2018: My Favourite Tools.

I’ve reviewed my 2018 planners and explained what I have lined up for 2019 in my recent posts and this got me thinking about all the tools I have used this year. 2018 feels like a year of consolidation. I’ve acquired less stationery and tried to focus on using what I have stored in my drawers and cupboards. Today’s post is reflective and about sharing my year in stationery.

My paper use.

I use a lot of paper and I always feel like I have too much paper on the go. I enjoy trying out new notebooks and paper stock but I also like what I like.

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Baron Fig notebooks have become a staple in 2018. I use one Baron Fig Confidant as a journal, at the moment this happens to be the big Fig, or the Baron Fig Plus (small side note, I really wish Baron Fig had called this the big Fig). I also use one of the Confidants or the Vanguards for work because the paper works so well with pencils, ballpoint or rollerballs as well as fountain pens. I like that I don't have to consider my writing tools at work.

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I thoroughly enjoy using the Travelers Company notebooks. Their paper is high quality and is perfect for pairing with fountain pens. I enjoy the cream paper, which is not to everyone's taste.

That is supposed to look like an ‘18’.

That is supposed to look like an ‘18’.

I have used a lot of Field Notes notebooks this year but this is because I have a lot to get through and not because I am a super fan. My love of Field Notes has waned over recent years. I buy what I like, the Coastal edition was a favourite of mine this year, but I am no longer concerned with acquiring any notebook that they release.

Finally my exploration into sketchbooks has expanded my experience with paper. Finding what I like to sketch on, what paper works best with watercolour and coloured pencils has all been part of the journey. Currently I am using a pocket Baron Fig Confidant as I am mainly sketching with pencil and black pen and I was interested to see how I fared with a small sketchbook. I think as I go into 2019 I will only increase my knowledge in my sketching materials and really find what works well for me.

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2018, the year of pencils?

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My pencil use has increased a lot in recent months. I use these mostly with my pocket notebooks for daily note taking but there is also sketching use in there too. I tend to use one pencil for a while and then rotate when I fancy a change. Lately I have been really enjoying the Tombow Mono 100 2B. The softer graphite is not usually a pencil I am drawn to but this pencil is so smooth to write with.

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I have loved using the Blackwing 54 in part because of the colour choices with this pencil and the hard graphite that makes it a great note taking pencil.

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The Craft Design Technology pencil has been another favourite. The mint coloured barrel is just beautiful. And finally the Staedtler Mars Lumograph in H, I love this pencil for its simplicity and its ability to hold a point. It’s an old reliable.

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Fountain Pens and Ink.

This is one category where I’m happy with what I’m using. Unusually, I don't feel a pull to acquire more pens or inks and find joy in using the pens I have.

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The Lamy LX with Sailor Blue Black is my go to fountain pen. I have been using this combination for most of the year, it just works.

The Pelikan M400 and Sailor Wagu-Uguisu is a great match. The gold nib, and the softness when writing means I get a good view of the green Sailor ink and can appreciate the shading. It’s so much fun writing with this pen and I usually admire my scrawl once complete.

Finally the Kaweco ART Sport inked with Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho. I love this combination as the colours work so well together.

Drawing Pens.

The final category that I felt was worth a mention was drawing pens. In my effort to learn how to draw, drawing pens have been vital tool that I now use more than I ever have. They are so versatile and useful to have as part of any stationery nerds toolkit, but for drawing they are a dream. I have used fine tip drawing pens and brush pens to experiment. The Tombow brush pen has been a personal favourite and the Faber-Castell PITT Artist pen continues to be my preferred sketching pen. Recently I have tried a Pentel marker and the Pilot Finerliner to experiment with line width.

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Overall thoughts.

My tools of choice have changed a bit this year which is down to a shift in the way I use my analogue tools. I used to be fully immersed in fountain pens and ink and couldn't get enough, but now I happily use other tools alongside my fountain pens. They all have a certain purpose. I’ve been most surprised by how much I have used pencils and that’s in part as I am sketching more now, but also because they’re so easy to use with a pocket notebook. It makes my daily carry easy.

2018 has been less about acquiring new things, although I have done a bit of that, but more about finding what I like and using it more and more. In 2019 I want to continue this and really hone down the tools I enjoy using.

