I took a long hard look at the tools I use to keep myself organized and to help me do my work. I realized that I'm pretty good at syncing informaiton between my three devices (desktop, ipad, iphone). I love that I can work anywhere on any screen: in my office, in bed, on the couch, at the grocery store, at Starbucks, on airplanes, in hotel rooms...
But with all that digital goodness (I really love my devices), I still use a good amount on paper:
- Lists. To-do lists, grocery lists, chore lists, intentions lists, music and book lists, supply lists...Scraps of paper practically float around my house and in my purse. And that's in addition to all the lists I make on my Notes app.
- Notepads. I'm always taking notes on whatever stray piece of paper or convenient pad that is around (and also on my devices). Meeting notes, idea notes, planning notes, special project notes, reading notes...
- Drafting. Sometimes I write blog posts or other writing on screens, but sometimes I just really like to write with a pen on paper.
- Calendars/schedules. I do key in scheduled events/activities on iCal, but I also find that I'm writing out schedules for other purposes like coordinating family stuff, and now I have begun to rely on an editorial calendar for Hello Heart.
- Multiple journals. Last but not least, I keep several journals—a writing journal, my main art journal, a Tarot journal and a couple of other art journals as well.
The result? For years, I've had had paper, pads, books and journals spread all over the place. And invariably, they're somewhere else than where I am.
I realized I need a paper system that somehow syncs, too.
I need a tool and a system that allows me to work on whatever kind of paper for whatever purpose, and that somehow brings all those different pages into one place, in order.
Until recently, we only had the binder for multiple purposes. But can we just say binder rings suck? Binders are cumbersome, hard to handle and ugly. To move pages around, you have to open the rings and pull out the page to be moved and get it it to its new place. You can either close the rings—snap—flip to the next section and open the rings—snap—string the page back in, and then close the rings again—snap. Or worse, keep the rings open, take out your page, try to bring a a whole section of paper across the gap from one side to the other (do we ever get all the papers in place on one try?), then put the page in its new place and close the rings—snap—right onto a finger—ouch!
Really, binders are just plain difficult, and they're unpleasant to write and art in.
But wait—there is another option!
It's called the "disc system". Have you heard of these? Levenger sells them online and now you can get alternatives (Arc or Martha Stewart lines) at big box stores. It's all about the discs—not rings, but solid plastic discs. These discs, placed in an upright row as you see here, serve as a spine of a book holding specially punched paper of any weight:
So you can "bind" a book filled with any kind of paper: covers, folders, dividers, and various sizes of paper in any way you want. But here's the real clincher: The paper is not punched with holes. It's punched in a way that allows the paper to "clip" onto the disc and "clip off" whenever you need it, like this:
That means, of course, that we can move paper around—on and off, to different sections—easily. Best of all, while you can buy pre-punched paper for this system, you can also buy the special hole punch. I got mine on sale at Levenger. And then you can punch any kind of paper of any size you want, and put them wherever you want, at any time!
And when you write in it? Cover and pages flip back a full 360 degrees to form a nice hard surface, like writing on one pad of paper.
My all-in-one synced writing and art journal system
What fun I had putting all my papers together. I started with the Martha Stewart 8.5"X11" basic book (they also come in the smaller 5"X8.5" size). And then I've added lined, watercolor, sketch, and several pre-printed papers between different dividers. And I'll keep adding as I need more paper. I plan to customize the plastic covers, which are a perfect weight and feel, as well as the binder pocket and the six dividers. I'm slowly arting them up—it's so much more joyful to use that way!
You may ask: but what happens when it grows to too many pages? Well, I have several options. I can get larger discs and create a thicker book or I can pull out some pages and put them on another set of discs (which is what I'll do for my journals as they grow) or I can take out unneeded pages altogether and put them into a folder.
As you can tell, I'm really thrilled with my all in one disc system. (And just so you know, I am not receiving any compensation for mention of any of these products. I just found them and want to share.) Let me know in the comments section below if you have any questions!