Standard Issue Agenda No. 2021 Review and pics

Standard Issue Agenda No. 2021 Review and pics

It’s new planner time!

I’m always excited when New Planner Time comes around. There’s something so inspiring and gratifying about the blank pages of a new diary. Whether you use it for straight planning and appointment management or a deeper dive into your goals and dreams, a planner you like using is essential to the process.

Much like my journals, I use my planners as a diary and keep track of daily happenings for later reference. I tend toward 18-month diaries, which usually start in July/August, also known as an academic calendar. Since these planners need to stick with me for that long, it has to be high quality, archival and comfortable to keep handy all the time.

For awhile, I favored Moleskine 18 month planners, which are very high quality and functional. I also like the layout, with weekly calendar on one side and a full page for notes on the opposite page.

But then I found the Standard Issue Agenda series from Designworks Ink.

I love all their designs, from Pacific Northwest planners to rose gold pocket calendars. But I was drawn to the industrial aesthetic of the Standard Issue series. I used one of these for 2019 and 2020, and I just received my 2021 version so I wanted to share some pics before I start filling it up with the detritus of my brain.

I also have a few of the Designworks Ink Standard Issue Notebook No.3 that I love intensely and I’ll do a post on those soon, so stay tuned!

Here are the features of the Designworks Ink Standard Issue Agenda:

High quality construction

The Standard Issue Agenda can take a beating – essential if you’re going to carry it around for 18 months (or even 12). Some of the features that make this a durable diary:

  • Heavy duty hardcover – protects your essential details inside
  • Dual-spiral brass binding – doesn’t flatten or come unbound
  • Thick paper – plans change and this diary can withstand rescheduling (I recommend using a high quality pencil!)

Smart layout

I used to create and print my own diaries because I couldn’t find one that worked how I wanted to use it. But this planner has a smart layout that makes sense and is easy to use:

  • Weekly two-page spread with to do checklist and notes/diagrams area
  • Monthly tabbed spread with notes and to do checklist

Handy features

The Standard Issue Agenda comes with a host of useful features, and some that are just fun. The Today bookmark is essential to keep your place in a thick planner like this. And if you’re into Bullet Journaling, the planner is ready for action with a custom bullet key, bullet journal index, and a stencil template with various bullet shapes and sizes.

  • Today bookmark with custom bullet template
  • Custom bullet key inside front cover
  • 6 blank pages at back for bullet journal index
  • Two-sided folder in front
  • Calendar labels
  • Elastic closure
  • Archival label

Whether you use your agenda as a diary or a straight planner, check out the Standard Issue Agenda on Amazon. If you give it a go, leave me a comment so I can hear your thoughts!

Hi friends: I use affiliate links on my website, which means if you buy a product using my link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price. This allows me to keep the site running so I can continue to provide you with quality content! Thanks for helping keep Journaling Saves alive.♥

Welcome to Journaling Saves 2.0!

Welcome to Journaling Saves 2.0!

Hi friends!

It’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me but I’m very excited to be back with a freshly launched Journaling Saves 2.0.

I launched in 2010 and the site blossomed over the next few years, including a large library of journaling resources, original articles, eBooks, a mailing list and even a podcast for awhile. Funny to think I was podcasting in 2010 before it was a “thing.” I plan to bring the Journaling Saves Podcast back online very soon.

Speaking of eBooks and mailing lists, if you’d like to join my email list and receive a weekly journaling prompt delivered right to your inbox, I’ll send you my eBook 30 Days to a Journaling Life for free. Just use the form below and you can start journaling minutes from now.

If you were a part of my previous email list, you’ll need to subscribe again because I changed email providers. It only takes two clicks!

Sign up to get your FREE Journaling eBook!

Sign up to receive my weekly journal prompts by email and receive this free eBook.

Emerging from the Ashes

Journaling Saves was an active part of my life for several years and then other projects became a priority, including starting my own web design business. As much as it pains me to say it, I’ve recently learned that I can’t in fact do it all. I tried, trust me!

