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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2011 Life Book Diary

How could I resist a planner that promises to organize my life?? The answer is, of course, I couldn't.

Behold, the 2011 Life Book by Organised Mum!

This diary is absolutely packed with features.  Go grab a beverage, and a snack too if you like, to sustain you while I go on and on about all the amazing pages and extra goodies in this planner!

The 2011 Life Book is an A5 size weekly planner that goes from September 2010 through December 2011 with monthly planning pages, budget worksheets, holiday planning pages and much, much more.

***Edited to add: the 2012 version of the Life Book starts mid-August in response to folks (including me) in Scotland who start school earlier than the rest of the UK. This makes this planner great for US folks starting school in August too!

There's so much to tell you I hardly know where to start, so I'm going to just jump straight in and take you through the book.

(Click on photos for a larger view.)

The very first page is Personal Information, so you (or someone else, in an emergency) don't have to flip through pages to find your important details.

The next page has spaces for more useful numbers for quick reference, and annual calendars for 2010 and 2011.

Next there are six pages of Weekly Routines.  There are several ways you could use these pages.  You could use one page for each person's weekly routine, or use one weekly routine page for each school term.  Also, there is a very handy page to record clothing and shoe sizes for each family member.
Also near the front of the book there is a folded pull-out reference calendar for 2010 and 2011 at a glance.

Next comes the weekly diary section.  Click on the photo to enlarge and see all the excellent features on these pages.
First you will notice that each day space is large, and the weekend days have the same amount of space as the weekdays which is VERY important for those of us with busy weekends!  Under Sunday there is a space labeled Notes and Next Week, to jot those reminders.  At the bottom of the weekly pages are linear monthly calendars for this and next month, for easy reference.

At the bottom of each day's space there is a line for Meal Ideas.  At the left side of the left page, there is a perforated tear-off Shopping List so you can write the ingredients you need to buy for your menus for the week.  At the right side of the right page, there is a list area for Things To Do, and Important notes or reminders at the bottom.

UK holidays and phases of the moon are printed on the day spaces (which as you all know by now I REALLY appreciate).  The font and blue ink color are pleasant to look at, and I really like the seasonal icons on the pages.  Let me just say how much I appreciate that the book is very attractive inside and out, without being cutesy or frou-frou.  I really like it.

As if all that weren't amazing enough, we are only halfway through the book!  Hold onto yourselves, this book gets better and better.

After the weekly pages is a tabbed divider for the Monthly section.

Every month from September 2010 through December 2011 has a generous two-page spread with nice big squares to write in.  Holidays are printed in the day spaces, making it easy to plan around holidays and events.
After every monthly spread there is a page to write Things to Do that month (perfect for writing monthly goals), and a page for Notes for that month (great for logging your Mid-Month and Monthly Reviews on the page opposite your goals).
The next two-page spread is for that month's Budget, and Income and Outgoings.
The Budget page has the most common budget items pre-printed, helpfully reminding you to budget for council tax, insurance, tv etc.  Below the pre-printed categories are spaces to fill in your own categories as needed.

How great is it to have your planner, goals, monthly reviews, budget and expenditures record all in one place??

After the Monthly Planning section there is another tabbed section for Christmas and holiday planning.

Because this planner covers September 2010 through December 2011, there are planning pages specifically for Christmas 2010 and Christmas 2011.  For each one, there are pages for your plans, and your budget for the holiday season:
There are also pages for Christmas gift lists, cards, and extra shopping.

Also in the Christmas and Holidays section there are pages to plan your summer holiday, to make sure your summer is action-packed but not over-packed.  And, here is something I really love: at the back of this section are pages for Thoughts and Plans for 2010, 2011, and 2012.  This is the perfect place to write New Year's Resolutions and Annual Goals for each year.  I love that there is space specifically designated for each year to stretch out your thoughts and dreams for the year.

There are a couple of pages for Notes, then at the very back of the book there is a page with annual planners for 2012 and 2013.  Inside the back cover there is a pocket (that is open at the top, not the side, so that longer papers and envelopes can stick out the top.  Thank you!).  Inside the pocket there are two pages of stickers to indicate special days, and an Address and Contacts booklet.

I especially like the stickers that remind me to pay my car tax and get my car's MOT inspection, which I am very likely to forget without being reminded!

