• Can Stationery Make You More Productive?

    use a notepad to make a list

    How stationery can help you get stuff done


    Being effective. Getting stuff done. Doing the things that need to be done and not the tasks that don’t matter. These are possibly rated as amongst the most desired objectives for the majority of people. We are all overwhelmed with the need to get things done and technology is meant to have made our lives easier. So can stationery make you more productive?

    Yes, undoubtedly technology has been a benefit to our efficiency but it has also very neatly put greater emphasis on us to manage our own lives – we now organise our own holidays online rather than get a travel agent to do the hard work for us; we have become our own financial experts with online banking but have to constantly juggle accounts and direct debits ourselves; we are tax experts as we have to submit our own tax returns. The list goes on and all technology seems to be doing is adding to the list of ‘things we have to do’.

    rhodia goalbook
    Rhodia Goalbook - a new way to set out your goals

    Now I’m not saying that technology isn’t wonderful or that I don’t wonder how we survived when we had to use a travel agent or had no access to our bank accounts 24 hours a day. But in the midst of it all, we seem to have developed an increasing need to manage our lives. It is notable how the more technology drives our lives, the more we like to try and manage the problem with an analogue solution rather than using yet more technology.

    Stationery – much maligned over recent years, scoffed at for its days being numbered, yet actually a means to sorting out the very problems that the digital age, its supposed nemesis, has created. So this post is about how stationery can be used to make our lives a little bit easier.


    Use a notepad to make a list
    Use a notepad to make a list

    At its most basic, stationery is simple, efficient and effective. A pen and some paper get the job done with minimal fuss, and the very act of writing in itself has been shown to aid the process of memory. And let’s not get to issues of battery life, lack of wifi, upgrades and more. A simple to-do list is easy to create, easy to amend, easy to use and easy to complete. Whether it is a shopping list when nipping to Tesco’s or a quick to-do list, having pen and paper handy at all times will make you more efficient.

    Bullet Journaling

    bullet journaling
    Bullet Journaling - The ultimate in list making

    Yes, I have mentioned the whole BuJo process. Apologies to Ryder Carroll but it is essentially an advanced form of list-making – he quite rightly argues that the act of writing out daily to-do lists and migrating tasks makes you more focused on what you are actually tasking yourself with doing, and so you also feel more readily inclined to remove tasks. Bullet Journals are far too big a topic to cover here (start reading more here and then see where it takes you) but it is one of the most obvious examples of people using stationery to complement or even replace technology.


    sketch out ideas
    Visualise it - sketch out your ideas on paper

    Many people find that sketching out an idea on paper is so much easier. It helps you visualise an idea or problem. It’s quick, immediate and easy to start again. Visually having something laid out over a page or even both pages as your idea grows makes it easier to understand the whole thing.


    diary planning
    Use a diary to plan your time

    Another topic for another day is how we keep a diary – online, on paper or not at all? Maybe it is a combination of digital and paper, but however you decide to keep track of your time a diary may well be the cornerstone of keeping yourself afloat – just the act of knowing what you have agreed to do at what time. We are seeing an increasing demand for 'traditional' diaries (i.e. paper based), as well as a much bigger range of diaries being made compared to say 10 years ago.

    The Pleasure

    The mere act of writing can help as well as be enjoyable

    There is also something tangible that a pen with some ink on paper can provide that can’t be provided by a computer screen. Some people will lose themselves down that rabbit hole and in doing so efficiency will be lost by becoming a hobby. That’s fine, but even if you stick to writing as a means of being more productive, there is still a pleasure to be had from using a pen you know, writing in a colour you like and writing on paper that works for you. Maybe it handles wet ink well, maybe it has micro-perforated sheets that tear out neatly leaving no trace, maybe it is punched ready to be filed. Go find your ideal pen, ink and paper and see how being efficient can also be a pleasure.

