Friday, 22 July 2016

Current set-up in my Traveller's Journal

Traveller's Journal from
The Stamford Notebook Company

I've not really given you all an update about how the diary/bullet journalling system is going. Largely because I've not really made many tweaks and it's all still working well! In essence, there are three parts to the system: (1) a notebook with long-term planning and Goals to Next Actions; (2) a Traveller's Journal as my carry around with money, diary and space for notes; (3) an A6 notebook for daily planning/bullet journalling.

The Goals to Next Actions are still in the Leuchtturm 1917 and are the same as they were in this post so I'll not say any more. It lives at home all the time as I have no need for it other than during my Sunday planning sessions.

The Traveller's Journal:
The only thing I've changed significantly in this is the diary. I've struggled with the week plus notes diary that I got from The Stamford Notebook Company since I got it to be honest. There's just something about the layout that isn't working for me. Their layout is the days horizontally on the left and lined paper on the right, with fairly wide ruling. It was a combination of the wide ruling and the horizontal days that didn't work for me and so once I got to the end of the first booklet (January to end of June), I swapped out.

Hateful Moleskine with some washi tape

I've gone back to the format I had at the end of last year - eight boxes on the LHS and eight boxes on the RHS for a week. The eight on the left are Mon-Sun plus a space for tracking (though I'm not really using it all that much). The eight boxes on the RHS are for noting tasks relating to my Life Areas, plus a space for what's coming up next week (because I'm too daft to be able to turn the page over). Weekly tasks get noted in the appropriate Life Area boxes. I usually only label up most of the Life Areas during my weekly planning session as sometimes some areas need less than a block and two areas can share and others need more and spill over!

Deliberately dull week! Save me needing to redact things.

I've yet to find anywhere that makes a layout like this, so I've drawn it out for myself. Yes, that's tedious, but at least I have what I want and it probably only took the same time as setting up a mail-merge thing, printing it, cutting it and binding it. I've used a squared Moleskine cahier. I loathe, hate and abhor Moleskine cahiers but I have some and I'm going to use them up. I have some small day of the week stamps which I've used to label up the weeks. Otherwise, dates are written in by hand.

Close-up of LHS
Close-up of RHS

In the TJ, the contents are the same as they have been for ages: money in a zipper pocket/slip pocket insert (Midori 008 insert); cards in a Midori 007 insert and then the diary. Behind the diary is another hateful Moleskine cahier (I've almost finished using them up!) for jotting notes down while out and about.
So, that's my carry-around. I have my money, cards, diary and space for notes, all in something only slightly bigger than a personal size Filofax and smaller than an A5 Filofax. However, the day spaces in the diary aren't big enough for day to day planning/working and so I also have an A6 bullet-journal.

A6 bullet-journal:

Home-made cover

Each Sunday, I plan out when I will try and do tasks from my Life Areas lists and add them (in colour-coded pen) to the days in my A6 bullet journal. However, my days frequently end up with other small things needing noting that aren't part of my Life Areas but which need to be remembered, at least for a while. These are also noted in the A6. I don't really do bullet-journalling the way the original system does with one giant list of stuff. I'm far too over-organised for my brain to deal with that! No, I have my week plus notes in my TJ (and if anything arises that is week specific, it gets added to the appropriate week immediately) and I have day to day lists in my A6 notebook. This is a slight jumble of specific tasks, other tasks that cropped up that day and random things to note/remember. The A6 is small enough that it's always on me but has enough space to be able to note everything. Frequently, both the TJ and the bullet-journal are on my desk next to me. At the end of the week, I go through the A6 book and move any information that needs keeping to its final home, tick off things that got done (these frequently are ticked as they're done), think about the stuff that's not been done and either add it to the next week's list or discard it. Neither the diary nor the A6 notebooks get kept.

Cover open

The A6 notebook that I use is a squared Clairefontaine. I had been using two pages per day, but was barely needing that amount of space so have moved to a day per page.

Um... quiet day!

There is another elastic, so that when I'm running out of notebook, I can put another one in behind. I have a zillion of these books and will probably just keep going with them, but a significant part of my brain also thinks I could just use the notebook in the Traveller's Journal! I think what has stopped me from doing so thus far is the fact I've been using up the Moleskine cahiers in there and hate writing in them! I'll get the A5 version of the Clairefontaine squared notebooks and cut them to size and use them as soon as the Moleskine is used up!

Well, that's my system. It hasn't really changed much and has been working really well for me. What do people think?

