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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Kanmido sticky on the top, two colors of Hobonichi sticky at the bottom
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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.

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B6 in a Hobonichi Cousin
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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.

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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.

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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.