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ScanCards are Back!

A few years ago, I found this node here, on DIYPlanner: http://www.diyplanner.com/node/780
From then until very recently, I tried desperately to find a ScanCard binder. A few unsuccessful eBay attempts and a fortunate find at a thrift store and, ta da! Here is my genuine ScanCard Binder! It's used, but still in decent shape.

scancard binder front.jpg

This find came with SIX panels. Here is a picture of the inside of the binder. This panel actually has 24 slots on the front. The stamp in the top right says ScanCard System: Project Control Center.

scancard inside front panel 24.jpg

The back of the binder holds a legal pad. Pen loop to the left.

scancard inside back.jpg

Here are pictures of the panels. Each side holds 20, so 40 for each panel. This one has colored cards I cut for it. Each card measures 3 1/4 in. x 3.1/4 in.

scancard panel with cards.jpg

This panel is empty. You can see the slots.

scancard panel with out cards.jpg

This shows the flexibility of the card slots. Have you ever had a 3-ring binder cover fall apart? I'd say the plastic material is slightly heavier.

scancard panel plastic thickness.jpg

I have no idea how much/often/length of time these inserts were used, but the paper is very easy to slide in and out of the slots. To me, it's easier filling the slots starting at the bottom and going to the top. Sliding in...

scancard sliding in.jpg

And sliding out...

scancard sliding out.jpg

I'm very excited to have made such a find! At first, I worried about the size of the binder not being portable. However, I've split up the different panels and have separate homes for each.

scancard binders.jpg

The official Project Control center is leather. Although it's been well loved, I'm a teacher. If I kept this at school, I could run the risk of really damaging it. Or having it stolen. So, I keep the original binder at home. You can see the various 'home' tasks I have listed. The white binder is my running list of teacher tasks. The purple binder is the layout for this year's yearbook. (The top lists the page title, who will be on it, and the back lists my original ideas for the layout of each page.)

I tend to keep the white binder at school, the Project Control binder at home, and the only one that travels is the purple binder. There are times when I need to go run errands. I use this wallet, given to me by my friend George, to transfer back and forth. Here it is closed.

scancard wallet closed.jpg

And here it is open. These were index cards I cut up and edged with a highlighter.

scancard wallet open.jpg

At the end of each work day, I try to take out the cards I need to do tomorrow. As I think of something, I write it down and sort it at the end of the day. If the task will be completed at school, the card is slotted (or gets set out on my desk to be done for the next day). If the item on the card is a task I need to do at home or is an errand, I put the cards in the wallet and sort them at home. Easy!

I've only had this binder for a few weeks, but I already feel more organized!

PROs:
1. I'm not wasting time re-writing lists.
2. If the note is short, I can get 8 notes per one card.
3. Each day I can see ALL areas of my life and work a little bit toward my various goals.
4. When dealing with big projects (ex: yearbook), I can visually monitor where I am.
5. Unlike other time management tools, this isn't a fussy system. I'm not having to determine if items are an A or C priority. I'm not wasting time filling out different forms to determine my next action. If I make a note about a certain student, I just pull out the card, and add it to the student's file. Simple.
6. I'm right brained, so I like SEEING my tasks. And being able to move my tasks around is magical to me. This system might really appeal to creative types.

CONs:
1. I wish the inserts were small enough to fit in a Filofax or Day Timer.
2. Making my own cards is an exercise, for me, in patience.

The best part of this review? SCAN CARDS ARE BACK! You can buy the panels and cards (whew!) at:

http://www.scancardorganizer.com
http://www.mckinleyleather.com/ScanCard_Personal_Organizing_System/

Overall rating, I give ScanCards a 9.5 out of 10. (I want the panels in a smaller size and the good news is...the company is planning on producing them! YEY!)

Review: Piccadilly Notebook Graph


When I came across the Picadilly Essential Graph Notebook I was looking for an alternative to the Moleskine notebook. I like graph paper in my notebooks, and that is what this one is.