The Addresses and Contacts booklet has alphabetized contacts pages for names, addresses and numbers:

There is a page for Useful Contacts for services and businesses, and a page of Quick Call numbers:
At the back of the Address booklet is a page for Birthdays and anniversaries, so you can refer to it year after year:

The Life Book includes two clear, movable page dividers with top tabs, to mark your place in the weekly and monthly section (or wherever you need to reference quickly).

The cover has a water-resistant coating that survived my test of having water rubbed on it without soaking in.  The cover wipes clean easily, which is important for those of us with messy lives!  Click on the photo to read the back cover.

Even with all of these features and 16 months of daily, monthly and budgeting pages packed in, the book is still less than an inch thick.

This A5 size Life Book is nearly two inches narrower, half an inch shorter, and a whole lot lighter than my A5 Filofax.

This book is an amazing all-in-one diary, budget record, menu planner and overall life organizer!  I'm absolutely smitten. And, I still can't get over the price: it's only ₤12.99, which I think is a fantastic value for everything you get in this book.

There is only one thing (only one!) that I would change about this diary, and that is: I would make it start at the beginning of August instead of the beginning of September.  For those of us in Scotland, school starts in mid-August, and it would be nice for my diary to begin before school does.  Also, despite the UK-specific aspects of this diary, I think it could be a huge hit in the US, and all of America starts school mid-August.  So, Organised Mum, that is my only suggestion.  I know it would make the book thicker, but I don't mind in the least.

***Edited to update: the 2012 Life Book starts in August, to start at the beginning of the school year in Scotland and the US! A big THANK YOU and a pat on the back to Organised Mum for listening to your customers!

Organised Mum has loads of products to help you organize (organise) a busy household.  If you like the Life Book but want a smaller version, check out the Pocket Life Book Diary.  If you want a book identical to the Life Book but would prefer a weekly grid layout to keep track of each family member separately, you want the Family Life Book Diary.  These diaries can also be purchased with beautiful faux-leather zip covers too.

In addition to diaries, Organised Mum has wall calendars in weekly or monthly formats with either large day spaces, or grids to keep track of each family member every day of the week.

They also have their Made By Me line of stationary products that kids can design themselves. Cool!  I especially love the colorful DIY Children's Calendar, with tons of stickers to personalize and decorate each month.  Who could resist designing your own calendar??

There are also loads of accessories for your diary and calendars, including extra stickers of various types, clever arrow page markers, and a beautiful diary stand that I really want!

I ordered my Life Book from the Organised Mum website, and I was really happy with their easy ordering and super-fast shipping.  You can also find some Organised Mum products in John Lewis stores, or use their Stockist locator to find a shop near you.

You can follow Organised Mum on Twitter (OrganisedMum) and on Facebook.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guest post: Mia's Scholar

Here is a writer who I love love LOVE: Mia from Meems, Myself and I.  She's an awesome lady, and she gracefully agreed to do a guest post for me!  Thanks Mia!!!

You know where I'm going with this. Yes, those are planners up there, and yeah, I would agree that the one on top does look a lot like the one underneath it. What's this? It is the same planner? Just a brand new color, sturdier cover texture, and improved features? Well slap yo' grandma, I think I'm cured!

That's right, dudes. Remember when I told you that I really, honestly, truly to goodnessly had found "The One?" Well, I am pleased to inform you that Quo Vadis and I have been happily married for an entire year now. That leathery purple thing up there is my 2011 Quo Vadis Scholar.

I started my love affairs with QV back in 2008, when my boss at my first internship offered to buy me a planner while we were browsing around a little bookstore on Newbury St. in Boston. "Pick a planner, any planner," she told me. Blindly, I grabbed a burgundy, vinyl QV Textagenda that caught my eye simply because it had an academic format (I was about to start my senior year of college) and lots of space to write on each date (I have large handwriting.)

Unfortunately, my planner ADD hit mere months later, and it got lost in the hullabaloo of college kiddery. In retrospect, I think its downfall turned out to be its thickness. It never laid flat enough for me to really feel comfortable writing in it, which is important for me when I'm committing to a planner. The simplicity of the QV style, however, stuck in my mind anyway, and when it came time to again buy a planner, I chose the QV Scholar in red vinyl. And the rest is history.

I actually lucked out this year. I knew I wanted to upgrade to a nicer cover- maybe equology or leather, so I tried the Barnes & Noble website, thinking that I'd have to suck it up and pay for shipping. Nope! By the grace of the planner gods, I just happened to log on during a free-shipping + 15% off sale they were having, which meant I spent about $12 (with tax, shipping, everything) on my purple leather Scholar this year when I should have been paying almost $20.

