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A Paper Lover’s Guide to Selecting the Perfect Planner or Datebook : Part 1of3

11 Nov

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Selecting the perfect planner–the right format, size, layout–can be a fraught experience.  Here to simplify that process is Laurie Huff, the guru behind plannerisms.com. In this 3-part series, she’ll walk us through how to choose the best planner for you.  

We know: online calendars abound! But an electronic device simply can’t replicate the tactile joy of holding a book, turning the pages, and putting pen to paper. There are also numerous advantages of using a paper planner. Studies have shown that the act of writing helps people remember what they have written even if they never look at it again. And, the archival properties of a book are superior to electronics. We can read books hundreds of years after they were printed. Have you tried recently to access data on a floppy disc? What about that website you used to read until it went all 404 on you? Books have a tangible permanence that electronics can’t replicate. european-paper-loves-pen-to-paper-datebook-selection

The purpose of a planner is to help keep you in control of your life. Everyone’s needs are different, and your planner can be anywhere from basic—simply scheduling appointments—to complex. Ideally your planner should be your life management tool. Tasks, goals and projects are much more likely to be completed if they are written in your planner where you will see them often. Students can use their planner to track assignments, papers, exams and homework so that everything gets completed on time. Parents with kids in school can write everyone’s schedule and recurring events into your planner so you always know who has to be where and when. Other functions of a planner include tracking everything from finances and expenses to health matters like exercise, diet, blood pressure and weight. Your planner can also be your creative outlet for journaling and art.

With all these planner uses, how can you possibly decide what planner will work best for you? Here’s where to start:

There are three main types of planner formats: daily, weekly or monthly. Each format provides different perspectives on your time. Below is some advice to help you decide if you would best benefit from the large overview of the monthly, schedule view of the weekly, or lots of details with the daily.

Let me walk you through the three main types of formats and ways to use each.

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Daily:  Daily planners, diaries, or day-per-page planners allow you to focus on each day. The downside of these planners is it can be difficult to plan ahead with only two days visible at a time, so if you use one as your planner I highly recommend combining it with a monthly planner.

Daily planners are excellent for people who have lots of appointments each day, or who want to record details such as phone calls, expenses, tasks, or other information. Some of my favorite daily planners are the Quo Vadis Journal 21 and Daily pocket (which have built-in monthly planning calendars), and the Moleskine daily plannersShop all our daily planners here.

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Weekly:  This is the most popular format of planners because it allows you to see your entire week at once and plan your schedule easily.  There are various weekly formats including week + notes, such as the Leuchtturm Weekly Plannerhorizontal like the Quo Vadis Hebdo, or vertical (days as columns) like the Moleskine Large Vertical Weekly Planner. I will compare these different formats later in a separate post.

Weekly formats are good for most planner situations because they allow for detailed daily planning while giving the overview of the week. Shop all our weekly planners here.

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Monthly:  There are planners that have monthly-only formats. If you don’t have much to write each day and prefer an overview of your month, the monthly planner is perfect for you. Alternatively, you could use a separate monthly planner along with your weekly or daily planner to have the books open side by side to see the monthly overview alongside your weekly or daily activities. Some examples of this are the Moleskine Monthly Notebook and the Quo Vadis Visoplan #67Shop all our monthly planners here.

Monthly calendars are best for seeing overviews of things like bills due, travel, holidays, deadlines, and seeing patterns over a period of weeks.

So to summarize:

To record lots of details of your days, you’ll want a daily planner »

For most planning needs, weekly planner will probably work well for you »

For long-range planning or if you don’t have many appointments, use a monthly planner »

 

In my next post, I’ll help you determine what size planner you need!

 

Meet the Writer: Laurie Huff tests, reviews and designs planners at Plannerisms.com. Over the years she has tried dozens (hundreds?) of planners in search of the “Perfect Planner,” and on Plannerisms she helps others find planners that work well for them. When she’s not writing about planners, she spends every moment she can in the forests of Scotland. Laurie enjoys science and nature, hikes with her family, and reading books by the fireplace.

 

Gift of the Week : Save 10% on Palomino & Blackwing Folios

10 Nov

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This week, catch a great deal on these fantastic Palomino or Blackwing Luxury Folio Covers. They make a perfect gift for business professionals who spend copious amounts of time in meetings and traveling. Catch it this week at 10% off, use code Folio10 at checkout, & enjoy! Shop Luxury Folio Covers right here »

Peppy 2014 Weekly Planners from Cavallini

9 Nov

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2014′s already looking bright with these vibrant weekly planners from Cavallini. Choose from their classic curations of Paris, Dogs, Vintage Numbers, Flora & Fauna, and many more! Plus, these planners also include sections for addresses and notes, plus transit maps for Paris, London, and New York. Shop Cavallini 2014 Weekly Planners »

The “Francy” French Notebook – Clairefontaine is as Good as it Gets!