My notebook is the medium size, which is my preferred size. My notebook has a hard cover much like the Moleskine cover. It takes the wear of being in a bag well.

It has the features of a Moleskin notebook; elastic to hold it closed and pocket in the back. The elastic is comparable to the Moleskine. I believe the pocket is well made and will hold up as well as a Moleskine's.

So far I have used Pilot G2 pens with this notebook and Waterman fountain pen ink (Brown), and they take the ink well. I see shadows on the reverse side of the pages when I write on the back, but the ink does not bleed through. Based on the use of the pens I have used I have seen comparable paper to the Moleskine in quality.

I would definitely purchase this again. I have been happy with it, and feel that it is a great value when compared to the Moleskine.

Pros:

  • Slightly less expensive
  • Easier to find, as it is usually available where Moleskine notebooks are.
  • Paper works well with Gel pens and fountain pens.
  • Cover is heavy duty.



I give it a rating of 10 out of 10.  


Review: M by Staples™ Arc System Desktop Punch


No review of the Arc notebook system is complete without looking at the punch. I still find the notebooks to be a very good value, but unless you want to be tied to Staples for buying paper you will want one of these. I noticed that this punch tends to be less expensive than other brands of punches of comparable quality. I have been able to punch the advertised 8 sheets of paper as well as thinker materials including thin cardboard. The only problem I found is that the two arms can lock down, but the lock doesn't always stay locked. Overall I really like the punch and I have not been disappointed with it.













Pen Suprise!


I found a suggestion on the internet that with a little surgery A Montblanc rollerball refill will fit in a Pilot G2 pen. I went to my local pen store, and asked for a Montblanc rollerball refill. I told them what I was going to do, and they let me know that a Faber-Castell rollerball refill would fit exactly. So I installed the Faber-Castell refill in one of my Pilot G2 pens and it fit perfectly.










Review: M by Staples™ Arc Customizable Poly Notebooks


For a long time I have heard about disc bound notebooks. Circa, Rollabind, and Myndology were the brands I have heard about. I was impressed by the number of people who seemed to love disc bound notebooks, planners, and journals. I found these systems to be either expensive or hard to find. I found the M by Staples Arc Customizable Notebook to be both easy to find and in a price range I could afford.
I purchased the 6-3/8”x8-3/4” notebook with a vinyl cover. My cover is plain blue. I also purchased graph paper and a set of 5 dividers. The discs are 3/4” in diameter, and black.
I use this notebook to track my projects and goals as well as recording writing ideas. I enjoy the ability of the notebook to fold around, like a spiral bound notebook. I like the firmness of the notebook. The paper that is provided with the system I feel is good quality. The vinyl the covers are made from is thick. The dividers are holding up well, and the discs are doing well. Accessories for the system are priced reasonably.
I have been using Pilot G2 pens, and some ballpoint pens with this notebook. The pens I have used have not bled through. I do not see shadows on the back of the pages. I am impressed with the quality of the paper Staples created for these notebooks.
I have four notebooks from various manufactures they are all Moleskin style. Notebooks, except for this one. It has become my favorite notebook.
Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Good quality
  • Punch for the system is affordable
  • Easy to find
  • Lots of accessories

Cons:

  • Bound to buying paper from Staples, or punching your own.

I rate this a 10 out of 10.

Review: Markings by C.R. Gibson - Large Journal with Graph Paper


When I came across Markings by C.R. Gibson I was looking for an alternative to the Moleskine notebook. I like graph paper in my notebooks, and that is what this one is. I believe the graph paper to be rare, or no longer produced as I have not been able to find reference to it on the C.R. Gibson website.

My notebook has a black bonded leather cover in the large size. The bonded leather cover has some overhang, which may protect the pages, but it is defiantly not as nice looking as a Moleskine of the same size. There is also a stitch going around the edge of the notebook. The cover takes the wear of being in a backpack with cords, iPad, pocket knives, and stuff well.

