Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter: the deluxe, super-flexible note book with the complicated name

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Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter is complicated if you don’t speak German. Which, sadly, I do not. Baum-kuchen, one of my favorite online stationery stores ever, translates Roterfaden as “red thread” which makes sense since all the notebooks are bound with a red thread (incidentally, they have one of the best selections of Roterfaden in the US). I requested a Roterfaden for Christmas from Santa, and must have been really good this year.

The notebook is a similar premise as the Traveler’s Journal, which I’ve talked about here, except they come in more sizes, and the mechanism which keeps the notebooks in the cover is different. My Roterfaden is A5 sized, which means I can use a wide variety of notebooks, including those of Roterfaden. Right now, I have a Roterfaden weekly calendar (April Fool’s Day is amusingly printed upside down), a grid notebook from another brand, a tear-out list booklet, and some random studies I’ve been trying to get around to reading. I change the calendar to a monthly one frequently, and often add a daily page or dashboard (I like this one from Baum-kuchen). I also have some plastic page protectors I use, and Midori MD booklets that I use for taking notes on specific books, depending on what I have planned for the day.

roterfaden front cover

The cover is a nice padded leather (ignore the smear on mine- everything I own is covered in espresso), with a red elastic band that holds it closed. I expect it to age nicely as long as I don’t have any more espresso accidents. There are other finishes available- one is made of recycled materials, rather than leather, for vegan writers or those not into the leather look.

Roterfaden inside

The inside is made of a soft gray wool felt, with pockets for tools, cards, and a writing pad or kindle, though most writing pads, including A5 Rhodia pads do not fit. Roterfaden makes one that fits, available again through Baum-Kuchen. An elastic loop holds a thin pen, but probably not a multi-pen. Other models even have zipper pockets! The unique thing about Roterfaden is the clip mechanism. The clips move downward to hold in notebooks, loose papers, etc.

roterfaden planner

The clips don’t just function to hold the booklets in the notebook cover, but also hold your place in the booklet. Here, I’ve used the clips to hold my planner open to the correct week. If you’re left-handed, as I am, the clips do not get in the way of your hand while you are writing, and the booklets are perfectly flat for writing. This has consistently been the problem for me with the traveler’s journal- if there are too many booklets (or even if there isn’t), the book tends to close. This one doesn’t!

roterfaden clip

The clips are very sturdy and non-obtrusive. If they break, replacement pieces are available, though I haven’t tried replacing any myself, so I’m not sure if it’s a simple process or not.

roterfaden side view

The notebook easily holds three notebooks, without any elastics, like the Traveler’s Journal. Here, I have a graph paper booklet, a plastic-covered Muji monthly calendar, and a list booklet from Roterfaden.

I would love to hear from other Roterfaden owners, to see how they are using their notebooks! There are Facebook pages for Roterfaden, and an active community on Instagram for more ideas! I can imagine myself using this notebook for a long time to come, as it’s super-flexible, lefty-friendly, and gorgeous. Thanks for reading!

Diarium: a great journal app with no strings attached!

6BA02F79-D795-4501-A825-9696CB3C7586Dear Diary,

All I want is a great looking journal app that syncs between all my devices- iOS, Mac AND PC- and doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Is that too much to ask?

Love, Silicon|Sutra

Like many people who love to journal, love technology and love analog, I have switched journal apps more times than I can count. I finally figured out I can do both by scanning handwritten journal pages into my journal app when writing by hand, but which app? I use iOS often- most often my iPhone to add photos to my entries- but when I am writing a long entry, I want a keyboard.  I most often use a Surface Tablet with the keyboard attached. I have an old MacBook air that I was keeping for the sole purpose of typing in Day One, my favorite journal app. Leaving Day One would be a big deal for me. Day One has a beautiful interface, great syncing, templates, and a variety of useful meta-data in each entry. I’ve been interviewed for their podcast. I’ve met some of their employees who were super-lovely people. But they’ve been promising some kind of web app/PC user work around for awhile (years), so I started looking elsewhere.

I tried several apps, but settled on Diarium. The app looks very much like Day One and Journey, two of the more popular apps for keeping a journal. The main page has a calendar that looks like both Day One and Journey, with either a photo (if present) or colored box to indicate a journal entry was completed on that day. You can see I like kids and dogs for my entries. The small icons on the bar above the calendar allow you to sort in other ways- location, by tags, etc.

diarum calendar view

Making an entry is easy- you click on the day, and a journal entry window pops up. You can choose a wide variety of information to be automatically populated in each entry- weather, location, schedule, activity level, etc. You can rate your journal entries, but I saw someone suggest using this as a mood log, which I thought was pretty clever.

diarum journal entryThe interface is very clean and uncluttered. The process of importing my Day One journal was a bit tricky- I had to export from Day One as a JSON file, and multiple attempts from my iPhone to use the “migrate from other app” were unsuccessful. The developer was super responsive and emailed me back nearly instantly, but wasn’t actually able to help me fix the issue. Finally, I tried doing this from my laptop computer, and THEN, the process was very easy. I can make entries from my iPhone, and finish them on my laptop, and both are updated! I did have to buy the PC version of the app (now on sale for $5 from $20), and the iOS premium version- another $10- but there’s no monthly subscription!