Finally I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who reads, shares, likes and comments on my posts. I really enjoy sharing my thoughts on stationery and hope you enjoy the content. I'm looking forward to sharing even more in 2019!

2019 Planner Plans.

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Deciding on what planner(s) to use for the coming year is a tough decision. Buy a planner that doesn’t fit in with your requirements and you spend too much time trying to find a fix, but find the right planner and it can act the perfect assistant.

I have a bad habit of buying too many planners. There is so much choice and variety available it can be hard to be concise with your purchases. If you read my previous post I didn't fare well with my planners in 2018 and I didn’t want to repeat those errors going into 2019.

What I have learnt from this year is that my planner needs have changed. What worked before doesn't seem to hit the spot anymore. Luckily I recognised this early enough and I was able to research and figure out what changes I needed to make for 2019. In today’s post I will share my decisions with you and how I think I will be using my planners in 2019.

Planner 1: MiGoals 2019 Planner.

I haven’t used a MiGoal product before but a couple of months ago I started digging around to understand what this planners were about. I have bought the 2019 HC Diary in Coral, drawn to the layout and how this seemingly traditional goal planner had found a way to not be stuffy.

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The Layout.

The layout of a planner is always crucial and also really personal. It comes down to how you like to see information, the way your mind interprets tasks and the types of information it’s important for you to capture. Some people like guidance from their planners, others don’t. So finding a layout that does what you need is always the most crucial aspect of your planner decisions.

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In the MiGoals planner the weekly spreads are allocated a double page, space for your weekly view sits on the left hand page and on the right there is a small habit tracker, weekly focuses and a massive notes area.

I was drawn to the planners simplicity. The weekly pages give you enough space to jot down those extra things that may not fit into a specific day. Each small section is clearly defined but not intrusive.

The monthly calendar is paired with the weekly spreads. So the January monthly calendar is followed by the four weeks that sit within January, then you get your February calendar, followed by February's weekly pages and so on. There is a tonne of space too with weekends getting extra room! It’s a miracle. There is a small section underneath the calendar which sets out your monthly goals, a small to do list and space for some notes.

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The bulk of this planner is pretty standard...nothing groundbreaking but they haven’t tried to do anything too dramatic. And that’s a good thing.

Goal Planning Pages.

The thing that really drew me to this planner, a little surprisingly, was the goal planning sections. There are around 30 pages that get you into the right headspace to review 2018 and plan 2019.

There are a load of inspirational quotes which isn't everyone’s cup of tea. What I like is how this planner focused my mind on what I want 2019 to be. The goal planning pages are conversational in style rather than formal and stuffy. (Although that being said they did slip in the dreaded annual, 5 and 10 year outlook section which I really don’t like.) Some of the questions included within these pages are What situations get you excited? What subjects do you enjoy learning about? What do you find easy that others don’t? A few years ago things like this would have caused my eyes to roll but actually they focused my attention.

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There is a Toolkit for Success spread that helps you identify who can help you achieve you goals and the things that make you happy. These aspects of the MiGoals planner make it feel a little bit more human, not focusing only on the aspirational goal or its success or failure, but they make you consider everything it takes to achieve a goal.

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There is a page where you can review 2018, things that you’re pleased with and things you want to improve and then what you want for 2019. You can then also rate your year on a series of factors and the planner has space to do this again at the end of 2019, a nice compare and contrast opportunity.

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The Goals pages.

The goals pages are the really interesting piece though. There are 10 in total. Each goal page gives you space to outline your goal, put a timeframe on it, say what sort of goal it is and why you have set yourself that goal. Then there are Key Milestones where you can highlight the things that will be big markers to achieve in that goal and a To do list. There is finally a Reward and Outcome section. All of this information is on one page making it simple to see all aspects of your goal on one page.

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It is in this section that you’re inundated with inspirational quotes but I think this is done on purpose. By limiting you to concentrate on one goal per double page there are no distractions, no opportunities for your eyes to wander to goal number 2. You’re there to concentrate on one goal only. It’s quite a clever little trick.

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I have set myself 7 goals, none of which are crazy and all are personal to me, nothing work or career related in here. The Key Milestones and To Do sections helped me to break down each goal into smaller parts which hopefully should make it a lot less overwhelming. It’s kind of like habit or project planning tool.

Why I chose this planner.

