The Jibun Techo: Analogue superplanner?

I am constantly trying out new planners- electronic, paper…I like them all. However, I’ve recently been turning more to paper, since I find that I remember my appointments and tasks better if they are written down, and I am rarely sitting at my computer. My profession, psychiatry, necessitates that I am fully focused on the person in front of me- no checking my phone for messages, overdue tasks, etc.

I’ve tried a few planners over the last few months, partly to write about them here, including the Mark’s Tokyo Storage planner (awkward name, elegant page design and functional cover), the Hobonichi, and the Traveler’s journal. However, I think the one I like best of them is the Jibun Techo.  It comes in a small size that looks like the Hobonichi Weeks to me, a business appropriate one (the “biz”) and an “A5 slim”, which is really Cahier sized, not A5.

The Jibun Techo is really three books in one. One book, the Life book, contains anniversaries, budgets, life events, memories, etc, that you might keep from year to year. It’s made from sturdy, fountain-pen friendly paper that should last several years. The planner book, the thickest of the three books, contains monthly and weekly planner pages, plus monthly trackers for habits, book lists, movies lists, maps of public transportation, etc. The paper is very thin, and I think perhaps Tomoe River, which has the advantage of being light, but fountain-pen friendly. The pages are multicolored, and days cover 24 hours while giving sunset/sunrise and moon phases, which is uncommon for planners like this. The third book is a thin Ideas book, which has Tomoe River paper, and can be a daily log, notes, etc. The whole thing comes in a functional vinyl cover, which has some card slots, and can be decorated (though I’m not much of a decorative planner person). A pocket in the back holds a pencil board with an elastic strap that holds the whole thing closed. I ended up putting a leather traveler’s cover from Jenni Bick on mine.

I leave the Life book at home. I noticed that I brought it with me every day to work, and never once used it- the kind of planning I did with it was more what I would do on my weekly/monthly/yearly planning, and I didn’t need it day-to-day. The other issue I had with it was my concern with losing it. I would be horrified if I left my budget and sensitive information like kid’s birth dates and passwords at the local Starbucks! Recreating your planner would be awful enough, but I think real identity theft damage could be the result of losing the Life book.

Now for the planner: I really like the layout. The vertical layout helps me plan my day but there is a ton of space for tasks, which I felt was lacking in the Midori traveler’s vertical planner. I don’t write tasks that I do routinely (daily rituals, so on), but I do have a lot of deadlines with my evolving career and family, and there was not enough space in other planners. The Jibun also has optional task strips, which are like perforated post-its which are a perfect column size that you can add on extra room for tasks (or clean up a task list that has become chaos!). There are small removable highlighter flags that are also column size, so you can highlight important appointments or tasks, though I have not figured out how functional I think these really are. I have them, and have used them, but I find the fact that they tend to fold away from the page somewhat distracting. I think a Mild-lighter highlighter might work better, honestly. Perhaps someone has a different point of view.

I also really like the habit tracker section, and the places to write movies, books, etc. I ignore some of the spaces to write things down- I feel like I keep a journal, and I don’t need to write EVERYTHING including what I ate down. It’s a fine line between detail-oriented and obsessive compulsive personality disorder! (kidding, sort of…)

I bought a few of the Ideas books since they are so thin; I figured I would fill them up rapidly, but to my surprise, I really haven’t. The paper has a tiny grid, and for some reason, I’ve adjusted my handwriting to the tiny grid, so I get a LOT of writing on one page.

Here’s my thoughts of the pros and cons of the planner:

Pros: great design, thoughtful sections, planner pages with sunset/sunrise/moonphases and color accents are quite nice, fountain pen friendly. Relatively light, especially if you leave the Life book at home. Can still be used, even if you don’t read/speak Japanese.

Cons: perhaps too many spaces for recording your life events/details (when does it become more time consuming than time saving to keep a planner), the sections like budget, etc are potentially too sensitive to carry with you in case of loss. Some of the sections (again, like the budget) don’t translate well if you don’t read Japanese. Tabs are in Japanese, and I had to write the translation in a fine pen, which is still hard to read. Many people, including me, sort of hate the font style.

