Tuesday, 22 July 2014

New planner... new chapter in your life?

I'm a great believer in improving yourself. Learning new things, improving your skills, changing your habits for the better.

It's best to start these things ASAP, so that the improvement kicks in soon. But I used to find myself thinking, "Oh, I'll do it that way next time." Next time WHAT? In my next life? When I'm reincarnated?? (Something I personally don't believe in).

I do think of my life as divided into chapters. I guess it comes from moving around the country so much- you can easily leave your old life behind, and kind of reinvent yourself in the new place, as no-one knows you there- so it's a new life, effectively. I think my life can be divided into chapters- Childhood, Studenthood, Adulthood, Parenthood, Retireehood... So I guess my "next time" is in the next chapters of my life, established adulthood and parenthood. Although, now I realise I need to seize the moment and improve myself now.

Anyway, today I was thinking about needing to improve the way I do certain things, and I found myself thinking, "I'll do it soon", which felt exactly like I was saying "I'll do it next time", as though a new chapter in my life is starting (which it isn't)... but it kind of feels like it is.

Why? Because I'm about to switch to a new planner. These things I want to do, which should improve aspects of my life considerably, involve quite a degree of planning, and I can't plan these things in my current planner (it's just not a flexible enough system to plan them). Therefore, I feel as though when this new planner arrives in a few weeks, it will suddenly open up a whole new world of planning ability.

It's as though an entirely new planner system enables you to make such a distinct change in planning your life, which enables you organise and improve your life considerably, that it feels like getting a new planner starts a new chapter in your life. Because you know that this will be the start of your new, productive, well-organised daily life. All hail the new planner feeling.

Friday, 11 July 2014

A discussion on journalling and creativity

Recently on the Midori Traveler's Notebook Resources Facebook group, Rhomany made a post regarding 'Journalling Inspiration for 'I'm Not Creative' People', which I would like to share and reply to today :) 

Here is the text:


"I want to share this because since so many people consider their MTN a journal, I think it's important to gain perspective of what you want from your journal and what you can achieve. 

So many people say they're not creative enough to have a perfect journal and blah blah blah. 3 things:

1. Perfection is BORING. You hit perfection, you stop learning. You stop learning, you don't grow, so you become stagnant. And did I mention boring.

2. Creativity is not some innate thing like having blonde hair. It's a SKILL and it's a skill you can LEARN.

3. It's just paper. There's more in the shops!

For anyone who doubts this, go check out Courtney Brook's amazing 'Journal Keeper' series on YouTube. You can see the transformation over just a couple of years from mostly writing to the incredible stuff she does now.

It's proof positive that all you need is patience. Not the perfect book, or lovely handwriting (I happen to love hers but she hates it!), not all the expensive materials or hours a day to pursue your art. Just you, your book and a determination to DO IT, regardless of where you consider yourself to be on the ladder of who's better than who - which is also ridiculous but that's a whole other post.

The Journal Keeper:

In the comments below the post Rhomany asked me to share my views as in the past 6 months or so I have gone on a 'journalling journey', changing my perceptions and views of what a journal is supposed to be. I wanted to add some some statements to Rhomany's. So here is my reply! I would like to divide it into two parts: 1) Journalling and 2) Creativity


Here, in this video, you can see how my perceptions of diaries/journals have changed over time, as I used to think journalling was only of the 'Dear Diary' type, and why it has therefore been hard to get my head around different types of journalling.

Now I understand that there are innumerable different types of journals, from the what-happened-today ones, emotional ones, bullet journals, art journals, one for a specific area of your life, etc etc. But also, people call their notebook a 'journal', as if you write a lot down everyday, after a while your notebook can reflect the journey of your life and you can see your thoughts, passions, ideas, projects, obsessions and emotions. From those journals I have seen online, I can see that they are all different. And this is the point of today's post.

Everyone's journals are different. 
Your life and skills are unique; so don't compare your journal (or planner) to others'; but do draw inspiration from them.

There is no right, and no wrong.

Just looking at some photos, or watching a youtube video, it's so easy to see someone else's journal and think that it's beautiful, interesting, cool. And then, looking at your own journal, or notebook, or planner, seeing it everyday, maybe getting bored of seeing the same page layout or handwriting or something, and overanalysing what you see, it's so easy to think that other people's journals are MORE beautiful and MORE interesting than yours, and that yours 'should' look this way. And then when you try to make your journal look exactly the same, it usually won't, because you don't have the same creative skills etc. It is so easy to criticise your own journal because it doesn't look 'perfect'.

There's no easy solution, but maybe I can suggest that you stop looking at other people's photos or videos of their journals until you are comfortable, or even happy, with your own style. But, if like me you really enjoy watching videos etc, you think of these as inspiration, take note of ideas to implement in your journal- maybe try a different handwriting style, draw some doodles, stick in some photos, or go all out and decorate every page. But do it your way, and develop your own creative skills.