    Digital vs Analogue

    There is no getting away from the fact that there will be some who say that to reject or even blame technology is being a luddite or burying your head in the sand to progress. On the contrary I am someone who loves their technology as much (well, almost as much) as anyone, and I have an unfulfilled desire to find the perfect app that will deliver untold efficiency. I won’t find it and it will never exist, but I can still go looking. However I also know when to use pen and paper, when it will be more efficient and effective and making me get through everything. The secret is all in the balance between the two, and that balance will vary from person to person. Hmmm...I feel another post coming up on that very subject.

  • Corporate: Branded Bullet Journals

    Branded Bullet Journals

    It is not often we highlight the corporate work we do here at Bureau, but we recently produced our first order for branded Bullet Journals, and they looked so good we wanted to find out a bit more about the story behind them.

    Founded in 2013, the Balance Network is a government-funded research project looking at how digital technologies affect our work/life balance.  The pace of digital change is rapid and individuals cope differently; some struggle to adapt, feeling overwhelmed by constant connectivity.  For others, technology offers tools and solutions to manage an increasingly demanding lifestyle.

    The Balance Network project wanted to send out a ‘thankyou’ to their many collaborators who have helped run events, workshops and activities since the project started.  They selected the official Bullet Journal in classic black, and we embossed the Balance Network logo on the front in silver foil.

    Receiving an ‘analogue’ product might have seemed surprising to some of the Bullet Journal recipients, but we are finding premium stationery enjoying renewed demand in this digital age, as businesses and individuals see it as complementary to technology. Added to this, the methodology involved in Bullet Journaling has many parallels to digital apps for organising and note-taking, but the act of writing notes is quicker, more efficient and proven to be a better memory aid.  Small daily pleasures like using a nice pen on quality paper should not be underestimated.

    For any Balance Network collaborators who hadn’t heard of Bullet Journalling (often abbreviated to BuJo), the official Leuchtturm Bullet Journal includes an introduction to the method and a key to symbols. There is a plenty of information online, with websites, blogs and posts devoted to the subject (including the official Bullet Journal website, and our own post about getting started here).  You can in fact use any notebook to BuJo (our favourites include Rhodia, Nuuna, Moleskine and of course Leuchtturm), and you can adapt the method to suit you.

    You can visit the balance Network website to find out more about their research and sign up for regular news bulletins.  Dr. Rosie Robison, senior research fellow at Anglia Ruskin University and co-leader of the Balance Network project, talks about work/life balance in the digital age on The Digital Mindfulness Podcast here.

    Like what you see?  If this has given you an idea for your company (or you didn't know we could customise products), have a look at our dedicated corporate website www.bureaubusiness.co.uk, and get in touch!

  • Incowrimo 2017 - Writing Letters - Part 2

    Incowrimo 2017 Letter

    International Correspondence Writing Month. One a day. Every day. February. That's the tag line that got me interested last year :) Are you ready to take on the challenge and put pen to paper?

    You can read the first part of our series on Incowrimo 2017 here.

    What to write always seems to be the hardest thing about Incowrimo. The good news is that it's actually easier than you think. Reconnect with people - find something you have in common. Write about something nice :) Be kind, ask questions, or just one :) Keep it light.

    I always mention pen and ink combo and then decorate remaining space with doodles, ink splats, stamps, washi tape, stickers, etc.

    Plan your incowrimo - it's perfectly fine to start with few quick thank you notes, postcards, Valentine's card and slowly build up to letters.

    Incrowrimo 2017 postcard ideas

    In this second part of our letter writing series, we will be looking at paper and filling those envelopes.

    My recommendation for a more sophisticated writing experience are the Original Crown Mill sets. Each box comes with enough stationery to get you through a month of incowrimo, easy.  The laid paper in these sets are the reason why this feels luxurious. Ordinary copier paper is no match for the ribbed texture here which looks and feels more personal. That is the tone we want for Incowrimo :)

    The Crown Mill comes in two different sets. The gold box comes with cream coloured materials. Silver box contains white paper and envelopes.

    Incowrimo 2017 letter on a desk

    When I talk about writing letters I have to mention Triomphe. It is a brand of pads and envelopes by Clairefontaine - famous for its glassy smooth 90gsm bright white paper. These pads have plain paper in them and come with a ruled cheat sheet which will magically help you write in neat, straight lines. Simply genius :) Envelopes are lined with white paper and the seal is diamond shaped which makes them perfect contestants for wax seals. They certainly do look classy and are fantastic value for money.

