As we clear up after Storm Doris and the newspapers are full of winter weather bombs, it’s time to squeeze in a quick winter stationery blast from the colder recesses of our warehouse. Inspired by the obvious lead item – the Field Notes Black Ice edition was create with winter in mind – I assembled a collection of wintery themed stationery. Enjoy them all before the first green shoots arrive, spirng is upon us and everything goes green and yellow.
From Nordic Blue notebooks to Stormy Grey ink it might seem that there is a lot of winter stationery to choose from. In fact it proved very hard to find anything suitably themed around the idea of winter, especially if you try and avoid Christmas!
With help from Monica I did get there but it maybe says a lot about our aspirations that colours and products are notably leaning towards more hopeful seasons. Spring and summer obviously encourage positive thoughts and so people make and name their products and we duly buy them. Winter turns us off. That’s my theory anyway – here’s what I found in the meantime:
Have you ever wondered what the fuss about dot paper is about? As a dot paper convert of many years I thought I would share my feelings on dot paper and give my top 3 reasons to switch to dot paper. You should at least give this new-fangled paper style a go. You never know, it may even win you over and leave you wondering how you ever coped with lined or grid paper.
What is dot paper anyway?
First up, a quick explanation for anyone wondering what dot paper even is. If you imagine a sheet of paper with horizontal and vertical lines, and at the point each line crosses another you place a fine mark, or dot. Remove all the lines once you’re done and what you’re left with is a series of regular dots. In almost all cases this will be a dot every 5mm, forming a grid.
Top dot reason number 1 – It’s the best of all worlds
Have you ever wanted your cake and eaten it? Faced with a choice do you ever long to take both? Or all three? Dot paper is just that – it’s three papers rolled up in one.
I’ll assume that everyone know what lined or ruled paper is, and those regular horizontal lines are. Ideal for regular and repetitive writing, but just a bit annoying when you want to draw, or make a table, or stick something in your book.
Grid paper is a bit more unusual but involves regular horizontal and vertical lines. I like grid paper but it makes for a lot of ink on the paper before you even started writing. The final result can be quite heavy and just too busy for my liking.
Plain paper is ideal for drawing or sketching, but with handwriting like mine you don’t want to be let loose on plain paper! My writing needs some guidance to keep it neat and tidy.
So faced with the need for a notebook that lets me write, create structures and draw I use dot paper. It really is the best of all three combined. The dots give enough of a framework to write neatly. They also allow me to make easy tables, and yet if I want to sketch something out they seem to fade into the background.
Top dot reason number 2 – It’s innovative
Maybe I shouldn’t be swayed by fanciful things like fashion and design, but there is a part of my mind that does like to seek out something new, something different. Not accepting the status-quo led us to paper and pens and notebooks in the first place, so dot paper is just one little step further in the advancement, and it’s a good one. So switch to dot because…well, just because it is there and (sort of) new and will make you feel like progress is happening. There is a reason why you will find all the top manufacturers including dot paper in their line up.
Top dot reason number 3 – It’s Bullet Journal friendly
Without getting bogged down in what Bullet Journaling is (see the official website here), I am keen on adapting elements of keeping a Bullet Journal to suit your own needs and style. You can read my explanation on this here on a previous post. The point being that dot paper is ideal because it lends itself so well to keeping a Bullet Journal. From using the dots to create boxes for to-do lists, through to adding tables and charts and logs, the flexible nature of dot paper is perfect. That’s why the official Bullet Journal uses dot paper.
Ultimately it comes down to finding the right paper for what you need and what you like, but I switched over some years back and have never gone back. From Rhodia to Leuchtturm I have been through many dot paper journals and look forward to many more yet. Try one if you haven’t and see for yourself.
It is not often we highlight the corporate work we do here at Bureau, but we recently produced our first order for branded Bullet Journals, and they looked so good we wanted to find out a bit more about the story behind them.
Founded in 2013, the Balance Network is a government-funded research project looking at how digital technologies affect our work/life balance. The pace of digital change is rapid and individuals cope differently; some struggle to adapt, feeling overwhelmed by constant connectivity. For others, technology offers tools and solutions to manage an increasingly demanding lifestyle.
