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.

Hobonichi Safari (Olive) Review: Pockets! Pockets! Pockets!

I am deeply and irrevocably in love with my 2017 Hobonichi cover: the Safari (Olive) for the A5 Cousin.

fronty-inside

A Hobonichi cover is my everyday carry. It’s what I use instead of a wallet, because it’s better than a wallet: it’s a wallet and a journal. I don’t need a bag – I can leave the house with just my journal cover. I don’t actually use it for my Hobonichi, but rather a blank A5 journal. Currently I’m in the Taroko Engima – 480 pages of 68 gsm dot-grid Tomoe River paper in a lie-flat binding. The cover also works for pretty much any A5 journal or sketchbook, like the medium Leuchtturm 1917, the Nanami Seven Seas Writer or Crossfield, or a Rhodia Webnotebook.

So, you may remember my gripe with the regular Hobonichi covers is that the pen loops are too big (hence why I lost my Copper Lamy AL-Star to the wheels of an SUV). Also, I wish it had some way of fastening apart from a separate elastic closure like the Rivet Band Laccio. I don’t like closing it with a pen through both loops the way Hobonichi suggest because I find that awkward. I actually hack the front pen loop off my covers because it pisses me off flapping about to no purpose.

And Lo! Hobonichi heard the anguish in my soul and provided the solution: the Safari.

inside-empty

It’s literally my perfect journal cover. My stationery soulmate.

back

The front card pockets and leather smile pocket hold all my bits of plastic for 21st century life: debit/credit cards, insurance, library, coffee, breakdown assistance etc. Behind the card pockets is a long  pocket I’m currently using for a couple of movie vouchers and a store credit note. I keep my quarterly, monthly & weekly plans slipped in beside the journal cover. My Hobonichi ruler hooks over the top of the cover, too.

inside-front

In the back is a secretary pocket, for letters to post, prescriptions to fill, grocery lists etc.

secretary-pocket

Behind this are three more spacious card pockets which I use for sticky notes & adhesive strips. And behind those is another long pocket for cash, letters, itineraries, schedules, etc.

inside-back-2

But that’s not all! On the outside of the front flap are another two medium-sized pockets.

front-pocket
THERE’S A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING! LOOKS AT ITS PERFECTION!

And it still has the large Hobonichi back pocket, ideal for receipts, letters, or a Hobonichi memo book, which slips inside perfectly.

with-memo-book-very-green
This is not correct for color: it’s way too green. The other photos are pretty accurate.

As a public service I experimented with getting a Leuchtturm softcover A5 Jottbook in there, but the pocket’s not quite big enough. Maybe it would stretch with time to give you more room, but I don’t want to stretch mine out. It holds my phone like a dream

with-phone
That’s a Samsung Galaxy Grand in the pocket.

There’s one single pen loop, the perfect size for a Lamy, a Coletto, or my 3-color Frixion, or for two regular-sized pens. A sturdy gold dome fastens the whole thing.

closed

My Enigma is fatter than a Hobonichi Cousin or a Seven Seas journal. It’s 30mm thick (just under 1 & 1/4 inches). My pockets are packed, and you can see this is about as thick as you’d want to go. If you watercolor in your journal and end up with a two-inch-thick bulging book, the Safari may not be the option for you.

side-viewThe cover is made from a nylon twill which feels smooth and almost silky to touch, plus cleans up easy. The trim is leather. The bookmarks are kind of like . . . boot laces? Does that sound weird? They’re flat and plaited, with leather tips, and have a subtle glaze on them which has a slightly crispy hand.

bookmarks

There’s an A6 version too, in navy, which is cute as a button, but I don’t use an A6 journal, and it has insufficient delicious pockets. But if you prefer a smaller everyday carry notebook, it’s an option.

I slept with my Hobonichi cover the day we met. Go ahead and judge me. It’s true love, you guys. You can pry it from my frigid, decaying fingers. It makes my life better. I don’t care that it cost USD $93 before shipping. I seriously want to buy two more and hoard them like precious, precious gold for the inevitable moment when this one wears out. Want to apart from the, you know, having no job thing.

If you want a sturdy, practical, gorgeously-designed journal cover for an everyday carry, check out this one on the Hobonichi website while they’re still available.

OK, washi tape manufacturers

I would like a 30mm washi tape with perpendicular lines and checkboxes, so you can run it down the side of any notebook page or sheet of paper and make an instant to-to list.

measuring tape.jpg

MT does this measuring tape washi. To-do list tape would be more useful, and simple to adapt from this design. Please make this a thing.

Update 7 October:

I have found 45mm wide grid washi! I can work with a grid. My life is complete!

washi.jpg

Tactical day planner

Today I learned a day planner weapon holster is a thing.

planner-holster

Problem: it’s just a carry case designed to hold your weapon, which from the outside looks like a zip-up day planner cover. There are absolutely no planner pages inside.

The Galco iDEFENSE actually holds an iPad. Clearly it’s the superior product. idefence.jpg

Come on, BLACKHAWK! get your act together. Stick a set of binder rings in that thing and make it multi-purpose. Even just thread an elastic strap through and make it a traveller’s notebook cover. Also, that name. Those ALL CAPS. The punctuation. *facepalm* You’re only adding fuel to the “compensating for something” argument.

