Product Spotlight: Business Weekly Planner

Posted September 30, 2014 by
in Editorial | Add your comment »


Business is the “Mini Me” version of our most popular weekly planner, the Minister.  There is some American pedigree in the Minister; it was developed for Coca-Cola by Quo Vadis in the 1950s.  60 years later and it’s still going strong.

Business is a handy pocket planner. It measures 4″ x 5 7/8″ or 10 x 15 cm. It includes major North American civic and religious holidays, popular observances and moon phases.

The Business features one week on two pages.  The highlighted week in the current month appears in a calendar on the upper right page.  Also noted is the current quarter of the year, and the number of the week.  This is very helpful if you need to plan or calculate based on 52 weeks.

Other features include:

-Anno-Planning – a year’s layout on two pages for current and following year

-8 AM-9 PM daily appointment boxes

-Daily Priority box

-Dashboard of weekly tasks & activities: Call, Email, Write, To-Do, Pay-Receive. (You can also customize this dashboard to meet your own needs)

-Tear-off corner opens to week in progress

-Sewn signatures for greater strength and stability.  The planner can stand up to the daily commute

-Address and notes insert

Business is light and discreet, and and a good pocket jotter to quickly note appointments, reminders and tasks. It can travel with you everywhere and keep you on track.

We have five (5) Business planners to give away to Quo Vadis Blog readers to test drive.  Sign up to enter here. Please do so by Monday, October 13, 2014. The winners will be notified the next day on the blog.  We maintain a very strict privacy policy on submissions – names and emails are not available to anyone, and the Google Doc is destroyed after the contest ends. If you would prefer to enter via email, please write to me – – with Business Test Drive in the subject line.  Good luck!

Current Business users and contest winners are encouraged to contribute your feedback via comments on this post. Pros, cons, praise and constructive criticism are all welcome.  Thank you.



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Time management Mondays: The tyranny of the clock

Posted September 29, 2014 by
in Editorial, Pens, Paper & People, Planning Tips | Add your comment »

Did anyone else read the excellent essay in the Sunday Times about procrastination?

Writer Anna Della Subin recounts a conference she attended on the topic, noting:

Humans will never stop procrastinating, and it might do us good to remember that the guilt and shame of the do-it-tomorrow cycle are not necessarily inescapable. The French philosopher Michel Foucault wrote about mental illness that it acquires its reality as an illness “only within a culture that recognizes it as such.” Why not view procrastination not as a defect, an illness or a sin, but as an act of resistance against the strictures of time and productivity imposed by higher powers?

I’ve come to accept a certain amount of procrastination as integral to my own creative process, but have stopped short of embracing it in my broader work life. Still, there is, I think a useful lesson here: Americans, and maybe Anglo-Saxon culture generally, do fetishize productivity in ways that are sometimes, shall we say, spiritually unproductive. We are too quick to assign personal blame to “failings” that are more structural in nature. And we should be able to admit this without feeling even awfuller about it.

What do you think?

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Friday review: A garden journal

Posted September 26, 2014 by
in Product Reviews, Where to Go? | 1 comment »

2014-09-26 12.53.58

I’ve perpetually got big plans for my garden, but given how little time I have to actually work in the garden, I find myself having to jot down notes, plans, and priorities so I don’t lose track of what I should do when.

Enter the ME journal. I wish I’d had this idea sooner, and I’m still plotting out exactly how it will work, but I think this is a killer app for the notebook — my killer app for it, anyway.

2014-09-26 13.20.16

I began by dedicating a page to each patch of garden, then photographing and associating pictures. After that, I wrote down what plants are there and what I want to do in the future. There are hostas along my front fence, for instance, beneath some cedar trees. Next spring, I’m going to experiment with different kinds of groundcover in front of them; I’ve heard Veronica Georgia blue can tolerate some shade, so I’ll plant some in the spring.

Another plus: I can keep track of what plants I’ve put where without putting popsicle sticks in the ground or stuffing a bunch of receipts into a folder. That way, if I notice that a particular type of blueberry is doing especially well or poorly, I can reorder and/or reassess.

