Baron Fig gave me the opportunity to take a look at their Mastermind series; the Desk Pad and Week Pad. These are some of the latest additions to their catalog of tools for thinkers, and they are designed to catch and organize those ideas you have while posted at your desk. Do these pads, either used individually or together, accomplish in a disposable way what the Confidant or other notebooks keep forever? Do they do anything that a legal pad from your office’s supply closed can’t do? I’ve spent some time with them on my desk to answer those questions, so let’s see what I found.
The Mastermind Desk Pad
The Desk Pad, which was the first release in the series, is a large format 5mm dot grid pad with tear-away pages. For $15, you get two 35-sheet pads measuring 12 by 8 inches. The pad is intended to sit below or off to the side of your keyboard ready to catch whatever ideas, thoughts, or notes you need to scratch off in a hurry. Baron Fig’s standard paper, as I have previously discussed, is premium quality. The paper used on the Desk Pad is of exceptional quality as well, but feels slightly thicker. Since only the front side is intended for use, I wasn’t expecting the ghosting or bleed-through I’ve encountered with some pens to be a concern here. Once I started testing it out, however, I found that this pad is more resistant to it than my flagship Confidant. Even when applying a borderline irresponsible amount of pressure with my broadest nib (a Lamy Medium), there was neither feathering nor bleed through. Long story short, the paper is pretty impressive.
The Mastermind Week Pad
The newly-released Week Pad is a weekly planner designed to fit onto your desk without displacing your mouse, keyboard, and other work-related devices. The layout of the pad keeps your schedule at a glance without having to flip through a planner or swipe through the calendar on your phone. For $9, you’ll get three 18 sheet pads. For those counting along at home, that’s 54 weeks of desk-planner goodness for a pretty reasonable price. Each pad measures 11 by 3 inches, which is the perfect size to sit just below your keyboard or mouse pad. The pads are essentially one 54 sheet pad split into three sections, so the top pad has a cover but no back, the middle has neither a cover nor a backer, and the bottom pad has a backer but no cover. As with the desk pad, the pages are meant to be torn off and discarded recycled responsibly, so the pad serves as an idea-catcher with considerably more style than those scraps of printer paper you have floating around. The Week Pad boasts the same high-quality paper as its larger predecessor, so you can be confident jotting down your schedule for the day with literally anything you have to write with.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably aware of the Bullet Journal, or “BuJo,” system of task and event tracking. While I do try to keep a basic version of the BuJo system to track my day-to-day activities and keep myself on point, it can be a little restrictive in its structure. This is 100% on me, but if I skip a day or a week, the gap in dates in my little black book just looks bad. And, to be honest, my day job isn’t so busy that I need an advanced tracker to get through it. On top of that, a cursory Google search for “Bullet Journal” will yield an abundance of artistically talented individuals who turn planners into works of art. Avid Bullet Journalists may not find these useful. These pads are meant to be used and dismissed once they have served their purpose. Can you punch some holes and catalog the loose sheets? Sure. But for the most part, they are best used to catch an idea and hold onto it while you finish another task, or collect the product of a brainstorming session, or remind you of an upcoming assignment or meeting. These products are the bridge that connects those random thoughts to a polished idea.
One minor issue you may run into with the Week Pad is some light slippage. Since the pad is so short, you aren’t really able to rest your palm on the page as you write. Since the pad is broken up into three segments, only one of them has an actual back; The other two just use the last sheet as the backer. As I mentioned previously, the paper that Baron Fig used is wonderfully smooth. This makes it great for writing, but terrible for staying put on a smooth desk top. Again, this is probably just a Me problem but, especially when I get down to Friday, the pad moves around a little under the weight of my pen. A textured card stock backer on each of the three pads would solve it, as would a Post-It-like adhesive on the last sheet, but I might be in the minority on this one.
The quality of the Baron Fig Mastermind series is undeniable; These products are worth the price tag. When it comes to usefulness, it’s a little harder to pin down. In the coming weeks, I’m going to take a look at Baron Fig’s yearly planner, as well as the famed Hobonichi Techo. If you already use a product like those, or the Bullet Journal system, the Week Pad might be a little redundant for you. If, however, you don’t need a bigger book to catalog your daily routine and need something simple that shows you your task notes at a glance, the Week Pad is great! The Desk Pad serves a completely different purpose than its counterpart, and I’ve found it incredibly useful. Something about having so much space, combined with the beautiful dot grid layout and the fantastic paper quality just gets me in a creative mood. The edges fade away and the ideas start flowing.
On More Thing
While the Desk Pad is great for collecting random thoughts, rough sketches, and large-format notes, I wanted to take a moment to give Baron Fig some extra props for something they may not have intended. As you may or may not know, I am a geek. A nerd. Some may even go so far as dweeb. So, as is legally required, I have a semi-regularly scheduled session of Dungeons and Dragons that occurs at least once a month. While my desk at work does not easily accommodate the large Desk Pad, I did find it immediately useful at my last D&D session as a blank canvas for an area map. The dot grid spacing is perfect for sketching out the halls and corridors as our players work their way through, while also leaving enough open space for unguided sketches. If you’ve ever played D&D, or any other tabletop “theater of the mind” type game, you know how valuable a visual map can be to get everyone coordinated and working together. I’m not sure if this was one of the use cases that the folks over at Baron Fig had in mind when creating the Desk Pad, but I know it’s going to be with me for every session moving forward.
Disclaimer: Baron Fig provided all of the products in this article to The Poor Penman blog free of charge for the purpose of review. All opinions stated are those of the author.