Editor's note: Hey everyone, yes... I'm back. I took all of last month to get my mind and life back in order. My husband treated me to a wonderful weekend escape to the coast, I am a bit more secure in what my new job asks of me, and I'm growing accustomed to having one less furry beast running around in the house. Thank you all for the warm wishes and support during my "time" away from DIY Planner. While I didn't respond to every comment from my last post, I did read them all.
One of my 2008 goals is to continue to build on my creative and writing life. I want writing and art to seep from every aspect of my being and help me grow as a writer and artist in this world. However, occasionally the daily grind of errands, doctor's appointments, and laundry push back the available time I want to devote to this practice. Then I heard about Write Free, by Rebecca Lawton and Jordan E. Rosenfeld. The title immediately drew me in. Finally, a book proposing to help concretely build, maintain, and attract a fully functioning creative lifestyle.
So, you've discovered a cup'o'pens at the local flea market, and found that amidst all the cheap Bics and broken mechanical pencils are a few fountain pens. Sure, they're covered with grime, tarnish, and bent bits, perhaps there's a crack or two, but still -- they are fountain pens, a relic from a bygone age when people's worth was often determined by their words, and their words were defined by their pens. You roll them over, shake them a little, inspect the dirty tips. While they'll never sell for much on the market, you suspect that you might be able to get some decent daily writers out of the lot. But what's involved in that? After all, you don't have any fancy pen repair supplies, and don't have the first clue where to begin with restoration techniques.
Restoration, what a scary word. People think of houses, furniture, huge investments of time, effort, outside help, equipment. But despite the fact that some fountain pens can be quite expensive (thousands of dollars is not a rare price to pay), a little bit of skill and a modest investment of gear --much of which is probably already in your home-- can turn a junkyard pen into a writer's best friend, if not a family heirloom.
The fundamentals of fixing pens are not out of reach for even bare beginners -- recognise that I've only been doing this for around a year, but thanks to great books like "Da Book" (Guide to Fountain Pen Repairs by Frank Dubiel) and numerous Fountain Pen Network forums, I've picked up enough basics to restore about 50 or 60 vintage pens and pencils. While I'm obviously not an expert, the purpose of these DIYPlanner articles is to share beginner's tips with you, perhaps whetting your appetite for something a little more advanced. Then Dubiel is certainly your next logical step.
Raymond Gilford (aka Shuttercat7) is a long-time OCBoP (Obsessive Compulsive Buyer of Planners) and a sometimes WiP (Writes in Planner). He hopes that in writing this article there is someone else out there who can't go in a store without stopping by the calendar/planner section.
Welcome to the true life confessions of a Texan who spends a lot of time saddlin' up. Our first encounter with the need for organizational tools begins when we're kids. It starts out roughly the same for all of us. They call our name. We answer. They hand us money. They start telling us what they want. We nod our heads dutifully. Then we head out the door. Somehow, when we get to the store, what we heard doesn't translate well into what items we're now dropping into the shopping cart. Then we get back home we find ourselves in trouble because we forgot something, or several somethings. Next time, our parents send us to the store, with a list.
Okay, I can be a little obsessive. (For example, see my recent posts about fountain pens, fountain pens, fountain pens, and ...erm... fountain pens.) Unfortunately, combined with my persistent belief that my next productivity tool could be the non plus ultra, this can translate into drawers filled with unused gadgets, bookcases jammed with partially used planners and notebooks, and a selection of writing utensils that would shame any office supply store. And, although I am embarrassed to admit it, while I tend towards the intimacy of pen and paper, the tinker in me is certainly inclined towards items demonstrating an almost awkward complexity. But do those help me be more productive? Rarely.
I've mentioned not only my Macs in these pages, but my Palms, my Newtons, and various other attempts to find a perfect portable writing machine that also allows for efficient time management. The Newton eMate 300 (or alternatively, the Newton MessagePad 2100 with keyboard) was the closest thing thus far, as it offered me the ability to write without being tempted by the distractions of the web, use the amazing MoreInfo to structure my days, and have a smallish and rugged package that lasted up to 20 hours. But, as attractive as the Newtons were, I started yearning for the ability to look up online resources, draw small diagrams, send email, sync easily with my other computers, and so on, all of which are possible on the Newtons, but not easy nor intuitive. The thought of typing several dozen pages on a cramped smartphone thumb-board while the battery ticks down didn't seem to offer any respite. What I needed was a very small laptop... a subnotebook, and one that wouldn't cost a fortune. And then, I unexpectedly received one: an Asus Eee PC 701 4G Surf, currently going for an average retail value of roughly $350 USD ($400 for the non-Surf model, which means it has a webcam).
I eyed it suspiciously. Small, clunky, inexpensive, tiny-screened, Linuxy, and therefore decidedly un-Mac-like. Could it fit the bill?
