The Crazy Suburban Mom: 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Planners, Germs....

I just got this fabulous bamboo cutting board with an entire set of interchangeable,  hygienic,  washable mats. It's perfect for me because while I love my current (standard wood) cutting board there's a lot I won't use it for... Like meat of any kind.   Raw poultry scares me more then public speaking...

But when I look at these perfect weapons in the war on germs all I see is Filofax Dividers.

 It's a sickness, this planner thing of ours.  Not a sickness like you get from raw chicken, but a sickness none the less...


Monday, December 30, 2013

The shreds of my own frustration

I just posted a video and I'll embed it here but I wanted to show a few still shots of the Filofax Storage Binder.   I had high hopes for this but I should have known it wasn't what I needed; there is very little information on the website and no internal pictures.

The cover itself is perfectly fine, a thick vinyl and I really like the silver embellishments; Filofax written on the cover and the side 'F' logo.

There's even a side tab so you can add a note about dates or topics.

I thought these would look great on a shelf all lined up like identical little organizing soldiers.  There is something relaxing about groups of same items.  

Yes, I could use actual binders but with the recent explosive popularity of Filofax organizers, I'm out-priced.  I thought finding a cheap A5 Apex would be a breeze but it was shocking.  There is a listing for only one on ebay and it's over $80 which is flat out insane.   Even as much as I love Filofax products, no.  Just no.

This type of product needs a cheap, functional cover and giant rings so you can store years worth of pages but it has pegs (and only two). Plus the peg snap-tops are attached to the cover (... for the love of all things holy, why? )  ...meaning the  cover hardly opens up without unsnapping it.  Also if I want something from the bottom I can't without removing everything above it.  

 I'm one hundred percent positive I'd  want to rip it into the shreds of my own frustration every time I need to use it.    

It barely survived the making of this morning's video intact.

I know $18 isn't much to most people but it is to me.  I don't have eighteen extra dollars, ever.   It's why I'm so careful about buying and why I don't buy much...  Mistakes are inevitable, I can deal with that but this product isn't really suitable for it's intended use and that's difficult to reconcile.

If you want to see it in motion, or see how my Filofax leather experiment went, or see my Midori Traveler's Notebook as an art journal...  Here's the video!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Working on the Malden leather, video and still images

I've been working with my Filofax Malden for almost a week, trying to get the coating off.    I did a video but am also using some still shots to try and show how it went.

Because the binder is grey it's pretty hard to see variations in anything but I think these might show a few things.

The grain pattern really varies and seemed to influence overall success.

The grain pattern on the front cover is tighter then it is on the back, denser maybe is a better word.   And the places where the snap sits is the smoothest, least grained section.  The leather looks more luxurious, higher quality.   I'm guessing the people who love their Maldens have this leather covering the entire binder.  

After days of trying all kinds of things, from hand and body lotions to a nail file to alcohol the front cover is more matte and you can see the pores in the leather.   It also feels more supple although not nearly as natural as the back cover.

You can see the pores better in this picture.

As to the back cover, it's different from any other area. It looked looser, rougher before I started.  There seemed to be actual cracks in the cover but I think it was just the finish/coating.    The grain isn't as tight  and it was much easier to get a more leathery vibe going.   It's got a worn-in leather jacket look now and it's appeal to me has gone up a lot, I love the back.

I know I've said this a hundred times already but here it is again;  I don't recommend anyone do this. The leather varies between and within individual planners.  The results are entirely unpredictable and I think having it work out in a way that makes you happy isn't likely.   I didn't like this planner at all before I started and it was either make it work for me or sell it.   I decided to go for it knowing I wouldn't be able to sell it after.   

I'm happy with the result so far and plan to do a bit more and see if I can further remove the coating but I like lived-in planners... The signs of wear are crazy appealing to me but this isn't to many people's taste.   


Monday, December 16, 2013

My big girl jingle bell cleaning panties and a partridge in a hazmat suit

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Brother P-touch. I received a product samples to facilitate my review and promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Back in November I posted about my Brother P-Touch label maker as well as their 25th anniversary special promotions and deals at select retail locations (like Staples).   Since then I've labeled my world.   

I've wanted a Brother P-Touch label maker for years because of the many spaces in need of  sorting, simplifying and defining.   My family has a big problem with stuff; no one can   manage what they have efficiently but we all keep bringing more in. 

