Notebooks

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Two giant pandas meet two giant pandas

Filed in Notebooks, Stress Busters, Travels

The two in the foreground are the “cover models” for Nostalgie’s “Giant Panda” notebook cover.

The two in the background are Mei Xin (left) and Feng Yi (right), two giant pandas living at the giant panda habitat at the Seven Star Park’s Zoo in Guilin, China.

I’d received the notebook as a gift from Ms Karen Doherty, Vice President, Marketing, Exaclair, Inc (exclusive US distributor of Clairefontaine, Exacompta, Rhodia, Quo Vadis, G Lalo, Brause, J Herbin and Decopatch products) in late March (thanks again, Karen). By then, I’d returned from my annual volunteer trip to Bifengxia Panda Base. But I was planning a visit to Guilin later in the year, and when that materialised and I was packing for the trip, I made sure to pack the notebook, to journal in, as well as to take a picture with Mei Xin and Feng Yi.

The picture was taken thro’ the glass display at the indoor enclosure. This is the best I can do for now, but I’ll be visiting them again a few more days, so I’ll make sure to take more, and hopefully better, pictures. In case anyone’s wondering, hand holding notebook belongs to keeper Zhang.

More than a planner

Filed in Notebooks

It only took 50 days (all of January and 19 days of February), but I finally figured out what to do with the “Notes” section of my home-made 2010 planner (a “converted” large Quo Vadis Habana notebook).

There was a slight problem with using that section. Well, two, actually. The first – its smooth white pages were too nice to be written on – has been solved. It was the second that took the previously mentioned 50 days to figure out.

After allocating pages for the dividers, monthly and weekly sections, the planner only has 10 sheets or 20 pages for the “Notes” section. My previous planners (Moleskine) had 90 pages which I never filled up. Now that I only have 20 pages in my 2010 planner, I didn’t want to waste them with to-do lists, etc.

After solving the first problem, I’d actually written in the “Notes” section. So far, I’ve written on three pages – one page of notes from a particular “Every Day With Jesus” reading, one page of my 2010 “big rocks” and less than half a page of (two) quotable quotes.

Yesterday, while going through … can’t remember if it was a blog on my Google Reader or a twitter link – I came upon a post about printing and making a small goals booklet to go in the wallet. I printed it out but couldn’t get it to fold as per instructions. It was while looking at the various pages that I realised what I could do with my 2010 planner’s “Notes” section.

I would use the “Notes” pages for each of the goal areas from the booklet. More than that, I would use a 2-page spread for each goal area.

The booklet has five defined goal pages for “Education & Training”, “Family & Relationship”, “Financial”, “Health & Fitness”, “Recreation & Leisure”, and a blank page to be filled in with a goal of the user’s choice. I decided to use it for “Writing”. There was, however, something missing from the booklet. What about “Work”? So I added a seventh for “Work” – this might apply more for freelancers who need to set goals for adding more clients and projects.

So there was my “Notes” section mostly filled.

The layout of the booklet gave me another idea. Instead of just writing out the goal areas at the top of their designated pages, I decided to paste their respective page layouts from the booklet. This would give a little colour to the pages, too.

I decided to start from the back, so that the left-over blank pages would continue from the last (half-filled) written page. I counted off the pages, and then encountered another problem – which goal area goes first? Whichever I chose, it would imply a hierarchy of importance. To save myself the headache, I decide to put them in alphabetical order. Problem solved.

Here’s the page for my “Recreation & Leisure” goal page:

Right off the top of my head, I have three goals for this page, all of them travel related. I’m already fulfilling the first goal – I’ll be going to the Bifengxia Panda Base in early March. *big grin*

Besides writing down the goals, I plan to write down the progress of meeting those goals. Which would make the “Notes” section a log of sorts.

And there we have it – my 2010 planner complete with planner in front and progress log at the back.

Mission accomplished. Now to use the planner efficiently and effectively for the rest of the year.

