Working Tools 35. The Domino Effect

I wrote only last week about breaking stuff.

Turned out that my migration of the Lime website wasn’t quite as successful as I’d hoped. The theme wasn’t responsive, and activating the menu on a tablet or smart phone, overlaid the menu choices on the current page text. It looked horrible.

I have activated another theme – which whilst still not perfect, is holding the fort, as it were.

Updating the site, I stumbled on a process that is inefficient. As part of my iPad first, streamlined workflow, ambitions, I set to fixing it.


Something happens in sphere of anti money laundering that I wish to alert my clients about and to comment on publicly. The first is achieved by sending a briefing note and the second by posting on the website.

Current Process

I write the web piece in Ulysses and upload it to the WordPress Editor, as per this site. I also export the text to form the basis of the briefing note. Typically, I export it as a Word document (Docx). Then, I edit it, copy it, and paste it onto a corporate template. Finally, I e-mail it to the clients with a covering note.


Aha – I thought. Perhaps I can export it straight to a PDF template from Ulysses. Apparently not. Or at least not without building a bespoke “style” over on Mac, using skills beyond my know-how. Even then, the logo might be an issue.

Hmmm…what about some sort of shortcuts / automation on IOS? Nope. Not that I can divine.

How about one of those swish PDF apps? Apparently not.

A little Google-fu convinces me that it might be possible to conjure something on the Mac but that on IOS, I will struggle.


The simplest way is to compose the briefing note on a briefing note template in either Word or Pages and send it from there. Who knew? I will probably compose the text in Ulysses with no formatting, then copy & paste to Word/Pages. That done, I’ll format for web in Ulysses and export to the site, before returning to Word/Pages and manually formatting the briefing note.

Or – of course, somebody will point out to me that I’m missing something painfully obvious.



In June – I’m changing things up a bit.

Monday – I’ll link to the 1857 Podcast release.
Tuesday – I’ll link to my article at Lime
Wednesday – I’ll publish the Members-Only post
Thursday – I’ll publish the regular post (like this one)
Friday – I’ll link to my article at Nero’s

The weekend, I’ll take off, though there may be some “downtime” posts too.


I’m going to change the Membership program too. Offering more content to members in more forms. I will also be increasing the price. Now – people who became members before June 1st 2020 will retain their legacy pricing. If you do want that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting a writer as he gets going, it will cost less if you do it before June 1st. Become a Member.

Working Tools 34. Breaking stuff is the website for my company Lime Training and Consultancy Ltd. It’s website was awful. Unloved, unmaintained and creaking under the weight of updates not completed. It had been designed, by someone else, using a plugin, that I don’t understand. Changing a phone number on the site was a fraught process, that took hours and generated volleys of ungentlemanly language.

Eventually, I bit the bullet and built a new site. Now – by build, I don’t mean code. I have a Hosted WordPress package with 5 sites included in the price. I chose a theme and drafted new text into the existing boxes. I followed the instructions, and ported my domain to the new site. The SSL certificate even moved on its own.

Done. Satisfying.

I opened my email, and deleted the usual notes from the host confirming every keystroke of the last hour. I may even have displayed a certain jaunty aspect. Then, one email caught my eye. “ is down.”

“But…but…I didn’t touch that one.” Perhaps not a wail, nor were any toys ejected from a perambulator, but it was a close-run thing.

I spent an hour in the host’s dashboard. This confirmed to me that the dashboard is designed to provoke frustration, bordering on the murderous. The bloody thing may as well be in Serbo-Croat. I dialled the number of shame. (Or Support, as they call it.)

On the plus side, I was able to cook supper, water the plants, feed the dog and lock the house down for the night, while waiting to get through to the relentlessly chipper Jennifer. We spent a few minutes agreeing that my work on inevitably angered the SSL Certificate on I mean, Duh!

Jennifer promised to have her team rekey the SSL within 24 hours and wished me a wonderful rest of the day. In fairness, the site was up and running within the hour.