I work hard managing the stuff but it never lasts long. Clear surfaces disappear and freshly organized closets magically fill up before you can say, Abracadabra!  Magazines and catalogs continually pile  up and I don't feel like I'm cleaning as much as  I'm playing Jenga.  But instead of it being a game with blocks; it's life, and the teetering towers are made of shoes, guitars, dog toys, and the occasional slice of pizza.

And there is no winner.

 I got rid of a lot of stuff a few months ago and thought that would be 'the' solution but turned out that was only half the problem.  When no one knows where anything goes, it goes no where.  And everywhere.   I've reorganized over and over only to have everything devolve into chaos again.  

I was sort of dreading the holidays because of the massive cleaning it involves.   Getting the house company ready is hard and for whatever reason, I wasn't feeling the holiday cleaning spirit this year.  

Funny thing is when I put on my big girl jingle-bell cleaning panties and decided to just get on with it... the house wasn't bad.  Wasn't bad at all...

I'd accomplished a lot this Fall without even realizing it.  In November I started sorting and labeling things (as well as their homes)  with the Brother P-Touch label maker  and it's made a huge difference.   

My family still doesn't put every single thing away but knowing where things go has been huge. Spaces that used to devolve remain clear. And for sure, I'm not running across forgotten slices of pizza anymore. The house looks better on a daily basis and this year Holiday cleaning hasn't been a big bah-humbug.  

Sure,  I still had (and have) some more to do but it isn't much more then I do daily anyway. A real switch from past years when making the house company ready involved several weeks of planning, a good three days of active cleaning,  a power washer, a machete and a partridge in a hazmat suit.

I'd like to show some before pictures but the process happened easily and naturally after I started labeling things, so I don't have any.  

I can show you some places made much better through naming, sorting, and labeling.  I'm especially fond of  black print on clear tape.

brother p touch labels

It's readable but unobtrusive...

brother p touch labels

And allows for easy grouping by use within large categories for things like shoes.

brother p touch labels

Or I can manage more loosely related items... Here is a bin freshly down from the attic and ready to go through.

brother p touch labels

And there's this bin...

 With the Holidays upon me I need the constant reminder, more will be coming into the home very soon and more needs to go to accommodate all of it.   

Letting go can be a slow process but it needs to be an active one.  It isn't enough to know I need to let things go, I need to actually say good-bye before they are choking what space I have.

This bin is a great size for that; not too small but not so big that I can put off giving things away indefinitely.    And the label catches my eye when I walk past it. 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

#MC Foamy scrumptiousness ensues with the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto and Giveaway

*I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a thank me for my participation*

 I drink coffee every day, with one exception.  Last year during Hurricane Sandy I didn't have power for over a week;  one day went by, two days... Sure it was cold without heat, and dark without lights but it was the  no coffee thing that was getting to me.... On day three a kind soul who worked in a town with electricity promised to bring me home a cup, and didn't.  I cried like a baby.

Coffee is how I start my day, as I'm thinking through all I need to tackle, and do, and face, coffee is my delicious  calm before the storm.

I like making it myself,  the process, the sounds, the smells...   I live within a few miles of several coffee houses but I'd rather stay home in my fuzzy slippers.  Why would I drive somewhere for the privilege of paying more for a cup then I'm willing to pay for an entire chicken when I don't have to?

Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio

When Mom Central Consulting was looking for people to test drive the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto I was on it like foam on a latte for three main reasons:

 1.  I take a coffeemaker et al. (maker, coffee, filters, scoop, cups, creamer, and all manner of coffee fa la la) on vacation which is a just a schlep.  I need a separate bag just for my coffeephernaila...  The thought of instead taking a compact, self-contained unit with me like a dream.

 2.  I own a drip brewer, two french press units and an electric tea kettle because I've yet to find a drip coffeemaker that brews at even remotely the right temperature ( I heat the water before I pour it in the drip reservoir.) With all those coffee pots why did I want this one? Simple,  holiday get-togethers. Everyone wants something different; if I brew regular the unleaded drinkers put on big sad faces, the tea drinkers don't want coffee at all and the kids want hot chocolate.

3. Occasionally I want a cup in the afternoon but don't want a whole pot and want it to be easy.

For all these reasons the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto GENIO is crazy appealing to me.  If it sounds like your slice of coffee heaven too, I'm hosting a giveaway!  

Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your first cup of the day, or why you're a coffee lover, or just let me know you have an aversion to paying more for coffee then  chicken too. I'd like to know I'm not alone...

Visit the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto for more information about this product and if you're thinking you need this now I have a 20% off coupon code for you, GustoGift!

I'm looking forward to setting up a coffee station this holiday season.  My plan is to set out the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto, an assortment of flavor capsules and let my guests make their holiday coffee (or non-coffee) wishes come true while I tend to other things.   Brewing is very easy, the directions clear and simple and scrumptiousness ensues in all these flavors.

 Cappuccino Ice
 Carmel Latte Macchiato
Skinny Cappuccino 
Nestea Peach Iced Tea
Skinny Latte 
Latte Macchiato 
Chai Tea Latte 
Caffe Lungo 
Caffe Lungo Decaf 
A Dark Roast
Morning Blend 
Espresso Intenso

Each patented capsule has a suggested "scroll" setting so you can  to brew your perfect cup the same every time or vary the strength.   The NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto is the only machine that truly delivers delicious, coffee house quality creations every time with patented smart capsule technology delivering up to 15 bars of professional pressure and espresso technology.  Choose a flavor, slide in the capsule, and prepare to be dazzled!

Contest is open to US residents only. You can enter once a day until 11:59 pm ET December 28, 2013.  I will wait 48 hours for the winner to contact me, after that I will need to pick another winner so please follow my blog so you will know if you win!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Anonymous Filofax spotted in the wild

I was flipping through a Better Homes and Gardens (January 2014) issue last night.  I'm a total sucker for this months theme, simply organized.   

As an aside,  I can't resist magazines with big, bright, bold organizing words on the cover...

So I started looking at it and stopped cold when got  to page 17...


That is so a Filofax Original Organizer in gold. I couldn't find a credit on the page so I double checked on the Filofax website and...

Original Personal Yellow Large


I flipped to the product resource section next but nope, wasn't there either. This is the note topping that section...


Okay, well it's not vintage.   Discontinued?  Hmm, don't think so although suppose it could be. Either way it's still available for sale, so sort of a moot point.    As to the source being unknown... that's crazy talk.  It says it on the button for Pete's sake, no one with a pulse could miss that.    

I thought, maybe it's a knock-off?  I dismissed that quickly; there's no way Better Homes and Gardens would condone the whole knock-off industry by showing one in their magazine.   Which leaves only  that's its an un-credited photo of a Filofax. And what a shame that is.

 Paper planning seems to be having a resurgence lately, showing up in all kinds of media. I can imagine that like me, many people are suckers for magazines that promise organizing solutions on their covers.    And I can imagine a lot of those people would be intrigued by the wide, world of paper planning...

What a shame they won't be able to find out it's a Filofax Organizer.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My own personal trail of breadcrumbs

Monday I did a current setup video and had a few questions about how I use the Filofax Full Year Vertical Planner.
filofax year planner

I decided to do this as a blog post (although I may do a video as well) because the explanation is best shown with still images. 

There are two things that never change about my set up; that I sandwich daily pages between some variation of a week on two page format and the Filofax Vertical Yearly Insert.  I've been using this for years, even taping it into bound planners, because it works perfectly for me.

travelers notebook

Over the years I've tried other formats..

filofax with year on one page calendar

And brands.


Always coming back to this one.


It's the perfect marriage of form and function.

A lot of people have this insert and we all use it differently.   There isn't a huge amount of writing space per day so it tends to have a single purpose; some are used for birthday notations, or holiday and days off, some use it for payday and vacation planning , others as a school calendar (especially good for coordinating multiple children in different schools), and to denote personal vs. business travel dates.

The uses are all different but it seems to be primarily an advanced planning tool whereas I use mine mostly as an information index and keep multiple years in my binder.  There is a finite amount of space in any ringed binder and eventually some of the daily and monthly pages have to be removed.  Archived  information is retrievable but it's so much easier to have major events in one place (especially if you switch binders regularly).

This  insert has a reasonable amount of room; certainly enough room to capture one specific item.


More then one if you use translucent sticky tabs...