One last handy tip- there’s some translation on the Jet Pens website, in the product photos. If you join one of the Japanese planner Facebook groups, they have more of the translation in the files sections of their groups. However, this still might not help you use the budget section since it can be a hassle to flip back and forth to the translation!

Do you have a planner you love, or really have an opinion about the Jibun Techo? Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. Is anyone else SUPER excited about the “Digital Minimalism” book by Cal Newport coming out next month??

Choosing the right planner, part III: the schedule-based options

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If you read the first article in the series, about a way to organize your thinking about planners and your time (find it here), you know whether you’re a task or a schedule-based planner. The task-based options were the subject of my last post. This week, we’ll talk about the schedule-based options.

Paper-based options:

You can practically insert any paper planner with hours of the day delineated here. However, there are a few that I particularly like:

  1. Ring-bound planners (Filofax, FranklinPlanner, etc): these are super easy to rearrange, beautiful, and pretty easy to customize your own inserts, especially if you pick an A5 one. If you’ve never visited Philofaxy, have I got a treat for you. This site is all things ring-binders, and has really nice printables for free for your shiny new binder. I like Filofax binders, partly because of the history behind them (did you know they were issued to students at the UK’s military academy first?) but the pagers from Franklin Planner are generally more useful in my opinion.
  2. Disc bound (Circa, Arc): I talked about the disc bound system in the last blog in this series, but Levenger makes a really strong planner system that you can put into your disc-bound system. They have great paper that is fountain pen friendly, too.
  3. Proprietary planners (Panda planner, Free to Focus, Best Self, etc): these three bound planners are not super customizable, but if you’re just learning to set goals and plan, it’s probably work picking one of these up, and sticking with it for three months. These planners get you through the system of setting goals, the daily review, the weekly review, and planning very effectively.
  4. Traveler’s system: I’ve talked about the Traveler’s system before as well, and this is still one of my favorites. They have a monthly planner, weekly in two different formats, and undated daily pages. These also come in a small, passport size, and a proprietary larger size. I use these frequently because of the flexibility, and because it reminds me of Indiana Jones. Just kidding.
  5. The Jibun Techo: I’m going to write a blog on this on its own soon. I’ve just bought one and started using it, and am really impressed with the ability to keep track of a lot of data. Look for my blog on this!

Electronic options:

You could always use the calendar on your phone, but there are better options.

  1. PC users: Microsoft Outlook is what I recommend, but most people don’t use half of the features. Find a good tutorial, and learn how to use Outlook to its full potential.
  2. Mac users: I like Fantastical on the Mac. Some people really like Busy Cal, but I found it a little cluttered. Also, Fantastical has native language entry. The implication of this is MUCH faster data entry. For example, if you want to have lunch with Mark tomorrow at noon, in a conventional program, you would need to type in “Lunch with Mark” then use a drop down box to choose the date, and then the time. With native language entry, you can just type “lunch with Mark tomorrow at noon” and the app automatically recognizes this and correctly adds it to your schedule.
  3. iOS users: I like Fantastical (also has Mac versions, see above) and Calendars 5, both of which have native language support.

Hybrid Users:

  1. Electronic calendar, tasks, and a notebook for daily notes (needs to be transferred at the end of the day). There’s a great article about this, that I discuss in my article about Hybrid planning here.
  2. Disc bound system- keep schedule on computer, and print calendars to add to disc bound system. Easy! The Levenger Circa system is standard letter size, or half a sheet of letter size paper, so it’s very convenient.
  3. Moleskine smartpen and planner, others similar on Kickstarter: these are pretty expensive options, and I haven’t seen many reviews of them. I can’t recommend for or against since I haven’t seen them in action.
  4. PDF planner pages, tablet and smart pen (GoodNotes, OneNote): there’s a whole community of people you never even knew using on their iPad pro with the app GoodNotes. Here’s a good video on it from Bohoberry.

I hope this gave you some good ideas! Are you using a different schedule-based planner and loving it? Feedback for me? I’d love to hear from you- use the comment form below, and I’ll respond to you!

 

 

Choosing a planner, part II: the task-oriented options

If you read last week’s post (you can find it here to catch up), you know whether you’re a paper, digital, or hybrid planner, and whether your schedule is mostly task or appointment-oriented. This gives us six different “types.”  This week, I’m planning to discuss the task-oriented types. Next week, I’ll give love to the appointment-oriented types.

