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Entries in Moleskine (34)


Creating a Custom Moleskine Planner

Last week I wrote in some depth about my interest in the analog task management system created by Bill Westerman, for use in his Miquelrius notebook. In that post, I pondered the idea of ditching my Clié N610C in favor of a Moleskine for my personal agenda and task management.

Late last week I picked up a new, ruled Pocket Moleskine notebook, a set of 4 ultra-fine 0.38mm Uniball Signo RT Gel pens and a package of 3M sturdy tabs (686-RYB) to create a custom weekly planner. Over the weekend, I planned out the page format, determined how many pages I'd need through December 2006 and began drawing up my custom planner, pictured below:

Mike Rohde's Custom Moleskine Planner

You may want to visit the Flickr page (click the image) and check out the notations I've placed on the image there, complete with detailed descriptions of each area of the planner.

Planner Formatting

On the ruled Pocket Moleskine, I found I could divide the page vertically into 3 sections of 7 lines each, with room at the top of the page for the month on the top left of the page and week number on the top right of the page. I've even kicked around the idea of using this space up top for inspiring quotes.

Next I added the days and dates to each section of the two-page spread, dividing the 6th block on the lower right page in half with a vertical rule for Saturday and Sunday. The Uniball Signo 0.38mm pen worked very well, as the thin line dried quickly and didn't bleed through the Moleskine paper stock.

I continued with this format for 31 two-page spreads, through December 31, 2006. Pocket Moleskines have 192 pages, so it's possible to do an entire year and have several pages left over for notes (one distinct advantage over a stock Moleskine Weekly planner).

In the remaining back section after December 31st, I separated sections with the sturdy 3M tabs for 5 next-action lists where I can capture tasks to be completed. The toughest decision was the allotment of pages for each action list before starting the next (I chose 6),though I can always move the tabs around if need be.

I've decided on a 6 month test to see how my system works, before I decide to either create a new book for 2007 myself, or buy one of the flexible covered Moleskine Pocket Weekly planners from Modo & Modo.

Symbols and Use

Once the planner was created I started populating it with activities and tasks for each day of the week. I made use of the space to the right of each day for recurring or regular events, and the bulk of the 7-line sections for activities or tasks.

Inspired by Bill Westerman's symbols, I created a similar set, with a circle as an open action, checked circle for completed action, slashed circle for deferred (with an added arrow symbol to indicate where it was deferred to) and a dash for items which are informational rather than actionable. As I use this system I suspect a working set of symbols will emerge and become more refined.

Initial Impressions

After using the new custom planner concept for about a week, I'm appreciating the full week across two pages. I can now see how my entire week is shaping up with a single glance. I can have much more detail for each day or even each entry. With the Palm, I could see a full week, but it was either filled with very tiny type, or the type was large but clipped off, requiring additional taps to see an entry.

I like having my planner open at my desk while I work — I can glance down between tasks and be reminded of what's to come, or recall an item I need to add to the agenda. I never need to worry about the pages blinking off to save battery life. The quick "wake from sleep" mode (cover closed) is wonderful! :-)

I'm also finding a small book handy for storing small bits of information, such as a business card, a post-it note or whatever. Because the Moleskine has an elastic strap, stuff stays inside. If I'm concerned about something staying put, I can store it in the Moleskine's inside back cover pocket.

My capture of thoughts has increased since switching to a Moleskine planner. This is a good thing, because I'm now capturing ideas that were formerly floating away when faced with entering text using Graffiti on the Palm — even though I'm pretty quick and accurate with Graffiti 1.

I'm not as worried about the Moleskine as I was with a Palm. I can drop it, slide it in my back pocket and sit on it, or toss it across the room without the screen cracking, or resetting the device. As an added bonus, the Moleskine is thin, and the width and height are less of an issue than I'd suspected.


Overall, I am very pleased with the new system. It seems to fit my needs well, feels good to use, lets me experience the tactile sensations of pen on paper, and frees me to enjoy the process again.

I'll of course revisit my system in several months, to share how things are going, and what I've learned through this process. I do hope my notes and images are helpful to others considering a PDA to paper switch, and those keen on customizing a Moleskine as a planning tool.