The MiGoals planner is not something I would ever have considered in the past. It would have appeared to embody everything I disliked in a planner but this year I was drawn to it because of its goal planning section. There are review sections and prompts throughout the year to guide you back to these goals and see how they are progressing. By including them in the planner itself it keeps it with you most of the time and stops these goals from becoming lost of forgotten by February.

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I really like the design and layout of the planner. Everything is concise and simple. I am really not fussed on the multitude of quotes in there, but the usefulness of the planner makes them easy to ignore. There are helpful guide pages to show you how to use sections, two bookmarks and decent paper.

Planner 2: Baron Fig Clear Journal.

This was a journal I ordered a while back when Baron Fig announced the planner. As yet I don't have it so I cannot give a comprehensive overview. I have just finished reading James Clears Atomic Habits which was surprisingly interesting. And yes there is a theme emerging here.

At the moment I aim to use this journal to track projects and personal items but until I have it in my hands....which won’t be until mid-Jan…then I cannot fully decide on how to use it.

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Planner 3: Hobonichi Weeks.

As I found a way to work with my 2018 Hobonichi Weeks I am using this again in 2019 as a diary. Co-ordinating the basic things and having this as my carry around diary. Nothing interesting in here, no decoration purely function.

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Planner 4: Travelers Company weekly + memo refill 2019

This was always going to be part of my 2019 set-up as I have used this for years now. It will continue to be the place I record little memories of my day and add a creative splash. I can decorate, use stickers and washi and make this a fun and memorable journal that I will want to review because its a marker of my year. In contrast to my Hobonichi Weeks nothing functional or administrative will go in here.

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Overall thoughts.

Despite the usefulness and my enjoyment of the Jibun Techo in 2018 this doesn't feature in 2019. The Jibun Techo became a time tracking and organisational tool that I don’t feel motivated to use going into a new year.

For 2019 I needed to become more focused with my goals and the direction I want the year to take. I started 2018 thinking about what I wanted to do for the year and gave it a theme, a la Cortex. And the theme that cropped up was the ‘Year of Me’. I think I have done quite well with that theme in 2018 but I hadn't put any detailed thought into it, I found my way and things whirred around in my head but I didn't think about how I would do this and what I wanted to achieve. 2019 is going to be a continuation of this theme because it doesn't feel complete, but now it needs structure. I believe that is where the MiGoals planner can help.

As always I will share this journey here with you and when I have been using the MiGoal planner a little longer I will provide a comprehensive review of how the planner works in use but I have very high hopes.

2018 Planner Review.

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At the end of each year I like to reflect on the planners I have used and how I have been using them. I share the planners I have set-up for the coming year but I think it’s important to also review the past year and what has worked well. In today’s post I will run through all the planners (yes plural) that I had planned to use this year and run through what worked and what didn’t. If you’re interested in reading the 2018 Planner Plans post you can find that here.

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Jibun Techo

The Jibun Techo was new to me for 2018. I had never used it before and I was so eager to get my hands on this planner I had to buy from the US and important it, taking the hit on customs. It was a worthwhile decision because it’s been my most used planner in 2018. I wrote a full review of this planner and created a video walk through which you can see here.

But to touch on some of the highlights of this planner the paper quality is excellent. It has a version of tomoe river paper which means the pages are super thin and handle fountain pen and inks really well. I recorded a small clip of the sound the almost full planner makes, a stationery nerds dream.

The weekly layouts are brilliant and hold a huge amount of information. It’s actually very impressive that they’re able to craft that much space out of the page. Over the course of the year I made small adjustments with how I used these pages, but mostly I’ve stuck to my original review.

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And then what really makes the Jibun Techo that little bit extra special is the extras. The pages at the front of the planner that let you record the books you’ve read, the movies watched and a few extras I didn’t use are all really useful.

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With one of the monthly overview pages I used it as my Habit Tracker. Having all of this stuff in one planner was not something I’d been able to do before, so the Jibun Techo was unique in that way.

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There is a lot to like about this planner and for list makers and memory keepers it’s excellent.

Hobonochi Techo Cousin Avec

I have been a Hobonichi user for a few years. The first year I used a Hobonichi Techo is was the English A6 size and it was a sort of journal. But I found that it overlapped a lot with how I used my Travelers Company refill so with my next Techo I switched it up, and then I guess lost my way with it.

