My Midori Traveler's Notebook Set-up - Oct 2014

Reconnecting with my Midori Traveler's Notebook...

Unless you use it every single day, keeping a journal can become something of a chore, rather than a reflex. There are many reasons and excuses to lose touch with keeping a journal; mine was sharing a flat for the first time with my boyfriend, and finding that all the personal time I had when I was single, spent alone and reflecting about life and myself, wasn't there anymore. But when you normally keep a journal, and suddenly you find that you aren't making the time for it anymore because your life has changed in some way, it's a little bit like not making time to be "you". It is important to keep doing the things that help you to define who you are, otherwise you might risk losing yourself somewhere along the way.

So recently I stopped filling in short journal entries, which served only to update in sparse detail what was going on in my life, but which did nothing to express how I felt about things or help to work out any of my inner contradictions, and I began to write proper reflections again.

Of course, now I am going to have to do some journal shopping, because the inside of my Midori Traveler's Notebook isn't looking quite as loved as I like it to be.

I currently have my personal thoughts journal in the front, with a tea cup and saucer taped to the cover, because I love to sit down with a cup of tea and reflect on everything. Behind that insert is my diary which I use as a weekly/monthly schedule, planner and record for freelance work. I use the Midori Traveler's Notebook insert with the lightweight paper for both of these, and draw up my own diary design, similar to what you find in the Moleskine week on one page and lined on the other. I tab each month at the side with a craft sticker from Paperchase, cut and folded over; and for each month I draw up a calendar on one page so I can see the month at a glance for planning, and then go on to record my freelance work in the week-on-one-pages, and I use the opposite blank page in each double spread to write down my work-related thoughts for the week.

Then in the back of my Midori Traveler's Notebook I have two notebooks, which were red school text books trimmed down to size. I covered them with lined paper and lots of celotape, mostly because I like the way it looks and feels. One of them is specifically for dog training notes, and the other is a free notebook for when I need to jot something down.

Obviously now that I am getting back into the swing of journalling, I am in the mood to kit out my Midori Traveler's Notebook with some fresh new refills, so I have been browsing on and spotted some pretty cool notebooks. I particularly like the repositionable page-markers!

And then I got to looking at other leather Traveler's Notebook style journals and came across this rather quirky thing of beauty...

But I must practice some self-control, because I am a firm believer that one Midori Traveler's Notebook is enough. Even though I have three.

The Filofax Faces Challenge

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Introducing the lovely blue Pennybridge zipped Filofax... and my handsome boyfriend!

About the Filofax Faces Challenge

I was invited by Filofax to take part in a Filofax Bloggers' Challenge. I would receive a brand new Filofax from the new spring collection to photograph and enter as part of the online Filofax Facebook 'Like' contest. The pictures with the most likes will win 6 organisers for the photographer, and two runners up will receive 3 to give away on their blogs.

My interpretation of the Challenge

I decided to use the opportunity to allow my boyfriend to bond with my new Pennybridge Filofax on a Filofax Photo-walk around the local area. He has never quite understood my fascination with these organisers, and so I hoped that taking part in my creative project would soften his judgments, as we both love photography. I figured that as the Pennybridge we were using was blue and not too feminine, that he wouldn't be overly resistant to join in. Much to my delight he even coordinated his clothes for the shoot. Result!

We wandered around on the streets looking for interesting ways in which to shoot my boyfriend with the Pennybridge Filofax. We found a rather attractive red front door with peeling paint, so I sat him down in front of it.

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We also found some wonderfully broken down wooden fencing, with even more peeling paint. So I got him to stand in front of that too!

And another wall with, yes, more peeling paint..

Verdict: Is my boyfriend a converted Filofax Fan?

Not really, no. But at least now I have a nice little collection of pictures in which I have both a Filofax and a handsome man to ogle!

So if you like my pictures, the more likes they get, the more chance I have of winning FREE Filofaxes to give away on my blog :) Just thought I'd put this out there! So Click on the following links to support Filofancy and help me win those free Filofaxes for a blog giveaway...

Thanks for all of your support - and thank you to my wonderful and supportive boyfriend for modelling!

Zara M.

