Now before you embark on this article I recommend finding a comfortable chair a hot beverage of your choice and a plate of cookies; and having done all of the above I hope you enjoy my latest article.
Traditionally this is a time of the year when we look back on the old year and forwards into the new year and make resolutions for change; and this got me thinking.
For many years now we have become more and more reliant upon the digital word and less and less reliant upon the written word; and often there are good and valid reasons for this such as security of data, the flexibility to log on anywhere and have your information available to you at the click of a mouse.
Now none of these and the many other reasons that I could cite in favour of the digital word make analogue methods seem like a logical alternative and they’re not simply because we are too far down the digital rabbit hole.
The one thing I have noticed is the deliberate lack of retention of information; ask anyone when they are free to meet and they reach for laptops, smartphones, iPads et cetera. Ten years or more ago the same question would have been answered without reaching for the digital word and most of the time not for the analogue word either.
We knew where we were and when.
And this led me to look back into my past to a time when I used a purely analogue way of running my life and I realised in those days I had more control over my time and yes life could be equally stressful, but the added sense of control made it more manageable.
So, I decided to see what I could do to recapture some of that sense of control and whilst I can’t stop people dipping into the digital diary I can, at least, exercise greater control and in the past the keys to control were the diary and the notebook; the invaluable data management tools of what is now considered a bygone era.
With that in mind I decided I would need to go shopping for a diary and notebook and taking a side interest in diary and notebook systems. I discovered that for every notebook, generic and bespoke alike, there is a system and some of these systems are unique to the user and others are more standardised and then there are the hybrid systems that use an assortment of whole or partial methodologies to capture and organise information.
Needless to say, this all got rather complicated rather quickly so I decided to start with a basic approach to and add to it, if required because ultimately it’s as Raj said to Sheldon “jo ji kare kar” (Hindi for ‘Whatever floats your boat.’)
The final consideration I had to make before taking the plunge was security and loss because if you lose it, you not only lose your work you lose information and some of that might be confidential and I had to consider the fallout from such a loss. In the end I decided to use the notebook and diary only for information and note taking that would not, if misplaced, land me in a world of trouble, and to keep them locked away when not required.
Now let me tell you a little about the diary and the notebook which, let’s face it, is what you’re really here for and if it wasn’t for the cookies and the hot beverage you might not have got this far.
I shopped around for quite a while to find a diary I liked; I checked out the usual suspects, but nothing appealed; essentially, I was looking at a day per page diary roughly A5 size. You’d think it would be easy to find but it wasn’t and then I happened to be in Flying Tiger looking at other things and I spotted their Daily Diary, and I was able to call the search off.
The diary has plain brown strong card covers and on the front it is simply printed 2023 square stacked 20 above 23. It is FSC approved and can be recycled and contains 199 sheets of 60gm paper and is double wire bound in two blocks; upper and lower thirds of the spine, allowing the diary to fold back and lay flat.
When you open the diary the first thing you find is a year planner across two pages which is fine for marking up blocks of time such as holidays but as a practical addition to planning, other than a quick check to see what day of the week a date falls on it’s not a great deal of use. The fold out planner at the rear of the diary for 2023 & 2024 is much more useful as a year planner.
Next and more useful is a full-page month which starts each month and then we move onto the diary page itself. Each day of the month has its own page at the top of which is a calendar for the current and the coming month, the week of the year, day itself which is timed to start at 0800 and finish at 2000 and the bottom right corner is perforated to allow you to tear it off to make it easy to find your place in the year. The months have been cut to create a tabbed effect, January – June and July – December.
Whilst this is a good diary and I am looking forward to using it the one thing it is not is fountain pen friendly. The level of ink showing through to the reverse side of the page rendered it unusable so I would recommend sticking to a pencil or a ballpoint.
The notebook was much easier to find; one trip to a local Paperchase and I had an A4 double wire bound notebook.
It’s a 150 sheet (300 page) hard kraft covers with five evenly spaced internal dividers; the paper is ruled at circa 5mm which, when tested, was suitable for fountain pens use.
The paper used comes from FSC-certified and other sustainable sources and I have to say it’s nice paper to write on.
That in a nutshell is the notebook, it’s a bit of a paving slab as notebooks go but it’s nice quality so hopefully that will offset the weight.
One thing that did occur to me is how customisable it could be from decoration to more practical options such as adding a pocket on the inside of the back cover and because the notebook is properly wire bound it folds back on itself and a pocket is a good option that could be easily adapted from a document wallet or a robust envelope.
My intention is to see how far I can return to an analogue methodology and what problems I encounter and how long my new diary and notebook last.
Well until my project is complete or founders on a digital reef I won’t know whether or not they were the best tools for me.
As individual items they are excellent; both are very good quality and other than the diary not being fountain pen friendly (which can be worked around) I have no complaints and would happily recommend them.
Disclaimer: The diary and notebook were purchased at retail price. The opinions expressed in this review are my own; and I am not connected with either the retailers or manufacturers in any way.