Music Monday: De La Soul

Australian stationery brand Kikki K is releasing a wooden box to conspicuously put your phone in when you get home so you are forced to interact with the humans you live with.

Screenshot 2017-06-19 08.48.45.png

 

Screenshot 2017-06-19 08.46.21.png

 

Seller SkullLillyDesigns offers a couples version on Etsy too. (I had to google Guy Finley to find out who the hell he is. That is one obscure person to quote.)

Screenshot 2017-06-19 08.57.41

Screenshot 2017-06-19 08.57.48

God forbid we should, you know, just turn our phones off. Or maybe the idea is to gift one of these to the person who won’t meet your eyes for longer than half a second at a time, as a subtle hint. At $USD $18 for the small Kikki K box and USD$36 for the large it looks like offline really is a luxury.

 

Hobonichi Niuhans Wallet review

Somehow there is still a perception with tourists that New Zealand is safe. In reality, while you’re unlikely to get mugged, tourists are sitting ducks for property theft. If you take a campervan/RV around New Zealand, take your passport, cash, and electronics with you every single time you leave the camper. Even if it’s for 2 minutes. If you leave your motel room to go to dinner, take your passport, cash, and electronics with you. All of them! Just try googling “Tourists lose everything theft New Zealand” some time.

Back in January, on my daily walk, I found a distraught tourist and her 8-year-old daughter in the beach carpark near my home. Their car had been stolen, including their clothes, bags, and phones. I loaned them my phone, but she was not pleased to learn that when you call about a stolen vehicle in Auckland the police tell you to come in to the station, file a report, and they’ll give you a copy for your insurance claim. That’s the extent of the action. The tourists were staying in a motel clear on the other side of Auckland, and she was even less impressed to find out a) there is no Uber service in my part of Auckland, and b) there was a minimum three-hour wait for a taxi, thanks to being a long way from the CBD, and it being a public holiday.

What else could I do but drive them back to their motel (also swing by McDonalds to buy cheeseburgers because an upset, sunburned, overtired 8-year-old requires immediate sedation in the form of carbohydrates and processed cows. How else will women learn to eat our feelings?)  The best moment of the drive was when the tourist said to me, “I suppose I shouldn’t have left my keys in the car.” Yes, she believed that NZ was some idyllic paradise where you could leave your car unlocked all day at the beach (perhaps she’d been reading 1930s tourist brochures). The next best was when we somehow ended up talking Hobonichi, as we were both fans.

Anyway, five weeks later I received a completely unexpected thank you gift from my tourist: the Hobonichi Niuhans wallet. Which is seriously a lovely, lovely thing to receive and was entirely unnecessary. I forced myself to carefully put away my A5 Safari and I’ve given the A6 wallet a test drive for the last six weeks.

Niuhans is a Japanese men’s fashion brand which sells hipster classics in solid colors and their own denim weave: the same denim the wallet is made from.

IMG_0135 copy

side

The wallet holds the Hobonichi Original Techo. The zip is brass and solid and seems like it would wear well. The exterior is slightly padded. I’d prefer it if unpadded, but with a fabric cover this would make it wear out faster.

IMG_0137 copy

However I seriously doubt the Niuhens wallet could actually work with the Original Techo.I don’t have an actual Original Techo, but I first tried a similar-sized Stalogy notebook and once I added my cards into the slots it bulked up and would barely zip up. I had more luck with a Kokuyo Buncobon grid notebook I found in my credenza. This notebook is actually a cracker little buy: USD$4 from Jet Pens. But if you wanted to carry a Hobonichi in here I think you’d much better off with the Avec (the two-volume six-month edition).

I found the pen loop annoying. It only holds the pen clip, not the barrel. Even so, to put the pen in and out I had to fold back the top edge of the wallet zip, and then fold it forward into place to fasten it. This got old quickly.

There’s a weird little pocket I still have no idea of the use for. Gillian St Kevern suggested it was for a flash drive, which is the only thing I can see even vaguely making sense, although I’m open to other ideas.

pocket

I really missed having a secretary pocket for receipts and papers. There’s a tiny nub of a secretary pocket but it’s not deep enough to hold more than a folded EFTPOS receipt.

IMG_0139 copy

There simply weren’t enough card slits in the wallet for me, but luckily I already had a Hobonichi card case from a couple of years ago. One annoying thing with the card slits is the fabric lining separated from the leather pretty much immediately. This makes it hard to get the cards back into the slots. When I try to slide them in with one hand they go into the space between lining and leather, so they go in about 2cm and no further, leaving me fumbling like an idiot at the checkout counter.