The Balance Network project wanted to send out a ‘thankyou’ to their many collaborators who have helped run events, workshops and activities since the project started. They selected the official Bullet Journal in classic black, and we embossed the Balance Network logo on the front in silver foil.
Receiving an ‘analogue’ product might have seemed surprising to some of the Bullet Journal recipients, but we are finding premium stationery enjoying renewed demand in this digital age, as businesses and individuals see it as complementary to technology. Added to this, the methodology involved in Bullet Journaling has many parallels to digital apps for organising and note-taking, but the act of writing notes is quicker, more efficient and proven to be a better memory aid. Small daily pleasures like using a nice pen on quality paper should not be underestimated.
For any Balance Network collaborators who hadn’t heard of Bullet Journalling (often abbreviated to BuJo), the official Leuchtturm Bullet Journal includes an introduction to the method and a key to symbols. There is a plenty of information online, with websites, blogs and posts devoted to the subject (including the official Bullet Journal website, and our own post about getting started here). You can in fact use any notebook to BuJo (our favourites include Rhodia, Nuuna, Moleskine and of course Leuchtturm), and you can adapt the method to suit you.
You can visit the balance Network website to find out more about their research and sign up for regular news bulletins. Dr. Rosie Robison, senior research fellow at Anglia Ruskin University and co-leader of the Balance Network project, talks about work/life balance in the digital age on The Digital Mindfulness Podcast here.
Like what you see? If this has given you an idea for your company (or you didn’t know we could customise products), have a look at our dedicated corporate website www.bureaubusiness.co.uk, and get in touch!
Or…how I found a way to make bullet journals work for me
I have previously introduced the subject of Bullet Journals and how I personally found the system both appealing as a solution to becoming organised, but also how I found it too much work to actually do in any practical or useful way. Having found a way that works for me, here is a summary of what I do and I present this in the hope that it might inspire people to give it a go, and fine their own solution.
A Bullet Journal is a system for making and managing lists of what needs doing (click here to find out more);
I adapted it to make a more streamlined way of listing what I need to do and keeping on top of it;
I made it work for me because I know what I am like, and so what I am likely to actually follow and keep using.
Why I use a Bullet Journal system
Put simply, I found myself overwhelmed with too much to do and a list that never seemed to get any shorter. Important long-term aims would be lost in the chaos of daily tasks that built up. I wanted a way to:
Have an overall plan of where I wanted to be (or in my case where I wanted the business to be);
Keep track of what I needed to do to achieve this;
Be able to prioritise and ultimately get rid of unwanted tasks, or delay them until another day.
A pen, a notebook, a pen loop and some highlighters. Job done. In fact what I use is:
A Rhodiarama soft-cover dot-grid extra-large notebook – see more here
I set out my plans, from long-term to short-term so that I know what the overall aim is and what I need to do to achieve it. So I started with a list of what I felt we needed to achieve this year, anytime in the year. Big aims. About 20 of them currently. Things like ‘launch new website’. Which we are about to do.
I then set out a monthly to-do list – what I wanted or had to get done in that month. It can be a mix of big and small jobs, but it needs to be realistic. No point shoving everything into the list as it will crowd out what you need to get done. Some of the ‘year’ tasks were added to this list.
You might already be thinking it sounds like too much work, but it’s not hard really, and a bit of effort into the planning now pays off over the year. I am focused on what needs to be done.
After that, I start a new page each day and list what I need to get done, whilst adding new items that crop up.
Each month I do the same – I set out a new to-do list by reviewing the previous month’s list and seeing what I managed to do, or didn’t. I then check the ‘year’ to-do list for any items that I need to start work on, and add them to the monthly list.
I then scan through the daily pages and pick out all incomplete tasks, and either add them to the list (because they still need doing) or tick them off as being no longer needed or important. If it still needs doing but just not for the foreseeable future, just add it to the ‘year’ list.