Big differences from Day One and Journey:

  • no ability to have multiple journals. There are tags, however, and I could see that you could use a tag like a separate journal as in Day One.
  • No automatic push that I saw. I had to manually sync, but this wasn’t a big deal.
  • No subscription (yay), but the app costs money for each platform. Day one is free, but has a subscription plan for many of the features I like. Journey has both an app you can pay for and a subscription, and the differences are confusing in my opinion and unnecessarily complicated.
  • No templates. This is a bummer.
  • Journey has built in- coaching for journal writing, but I also didn’t think this was super high quality, either, so my plan is to join an online writing challenge.
  • Back ups in Diarium go to one drive, google drive or drop box.

The Verdict:

I’ll probably stick with Diarium, at least until Day One gets their chrome extension or PC/windows versions done. The chrome extension is due in 2020, and the other, well, maybe never. It is nice to be able to see my work on a bigger screen than an iPad or an iPhone, so Diarium may be with me for the long term! In any case, I only paid for the app, and won’t feel bad about not using a subscription service!

DayOne app: not just a journal!

DayOne app: not just a journal!

I get asked fairly frequently by people how I manage my morning ritual since I advocate for this as part of an overall lifestyle change for patients. A big part of my morning ritual- and life planning- involves the DayOne app. I use it on my Mac most often, but I also use it on the iPad, iPhone, and probably eventually, on the web version. There are people who use DayOne in a much more sophisticated way than I do, but I think it’s worth talking about how to use this app in a simple, but useful way that reduces the amount of paper I carry around, improves my ability to plan, and helps me keep the things that matter to me at the top of my list. So how am I using DayOne?

As a Journal.

I think DayOne shines as a journal. Yes, you can use OneNote just as easily. But to me, DayOne has a cleaner, nicer interface. There are more ways to get material into DayOne for me- or at least, they are more easily accessed. Locations and weather get added automatically.

I feel a little conflicted in general about digital journaling- for one, the recent security issues with multiple websites have made me a little more cautious about what I put on line, and made me think about how I interact with technology in general. Secondly, there are good studies that writing by hand is very different in terms of memory and processing information than typing is. On the other hand, I’m not studying a journal entry, and there’s no test at the end of the semester here. DayOne allows me to take a photo of something with my iPhone during my day (today, a huge meadow of spring daffodils I saw from the train window), and then write about it in the evening. I can save the best of photos from my kids, along with my journal entries, and then have the journals printed (DayOne has a handy book printing option) at the end of the year. I use public transportation, and traveling light is important to me- carrying a heavy hardback journal isn’t part of my plan right now.

As a planning tool.

I love Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner ™. I also love the Panda Planner ™. If you’re looking for a bound, hardback or in the case of the Panda Planner, paperback planner, I can happily recommend these. What I really like about both of these planners (and other planners like these) is that they assist in the reflection and practical goal planning necessary to make progress. The idea of breaking goals down into practical steps, reviewing your progress daily, and making the next step clear, really helps me stay focused. Both of these paper planners excel at this. However, I work in a fast-paced medical environment, with multiple meetings, many of which repeat weekly. You might think that I would remember these repeating meetings that occur at the same time every week, but sadly, this is not what happens. I FREQUENTLY make plans for the exact same time as the meeting that occurs twice a week, at the same time every week. It helps me to have these on my calendar, so I literally cannot plan over them, even if it clutters up my calendar somewhat. Additionally, I don’t want to carry around a planner for the same reason I don’t really carry a journal- it’s inconvenient to have a written planner on rounds in the hospital, on the metro or bus, etc.

So, what I’ve done, is re-create these goal planning and monthly/weekly/daily planning worksheets electronically. I use a text expander program to create planning templates with just a few keystrokes, that focus my day. In the morning, I open a DayOne entry in my life planning journal, and type (tilda) 5m, which tells my text expander program to add my daily template to the journal. Here, I type what I am grateful for, what my three biggest goals for the day are, and what my meditation for the day is. In the evening, I come back to this entry, and at the evening portion of the daily template: what was successful that day, and what I could have done better.

I also have a weekly version of this that helps guide my weekly planning. I’ve referenced this in my blog post about Things 3 before, but not in detail. My weekly template, added to DayOne with “(tilda) week”, gives me a chance to reflect on how I did with my weekly goal, what I’ll change, and what my three biggest goals for the week will be. The Things 3 weekly review prompts the DayOne entry as part of the workflow- along with reviewing marginalia, my inbox in Evernote and email, Instapaper, etc, so that I keep on top of all my inboxes, and don’t get overwhelmed.