The purse can hold a small number of coins, and I’ve always thought I missed a coin purse, but as I added coins the thickness of the wallet increased quickly, and then I ran into the same issue of bulk, with the zip no longer fastening easily (even with the thin notebook). The coin zip was also sticky and difficult to open, even after I applied a little silicon non-stick spray. I’d be happier if the coin purse was sacrificed for a deeper secretary pocket.

tiny pocket

This is a tiny issue and is probably be idiosyncratic to me, but even after six weeks I still expected to unfasten the wallet with the zip finishing on top, not on the bottom. I was forever opening the wallet back to front and upside down.

The wallet is fine, but the thing I want from my everyday carry items is that my use of them requires no thought. I just want it to work. And there were enough tiny issues that I had to pay attention as I used the wallet. I can’t complain about carrying less, but I missed my A5 notebook. I can’t think in an A6: the space is too confined. I know a lot of people find A5 far too bulky to carry around, but I have no problem with it. It’s hard to lose an A5 wallet. And it can hold a ton. I’m always confident that whatever I need for the day, I have it with me.

As you can probably tell, I moved back into my beloved A5 at the weekend. The gift was so thoughtful and kind, but this is not the wallet for me.

Dave Seah’s Emergent Task Planner (with free downloads)

Designer Dave Seah has a kick-ass range of free downloadable time management templates. They’re called the Emergent Task Planner range, and I love these suckers.

There’s space for your top 3 tasks and 6 additional tasks, each with four hours worth of 15-min time trackers so you can record how long you actually spend on the work. The left holds an open time scale in 15 minute increments. At the bottom is scratch paper space, or room to write new tasks as they, well, emerge.

Screenshot 2017-03-03 14.13.29.png

This graphic is from Seah’s website and you should totally go there immediately and download the planners for free and try them out, and, if you like them, pay him $12 for the dated 2017 version. Seah also has a whole range of free productivity downloads you can find here (including a concrete goals tracker and a NaNoWriMo word count tracker)

You can also buy ready-to-go printed versions on Amazon. There’s an undated 3-month spiral-bound notebook, an A5 spiral-bound version, and an unbound version you can punch for your own Franklin Monarch etc. I’m annoyed at myself for not needing the 3-month bound book because I want one.

But I did buy a couple of packs of the Stickypad ETP.

sticky pad etp.jpg

These 4″ x 6″ sticky notes fit into an A6 notebook, or on a larger planner page. The stickies  – and the A5 version – don’t include the time tracking boxes and I wish they did, although I can easily add in boxes by hand for the purpose.

Even when you don’t need a tightly scheduled planner, there are always those days where tasks, appointments, and meetings collide, and you end up with a jammed day. These planner sheets are perfect for that. You can print one off just when you need one, or add a single sticky to your regular everyday carry notebook.

Review: Kanmido Time Management Notebook

I mentioned last month I was using the Jibun Techo as a time log so I can see how I am spending my day. The Jibun is a fucking expensive option for this and there’s a much cheaper but very similar product: the Kanmido 10 Min Weekly Time Management Notebook.

cover.jpg

This is an undated planner designed to work in tandem with the Kanmido To-Do Board.

board-1

Each day gets a vertical listing from 7am through to midnight, with 15-minute increments marked in a grid faint enough to ignore if you want to.

times 2.jpg

There’s a notes column down the left hand side. Saturday and Sunday get equal space without the 15 min grid and without times.

inside.jpg

The sewn binding is lie-flat. It’s 14.5cm x 21cm, or 5 3/4″ x 8 1/4″ aka standard A5 size. And it’s super thin: only 3mm.

slim.jpg

Here’s the Japanese instructions, which I am basically putting in for Gillian St Kevern, as she will understand them.

inside 2.jpg

As you complete each task from your To-Do Board Today list you can move the sticky note to the book to track how you spent your day and what you schieved, and you can also use the notebook for forward scheduling without the board. Of course the Kanmido sticky notes fit in these columns perfectly: a thin one equals half an hour, the thicker ones an hour.

postit.jpg

Hobonichi stickies work just as well as the Kanmido ones. You’d want to trim 3M or generic ones, as you can see from the photos.