I start each day and take maybe 2 minutes to plan out what I will do. A quick referral back to the previous list, sort out what still needs to be done, highlight it (see below on this), and then I make a 1-2-3 list. This is something I came across on a blog somewhere and it flicked a switch in my mind. Think of it in terms of saying ‘if I get nothing else done, what are the three most important things I must get done today?’. Of course some days you struggle to get to three, some days it’s impossible to limit it to three but the basic idea works for me. So my daily routine is:
Check previous day and highlight any incomplete tasks
Start a new page, date it at the top
List 1-2-3 and set out the most important tasks to do today
Build a list of to-do items below with tick boxes
Add any useful information such as a great idea and mark this accordingly
That’s it – below I explain the process for how I mark up items to keep on top of it all
Using the tools I set out earlier, I keep this to a minimal process. Each to-do item on any list has a simple square tick box. When the item is done, I tick it. Simple. If it’s not done, it’s not ticked.
If I have a great idea (yes, it does happen) then I note it down in the list and highlight it in green. Any useful information is marked with the orange highlighter. Which leads on to…
I use my trusty pack of Faber Castell highlighters and make good use of all four colours. This is how I can keep on top of everything very easily and I don’t know it would work for me without them.
Each day I look back at the previous day and highlight any incomplete item in yellow
Any completed item that was marked in yellow I go over in pink
Any idea I have (and there are a few!) gets marked in green
Any useful information or data I have noted down gets marked in orange
This means at a glance that I can see which items are still to do, and also scan through ideas I have had over the past few months for inspiration. I also mark off each day in pink at the top when it is fully ticked off, again so I can see what’s done.
So Why Is This Different To Bullet Journaling?
To be honest it probably isn’t that different – I use a system of lists of things that need to be done, day by day and month by month, review them, carry forward the ones I want and lose the rest. The difference as I see it is that a Bullet Journal in its truest form is quite a detailed process that involves marking out pages, using an index, carrying page numbers back and forth, using a detailed language to mark off items at different stages of progress, and more. This may work for you. It doesn’t for me. If you take out the monthly element of what I do you could create a truly streamlined to-do system although the monthly routine does help put regular checks in place. Without that I would drift from day to day and nine months would sail by.
If you, like me, are wishing you could find a way to stay organised and on top of everything you have to do then I would recommend giving this a go and finding a way that suits your personality – avoiding using a way of working that you know you will quit after a few weeks of well-meant endeavour! That’s why I dropped the idea of adding too much in like weather symbols and more which I know would give up on and it might have stopped the whole process.
For me, whatever the book it had to have dot-grid paper. It gives enough structure on the page to let you use it for lines or grids, for writing or for tables. It also allows enough ‘white paper’ to let you draw when the time comes. Most importantly it means I can keep myself to one notebook and not have several on the go for different purposes. All my important notes are in one book.
I did use a Leuchtturm A4 Master Book – gorgeous and serious, but it stayed at work as it was too heavy to carry. I then had a Leuchhtturm A5 medium-size version which I loved, but the new extra-large Rhodiarama books give just that bit more space, which I missed with an A5 book. I should point out that I only recently stopped using the Leuchtturm A5 book and I am still deciding whether I like the Rhodiarama book more or less. Look out for a head-to-head review before the month is out.
The pen loop means no fumbling for a pen when you need it. Sounds obvious until you need a pen. That said, you do need to put your pen back in the loop each time…
Faber Castell Highlighters
These are the glue that binds my system together. Any ones will do, but Faber Castell make really good ones (award winning!) and there is a pack of 4 meaning enough colours for my needs.
I would highly recommend using a new page for each day as it helps stay more organised. I also mark each day as completed so it is easy to see which days are done. It may use up the book faster but I prefer it.
Projects and Other Subjects
If I am working on a specific project or theme then I use a page for that purpose as it really helps to keep all the to-do’s related to it in one place.
Page Numbers and Indexes
The one big advantage of the Leuchtturm notebooks is that they come with an index and page numbers. So if I have made notes on a project I can note the page number in the index and then one day when I am thinking ‘where were those notes on such and such?’ I can find them easily. You could make your own page numbers and index in any notebook, but this is where I get a bit bored with the time the whole process can take.
Another reason to use Leuchtturm books is that they come with stickers for the cover and spine so that you can archive it away, marking up the dates and that way it’s easy to find again.
This little marvel can be useful too. Just use it to mark page edges to act as a permanent page marker – maybe for the start of each month, or ideas or important notes. A huge range covers everything from plain to patterns to designs.