The next day, refreshed, I resolved to “streamline my workflow”. Going IOS only, does require some adaptation to be efficient. Truth be told, much of what I do could do with streamlining. I’m forever making notes about how I must learn to do x or y. I then ignore the note, and get the task done with whatever Heath-Robinson process that I discovered back when God was a child.

I write in Ulysses. Because it’s awesome. Also, because the WordPress interface is, well, not very nice. The opposite of awesome, if you will. In Ulysses, I upload the finished post, complete with Markdown formatting and images, to the site’s WordPress admin. I could simply publish directly to the web – but I like to have a final check before unleashing anything onto the reader.

Cleverly, WordPress understands Markdown. Where I use “##”, it knows that I mean “Heading 2”. Inexplicably, it does not convert the syntax in the editor screen – only in the published post. Why? I have no idea. If the people at WordPress know, they’re not telling. I asked.

What this means, is that a very swish plugin called Yoast, doesn’t work. Yoast reads posts, scores them and then makes suggestions. It looks at SEO (yeah, whatever) and more importantly, at readability. The SEO reports says things like “you have only used the keyword 3 times, rather than the 4 times recommended for a post this length.” Sure. OK. The readability test though, is useful. It makes suggestions about sentence length, passive verbs, and conjunctions. Unfortunately, it does this from a reading of the editor screen. This means that it sees “##” as two hashes. It understands links as weird combinations of brackets.

Having got the digital version of a shrug from Automattic, the people behind WordPress, I asked Yoast. They suggested that I might want to write directly into WordPress.


End result? I binned Yoast.

Just this morning, I have spent an hour in mortal combat with my wi-fi network, but that’s another post.

Sometimes, I just break stuff.

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Working Tools 33. iPad Pro – Fight!

An iPad is not a laptop. Yes, it is. No, it isn’t. YES, IT IS! NO, IT ISN’T!

People do like to get tribal. The internet is getting all shouty about the latest must-have accessory from Apple.

The tech colossus has released a software update that greatly enhances the efficacy of using a mouse or a trackpad with the tablet. Additionally, they have released a new keyboard attachment for the iPad Pro, that includes a trackpad.

Taking these two things together, an iPad Pro can now look and function in a very similar fashion to a laptop.

The internet is awash with videos, podcasts and articles positing that this configuration is truly the laptop replacement. Some are delighted, some horrified and others incredulous of everyone else’s opinion.

Diplomat that I am – I will steer clear of that debate.

Everyone’s wrong. (Alright, not entirely clear of the debate.)

My view

The iPad Pro flutters its eyelids and in a gravelly, seductive whisper says “What do you want me to be, baby?”

The new keyboard, infuriatingly named the same as the keyboard that accompanies the desktop iMac (Magic Keyboard) does indeed give the tablet a similar form factor to a laptop. Macbook killer. Allegedly.

The software update makes the tablet a desktop. The iMac killer, if you will. It sits on a stand, and is controlled by the the old magic keyboard and trackpad. A stripped-down desktop, unsullied by cables.

The Road Warrior sticks to the smart folio keyboard, (no magic there apparently), which allows for typing but preserves the lightweight portability of the tablet. Essential in the old days when she shuttled around the world making deals, kicking ass and taking names.

When the day is done, the user dons a turtleneck, retires to the couch and reads something impressive and intellectual on the naked tablet.

There are more modes – think Apple Pencil, external displays – but you get the picture.

The iPad is all about flexibility of environment and working practice. By happy accident or prescient design, it’s on the way to becoming the device for everyone – or at least most of everyone.

Apple’s view

Apple is a business, and will have no trouble selling us desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, accessories and services as long as we buy them. Arguments between Apple fans about which hunk of metal is best, bother it not a jot. Apple wants to capture all those people who don’t “compute” on Apple devices. Apple wants the young “future-consumers” to get aboard. These markets aren’t going to be buying huge desktops or $3,000 laptops, at least not many of them.