Filofax / MTN Setup - My New Combined Notebook/Rings system.


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National Notebook Day: How I am Combining My New Filofax With My Midori Traveler's Notebook.

(According to Filofax on Facebook)

I thought I'd get involved, seeing as today is National Notebook Day (part of National Stationery Week), and take the opportunity to show you my brand new Filofax, and how I am using it alongside my Midori Traveler's Notebook.

Firstly, Let's Talk About Notebooks...

Being a Writer, I always have to have a notebook with me, but that doesn't necessarily mean I always use it. That is why I decided to kick my notebook addiction and STOP purchasing pretty notebooks that I know I will never get round to using. Instead I have chosen to form a very personal relationship with ONE Notebook and one notebook only - my Midori Traveler's Notebook.

For those of you who don't know, the Midori Traveler's notebook is a simple notebook refill system which uses a simple raw piece of leather with elastic and string attached in such a way as to allow you to hold several slim notebook refills inside it. 

What Do I Use My Notebooks For?

Mainly I use mine for journalling - a daily brain dump of random things I have going through my head, and sometimes a more in depth exploration of thoughts, feelings, people and situations. My journal is like my best friend, who I go to for non-judgmental consolidation. Writing in there helps me to organise my thoughts, understand myself and live a happier and more productive life. I also use notebooks to jot down creative ideas for stories, characters, scenes and creative projects. I like to make lists and doodle too.

Why Have I Decided to go Back to Using a Filofax?

When I discovered the Midori Traveler's Notebook I abandoned all of my Filofaxes because I felt that my attention was divided, and that my filofaxes were preventing me from bonding with my gorgeous new leather notebook. The main appeal of the Midori is that it is a very personal possession which is intended to grow with you, and gain more and more personality as the leather is handled and acquires all the wonderful nicks and marks that make it so unique.

I wanted to use my Midori exclusively so I sold most of my Filofaxes and designed a weekly planner in one of the Midori Notebook Refills instead. In the end though, I found that whilst bound notebooks are perfect for journalling and sketching, scrapbooking and jotting things down because of the chronological and more 'permanent' feel to them, I essentially missed the 'organisational' aspect of having rings and being able to move inserts around as I planned my weekly schedule and daily tasks.

But the problem I now faced was that I didn't necessarily want to carry about my Midori Traveler's Notebook AND a bulky Filofax - If you are a Filofax lover you know exactly how bulky and cumbersome they tend to get! I needed a Filofax that was discrete enough to complement my Midori Notebook to create the perfect and complete portable system.

How I Solved My Filofax Problem

So the problem was that whilst I wanted the use of a Filofax 'rings' system for my everyday planning but I didn't want to start using a Filofax that would end up stuffed and take over from my Midori. I was lucky enough to find the perfect solution on Ebay...

I discovered (and won, so it was obviously meant to be) the slimmest and most discrete Filofax I have ever seen in my life. It is an old vintage Filofax so it doesn't have the model name or type embossed on it, but it does have the 'f' symbol embossed on the side and Filofax, Made in England, Real Calf printed in gold inside the back cover. It is good quality, durable black grainy leather with a slight sheen, and the rings are SO tiny (1cm diameter I think!) that it must be a slimline/compact.

It sits perfectly on top of my Midori and I have bound them together with a large clip that also acts as a pen holder. 

Why Have a Filofax and a Midori Traveler's Notebook?

Well as I have said, I personally prefer the flexibility and organisational aspect of being able to use the ring system of the Filofax to move inserts around when I am doing my daily, weekly and monthly planning, whereas I prefer to fixed chronology and sense of permanency I get with bound notebooks for journalling, doodling, sketching etc. I had toyed with the idea of trying to find a way to attach rings to the inside of the Midori, and I know that this has been done with Filofax Flex notebook binders, but I couldn't bring myself to go that far. I knew that I needed a Filofax that I would be happy carrying alongside my Midori.

How Am I Finding the Tiny Rings?