It has the features of a Moleskin notebook; elastic to hold it closed and pocket in the back. The elastic is looser than I would like, but it still holds the book together. I believe the pocket is well made, if more utilitarian looking than most rear Moleskin pockets.

So far I have used Pilot G2 pens with this notebook, and they take the ink well. I see shadows on the reverse side of the pages when I write on the back, but the ink does not bleed through. Based on the use of the pens I have used I have seen comparable paper to the Moleskine in quality.

I do not believe I would purchase another one of these, but I am not disappointed in its quality to much. If the elastic were just a little tighter I think this could be a serious contender for future purchases.

Pros:

  • Slightly less expensive
  • Easier to find, as it is available in more locations (Target, Staples, etc.).
  • Paper works well with Gel pens.
  • Cover is heavy duty.

Cons:

  • Lacks a certain amount of style when put next to a Moleskine.
  • Elastic is looser than what I would expect.



I give it a rating of 6 out of 10.  


Holiday and Thank You Card Creation as Easy as 1-2-3


Since it is the Christmas season and there are several holidays available for celebration I thought I'd show you how to create some cards as easy as getting an image you like, choosing the right format, and sending out your custom made card!

Let's start with finding pictures.

Flickr is a great place to start with looking for pictures. In fact some Flickr users have released their images under a Creative Commons License, which allows you with proper attribution to use the image for your card, just put a small caption under the image when you use it.

sxc.hu is a good source of stock photography which is free to use in your card. You need to create an account, but it is free.

The format of the card is another choice you will need to make. A post card (3.5 inches to 4.25 inches x 5 inches to 6 inches) is a less traditional, but less expensive to mail format. A good size for cards which fold over is 5x7. This means that you will get one card per letter size piece of paper. I have included Templates for both types of cards to give you a start.

The last bit for a custom made card is sending it out. If you are sending the post cards just address it, write your message on back place a stamp, and you are good. If you made the folding card you will need to make or buy an envelope, address stamp and mail.


"Well, it's about time..."

No, I'm not dead. Although I can understand why some people believe that.

As much as I dearly love this site, and all the interesting people that have sprung up from nowhere to contribute their experiences, their ideas and their passions, life has thrown me a curveball or two.

Back when this site began, I was living in Newfoundland, Canada. I was doing contractual work (web development, training and marketing/communications consulting), and owing to the scarcity of such jobs in that locale, was blessed with plenty of spare time. I could afford to spend a thousand hours (yes, that many) working on hundreds of forms. I had just had a child, was surrounded by supportive family members, and life was relatively easy.

Today is different. I live in beautiful Yellowknife, Northwest Territories --yes, that's near the Arctic Circle-- where I have a job that requires me to perform my focused best at all hours of the day. (I am an executive at a marketing/communications company, to be precise.) We have had another child, now five, who is severely autistic, pre-communicative though seemingly happy, but who requires constant attention and plenty of patience. I have also had a hernia for the past year, and have recently had back surgery for a ruptured disc, and that's taking a toll on every little physical action I perform, including sitting down.

In short, live is no longer easy, and it's truly difficult to find time for my old passions. Not that I care any less for them, but the energy and time to pursue them is often lacking.

It's rare that I speak of things that are very personal, but I figured I owed you folks an explanation.

So, where are we now?

There have been rumours that I am selling the site. I tend to get an offer or two every month, it's true. But I can't put a dollar figure on this community, knowing that these buyers would only take advantage of the terrific content here to plug every hole with a dozen ads to monetize the resulting mess. No, thank you.

We've had to turn off new user registration because we were being spammed to death. If you would like a user created, for now you can contact me directly at douglasjohnston on gmail.com. State two preferred user names, in case the first is taken. Please be patient and give me a day or two to set you up.