As a commonplace book.

Commonplace books used to be…well, common, among serious readers and students of life. All kinds of historical figures, including Thomas Jefferson, had one. They could include thoughts, quotes from books, etc, so they were available for quick reference. There are some nice articles about commonplace books online- Ryan Holliday seems to have revived the custom in the last few years with his article you can find HERE. I tried his index card method, and perhaps I’m still not done with experimenting with that method, but I read a LOT of articles, magazines, newspapers, and books digitally, and the idea of copying them down is a little daunting. I think the idea of improved retention of the material when it is hand written is more important here. However, if I’m never getting around to that because I’m busy as a physician, mom to little kids, etc, waiting until my life is less busy to copy down quotes from the eighty something books I read last year is probably not practical.

For that reason, I tried using One Note as a common place book, but I am not crazy about the interface- plus, I’m already paying for Evernote and DayOne, which are both potential options for common place books. I think either would be a really reasonable option. For now, I’m using DayOne, in essentially exactly the way that was detailed by Chris Bowler in the Sweet Setup Blog, which you can read HERE. He gives really nice instructions, in a three-part series, on how to set up your own Commonplace book in DayOne.

Other ideas.

I think there are a lot of other good ideas for DayOne, some of which they feature on their blog. Ways I have seen others use DayOne include a prayer or spiritual journal (using text expander to create templates for bible study), a wine tasting journal (just snap a photo of the label and tap a few impressions on the keyboard which you can expand later) and even a Tarot card reading journal (same idea as the wine tasting journal, essentially). I’ve even seen people use DayOne for time logging, though there might be dedicated apps that work better for this.

I’d love to hear how you use DayOne! Please comment using the form below- I’m always looking for new ideas to use a favorite program!

Journaling: Hi-fi or Lo-fi?

pencil-918449_1920If you are a fan of efficiency and planning, how many times have you done a digital search on “paper vs. electronic planner” on Google? I know it isn’t just me since it comes up as a suggested search term! I’ve also switched back and forth between a paper journal and an online/journal app, only to be frustrated because I have journal entries all over the place, and can’t look back with ease to see what I was doing at some point in the past. Electronic planning and journaling is easier to carry with me and allows me to easily add photos, but writing on paper has benefits for memory and seems easier to express emotions. Plus, I LOVE great fountain pens and smooth paper!

Journaling is an essential part of planning for me- it’s where I write what I’m grateful for, what I need to improve on, and what happened that day. It helps me brainstorm for solutions for problems. From the mental health perspective, I often suggest journaling for patients, because it can help with expressing and recognizing emotion.  It sounds funny to say that we need help for recognizing how we feel, but there’s even a term for it: alexithymia. Ask someone how they are feeling, and they will often say, “okay,” or if things aren’t going so well, “bad.” But those aren’t really feelings (happy, sad, bored, angry, etc.), but evaluations about how a situation is going.

Feelings are important to recognize. Why?

  1. They give us important clues about ourselves and others.  We can have an inaccurate thought as a result of something that happened (“My boss corrected my work, so he must think I’m stupid”) which leads to a feeling (sadness) and then a behavior (canceling a date with your friends because you no longer feel like hanging out). A lot of this is automatic.
  2. A sudden feeling of fear around someone you’ve just met could be a clue that you need to get out of the situation.

I’ve come up with a method that works for me, at least for now. I use a text expander to input a template for journaling that is very similar to the Panda Planner (https://pandaplanner.com)into the journal app on my Mac. Here, in the morning, I take time to type what my goals are for the day, and what I’m grateful for. In the evening, I come back, and evaluate what I could have done betterI use my fountain pen and journal to write morning pages like I’ve read about in Julia Cameron’s book, the Artist’s Way. I have really sorted out how I feel about events going on in my life, and come up with some creative solutions to issues, which I do not think I would have if I just used the DayOne app.

Join the conversation: Do you use a paper or digital journal, and why? What do you use your journaling for?

Resources I use: On a Mac, iPhone and iPad,

  • DayOne app: I use DayOne on my iPhone, iPad and Mac, and like it the best of the journal apps that I’ve tried- it has a clean, easy interface that makes journaling a pleasure. It’s very handy to have my goals and projects on the DayOne app, accessible on the same format (electronic), as my schedule on my iPhone and iPad. (http://dayoneapp.com)
  • Text Expander: Typeit4me (http://www.ettoresoftware.com/mac-apps/typeit4me/)
  • The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron
  • Rhodia Webbook, and a fountain pen, from Goulet Pens. (https://www.gouletpens.com

 

*Photo from https://pixabay.com/en/pencil-sharpener-notebook-paper-918449/