The iPad is the best tablet on the market, and it’s a pretty damned good desktop and laptop too.

My Usage

I’m writing from my dining room table, where I have setup a temporary workstation while my wife recovers from surgery. I’m in mini-desktop mode.

It’s too hot for a turtleneck, but I do subscribe to magazines and newspapers which I read on the couch through my magic slab of glass.

Eventually, we will be allowed to move again, and I can see myself outside a beach bar, or jammed into a airline seat, tapping away on a folio cover keyboard.(Sand can’t get under the fabric.)

The laptop form? Not for me. I suspect it’s much more stable than the folio if you type on your lap – but I don’t, and if I’m at a table, I find the desktop setup more ergonomic.

These things are always subject to change, but I can’t see myself buying a desktop Mac or Macbook again. Others may buy more of these things – and I’ll be honest, I’m not bothered.

My writing is supported by people like you. The remainder of this post is reserved for Members. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

Working Tools 32. Time Tracking

Time tracking is an absolute essential for the modern entrepreneur.

Actually, no, it isn’t. You have stuff to do, do it. When you have finished, stop. Simples.

If you bill by the hour or by the minute even, then keeping track of your time is a requirement. You need to be able to demonstrate to a client the origin of their bill. In the past I used Day-Timer, an analogue planner with pages segmented into time slots. I graduated to Harvest, which I found an excellent tool. I wasn’t wild about the IOS app, but the web service is great. There is a free tier – that gives a good taste of how the service works – but to be practical for me, I needed to upgrade to the first paid tier – $12 a month.

The key attraction of Harvest is the interoperability. It can be combined with book keeping software and many, many other services. With some thought, I could set some really smart automations and integrations.

But I don’t use it.

I don’t bill by time any more. I bill on a retainer or by project. Detailed time tracking is therefore less important, and that $12 a month is better spent elsewhere.

That said, I do believe in time-tracking.

Year after year, I write somewhere that writing is the thing that I most want to do. Then, during a monthly review, I observe that I have done no writing. It’s infuriating.

I’m using Toggl, a time-tracking service, and Timery, a separate app developed to work with it. I’m on the free tier of Toggl – which is sufficient for my purposes, and I have paid the $10 annual subscription for Timery. The IOS app on Timery is lovely. Easy and idiot-proof. Most importantly for me, it’s easy to correct the entries when I’ve forgotten to change or stop timers. (Currently, a daily occurrence.)

Initial findings are that nursing takes a LOT of time and that simply keeping up with email and slack is a job on its own.

Early days, but my first conclusion has been to go easy on myself. Right now, looking after Mags is my number one priority, and given that it takes from 5-8 hours from my day, it’s unrealistic of me to expect to get everything else done. That helps me manage frustration.

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Working Tools 31. The Internet

Yes. I’ve discovered the internet.

Over the last several years, the commentary has all been about the internet as a cesspit of fake news, data harvesting and trolling.

Over the last several weeks, we have been reminded of all the reasons that we love the internet. A Dutch woman began a hashtag and now every Thursday evening the UK population emerges blinking on its doorstep to applaud the National Health Service.
Social networks have taken on a more loving, supportive aspect that was feared lost forever.


I read many webpages, and I use Really Simple Syndication, also known as Rich Site Summary, (RSS) to do it. Essentially, RSS allows me to collect together in one place all the updates on websites that I follow. RSS has been around for a long time. It powers podcast distribution too.

One of the neatest ways to do this is through a news aggregator. I use one called Feedly, which collects together all the updates. It has an app that lives on all my devices. However – while Feedly is a brilliant aggregator, I don’t find it the cosiest place to spend time reading.


Over the last year or two, I have been trying out several RSS Readers. Feedly, Unread, Reeder, and NetNewsWire. I love the reading experience on Unread, but was seduced by NetNewsWire (a rebooted service) which worked both on Mac and IOS.