If that little savings didn't further my love affair with my 2011 QV Scholar, the new improvements they've made surely did. Check it out:

1. The new 17-month format. If you get down to the end of July only to realize those remaining pages aren't the rest of August, but just maps and note pages, you will then be forced to run out and scrounge through whatever's left of the academic planners. (Lemme tell ya, it's not much.) But worry no more. You now have five more months to procrastinate and then run out and scrounge. A possibility that one of my friends pointed out was that this could be QV's way of turning the Scholar into a Jan-Dec planner for 2012 instead of its usual academic format. Not sure how true that is, but it's a thought for all you academic lovers out there.

2. The attached address book. Last year, I expressed concern about the address book being an insert rather than an attached part of the planner. I didn't want to write my friends' and contacts' personal information in there and risk having it fall out on the street somewhere and wind up in the wrong hands. This pretty much rendered this feature useless to me. I eventually just threw the address book aside, and it fell victim to the mess on my desk (RIP). But this year, it's sewn in with the rest of the pages, so there's minimal risk of me being the sole reason all my friends' identities get stolen. As Windows 7 people would say, "The attached address book was my idea." ;D

3. The thickness. This is due to the 5 extra months, the attached address book, and a few more note and year-long calendar pages. I think it gives the 2011 planners a sense of sturdiness, especially with the leather cover, and makes it look a bit more professional.

As far as next year goes, I'm still crossing my fingers for three things:

1. Pockets. I still use the inside flaps of the cover to stow loose papers and whatnots, but I wouldn't hate having some actual pockets somewhere. (Anywhere!?) This thing is basically my catch-all and my carry-all. It goes everywhere with me, even though it might not be built for that, but I'm hoping that next year, it will be.

2. Perforated notes pages. Last year, I asked Santa for more notes pages in the 2011 Scholar. Well, this year, I got exactly two more. Guess I shouldda been more specific/had a number in mind. If you notice, this year, I'm not even focusing on the "more" part, instead I'll go with "perforated." Wouldn't the world be a better place if I had, like, 10 pages to not only write notes on, but also to tear them out should I so need? Yes, yes it would.

3. A pen holder? Don't look at me like that. I know it's a lot to ask, and I swear, I am not trying to turn the simplicity of the QV into the overloaded monstrosity that is Franklin Covey or anything like that. I just think it'd be cool to add a little elastic pen loop. Nothing fancy. Call me "anal girl," but I can't handle the disjointedness of using more than one different type of pen in my planner. My ADD will start itching, and we all know plannerholics will do anything to stay away from that when we fall in love with one. So, I'll just throw this one out there and hope. That's all I can do. Hope.

For the most part, though, the 2011 QV Scholars are almost identical to their predecessors. They still have all of the features that make them great, such as the:

1. Same height & width. Makes them easy to throw in a purse or briefcase, yet they're big and solid enough not to get beat up by the other items you may be carrying in there.

2. Same great weekly layout.
For us Scholar fans, I think the open format is the most important selling point, so I was stoked to find out it hadn't been touched. Not even the sexy, 90g acid-free paper has changed.

3. Same great tear-away corners. The easiest, cleanest way to keep track of the ever-pressing question: "What day is it?"

QV has fixed up the Scholar in all the right areas for 2011. I don't think I'll be able to wait until December of next year to see what they have come up with next. I'm officially one of those totally obnoxious, biased fans whose only life mission is to convert everyone to QVism.

What about y'all? Any QV Scholar lovers out there? Or QV fans, in general? Tell me about your own planner obsessions!

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Completely Disagree

Many thanks to Yvotchka for Tweeting me this very interesting article, The Power of 1 by Time Management Ninja.  The gist is, have only one of each tool: one address book, one planner/ calendar, one to-do list, and one notebook.  I appreciate that the point is simplicity, and I do agree that having your information in too many places leads to confusion (which I have certainly experienced).

In my opinion, the only way this idea will work is if you keep all of your information electronically so that you have access to it on your computer and your hand-held device.  But for those of us who are paper-only (more or less), we cannot carry all of our information with us all the time so we have to have it in separate bits.

I'm not normally argumentative, but I want to dispute each of these points.

Address book:  TMN's solution is to keep all your addresses and contacts electronically.  I don't do this, I keep them all on paper.  I definitely do not want or need every address of everyone I know with me all the time.  My solution, and what many people do, is to have a master address book that stays home (with everyone's address I know), and emergency contacts and frequently used info in my planner that I carry with me.  I find this to be entirely reasonable.