    We had these pads reviewed by the wonderful Azizah on her blog. Have a look - there are some fantastic photos which will inspire you :) Perfect incowrimo cue.


    My go-to is Rhodia R pad. Some may consider it as a budget option because it is just a pad. Don't be fooled - it is gorgeous 90gsm buttery smooth ivory paper. We sell them in plain or lined paper. I pick lined over plain because when writing, I can anchor the letters to the lines and find it makes my handwriting look neater. Certain fountain pen inks 'shine' on ivory paper, others look great on bright white paper. My top 3 inks for ivory paper are KWZ Honey, Diamine Syrah and J Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre. Pages tear out easily, one by one, and it does look rather smart :)

    Incowrimo 2017 letters with clips and washi tape

    Last year we were part of Letters Live 2016 which was a spectacular event, defo check out www.letterslive.com for a spark of inspiration and get on incowrimo.org for further information.

    Next week we'll be helping you out with some ideas and creations we've been prepping for our own contribution to Incowrimo 2017 :) See you soon!

    Incowrimo 2017 letters and ink
  • Incowrimo 2017 - Writing Letters - Part 1

    Bullet Journal with Incowrimo calendar

    February, the shortest month of the year is almost here... For many stationery geeks this is the time when we sit down and write one letter a day to someone. INternational COrrespondence WRIting MOnth aka Incowrimo here we go...

    In the beginning it was a simple idea - write more letters. Vintage social media beats email/text every time. It is without a doubt more romantic and personal.

    February was picked because it is the shortest month of the year. So if you commit, you will only need to write 28 (29 during leap year) letters, cards, postcards, notes, post-its, napkins...

    Who you write to is up to you, of course. This is a fantastic way to reconnect with old friends and family. Write to loved ones, write to strangers...or write to us if you like :)

    To start off Incowrimo, I make a list of 28 souls :) Next step is my favourite one - grab all the stationery which I can find around the house/office and start brainstorming :) The usual ingredients are: envelopes, paper, cards, postcards and stamps. Extras like shimmering inks, washi tape, wax seals, stamps are the cherries on top.

    Bullet Journal with Incowrimo calendar

    In part one of this letter writing series, we will be looking at envelopes.

    Envelopes are the first thing that your recipient will see, so I try to make them stand out.

    Colour usually does the trick - your bank would not send you statements in pink envelopes :) Silver and gold envelopes catch the eye and say "you are special." Plain envelopes are okay - Decorate! Why not recycle any old ones too?  Incowrimo is prime time to open that stationery drawer grab the cute stuff which is too good for use in your journals.

    Check carefully that you have the correct address and also write a return address - you never know, one letter can be the beginning of beautiful pen-pal friendship :)

    Make sure you use some kind of waterproof ink - this goes especially for fountain pen users in UK where we get a lot of rain. Iron Galls should do the trick, if you don't have such inks, hack it with clear tape over the address or use clear wax to make it waterproof :)

    I participated in Incowrimo 2016 while I was working on improving my handwriting. Those two go hand in hand and it was really rewarding to put all those hours of practice to some good use. Commiting to do something for a month became a lot easier as soon as I put my mobile away. Go offline and take time to unwind. Sit down, surround yourself with stationery, put nice music on and focus on someone and then just write... It is a very happy place, trust me :) What are the chances that you will start a new hobby after writing 28 letters?

    One last piece of advice. If you think that 28 letters is a lot and you will struggle, set yourself some kind of reward - a beautiful pen or new ink works for me every time :)

    If you would like to join and pledge to write one letter/card/note a day please head over to www.incowrimo.org

    In Part 2 of Writing Letters for Incowrimo we'll focus a bit more on what goes in the envelope... (Hint: It's paper!)