Each book holds 22 weekly layouts, so you’d need three to get through the whole year. However this notebook goes for a lot less than the Jibun. I’ve seen it for USD$8 and USD$10 on ebay (although the only one on there today is USD$14). Compare this to current copies of the Jibun A5 biz for around USD$100. And because it’s undated you can start at any time of the year without wasting pages.

The tradeoff you’re making is the paper. The Kanmido notebook cannot handle the pens the Jibun can. As long as you’re using a basic gel pen or ballpoint you’re good, but it just won’t handle drawing pens, or even my Uni-Ball Vision Needle, which was in a lighter shade. On the bright side, it had no problem handling my Lamy fountain pen in Dark Lilac.

pens.jpg

pens 2.jpg

if you’re looking for a small, light, inexpensive planner or time tracker, check out the Kanmido Time Management Notebook.

Kanmido personal Kanban board

This will surprise exactly no-one who reads this blog, but when I’m letting my fear keep me from writing, I waste money on planning supplies. Here’s my new entirely unnecessary toy: the Kanmido 10 Min Work Life Balance Planning Board aka a personal Kanban board.

board 1.jpg

Kanban was designed as an information tracking system for lean/just-in-time manufacturing, but it’s also super useful for keeping track of multiple writing projects simultaneously. I have a big whiteboard on my wall behind my desk I use as a Kanban board. I have columns for first conception, drafting, editing, cover commission, proofreading, and release. Each project gets one sticky note, and as the project goes into different phases the sticky advances across the board. Or, alternatively, the sticky stays exactly where it is for two years. This latter is more frequent. But the system does help me keep track of what’s where, what I have to do next, and why I absolutely cannot take on any new projects until 2022.

The Kanmido board is a variation on the idea. You’ve got columns for Today, This Week, and This Month, although of course you could change these to whatever you like. You use stickies for your tasks/appointments, and advance them across the columns – from right to left, like manga – as each becomes your priority. And unlike a whiteboard, you can tuck the board into your planner/notebook and take it to the cafe/office/meeting with you.

The back of the board has spaces for “whole life” tasks. No idea what these might be. Recreation? Apparently other people have lives outside of working. I haven’t got the hang of that yet. Maybe in my second half-century.

back.jpg

Kanmido intends you to use yellow stickies for must-do tasks, pink for want-to-do tasks, and blue for appointments. Handily, the stickies are built in to the bottom of the board, and refills can be found, but a) not easily, and b) they’re pricey. Hell, the whole board is pricey. Should this speak to you, definitely shop around: prices on ebay vary by over 100%.

I tried Hobonichi Coco Fusen refills in the Kanmido board, but they’re so much shorter they don’t really work. When you remove a sticky the end of the stack falls out of the board at the back.

coco fusen2.jpg
Kanmido sticky on the top, two colors of Hobonichi sticky at the bottom
coco fusen 3.jpg
Spot the interloper.

The boards come in A6 (105 x 148 mm / 4.1 x 5.8 inches) and B6 (125 x 176 mm / 4.9 x 6.9 inches). They’re 2mm thin. The A6 fits perfectly inside an A6 notebook like a Stalogy or Hobonichi Planner/Original. The B6 is smaller than A5, so it easily fits inside a Leuchtturm large, Moleskine large, or Hobonichi Cousin.

in cousin2.jpg
B6 in a Hobonichi Cousin
in cousin.jpg
Can you see it inside my Cousin?

The Kanmido board comes with a weird paperclip thing, with which to fasten it into your main planner, by using a tiny clear plastic loop attached to each top edge of the board. This kind of works. It does stop it falling out of your planner if you’re walking around, but the lower edge of the board is still free to slip out of place.

clip.jpg

So, should you buy one of these?

Hell, no.

The process of tracking tasks/project status is great, but seriously, this is expensive for what it is. You can DIY this. Cut a piece of card to size and laminate it. Here’s one I made in sixty seconds with an unused divider and a sharpie, which fits the cheaper, larger, and more common 3M post-it flags.

home made.jpg

This column system won’t work for you if you find the process of writing your to-do list out each day helps sift through what you can safely forget. But if you have a lot of tasks to complete in series it can feel fucking good to pull them along the columns and see the progress you’re making.

Still, I have two annoyances with the Kanmido To-Do Board.