We know many of you out there might shun Valentine’s day, but love it or hate it there will likely be some of you with significant others that either love stationery just as much, or that you wish loved stationery (in which case what better way to get them hooked). We’ve come up with some gift ideas that are perfect for any stationery lover:
1. J. Herbin Marbleised Glass Pens
These beautiful glass dip pens from J. Herbin are totally unique, each one is different and they work perfectly for dipping in a number of different inks. Get these with a set of J. Herbin Pick’n’Mix Mini Ink Bottles and you can change colours with just a simple rinse of the pen. Why not also get some nice paper or a writing set to go with it, so that your loved one can write beautiful letters (to you, obviously). Click here to see more.
2. Washi Tape
Do they love cute things? Or do you want to make your Valentine’s Day card and gift wrap to stand out? With these you can go down either a more traditional Valentine’s route or you could make it your own, there are patterns and colours to suit any disposition. There are also some Masté gift cards with heart cut-outs so that you can decorate them with any tape of your choice for a great and personal Valentine’s card. Click here to see more.
3. Vista & Anniversary Ink Compilation
This is a bundle that is sure to make any fan of fountain pens smile. The J. Herbin Anniversary Inks come in a range of colours and each one is beautifully packaged and filled with golden flecks. This bundle comes with a Lamy Vista and a converter, so that they can get started with their exciting new ink straight away. Otherwise the Anniversary Inks make great gifts just by themselves. Click here to see more.
4. Original Crown Mill Writing Set
Any fan of beautiful stationery will love these, in either a gold or silver box for A4 or A5 these writing sets are gorgeous to look at, and there is something romantic about letter writing in itself. There are also the coloured edge sets, which (if you know their favourite colour) can make a colourful addition to someone’s collection. Click here to see more.
5. Leuchtturm Notebook
Almost everyone likes to receive notebooks, they are attractive objects that suggest possibility and creativity. The Leuchtturm notebooks are known for their quality, and you can also choose them in almost any colour you like, there’s even a gold edition for those with a taste for the decadent look. Click here to see more.
6. The Space Pen
An odd choice you might say, but for those of you with a slightly geeky other half, a gift like the pen that the Apollo mission used could go down a treat. Also available in a range of styles from rainbow to black titanium. Click here to see more.
So let us know, who is the bigger stationery addict in your relationship? What will you write your Valentine’s cards with?
We are going to take a break from fountain pens this week. There are other things in our stationery world than pens and ink (look out for cameos). One of the reasons why I love stationery is because of how useful it is…it’s purpose is to look cute and help you get the job done. This blog post will focus on having your pen and paper ready. Pen loops and straps do just that 🙂
Leuchtturm loop: so many colours to choose from! This is another very convenient add-on option. Glue this pen loop to your notebook of choice and you are good to go. Loop is more suitable for pencils and thinner pens. The biggest advantage is that it goes with every kind of notebook. Big or small – you don’t have to worry about buying the wrong size. I have noticed that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who go for colour match and those who mix it up. I belong to the second category. Black on black or red on red just doesn’t do it for me. Right now I am rocking Lime Leuchtturm1917 dot book with a yellow pen loop. The only downside is that this loop is too slim for Lamy Safari fountain pen.
And finally, this, ladies and gentlemen is the winner:Papelote notebook strap…the most amazing invention in stationery world 🙂 I gave at least a dozen of them out as presents. Not a single serving friend – use it after you finish a notebook (unlike Leuchtturm1917 pen loops). It works as a pen holder by itself, no extra weight necessary 😉 They come in 3 sizes and many colours.
Smallest is A6 Papelote notebook strap holds 3 pens and fits pocket A6 notebooks from:
Quo Vadis Habana
Medium A5 Papelote notebook strap size holds 5 pens and will go on following A5 notebooks:
Quo Vadis Habana
also XXL Moleskine notebooks (medium Moleskines are too thin) and both Rhodiarama sizes (A5 and XXL).
Large A4 size Papelote notebook strap holds 5 pens and fits Link and Leuchtturm1917 Master books, Rhodia A4 Webnotebooks and believe it or not the Buckle files.
We’d love to hear from you – which ones do you go for? Are you a colour-matcher or a colour-mixer?
Everything I know is about to change….that’s why I have picked this title.