Calendar:  Again, unless you use an electronic calendar, it's not always convenient to have only one single calendar.  Despite the fact that I have gazillions of planners, I only ever use one weekly planner at a time, which is my master planner.  Everything goes into my weekly planner.  Because I have a family, I also have a wall calendar so that everybody else can see what's going on too.  I update the wall calendar from my master weekly planner.  I know plenty of people who use Outlook or similar at work, and a Filofax or other planner for their personal use.  As long as you synch appointments, you'll be fine.  You will run into problems if you have a calendar at home that you write things in, a calendar at work that you write other things in, and a planner in your pocket to write things in when you're out and about.  No synching = big trouble.

To Do List:  I don't know how it's possible for anyone to have only one To Do List, and I really do not think it's a good idea.  I think TMN's point is for those folks who tend to write things on sticky notes everywhere. And in that case, I agree you are better off having one master list to capture all those tasks.  But I just can't imagine having one big to-do list full of home, work, school, personal, and whatever else types of tasks. I would get completely overwhelmed and would not be able to prioritize at all. Even Getting Sh-t Done, which is the most elegantly simple task management system I've heard of, has a Master List and Today's List.  I like separate categorized lists, or projects with steps, to help me prioritize and know what to do next.

Notebook:  Here is where I most strongly disagree.  Maybe TMN means having only one notebook as your inbox?  Then later you can move that information to the appropriate location.  If I used only one notebook for everything it would be a big jumbled mess without linearity and I'd be completely lost.  I told Yvotchka I like to use notebooks for topics, similar to how I had a separate notebook for each class in school and university.  I really like Charlie Gilkey's notebook system.  His is proof that a system doesn't need to be elaborate to be effective.

So anyway, I don't mean this post in any way to slam Time Management Ninja.  Some people do work better with only one tool each.  But for many of us, I think compartmentalization is the key to organization.


2011 Daycraft Make My Day diary

Daycraft in Hong Kong very generously sent me more of their excellent products to review.  Many thanks Daycraft!

Up first is the 2011 Make My Day diary.  You may remember my review of the 2010 Make My Day diary.  Here is my updated review of the 2011 version.

There are a few cover choices for the 2011 Make My Day diary.  On this one, the cover is gray fabric, with the yellow from the page edges spilling over the front into a puddle that says "2011 Make My Day," which is really cool-looking:

Inside, there are loads of excellent features.

There are annual calendars for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

There are pages of international holidays for several countries including the UK and US.

Here is a feature that is very nice: International guides for loads of countries with information about phone codes, emergency, driving, airports and more, with an image of each country's flag.

There are also world time zones, international calling codes and conversion tables.

There are monthly planners for September 2010 through December 2011.

The weekly section also goes from September 2010 through December 2011.  The weekly layout has the days as columns across the page, lined and untimed.  Country holidays are printed on the day spaces.  At the top right corner there is a handy reference calendar for the current month.

Here is a feature I love: embedded in the weekly section, at the beginning of each month there is a two page spread with the words Make My Day spelled out in various ways on the left page, and on the right page is a monthly planner with lines for writing that month's goals, notes, important events, bills due/ paid, or whatever you like.

At the end of the weekly section there is a forward planner for 2012.

There are pages to track your Cash Flow, to help you with your budget.

There are contacts pages for easy reference of numbers and addresses you use frequently.

There are a couple of pages for Notes.

There is a page for your Personal Information. At the back of the book there are a few pages of perforated tear-out notes for those times when you need to give someone your contact information or other small note.  Very handy!  And each little sheet says Make My Day.

The book is very small and portable: it's only 6 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches.  And despite being packed full of features, it's only 1/2 inch thick.  So you could easily carry this planner with you everywhere you go.

Some Daycraft products are available on Vera Chan's website.  Be sure to enter code "plannerisms" at checkout for 20% all products!

I have several more Daycraft products to review soon, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Equinox!

Today is the day when we all get 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night.  After today, those of us here in the northern hemisphere will have shorter and shorter days until the solstice in December, the shortest day.

This weekend we will celebrate the equinox as we normally do with fire (we have one of those outside fireplace things), food and beer.  Several of our new friends will come over to enjoy piles of food.  Hopefully we won't get rained on!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Comments are not working

Sorry everybody, I don't know what is wrong with my Comments, but I have notified Google and hopefully they can get it figured out. Even the comment I posted on the post below has vanished!  I don't know what is up, but hopefully Google will figure it out soon!

