Everyday Pen

A personal blog about putting pen on paper.
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Planning in Your Inbox?

Aug 3, 2016

I talked about why the Hobonichi Techo doesn’t work for me and that I use pen and paper to plan:

[…] the development of long term plans still happens on paper and oftentimes I copy appointments from my calendar into my notebook and mix them with tasks to plan the day.

That got me thinking about how differently I use certain tools (Google Calendar in this case) and my pocket notebooks. The processes of making appointments, shuffling them around and writing them down to remember doesn’t involve much thought, neither creative thought nor reasoning why the appointment is there and why I should keep it. It’s just filing. My calendar is an inbox, not a planning tool. The same goes for my email account. Things arrive but are not integrated into my day, my life and not necessarily affiliated with my long term plans and goals. That is why “living in my inbox” and giving the attention to each newly arrived item that my smartphone notification seems to demand is dangerous.

In order to make calendars, to-do lists, email accounts and other types of inboxes (even notebooks if I use them as inboxes) useful to my life, extra steps have to be taken. Here we arrive in the area of real planning, which involves not only the question of where things should go, but why they should go there. Is this task, appointment or email important to my life? If so, how important is it? Can it wait? What do I have to do in order to achieve my long term goals? What is the initiative I personally have to take? These questions can’t be answered with a few clicks, they are deeply personal and demand a flexible tool to handle them. This tool is my notebook, which is where the thinking starts.

I maybe should have tried to integrate the Hobonichi deeper into my planning, instead of trying to replace my inbox with it. For planning however I prefer a more flexible form than a page per day.


Electronic Calendar or Paper Planner?

Aug 2, 2016

In November 2015 I decided to try something new … a paper planner! I picked the widely recommended Hobonichi Techo. The planner doesn’t disappoint, it’s exactly the right format to take everywhere, offers thin but fountain pen friendly paper and looks good on almost every desk. But now in August 2016 I have to assert that I gave up on it.

When I started using the Techo I thought it would be a good fit because I already carry a pocket notebook with me, which eliminated the need to send myself emails to write things down. I wanted to de-digitalize my planning as well, which worked reasonably well for a few months. The reason why I stopped using the Techo in May was not that I gave up on note taking, but that using a paper planner is cumbersome in comparison to using Google Calendar, at least for me.

Google Calendar is on my smartphone, therefore always in my pocket, instead of just in my bag, it syncs with my computer, enables color coding without the need to carry multiple pens, allows for shared calendars, event invites, reminders, recurring events and most importantly: Multiple views. Having a weekly or monthly view to “zoom out to” is very valuable when a quick glance on the schedule is needed, for example at the start of the week or when making appointments. That said … the development of long term plans still happens on paper and oftentimes I copy appointments from my calendar into my notebook and mix them with tasks to plan the day.

The learning: Try different things, find out what works and if it does, use it, if not, go back to established working ways before maybe trying something else in the future.


Vintage Notebooks

Aug 2, 2016

The wonderful Notebook Stories writes about some vintage notebooks from her collection.

Most of my notebooks are ones that I’ve bought new and filled with my own notes and sketches. But I also occasionally succumb to my weakness for collecting other people’s used notebooks when I see them at flea markets or on eBay. Here’s a few that I’ve picked up along the way.

I’ve picked up a vintage notebook of eBay myself which I will be writing about shortly. Sadly it only contains vacation packing lists from an UK person somewhen around 1950, not as exciting as Nifty’s finds.