So as I focused on other projects, the Journaling Saves website remained as a live resource for folks to get inspired by the 150+ articles. I pressed pause on updates, podcasts and social media.

And then a horrible thing happened. In 2018 my web server had a meltdown and I lost everything, including my redundant cloud storage. The website was finished.

This happened to a couple other websites I built and was intensely engaged with. I was sick over this catastrophe and even stopped doing web development. My momentum was destroyed. I knew I wanted – needed! – to rebuild Journaling Saves but the sheer volume of work required to do so seemed insurmountable.

Then I found a document of my posts, a tiny WordPress text back-up. I didn’t have the stomach to think about rebuilding for another 6 months. The idea felt like an enormous weight pressing down on me.

But I knew I couldn’t stay away. Eventually I had to come back!

So I have spent the past year (YEAR!) rebuilding this site, locating and adding in photos for each post, repairing every link on the website, creating a weekly email list with a new provider, and updating my 30 Days to a Journaling Life eBook. Hundreds of hours.


…And We’re Live!

I am overjoyed to relaunch this labor of love so I can help people start journaling or deepen their existing practice.

And I can’t wait to re-engage with all of you! My community was always the most motivating and enjoyable part of this whole endeavor.

In the coming weeks, I have several new product reviews to share with you as I continually discover new notebooks to obsess over. I also have a few new articles in the works.

I created a new Journal Prompts area of the site so if you’re looking for some quick inspiration, that’s a good place to start. I have also relaunched the Journaling Saves Facebook Page and I’m now on Instagram @journalingsaves where I’ll be posting original journal prompts a couple times a week. Be sure to follow me for some quick journaling ideas!

As always, please reach out anytime with questions, comments or just to say hi. I love audience participation! You can leave a comment or use the contact form to send me an email.

Be well, my friends. I can’t wait to see you all around the site soon.

Yours in journaling,

Behance Action Journal Review and pics

Behance Action Journal Review and pics

I just love a new journal, don’t you? Even though Blueline Notebooks are my perfect life partner that I’ve been using for about 15 years, I still use a variety of journals for specific purposes. For example, brainstorming posts for this website or working through new business ideas.

There are so many digital tools now, available for every device. But I’m still a paper girl at heart.

I discovered the Behance Action Journal a few years back and fell in love with its simple layout and beautiful design. I’ve filled two of them and just bought my third.

They are fabulous for archiving because they are high quality and easy to navigate with spots for Reference tags in the top right corner of each page.

Also, these notebooks are made from 100% sustainable materials which is pretty awesome.

A few things I love about the Behance Action Journal:

1. Clean, functional design

The journal contains no extra sections or useless pages – for example, a place to terrifyingly write down all your passwords (*cough* Moleskine *cough*). The pages are so well designed and laid out that they literally make me want to fill them.

Behance Action Journal inside layout photo
The left page is a full area for writing, marked with a grid of light dots. The dots are a great feature if you want to keep your lines straight, but they can also be easily ignored if you want to go freeform or draw.

The right page is divided into two areas: a writing area and a column containing a Reference field to help find the page later, seven color-highlighted Action Steps with check boxes, and a Backburner section to drop in your ideas that aren’t ready for action yet.

The notebooks are available in three different highlight colors: turquoise, green and orange. All three are delectable!

2. High quality binding and paper

The hardcover and binding are indestructible and a sturdy matte black – very classy and easy to take to the cafe for writing or to a business meeting for note taking. The paper is thick and toothy. The notebook has 100 pages and is filled with 60lb. opaque bright while vellum paper.

The pages are also scored so you can easily tear them out if you desire, and the scoring is well done so the pages don’t loosen on their own.

3. Flexibility

Because the journal has minimal – but smart – formatting. it provides a flexible template to use every day and craft for any task at hand. Brainstorming, rough drafts, to do lists, even calendaring all work well in this journal.

I’v heard the Action Journal can also be used for Bullet Journaling, which I have not tried myself but will cover in a future blog post, so stay tuned!

