Notebooks

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.

IMG_2356.jpg

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.

IMG_2359.jpg

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.

IMG_2363.jpg

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.

IMG_2364.jpg

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.

IMG_2366.jpg

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.

IMG_2367.jpg

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.

IMG_2369.jpg

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.

IMG_2370.jpg

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.

IMG_2371.jpg

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.

IMG_2372.jpg

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.

IMG_2374.jpg

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.

IMG_2357.jpg

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.

IMG_2375.jpg

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: Field Notes End Papers: Initial Thoughts.

IMG_1627.jpg

The latest Field Notes quarterly release,End Papers, was another example of Field Notes pushing the boundaries of what they do with a pocket notebook. It seems like once a year Field Notes try something different with the quarterly release and this time we get a new size and the recurrence of the signature binding.

IMG_1629.jpg

End Papers is a little taller than the Signature Field Notes but the same width as a normal standard Field Notes pocket notebook. This makes it a little odd in size. Let me explain what I mean.

Binding.

Signature binding feels too burdensome on a pocket notebook. With small notebooks I don’t like or think signature binding is needed. Staples are easier and makes the notebook easier to use. Pushing against signature binding to just be able to use it is not a challenge I really want.

IMG_1638.jpg

Size.

The size of this notebook feels strange. It feels too tall and slim and too bulky with the additional pages - 68 pages versus the 48 found in a standard Field Notes.

Ruling.

Their is a mixed page rulings within this release, left hand page is blank and the right ruled. This mixed ruling makes me want to write on the right hand side and then leave the left unused. I don’t think a mixed ruling works within a pocket notebook, it feels like a waste of pages. On an A5 sized notebook there could be an argument of why this is useful and how it could be used, but for me on a pocket notebook it doesn’t work.

IMG_1636.jpg

Switching to a little positivity within this release the design of the End Papers is classic and simple with dark covers and debossed logo on the cover.

IMG_1632.jpg

The marbled papers on the inside covers are pretty and I really liked seeing the process video that accompanied this release. The colours are a little muted, it would have been nice to have a little bit of colour. I like the combinations used on the Timber Green notebook the most.

IMG_1633.jpg

Overall thoughts.

The signature binding makes me think of Write notepads and the more Field Notes use this binding on their notebooks the less inclined I am to use them. On the Field Note Signature series of notebooks the binding doesn’t inhibit how you use the notebook because of its larger size. With End Papers I don’t think this binding style works.

IMG_1634.jpg

I like that Field Notes try different things but this release isn’t for me. The marbling process was obviously the main goal with this release but I think it could have been implemented in lots of different, cool and impactful ways.

Mid-Week Mini: Rollo London A6 Hardy Notebook

IMG_0253.jpg

Rollo London sent me over a copy of their new Paperchase Hardy notebooks to test run before the launch. All the thoughts expressed in this review are my own.

I have reviewed a Rollo London Hardy notebook in the past. Alex from Rollo got in touch recently asking if I would like to review another one of their notebooks that will be featuring in Paperchase in the UK.

IMG_0254.jpg

The red A6 Hardy notebook is much like its larger partner. There are 192 pages of cream lined paper. The hard cover exterior has a textured finish with the Rollo London dog charm attached to the front.

IMG_0255.jpg

There is an elastic closure, rear pocket on the back inside cover and a black bookmark. The Hardy comes with most of the things you would expect from a high end notebook.

IMG_0257.jpg

I have been using this notebook for a couple of weeks testing out various different pens and pencils. The paper handled most of the pens I use everyday pretty well. There was however quite a bit of show through on the page particularly with fountain pens, with some of my heavier marks leaving a trace on the reverse page.

The lined ruling feels a little tight on the page. I have quite big handwriting and found it hard to keep within the ruling. I also wish the line shade was a little lighter so it was less distracting. Finally it would be good if the ruling was across the full width of the page and the blank boarder disappeared.

IMG_0256.jpg

You can tell the Hardy notebook is quality and high end. The finish is excellent, but for me a few improvements to the paper would really elevate these notebooks and make them even better.

The Hardy can now be found in Paperchase. I would like to thank Rollo London for sending me the Hardy to review.

IMG_0258.jpg

Mid-Week Mini: Field Notes Signature

IMG_0054.jpg

It’s not often that the guys at Field Notes release a new addition to their standard product line-up but in the not so distant past they released the Signature Series. This came to the Field Notes flock due to huge demand after the success of their Dime limited edition.

Size comparison against a Two Rivers pocket size Field Notes

Size comparison against a Two Rivers pocket size Field Notes

The Signature comes in a slightly larger size, 4 1/4” x 6 1/2” and with 72 rather than 48 pages. There are two different book options, one ruled (hurrah!) and the other is a sketchbook with plain paper. Both notebooks have a heavier paper stock, 70#T, which is again welcome as it really opens up the variety of writing tools you can use. For some time the lack of a heavier paper stock from Field Notes has limited how and when I use their products, but the Signature has changed all that. I have been happily using fountain pens with no feathering or bleed through and testing out some of my coloured pencils in the sketchbook.

The binding on the Signature gives this notebook its name. The three staples are ditched and a signature binding used which accommodates the size and additional pages.

IMG_0059.jpg

The binding also means the notebook lays almost flat which really is needed on these types of notebooks.

IMG_0058.jpg

On the spine the notebook particulars are debossed. These small details really finish off this product nicely and set it apart from the pocket notebooks.

A few of these lined up on a shelf would look sweet!

A few of these lined up on a shelf would look sweet!

Each version of the Signature has its own colour. The sketchbook is a lovely blue-grey shade and the ruled notebook is a creamy colour. The branding is debossed giving it a really nice subtle finish.

IMG_0055.jpg

We have grown accustomed to good design from Field Notes. The Signature is very muted and simple but the little Field Notes Flourish (FNF) creeps in and I love it. For this notebook it comes with the logo which is delicious. You see this on the belly band and also debossed on the back of the notebook. It’s such a simple logo, it doesn’t have any new information on it, or anything specific to this notebook as such but I really like it. Thick lines!

IMG_0063.jpg

There’s a lot to like about the Signature notebooks and it’s a fab addition to the Field Notes line. I haven’t liked a new Field Notes notebook, limited editions included, as much as this one for some time. The muted colours are beautiful and will give this line longevity. The ruled and plain paper may not be to everyones favour but personally I love them. Grid paper is used so often in the pocket notebook sizes I think we are due to some alternatives and putting these into the larger size makes sense. The sketchbook couldn’t come at a better time for me in my sketching journey so I love this too. I’m going to stick my neck out and say these are my favourite Field Notes they have released and fit into my notebook usage perfectly.

Bravo Field Notes!