Just when I’m starting to get comfortable with all the drills, letters and connections we took a 180-degree turn.
Things are about to get ugly in order to get better. My tutor handed out the printouts of different writing styles and let people choose. I got just one piece of paper…with….s-p-e-n-c-e-r-i-a-n-s-t-y-l-e!!!!! 😮 (If you don’t know what Spencerian is I urge you, look it up!) Luckily, it was just a joke! She wasn’t messing around when I got second piece of paper with Angular Italic writing style – apparently that is the one I HAVE TO GO FOR. Why? Why? I honestly don’t know…perhaps so I can use my custom grind Lamy 2000 fountain pen? That is not the reason, but it’s what I keep telling myself 😉
I used to do something similar last summer in my Leuchtturm dot notebook – looking at these letters now I had no idea what I was doing 🙂 Here is an example of how not to connect letters…
What happens next? No more 1-hour drills. Just warm up and start writing, every line counts. My goal is to think, breathe, write in Angular Italic. When I’m not writing, I am doing virtual flicks with my hand…Building awareness and consciousness just like muscle memory. Surprising, isn’t it? Everything I write down from now on has to be 100%. That is the hard part, to concentrate on every stroke. Writing sentences, seems so far away :))))))) perhaps in next life! So far I can do letters: l,i,t,u,y,n,m,h,b 🙂
If you follow my story, you know that I bought Seyes handwriting book. These are great when your writing is all over the place. Clairefontaine is fountain pen friendly paper of superb quality. Problem is, that you can’t just get one and start writing because they do not come with a guide. You are in for a surprise when you open the book, so many lines! So complicated! These lines are supposed to help you keep the size of your letters consistent. Here is what I have picked up on Instagram this week. A neat little “how to use French grid aka Seyes paper” :
Lower case bodies go up to the first line
dt loops go up to the second line
Capitals and bfhkl loops go up to the third line
Hoops of fgjpqy (z) go down two lines
Best advice: my initial goal of slowing down has transformed into never rush any writing. I am also staying away from hoops and loops for now.
Shopping list: if you see a nice Italic letter S, please do let me know 😉
So many questions this week…Will I be able to use 1.1mm nib again? How will I implement this new style into everyday writing? I honestly cannot wait to see what the next lesson will bring.
Moleskine was a sponsor at the recent TED conference (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design). I can’t say I went (a shame as it was in Vancouver and that beats a trade fair at the NEC in Birmingham), but it does all sound very geeky and techie. What is interesting is that Moleskine – a company very much reliant on paper products (I read somewhere recently that over 90% of their revenue comes from paper products) is so keen to position itself at the heart of a technology-based conference.
They took a typically Moleskine-approach to this and posted a suitably engaging video to highlight their take on it. They also posed a series of daily questions about ideas, creativity and the future of paper. The questions posed were:
In the future, will we think faster or slower?
How can note-taking be more fun?
How do you deal with ideas coming to you at an inconvenient time?
Are e-mail and texts a new form of literature?
How can commuting be turned into a creative opportunity?
Using the hashtag #IdeasNoted they collected responses and gave away daily prizes. The merging of digital and paper seems a logical progression and one that embraces the role paper has and will have in our daily lives, and particularly for creative work. What was also interesting about their sponsorship is that it seems less of an attempt to be the notebook of choice at conferences and more about driving their digital strategy, accepting that paper-products alone isn’t enough in the future. The Evernote notebook has been around for a while now (and I would dare to suggest that the Leuchtturm Link books are a better product), but the latest round of Moleskine developments has seen them launch a far more interesting tie-up with Adobe Creative Cloud, scanning uploading your creative notebook work into vector files on your CC account to use in Photoshop and Illustrator.
Frown if you want to, but progress happens and it is surely far better to adopt a hybrid solution that encourages paper as part of a creative process that seamlessly works through digital?
I am coming up to my first anniversary with Bureau Direct and it feels right to finally offer up a staff review. I use the term ‘review’ very loosely here. Please do not think I know what I am talking about, I am probably much more of a stationery amateur than anyone reading this. These are just some of my ramblings.