Breaking in my 2010 Planner

Filed in Notebooks

I finally wrote in my 2010 planner (a “converted” large Quo Vadis Habana notebook). I mean with ink. Before this, I was using a pencil to write in the planner.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to use this for the rest of the year. I found myself thinking I’m glad I only marked up the first three months of weekly pages. I’ve been feeling intimidated by its smooth white pages. I also didn’t much care for the size (I liked it initially, equating bigger size with more space to write in) which I have found hard to “grab and run”. There was also the rubbery cover that I still haven’t got used to. (Confession – I found myself missing the Moleskine’s rough cover and rough, off-white pages, so I took out a previous year’s M home-made planner to hold and caress.) Plus I’m still not used to the too big space between the lines.

I’d earlier personalised the cover with a sticker.

I guess it wasn’t enough.

But now it’s all good. I’m keeping the 2010 planner to use for the rest of the year. The change came when I broke the surface of the first set of weekly pages with ink. The previous pencil markings were tentative (and timid) attempts at claiming ownership. Now, I own my 2010 planner. I’m not intimidated by its white pages anymore.

Here are the two pages for the current week (4 – 10 January 2010).

The weekly layout is the change I mentioned in a previous post.

Reviewing the above week also helped me work out the process of using the pages from now on.

* Looking forward, items will be pencilled in on the right “notes” page of the relevant week
* If there’s a date to an item, it will be pencilled into the relevant page slot on the left “planner” page
* During the weekly review, ink will be used to write in comments (completed, next action, etc.)
* As with previous years’ planners, different coloured inks will be used for the different areas of my life (purple – personal, blue – work, brown – family, red – ultra important, etc.)

I’m glad I got the usability problem sorted out within the first full week of the year.

Prepping my 2010 Planner

Filed in Notebooks

At this time of year, we are all thinking about the new year, with the more organised thinking about staying organised in the new year, possibly with the help of a planner of some sort.

While most people have migrated to an electronic planner, there are some who still like a paper planner. I use both. For the electronic, I use two – on my computer, it’s an awesome software called Evernote, while away from the computer, there’s my Palm TX. I’ll be writing a post about Evernote, but for this post, I want to talk about my paper planner, particularly about preparing my 2010 paper planner.

Why do I need to prepare my 2010 planner? After all, there are lots of ready-made planners available. Well, I’ve yet to find a ready-made planner that meets my needs. If it’s the right size, the layout is wrong. If the layout is right, the size is not.

Last year, I received a Space 17 planner as part of the Quo Vadis offer in return for writing a review. There were various planners, in different sizes and featuring different layouts, and I chose Space 17 for its weekly + note page layout.

In the end, I didn’t use the Space 17 planner at all – it was a case of right layout but wrong size. The Space 17 is a weekly pocket planner, which is too small – almost tiny – for my large handwriting. As a result, I didn’t write a review as I was supposed to. Actually, as soon as I held the Space 17 in my hand, I knew I wouldn’t be using it, but I would write the review as promised. But I soon realised that I couldn’t write a review of something I don’t use. So I never wrote the Space 17 review, but have been given a second chance. Read on.

So, with no ready-made planner offering the right size and right layout, I have been making my own home-made planner for a few years now. Since 2006, I have been making them from Moleskine notebooks, but for 2010, I will be using a large Quo Vadis Habana, once again sent to me by Ms Karen Doherty, Vice President, Marketing, Exaclair, Inc (exclusive US distributor of Clairefontaine, Exacompta, Rhodia, Quo Vadis, G Lalo, Brause, J Herbin and Decopatch products), who sent me the Space 17 planner, and is giving me the second chance I wrote about earlier.

Quo Vadis Habana

When I received the Habana, I was so excited I took a picture of it, shrinkwrap and all.

Details:
* Lined
* Round corners
* Elastic closure
* Pocket insert
* 80 sheets
* 6″ x 9″
* Premium “Clairefontaine” 90g paper

The shrinkwrap has since come off, and I’ve fallen in love with the Clairefontaine paper. But I’ve also found three possible disadvantages to the Habana.