Without ado, the Task-oriented planners…

1. Paper planner options:

  • Bullet journal:  The bullet journal is a system originally designed by Ryder Carroll, to help himself  manage his schedule given his difficulty with ADHD. The system is cheap and convenient- classically, it uses a hard back journal, either the dedicated journal from Leuchtterm 1917 or a blank one. You can track tasks, written notes and some events, but I think if you have a lot of future events, this system is probably not as helpful. There is a small investment of time in the beginning to set up the notebook- maybe 15 minutes at most. Don’t let yourself get intimidated by some of the beautiful art in the bullet journals you find by Googling; you can make a functional bullet journal just fine with NO decoration. This may be the most efficient task based option, because there’s nothing really faster than jotting down a list of tasks. The genius of this system is the review- by reviewing your tasks every day, you really prioritize what you plan to do daily, and what’s important. This system is highly recommended. Find videos, set-up information and more here.
  • Kanban system: this system was originally made for teams to track projects, but can work well if you have a tasks in various stages of progress, don’t need much portability, and spend time mostly in one place for those tasks. Essentially, this is a board with a sticky note for each task, and columns to move sticky-tasks within: these can be as simple as to-do, in process, and done. Find more information here.
  • Traveler’s journal: A traveler’s journal is essentially a piece of nice leather with an elastic band that can hold one to three thin paper notebooks. There are a million different notebooks to choose from (ok, maybe an exaggeration), but you can find whatever you need for a traveler’s journal, including a booklet to make lists in, calendars, etc. The Traveler’s Journal is The Wirecutter’s favorite planner because of it’s flexibility. They recommend buying one from Amazon, but I prefer Goulet Pens since they are a small family business who take good care of their customers and are very knowledgeable about what they sell- you can find them here, and I’m not getting a commission, I swear.
  • Circa/Arc/ring bound: The Circa system from Levenger is what I use to organize patient information, and is highly customizeable. This system consists of plastic, celluloid or metal discs that have a ridged edge which holds plastic covers and pages together. You can rearrange the pages and tabs infinitely with no trouble. The sizes are generally standard American letter size and half-letter size, so it’s easy to add print-outs, etc. Levenger and Staples (the cheaper Arc system) both make a multitude of forms for these systems. You can find the Levenger version here.

2. Digital options:

  • Smart phone task list: This is probably the most basic option. I’m not excited about the task lists that come standard on ios or android, mostly because of their lack of features.
  • Consider a better app, like Todoist, Things3, Microsoft to-do. I use Todoist because there are a TON of features, and I can use todoist on the web, my phone, mac, PC, android, etc. Things3 is wonderful, but only for Apple fans. Microsoft to-do is a good option if you use outlook.com to manage your calendar or have an outlook 365 account you use frequently.
  • list on Evernote or OneNote: this could be an option if you’re determined to use Evernote for everything! I don’t think I would choose this option, but there are definitely Evernote power users who stick to Evernote to plan their entire lives.

3. Hybrid Options:

People who mix paper and digital have a lot more options, which may or may not be a good thing.

  • Electronic calendar, with bullet journal or notebook
  • Trello (recommended): Trello is a great program online and a multitude of apps that replicates the kanban experience electronically. However, it is a LOT more powerful. You can find Trello here, and a genius article for how to use Trello as a magnificent task-conquering machine here.
  • Tablet with pen capability and OneNote or similar- not my favorite, but you could do this if you’re determined to use your Surface tablet or iPad pro and the digital pen!
  • Evernote/Moleskine notebook and smartphone integration or similar: these are notebooks that have various ways of converting the pages to digital options; either a special pen, or an app with a camera. I think a lot of these are in the planning phases, or are pretty expensive for what you get.
  • Could consider bullet journal with official app (I think the app isn’t very good)

That’s it for the task-oriented options! I hope you found what you needed- please let me know if you have any other ideas or questions, or tell me what you thought in the comments below! Next week, I’ll cover the appointment-oriented options in paper, digital, and hybrid versions. See you then!