Reader Needs Help: Have You Seen This Planner?

Reader Claire emailed me to ask if I have ever found a particular format of planner:

"I'm looking for an A5 weekly planner - as per
the Moleskine and new recycled planners you've been discussing online, but
instead of a lined notes page, what I'd really like is a plain page, do you
know of such a planner? Also, in an ideal world, I'd like a monthly section
at the front (one page with month laid out in squares) for each month.
Many thanks for any thoughts."

The only planners I've found with the week + notes layout she's looking for have lined notes pages opposite the weekly page (or even grid pages as in the Rhodia weekly planners). I agree a blank, instead of lined, page would be very nice. And I second the monthly planning section! Why don't ALL planners have those??

Does anyone have any recommendations for Claire? Thank you!

Monday, September 20, 2010

2011 Planner Choices

I FEEL like I have about two thousand and eleven choices of which planner to use next year!  Here are my current considerations:

I can hardly wait to try out my new 2011 WeekDate planner (which I reviewed here).  I'm intrigued by the whole setup and I wonder how it will work for me.

I've been using my 2010 Quo Vadis Trinote these past several months, and I know my 2011 Trinote will be a reliable and functional planner if the WeekDate doesn't work out for me for whatever reason.

Lately I've been thinking of going back to my personal size Filofax, because I miss having lists, maps, and removable pages in my planner.  Even though I've had several Filo Fails with the personal size, I keep coming back to it hoping I can somehow get it to work for me despite the small diary page sizeSteve's recent guest post here on Plannerisms about the Quo Vadis inserts to fit Filofaxes has me hoping that the Prestige format will work for me.  I have resisted the urge to order the refill up immediately, and instead I have drawn up two weeks' worth of the format on lined pages and am using those in my Filofax now.  After a couple of weeks, if the page size is big enough for me to write everything I need to, then I'll order these up. I'm very excited about the combination of the Quo Vadis format I love with the convenience of my Filofax!

I commented on my Planner Permanence post that I've fallen out of the habit of journaling this year.  It's been months since I've written in my journal (I use a large Moleskine day per page planner).  Right now I couldn't even tell you exactly where it is.  It's on a shelf or in a drawer somewhere.  The only way I'll write in it is if it's open in front of me, often.  So I had the idea that I could use it as my combination planner and journal.  I did this with a day per page diary the year my daughter was born, and it worked fine for me that year because I had very little to plan ahead for but lots of things to record.  I  wonder if I could do this with my daily Mole.  I could use the area down the side next to the printed times for my schedule, and the rest of the page for my journal entry.  That certainly would create a thorough record of my entire year in one book.  I fantasize about my book looking something like this woman's creative use of her daily Moleskine.  I've had multiple Planner Fails with day per page books because I can't see the big picture to plan ahead.  But, because the 2011 Moleskine planners all have monthly calendars with the days as squares big enough to write in, I wonder if I could use the months for the overview and the day pages for the details.  I could put my weekly lists on Post Its that would float along day to day...hm, this might be worth a try.  It would be fun to have my planner and journal all together in one book that I would look at and write in often. It would also create that Planner Permanence that I crave.  I could carry it in my Rickshaw daily Moleskine folio so that I'd have pockets for papers, pens, maps and sticky notes in its zip-around security.

But then I think, that would be a pretty big and heavy book to carry around everywhere.  What if I used the large daily Mole as my main planner and journal, and used the Extra-Small daily Moleskine planner as my carry-around planner?  How light and free would I feel carrying only this tiny little book as my planner??  The day spaces are large enough for appointments and a to-do list for the day.  And it is so CUTE and so portable!

What do you think?  I'd especially love to hear from anyone who has gone from one of these methods to another, and if it worked out for you or you went back to what you were doing before.  (Greg? Are you out there? How did it go with your daily Moleskine experiment?)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Planner Permanence

The other day I visited Crathes Castle, which is very cool and you should definitely see it if you're ever in eastern Scotland.

Anyway, in one of the rooms they had on display a ledger that recorded something from hundreds of years ago.  I think it was a legal record of estate-dwellers who had broken the law.  I love old record books like this.  I especially find interesting kitchen finance books, where they recorded how much they spent on eggs or whatever in a month.  Seeing what foods people ate, and how much money they spent, tells a lot about their lives.  In today's digital age, many daily details like this will be lost to history.