 It works  like bullet planning and is especially useful  if you archive past pages.  For me, it's the best big picture overview I've found and as such, it makes the perfect index for past pages.   If all you're looking for is the date something happened a quick scan is enough, if you need more, this insert provides a way to find all the detailed information.  And sure you can thumb through pages and pages of archived inserts to find what you need, but why spend that much time if you don't have too.

If you have a lot of things to keep track of (For example: You keep business and personal items in one binder), you could add two (or more) of these to separate it all out.  Even in multiples  this insert won't take up very much space in the rings.  

 I keep track of many things on the year insert; purchase dates for warranty purposes, service and technical support calls and visits, medical information like appointments and prescription changes, vet visits, personal events such as births or deaths, dates projects were started or completed, dates my credit card was over charged and when the problem was resolved ...  Anything I think I may have to refer back to sooner or later gets written down.  I do occasionally  use it as an advance planning tool.  I stuck this note in sometime last year to remind me about an important expiration date.


But for me it's works best as a kind of analog mainframe, or better still,  my own personal trail of breadcrumbs that I can follow home.


Monday, December 2, 2013

The same as it ever was...

I just uploaded a video to youtube about my set up.   It's not really different but I talk about it in specifics and also why I think it works for me.

I talk about my Midori Traveler's Notebook a bit too but it's mostly about my main planning...


Friday, November 29, 2013


I'm totally over sticky notes because if I have to glue them on and tape down the one's that roll, what's the point?   For the last few months I've griped about sticky notes (not) a lot because it irritates me. They have one job. One!  For the love of all things papery, why sell a sticky product if they stick in an wholly non-committal fashion?

 One day I threw my hands up in disgust and bagged the sticky (not) thing, using small scraps of paper, punched, and housed in the rings instead.   The advantages are many but the main one's are that I can use up random scraps, archiving this way is much more efficient, and I don't have the constant sticky thorn in my side.


But I've noticed some evil stickiness afoot recently. Instead of acting contrite the sticky notes (not) are taunting me.  Out of nowhere one will show up stuck to Ventura. 

I found another stuck so hard to the floor I had to scrape it off and two days ago Ben said, "Ma.  What's stuck to your butt?"

Yeah, an especially persistent sticky note. 

At first I thought, This is all so weird!  They don't stick to paper but  fuse with everything else on a molecular level.   I thought they were haunting me for a while but because of what happened yesterday I know, without a doubt, those accursed sticky notes are out to get me.

BeFunky Crop on iPhone

I've tried to flush that treacherous thing down for an entire day and it's not even curling; they are staging a sticky revolt.  

Cover me guys, I'm going in...


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Okay, trying this again...

Hope this video is better then the one I took down this morning!   I have a feeling this may be my iphone's swan song...


Friday, November 15, 2013


Instead of making a to-do list, I made a to-do-nothing list.

To Do Nothing list

Some days should just about  pajamas, and nothing more.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

My only boner

I'm comfortable tinkering with my computer's internal organs (I changed the motherboard on my first one.)   Hardware doesn't intimidate me, but software? Software is whole different animal.  

There are better, faster, and more efficient ways to accomplish everything I do within programs, but programs are so big, so incredibly function-rich, I don't have the time or patience to  understand any of it.

And in that frustrating vein,  I hadn't been able to print Filofax Inserts to save my life.  I kept thinking, How can that be?   I've taken apart (and put back together) several computers.  Why can't I get a printer to spit out an already-formatted page?

I've wasted so much money in my printing kerfuffles it would have been cheaper to buy anything I was trying to DIY.  That's the reason I haven't bought any of the fabulous, downloadable templates available on Etsy.

This morning I pulled the Pocket Rio from my purse to give printing one more try; working in a smaller format might not net me better results but at least I won't waste as much paper and ink on the failures.

In the past I used Clairefontaine A4 printer paper, I used the entire pack without getting a single usable page.  This time I tried something different, a Kokuyo Campus Report Pad from JetPens in A4 size. It was a steal at $4.10 for the 50 sheet pad and the paper is smooth, high quality and thin.   So thin, I wasn't sure my printer could manage but it worked.

I printed November and December.  I watched the printing progress, all the while thinking, No way! But look!

Philofaxy printed insert pocket filofax


It took two tries to get the front and backs going in the same direction (selecting the flip on short side setting worked) but I did it and  I'm totally gobsmacked! 

 Of course like I said...