The non-slip cover is really non-slip. This means I can’t nudge the Habana to one side to make room for something on the desktop. Not at all. It’s 100% non-slip. That’s supposed to be good, as it won’t slip and slide away. I wish it were less non-slip. Maybe with regular use, the non-slip might wear off? I’ll report back on this later next year.

The space between the lines is big – 8mm compared to 6mm in the large Moleskine. This means only 25 lines per page against 30 lines in the large Moleskine. And the Habana is bigger, too, so there should be more lines to the page. It’s a disadvantage, and I wouln’t mind have more lines to the page, but it’s not a major disadvantage; I can live with it.

The Habana only has 80 sheets (160 pages), compared to 120 sheets (240 pages) in the large Moleskine. My usual home-made planner has 4 sections – quarterly (4 pages), monthly (13 pages – current year plus 1st month of following year), weekly (104 pages – 2 pages per week), and notes (balance of pages). There are also the various divider pages. On the 240-page large Moleskine, I have about 90 pages for notes. On the 160-page Habana, it would only be about 40 pages. This might put the Habana at a disadvantage, but precisely because it’s going to be a home-made planner, the layout is flexible, and I will be tweaking the past year’s layout to get as many notes pages as I can.

Planner Sections (Current)

Quarterly

Monthly

Weekly

2010 Planner Sections

There will be two changes in the layout for my 2010 planner.

There won’t be a quarterly section. This is the least used feature since I stopped working 9-to-5. My current work-from-home set-up doesn’t seem to require a quarterly overview (hence, the empty spaces in the above picture of the quarterly section).

The weekly section will feature the same layout as the Space 17’s – week on the left page and notes on the right. This was a layout I used when I was working, but had forgotten about until I saw the one in Space 17.

This layout will actually give me more notes pages. Another advantage is that the notes will be next to their respective week.

So, that’s the planned layout for my 2010 planner. I haven’t made them yet, but I expect to do so soon, at least before the end of this year.

I will be following up on how I use the Quo Vadis Habana for my 2010 planner throughout the year.

Note – as the pictures show, I haven’t really been using my paper planner. It’s one thing to plan and to have a planner, it’s another thing to actually use the planner to plan! I’m hoping my 2010 planner will help me to be more oganised and to really use the planner. It looks promising – I’m looking forward to writing on the Clairefontaine paper (which is smoother and classier than the Moleskine … but I’m digressing).

An opportunity to win a free Moleskine

Filed in Notebooks

We all know how expensive Moleskine notebooks cost, especially in Malaysia. Well, I’m happy to tell y’all that fellow notebookolic, Armand (he runs two notebook related sites – Moleskinerie and Notebookism – as well as their related sites on Flickr) is giving away free Moleskine notebooks, courtesy of Kikkerland Design Inc, NY, between 16 June and 31 August 2007.

Here’s what you have to do:

1) Email your complete name and mailing address to: moleskinerie@gmail.com. Write:
“2007 Moleskinerie Summer Giveaways” as subject. Do not write anything else. Multiple and blank entries (without mailing addresses) are automatically deleted.

2) We will pick 3 random winners each week. Each person may enter only once and may not win more than one prize. Non-winners automatically qualify for the next draw. Make sure you provide a valid email address. We will pick an alternate winner if we cannot contact you within 7 days from posting of the winners.

3) There will be three (3) weekly drawings one on each of the following dates: June 16, 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21, 26, August 4, 11, 18, 25 and 31 for the following weekly prizes :

One (1) Large Moleskine Notebook (each week) Selections may vary.

– Only one (1) winner per email/physical address.

– Anybody, anywhere in the world age 18 years old or above may join.

– This contest closes on Friday, August 31, 2007 at 11 PM. CST.

Winners’ packages will be mailed out within one week following each drawing (provided the winner has supplied their mailing address}. Sorry we cannot send out replacements in case of loss in transit.

Privacy Notice: Your email address will only be kept for this promo and deleted thereafter. It will not be used, sold or distributed for any other purpose. Promise.

Good luck and happy summer! Get out out! Have a life – and write about it!

Note – anybody, anywhere in the world age 18 years old or above may join, so go ahead and email in your details.