Partly related to our spam issues, I'm afraid the CMS that powers this site, Drupal, is a couple generations old. Upgrading the site two versions is way out of my comfort zone, especially with custom content like the template directories. If you are a Drupal wizard who would like to volunteer to help me take that on, I would very much welcome your help. Once we upgrade, we can build a lot of improvements into the site, including social media, better galleries, better editing/admin tools, quicker moderation, faster response time, and all kinds of wonderful as-yet-thought-of goodness.

Innowen, Steve and the initial DiyP troop have gone on to more regular gigs, and I wish them all the best. They are truly wonderful people, and I love and respect them all. They've contributed so much over the years, and looking back I can't believe the depth and breadth of their hundreds of articles. Most would have run out of ideas after a few weeks, but they kept going, offering us fresh, informative and entertaining posts for years. Astonishing.

Speaking of writers, is there an opportunity for a "next generation" here? By all means! I can't do much by myself. If there is anyone reading this who would like to become a regular writer on this site, please contact me. The only catch is that I don't have the hours of time for editing that I used to. But if you're a talented writer, and would like to live in a stationery store, have a hankering for tinkering with your productivity system, push your creativity far beyond your limits, or love reviewing your cool new pens and notebooks to the utter bewilderment of your friends, you could be a fine fit here. Drop me a line and let's take it from there.

Last but not least, we have ygor. ygor, the amazing. ygor, the dedicated. ygor, the coding guru. ygor, the productivity maven. (ygor, the ill-captitalized.) ygor, the reason why this site still exists. I can't thank him enough, and I don't think any regular visitor to this site could, either. Thanks again, ygor, for keeping the ball rolling and instilling a strong sense of belonging and professionalism throughout this little community. You've been incredible, and there for us all.

So, I'm turning the mic over to you folks here. What would you like to see happen on this site? Any ideas for new features? Perhaps you're a designer and would like to take a crack at a new theme? Any products you'd like to see reviewed? Any stories to share? Tips for analog systems? Odes to your favourite fountain pen?

Let's sweep out the cobwebs, each grab a hammer or paintbrush, and start reconstructing this site into something great again. The foundation is there, reinforced by some tremendous dedication and talent and passion. But I want us to build it together.

Avery Write On Dividers for Binders


Many years ago, I discovered this product.

I had a lot of letter size paperwork to sort out. Many important projects had to be portable, organized and nice looking. And I was on a budget.

The Tabs were great performers on the spot. I used a mechanical pencil to write the title on each tabs, it didn't smudge. Despite lots of handling, the tabs corners stayed intact.

Over the years, Avery has expended this very dependable line of letter size dividers by offering color coded laminated write-on tabs then plastic, rounded corner write on tabs. The entire line can be found here

I remember the plastic rounded corner write on tabs catching my eyes a while ago, but I do not remember if I added them to my stationary stash or not. But, this year, while searching for 5.5 x 8.5 Plastic Dividers, I found these and these.

The second tab dividers also exist in the Retro Circles pattern in a orange and lime theme color. All are 7 holes punched for easy fit in most half letter size ring binders or organizers.

The Multicolor set is very light has the durability of hard plastic, yet is not stiff. The tabs' corners are gently rounded making them easy to hold and turn. The very soft and semi-translucent colors are: pastel blue, ice grayish white (very elegant), pastel green, pastel yellow (somewhat see-threw) and the loveliest of ice cornflower purplish blue (somewhat see-threw as well). I got my set at Office Max.

The Spring Leave Design dividers take their names from the pattern in the front of each divider. There are two mauve dividers, two pastel pink and a light sea blue one in the middle. The patterns have contrasting colors on each divider, which might explain why they are in the high $5 range, in contrast to the plain dividers, in the $3 range.

They are well worth the price and the trip I made to the next town to the only place I could find them. The only Franklin Covey retailer in my state. I cleaned up their stock of the product on display (4 sets).

The Spring Leaf set is a must have for anyone who loves pink and purple; the Translucent set is an affordable, fun and professional looking tool.

In my enthusiasm, I forgot to say that I am not affiliated with Avery in any ways.