Update 2006-12-15

Wow. As of today, my Flickr photo, Mike Rohde's Custom Moleskine Planner with notations has been viewed 17,339 times, and is marked as a favorite by 154 people! I had no idea that my little Moleskine hack would be so interesting to so many people. Now I'm extra glad I posted it. :-)

Related Links:
Mike Rohde's Custom Moleskine Planner @ Flickr
Back to paper by Arioch
From digital back to analog by Bill Westerman
Going Retro - Back to paper note taking by Christian Lindholm
Mike Rohde's Custom Moleskine Planner (Moleskinerie)
Creating a Custom Moleskine Planner (PDA 24/7)
Moleskinery Geekness by Felyne
Being More Efficient (Part I) by Kevin Friese


The Lost Moleskine

MoleskineMy son and I were at home, after the mall had closed before I realized the Moleskine was gone.

Checked all of my pockets twice, and the car, nowhere to be found. Emptiness in the pit of my stomach.

Ok, so it's only a sketchbook — not the end of the world, right? But it held many personal pieces of artwork, some of which were scanned but several that weren't. It's now that I realize how one of a kind that little sketchbook really was.

Yes, I can buy another to replace it, and I can even create new sketches in a new book... but those sketches I've now lost are irreplaceable.

Tomorrow I'll call the mall and the stores we visited tonight, hoping someone would have found it and turned it in. I'm glad I took the time to fill out the owner's page, compete with a reward for recovery. I'm just hoping this bit of information will guide the sketchbook back to me.

I'm giving up coffee for lent — never thought I'd be giving up my sketchbook.

Update: Today I called the mall and stores we visited, then went to the mall to retrace my steps, but no such luck — yet. Planning to call again later today. Good thing I left some business cards in the back pocket.


Happy 2nd Birthday Moleskinerie!

One of my favorite sites, run by one of my favorite people had its 2nd birthday today!

Happy Birthday to Armand Frasco's wonderful Moleskinerie!

To celebrate the event, I've created a little cartoon, in my Moleskine:


Armand, I wish you many more years as Head Juggler at Moleskinerie. :-)

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Cafe Bag Sketchtoon

Cafe Bag

As you may know, my proj: exhibition Moleskine sketchbook is presently on its way to Hong Kong via airmail — so that series of sketchtoons are currently on hold until the book gets back from the whirlwind tour.

I had so much fun sketching those 28 pages in the sketchtoon style, I've decided to continue in my personal Moleskine sketchbook. This morning at the cafe, I hauled out my Moleskine and sketched my Cafe Bag as it sat on the table next to me.

By the way — I fall more in love with my Cafe Bag each time I use it. It's proven to be a perfect library bag, as I can pack in many more books and CDs than I ever thought possible. As a man-purse, it works well for hauling my Dana Wireless, Miquelrius sketchbook, personal journal, 2 pocket Moleskines, Kyocera Rave phone and Tungsten E. The more I use my bag, the more useful it becomes. Not bad for 12 bucks!

As for sketching this morning — It felt good getting back into the flow again. I see these drawings are coming more and more naturally, each time I sketch one out. I feel the control of my G2 pen improving each time I use it.

While familiarity with the G2 pen and Moleskine size and paper surface are part of this, I think the more significant impact on quality is due to the mindset I've had to adapt to. Because there are no pencil guides, drawing a sketchtoon feels somewhat risky. Once my pen hits the paper, there is no undo, no erasing, no retreat. It is what it is — if I screw up, there's not much I can do about it — unless I find a creative way to use an error.

Funny thing is, I haven't made many errors since adapting to this style. My mind must draw the image in my mental RAM cache, before letting my hand lay the image down on the paper surface. It is truly fascinating to see and feel this happening while I'm drawing.

Mike Shea's recent article on writers using pens, paper and longhand to write novels seems related to this phenomenon. Stephen King describes the 'caching mode' in this way:

"It slows you down. It makes you think about each word as you write it, and it also gives you more of a chance so that you're able — the sentences compose themselves in your head. It's like hearing music, only it's words. But you see more ahead because you can't go as fast."

I agree! There is something almost enjoyable watching a sketchtoon form on paper. I sense myself planning out where text might go and even the words I'll write before they go down on the page. It seems almost like exercise — for my entire self: mind and body.

I strongly recommend adapting some analog way to express yourself, especially if you rely on digital tools. Not to replace digital tools or methods, but to improve your thinking and coordination. Even if you can't draw, just doodle, or write. Something.

Besides, it's fun. :-)

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