6 Nov

clairefontaine-european-paperThe crème de la crème of “francy” french notebooks, Clairefontaine made since 1858. Our staff is addicted to the satin smooth, eco-friendly, fountain pen loving paper!

Shop all Clairefontaine notebooks right here »

The Well-Appointed Desk’s Ana Reinert Shares What’s on Her Wishlist

5 Nov

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For the most part, stationery and office supplies are not super expensive
and perfect for gift-giving. Unfortunately, non-paper geeks have no idea
what do buy for the paper-and-pen geek.

Here are a few things I think would love to find under the tree this
Christmas:

1. I love high-quality fountain pen inks. Both J. Herbin and Noodler’s make
great inks and have lots of colors to choose from. I particularly like the
icy aqua blue Noodler’s Navajo Turquoise Ink ($12.50)»

2. The amusing Cavallini Oops Eraser ($3.50) would make a perfect stocking
stuffer.

3. I’ve been on the lookout for a great dry highlighters and the Moleskine
Highlighter Pencil Set ($16.50) with its matte black casing and cool
carpenter-style shape make this an appealing option.

4. I’m always looking for good-quality stationery and the G. Lalo Medium
Tablet & EP Set ($23) in mint green looks like the luxury option. Wrapped
with a red bow, it’s holiday-ready. And those lazy post-Christmas days are a
great time to catch up on all my correspondence.

5. So many wonderful things have been said about the Apica Premium A6 CD
Notebook ($14.70) but I’ve yet to buy a pad. I think the plain paper pad
with the black cover would be a great way to try it out.

6. Anything by Midori is a welcome gift. Their products are high quality and
have great classic looks. The Midori B7 Spiralbound Envelope Notebook
($8.35) would be a great catch-all for receipts, stamps or travel ephemera.

7. Finally, in preparation for 2014, I will definitely need a new calendar for
my desk. The Cavallini Around The World Desk Calendar ($12.95) is just the
right sort of retro cool for me to dream of my next vacation while sitting
in the office.

Maybe I need to fill my own stocking this year?

*Meet the Writer : * When Ana Reinert is not designing greeting cards for
the world’s largest greeting card company she fancies herself an office
supply ninja, yarn hoarder, letter-writing secret agent and coffee junkie. She
also writes superfluously about all thing office-related for The
Well-Appointed Desk.*

How to Use your Blackwing Long Point Pencil Sharpener

4 Nov

We stumbled upon this beautiful step-by-step tutorial from Palomino the other day and had to share! Shop all the genius Blackwing products right here »

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Gift of the Week : Exacompta Vintage FAF Pad – 10% off!

3 Nov

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Introducing a perfect addition to our blog roll for the holidays – a vetted gift idea that comes with an amazing discount! We’re starting the party with the legendary Exacompta Vintage FAF Pad. A marvelous gift for the desk savvy writer and those who love vintage luxe office supply. Catch it this week at 10% off, use code FAF10 at checkout, & enjoy! Shop the Vintage FAF Pad right here »

The Well-Appointed Desk #3 : Colorful Office Inspirations with Leuchtturm1917

1 Nov

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We’re always up for a little office design inspiration! Check out our friend Ana Reinert’s Well-Appointed Desk Pinterest board, and shop our favorite colorful must-have, Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, datebooks and accessories »

Need a Last Minute Costume Idea? Wear RHODIA, Of Course!

31 Oct

AFFICHE_LD_02_FEVRIER Just for kicks, why not dress up in your collection of Rhodia Notebooks? Anyone daring enough to try, please send us a picture, and we’ll feature you right here on our blog. Happy (almost) Halloween everyone! Shop Rhodia Notepads »

And if you’d love a coupon, check out our #TravelingRhodia call for entries »

12 Autumn Faves Our Desks Are Falling For…

30 Oct

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1. Rite in the Rain All-Weather Field Books »
2. Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler Fountain Pen »
3. 2014 Rhodia Datebooks »
4. Fisher Bullet Space Pens »
5. Paperblanks Embellished Manuscript Journals »
6. Palomino Luxury Medium Sketchbook & Folio Cover (5 x 8.25)
7. Leuchtturm1917 Notebooks »
8. 2014 Cavallini Calendars »
9. Cretacolor Fine Art Red Graphite Pencil Tin »
10. Word. Notebooks »
11. Rhodiarama Webnotebooks »
12. Brookfield Stationery »