I love that notebooks and planners can serve as an archive of information many years later.  I love to look back through my old planners and see the daily details of my past life.  My favorite planners for this are my Septanote from 11 years ago, and my Textagenda while I was in the Peace Corps because both of these planners contain a lot of details of my daily life at that time.

A common theme that I personally wrestle with often is Filofax or bound planner book.  Each has its advantages, of course.  And each has permanence, but in different ways.

A bound book encapsulates that one year.  It begins at the beginning of the year (either calendar or academic, however your year runs) and ends at the end of the year.  Then that one year is permanently archived in those pages. Often I have little notes written on the daily or weekly pages, cards and papers taped in, with addresses and phone numbers of people I contacted frequently written in the back pages.  It's my year, self-contained, for all of history.

A Filofax has a different sort of permanence.  The binder itself and anything else you choose to keep in it can travel through time with you year after year.  You could use the same binder, with the same reference pages in it, for decades.  Or, you could move pages around, remove some and leave others, change your diary inserts as often as you want, or even do a total contents dump.

I like the idea that I can keep certain things in my Filofax year after year (or forever).  But even when I archive my pages (which I always do) a Filofax doesn't have the same archival feel of a bound planner book.  The pages in my archival binders seem out of context.  I tend to get rid of random notes and lists because they take up too much room in my Filofax, so those little bits of information are lost. And the categorized tabbed sections with notes and information lack the chronology inherent in a bound book.  This is why I sometimes use a Filofax for my planner, but I never ever use one (or any type of loose leaf, ring bound or even perforated pages book) as my journal.  It's bound-only for journaling.

I love to ponder those ancient ledger books being read hundreds of years later, providing such a clear picture of day to day life at that time.  I fantasize about keeping a big bound planner like one of those old ledger books, with a complete record of my life that year.  I don't expect that my planners will be interesting to anyone hundreds of years from now.  But just maybe, one of my descendants will find it interesting to read what I did on a particular day, many years ago. 

Do you keep your past planners as an archive? Which type of planner do you prefer for its archival qualities?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Planners Without Frontiers – Steve Morton

Here is a guest post from my friend and fellow Philofaxy writer Steve. I am VERY excited about this, because this could absolutely revolutionize my Filofax usage: the wonderful paper and excellent diary formats of Quo Vadis, as Filofax-compatible refills!! Fabulous!!

Steve says:

My main interest is mainly in Filofax organisers and I write about them with Laurie on the Philofaxy blog. But following my recent move to live in France I have started to ‘widen my horizons’ with regards to what other planner formats are available.

A French medical doctor by the name of Mr Beltrami invented the Quo Vadis Weekly Time Management System in 1954. I’m not sure how similar the current designs are to what he came up with in 1954. It would be nice to think they are the same, but I can’t say for sure if they are or not.

Today it is a truly international brand with over 15 million diaries sold in 18 languages. They are distributed through several subsidiaries around the world.

After reading Laurie’s review of the ‘Tri-note’ I got interested in the format of their diaries and planners. To my surprise I discovered on the French or rather European website that the tri-note format was available in loose-leaf formats. The loose-leaf formats appear on the French site but not on the US site. However there are quite a few on-line stockists in France, and these inserts are also available in the UK on the Quo Vadis UK website.

As I live in France my local stationary store is a Quo Vadis stockist so I went there to see if the ring spacing would be compatible with my Filofax Organisers.

The A5 has the three holes that are the correct spacing but the two groups of three are a different spacing between them... more in a moment a picture will explain it better... But the Personal Filofax and Pocket Filofax size refills are the same as Filofax hole spacing.

The A5 I went for is the Timer 21 "Planing" and this is what it looks like (click on the picture to see it full size):

As you can see it's a week on two pages, but with a smaller entry for Sunday, remembering not a lot happens in France on Sundays (shops are all shut!).

The right hand page has spaces for tasks split in to telephone calls, letters, Emails, To-Do with a Notes section for each day and each day has timed appointment slots from 7am through to 9pm There are also small monthly calendars at the top of the right hand page. There is a week number tab that moves down the edge of the right hand page.

This design seems to be common through out the different ranges of Quo Vadis bound planners as well as the loose-leaf refills. On the smaller sizes there is a slight variation in the placement of the ‘Sunday’ space, but in A5 format it follows the same layout as its ‘bound’ cousins.

There is also a ‘Prestige’ range which replaces the different task boxes with a lined notes column instead.