Now – I’m an IOS puritan, which, in a way, liberates me. A key feature for me used to be cross-platform support. Vanessa suggested in the 1857 Slack that I should try Fiery Feeds. This is a neat app, with lots of scope for personalisation. I can add feeds directly in-app, and fine-tune every aspect of the display and the settings.

Fiery Feeds

Fiery Feeds is, as I type, favourite. I will experiment for a day or two more and then settle. Once decided on an app, the real work begins, curating the content. A comprehensive RSS feed can reduce e-mails (I unsubscribe from e-mail lists that duplicate my RSS feeds) and creates distinct “safe spaces” for my interests. Stationery features heavily, as does Apple News.

For me, the iPad is never more magical than when I’m sprawled on the couch, reading through my favourite websites.

Working Tools 30. iPad First

In April of 2019, I had settled that I was not ready to leave behind a traditional computer and work on iPad first.


  1. Backup. Corporate disasters in a past life make me paranoid of data loss. My mac has backups of backups.
  2. Filing systems. I found IOS cumbersome in managing nested folders.
  3. Certain tasks – podcasting for example, just worked better on the Mac.


  1. The world has moved on. Everything is online. Either in proprietary databases (my company accounts for example) or remote sevices like Dropbox or iCloud. We have, in effect, outsourced data backup to third parties. These guys have backups of backups don’t they? Don’t they? As you may gather, I’m not 100% sold on this, but I have also come to realise that not all my data is a precious as I would like to think. I’m thinking on that. In the meantime, my Mac sits in a corner, quietly running backups.
  2. The files app on IOS is fine. Could it be better? Yes – but increasingly, I access data, not through a central repository of data, but through an app. This post, for example, originates in Ulysses. I wouldn’t know how to find it in the Files system.
  3. Apple updated their operating system (Catalina) and it broke my podcasting workflow. Once forced, I explored multiple alternatives for both Mac and IOS, and found IOS easiest.

I know what I always suspected. Everything is possible on every platform. It’s a case of having the right workflow for the chosen platform. So – I’m committed to learning how best to do things on IOS.

Project 1

A Newsletter. I want to send a monthly email to customers over at Nero’s Notes, and in the future, one to subscribers here. I have lists at Mailchimp.

Task – Produce a simple newsletter that can serve as a template going forward.


I was remembering why I had stopped sending newsletters. Surely it shouldn’t be this hard?

My intention was to reach out to some smart people. People who know what they’re doing. However, just like asking for directions, reaching out is only to be done once I have driven round and round in circles for an hour or two. Me? Stubborn?

I went back to basics. A pencil and a bit of paper. I drew out what I wanted a newsletter to look like.

The scales fell from my eyes. The newsletter was the final product that would be sent via Mailchimp, but it was made up of a series of distinct elements. Each element needed to be viewed separately.


Photos – there are multiple apps that make this an absolute breeze. I download the photos to my library, edit them to to the right size and resolution (I use Pixelmator) and save them to an album.

Text. I live in Ulysses. I like the interface, and I can make the final version come out in all sorts of formats. I’ll write the copy in this app.

Links. In essence, I want to be on a website, mine or someone else’s, and quickly file the link somewhere. A clipboard, if you will. There are loads of these. Some of which I had discovered in a past life, downloaded and forgotten. Copied is one great option. However, if I tap the share icon, I can save the link into a Ulysses Group set up for the purpose.

Once all the elements are complete – I simply assemble. I upload the photos, paste in the copy and links, and boom, I have a newsletter. I can even use multitasking on the iPad.

It tickles me that this process mirrors exactly the way I cook. All the ingredients prepared and ready to go in advance.

The epiphany was not discovering a specific app, it was rediscovering that doing one thing at a time is nearly always more efficient than multi-tasking.


But wait…there’s more.

The process above is a huge improvement, but it’s only halfway there.