Normally I would definitely NOT be able to deal with having such tiny rings on a Filofax, especially if I were using the Filofax as my main organiser - I like to really stuff them! So you are probably wondering how I am dealing with such tiny rings. The truth is that they force me to use the Filofax specifically for what I intended - a day to day planner for the here and now - and the small rings encourage me not to carry around a load of inserts I am not really using on a day to day basis. I used to carry a whole year's worth of diary planning inserts plus excess paper which just wasn't necessary, and actually made me feel less productive because my Filofax became less focussed and less organised. As a result I was feeling more and more overwhelmed by it. 

Besides, if I start using my Filofax in that way it becomes more of a sentimental scrapbook of clippings and doodles rather than something useful, and then I would stop using my Midori. So now I reserve my Midori for all of that creative stuff, and keep the scheduling to the rings system. I love the tiny rings. - psychologically they make me want to maintain the Filofaxes slimness, and so I am constantly re-evaluating what I am really using in there and taking out inserts that have had their use. Having this minimal set-up is helping me to stay more focused and have a much clearer idea of what it is that I need to do right here and now. I design my own inserts and only draw up a month or two at a time. I intend to remove and archive the months as I go, because I have never had to look back four or five months for anything when I am out and about anyway.

I have to say there is something very satisfying about minimalism, and only using what you need.

I hope you all have a Happy National Notebook Day! Here are some more links to Notebook Posts I have written on Filofancy in the Past...

The Multiple Organiser Dilemma

When you own so many different types of organiser, how can you truly become attached to any one of them, so that your personal organiser system really does become a valuable part of your everyday existence? 

The Addiction

I used to think that having a variety of different kinds of organisers, all different shapes, colours and sizes, was pretty cool. I enjoyed being a 'Collector' of Filofaxes, but to be honest I think it was becoming an irrational addiction.

Most of the gorgeous, and not mention expensive Filofaxes I had collected were not really being used. It made me sad to see that they were just sitting on a shelf and gathering dust. I'm not much of a fashion victim to be honest, and I began to feel guilty for having so many pretty organisers that I didn't really need, because let's face it, it wasn't often I swapped all of my inserts from one Filofax into another into another just for a change of scene, or to go with a particular outfit.

I am a creature of habit, and essentially I like to form an intimate connection and relationship with a diary or a journal, otherwise I never end up becoming attached enough to use it properly. I realised that what I had really developed was a shopping addiction.

The Big Decision

When I was younger and at University my diaries really did get used until they were falling apart. I only had one diary for the entire year and it went everywhere with me. I felt naked without it. Usually I went for a good old Moleskine because I liked bound notebooks better than filing systems back then. It was the best feeling to see a Moleskine transform from a spanking new notebook, into a scuffed, crumpled and well-used journal and diary planner.

So when I found myself later on in life faced with a whole shelf full of pristine Filofaxes and the dilemma of what to use them all for, I decided it was time to make the sacrifice that was a long time coming. I had to narrow down my collection to the organisers that I was actually going to use everyday, and only then I would be able to form relationships with them, and stop being so afraid to ruin the brand-newness.

I decided to go for a personal size Filofax for my everyday diary, notes and personal stuff - and I went for an A5 for everything business related. All the others I sold on Ebay. 

I have to admit, it was extremely hard and even today I still regret it a little bit. But this new minimal system worked so much better for me. I felt less anxious, and more connected and productive, even though I was constantly changing the way I used them because the rings allowed way too much freedom. Then one day I discovered a new kind of system that was going to change everything... forever.

The Midori Traveler's Notebook

Yes, you guessed it, I happened to stumble across the Midori Traveler's Notebooks. I don't remember how it happened, only that I fell in love with them immediately. They made perfect sense. I had been missing the sense of fixed and permanent chronology I felt when I used to use Moleskine diaries for both planning and journalling. I have never felt quite at home journalling in a Filofax, I prefer bound notebooks that you can really break in.

The Midori offered a simple system that allowed for flexibility because you can change the notebook refills around and design your own, and a sense of 'fixed' chronology because each refill is essentially a bound notebook. What's more, I fell in love with the fact that the more you use a Midori the more personal and unique it feels because the leather is so raw that it gets scuffed and marked and the journal feels more and more 'lived in' the more you handle it!

