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.

Mid-Week Mini: Bastet and Bee Notepads

Bastet and Bee sent me a couple of their notepads to play around with and review here on the blog. All thoughts expressed here are my own.

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Bastet and Bee produce notepads in unconventional designs with the aim of encouraging you to think differently.

They have a handful of designs available but I was drawn to the Stack and Play notepad. I really liked the playful designs but also the balance of colours. The grey and yellow are complimentary and aren’t too imposing.

The Play notepad I actually think is the more subdued of the two designs I have. I thought this option would be easier to use with the number of boxed off areas. It is less vibrant too.

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The Stack was my favourite of the two and the one I ended up using a lot more. The boxes were great for jotting down tasks that popped into my head or for taking random notes on calls.

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In terms of writing tools on these notepads they fared well. The paper quality isn’t too bad and could handle most of the pens I used with it. Some did feather a little, mostly the fountain pens. But markers help up well and didn’t bleed through onto the next page.

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I like what Bastet and Bee have created. The notepads come in a number of good designs and the colour scheme is really nice, but I am a fan of anything yellow.

 Glue binding along the left hand, long side of the notepad

Glue binding along the left hand, long side of the notepad

I’d like to thank Bastet and Bee for sending me their desk pads to review here on the blog.

Trigg Life Mapper: Initial Impressions.

Trigg kindly sent me one of their award winning Life Mappers to review on the blog. All the thoughts shared in this post are my own.

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The Trigg Life Mapper has been on my radar for a while. I had seen people posting about their planner on Instagram and the bold colour scheme really caught my attention. I have an interest in planners generally and I like to see what and how people use them. Trigg also won the Best New Product at the Stationery Show in London earlier on this year. So I didn’t come to this product cold, I already had some thoughts based on what I had seen.

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This is the time of year when people are looking for planners, researching, watching YouTube videos and trying to gather all the information they can to make the best decision for their annual planner.

This review is lengthy and I have tried to cut it back but I felt like the information needed to be shared. Hopefully the headers will guide you through the review, but the plan is to discuss the layout of the Trigg Life Mapper and then give you my personal thoughts.

Productivity Assistance in your planning.

So part of the idea with the Trigg Life Mapper is to offer guidance with your goals for the year. There is a double page at the beginning where you can plan out your year and what you want to achieve.

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There is some guidance here, but it’s very generic and made me feel like I was filling in a job application. I hate being asked about my 5 year plan. It has the ability to make you feel inferior if you don’t have one, but also I don’t like planning out that far in advance, I feel like it sets you up to fail. This sort of start-of-the-year page is not uncommon by any means, but I feel that the questions being asked are dated.

There is a Visual Assessment graph section to fill out. There are 4 focus areas outlined which are: Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. These focus areas are generic and in many ways inclusive to people who perhaps would be interested in a planner. However I come back to the feeling of being restricted by these outlines. The focus areas are too obvious and they don’t resonate at any depth. I do however like the idea of showing reflective or start-of-the-year information in a visual format.

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Monthly Calendar Spreads.

These appear at the start of the planner and you get two months per double page spread. The space per day is a little tight and there definitely isn’t enough room for my big handwriting or multiple appointments per day.

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Each month has a focus and colour theme which ties back to Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. The focus themes are loose associations to the months their given. So for January your focus is intentions which is an obvious choice for the beginning of a new year; February is relationships which I guess is down to Valentines Day and so on.

These focus themes also don’t go any further, they just appear as words on your monthly calendar. This planner is littered with quotes and Trigg comments, and yet at a point when I would have thought some guidance would be necessary, it doesn’t appear.

Annual Forecast pages.

My first note is that the annual forecast pages appear after the monthly calendars splitting the meat of this planner, the monthly and daily pages. I think this section should have gone before the monthly section and keep all the themes and big thinking pages together.

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The aim of these pages again comes back to Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. You write down your goals for each theme. This is done as a list based on the layout of this page but there is no further prompts. No trigger phrases or questions to guide and push you in your thinking and planning process.

The top third of each forecast page has a random assortment of descriptive words that could relate to the theme. Again I think this is for guidance and inspiration but I don’t really think they’re needed and they take up valuable space.

Weekly Priority Planning.

There is a page which kicks off each week. Again the 4 themes come into play here and you write your goal to tackle that week and the actions to help you get there. I am not sure I have a goal for 52 weeks of the year on all 4 of these sections. That feels out of reach entirely.

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The weekly planning though is a good idea and one I like, but I don’t think this page is the right execution of that idea. There is no space for goals that sit outside of the 4 themes either which feels limiting. There is no space for general weekly tasks, such as calling the vet, arranging your car service etc. These don’t fit into the 4 themes but they’re typically things you need to jot down in your planner as general reminders.

Daily pages.