I've been putting off writing this post for far too long now, and it's not an easy one to compose. But I wanted you all to know. As of last Thursday, I'm taking a brief hiatus. Not sure when I'll be back, but don't worry... I WILL be back to fill your Thursdays with more creative ideas and reviews. I have this list, you see... and I want to finish it...
The past week has contained a series of difficult moments for me. Some good, some bad, but all leading me to realize I need some time off. Time to pamper my mind and myself. To sort out all the madness that has happened this week.
I need time to enjoy a conference I'll be attending this weekend. Time to learn a new contract gig I started this week. Some time to adjust to the fact that our house has one less kitty running around. And some driving time with the new car my hubby and I got for a great deal (and as retail therapy for said kitty). What really gets me, is other than the daily tech writing I do, I haven't been able to write or read much. So I need time to calm down and give my muse and myself time for writing and reading once more.
Honestly, I am okay. I'm taking it slow, one day at a time and allowing myself to just be. Thank you for reading and here's hoping things return to "normal" soon. Until I return, enjoy all the past posts and continue the great help and conversations you're all having in the forums.
Good day all, Steve here, bringing you my weekly Friday column...on Monday. Give me a break! My girlfriend dragged me out for dim sum, Chinese brunch, and she was, like, "Let's get some chicken feet," and I'm, like, "No way, that's nasty," and she's all, like, "No, let's branch out. Get some feet." As it is turns out, chicken feet are considered to be quite a desirable appetizer among the Chinese community, though personally it gives me the willies, but I'm kind of squeamish about new foods. I'm not trying to be culturally insensitive, I'm just not down with feet, ya know? Anyway, all this indecision about the chicken feet left me a bit dragged out, so I had to take a nap, but now I'm here to bring this week's column, which is about the Olympics.
Happy Valentine's and Single's Awareness Day everyone. I hope everyone's feeling the love in the air and in their hearts. If not for some particular person (hi kender!) then hopefully for your own personal self.
Love and writing go hand in hand. Writing helps to express the deepest feelings we bury deep in our heart. Writing love entries also help us remember the good things and feelings on the days when everything seems dark and wrong. You can write love letters to someone you love, letting them know how much you care and why. You can make lists of all the things you love about a person or being in love. You can answer thoughtful questions about the whole meaning and purpose of love. And don't forget the mass amounts of written love-based poetry out there!
Write about love. List all the moments, objects, songs, colors that you associate with love. Remember what it was like to be in love for the first time. You know, that moment that someone swept you off your feet unexpectedly and did something that made you blush and think twice. Write it down. Write love letters to those actors you have secret crushes on. Spread the love of the written word down on the paper.
When visitors or interviewers contact me under the mistaken impression that I'm sort of productivity guru, due to the D*I*Y Planner project, I don't know whether to laugh, sigh, or just continue the charade. You see, I am one of the most chronically disorganized people on the planet. Seriously. I am a project manager during my day job, having to juggle and direct dozens of disparate interactive and marketing projects, and the reason for my success in that role can be summed up in one simple piece of advice: "Write stuff down in a place where you can find it."
Yes, Allen's GTD adherents will recognise the "trusted system" at work here, and the Covey adherents will recognise their daily planners with their big and little rocks, but it's a tough rule to stick to. For example, I've been blessed with a pretty good memory (despite what my wife claims), and I had taken advantage of that for my day-to-day organization. Some readers out there will emphathise: you have three or four towering stacks of papers and magazines and books in the corner threatening to topple and kill the cat at any moment. Someone asks, "Do you have a copy of that?" Why yes, I do, and it's that purplish thing four inches from the bottom of the second stack. Retrieving it in an SPCA-appropriate manner, though, can prove a challenge, were it not for my elite "pull it out real fast while compensating for mass shift" skills.
But the reliance on memory is just the first stage in our organizational evolution.
Paper punches, both Circa and 3-ring, are insanely useful. They allow us to use our preferred paper in our planners. They allow us to make and keep articles of interest to our careers and hobbies. And they allow us to fulfill the spirit of DIY by customizing every aspect of our paper life by ourselves. Like any modern day device, however, using a paper punch requires a little bit of exploration and maintenance to get the most out of it.
The first thing you should do, when you get your punch is to look it over and read any manuals (if any). Get to know how your punch works. This includes removing any thing clamping the punch together, like the small red plastic bits that held my Levenger Circa punch together. Understand how the punch tray works and test this feature out. This is that plastic tray that is loosely held on the bottom of the punch that collects all the left-over holes and smurfs after you perforate your papers. Sometimes this tray sticks and can be a big pain to remove or put back on. You'll want to make sure you can get yours on and off when the tray fills up with those tiny scraps of paper.