As others have noted, I wish it were easier to associate multiple photos with a single page, but beyond that, I’m excited for the possibilities.

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Tools of the trade: Mechanical pencils

Posted September 25, 2014 by
in Cabinet of Curiosities, Pens, Paper & People, Where to Go? | 2 comments »


As with many things I first put to serious use in math class (protractors, compasses), my fondness for mechanical pencils is more remembered than real. I don’t particularly like writing with a mechanical pencil, but I keep one around the house in rare case of need — a super-precise line that my traditional pencils, whose sharpness is almost never comparable, cannot hope to achieve.

And though years pass between those needs, I can’t imagine not having one somewhere around the house. At times, I’m even tempted to try a fancier model than the Staetdler that’s been with me since high school.

What about you?

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The Changing of the Guard

Posted September 23, 2014 by
in Announcements, Editorial, Pens, Paper & People | Add your comment »

London 01 14 Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guard

The changing of the guard is beginning at Quo Vadis Blog.

Our Quo Vadis blogger, Leah Hoffmann, will be taking a leave of absence at the end of September. She will be going on maternity leave until sometime this winter or early spring 2015.

Leah has been our blogger since Quo Vadis Blog began in March 2006. She is a terrific writer, and has constantly refreshed and recast a classic product–paper planners–and new challenges–time and information management. Her posts have provided some valuable insights and good reading over the years.  We have gotten to know her as a person as well as a writer. I’m glad to have found a sister New Jersey Devils fan.

Although Leah was hired for her solid business writing and reporting, over the years she has developed a deep affection for the blog, Quo Vadis, and especially, the people who comment and contribute to Quo Vadis Blog.

Leah and I discussed what to do while she was away on maternity leave.  One name was uppermost in both our minds:  Laurie Huff.

We consider Laurie to be the expert in planners, diaries and organization. She has a breadth and depth in these subjects very few people possess.

Plannerisms, Laurie’s blog, is well known and respected for her reviews of all types of planners and diaries. She also writes for Philofaxy, a fan blog for people who love Filofax organizers.  Laurie has also designed, developed and marketed her own planner.  How neat is that! Actually, that type of creativity and initiative is right in the tradition of Quo Vadis. The founder/creator, Dr. Beltrami, stamped out a format on a notebook that met his need to see his week at a single glance.

Quo Vadis Blog’s current readership is roughly 60% U.S. and 40% international.  As an American ex-pat, Laurie will bring an international flavor to the blog. These cross-currents can inspire new insights and new ways of looking at things.

Though I am sad Leah is departing for a while, I am also very happy, and honored, to welcome Laurie aboard as our new Quo Vadis blogger.  She will start October 1.




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Writing Wednesdays: Lend me your ears

Posted September 23, 2014 by
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In general, I’m a selfish pragmatist when it comes to lending books to friends, which means that I don’t often do it. Life and good intentions being what they are, you can’t expect to get them back, and you certainly can’t expect your friends to understand or remember the levels of your relative need — this book could find its way back onto my shelves in a few years and it wouldn’t make me anxious, whereas that book meant so much to me that my mind won’t rest unless we’re reunited in a few months. Better to give books as gifts and not expect to see them back.

Of course, Sandy, which wiped out a good three-quarters of my library, defied those categorizations, as I remembered recently when I noticed a pile of books in our garage that I’d deemed salvageable in spite of the storm. (They weren’t the same books I would have chosen to save, predictably — just the ones that were in reasonably good shape and felt worthy of the effort. They’re in the garage because of the toxic dirt that clings to their covers, which still needs to be wiped off.)

To say that a natural disaster teaches you the unimportance of material things is trite. It’s worth recalling, but it’s not worth dwelling on. Instead, the things I savor are the little dramatic ironies: the book given to me by an ex-colleague because it had been borrowed from the company library and he was too embarrassed to return it, having kept it long past its due date. (No chance of that happening now!) The Carol Shields novel lent me by a generous, far-flung friend, who I hope isn’t waiting for it back.