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This year I bought a Hobonichi Techo Cousin but I couldn’t find a way to use it. I tried several different set-ups including a bullet journal, a health tracker and a goal planner but nothing stuck. Unfortunately for most of the year the Cousin went unused.

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Hobonichi Weeks

This was my first Hobonichi Weeks and I bought it as I was already ordering from Hobonichi and the design was so damn cool. I was attracted to the slim size and thought I would use it as a functional diary which is how I started out, but this didn’t last very long and I just forgot about it.

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Pre-empting my 2019 plans I wanted to give the Hobonichi Weeks another run. In October I started using this to track my ailments (I seem to have a lot these days). Headaches and their severity, eczema outbreaks, physio progression and so on. I wanted to know what I felt and when over a period of time so I could link this back to the environment, place or circumstances that may have been aggravating these things. This did work out quite well but did mean I wasn't using it consistently each day. I wasn’t sure this was the best way to use one sole planner so I went again.

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In the past couple of weeks I have started using this as a diary again. Working out my week in the day sections, figuring out where everyone in the family is and what’s going on. On the right hand page I’ve been noting down the big things I need to get done that week. In the run up to Christmas this has been really helpful.

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Travelers Company Weekly + Memo Refill

This has been a constant notebook I have used for years now and I love this refill. My use over this time hasn’t changed either. I record small snippets of my day and decorate the pages. Nothing practical, no times, purely things that I experienced on that day.

Overall thoughts.

I went into this year with too much. I always do this, but this year it wasn't manageable and as a result I didn't use some of these planners. I hate being wasteful like this, but it has influenced my decisions about 2019.

The Jibun Techo has been a great planner for 2018 and it’s almost become a form of analogue time tracker. It’s enabled me to see how I spend my personal time and the things I achieve each week.

Next week I will be sharing my 2019 planner plans. I have most of the items already and I will share with you what they are and what attracted me to these planners. 2018 has been a year of personal change and as a result what I need from my planners has changed too.

Baum-Kuchen shared an excellent post on choosing your planner and the evolution of their planners. If you didn’t see this check it out here, it really got me thinking about what and how I use my planners.

Mid-Week Mini: Baron Fig Strategist Note Cards

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The Baron Fig Strategist Note Cards are Baron Figs take on an index card. I have never really been an index card user. They remind me of university presentations and a set of notes that usually proved completely useless.

Anyhow, I decided to throw a set of these in with an order to see what they were like and if I would use them. On the whole I didn’t. I have a pocket notebook for dumping all the small bits of information I need or use. My daily task list goes in there, things I want to look at later on, order numbers etc. So the index card didn't seem to have a use case.

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But then NaNoWriMo came along and I needed somewhere to dump ideas. Small tidbits of information that I didn't want lost in a pocket notebook and weren’t complex or sufficient enough to throw into their own notebook. This was when I found a need for a note card.

A few of my NaNoWriMo notes on cards

A few of my NaNoWriMo notes on cards

So the Baron Fig Strategist cards, have a typical Baron Fig-esq name. They are aspirational and a little lofty but essentially these are small note cards made from thick paper.

My preferred way to use the Strategist note cards - thick felt tip style pen.

My preferred way to use the Strategist note cards - thick felt tip style pen.

The big difference with the Strategist note cards is they have the same dot grid ruling that you get with Baron Fig notebooks and I believe is not that common on an index card. The dot grid makes the note card more versatile, you can draw, or have some cool lettering...whatever it may be the dot grid opens up how you can use these note cards.

That sweet dot grid.

That sweet dot grid.

The other nice little feature on these note cards is they come with rounded corners. This makes them look a little smarter and more considered but it also stops the corners getting beaten up and the note cards looking ragged.

You get 100 cards per pack of the Strategist note cards. They’re shrink wrapped which means when the pack is open, it’s open. I have been using a Field Notes band of rubber to keep the note cards together and stop me loosing them.

Keeping all the note cards together has been a slight challenge, but nothing the Band of Rubber can’t fix.

Keeping all the note cards together has been a slight challenge, but nothing the Band of Rubber can’t fix.

Overall thoughts.

I haven’t used the Strategist note cards every day because I don’t have a need to. However for projects, shopping lists, notes to your husband/wife or kids...these are really cool. Printing the dot grid on both sides of the note card would be my only desired addition. I know this would lead to printing complications but it would mean both sides are uniform.