We then come to the real meat of this planner - the daily pages. There is a quote or a Trigg point that heads up each day.

In the top half of the page there is a task, plan and delegation grid to help guide your day. Tasks gives you space for three must do items. There is a box named plan which I am little unsure how to use and then delegate / delay section. The delay / delegate section is interesting but I am not sure how to use this. I don’t think at the start of the day I would know what I want to delay, or whether this is a section that can be filled in at the end of the day and used for future reference? I think it’s an interesting addition to the daily spread but I really don’t know how to implement it.

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The second half of the page is for your appointments. I think the space allocated is too much. I don’t have appointments each day and most of my appointments are captured on my monthly spread. Obviously the headers can be ignored and general notes can be made here.

One other small note, is that Saturday and Sunday don’t get the same layout as the weekdays. They share a page and have none of the daily page features. The weekend days always gets shafted when it comes to space in planners which leaves the weekend workers, or the side-hustle people without the space they need.

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There is a small weekly reflective slot that is included on the weekend pages too, limiting the space even more. This prompts you to reflect on your week and write down something you’re grateful for. There is also the inclusion of some of the map artwork from Mapper theme that comes up on these pages. Everything on this last page feels too tight and squished.

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End of Year Review.

At the end of the planner there are some review pages for the year. There’s another Visual Assessment where you can rate yourself on your 4 pre-set themes. You’re then guided into a double page spread review by themes where you can note the successes and set backs for the year.

There are also a few Notes pages at the back of the planner if you need them.

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My personal thoughts.

I’ve alluded to my thoughts throughout the write up and have tried to not sound harsh but objective with this review. I realise that a planner cannot please or work for everyone but I think there is a lot which could have been improved upon in this planner.

Firstly I was shocked when this planner arrived by how big it is. It’s a very bulky planner, which means it’ll be heavy to carry around and would be uncomfortable to write in with such a huge ledge. I appreciate this is a page a day planner, but there are alternatives out there that are a lot slimmer.

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The mapping theme is good for a planner and I can see why Trigg used this. The use of the mapping artwork doesn’t feel right throughout the planner however. This is a really small thing, but subtler tones (even though grey is used a lot), better quality artwork and thought on the placement and use of the theme would have lifted this planner a lot.

The thought behind the daily pages is a step in the right direction. It guides your day and tries to focus the attention on doing the important things. However in order to focus on the top 3 things for that day I need somewhere to dump the master list, and I think that is what’s missing. The monthly calendars and weekly planning pages don’t give me the space to do this because they’re trying to force me to focus on 4 themes I didn’t choose and potentially don’t care about.

Rethinking the weekly planning pages would help a lot. Some guidance here is fine but I need to space to use these pages as I see fit. And this is likely to change over the course of a year too. Moving the goals and aims piece into the monthly spread would also mean I can focus on more manageable goals in a more manageable period of time.

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Overall thoughts.

I think a productivity planner that isn’t aimed at a corporate person needs to be more than the obvious. Its needs to open up to creative professions, to the side-hustle people, to those who seek out the planners. It has to have a different mindset behind it to really help people be productive.

At the moment I can’t see past the Trigg Life Mapper as some sort of HR self assessment form that I am forced to complete in order to get my bonus. It’s something I go through physical strain to do racking my brain for some nominal thing to include under a header I don’t believe in.

I thought this planner was going to be something more than it was. In part I think I formed these preconceived ideas based on the awards it has won and the social media influences I have, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with the Trigg Life Mapper.

I would like to thank the guys at Trigg for sending me their planner to review.

Mid-Week Mini: NaNoWriMo 2018 Conclusion.

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I have been taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. I took the opportunity of the month to edit the story I wrote by hand last year. This year wasn’t about taking part fully, working towards a 50,000 word goal because frankly I don’t have another story idea and I hadn’t quite managed to do anything with last years NaNoWriMo attempt.

My aim this month was simple. Get the analogue version into a markdown editor, which I have achieved, and secondly to edit.

I have been making good progress on the editing. I haven’t managed to edit everyday. Some days I ran out of time, or steam, and on other days I just didn’t have the motivation.

But then in amongst that there were those magical moments when everything just seemed to work and flow well. I managed to edit a lot of content, or really make some big improvements to plot, or dialogue.

The end of the month is coming to a close and I still haven’t finished with this story. There is more editing required and additional content to bring everything together. There is something that keeps bringing me back to this story and when I am immersed in it I enjoy it. I’m taking that as a good sign and a reason to commit to finishing this story.

I think in some ways NaNoWriMo can look pressurised and competitive. But if you take a small step back from the madness I have found that this month has given me something to focus on, a little encouragement when I chose to find it and the time to write…or in my case edit.

I hope for those who took part in NaNoWriMo this year you’ve all had fun with it and perhaps there are some wonderful stories out there in the making.