I started off with a black Midori Traveler's Notebook because I have a tendency to be a perfectionist and I wasn't sure at first that I'd be happy with the leather getting too damaged; but I knew that eventually I would want to upgrade to the brown one because I began to prefer the way the brown leather ages and how beautifully the marks show up. Then I was very kindly given a 'Raydori' - which is a Midori-style notebook made by Ray Blake back when he first started making them. Mine was a lovely dusty grey-blue colour with my name embossed on the front.

Back To Square One

But soon I realised that I was beginning to find myself back in the same predicament. I purchased a smaller size Midori-style Notebook from Waterstones too. Suddenly I had four of them! The whole point of having a Midori was for it to become a part of me - which meant that really I needed to confine myself to using only one - So I chose the brown one.

I made all the inserts I needed so that the only thing I would ever have to carry around with me was the brown Midori. This of course rendered my Filofaxes useless once more, so I sold my final personal sized Filofax, but I couldn't bring myself to sell the A5 because I had been so excited when I got it, and I was sure I would find an alternative use for it sooner or later; or my pocket Filofax which was the very first Filofax I ever owned, and I'm a sentimental kind of girl.

The problem now though is that I religiously follow the Midori and Filofax group threads on Facebook, and seeing all the new colours and designs that people are making and purchasing and customising makes me feel that familiar urge to dig into my pocket. 

So far I have been very good and I have stuck with my brown Midori. It is gorgeous and it really does feel like it is part of who I am now, it goes everywhere with me and I love it to bits, there's no way I could ever give it up. So I am continuing to resist purchasing any of the wonderful new faux-doris that are popping up left, right and centre! However, I do think it is important for me to try using at least one Filofax, otherwise how can I write about them on this blog? (A reader even commented on the fact that all I post about these days is the Midori!)

My Secret Confession

So I purchased a Filofax last night on Ebay. It felt sooooo good! It's nothing particularly special, just an old black vintage thing. The reason I chose it was because it is one of those slim, compact designs with small rings and no popper clasp, so the idea is that it will be discrete and light enough to carry around with my Midori. I am itching to go and buy inserts now... and I am already watching several more Filofaxes on Ebay. Only watching...

I think I will be happy using the new slim Filofax alongside my Midori, because if I move my planner into the Filofax, then I can free up space in the Midori for more creative things. I also have plans for my A5 Filofax - I am moving in with my boyfriend soon and we love to cook together, so I think I am going to create a gorgeous recipe journal, with pictures and recipes and doodles and whatnot. My boyfriend is usually the one who cooks, you see, and I just sit on the side with a glass of wine looking pretty. A Recipe Filofax will give me something to do!

Anyway, that will be another post. And I will keep you updated on how I alter my current system to cater for the new Filofax, which should be arriving before the weekend - yay!

What Do You Use Your Midori Traveler's Notebook For?

Feel free to pin or share this image with a link back to the blog, thanks.

If you are anything like me, then you probably get great pleasure out of finding out how other people use their Midori Traveler's Notebooks. So I have decided to share with you a few ideas...

The GREAT thing about Midori Traveler's Notebooks... that you can refill them with notebook refills that you can very easily make yourself. This means that you can make your notebook refills with any number of pages to suit your individual needs. The less pages you decide to have in each notebook refill, the more refills you can fit into your midori at the same time, and the quicker you can get through each notebook; which personally I find quite satisfying :) It's also convenient if you're still getting used to your Midori, and you're still not entirely sure how you want to use it. You can try out different refill designs for a short time without feeling anxious about waste.

But what refills will you find most useful?

Well, the most obvious of course are diary/calendar notebooks, which most people seem to use in their Midori Traveler's Notebooks. Also refills for doodling or taking random notes, art sketchbook refills, and journal or scrapbooking refills seem to popular choices too. Sometimes it can be fun to try out new ideas though, because you never know, having an art sketchbook in your Midori might encourage you to be more artistic than you knew you were, or having a notebook refill dedicated to recording your dreams in when you wake up might help you in your creative writing, or self therapy efforts.

So, what alternative notebook refill ideas are there?

There must be an infinite number of ways you can use your notebook refills. You can get so many ideas just by browsing other people's blogs, chatting to other Midori Traveler's Notebook users on Facebook, or just thinking about your personal interests and looking at stationery online. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing...

