Featured Reader: Jane the Writer

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JEH_02.04.14-2-225x300Featured Reader is a new series here on Quo Vadis blog, where we will show an interview of a QV blog reader with some details on how they use their Quo Vadis planners and notebooks. I love seeing how people use their books so I’m very excited about this series!

First up is Jane!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi. My name’s Jane Herman, but if you’re looking for me online, try JanetheWriter…you’re more likely to find me that way. I’m a lifelong writer and editor, and for the last 12 years, I’ve been the executive writer and editor at the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), which is the membership arm of Reform Jewish congregations in North America. I’m also a blogger and freelancer, so I spend my days writing for the URJ and many evenings writing for myself or my clients.

I have a bachelor’s degree in English from Lafayette College in Easton, PA, and a master’s degree in public administration from the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, part of the City University of New York (CUNY). A “Jersey Girl” by birth, I’ve also lived in a few other states, including Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and California. For the last dozen years, I’ve been a proud New Yorker, and when I’m not writing or editing, I enjoy a variety of other pursuits here in NYC: browsing for books, reading, watching the passing scene, exploring the city’s nooks and crannies, playing mah jongg and Words with Friends, watching Jeopardy, and — clichéd as it sounds — spending time with my family and an ever-increasing and diverse circle of friends.

Do you have a blog/ website?

For years, friends urged me to start a blog, but I always resisted: What would I write about? How would I keep up the pace? Who would really care about what I had to say?

Finally, in 2008, I took the plunge, setting up JanetheWriter Writes…, a slice-of-life blog that gives me wide latitude to write posts about whatever’s going on at the moment. Sometimes trivial, sometimes serious, the posts, which often reflect my deep faith, chronicled some personal health challenges, help to raise awareness about causes I believe in, and most recently provided a forum for my participation in the #RhodiaPaperProject. I have no idea how many people read the blog – regularly or occasionally – and the number doesn’t really concern me, but I’m always surprised (and somewhat stunned) when I learn about yet another someone who keeps tabs on me through my blog.

How long have you been using Quo Vadis planners and/ or notebooks?

After using Moleskine planners for years, I bought my first Quo Vadis Notor planner just before the start of 2012. I used it throughout that year, but then, inexplicably returned to Moleskines.

Shortly before the start of 2015, I bought a Notor planner refill for the red cover from my original, and have been using it for the last six weeks.

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Please tell us some details on how you are using it.

Unlike some people who use separate planners/calendars for different parts of their lives, my Notor is “command central” and holds information about all my daily activities in one place whether it’s a work meeting, a social engagement, a freelance deadline, or a bill to be paid, it’s all in one place.

Tasks that get repeated weekly or monthly have a sticky note associated with them that gets moved ahead once the task has been completed for a particular week or month. For example, the sticky note that says “rent” sits on the 23rd of the current month. Once the rent check has been written and mailed, I move the sticky to the 23rd of the next month.

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I’ve also found my Notor helps me remember to use the “rewards coupons” I earn at the drugstore before they expire. I stick the coupons in the page in the Notor that is a few days before the coupons are set to expire. When I get to that page, it’s a reminder to run into the drugstore at lunchtime or on my way home to pick up something I need – and use the coupon when checking out.

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The back flap of my Quo Vadis serves as a pocket to hold some odds and ends. These include postage stamps, business cards, a pick-me-up greeting card from a friend, and a blank correspondence card and envelope, in case I need to dash off a quick note.

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What is your favorite Quo Vadis product?

I love the Notor planner, and it truly is living up to its name because with it, I always know where I’m going!

What is the future for paper planners?

Although electronic calendars certainly have decreased the market share of paper planners, I believe that there always will be a cohort of people who “default” to paper planners for a variety of reasons. I’m glad to be part of that cohort and hope that QV and others will continue to meet our needs with creative and useful products.

Are the Quo Vadis planner formats still useful or do we need to develop other kinds of layouts? (and if so what are your suggestions?)

I appreciate the one-page-per-day format of the Notor, but would, if I could, tweak the layout just a bit. I rarely use the hour notations at the top of the page because there’s not enough room to write anything up there except what’s happening at a particular time – but not who’s involved, the specific room or location, etc. I’d prefer to see those hourly notations in the middle of the page where there’s more room to add details.

What are your biggest time management challenges?

My biggest challenges involve stepping away from the computer and not getting sucked into social media when I should be working or doing other things. I have thought about implementing a “no devices rule” on weekday evenings from the time I get home from work until about 8:30 p.m. so that I can focus instead on cooking and eating dinner, watching the news and/or (gasp!) reading a book or the newspaper. So far I haven’t done it…and I’m not sure it’s really feasible, but it’s a nice thought…

How many notebooks do you have in use at once?

I have several in use at once. One is with me at all times – for jotting down random notes, capturing important points of conversations related to freelance projects, venting (one friend refers to it as “my secret blog”) and that sort of thing.

I also have a separate notebook for each of my freelance projects and one with blank pages that I use for doodling (which I find very relaxing), and would do more of if I wasn’t on the computer all the time =)

What are the most important features of a notebook for you?

I prefer notebooks with paper that stands up to fountain pen ink. If I’m using it for writing, it needs to have lines, but if it’s for doodling, blank pages are better. I also find that I appreciate an elastic band of some sort to keep the notebook fully closed. One that I’m using now doesn’t have this feature, and I’m finding the “notebook spread” to be a little annoying.

Many thanks for the opportunity to share my story with readers!

Thank you again Jane for telling us about yourself and how you use your Notor planner to keep track of your busy and fascinating life!

If you would like to be a Featured Reader here on Quo Vadis blog, email me at: laurie (at) quovadisplanners (dot) com. We are looking for readers from all over the world to tell us how you use your Quo Vadis planners and/ or notebooks. I hope to hear from you soon!

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