There are shortcuts.

Literally, the app is called shortcuts. Built-in on IOS devices, this is the successor to an indie app called Workflow. It’s a simple automator. Actually, it can be a really powerful automator too.

Time for me to explore…

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Working Tools 29. On the road again

This post first appeared on Nero’s Notes.

Regular readers, or listeners to 1857, will know that I do like a bag. Briefcases, messengers, backpacks and holdalls, I’ve an ample sufficiency of bags for days on the road.

Why so many?

I need so many, as one never knows what peculiar circumstance may arise when I head out on the road. (That’s what I tell myself anyway.)


By the time this publishes, I will, all being well, be in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Mrs L and I are mixing business and pleasure for a long weekend in the Eternal City.

Four nights, five days, a mix of business and pleasure.

This trip is almost custom built for one of my travel setups. Hand luggage only, changing flights in Athens, I’m not trusting my t-shirts to the hold.

  1. Away Carry On Spinner.
  2. Briefcase / Messenger depending on nature of business

However (Look! A peculiar circumstance!) – Mrs L has a bad back. She is not going to enjoy the two flights that will deliver us to Rome, nor the interval between them. I’m keen to spare her the need to manoeuvre luggage.

Mrs L would probably have a similar setup to mine for a trip of this duration.


The new plan (to cover both of us) is:

  1. Away Carry On Spinner
  2. Away Holdall
  3. Kensington Backpack
  4. Small ladies hand bag / purse.

The thinking is that the holdall fits atop the spinner, I can heft the backpack on my shoulders, leaving Mrs L with just the handbag.

In packing terms – this makes for constraints. And I love a constraint. (Stop thinking that!)

Rather than bemoan how few things I can take, I’m leaning into a more minimalist approach. I’ll spare you the undies count and wash bag.

My Backpack

On the road

Kensington Ultrabook Backpack K62591

Tickets, bits of paper, travel ephemera, a kindle for Mrs L.


10.5 iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard.
iPhone X
Apple Watch Series 3
Anker IQ something or other wall charger (4 ports)
Lightning cables and Apple Watch cable
Kodak 10400mAh Power Bank (not pictured)

I could live without the iPad, but I prefer it for reading, and in case I need to do any emergency work. The phone is capable, but it’s just a lot smaller. The perfect minimal tech carry when on the road?


Moleskine City Journal – Rome
Moleskine Roller Pen
Penco Hold Fast Stapler

On the road tech

This is as minimal as I can go. I packed a pencil case, then put it aside. Out and about, I’ll have the city journal and the pen clipped to it and that’s it. I intend to record details. Sean is going to come through Rome, and I’d like to be accurate. We have a few scheduled events, a tour, a couple of lunches, and of course a Rugby match, but we also have plenty of time set aside for strolling around, searching for the perfect coffee.

Should disaster strike (my standard excuse for carrying seven pens and twelve pencils), I’ll buy another pen. It’s Rome, not the Arctic tundra. The stapler is for scrapbooking. Travelling, receipts, tickets, cards all make great keepsakes. So each morning, I’ll staple in mementoes of the previous day.

The Match

On Saturday, I, a Scot, will take my wife, an Italian, to see the Six Nations match between Scotland and Italy. I did that before, in Edinburgh, and Italy thrashed us. I hope Scotland does better on the road.

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Analogue v Digital 3. – Task Management

Who can resist a bit of productivity? It’s the Holy Grail of the 21st century.

Whether it be David Allen’s Get Things Done methodology or a variation thereof, everybody has a task management system. I have several. There’s nothing more productive than working on productivity, right?

OK – my tongue is in my cheek, I’m almost certainly the most guilty. It used to bother me, until I re-framed things. The quest for productivity is one of my hobbies. Like golf. Now, I don’t feel guilty about playing with apps designed to make me more efficient. A large part of productivity is task management.