4. Size

I absolutely love the size of this journal, and it’s what drew me to it in the beginning when I saw it on the shelf. (That and the irresistable turquoise detailing!) It’s 15 x 20 cm, which works out to about 6 x 8″. It’s small, but wide.

I find the downfall of smaller journals are they also get narrower, making them difficult to stretch out in. I’m also not a fan of hyphenation so having a page wide enough to fit full sentences is a plus in my book. (See what I did there?)

Behance Action Journal cover photo

5. Essential features

There are four features I always look for in a journal and rarely find all together in one notebook. This journal has three of them:

  • Elastic closure – to hold everything in place and protect the pages
  • Ribbon placeholder – to easily find your blank pages to get an idea down quickly
  • Storage pocket/folder – to keep essential papers and other items handy

Behance Action Journal photo

I also look for a pen loop, which this one does not come with. But I discovered you can get adhesive pen loops cheaply on Amazon and add them to any journal or planner you want. They work great and I’ve also been using them in my Blueline Notebooks. You can get them in standard black or a multicolor pack (which of course I couldn’t resist).

I clearly love the Behance Action Journal and I highly recommend them. If you give them a go, let me know what you think in the comments below!

Hi friends: I use affiliate links on my website, which means if you buy a product using my link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price. This allows me to keep the site running so I can continue to provide you with quality content! Thanks for helping keep Journaling Saves alive. ♥

Blueline Notebooks: a Love Story

Blueline Notebooks: a Love Story

I love stationery. I love stationery in a way that defies explanation. As a result, I have tried dozens of different journals through the years, to varying degrees of success. After many journal trials and tribulations, I’ve found my life partner in Blueline Notebooks.

It’s Just a Phase

I journal daily so I fill my journals in a about two months. (One time I filled one in two weeks, but I was on vacation for much of it with little else to do besides lie in the sun and eat fruit.) I’ve been motivated to write voluminously knowing the faster I fill my current journal, the sooner I get to pick out a new one. Not very zen, but there you have it.

One day I was cruising the University Bookstore, which has a mind-boggling selection of notebooks. I accidentally happened upon a misplaced Blueline A9 hardcover notebook. I promptly bought a case of them and never looked back. I’ve been using them exclusively for 13 years.

Below I will walk you through the features of these great notebooks, providing photos of the new blank version, as well as my personalized versions.

Why I Love Blueline Notebooks

How do I love thee, Blueline notebook? Let me count 8 ways:

1. Perfectly sized

The Blueline A9 is similar in size to the generic composition notebook, though slightly narrower. It has 192 pages, which means I can finish it in a manageable period of time without feeling like I’m dragging ancient history around with me. (Three months is about as long as I like to spend in one notebook.)

Its smaller size and light weight make it easy to stash into any bag I own and take with me anywhere. This is not true of the huge Claire Fontaine hardcover notebooks I favored for awhile. Those required a backpack or large messenger bag – almost like a laptop.

2. Highly personalizable

I love how easy it is to make these journals your own, given the clean black cover and blank spine. Here is one of my recent journals.

3. Reasonably priced

I buy these by the case, so I get a discount. But they’re usually about $7 a piece on Amazon. Based on the high quality of these notebooks and the amount of enjoyment I get from them, I consider that a bargain.

4. It has an INDEX!!!

When it comes to archiving my journals, I’m so anal-retentive it’s not even funny. The Blueline A9 has an index page that allows you to make a color-coded Table of Contents. It also includes a sheet of labels for the cover and spine, as well as – get this – color-coded tabs to mark off the content!

The Index has become my very favorite part of the journals, and it truly makes them personalized. I frequently use phrases cut out of magazines to make the table of contents – quotes and phrases that capture where I am at that time. I don’t usually create the tabs until I’m done with the notebook, but I often make the TOC up as I go along.

Here’s a smattering of my indexes. I often index by date, but sometimes I use the page numbers:

5. Extremely durable

The binding is very well made; I’ve never had one of these notebooks even think about coming apart. Unlike many of my drugstore variety comp books.

