There was nothing glaringly wrong with the system but I knew something was missing. There was too much “plan” and not enough “usability”. I ended up feeling more frustrated and restricted than calmer and more organised. My planner system was simply not the right plan for me personally.
As much as I love my digital tools, I knew that ultimately I love unplugging and using paper and pen. For the last year I have also been getting back into the world of fountain pens and beautiful paper. (A whole other rabbit hole to fall down into.) I made a pros and cons list about what I wanted vs what I needed in the “perfect planner”. This was my list:
My “Perfect Planner” Wish List
Must be pen and paper.
Preferably fountain pen friendly.
Minimum A5 in size and fairly portable.
Enough sections to be able to fit in everything from deadline dates, a chronodex, appointments, tasks to do and a “clean and simple” space for writing – working through story ideas, character development, and a brain dump.
A system with enough structure to make my perfectionist-me happy and enough adaptability to make my creative-me happy.
A system contained within itself, something that can be taken with me on the go and be usable anywhere and everywhere whether at my desk, at a cafe, on a plane/bus/train or while travelling.
Simplicity not complication.
Beautiful function. Functional beauty.
Something both aesetically beautiful in design but fully functional and practical in usability.
Once I knew what I truly wanted and needed, I knew what to go looking for. As a stationery addict I could spend a lot of money on many products that would match all my needs and wants. But the key to me in this instance is that I don’t need more stationery for the sake of feeding my love for stationery. I needed a productivity system that would allow me to feel more organised.
I have finally found the system that works for me. I have finally found the Zen in my “Almost-Every-Day”… find out more…