The Digital

I shudder to think how many task manager apps I have purchased. Some examples:

Omnifocus. If managing my own 8 hours a day is the walnut, this is the sledgehammer. “Fresh and familiar design for the trusted, gold standard to-do app.” Get them. Yours for $100 a year. (Cross-Apple fee) Most reviews will casually mention “a learning curve.” That’s affinity-marketing speak for “block two weeks on your calendar, this thing is impenetrable.”

ToDoist. “Free up your mental space. Regain clarity and calmness by getting all those tasks out of your head and onto your to-do list.” Quickly. Off you go. There’s a free version, but should this be your silver bullet, you are going to want to upgrade to Premium for $3 a month. Somebody looked at Omnifocus, cut out the 75% that nobody understands, and painted everything white. I think Jonny Ive would prefer ToDoist.

Things. “Things is the award-winning personal task manager that helps you achieve your goals.” Go you! $50 for Mac. $10 for your iPhone and Watch and then $20 for your iPad. It can be as complex as Omnifocus or as simple as a To Do list.

Currently, I am playing with Moleskine Journey. “Designed for creatives minds (sic), independent workers, audacious backpackers, and free spirits, Moleskine Journey is the first app that blends productivity with wellness tracking features to help you get stuff done and find inner balance every day.” I feel windswept and interesting already.

Honestly, I could continue for pages and pages. I have tried many, many task manager apps.

Occasionally however, I have to be productive.

The Analogue

Write down the tasks. Do the tasks. Tick them off.

I have written elsewhere how I use notebooks. There’s plenty of scope to bury myself in “productivitying” with paper, but I tend not to. Task management is simplicity itself. I spend ten minutes to write a list. Five minutes to prioritise and then I get working. When a task is complete, I pick up a pen, tick the item and go again. As the day proceeds, the ticked items act as a pat on the back.

I task manage in my desk books, and my pocket books. My current favourite on the desk is the Endless Recorder, where the Tomoe River paper allows me to use fountain pens. In my pocket, there currently lives a Moleskine softcover, dotted notebook, but I use all sorts of pocket notebooks.

The Winner

Doh! The analogue, obviously. The digital is great fun, a lovely distraction. Sort of Twitter with less hysteria.

But to get things done? Get your notebook out.

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Analogue v Digital 2. – Journals

This week, Journals. First, let me narrow down the definition. When I say Journals, I am talking about reflective journals, where I log events and feelings.

I wrote last week about Calendars, with the digital winning out for me, because of its ubiquity and shareability. The first version of this post appeared on Nero’s Notes last week, before I discovered Moleskine Journey.

The Digital

Day One is an absolutely superb app, that I have had on my devices for a long time. The first entry is the 3rd of August 2013. I have used it on and off since then. It lives on all my devices, syncing from one to the other. As with calendars, this is a baked-in advantage of the digital.

I just randomly opened an entry.

“They tried. They could not save him. At 2300 we got the call that we had dreaded. RIP Nero.”

Reading that again still brings tears.

Back to the app; the post has metadata, so I can see when I wrote it and where. Other posts have photos and maps attached. I can have limitless different journals, all accessible from the one thing that I am pretty much guaranteed to have with me all the time. I can type, or I can dictate.

Day One, teamed with an iPhone is fantastic.

Soon after the first version of this article was posted, I was directed to Journey, an App by Moleskine. There is a web app and an IOS app.

“Designed for creatives minds, independent workers, and free spirits, Moleskine Journey is the first app that blends productivity tools with tracking features that keep tabs on your overall well-being to help you get stuff done and find inner balance every day.” – So there.

I have been playing with it on my iOS devices. It’s a lovely app to look at. Using a + button, I can add planner items, journal entries, photos, challenges, mood trackers, goals – all sorts of things. In fact, if you set your mind to customisation, you can make this app your central hub.

I’m on the free trial version, and having loads of fun.

Moleskine is an Italian company, so your data is covered by GDPR, which is good. However, under the hood there’s an amount of Google – which is less good.