  1. Dream Journal - As I have already mentioned, a notebook refill can be dedicated to recording your dreams. if you keep your Midori, Traveler's Notebook by your bedside, when you wake up first thing in the morning you will be able to quickly recall details of your dreams and record them. This can assist a very interesting and personal journey. You should try it! It might also help you to develop an emotional connection or relationship with your journal, which is what all of us Midori fans strive to do through personalisation.
  2. Doodle Book - If you like to let your pen wander aimlessly across the backs of envelopes when you are on the phone, maybe you should consider keeping a doodle book. Who knows, each page could turn into wonderful abstract pieces of art!
  3. Brainstorming Pad - Everybody has a preferred way of taking notes to remind themselves of ideas for shopping lists, blog posts and other things. Why not try brainstorming as a very free and visual way of generating ideas? Keeping a notebook refills dedicated to your brainstorming will encourage you to use this open form of note-taking; and the best thing about brainstorms is that it is easy to add onto your ideas, link things together, and even use little sketches. TIP: Use your notebook horizontally!
  4. Stamp Collecting - People who like to collect things or compile things might want to dedicate a notebook refill to collecting, say stamps, or stickers, or receipts, lists...
  5. Recipes Ideas - How about a notebook dedicated to yummy recipes? It can accompany you to the supermarket when you go, and then you can take it out to make space for something else when you know you won't be doing any shopping!

In what inventive ways do you use your Midori Traveler's Notebook refills? Tell me in the comments below...

To Do Lists - How to Use Your Personal Organiser to Create GOOD Habits

To-do lists from Paperchase

Did you know that tasks become much easier when you do them on a daily basis, because then they become habits!

To-do lists can end up being your worst enemy if you don't use them in a productive and sensible way...

Why creating daily habits makes tasks easier...

I read an inspiring post on Linkedin about how much easier it is to complete tasks when you incorporate them into your daily routine so that they become a daily habit. It goes for all sorts of things in your life; like writing a post for your blog, doing exercise, and cleaning your kitchen. When you do something everyday, it becomes second nature. The task becomes so familiar that you can do it without thinking too much about it. It becomes a part of your life, rather than something you have to plan, or find the time to fit it in.

The perils of to-do lists...

I don't know about you, but I am a 'to-do' list addict. I can't help it. I just LOVE making pointless lists. I say pointless because I will make a list and then never look at it again. The reason I never look at the list again is because I write lists on any old scrap of paper I can lay my hands on, so I have lists all over the place, with no sense of order. 

Creating to-do lists stresses me out because while I am making the list I am consciously bringing my attention to a million things I have to do, most of which are unnecessary tasks anyway, and all of which are usually completely unrelated, which causes chaos in my head. I also know while I am writing the list, that I am probably never going to look at it again; and so I leave myself with the overwhelming strain of knowing that I have lists and lists of unfinished business.

How to make lists work for you...

If you are like me and you love making lists, just for the sake of making lists, but you would also like to reduce the stress you are causing yourself and find a way to turn your lists into a useful habit, why not try following some of these tips.