Creativity is unique to the individual, and you have some, even if you don't realise it! You just have to find it. There are many different types. Here are a couple of the main ones I have seen expressed in the journals I have seen: Art and Writing. Some people are excellent at drawing/sketching/painting. Some people's skills lie in choosing the perfect colour combinations and putting down a gorgeous arrangement of ephemera on the page. Some just splash colour on the page and write over it, and it looks brilliant. But others have skills in writing; reflecting their thoughts, notes, or literature on paper. In my opinion, this is as much a creative skill as art.  But most of us don't have these skills naturally.

Embrace the creativity that you are good at; but at the same time practice the skills you want to become good at. Don't compare yourself to others; if you are just starting out at a new creative hobby, these people probably have dozens of hours of practice more than you, and may be more naturally skilled than you are to start with. So don't compare yourself to them.

And as Rhomany says, it doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, it just has to be YOURS.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Filofax Want-Need-Buy-Dismiss Cycle and how to break it.

Hi guys!

Sorry I've had an unplanned blog hiatus, but I just couldn't think of anything to write about!

Anyway, this one started out as a post on the Facebook Midori TN Resources group, but it was so long I decided to make it into an actual blog post!!

When I started out in the Philofaxy community over 3 years ago, I was caught up in the 'I need to buy X Filofax because it will change my life'. Nearly everyone in that community goes through a stage when they think that buying a particular Filofax with a different pocket layout etc will solve all of their organisational problems, because they think that their life wasn't perfect when they were using their previous Filofax, and everything will change now with a different one. Looking back a few years later, I see how silly this stage of my Filofax voyage was. OK, some binder changes will help- upsizing or downsizing as best suits your needs, or getting one with bigger or smaller rings- these changes are practical and sensible. But really all a binder is is 2 sides of a cover and a set of rings. What they look like and how their pockets are set out shouldn't change how you enable the key purpose of a Filofax- to organise your life- and that happens on the rings with your organisational set up. Really, all we need is something as simple as a cardboard or plastic cover and a decent set of rings. Then set up the actual pages and sections as YOU need. But it's easy to get caught up in this whirlwind of planner buying, and thinking a new one will change your life is part of a largely unavoidable cycle; after a few weeks or a couple of months, if the user's life hasn't miraculously improved, they think it's the binder's fault and look for yet another one with a different pocket layout etc, thinking that will solve all of their problems. It's so easy to forget that with all of the binder configurations out there, it's more important to work on the inside set-up of your sections etc and how you use them, than to worry about the actual binder they're in! You could spend £10 or £300, but really, it's what's inside (i.e. the set-up) that counts.

    Since I've been using my Midoris and Fauxdoris I've found planner peace. The beauty of Midori Traveler's Notebooks and Fauxdoris is that they're so simple. Because they all (well, most) start out as only a rectangle of leather and some elastics- no pockets, no zips- it really is up to you how you customise it to your own needs. There's no need to buy another one because this one doesn't have the pockets you need, because you can just buy the Midori pocket inserts, or make your own file folder insert.  In a Filofax, if you want something with the Holborn pocket layout, you have to buy a Holborn. In a -dori, all you have to do is make a folder insert with the same pocket configuration out of an old file folder. I did it last night for my new A5 one; it took me a couple of hours and cost 80p for the file folder, instead of £70 for a new Filofax. It's so easy to make things yourself that it is possible to customise your -dori almost to perfection. No need to buy a brand new one because your current one isn't working, just modify the insides to your needs. And because they are all basically the same, you don't think 'this rectangle of leather with elastic bands isn't working for me, I need to buy another rectangle of leather with elastic bands to change my life'. There just isn't the same market out there with all of the options like there is in the binder market, so if you want your -dori to be a certain way, you are forced (in a good way) to do it yourself. This helps you achieve planner peace on the superficial level (i.e. the 'pockets and pen loops' level) so much quicker, and in a way so much more perfect for YOU, because the Midoris and Fauxdoris are simple objects with the ability to be moulded to your life. OK, there are some fauxdoris made with custom options, like ones with different elastic configurations and ones with pockets built in, but in essence the majority are the same, they are just made with superficial changes like a different colour leather. Unlike the buying binders frenzy of the Philofaxy world, the only way that I can think that buying a new one would improve the way you plan and organise your life is that getting one in your favourite colour would make you use it more, or buying (or making) one with 4 elastics instead of 2 would let you fit more books in, enabling you to fit everything you need in there. So once you have customised all of the pockets etc to your needs, you can stop worrying about it, and get on with the important thing: creating a set-up that is ideal for your life and helps you stay organised. Instead of the stress of thinking "I need to buy a different binder", you now have the focus and concentration to perfect your set-up, and find planner peace.

