on pens and planning

While I love the rainbow spectrum of my fountain pen inks, I prefer to be colour consistent in my planner and log books. This is a change from how I once worked, colour coding everything.


I’m embracing simplification. Not in an austere sense of only having a few pens (I don’t think that’s possible for me), but I keep fewer ink colour choices around.

What was wrong?

The biggest problem with many of my old systems was how if I didn’t have the right pen (or ink colour) my system would come crashing to a train wreck. I want my system to work no matter where I choose to work that day or what writing tools I select.

A robust system shouldn’t break with a minor tool change. I place high value on content before formatting in my digital files. Simplifying ink colour helps me be consistent with that concept on paper as well.

But are blue and black inks really that different?

No. In this I’ll “blame” Instagram planning posts. Many of the designers I follow have perfect planners and are very particular about pens and colours. While that degree of focus is not a good one for me (I learned that last year), I found that black and dark grey are more visually consistent than various blues.

Current system

My every day pens are now almost all black or dark grey ink.

Most of the pens are also smear proof when I watercolour/highlight over them. I use Noodler‘s Lexington Grey in the majority of my fountain pens.

I have a range of other pens that I also use in my log books; there is little consistency in brand or type. Some are gel, some are felt tip, others are ball point. I’m trying to write through what I acquired over the years before I purchase new.

Strategic colour

When one applies colour strategically, it helps the eye to focus. Think back to when you first began to highlight school notes. Chances are you highlighted almost every word. Could you remember or find anything in your notes? Probably not.

Years ago, I found that highlighting my todo list as I finished items helped me to focus in on those tasks yet to be completed.

Now with a standardized base colour the other bits of colour in my planners and notebooks pop just a little bit more.

What about all the other pens and inks?

I still use my rainbow when I write letters to friends, for drafts, and my morning pages.

This tiny shift to a simpler system has helped reduce decision fatigue and paralysis. My focus has increased and I am getting more done. Have you made a small shift with big results? Please let me know.