For those of you not familiar with myself it is because I do not play a part much in the mail-order side of Bureau, you may have heard me answer a few phone calls when no one else is available (sorry for not being as helpful as the others!). I mainly manage producing branded stationery for company use or for promotional events and conferences. If you want to get in touch, my details are at the bottom of this post! Sorry, a shameless plug there, let’s get back on topic.
Before my time here, I was blind to the wonders of fine notebooks and pens. A stationery peasant, using battered biros laying around the house and supermarket refill pads as ‘notebooks’. Although I wouldn’t call myself a stationery addict (just yet), my sight has been revived and the following are now some of my few treasured possessions.
Deep down, I think I have always yearned to own a fountain pen. However, I had always assumed that this would be an expensive dream and never looked into it further. All that changed after working just a couple of weeks here. It was impossible not to notice how popular the affordable Lamy Safari fountain pens were with the customers and that gave me hope.
I took the chance and I am glad I did! I was pleasantly surprised at how much an improvement in fun writing was. In fact, now I exclusively write using my fountain pen. I set myself on the Vista in the end because seeing the colour of the ink through the clear barrel is a novelty that I will never tire of. This leads nicely onto my next choice.
When you have finally settled on a fountain pen, you then need to find some inks to fill it with! I love bright, exotic colours so my mission was to find such a range of inks. Over the past year I have tried numerous inks from Lamy, Monteverde and J Herbin. All of which have some great colours in their catalogues which really stand out, but I have to go with J Herbin. They just have such a huge choice and there are many that provide that strength of colour that I crave. My personal favourite so far is the Bleu Pervenche.
If you hold no alliance to any one particular colour, it’s a no brainer to go with the J Herbin pick’n’mix option. (Remember to get an ink cartridge converter, the Lamy Z24 in my case!) I personally went for the customisable ten ink set, as it presents your ink in a luxurious black box for safe keeping. I am showing symptoms of addiction already. I have the constant thought in the back of my mind encouraging me, “the more I write, the quicker I can change ink.”
As with the public mainstream, the only notebook I had ever known by brand name was Moleskine. I needed a notebook to track what needed doing for the day and so naturally picked off a standard Moleskine lined notebook of the shelf. They were good enough for the biro I started with but the move to fountain pen was not pleasant. The ink bled through constantly through the pages and everything just got so messy!
However, I kept my first Moleskine to the bitter end and when the last page was used I immediately switched over to Leuchtturm1917 and have never looked back. Not only do the pages not bleed but writing in ink is so smooth and effortless. Even something as simple as the Leuchtturm having numbered pages and an empty contents page makes a tremendous difference in keeping myself organised. Or maybe I like them because the colours Leuchtturm offer on their covers are fantastic.
A year at Bureau is a big step but even greater is the fact I have come out of the stationery shadows and now bask in the powerful combination of a pen, ink and paper. If you are a newcomer to this stage then I would recommend starting with the above. Well, maybe don’t go crazy on the ink just yet…
One of the perks running a stationery business is that you end up trying out various items of stationery as they arrive. So many new items have arrived and each one has looked like it will be ‘the one’ – the answer to all those problems. All those reasons why my daily life isn’t better organised will finally be swept away with this new notebook/diary/pen (delete as appropriate). And then the reality – the number of new notebooks I have tried out and been left disappointed with after a few pages! I have tried Moleskine notebooks, Quo Vadis Habana books, Clasmax/Oxford books, Rhodia books, even the Moleskine Evernote and Whitelines Link books, and each has promised me so much but left me no better off.
I had been casting a longing look over at the Leuchtturm Master notebook (sorry, LEUCHTTURM1917 to give it its full and proper name), and so after one too many disappointing notebooks I decided that now was the time. I am now the owner of a very nice Leuchtturm Master Dot book, and we’re talking about 6 weeks in now. That’s 6 weeks and I am still happy.
What do I like about it? Simple things really – I like Leuchtturm books, the quality and feel of them is satisfyingly solid and reliable. They have nice features like the Index and Page Numbers, which means that you can easily mark out where your important notes are as opposed to the endless pages of scribbles and doodles. The dot paper makes me wonder why no one came up with this idea years ago – enough structure to keep my messy scrawl in line, but enough white paper to let your notes and drawings breathe. Finally, being a full A4 and a bit in size, the book has space to fill – let your notes meander and devote a whole page to a long list.