  • Leuchtturm vs Rhodiarama

    head to head review - rhodiarama vs leuchtturm

    Head to Head Review

    Leuchtturm Medium Dot Notebook vs Rhodiarama Soft Cover Extra-Large Dot Notebook


    This review has an extra personal edge because I was an avid fan of my Leuchtturm dot notebook, to the point of questioning why I would want to switch to another book, but when we got the Rhodiarama books in recently I was tempted – after all, they now came with dot-grid paper (a must for me) and also in that nice extra-large size meaning it was small enough to carry round but gave more page space to work. The only way to find out would be to switch books and test the new one out. It was then helped by my wife spilling wine on my Leuchtturm book, so the appeal of a nice clean book won me over.

    I have been using the Rhodiarama for about a month now, having used the Leuchtturm for about four months prior to that.


    Both look quite similar – they both come in a range of colours making it hard to choose which one. The Rhodiarama edges it slightly with a nicer colour choice and I like the orange strap (part of the Rhodia branding) but others may prefer the Leuchtturm colour-coordinated look. The orange theme continues with the Rhodiarama to the inside-cover pages which adds a nice touch of quality though. Really not much to put between them here though.

    Scores. Leuchtturm: 8/10. Rhodia: 9/10

    head to head - leuchtturm vs rhodiarama

    The Rhodiarama ex-large (left) vs Leuchtturm1917 medium (right)


    This is where in my opinion the Leuchtturm really wins out. It has those features that can really make the difference. The big features it gives you are:

    • numbered pages
    • an index at the front, which makes it so easy to note down any page you want to refer to (important notes etc)
    • sticky labels (so you can archive the book afterwards)
    • two page-marker ribbons (on most books, not guaranteed)

    Of course you can make your own index and page numbers but that’s just a hassle when it could be in the book already.

    What both books do offer in common is:

    • at least one page-marker ribbon
    • ivory paper
    • 5x5mm dot-grid matrix pages
    • an inside pocket at the back.

    The Leuchtturm is a hardback book, the Rhodiarama a soft-cover so this really comes down to what you prefer. The Rhodiarama is also a bigger book at 19x25cm so gives you more space (nb: it also comes in the same A5-ish size but I went for the larger one to compare). Finally, both are known for having good quality paper but the Rhodia book has the paper quality almost as its USP – regularly cited as the best quality paper and a must for fountain pen users.

    Scores. Leuchtturm: 9/10. Rhodia: 7/10

    bullet journal leuchtturm1917


    There is no question that the Rhodia book has the nicer paper – just run your hand over it and you can feel how much smoother it is. There is no bleed or feathering, and although the Leuchtturm is still handles ink well it doesn’t do as well as the Rhodia. That said, if you’re not using a fountain pen this really isn’t that important. The Rhodia paper is still nicer to use but matters less with a ballpoint pen say. Where the Leuchtturm wins back points is with those features which make the book so much more practical to use.

    Depending on whether you intend to work on the go or not, cover choice might be important here as well. The soft cover is nice and less of a bulky object to have on you, and it means the bigger Rhodia book isn’t any more of an issue to carry around in my bag, but the lack of a hard cover is an issue when trying to write on your lap for example.

    Scores. Leuchtturm: 8/10. Rhodia: 8/10

    bullet journal rhodia

    Value for money

    Strictly speaking this isn’t a fair test on price as the Rhodia book is bigger. At £17.50 it weighs in more expensive than the £12.95 Leuchtturm book. I would say that the Rhodia is not nearly as good value as the Leuchtturm as it has less pages and costs more. Even allowing for the size difference this is still the case (the A5 Rhodiarama is £13.75, so 80p more). That said, the Rhodia book does have 90gsm paper so if paper quality is important then this might be a factor in the value but for me, it isn’t one of my top criteria.

    Scores. Leuchtturm: 9/10. Rhodia: 7/10


    I wanted to prefer the Rhodiarama book, I really did. I thought it work better for me, it has a nicer look and feel, it seems more suited to being a book I carry everywhere but…it just doesn’t do enough to land that killer blow on the Leuchtturm book. Hard or soft cover, you take your choice but the page numbers and index are great when you have 200+ pages of notes and want to find an important note quickly. I am not looking for anything but good quality paper so the Rhodia doesn’t win points with me there and yet the Leuchtturm has so many extra features and it costs less. That said, if you are a fountain pen user who doesn’t value those extra features then the scores might well be closer and maybe even in favour of the Rhodia.

