An important lesson in defining goals

These are my blog metrics for the last week.

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The Omoshiroi memo block went viral, and at one point my blog post was the 2nd English language result on Google for people trying to buy one.

I got more visitors in 2 days than I did in all of 2015. Which translated into 0 book sales, 0 blog followers, and 0 email subs. Which is fine, of course. These are hits from people who are, like me, into divine stationery, but not, unlike me, into twisty and worrisome consent issues in gay porn.

But it does highlight the flaw in one of my 2018 goals, which was to hit 10,000 unique blog visitors.

Having a glut of blog visitors raises the question, “Why was this my goal?” XX visitors doesn’t relate to engagement, or readers, or people who want to swap pictures of yummy new inks.

Speaking of, I’m not the only person drooling over Takeda Jimuki Limited Edition Kyo No Oto Hisoku from Jet Pens, right?

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So, I’m discarding this goal. Here’s a better goal. My best ever writing month was January 2015, with 61,547 words. My goal is to beat this before 1 July 2018.

More words translates (roughly) into getting a new book out faster. Getting a new book out . . . ? It’s everything.

Now that’s a goal I can work toward.

*delighted screaming* Someone buy one of these!

See update at bottom of post for purchase info (Spoiler: it’s not good news) Updated: 18 Jan – you can preorder one!

 

 

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The Omoshiroi Block, from Japanese company Triad Inc, is a memo block, with an inbuilt pen holder, of 100 (non-sticky) pages. As you use each note you uncover a tiny sculpture, and the folded notes become a haunting, monochromatic landscape to surround it. They have other models, too, over on their beautiful Instagram, but this one, of Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto, is everything.

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Apparently, these go for around US$50 to US$100, and so seriously, I will never have the budget to buy one, but I need some human I have at least a tenuous connection to, to own one and make my life complete. Forget the fact the notes are tiny. Write one word a day. It’ll be minimalistic poetry.

Update 15 Jan: WHERE TO BUY 

Basically, you can’t. There is no English language online retailer. The Triad-Inc server has crashed under the weight of traffic so I can’t ask them for purchase info.

Tokyu Hands in Umeda had some last week, but they are all gone. Kyoto Design House apparently had some as of the weekend 13/14 Jan, but they do not seem to have them listed on their website http://kyoto-dh.com/en/ If anyone has a contact to actually physically go to their store, let me know if they still have stock. (Update 2: Kyoto Design House posted on their Facebook they are sold out).

As far as I can tell, there are zero omoshiroi blocks left on the globe to buy. If I hear more I will update.

Update 18 Jan. Hat tip to Mike for letting us know Japan Trend Shop is accepting pre-orders for three styles of Omoshiroi block: Kiyomizudera Temple ( the one photographed above), Asakusa Temple, and Tokyo Tower, for USD$119 with $20 shipping, and stock expected Feb 1. Like Mike, I have no experience with Japan Trend Shop. If you’ve dealt with them before and found them to be a stand-up company – or not – share the info.

 

Review: The bound Japanese Franklin Covey Planner – a rival to the Hobonichi

The Japanese version of the Franklin Covey planner should be better known. It’s a day-per -page planner printed on Tomoe River paper, in A5 Hobonichi Cousin size, so it’s a great alternative to a Hobonichi.

The planner is a Monday start for all weeks and months. It opens with a page for your details, and an overview for 2018 & 2019 on one page.

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All the months are together at the beginning of the planner, then all the daily pages are grouped together after this. There’s a double-page spread for each month, starting with December 2017 (although there are no daily pages for December). There’s room for a Master task list down the right hand side, and plenty of extra room at the bottom of each monthly page spread.

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There are two double-page spreads for 2019 future planning, then the daily pages start. There’s no similar yearly view for 2018 in the planner.

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My favorite feature of the FC is each week begins with a Weekly Compass page. This gives you a place to write all the weekly tasks you need to do, as well as identify your “big rocks” aka key tasks for your roles (if you’re not familiar with the FC method, there’s a basic primer here. A weekly task list is crucial to my own planning, so I find this superior to the Hoboncihi layout.

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Then there’s a day per page which is very similar to the Hobonichi layout, but you have even more space, as there’s no quote at the foot of the page. The top has a daily task list, and the appointment bar runs in half hours from 7am to 11pm. The grid is 4mm, and light enough it’s easy to ignore if you prefer to go freeform.

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The paper is the same excellent quality, fountain pen friendly, as the Hobonichi. The cover is plain white card, with two ribbon bookmarks.

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The back has three blank double-page note spreads. The edges of each page are marked with the month to make it easier to navigate through the planner, but they’re all in one color – burgundy – instead of multiple colors as in the Hobonichi.

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The spine is cool, as you can see the stitched binding.