There are so many variables, so many things that  can go wrong. One wrong move and you have a major DIY blooper.  The washi  covers my only boner.

So much went right this time.  I almost had it entirely correct until I punched every sheet on the wrong side.   


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A remarkable label maker, indeed

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting  for Brother P-touch. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and promotional item as a thank you for participating.

When my vintage label maker,  Mrs. Brady (named that because she was the same avocado color as the kitchen in The Brady Bunch house),  coughed out her final letter a few months back I knew I'd miss having a label maker something awful.  Sure,  I could write out labels but when  trying to organize I want precision.  I want even letters along a straight line. And I want options.  

 I assumed a new one would be expensive so I did nothing about it but sit in front of my Filofax wearing a giant sad face handwriting tabs in deformed script (of disturbingly varied heights and widths).   That doesn't bother everyone but it bothers me.

It bothers me a lot.

A month or so ago I got an email from Mom Central #MC announcing a sponsored  Brother P-Touch 25th Anniversary Ambassador Program and did I want to apply?   Oh yes.  Please. I want to apply very, very much.  

brother p touch

Oh! Beautiful, evenly spaced letters, how I've missed you!

I've known about the Brother Handheld Label Makers for a long time but it wasn't until I read the information that I realized the price was more then reasonable,  about $35 depending on the retailer.

I have to be careful with spending.  I've talked about it a lot but if I'm being candid, I've spent twice the cost of the Brother P-Touch PT-H100 on nail polish since Mrs. Brady's demise (May she rest in peace).  And one particular polish would have about covered the entire cost!  (Crazy, I know, but the heart wants what the heart wants.)

My spanking new label maker arrived at the beginning of November and the first thing I did was register it for email offers and  checked out the product demo video (here).   I've been printing up Organizational Nirvana since.

The first thing I did was  redo my planner tabs. The second  was wrangle some cords using the cable labeling feature.

And  third, I redid my 'clutter zone' notes using labels.  There's a bunch of places my family just drops things. I leave notes to encourage otherwise.

 Clutter zone #1 - The place to put every thing needing to go upstairs; known in most homes as the bottom step.


 Clutter zone # 2. The coat dump.


A related aside: I've learned something about notes like this.  After a few weeks my family doesn't see them anymore so I change them frequently.   I taped these on with re-prepositional tape instead of using the adhesive backs.  That way I can use them over and over.

Clutter zone # 3. The pre-cycle bin.  Especially if it's raining....


And Clutter zone # 4. Armageddon.  The half wall on the upstairs landing is big enough to accumulate not only things, but stacks of things.   I have no pictures of Armageddon, it's a work in progress and even I have limits. 

On a good day, these things add about half an hour to what I already have to clean and with the holidays coming who has time for that? 

This time of year I'm trying to make things company ready and things I don't normally spend a lot of time on get tackled.   Spring and fall  I clean under, around, and between things.   And that's  hard enough  without having to re-home single socks, empty water bottles, dirty dishes, shoes, dog chews and the always surprising pair of underpants.  

If you've got your own version of Armageddon it's a good time to consider a Brother P-Touch label maker.  To celebrate their 25th Anniversary, Brother is having special promotions and deals at select retail locations (like Staples).  

You know I love my vintage things but technology does improve some things to a remarkable degree.  Yesterday I was musing about it all, wondering if in this case newer was better and I only had to turn to my P-Touch to see the answer in  black and white.


The Brother P-Touch, a remarkable label maker indeed.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Filofax A5 Malden Flip through video up

It's a long video but the flip through is at the end, if you just want to see the main points they are in the first 14 minutes. 

I had a lot to say after that too but I know this will be too long for most people.  

PS I will be doing a blog post specifically about the Brother P Touch Label Maker  very soon but this is a walk through on my current setup.

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for  Brother P-touch. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and promotional item as a thank you for participating


Friday, November 8, 2013


I've switched binders a lot lately, from one size to another and between brands. And for periods of time as short as a few hours to as long as several months.

In a recent post called Hot dog stuffed crust Filofax, I made peace with the madness, accepted it, and stopped thinking of it as a problem.  Playing with my planners relaxes me and on days I'm feeling anxious and out of control it helps take the edge off.   It's a pretty harmless coping skill.

Since finding  Zen about switching I've been in  Malden A5. I  love my binders and each calls to me for a different reason. A lot of people can manage multiple binders but since I can't, I am continually twitchy for one I'm not using.

