Friday, 28 November 2014


I know I have a zillion things to review but I'm under strict instructions from my doctor to slow down, take things easy, decompress etc. etc. etc. [In fact, his exact phrase was that he would rather be writing me a sick-certificate than a death-certificate]. Burn-out isn't pretty.

Hence the hiatus in posts.

Bear with me, chaps. I will get back to posting properly soon (I hope)!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Guest post from Gerard: Compact Setup, Compact Write-up

Thank you to my very good friend Gerard for this guest post on the set-up he is using! Read, and drool over the lovely stationery and binders!!

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time".

- T. S. Eliot

L-R Midori date-book, Davinci binder, Smythson notebook
It sometimes seems as though I barely touch down in one binder before moving on to the next. Apart from the simple fun in the exploration, each change offers a fresh look at what I'm carrying about with me, and why. There's often no big change, but the fun remains, and it's a way of staying engaged with my set-up, which currently spans a Personal binder, A5 journal and a pocket notebook.

The binder is a Davinci Compact Personal - which the Japanese call "Bible" size - with the evocative model name DB1703. It's a very well made bridle leather binder, with 15mm rings, a single retractable pen loop and a slip fastening. I chose the dark brown colour, and it's a nice rich chestnut shade. The inside covers are pale tan leather, with two-full height pockets and three credit card slots inside the front cover. The back cover features another full-height pocket and a handy secretarial pocket. The binder also has ring protectors, to prevent the rings showing through to the outside leather. As a bonus, the Davinci refills use the lovely Tomoe River paper, so I can finally use fountain pens for writing in all three books.

The Davinci’s contents are arranged using standard Filofax subject tabs, and the following is a brief outline of what sits behind each tab:
Diary: 10x monthly planner sheets, 16 weeks of standard Filofax WO2P Diary, printed sheets for Birthdays/Anniversaries and Annual Leave.

Monthly planner pages
Close-up of the monthly planner pages

Notes: plenty of lined paper, with a tabbed flyleaf to mark a subdivision.
Projects: GTD Lists at the front (Next Actions, Waiting For, Errands), followed by another tabbed flyleaf to mark Project Plans and Checklists, and a Someday/Maybe List, and finally a supply of blank paper for notes and planning. Each month I create a simple list of 12 goals, two relating to each of my six defined Life Areas. I use these as an overall guide to manage my time and attention, as I’ve found that anything more rigid is likely to go by the board.

Monthly goals sheets

Information: specific printed checklists for Holidays and other purposes, plus more notes.
Financial: a handful of sheets for household bills etc.
Addresses: Three sheets printed double-sided with full details for almost 90 contacts, a sheet for noting new contacts and two sheets for WWW addresses. Closing off the binder is a business card holder for cards and postage stamps, and a top opening envelope that carries paper slips and a lovely guinea fowl card that was a gift from Amanda!

The back of the binder
Essentially, all I'm carrying now is a diary, task and to do lists, some pages for planning and information on the go and plenty of notepaper. The overflow diary leaves, along with high level planning sections stay at home in an old Succes compact binder.

I use a Smythson Panama pocket notebook for book notes, and as a sort of commonplace book. It's just three by five inches and comes along in my pocket for evening outings, as well as travelling in my briefcase by day. It holds quotes and random notes, and the fact that they are permanently bound in chronological order makes for, uhhm, diverting reading, and some surprising changes of direction.

The final component of my setup is an A5 Midori Datebook for journalling, which only occasionally leaves home. It contains a two-page overview for each month, followed by plenty of undated lined pages. These lined pages are each divided by thicker lines into four sections, so that a two-page spread can accommodate six or seven lines of notes for each weekday, with an additional space for memos. Being undated, these pages work equally well for periodic journalling.

Midori - monthly overview pages

Midori - lined pages, and GORGEOUS pens
That’s the Paper side of things covered, but what about the Pens and Ink?  The pen loop carries a Graf von Faber Castell ballpoint, for times when a biro can’t be avoided. For all writing on Filofax paper, I use an Aurora Optima rollerball fitted with a Pilot G2 gel refill. A Sailor Pro Gear fountain pen with Sailor Yama dori ink serves for notes on the lovely Tomoe River, Smythson and Midori papers.

Beautiful trio!!

So, that's it - a simple, compact system in three parts, each perfectly adapted to its purpose, that allows me to carry precisely what I need at any time.

Is anyone else using a range of formats? Please share any thoughts in the comments.