7 Ways To Make the Most Out of NaNoWriMo

29 Oct

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NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, takes place every November. The entire purpose of this fun, funky non-profit project is to encourage people to write a draft of a novel—50,000 words—between November 1 and November 30.  It costs nothing to sign up at http://nanowrimo.org/ and roughly a half-million people on all continents (including Antarctica!) are expected to take part this year.  The goals are enthusiasm, determination and a deadline—not gorgeous prose—but NaNoWriMo is responsible for germinating bestsellers Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. We turned to a NaNoWriMo veteran, Yu-Han Chao, for her best advice on tackling a novel-in-a-month.  

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There are many ways to come up with ideas for novels. Try coming up with a few ideas using any of the below methods, then choose the idea you’re most excited about.

1.  Start with a title or opening lines: Sometimes a title or opening line comes to you; imagine the story that would go along with it.
2.  Read a book, magazine, or newspaper: There’s probably a good story in there, and if not, ask “what if?” about something or someone so it becomes a good story.
3.  Character: Visualize a character, then imagine the worst thing possible happening to your character.
4.  Passion: Write about what you are excited or passionate about.
5.  Steal: Rewrite another plot/story, but avoid clichés.

2. Develop Your Character, Central Conflict, & Setting

1.  Develop your characters into round, not flat ones, by asking yourself questions about them: What does my character look like? What is my character’s background and psychology?
2.  Decide on the central conflict of the story: Main Character + Goal + Opposition = Conflict. The main character wants something, the opposition thwarts your character’s plans and raises the stakes, and this allows your story to rise to a climax.
3.  Decide on the setting: When and where. Jot down some notes about important settings, and later work these skillfully into action and dialogue (avoid boring, clunky paragraphs describing nothing but landscape).

exacompta-graph-index-cards-5-x-8-pex3273-13. Create Your Outline

Why outline in the first place? It saves time, something you can’t afford to waste during NaNoWriMo. Making plans ahead of time can be hard work, but it will save you the major writer’s block and possible inconsistency that may result from deciding on these things WHILE trying to write your novel. Not to mention, if something sounds like a bad idea, you can fix it right away in the outline, and not everywhere in a 100k word draft.

So plan and plot ahead. Try Aristotle’s three act structure–it’s old, but it works.

Act I. The Beginning: Present your world, establish the tone of the novel, introduce your main character & opposition, and have some kind of disturbance/conflict happen that pushes your main character across the first threshold.

Act II. The Middle: Confrontations happen, relationships deepen. A second threshold leads your story inevitably towards the climax.

Act III. The End: After that long awaited climax, pick up broken pieces and tie up loose ends for closure.

4. Maximize Word Count

Since writing an outline for your novel helps at the macro level, try it at the micro level as well: spend five minutes at the beginning of each writing session deciding and summarizing in a few sentences what will happen in the scene you’re about to write.

Basically, plan what you will write, then write it.

conklin-mark-twain-black-chase-crescent-filler-fountain-pen-pco1135-15. Writer’s Block

If you still feel stuck, read something awesome, something you love, something similar to the novel you’re writing, for inspiration.  If you’re genuinely stuck, there are two common reasons:

1.  There is something wrong with your plot/scene/character/story.

This is difficult to admit to yourself, but deep down in your gut you know that something in your novel or story isn’t working, and that’s why you’re resisting. Try to diagnose what is dragging you down, fix it (which may be hard work, but so worth it), and write on!

2.  You are lazy. (We all are sometimes!)

Try forcing yourself to sit down and write for five minutes—tell yourself to just try it for five minutes—and often that’s all you need to get started.

6. Revision

Yes, you are brilliant and talented, but your first draft is nowhere close to its full potential. Before sending your completed NaNoWriMo draft to a beta reader or agent or publisher, read through it and fix things that need fixing, ideally several times. This may take months or even years, but you’ll be glad you did.

7. Know the Industry

Please do not self publish or query an agent until you’ve not only finished your novel, but made it as good as it can be. At that point, you’ll need to research and make decisions about publishing (self or traditional?) and querying agents.  But you can worry about all that later—for now, plan a little before you write, have fun, and happy noveling!