    Total scores. Leuchtturm: 34/40. Rhodia: 31/40


    Click here to see more and buy the Leuchtturm Medium Dot Notebook

    Click here to see more and buy the Rhodiarama Soft Cover Ex-Large Dot Notebook

    NB: Prices were correct at time of publishing!

  • Bullet Journal For Beginners

    bullet journal example

    The Theme for May: An Introduction To Bullet Journals


    So for May we have turned the spotlight on something quite close to my heart – how to stay organised. How, even in an age of apps, syncing and automation do you manage to keep on top of all the things you need to do, and say you’ll do, and think you’ll do, and want to do? How can something so old-school as stationery be of use in the 21st Century? After all, didn’t paper die out sometime around the millennium? So we will touch on a subject that is very fashionable in stationery-circles at the moment – Bullet Journals – and look at how using some or all of this system can work alongside digital solutions to make you more productive.

    What Is A Bullet Journal?

    To many people bullet journals are just a series of to-do lists, and essentially they are. Just that they have quite a bit of structure and organising around the lists to make it all work. Officially Bullet Journals (BuJo for short) are the creation of Ryder Carroll, a New York based designer who came up with a way to make notes for himself and then realised he had a system that others would find useful. So he created the Bullet Journal. Find out more about it over on the official website which does a far better job of explaining it than I could do here.

    bullet journal example

    An example of a Bullet Journal with accessories

    So Are We Just Going To Explain Bullet Journals This Month?

    Not exactly. There is enough out there on the system and to be fair, you would only need to look at the official website to find out all you need to know about it. Instead, the inspiration for this month was born out of my own frustration with two things:

    • my inability to stay organised;
    • my reluctance to embrace the Bullet Journal system.

    My problem is that I have always struggled to keep on top of it all – as fast as one task is completed so another five appear, but worst of all is being able to sift through them all and keep a sense of priority. And then someone mentioned Bullet Journals. And I was seduced. After all, here I am with a stationery company with all that amazing stationery and here is a system to solve my problems that uses stationery. Perfect! Or so you would think…but it just didn't work for me.

    So the point of this month’s theme is less about selling the idea of Bullet Journaling per-se, and more about explaining it to anyone who hasn’t come across it, and then showing how I and (hopefully) others have found a way to take elements of it and make it work for us. And by doing so it might inspire you to try it and find your own way.

    Why did I struggle?

    I personally found it all to be too much of a system and I don’t think I am alone in feeling that. It looks wonderful, does amazing things but it also looks like a job in itself and is too rigid. I will come back during the month and explain how I my own system that works for me, and what would be really nice is to see how other people have adapted it to suit their needs. Bullet Journaling gets even more amazing and off-putting once you see what some people do with the system, and we will come to that later as well.

    bullet journal example

    An example of a Bullet Journal calendar

    Analogue vs Digital

    The point here is that both are equally relevant, rather than it being one vs the other. Stationery is actually essential alongside your apps, not a replacement for them. I love my technology (I have way too many apps for it to be healthy), but I also love stationery.

    What we hope to show is how everyone needs a notebook and pen because it can make you more organised, more efficient, and it is better for you. Studies have shown that the act of writing makes you process and remember what you are writing about more than by simply typing it* so that’s another reason use pen and paper. And once you use pen and paper, so you need a system to organise what you write and so you come full circle and start to need a bullet journal or version of it.

    What To Expect

    Throughout the month we will post articles about Bullet Journals and Bullet Journaling, what it can do for you, reviews of suitable products, showcase examples of what other people have done and we hope to get someone in the office to try it out for a month to see what they make of it. Please keep an eye on our blog and our newsletter to see what is happening.

     * https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/dec/16/cognitive-benefits-handwriting-decline-typing. Click here to read more

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