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The main difference is the Franklin Covey (FC) doesn’t have the weekly view, but for me the weekly page more than makes up for it. However, even without this extra section, because of the weekly page the FC is pretty much the same thickness as the Hobonichi, just a smidgeon thinner.

 

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Hobonichi Cousin on the bottom, Franklin Covey on top.

 

But we’re not done! With the FC planner you also get a separate Organizer Planner Guide and Forms. This is a 95-page booklet that contains a bunch of cool organize-y stuff you can use for wasting time instead of actually being productive.

The first 15 pages explain how to use the Franklin Covey system with the planner. Explains in Japanese, that is.

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There are sections for writing down your roles, values, mission statement, and six Goal Planning Pages. If you’re familiar with the Franklin Covey system it doesn’t matter at all this is in Japanese, you can totally work out what you’re doing.

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This is followed by Monthly Expense Trackers, Budget Worksheets, Yearly Income and Expense Tracking, and an Annual Summary of Expenses.

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Then come three Meeting Planner double-pages, four pages of Contacts, four pages of Client Files, four Information Records, and three Project Planners.

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Finally the booklet rounds off with calendar pages for 2017-2020, and one page each for future planning 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022, broken down by month.

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The booklet ends with 17 notes pages with dotted lines 4mm apart. If you write large this is a small scale, but again the gray dotted lines are easy to ignore.

Both books together will fit into a Hobonichi cover, as well as all the A5 covers I’ve got.

I bought mine on Rakuten Global Market and it was shipped fast and efficiently. I got a version without any cover, because the gods know I have enough journal covers, but the planner does come with very basic colored covers as well. If you’re interested in trying one make sure you order the bound version, otherwise you’re going to get the regular ringbound planner pages which Franklin Covey also produce for the US market. You also want to make sure you’re buying the daily planner, as there is a weekly one available too. The planner comes in B6 as well as A5. Basically you need to search Rakuten for:

Notebook system notebook Franklin planner 2018 that I bind it and begin in notebook January, 2018, and there is no Franklin planner in A5 organizer cover

The cost is US$29.55 vs US$33.26 for the Hobonichi Cousin. Shipping is still pricey because EMS is expensive, but you save the 500 yen handling fee Hobonichi charge.

Although it’s tempting as a delicious time-waster I won’t be using the Forms booklet; I don’t have meetings or clients to track. But for 2018 I’m going to try the planner as my daily carry notebook for lists and to-dos, in a Hobonichi cover. I’ll be planning my work out and tracking my progress in a different planner my friend Katie gave me, which I will review at some future date. I don’t want to overwhelm y’all with planner reviews: I seriously have enough to post a couple a week for months. I bought a shit-ton of planners to audition as potentials for next year (let’s not discuss how bloody much this cost me) including some I couldn’t get shipped to me in NZ and bought while I was in the US. It’s going to be seriously shaming to share them all with you. But, you know, it’s a cheaper vice than cocaine? Or polo ponies?

Jibun Techo Unboxing

Not mine, but the captivating Meredith Moore from Wonder Fair in Lawrence, Kansas. I’ve watched all her unboxings now and I wish this was my local store. They have an online shop, but they sell bugger all on it, so you can’t order the Jibun Techo from them. I wonder if it’s a distribution agreement thing? Maybe you can order if you phone them up, like you’re living in 1991?

They sell the Hobonichi too. If you’re in the midwest you have to check them out. For bonus points, report in and tell us how the shop was IRL.

Review: The D1 Archer Planner

I vastly prefer a 2-page per day planner. Sadly these are thin on the ground. Although I made my own planner template, I don’t love ring binders, and I’ve always hoped to eventually find a bound 2-page per day planner. I was pretty thrilled, therefore, to find the Archer D1 Planner by The Active System Company, and I gave it a try for the second half of August.

The Archer comes in a set of three, covered in a classic unoffensive navy cardstock, each with a different color on the spine: yellow, red, or green. This is handy when pulling them off the bookshelf in future to find project details you need.

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Each planner measures 6″ x 9″, or 15.3 cm x 22.8 cm. Here it is compared to a Hobonici Cousin. It’s wider, too, coming out to the edge of the month tabs on the Cousin.

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In the planner world this is an awkward size, too big for a standard A5 journal cover. It’s also thin and needs a companion in any cover so it’s not too floppy. Luckily I have a tragically underused travelers’ notebook: a Chic Sparrow A5 Deluxe Mr. Darcy in Buttered Rum. It was delicious to have an excuse to get it back out again.

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Although it did technically fit within the dimensions of the Chic Sparrow cover – just – it looked noticeably awkward and out of place, like Rodney Dangerfeld at college.

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My current plotting notebook is a large Moleskine pro. You can see how much bigger the Archer planner is.

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I liked a lot of the features of the Archer.

Most obviously, the Archer offers you – ta dah! – two pages per day.

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Look at the size, look at the size! I have two pages to write on and I wants them both!