Hobonichi, ADHD strategies, and a free planner template download

READER ADVISORY: EXTREME PLANNING NERDOUT AHEAD

The lineup for the 2017 Hobonichi Techo planners was announced this week. I drooled and swooned over the new covers. Especially this one:

Screenshot 2016-08-23 20.20.53.png
The 2017 Mina Perhonen Hobonichi Cousin cover

The techo with this cover costs $170 in Kiwi dollars, before shipping. Ouch. But I love the Hobonichi. I love the paper. I love the careful design. I love the binding. I love everything about it except it doesn’t work for me at all.

schedule for blog.jpg
My 2016 Hobonichi

Reason one: there’s only one page per day and I need two (more about that in a second). Reason two: I customize it anyway. I print out (and buy) habit-tracker stickers because apparently I have reached the point I can no longer remember if I have taken my meds each day unless I see proof. I had an actual self-inking rubber stamp made for tracking if I hit my daily writing goals. Reason three: the Hobonichi is supposed to be complete in itself, so you can’t add pages. But I need pages, for projects, and weekly reviews, and blog post ideas, a To Buy When I Have Lots of Money list etc. It’s been kind of ludicrous this year. I’ve been running five planners simultaneously: Blogs, Projects, Weekly/Monthly reviews with forward strategic planning, the actual Hobonichi for my weekly planning, and my everyday carry journal in which I was doing my daily planning as well as journaling.

When I logged into the Hobonichi website I fully expected to choose something to order on 1 September when they go on sale. Instead I went and spent $60 on FranklinCovey Classic inserts, because they have two pages for a day.

franklin covey.jpg

I need both those pages. I may actually have adult ADHD, who knows (more probably I am just lazy and unmotivated) but I sure find it helpful to live my life according to the same principles that are recommended to adults with ADHD. The Adult ADHD Toolkit is my bible, and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who struggles with executive function aka Getting Shit Done.

Screenshot 2016-08-23 19.19.52.png

I need to write everything down.

My daily to do list starts out with Have a Shower, then Eat Breakfast, because if it’s not on the list, life looks too hard. There’s just so much to do when you’re trying to adult, you know? I can very easily spend a day lying in bed. It helps me beyond belief to write everything down. Every step. Every hour. I need a list of tasks I have to do. And then, very importantly, I need a place to write what I am actually going to do right now, in this next ten minutes. The next action required for whatever I’m working on. I know it’s horribly anally retentive, but it works for me (you can see why I wonder if I do actually have ADHD).

So with the FranklinCovey inserts, I get the space, I can cull my other stuff to fit one single binder, and run it for everything (except my journal).

But then I was bitching to my friend Chris that I was going to have to tape and re-punch the FC inserts, because FC binders have seven holes, and the rest of the world has six. And because she is a genius Chris suggested instead of taping and re-punching literally 365 pages, I print my own inserts instead.

Have you noticed how many times Chris has improved my life over the last couple of years? I certainly have. She’s like a productivity/effectiveness deity.

Having enriched the FranklinCovey coffers with a bushel of money already, I bit the bullet and designed my perfect printable daily planner insert. It holds everything I need. And now I’ve made a template for myself, I figured I’d share it in case anyone else wanted to either use it, or adapt it. You can download it in pdf from the link.

writer’s daily planner sheets A5

planner sheet

It’s undated, and designed to be printed on A5 paper (dear Americans, this is the larger Filofax size, and basically the same as Franklin Covey Classic. You’ll have to cut down from letter size, but there are no crop marks for this).

Let me list to you its features, as you peer into the workings of my distracted, flitting mind.

functions.jpg

 

A) What blog post will I write/post today? Sized to fit 1″ PostIt flags, so when I almost inevitably fail to write the post I can move the task to the next day’s page.

B) Three key priorities per day maximum. What I must focus on to achieve my goals, instead of making planner templates.

C) All those things I need to do every day (not necessarily all at once). If it’s not ticked off I haven’t done it. Also forces me to not “forget” to exercise.

D) 8 tasks to do for work, 4 for home, and bills to pay. My To Do list is always much longer, but I can’t do everything in a day. Making myself choose tasks from my full list forces me to focus my attention on the most important tasks and work effectively.

E) My writing goals for the day. No Zero Days can mean whatever you need it to mean. If I only write a sentence then at least it’s not a Zero Day. I made progress. I didn’t just lie in bed all day (this happens).

F) The one important thing I need to remember that day. Designed for a 1/2″ PostIt.

G) Each square represents one Pomodoro. There’s a total of 16, making 8 hours of work. I cross them off as I work. I actually use a double Pomodoro of 50 minutes, with a 10 minute break. That way I get to cross off two at once *celebrates*. Before now I’ve been using this awesome checkbox stamp from CoolJapanSTAMP.

H) Summary of my daily word count, and time spent actually working, according to Rescue Time. Without this I can fool myself I worked hard when I only spent 20 minutes actually writing shit.

I) Daily schedule, running from 6am to midnight. Fun fact: for about two years I woke up at 3.40 so I could write before I left for work. This schedule would not work for that. I fill this out in pencil and PostIts, like I did my Hobonichi up above. Every task has a time slot, including recreation.

The reverse is a simple lined page, for Next Actions, or, for humans who unlike me can hold more than one thought in their head, notes and extra tasks.

reverse

You can see I put the Daily Plan on the left, and the Next Actions on the right. This is because I’m right handed. I can take the Plan page out of the binder to plan everything the night before. Then the sheet I use throughout the day is Next Actions, and it’s much easier to write on it without the rings by my wrist. For lefty use, reverse position.

Screenshot 2016-08-23 20.35.05.png

I have this 6-hole punch, which I bought on Etsy. It’s cheaper and sturdier than the Filofax ones.

So, yeah. That’s how I schedule my days, including weekends. As always, there are no affiliate links on my blog. If I recommend a product it’s only because I like it. And now I have to find someone to buy an unopened 2017 FranklinCovey Classic insert pack.

 

EDIT: There’s an A4 version of the planner here: writers daily planner A4