The books that survived on upper floors are both the most and the least precious titles.

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Time management Mondays: Family planning

Posted September 22, 2014 by
in Editorial, Pens, Paper & People | 1 comment »

I’m old enough, or perhaps stodgy enough, to be a little nervous putting too many personal details up online. Nonetheless, it’s happened before, and it’s about to happen again: we’re expecting another baby in a few weeks.

Last time, I was a bit unrealistic about how quickly I would be able to reclaim my wits and get back to work. This time, I am formally handing the reins over for the next few months to the capable hands of Laurie Huff, a blogger I suspect many of you already know from her guest posts here and from her own blog, Plannerisms.

Karen will give Laurie a more proper introduction tomorrow, and she’ll start blogging next week. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming her!

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Friday roundup

Posted September 19, 2014 by
in Pens, Paper & People, Videos, Where to Go? | Add your comment »


Lots of reviews this Friday! Let’s get right to ‘em, shall we?

  • “I really could come up with endless ideas for using this journal, so even with the few shortcomings I think that this journal is a wonderful idea and will prove itself very useful.” Okami reviews the ME journal.
  • “A brilliant red with some orange undertones and fantastic sheen. I’ve never seen an ink that has so much character as you’re writing and even after it dries.” Jeff Abbott is back at The Pen Addict with a review of J.Herbin’s first 1670 anniversary ink, Rouge Hematite.
  • “Nothing shy about that duo.” Speaking of J.Herbin, there’s still time to enter Inkophile’s contest and win a bottle of Orange Indien… plus a Clairefontaine Basics Duo notebook!
  • “Other than the color of the cover, the pads have not really changed since 1934 when two brothers from Lyon started with this simple orange pad with 80 sheets, and 80g paper, staple bound at top.” If you haven’t already seen it, be sure to check out this video glimpse into the Rhodia factory en France.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Tools of the trade: Keychain notebook

Posted September 18, 2014 by
in Cabinet of Curiosities, Editorial, Pens, Paper & People | 1 comment »


This is a variation of the “too good to actually use” problem, which is odd, because if you’ve ever purchased a Muji notebook, you know that the paper is terrible — coarse, thin, and utilitarian, the sort of paper that struggles to hold up to a competent rollerball without bleedthrough.

Still, a cute, little 1×3-inch notebook on a keychain, for 99 cents? I was killing time while waiting for the bus in the Muji on 40th Street, and I couldn’t resist. I also can’t decide what to do with it. Online, the notebook is billed as a “word card” and, elsewhere, a “flash card” that works well “for vocabulary lists, formulas, dates and events in history.” In my mind, I was going to use it as an ersatz post-it pad, but the keychain seemed to hold more on-the-go promise, and I let it linger on my desk, wondering.

Obviously, the pages would splay and rip pretty quickly in an actual keychain environment, and the notebook isn’t half as big as I would want for a mobile catchall idea/to-do list book, anyway. If I were in the habit of giving away my contact info in analog form en masse, I can see it being useful… or perhaps some Miranda July type project where you pass out the words of a story to strangers on the street, one by one? I won’t say the possibilities are endless, but there are enough of them that I’m still a bit surprised I haven’t yet found my perfect use.

What would you use this for?

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Writing Wednesdays: The best tool for the task

Posted September 17, 2014 by
in Editorial, Pens, Paper & People | 2 comments »

I’ve said before that I’m none too proficient at composing long passages of prose on anything other than my laptop. I also can’t imagine fleshing out ideas on anything other than a notebook.

At work, I have a very clear set of notebooks and calendars for specific tasks and to-do lists. For my personal writing, however, I haven’t done much to systematize things, beyond making sure to carry a physical notebook with me. So my notebooks all end up being a total hybrid of random ideas, passages, and things I’d like to remember to look up in the future.

I’m a process geek, however — the writer’s counterpart to the planning optimist? — so I love to hear about the various tasks that other people assign to their notebooks. What about you? Do you prefer to make mash-ups or single-course feasts of your notebooks?

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