The refill runs from September 2010 through to December 2011, but before I can use it I have to re-punch the pages. Here is why:

On the left is an upside down Filofax page, on the right a Quo Vadis page, if you look closely you can see the holes are half a hole spacing different! But with an A5 Filofax punch it's easily corrected:

The refill comes with lots of useful 'French' information, like holidays, phone numbers etc.

The pocket refill I bought is their Timer 14 horizontal which is a week on two pages starting on Monday or to be correct Lundi and this is what it looks like:

Yes it is in French, which isn’t too much of a problem for me! In some ways it is very handy because it has all the local bank holidays or Fete Nationales, which are of course different to UK ones. It came in cream paper, which is very smooth and very good quality and very nice to write on. The refills run from September 2010 through to December 2011 so I have already transferred across to this one for the remainder of the year. The corners are perforated so you might possibly be able to do away with a 'Today' marker.

Being a week on two pages compared to my previous refill being a week per page has obviously meant that there were more pages to accommodate in my Filofax pocket organiser, but I was able to thin it down by taking some of the spare pages and pages I wasn't using out of my organiser and everything is back as it was. I love the extra space that a week on two pages gives.

At the back of the refill are a year on two pages year planner for 2012 and other French information pages.

I tend to carry my pocket size Filofax around with me all the time and it contains my contacts as well as a snapshot of my appointments and to-do lists. But I’m now using my A5 with this refill as my main desk planner. My A5 also contains a lot of other reference information, which I like to have to hand. I intend to use one of my personal size Filofax organisers next year as my journal for recording what actually happened, the smaller size will not be too much of a problem as I tend to be fairly brief in my current A5 journal.

So if you like the flexibility that a loose-leaf format gives then take a look at the Quo Vadis refills if you like the Tri Note bound format.

*Those of us in the UK can order these French refills directly from the Quo Vadis UK website! The Timer 14 refill fits Pocket size Filofax binders, Timer 17 fits Personal size, and Timer 21 fits A5 (with hole-punching modifications as above).

Here again is the link to the French website showing the various formats for Timer, Prestige, Horizontal and Daily.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mid-Month Review Time Already???

Wow, I can't believe September is already more than half over!  I'm not ready for it, but it's time for a Mid-Month Review.  Maybe it will get me back on the rails!

How are you?  How is September treating you?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rhodia Meeting Book

This Rhodia Meeting Book was generously sent to me by Karen at Exaclair when she sent me the 2011 Trinote planner.  Many thanks Karen!

Believe it or not, this is actually the first Rhodia product I've ever held in my hands.  I've posted guest reviews of my sister's Rhodia notebooks, but I never got to see those in person.  So, hooray!  I've finally got my hands on some Rhodia!

So we've all heard about how cool Rhodia products are and how great the paper is, right?  Well now I can say with authority it's all TRUE.  Wow.

This particular notebook is a very cool idea. (Click photo to enlarge.)  Each page is pre-printed with sections designated for Date at the top, with Notes and Action sections side by side.  These are meant to guide you during a meeting to keep your notes together (instead of all over the page) and to prompt you into writing actions that will subsequently take place.  Because ideally, a meeting is about who is going to do what after the meeting is over, right?  This will get you going in the right direction.  And, it serves as a reference later, so you can look up who exactly is supposed to be doing what.  Fantastic!

Here's the specifics: the wire-bound book is 16 x 21 cm (6 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches), making it very portable.  The flexible cover has a waterproof coating to protect from random splashes and drips of coffee (or your beverage of choice).  There are 160 pages/ 80 sheets of lined, micro-perforated paper so that you can either keep the pages in your book or easily detach them.  The paper is the legendary 80 g silky-smooth Rhodia paper that is a joy to write on.  This book is a pleasure to use and will surely add enjoyment to even the most boring meeting!

You can buy the Rhodia Meeting Book in this size (slightly larger than A5, 6 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches) or the large size (slightly larger than A4, 9 x 11 3/4 inches) with black or orange covers at The Daily Planner, and in stores.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Time For New Goals!

Now that I have achieved my long-term goal of moving to Scotland (and all the work that entailed), it's now time for me to come up with some new goals!  Don't worry, I have plenty:

Goal #1: Save money to buy a house.

Goal #2: "Homeschool" (term used very loosely) Youngest who will start school next year.

Goal #3: When Youngest starts school, get myself back into the workforce.  Sitting home alone all day is not appealing.  And, I do want to get back into science.  So, that gives me nearly a year to explore my options and get myself out there.