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It’s important to note that my planner must have been pre redesign; the pic on Amazon is of an updated 2-page layout, which I do like better. The tiny dot grid was no loss, and I much prefer the long notes section on the right.

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The planner is undated. For me this was good, because I got it half way through the month and could launch into it without feeling I was wasting pages. It can’t be denied it is a hassle setting the damn thing up initially, though. I needed PaperMate handy when I forget the 23rd existed. This isn’t a feature that would put me off using a planner though. The planner I’m reviewing next month is also undated and so far I love it.

A big pro is the pages are numbered. I like this way of being able to note what pages have important project details, or to refer back for figures etc.

My version offered the ability to rate a larger number of personal variables than I care to track, alhtough YMMV.

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The new version adds Energy and Optimism instead of Activity and Sleep, and adds a section to record more useful metrics.

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I would have used the metrics-tracking section, but rate your friends? Daily? Yeah, that won’t go horribly at any point. Rate my hair?? My clothes? I would crumble under this constant self-evaluation.

The inside cover has a useful Project list and quick reference section, for numbers you’ll be calling a lot, or info you need frequently that month.

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The planner opens with note pages and places to record the cities, events, shops, and restaurants you visit, books you read, TV shows/movies you watch, music you listen to, sports/games played/watched, recommendations received, milestones reached, and people met.

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At the back there’s another double page of note paper in lines and dot grid.

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Because the planner is so slim there’s no ribbon bookmark, but each top right corner is marked to cut when the day is done, so you can easily find the current page.

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Cons:

Using so much room to record weather AM and PM is pointless to me, and I would much rather have a Daily Top 3, so that’s what I repurposed it for, even though it annoyed me to cram 3 items into 2 spaces.

The paper quality is only OK. Even ballpoint ghosts, and forget it for fountain pens: it bleeds right through.

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The month view is a list.

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This does not work for me at all because I’m a visual thinker, and I need to see the month laid out in weeks. It wasn’t a big deal to print out a blank monthly layout, fill it in for August, and glue it into the front of the book. I ended up using the two monthly calendar pages for my August Master Task List, and it worked well for that.

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There is a monthly review in the back, although it’s basic.

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But there’s no monthly planning pages/goal setting space. I printed out my August Momentum Planner and stuck that next to the month view, and I did the same with each weekly plan, although it was awkward having to jam each weekly plan into the middle of a 2-page daily spread. It bugs me I have to do this. With all that metric-tracking space the planner gives the impression of being for someone with a lot to juggle and keep track off. Forward planning and setting priorities is a big part of that.

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Here’s the worst con for me. Because I started mid-August I intended to use the planner through September as well. I was pretty shocked when I realized one planner would only work for me from Monday 14 August to Saturday 2 September: when I realized, in fact, there are only 20 days per planner.

Twenty days?? Seriously? This is a huge pain in the ass. That monthly Master list? I’d have to rewrite it. The monthly calendar, print out again. That useful project code list and quick reference list? Copy over. Each planner is thin, so I could definitely just staple two, or even all three, volumes together, but going forward, paying US$21.95 plus shipping for only 60 days – 2 months – of planning! No way. And it wouldn’t even cover a whole 2 months. I’d have to photocopy a layout for one day and stick the extra pages in to cover one 30-day month and one 31-day month.

I would gladly swap all those notes/recommendation pages for enough daily pages to finish out a full 31 days, but I’d also add monthly and weekly planning pages. This would bulk out the planner, but not by much, and would make it 300% more practical. One month per volume would even offer some definite advantages.

But would it be enough of an improvement that I’d overlook the price? Archer says you need four packs to cover a year, which costs $88, plus shipping, so probably not. But because of the 20 days thing, as it stands now, to cover a full year you’d actually have to buy six packs, for US$131.70, and you’d still have to photocopy five extra days worth of pages.

It pisses me off that so many page-per day planners ruin things by having a shared page for Saturday and Sunday, but to only include enough pages for four sets of five days per week? That’s not even enough in one volume for the weekdays of August, which would require 23 days. This is perplexing when a two-page per day layout seems designed for people with Shit To Do. So is this for people who don’t have things to do every day, but when they do, their days are very busy. Who is that? Who is the target market for this planner?

A full year of Franklin Covey dated 2-pages per day 2018 inserts is $32.95. You can buy that and a basic pleather binder for $82.90, leaving you enough left over for a Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen and a 2018 Hobonichi Techo from Jet Pens. Seriously. How would that even be a debate?

So yeah, when I realized the limitation of the number of pages vs price, I abandoned this sucker after only two weeks – which was only 6 days before I would have run out of pages anyway. The Archer is never going to work for me long term. On the other hand, maybe this will suit you. I have two volumes of the three-volume set left. If you want to give them a try drop me a line – or comment – and I’ll send them to you. Or if you want to splash out on a set for yourself, they’re distributed through Amazon.

 

 

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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.