The cover also takes a beating. I can attest to this as I dropped a notebook off my Vespa while riding 45 m.p.h. and it survived, with nary a scratch.

6. High quality paper

The paper used in the notebook is heavy and rich. My Pilot V7 Precise fine point pen ink doesn’t bleed through. And the surface of the paper has a great toothy texture that makes it comfortable to write on and difficult to smudge. The paper is available lined, blank, or quad-ruled.

It has a margin but it’s light and I prefer to just write through it and use the page edge-to-edge. You can leave the margin for notes or markers or just ignore it all together, depending on your preference.

7. Archive-friendly

Each sheet in the notebook has a spot for the date and the page number. This comes in handy more often than I would have believed. It’s cake to flip through if I’m looking for a specific date. And if you want to be super OCD, you can use the page numbers in your TOC as detailed above.

8. They look really awesome all lined up

Once you start accumulating multiple journals, you may find like me that you get satisfaction from seeing them piling up on the shelf. Seeing your journaling progress is motivating.

And it appeals to my anal-retention to see my long row of glossy, hardcover notebooks with color-coded spines on my shelf…

You can order these fantabulous Blueline Notebooks on Amazon.

Have a favorite type of notebook? Tell me about it in the comments so I can check it out!

Hi friends: I use affiliate links on my website, which means if you buy a product using my link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price. This allows me to keep the site running so I can continue to provide you with quality content! Thanks for helping keep Journaling Saves alive.♥

Breathe Life into Your Fiction with Journaling

Breathe Life into Your Fiction with Journaling

Did you know journaling the mundane details of your day can breathe life into your fiction or poetry? Here’s how to harness the power of a regular journaling practice to feed your other writing.

Wish You Were Here

Vivid descriptions of time and place captured in the moment can serve as the basis for scenes in all types of writing. Whether setting the stage for the scene in a play, remembering the finer details of your surroundings for a non-fiction piece, or developing a pool of metaphors from which to draw your poetry, capturing your environment with all five senses creates a treasure trove of sensory input that can be utlized in myriad ways.

To create entries today that you might want to use for inspiration in the future, write with all five senses. Stop and listen to what’s going on around you – the drip of the faucet, the hum of traffic four stories down. The scents swimming about – Murphy’s Oil Soap and menthol cigarettes. How does the light and shadow play? How does the air feel on your skin? Truly engage your senses and illustrate them on the page.

Overheard Dialog

Some of the best dialog in formal writing comes from the real world. If you’re trying to develop your ear for dialog, which can be a tricky thing for writers, listening to those around you can teach you. Of course, you don’t want to go eavesdropping, but start listening to and recording the conversations that go on around you in public.

How the bored cashier interacts with the busy mom in line. The way the barista tells jokes to customers as though he’s entertaining himself. Two strangers discussing sports in the bus seat behind you. Listening to public banter and documenting it in your journal as you go about your day can teach you to recreate the natural rhythm and flow of conversation on the page.

Particularly juicy overhead dialog can even inspire a whole new piece of fiction.

Change Your Point of View

One creative tool for fiction writers is to use your journal as a playground for your characters. Write a journal entry from the point of view of your story’s hero or heroine. Writing by hand, on paper, will put you in touch with them on a deeper level that will connect you to their true desires. The characters will spring to life for you on the page once you understand them on that deeper level.

You may even end up using the actual journal entries in the writing itself.

Out of Context

Another method for mining your journal is to browse through it, slightly removed, keeping an eye out for setences or paragraphs that grab your attention out of context. The older the journal is, the easier it is to forget exactly what you were talking about. But sometimes you’ll stumble across a fabulous idea or a perfect sentence you can use as a starting point for a new piece. Some little gem of wisdom you can run with.

Your exposition may work its way into the mind of your fictional character.

Your journal is a valuable tool for enriching your other writing. Treat it as a resource and mine its pages for inspiration and ideas. The best part? All that material is yours!