Ink+Volt Planner: For the New You?

I’ve spent the better part of my adult life wasting time.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t regret any of the time I’ve spent doing nothing. I’ve loved most of my nights sitting at bars coming up with grandiose ideas of how I’m going to spend tomorrow. But most of the time, I can’t even get my car washed, let alone get a new web app off the ground. I have big dreams, but I’m too scattered to follow through with a lot of them. My car remains dirty.

So I recently decided to make a few life changes. It being the new year, you might think of this as a resolution. And, yeah, sort of. I always thought resolutions were a way to get naive people to buy gym memberships, but I’ve come to understand why they exist: it’s damn near impossible to get into any sort of routine between October and January. I’ve made it a point to try to become more productive, especially outside of my day job. I made this decision back around Thanksgiving, but getting into a real routine has proved difficult until now.

I started by downloading the android app and listening to David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  I took the book recommendation from CGP Grey on YouTube. No, I’m not sponsored (Update: I got an Amazon Affiliate link later). Audible’s a nice system, though, and yes you should check it out if you haven’t. And CGP Grey seems smart. In this book, Allen talks about leading a productive and stress-free lifestyle by getting your thoughts organized. He has a specific system that I’ll be customizing for myself over the next few weeks. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but you’ve got to read these plot twists in chapter 10.

I’m kidding, I haven’t finished listening yet. Routine is hard in the Fall, remember?

So, an ad came up on my social media feed for a company called Ink + Volt, selling a planner notebook for the new year. I’m not a guy that normally writes things down. I usually just try to remember everything I’ve ever thought of, which seems feasible because all those thoughts came out of the same brain I’m trying to remember them from. Or I store them in some sort of electronic message to myself to halfheartedly search for later when I’m sitting around binge watching Supernatural on Netflix for the 4th time.

However, David Allen says this is a really dumb way to live your life, and causes stress where there doesn’t need to be. I’m inclined to agree, because he’s got a helpful, but authoritative reading voice.

Anyway, back to this planner. New year, new me, lets start writing stuff down. So I go to their site, and it’s a pretty standard “startup-ish” website, with the B-roll video background, and then products. They have a newsletter, which I understand is a way to get email addresses for direct advertising, but I’m trying to imagine the person that says “yes, keep me up to date on all the advances in the notebook world”. I’m trying, because I can’t imagine that person. Are you that person? Let me know in the comments.

So the planner is $40.00 plus $6.75 Ground shipping. That is a lot to ask for what amounts to an empty book. A book this size full of stories can be bought for $10. I did it anyway, for you, dear reader. It was always for you.

Their checkout page has some things that annoy me. I’m nitpicky, because I’m a developer by trade that has made literally a million different checkout pages, and by “literally a million”, I mean nowhere near that many but still a lot. All the text boxes have CSS that turns the mouse cursor into the pointer hand. This is off-putting. I know that hand is sweet, but keep it in your buttons, boys. Also the error messages are badly aligned.


When I went to check out what the issue was, though, I found this sweet pigeon.


So, you know, all is well in the world.

It looks like they took some time off shipping for the holidays, so even though I ordered the week before Christmas, I was informed that I wouldn’t be getting it until after January 1st. I was okay with that, it was on the sales page before I checked out. However, someone came back early, and I got my $40 blank book sometime between Christmas and New Year’s. I have no idea how fast, because I was out of town, but that’s some damn good service.

Now, as for the planner itself. It’s very nicely put together.


It’s got 2 of those tails for holding your place! It’s wrapped in whatever they used to make encyclopedias out of, and the paper inside is top notch for writing. The screenshots on the website really don’t do this thing justice: It’s a really nice planner. But what you really paid for was Ink+Volt’s planning style, which comes highly recommended from the CEO of Ink+Volt. The pictures on the website don’t really show what you’re getting, so I’ll give a sneak peek.


First Page: Calendar. Always useful. Not much to say. The days are right, I checked.


The first section gives you a chance to write down what you’re trying to achieve this year. As you can see, my theme is productivity. I have blurred out my goals so you don’t have to look at my terrible handwriting. The achievements on the left are meant for looking back: You’ll fill this out when you’ve done a thing. This has made me motivated to do things, which I think means it serves its purpose. Each month, and each week, has a similar section to this that you fill out and revisit, to try to keep the user on track with their goals.So far so good.


