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Digression – Loadout Pt 2

This is a direct continuation of yesterday's Digression, and I suggest you read it first if you're the kind of person that prefers to read serial content in order. If you're the kind of person that doesn't like to be told what to do, then I suggest (but do not tell) that you enjoy these posts in any order strikes your fancy. If you prefer less digressions in your Digressions, then I apologize for the previous digression. Onward!


I use two kinds of notebooks in daily rotation, with one getting the brunt of it. I, at various times, have tried to live my entire life out of one productivity space, whether that's one particular notebook, one particular digital tool, one particular device, but I find that my brain doesn't accommodate that kind of thing very easily. With work, I've pared it down to two.

Baron Fig Confidant Notebook – Flagship Size

You may or may not have heard of Baron Fig if you live in the analog productivity space. I became a customer of theirs a long time ago, when they were just tinkering with the idea of putting out their notebooks in a dark charcoal color, so I've seen the company at various stages and been more or less entranced with the whole branding message. For those unfamiliar, Baron Fig bills itself much more as an “ideas” company for “creatives” that just happens to sell, as their main driver, blank notebooks and accessories to go with those notebooks. If you try to take them seriously as a serious stationery company, you'll probably be disappointed when all their creative energy seems to go in to publishing books written by the owner about the “laws of creativity” or a guided journal collaboration with Netflix. If you want No Bullshit Serious Notebook people, I suggest working with Leuchtterm, Rhodia, Kokuyo or Midori (I guess, Midori dabbles a bit in this with their Travelers Company products). If you can understand Baron Fig as more of a design house that attacks the analog productivity space from a design angle, first graphic/visual design and then product/practicality design, their products might have more traction with you. Incidentally, as one of those “Design is a Human Right” people, the idea of an object that is both beautiful and useful is quite appealing to me.

The Baron Fig Confidant is their first and still most popular hardcover notebook. I have always worked in dot grid in the past, though with all the writing I've been doing, I might switch to ruled on the next one. They come in several cover colors these days, but they all have a signature yellow ribbon bookmark and have a paper that's quite balanced for pencil, ballpoint, roller and fountain pen use. I don't recommend it for mixed media, but it leans towards toothy, rather than smooth, so a blank one may work for you as a pencil and pen sketchbook. The size is very close to A5, but just slightly shorter and wider. This has the frustrating effect of making the notebook a proprietary format, breaking accessory intercompatibility with the wider A5 universe. I have a hard time telling the difference when going back and forth between A5s I have in my desk and this one. Maybe being more squarish helps some people, I think it's a wash.

It's entirely possible one day I'll drift away from the Baron Fig ecosystem, but for now the attractive and useful nature of their stuff continues to speak to me. So for now, I stay.

Field Notes Pocket Notebook

Because they're all so different, and often so beautiful, I move from cover and page format all around without too much of a problem. I've used Field Notes notebooks as my pocket notebook of choice for years and years, but only when I use a pocket notebook. I don't always in every season. I've used them in the past as meal and habit trackers, short journals, etc but today I use one purely for to-dos, which happened when I fell out of love with bullet journaling and split my to-dos and my journals into two different books. Speaking of....

A Note on Bullet Journaling

I had high hopes for Bullet Journaling, seeing as how the author has wicked bad ADHD, like me, and I tried to stick to one off and on for years. I think the problem I may have run in to is that it always felt like there just wasn't enough life for me to organize with a tool like that, it felt like it was overbuilt for my boring and often mundane daily schedule, even though I always appreciated the organization when I was on it. If you ever see me move in to a self-employed role (a use case where I think the system would be completely bomber) or start to juggle more than one workplace, I think I would return to the system and try much much harder to get it to stick. As it stands now, my A5s that I carry around get the Daily Journal job, a habit I started during the delivery of my first child to tame my anxiety just a little bit, and one I always benefit from in very tangible ways.


This is always my favorite part of a gear review. Like the rest of this particular blog, we're restricting this to analog productivity gear that is in active daily rotation for me, not all the stuff I've used, owned, or may bring out of retirement in the future.

Baron Fig Guardian Pro Notebook Case

Remember when I lamented that Baron Fig breaks compatibility with the wider A5 universe with their just barely different notebook format? I'd love to put this case in to permanent rotation with all kinds of notebooks filling it, but that's not gonna fly for the Apple-of-Notebooks people. That said, I do enjoy using and owning it, even though I don't recommend you spend the $50ish that it costs unless you know you're sticking with Baron Fig as a main supplier for your needs. There are a lot of A5 compatible covers out there, and it might be worth checking out that option with something like Midori's MD line of A5s. I don't really use the pockets on this guy a ton, but if I was more of a scrapper I might. My To-do lives in the pockets of this cover when it's not in my pocket so I know where to find it.

These Little Pencil Point Protectors

I use these on all my pencils when they go out in the wild. Be sure to get the right kind; the ones made in Denmark are sized for European pencils (thinner) while the ones made by Kutsawa et al in Japan are made for Japanese pencils (thicker). I've successfully crimped the Japanese ones to work with European pencils in the past, but it looks ugly and frankly they're cheap enough to just buy both if you can find the European ones in your locality. Availability has been spotty, and the places I got them have since closed up shop (RIP CW Pencils). If you use Blackwing pencils, those are Japanese width, and if you use American pencils (Why??) then those are closer to European profile.

Carl CP-30 Pencil Sharpener

This one is discontinued but Carl still makes great pencil sharpeners, and I wouldn't be surprised if the mechanism is the same. The nice part about them is they grip and hold the pencil, automatically feeding it in to the sharpening blades, and it automatically stops when the pencil is sharp. Very nice long point profile, not so sharp it breaks the first time you use it. Universal recommendation.

Book Darts

Necessary innovation if you're actively bullet journaling and need to switch back and forth between pages often. Also great for when multiple people use the same book and need to track their place. I use them in my To-Do to mark the current page quickly.


You all may get another Digression tomorrow, since today and tomorrow are work days, but I want to get the page on the Ministry of Reconciliation up soon, Sunday at the latest. Looking forward to talking about it!

This post is part of #100DaysToOffload, a challenge to blog a hundred days in a year hosted by Kev Quirk . This is post #4.

#Stationery #Pens #Pencils #Analog #Productivity #Digressions