Eventually I give in because the grass is always greener on the other Filofax but I'd really  like to finish out the year in my Filofax Malden A5.    I'm pooped from this binder wanderlust.  

Instead of constantly lusting for what it doesn't have I decided to take inventory of the things that work so yesterday I took a good look at the positives.


Of all the planners I have, the Malden has the most efficient use of space.  All slots and pockets are totally usable. I can get as much as I want in them and none are so stiff it's rendered unusable.   Filling them also gives structure to the cover and this go around I added something to stiffen them intentionally. 

In the long front pocket I added a Franklin Covey page lifter I've had forever.  It's the right size for a Filofax A5 but has seven rings so using it for structure gives it purpose.


In the back pocket I put an A5 sized notebook.   I've been experimenting with different A5 papers lately and this one (a recent jetpens purchase)  is great.  It's the Kokuyo Campus Highgrade MIO Notebook and I've been using it as daily pages since I ripped open the package and clutched it to my chest.

 It's lovely to write on, takes ink well and is very smooth.    The paper is a creamy white with muted lines and it has a lovely translucence, making it relaxing to look at.  


The Malden has room to spare so I added the A to Z tabs as a ringed file.  This has worked for me in the past and I expect it will continue to be an asset.   The binder has two good sized pen loops and a strap that goes on for days.

You really can't fill a binder with a short strap to capacity, but this strap is a long, tall drink of water...


The 30 mm rings are roomy enough to handle extras.  I plan on keeping multiple year on a page inserts in there to easily find important dates; doctor's appointments, purchase dates (for warranty and return purposes), and for a record of things that renew (Amazon Prime, insurance, Ventura's dog license and therapy dog registration).

This is the first year doing that but wish I'd thought of it sooner, it's helped me already.


There's room for any random extras I want like these crossword puzzles snipped out of a book.


And things I need to bring to appointments with me.  For example; paperwork Ventura's vet had to fill out yesterday as well as an internet pet pharmacy price for his meds (my vet price matches).


I have room for extra paper.  Although I don't need or have much with me, it's great  for letters, lists, and doodles.


And there is room between the pages when the binder is open.  Smaller binders have less space but this space is usable in the Malden and I carry magnets stuck to the ring mechanism.   By the way if you can fit a tiny, rare earth magnet inside the body of a pen....  You can carry pens there too.

And yes, there are negatives but as Zig Zigler says, "Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will."  And maybe focusing on what works will give the binder switching a rest...

At least for a while...


Thursday, November 7, 2013

The way I'd like to journal, but can't...

Usually when I post videos they're mine but occasionally I find one so compelling I watch it over and over.  This post is about one that I've watched more times then I care to admit.

It's a travel journal that is everything I wish mine could be but never is.

The title indicates it's not finished, and although it was published five years ago, there is no follow up.  I've not given up hope to see part two and until then I'll probably watch this one another hundred or so times...


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Chronodex Core Planning

Chronodex cores are like snowflakes and vary as much within the same user as between different ones.    I can't remember ever seeing two that looked the same and I've tried - I'm an unrepentant Chronodex image stalker.

It's hard to explain why they appeal to me because for years I didn't think I could plan that way.    Despite looking at hundreds of them and reading explanations ad infinitum,  I didn't see planning, I saw a beautiful story in a language I didn't understand.


A lot of the appeal seemed to be the ability to see a day as blocks of time with only a quick scan.  That wasn't something I normally need.  I have a lot of things to do and single items to track but on a daily basis it's more about getting quick tasks  done then it is sectioning off my day.


A few months ago when I was ill (asthma) I needed a way to track medicine.  I wasn't going to be on any of it long enough to build a habit and I needed to take it perfectly.  Some I took once daily, some a few times a day and some I took only when needed.  And  the doses varied.

I needed a way to track by time and something that would be easy to decipher with a glance. I couldn't find any stashed inserts with times so I decided to print out a chronograph.  It worked incredibly well, so well that now when I have a day heavy with timed things I add a Chronodex core.

I print them (several at a time on  a4 paper sold at JetPens ), cut them up, and keep them in my planner to paste  on daily pages.