I'm not trying to say that Midoris are better than Filofaxes, or trying to insult the Philofaxy community. I love this world, and the Philofaxy community is full of wonderful, helpful people. It's just that I recently read a post by someone who I know is still going through all of this stress with trying to find the perfect binder even years after she started looking, and I wanted to write something that could maybe help some people realise the binder isn't the important thing, it's literally what's inside that counts. I've used Filofaxes and Midoris as my two examples, but you could say the same thing about other types of planners too. I'm not saying you need to buy a Midori or Fauxdori to find planner peace; you can do this with the planner you already have. Basically, for a couple of months, try this experiment. Sit down and really think of what you really need from a planner. Pick up the planner you are currently using. Does it have the pockets you need? No? Well, get some card and make a pocket insert that sits on your rings. Does it have a second pen loop that you need? No? Make one out of washi tape or duct tape and stick it on to a divider. Make other modifications as you need. Now it has everything you need on a superficial and practical level, you can give out a sigh of relief and concentrate on your set-up. Then, just USE it. If ,after a couple of months, you still really need something with different pockets, consider buying it. But hopefully this experiment will help to break the want-need-buy-dismiss cycle.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Waffle about my A5 Fauxdori for hobbies and my Midori TN planner!

This blog post is dedicated to my friends over at the facebook Midori Traveler's Notebook Resources group!

I'm very happily using my Midori Traveler's Notebook as my planner! It contains a diary (calendar) of 12 months of WO2P and MO2P spliced, an Organisation insert for my 'Current' lists and other lists (to-dos etc), and my journal. Here's my January MTN video if you want more info on my set-up!

I'm still using my Filofaxes for some key things: my Egyptology research (A5 Ochre Malden) and my Art Journal (I'll switch between my A5 Aqua Malden and A5 Espresso Siena). I think I'll also use my Mulberry Agenda to store my important information in the A-Z dividers, and my compact Raspberry Chameleon as my craft/art inventory so when I go shopping I don't buy duplicates of what I already have!

However, I have Filofaxes that have purposes for my other hobbies, but since I've been working full-time, I don't have the free time to do all of these hobbies, and I've found that I haven't been using these Filofaxes. I feel a bit of regret that those Filofaxes are sitting on the shelf not being touched for weeks or months, or in some cases, completely empty, because although I know what I want to use them for, I haven't set them up yet after a year! The problem is that I don't have the time or energy to do all of these hobbies, such as researching Tudor history, or if I do find the time to do them, I don't have enough to put in these Filos (maybe a few pages of writing per week) to justify using a whole Filofax for each of them.

Also, another problem is that these Filofaxes are 'stored' on my shelf, and I don't carry them around the house with me. Over the past few weeks when I've been using my notebook (an A5 Oxford Signature notebook, just for random notes, lists, etc- see this video), I've noticed that I've been using it all the time because I've been carrying it around the house everywhere!! So I really need to use something for my hobbies that has everything in one cover, and that I can carry around the house everywhere! True, I could use a Filofax with different sections for each hobby, but you guys know how paranoid I am about damaging my Filos, and I really love the Midori TN format- so I'm going to use an A5 Fauxdori instead!

A Fauxdori is like a Midori TN, but not made by Midori- it's a 'fake' (in the good sense of the word), made by a crafter for sale (e.g. Ray Blake's 'Raydori', Monique, Tracy) or by yourself- there are some great tutorials on Youtube, for example this one by Ray.

I intend to set up an A5 Fauxdori for all of these hobby things etc. I want to buy a leather one eventually, but I can't decide which colour to choose, so I'm going to use some stiffened felt to make one in the meantime while I decide. I want it to be A5 because that's my ideal size; while I have a couple of Raydoris I could use instead, these are based on Midori standard size, and I really want the width of the A5 page. I haven't figured out the set-up yet, but I think I'm going to put in my A5 Oxford notebook, and make my own A5 thin notebooks out of A4 paper! I've already made some pocket inserts for it during my tutorial in this Youtube video:

I'll make a video, and possibly write a blog post, when I've finished setting it up!

Therefore this fauxdori is going to be my fun-dori! It will be for my hobbies, fun projects, sketching, etc etc. I will play with it and use it in the evenings and during the weekends after I've done my chores, to-dos, and finished getting prepared for work the next day (e.g. making my packed lunch).
But you may be asking, why can't I have this hobby stuff inside the Midori I also use as my planner?
Firstly, I will be writing so much in this fauxdori, I'd run through a 64 page insert in a couple of weeks (I write a lot), and also I wouldn't be able to hold any information in there for long-term! But mainly, I know I need to keep them separate.
My planner is great for keeping myself organised, and I love playing with it, using it, and just looking at its gorgeousness during the morning, while travelling to and from work on the bus and during my lunch break (when I subconsciously feel the need to be organised), but during the evening, when I'm trying to feel relaxed and do fun things, I don't actually like opening it that much! I realised that's because when I'm trying to relax, I subconsciously don't want to look at something that has a big list of Things I Must Do- for a while, I was annoyed and disappointed that I never looked at my Midori planner when I'm at home, but now I know why, I know it's ok as long as I've memorised my to-dos and get them done, and write down any more to-dos I think, I'm allowed to leave my Midori on my bed or desk to use the next morning, and just pick up my fauxdori and have fun and relax!