Goal #4: Get on a household cleaning routine with a little cleaning each weekday so I can relax and have fun on weekends.  Also, do meal planning as a way to save money on groceries.

Goal #5: Get in shape and lose some weight.

Some of you already know where this is going.  (Sis?)  Another clue: Arielle's comments on my post a few days ago that she's trying the Uncalendar got me thinking.

Uncalendar is an excellent tool for setting goals and focusing your energy on working toward them, so of course that's who I turn to when I need a powerful way to set and achieve my goals.  Those of you who are unfamiliar with this excellent life-management system can read all about it in my Uncalendar review.

The Uncalendar Lifestyle Pro planner system in the 3 ring binder helped me enormously while I was preparing to move to Scotland, homeschooling both my kids and keeping track of various other aspects of my life.

Now, in order to keep track of my goals listed above, I have ordered the Uncalendar Lifestyle Half Size planner (so it can fit in my bag).  Actually I ordered two, because two of them fit into a flat-rate shipping envelope so it didn't cost any more to ship two than to ship one.  And, shipping to the UK for both planners totalled less than 13 bucks, which is an excellent price!

I will use my Half Size Uncalendar as my Goals Workbook to keep me on track with my goals listed above.  I'll sketch out my goals on the Goals pages of my book, and break them down into do-able tasks.

On the weekly pages I'll record what homeschooling lessons we did that day, what exercise I did (cardio and/ or strength), plan dinner menus, and I'll check off my weekly cleaning tasks as I complete them.

I'll use the monthly section to keep track of expenses, bills paid, income and (hopefully) savings to work toward home ownership.

I'll use the Data section for building my contacts list for future employment.

And I'll use the Notes section for writing my Mid-Month and Monthly Reviews inspired by Charlie Gilkey which are always very useful for keeping me on track and aware of the weeks progressing.

I am very excited about this plan!

While I'm waiting for my Uncalendars to arrive, I'm getting ideas from Uncalendar's goal setting tips and other sections of The Training Room (which I like to peruse periodically) for more advice on setting and implementing my goals.

As you might imagine, Uncalendar planners are extremely popular with students.  Interestingly, I've recently discovered that Uncalendar planners are very popular with nursing students in particular.  I can definitely see how the Un's structure and flexibility would be extremely useful for busy nursing students balancing classwork and clinicals (not to mention the rest of their life!).  On Allnurses.com there is a forum where a lot of nurses and students recommend the Uncalendar.  I'm fascinated!

Click on the following links to see my reviews of the Full-Size Uncalendar Lifestyle and Half-Size Uncalendar Lifestyle.

Click through to my post Secrets for Success to see why the Uncalendar system is so useful for setting and achieving goals.

What techniques do you like to use to help you figure out your goals and make a plan for achieving them?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jottrr notebook

I received this cool Jottrr notebook from The Paperie as a sample to review. Jottrr is a new brand of notebooks that I had never heard of, so of course I was very excited to check them out. Many thanks to The Paperie for sending me this notebook!

Jottrr notebooks are priced cheaper than the similar-sized large Moleskine notebooks, with thicker paper.   Additionally, Jottrr notebooks have blank, lined and quadruled pages all in one book, which is excellent for those of us who normally wind up carrying around more than one notebook with different types of paper.

The left side of the page is blank, and the right side is lined.

At the back of the book are 20 perforated pages (10 sheets) , 5 sheets of which are the blank/ lined sheets, and 5 sheets are quadruled.

The pages are numbered, making it easy to index your book.

The Jottrr notebook has 160 pages of 120 g paper, as noted on their website.  This means that the notebook is thicker than your average Moleskine or similar book.  The size is approximately A5, which means it's a good balance of page size and portability.

The cover is flexible:

And yet the book is not floppy at all.  The cover is still firm enough to write holding the book on your lap or in your hand.  The sewn binding allows the book to open flat and to stay open on a surface, which is very convenient.

There is a very thick elastic strap, which holds the book closed very securely so there is no worry about it flapping open in your bag. 

But curiously, there is no ribbon page marker. There is a pocket in the back:

The thick, cream colored paper is very nice to write on and is designed for fountain pen use.  Since I don't have any fountain pens to test the paper with, I highly recommend you check out Lady Dandelion's excellent review of the Jottrr notebook with lots of photos of fountain pen ink tests for more information about fountain pen performance on this paper.

Jottrr notebooks come in charcoal gray (as shown here), yellow and pink.  You can order them online at The Paperie.

Many thanks again to The Paperie for sending me this excellent notebook!