  1. Separate your hobby lists from your genuine to-do lists. By "hobby list" I mean those lists you make just for the sake of it. They are called brain-dump lists, and it is a bit like having a good old rant but never getting round to doing anything about anything you are ranting about! It's fine to make pointless lists, as long as you separate the important tasks, and don't put any pressure on yourself to achieve everything on your hobby lists. Look on them as a way to clear your mind. If you like, you can even go through a hobby list after your stream-of-conscious binge listing spree, and then pick out the serious tasks and sort them into groups, which leads me onto my next tip...
  2. Group your to-do lists. Trust me, it is much easier to keep focussed when you sort your to-do tasks into relevant groups. For example you may have a group dedicated to tasks related to a specific project you are working on, or you may have a group of domestic tasks for the week. When you group tasks on your to-do lists, you reduce the chaos in your head!
  3. Organise your lists visually. Everyone who uses a Filofax or similar planner knows the importance of tab organisation. If you are an over-the-top list maker you may want to consider dedicating a whole Filofax or notebook system to your list making, so that you can arrange your lists into sections. Think about how best to organise lists to suit you, for example, in your organiser perhaps you have tabs for each project you are working on, or each area of your life, in which case each of these sections can have a dedicated list. Alternatively you might want to keep all of your lists together in one section with clear headings so that you can distinguish which lists are which.
  4. Figure out a simple system to tick off your tasks. The most satisfying thing about keeping to-do lists is when you actually start completing tasks and you can start ticking or crossing them off your list. Suddenly you feel like you are getting somewhere! You might want to adopt a colour-code system, or use stickers or draw little symbols so that you can recognise what stage you are at with each task on your list. Sometimes you may not be able to complete a task entirely, but if you have a symbol or way to mark a task as 'started' or 'near to completion' then it can make you feel better about your productivity, which is the whole point of list-making. Always aim to feel good about your productivity, and design your system around that.
  5. Try to keep lists as short as possible. There is no point in creating pages and pages of lists, because all you will see is a list of never-ending tasks. Think about the ways in which you can design your list-making process and still see an end point. For example, you could aim to keep your lists on one page for the week, and any task not completed can roll over onto the next week, but that means you will have less space for the following week. This will encourage you to aim to complete tasks in the week they were set. You could create daily lists, weekly lists and monthly lists, but keep a closer eye on your short daily lists. the best way is to experiment and see what works best for you.

Are you a list-making addict? What sort of lists do you enjoy making? Do you have a system which helps you to organise and control your productivity using to-do lists? Tell me more...

I Found a New Zipper Pocket Insert for my Midori Traveler's Notebook!

Who needs the original Midori Traveler's Notebook zipper pocket refill when you can just go to your favourite stationery store and find exciting alternatives?

I think I got lucky though... I was browsing the sale section in the flagship Paperchase store in London the other day, and I came across these fabulous Traveler's Notebooks with plastic zipper pocket covers! I think I paid something like £3, can you believe it? Maybe I should go back and get more! Who wants one?

What's so great about them?

Well, they fit in my Midori Traveler's Notebook - of course! They're not a perfect fit, but it definitely works. The zipper pocket bit is slightly wider than the rest of the notebook so it sticks out the side of my Midori slightly, but that doesn't bother me, especially when I put the insert into the middle of my Midori so that it doesn't interfere with my pen loop which is stuck to the inside of the back leather cover.

The front inside-left has two long full-length slots and a cool card slot that flips out to the side. I suppose now that I think about it, you could actually use it like a page marker to mark where you are at in the notebook!

The back-right has the full length zipper pocket (see picture with ruler), and on the inside it has various card slots and sticky label slots, plus one full-length slot which I have shown with my ruler again.

The whole plastic cover can be used by itself or you can use it like a notebook cover protector. Unfortunately the Midori Traveler's Notebook Refills are ever so slightly too long height-wise to slip into the cover without the card warping, but only by about a millimetre; so you can just trim the refill cover and it will slip in easily. In all honesty though, you don't need to slip the refill covers into the actual plastic because the notebook is held in place with the Midori elastics anyway.

The cover is a clear and shiny plastic, which means it is fairly sturdy, not floppy, and it has a cloud pattern printed on it which I think is rather cute, and very discrete. This means that the colour or design on your refill notebook cover will show through! The notebook it comes with has mint green vertical stripes and then coloured stripes going across horizontally with an aeroplane design to show it is intended as a travel journal.

Here is a picture of my beloved brown Midori traveler's Notebook with the zipper pocket notebook inserted, and as you can see it does reveal itself a little bit at the side; but if like me, you like your Midori stuffed and groaning with goodies then you probably won't mind things sticking out at all!

I am currently using the inside front slots to house my favourite stickers for quick and easy access, and I will probably use the zipper pocket at the back to store loose bits of paper, receipts... you know, that sort of thing :)

NOTE: If you're interested in these STAR stickers, I get them from Paperchase. They come in a pack with several sheets, and they are very cheap.

If you love to ogle other people's Midori Traveler's Notebooks here are some old posts of my black Midori that you can browse through for pleasure. There are some lovely pictures! (Feel free to pinterest, but please make sure you link back to my blog, thank you.)

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