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Guest post from Stuart Lennon

Today's post is by my good friend and writing buddy Stuart Lennon, who blogs over at

Since we met, I've been dragging him over to the dark side of stationery, Filofaxes and fountain pens and he has kindly agreed to do a guest post about how he uses his Filofax for keeping his life in order. Over to you, Stuart!
[click on any picture to enlarge]

Stuart's trusty Malden A5

Late in 2014, I sold my business and set up a website, boldly declaring myself a writer.

Waking up without a business to run was liberating. My time was my own. Soon, I discovered that without focus, my time was simply evaporating.

In an online writer’s community, I met a certain Amanda and somehow or other, we got to talking about fountain pens and paper.

Within days, I was an inveterate stationery addict and began considering whether Amanda’s excellent ‘Planning System’ (which you can read about here) might help me get a grip on my productivity.

Size / System

I had used DayTimer in the past, and researched other US systems, such as Franklin Covey. I saw no compelling reason to go for US binding over UK/EU. On size, I knew that A5 was my favourite. If I need to have a planner with me – then it is not too cumbersome, but it is big enough to be easy to write in at my desk; where it spends most of its time. I carry an A6 notebook as my ‘portable’.

My wife has pointed out to me that I am therefore not able to commit to further appointments if I don’t have my diary with me. She is right (always!), but I see this as a benefit. It allows me to return home and reflect on whether I need or want to attend another meeting rather than be pressganged into an unnecessary one.

Planner Layout

I have traditionally used two page per day, with every moment of every day accounted for (and often billed for). I no longer need this. Amanda put forward a persuasive argument about the benefit of seeing an entire week at one glance. My intention was to use the planner pages for fixed appointments and time blocking. Notes and task lists were going to be somewhere else. Week to view looked good.

Week to view diary (by Smythson)

Planner Paper

I now use and enjoy a fountain pen. Modern Filofax paper is not well thought of by fountain pen users. Despite this, there seems to be very little provision in the market place for ‘ink friendly’ Filofax inserts. One possible solution is to print my own. Some clever and generous people at and have designed bespoke layouts, which can be downloaded and printed at home. A less labour-intensive, but costlier solution is to buy Smythson refills. Being clumsy and incompetent at most craft activities, I went for Smythson.


I researched at, another excellent recommendation from Amanda. Committed as I was to Smythson diary refills, one of their binders seemed a good idea. The price gave me pause. I settled on a Filofax Malden in Ochre. I prefer a little flexibility and soft feel over rigidity. There are two pen loops. I am able to fit my fountain pen in either. Inside front cover of the binder has a variety of slip pockets and a full height zipper pocket. The Malden goes for £112 on the Filofax website, but I found it at £77 at WH Smith online.

A5 Malden Filofax
Inside cover


Inserts: Week to view diary, section dividers, address pages and lined note paper – all from Smythson. Another section divider, address index, more note paper, neon Post-it selection and plastic wallet are from Filofax. Information pages are from both suppliers.

There is something reassuringly snobby about the Smythson information pages. A chap needs to have a wine vintage chart, the telephone numbers of the principal London Clubs and of course the the British Field Sport Season dates to hand at all times. Obviously.

Next come my Key Result Areas, and adaptation of Amanda’s planning system. These nestle behind the numbered cream dividers supplied by Filofax.

Key Results Area cover
Key Results Area sheets

Then come the gilded royal blue diary pages from Smythson and the addresses section. I keep postal addresses here – for people with whom I correspond in the old-fashioned way. Electronic data and telephone numbers live with their devices. Finally comes a notes section and the utilities, such as the Post-Its.

My intention is to carry Rhodia shopping lists in the pocket on the inside of the rear cover of the Malden. These will serve as my task lists. Keeping them as pads will allow me to use them independently of the binder – perhaps open beside me as I tear through my admin chores for the day (Please God!)

Two Rhodia shopping list pads in the back notebook slot


So far, I have found it useful to place the paper where I intend to write the most in the middle of the binder. This ensures a flatter surface than when writing on pages at the front or the back. The look, feel and smell of the Malden is gorgeous. I’m convinced that my vowels are more rounded, simply by carrying it. The Smythson paper is fantastic to write on. It is indulgent, but, for me at least, worth it. The Filofax inserts in cotton cream were not as poor to write on as I had expected, but do suffer in comparison to the higher quality paper.

Many thanks to Stuart for letting us peek into his Filofax!