The Analogue

This year, I’m trying something new. Actually, I’m trying a few new things.

Hobonichi. I bought one of these famed Japanese notebooks specifically to start a daily reflective journal. It’s A6, Tomoe River paper and lives in a funky cover. Each afternoon, as part of my “close-down routine”, I take a fountain pen and summarise the working day. Usually in about half a page. The following morning, I finish the page, covering the evening and my reflections on the day.

Rhodia. Rhodiarama A5 Ruled. I’m doing a challenge. One Year No Beer, OYNB. I’m not drinking alcohol for a year. In order to help that, I get an email each day from OYNB, linking to a short video. Each morning I watch the video and then write an entry on the video and how I’m getting on with the challenge.

As I write, we’re 24 days into the year, and I’m still going on both, writing decent length entries. I would consider that as “working.”

The Battle

My last entries into Day One were on the 6th of January. While away in Turkey, I used the app extensively. In fact, the entries in my analogue journals for the beginning of the year came from Day One. On the road, Day One is unbeatable for me. I can have multiple journals (I have 5 – Stuart, Business, Food Diary, OYNB and Instagram) at my fingertips, without needing to carry lots of notebooks.

Back at home though, I write in my analogue notebooks. Why? Intention, ritual, tactility. I am at my desk, open the book, select a fountain pen and take a few moments to reflect. I revel in writing with a real pen on real paper. The act of writing is mindful and cathartic in a way that typing on a screen is not.

The Winner

Don’t be daft. They’re both winners.

Trip Journals

In a month or so, I’ll be on a plane with my wife, heading for a fun long weekend in Rome. On the little seat back table will be a Moleskine City Notebook that will be full of ideas for things to do and places to go. My mobile phone will be next to it. I will take photos, and compose journal entries into Day One.

Writing my journal in my Hobonichi doesn’t mean that I can’t love Day One and Journey too

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Working Tools 28. Analogue v Digital 1. Calendars

I am afflicted with infatuations both for the analogue world of stationery and the digital applications for Apple hardware. Mix those in with a desire to be as productive as possible, and a large degree of experimentation is inevitable.

Over the next few #Working Tools posts (alternate Fridays), I’ll talk you through the bare-knuckle fights, one by one.


In the red, (analogue) corner, The Economist Diary 2020 by Collins Debden, weighing in at super heavy.

In the blue, (digital) corner, ical, google calendar, the calendar app and Timepage by Moleskine, weighing in at well, nothing.

Red Corner

The Economist Diary is a tome. A big, heavy book. Mine is the signature red, week to two pages view, in a leatherette cover. It sits handsomely on my desk, telling me, and everyone else, that I’m a proper, serious business person. I write in it with a broad-nibbed fountain pen. Including only the most weighty and important of appointments.

Blue Corner

I have 18 calendars, split across iCal and Google. Some are mine, and some are shared. I have a core set always on, and others just a click away. My dog’s worming schedule is in here, alongside a meditation calendar. Eclectic.

The fight

My Personal Assistant copies all of my appointments from the Economist Diary into my electronic calendars. She is permanently at my side with her iPhone, lest I need to check Spice’s worming schedule. This allows me to flick through the diary attaining useful statistics, when not writing in flowery script. Did you know that in 2010, the Department of Work and Pensions employed 133,500 people?

The trouble is, I don’t have a Personal Assistant.

So, the diary exists as a very expensive sledgehammer to crack the nut of time blocking my week.

The electronic calendars are THE truth, particularly for Margaret and I, who keep abreast of each other through them.

Killer punch

The “shareability” of electronic calendars is unbeatable. I can access them at my desk, on my couch, in the car, heck, even on my wrist.

That said, the diary will remain on my desk, and does get used every week – even if only lightly.

By the way, did you know that the National Income per person in Chad, in $, in 2018, was 654? I bet that’s not in your calendar, is it?

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