If you want to try one but, like me, don't quite understand how to plan a day with them I have a suggestion: Print a core and fill in a busy, past day.  Trying to learn how to plan on a blank core can be a little intimidating so  learn how they work first.  Filling in a day you're familiar with  gives you a frame of reference you won't have otherwise and after I did that the whole thing started to make sense to me.

I think there is a learning curve with Chronodex (and for that matter, any planning system you've never tried). Some people get it right away but others, like me, just sort of stare at them and don't know where to start.  Practicing on past days helped me a lot.  

I have to admit, a major reason I love them is a visual thing, that they work as time management is just a bonus.  The cores have an ASMR-like appeal to me;  modern and at the same time, worn-in and disheveled. I can look at images of them all day long, their steampunk vibe just pushes my happy buttons.


Chronodex cores are the brainchild of Patrick Ng.  He blogs about them (and many other wondrous stationery things) at Scription and can be found on Instagram, Flicker and Facebook.  He offers the cores and dated printables (many for the Midori Traveler's notebook) free on his blog.

If you've ever wanted to try them, do.  Filling in a past day helped me to understand them and while I don't use one every day, I use them every chance I get.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Filofax

I've been driving myself crazy in the last few months switching out planners and yeah, I did it again over the weekend.  Ooops, as Brittany said...

Since August, I've had a lot of home projects to manage and things to deal with (my son, leaving for college was especially difficult) and I've been overwhelmed for months.  Whenever I get that feeling a voice inside says, "It's the planner, Tracy.  Fix the planner and you'll fix your life!"  I try and resist but before long I'm in the middle of an office supply cyclone making holes in everything  like a rabid woodpecker.

This madness must end.

The whole process is a little crazy and feels oddly  like emotional eating.   Both help shut down the madness. 

Eating works, Oh! Does it work...  My current account with Weight Watchers proves that...  But  so does switching from one planner to another because it's so all consuming.  Changing binders focuses me on something other then what's overwhelming me...  And for a reasonable length of time.  

Yeah, it's more then a little crazy making and in some ways counterproductive but how much better it is then pulling a chair up to the Coldstone Creamery counter and saying," Line 'em up my good man, and make it a double." Can only be measured in light years.

I was looking for a way to stop the planner switching madness but.. Eh, I don't know. Switching out planners every week is pretty harmless in the grand scheme of coping skills.   Certainly a much better alternative then  one of these...

(Hot dog stuffed crust Pizza image from the Guardian)
...followed by a  Shark Week Sundae chaser.

So where does that leave me?  And really, is it madness?  

Maybe...  but it's a harmless sort of madness. It takes my mind off what's irritating me for a while and  there's always a chance I'll stumble on a few good planning ideas in the fray.

My plan isn't so much to stop, just  stop stressing about it.  I'm giving into a little harmless madness because it's works at least as well as chugging pizzas...And until comfort food comes in a calorie free version...

I'm sticking with this...


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Not everyone's cup of Filofax

This year, new a5 Filofax planners came with vertical week on two page inserts much of the time.


And if the order was placed after July there was a year and a half of them.  I quite like them  but I know they aren't every ones cup of Filofax.

 Quite a few remain unused due to flitting between planners. I can only imagine how many left overs the people who got a year and a half  have...

I was looking at them this morning thinking, 'Those puppies remind me of something' and Aha!  I've got it....

muji stamp

    The Muji lists and stamps...

muji list2

muji list

Cut the Filofax Vertical WO2P into sections and you have something remarkably similar.


Nothing wrong with the Muji stuff, it's not even expensive, but all the bits and bobs under $10 start to add up over a year.


They could give the Daytimer hot lists a run for their money too...


The left hand row is punched and if you cut off the top, no dates.


If the printed text get's your OCD in a lather,  a white gel pen will cover it all up.  I just got one from Jetpens by Uni-ball that worked like a charm.   

If you have a paper cutter it's a breeze but even if you don't...being the same color as Filofax paper, because it is, after all, Filofax paper, a wonky cut won't matter.   And it's so nice to find a use for things I have already; it saves me from buying new and keeps perfectly useful things out of land fills.

Finding solutions and using up stuff feels great; that it's free makes it  a bigger geeky high then spying a new sticky note in the Target Dollar Bin...  Now, don't dance around your family waving your home made hot lists, they won't get it.

Don't ask me how I know that, just believe me when I tell you - They won't get it.

At all.


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