Here you’ll see the weekly planning part, where it splits the week days so you can write your daily schedules. There are also note sections for each week. Also, there’s an inspiring quote for every week, which I guess is nice. It doesn’t get in the way or anything, and I imagine inspiring quotes just do it for some people. Somebody buys those office posters.

So, in the end, I’m really enjoying the few days I’ve had with this planner. I really am trying to give it a shot and see if I can organize my life a little bit better and be more efficient, and this really is an effective tool. However…$46.75 is a lot of money for something that can be replaced by loose leaf paper and a plan. I can’t say I’d recommend you buy one. If you have 50 dollars and nothing to do with it, this isn’t the worst investment you could make, and if you’re a person who really digs planners, this is a good planner.


Trying Something New: The Grip6 Belt

I’m thinking of starting a blog trying out smaller companies’ products that I find on social media. This is me trying the style to see how I like it.

I found myself in need of a new belt recently. Usually this is because I’ve gained too much weight, but this time I was just getting tired of my old brown leather belts: I had 2, and both had aged and hardened to the point of cracking. They had those weird multi-colored bends on the notch you use all the time. It was time for a change.

At the same time, I was trolling Facebook and saw an advertisement for Grip6. If you haven’t seen these ads (not everyone gets the same ones), check out their website, you’ll get the vibe. They’re advertised as minimalist belts, and come in a variety of colors. I’m a guy that’s willing to take a chance, so I clicked the link.

The site gets right to the point. They know you’re there to look at belts to buy, so they show you the belts you can buy. That’s a great design. You’re given a mix and match option, pick a strap, pick a buckle color, pay, and you’re on your way. For an online store of this type, I can’t think of a better way to shop. They also have a few different ways to pick specific belt combos, and (new since I bought mine), you can buy the straps and buckles separately. The belt itself is modular, you can mix and match buckles and straps, so the ability to buy them separately is fantastic.

A full belt runs around 35 dollars. Considering its a minimalist belt, I originally scoffed at this price: it seemed high to me. But then I thought about all the belts I’ve bought throughout my life, and they all hover around that price. 35 dollars is how much a belt costs, and we need to come to terms with that fact. It’s not changing.

Shipping is through USPS. I received my belt (shipped out of their Utah factory) to Austin, TX in about 3 days, which is pretty good.

A small rant: For clothing, I think it’s preferred that companies ship directly rather than using something like FedEx SmartPost. SmartPost takes forever, and if I’m buying clothes, I want to know if I like the thing ASAP. If you consider your product high end, don’t use SmartPost.

So the belt itself. It’s design is very simple, just a hunk of metal:


and a strap:


Slide them together, and the belt holds together with friction, and the extra strap length hides behind the the buckle/strap for a clean look.


So, that’s simple and easy to manage.

I’ve been wearing this for a couple months now, and I actually liked it so much that I bought a second belt with different colors. The mixing and matching works perfectly. I can say that the black strap that I bought second feels slightly less stiff than the grey you see above. It’s not really a problem, the belt works exactly the same, just seems like the materials are *slightly* different. Your Mileage May Vary.

Another issue with this belt is coming out of the bathroom. It is just slightly more awkward to tighten, because of the way it works. You need to reach under the belt and hold the buckle perpendicular to your waist, then pull the strap through. I don’t know how to describe this, other than to say it’s less “fluid” than a normal belt tightening. Getting dressed in the morning is no big deal, but with a line behind you at the urinal you’re going to find yourself taking slightly longer than normal to adjust your pants, feeling awkward, and then possibly running away crying with loose pants.

…Not that that happened to me. But I have found it awkward sometimes to tighten the belt as tight as I would like. It takes some getting used to.

I’m not going to do a rating system on these posts. The next post is going to be on a pair of jeans I bought, and if I give this belt a 7 and those pants a 5, how do I quantify that difference? How much better is 2 when comparing a belt to pants? So I’ll just say that I absolutely recommend this belt if you’re looking for one.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think by replying to wherever you found this link!