Listing… vertically

I’ve used my A6 Traveler’s Notebook exclusively for about a month and during that time imposed a no-download-no-buy and a 10 minute daily limit for planner pondering.

It was time for me to review my planning set-up because of a major life change and because every September finds me leafing back through my writings anyway, to see if there are any goals I can still accomplish and to plot perfect holidays. I’ve yet to have a perfect holiday but I have accomplished the goals I’ve recorded, broken down and kept track of.

So the month is up and I thought I’d compare what I came up with to other systems I’ve used and loved (and may revisit) throughout 2014:

10_13_14_Planner carry

Day-Timer’s Reference Set (top) and DIYFish LMIV02.1:

LMIV021 vs DT REF 2014

DIYFish LMIV03  (top) and Quo-Vadis University 2014/2015:

LMIV03 vs Quo Vadis

All along I was hoping I could eliminate the potential for overwhelm by simplifying. The Quo Vadis refill fits perfectly in my A6, can withstand my favorite fountain and gel pens and, because it of its vertical layout, can even graphically display time spent:

vertical calendar

This little gem, combined with a blank notebook – for list systems like Autofocus, GSD or the Bullet Journal – handles current and future planning, notes, projects, etc.

Granted, I can print DIYFish’s vertically laid out LMIV03 on the paper weight and color of my choice, it has my favorite grid rule and I can size it up on down depending on how I’m going to use it.   However, after a (happy) year of paper shopping, printing, cutting and punching, simply buying and sliding notebooks into my Traveler’s Notebook felt like cheating.  If something’s missing (more about this later) I tape it in.  I’m spending more time recording and doing than I am on planning to plan.

Speaking of ready-made, Fish did say in an interview with Ray Blake  that she will eventually sell ready printed planner systems and I’ll be first in line for them!

Paper Planner Index Hack

Index hack header

I take notes like a fiend because writing helps me remember. And, when I scribble information I’ll need to access again I use the Evernote Page Camera to upload that written page with tags so I can actually find it again and no matter where I am.

Best of both worlds, to be sure, but handling the original document enhances the experience for me. The context is clearer, I love the feeling of the planner in my hand and all that good stuff. Besides, I hang onto an analog system in a digital world because I like (love, obsess over, really dig) paper. I’m pretty sure paper love is just a logical extension – or a type – of fiber love.

The Kokyuo Buncobon Dot Cover Notebooks improve on the index (or table of contents) method of retrieval by providing a way to color code pages.

JetPens Kokyuo Buncobon Dot Cover NotebookNeed to find the notes on a particular project? If you’ve included that project on your index key and assigned it a color, you simply fill in the appropriate square on the page, making it easy to flip to it in the future. Brilliant system and I for one appreciate the excuse to add color to my notes and a legitimate reason to buy colored pencils and multi-pens!


I’m not always at my desk surrounded by pens or using a stable surface. If I have to pause to dig out the correct pen, line up the square to the key and color it in while grocery shopping, conferring with a doctor, taking notes at the speed of sound, etc…it’s just not going to happen consistently and, that lack of consistency spells disaster in the form of a broken and untrustworthy system.

So…I created a hack which works so well I dusted off this neglected blog to share it.

My actual A6 Traveler’s Notebook heads this entry. Below is a view of the insert with the labels (the ‘key’) I’ve applied directly to the cover, where they’re easy to see, find, use. As I note something worth finding again I pull out the appropriate Avery Color Coding Label, PostIt flag or piece of washi  and fold it over the edge of the page.


To quickly find a topic I have only to flip to the appropriate color. And, this works whether the label  is flush with the page or a flag tail is left to wave in the breeze. This indexing system can be used in ring bound planners , bound books like the Hobonichi or Bullet Journal and Traveler’s Notebook inserts. No special paper, additional pages or sections are required. I’ve mocked up a blank notebook to illustrate.

Flag assortment


Hope this helps someone. It’s incredibly simple (and obvious once I figured it out!) and it works.