 

Meet the Writer:  Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, Yu-Han (Eugenia) Chao received her MFA in fiction from Penn State and teaches a novel writing class at The University of California, Merced. She made a yearly event of NaNoWriMo until she had a baby and no longer had time. Her stories have appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Zyzzyva, and other venues. The Backwaters Press and Dancing Girl Press published her poetry books and chapbooks. Her website is www.yuhanchao.com.

Field Test : Moleskine Beer Journal at the Great American Beer Festival

25 Oct

Moleskine-Beer-Journal-goes-to-Great-American-Beer-FestivalDogfish Head calls their brews “analog beers for the digital age”.  Nowadays, when there’s an app for everything, even recording your impressions of a beer or a style you want to try brewing, the Moleskine Beer Journal is a fun and rather unique way to record all things related to beer, much like Dogfish Head’s fine ales.

I wanted to put this journal, one of Moleskine’s Passion Journals, through the paces to see how it held up. Fortunately, the perfect event was just around the corner on the calendar: the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado – the superbowl of beer festivals, known to sell out in a half-hour or less. The festival features more the 3,100 different beers from 624 breweries. While there are beer festivals that put out more volume (Oktoberfest in Munich), few can match the GABF for sheer variety. Moleskine-Beer-Journal-European-Paper-Quote

Indeed, the variety of beer presents a great challenge for a beer nerd like me. The GABF serves beer a single ounce at a time. This means that over the course of an evening you can easily sample dozens of beers. For me the question is: with such a number of beer styles from across the country, how do I ever keep track and remember what I liked the next day? Enter the Moleskine Beer journal.

The categories on the tasting pages are similar to the judging score sheets used by the American Homebrewer’s Association for judging beer competitions. There are spaces on the tasting pages for noting style, colour, appearance, nose, taste and overall opinion. But the tasting sheet also includes places to mark the ABV, information about the brewery, how it was served (draft, bottle), where & when you tasted the beer and what you think the most appropriate glass would be. One of my favorite features is a sort of “taste wheel” where you can quickly mark the intensities of common flavor elements.

At first using the journal was a little frustrating – entering the floor of the GABF is like releasing a kid into a candy store with a blank check. You want to try everything. Right. Now. It was hard to take my beer, get out the journal, sniff it, write, hold it up the light, write, taste it, write and then record my overall thoughts. Then I realized that this was the journal doing exactly what I ultimately wanted it to do: slow me down and make me truly consider and really enjoy what I was drinking. By the end of the first session I had tried 35 one-ounce samples (or the rough equivalent of three bottles of beer). What’s more, I had a good record of what I liked and would buy if I saw it in the store or on the route of some road-trip. And the next morning? I woke up without a hangover, ready to return for GABF’s Saturday session.Moleskine-Beer-Journal-European-Paper-Open-Book-Writing

This Moleskine Beer Journal also has tabs for tracking beers in your “cellar”, beer recipes, brewpubs and bars you visit and homebrewing. I haven’t yet had a chance to try out the homebrewing or cooking recipes, but I did receive the beer journal right before a whirlwind trip to the French Quarter in the Big Easy. They had a fun little place called Crescent City Brewpub. If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, I can tell you what beers you should zero in on at this pub.

Finally it was time to take the cellar tab for a spin. While most beers are best when tried fresh, certain high alcohol and sour beers, much like a good wine, benefit from a few months of aging. Trying the cellar tab meant I had to delve into my special beer collection (oh the things I must do to write a blog!). Since it was October I pulled out the Smashed Pumpkin from Shipyard Brewing from my home state o’ Maine. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten when I bought the bottle, so that space remained blank but I was still able to record the pumpkin, clove and nutmeg smells in the full-bodied brew and give it a 4 of 5 stars.

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There are still many pages left to fill in this beer journal. Someday I may ditch my 2006 cell phone and get a smartphone with beer apps galore but, for now, I will deeply enjoy being analog in a digital age. Isn’t that what following your passion is really all about? Cheers and happy sampling.

SHOP THE MOLESKINE BEER JOURNAL »
Shop all 16 Moleskine Passions Journals »

Great AMerican Beer Festival Moleskine Beer Journal European Paper

Meet the Writer :  Knud Hermansen is an engineer, marathoner, beer aficionado and five-time volunteer at the Great American Beer Festival. Originally from the great state of Maine, you can usually find him racing along one of the many trails around Boulder, trying his hand at a vegetarian recipe, or working to make your utility companies run a little greener.