  1. It’s hard to find pens to write on the stickies. A Pilot Twin Marker works the best, because that sucker will write on anything up to and including window glass. Frixion pens also work, but all the rollerballs I’ve tried smudge easily, or the ink pools and won’t form letters at all.
  2. Because stickies only have adhesive on one end, once you write past half way the free end starts flapping around and it’s hard to write neatly. I have to try to hold the end down to hold it steady. The stickies are tiny. My hands are not.

Something else to consider, generic paper post-it flags don’t seem to stick well enough; they peel off within 30 minutes. You really need to use more expensive film stickies.

Disappointingly – but entirely predictably – the Kanmido doesn’t add value to my life. Because I spent money on it I’m going to force myself to use it for the rest of the month and see if I can make it work for me. Maybe I can use it for all those mosquito tasks that never make it onto my actual to-do list, and I can pick one to work on each day. That might work. I’ll update in March. If you try the Kanmido, or if you hack your own, please let me know how it goes for you.

 

Go Kokuyo part 1: Jibun Techo & accessories review

Japanese stationery brand Kokuyo is an up and coming competitor to Hobonichi. You guys know I love Hobonichi, and treasure my Safari cover as my everyday carry, but the Hobonichi planner isn’t the right choice for everyone. Many people find the daily layout offers more space than they need. And the universe knows, white space waiting to be filled with brilliance causes anxiety at the best of times.

If you relate to this, the Kokuyo Jibun Techo might be a better choice for you. The full Jibun Techo “3 in 1 Life Log Diary” is a set of three books: a yearly planner, a ‘Life’ book to record personal details and events, and a ‘Idea’ book – a thin gridded notebook made from Tomoe River paper.

jibun both.jpg

triple.jpg

The planner offers only a monthly and weekly view (plus personal info pages), on beautiful fountain-pen friendly paper. There’s a regular edition, with color pages, and a monochromatic Biz edition. It has two built-in ribbon bookmarks, in black and red.

inside.jpg
The Shiba Inu bookmarks up top are by the artist A Cloud is Born, from Hobonichi

The Jibun Techo comes in A5 slim or B6 slim. The A5 slim is 17mm (2/3 inch) narrower than full A5. It’s a compact size, great for an everyday carry. You can buy each book separately, but if you get the set it comes in a handy clear plastic cover with two outside document pockets and six slots for business cards/sticky notes/accessories.

cover both.jpg

The set also comes with a shitakiji which has a riveted elastic band to hold the whole lot neatly together inside the closed cover.

pencil board.jpg

If you don’t care for the idea of the elastic Kokuyo also make a separate shitajiki to use as a ‘Today’ bookmark.

shtajiki.jpg
A5 slim Jibun Techo (left) shitajiki photographed next to a Taroko Shop A5 for size comparison

Kokuyo makes sticky notes to fit into their boxes, but the Hobonichi ones work fine too. You would have to be pretty darn OCD to mind the 2mm overhang. They also make index stickers to add to your pages and make navigation easier.

sticky.jpg

Belle Beth Cooper has done an extensive walkthrough of the Jibun Techo, and the Kokuyo website lists all the pages in the Yearly Planner and the Life book, with good images. Currently the Kokuyo website is only in Japanese, which makes ordering scary. There are some showing up on eBay and Etsy now, although the seller markup makes them pretty damn expensive. Do not worry about what cover color you buy: this is simply a trimmed piece of A4 (letter) paper slipped inside the clear cover. You can easily print and make your own.

Currently I’m trialling the Jibun Techo as a daily log, recording how I actually spend my time: all my time. Sometimes I don’t know where the hours go. Five days of recording down to the minute already tells me where I need to improve.

In part 2 of this post I review the Kokuyo A5 notebook cover, a well-designed and price-conscious choice which also works for a Hobonichi Cousin, Moleskine, Seven Seas, or Taroko journal.

Nuke-able journal

Pilot FriXion pens use ink that turns clear when heated to 60C (140F), so you can use any soft plastic or rubber as an eraser, by raising the temperature with friction.  I use a Frixion pen as my everyday workhorse, so I’m always careful to never leave my planner in a hot car.

However the Law of Attraction planner turns that drawback into a feature (skip to 1:27).

I have mixed feelings about this. I’m not one to go back and read old planners, but erasing the past seems kind of . . . blasphemous? I know you can save it in the cloud first, but dude, you’re nuking your planner i.e. the actions of a human about to kill their spouse and grab a flight to Belize with a Samsonite suitcase full of non-sequential cash.

Also, better not live in Alaska. Or Maine on a bad day. At -10C (14F) all the ink comes back.