Planning

2019 Planner Plans.

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Deciding on what planner(s) to use for the coming year is a tough decision. Buy a planner that doesn’t fit in with your requirements and you spend too much time trying to find a fix, but find the right planner and it can act the perfect assistant.

I have a bad habit of buying too many planners. There is so much choice and variety available it can be hard to be concise with your purchases. If you read my previous post I didn't fare well with my planners in 2018 and I didn’t want to repeat those errors going into 2019.

What I have learnt from this year is that my planner needs have changed. What worked before doesn't seem to hit the spot anymore. Luckily I recognised this early enough and I was able to research and figure out what changes I needed to make for 2019. In today’s post I will share my decisions with you and how I think I will be using my planners in 2019.

Planner 1: MiGoals 2019 Planner.

I haven’t used a MiGoal product before but a couple of months ago I started digging around to understand what this planners were about. I have bought the 2019 HC Diary in Coral, drawn to the layout and how this seemingly traditional goal planner had found a way to not be stuffy.

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The Layout.

The layout of a planner is always crucial and also really personal. It comes down to how you like to see information, the way your mind interprets tasks and the types of information it’s important for you to capture. Some people like guidance from their planners, others don’t. So finding a layout that does what you need is always the most crucial aspect of your planner decisions.

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In the MiGoals planner the weekly spreads are allocated a double page, space for your weekly view sits on the left hand page and on the right there is a small habit tracker, weekly focuses and a massive notes area.

I was drawn to the planners simplicity. The weekly pages give you enough space to jot down those extra things that may not fit into a specific day. Each small section is clearly defined but not intrusive.

The monthly calendar is paired with the weekly spreads. So the January monthly calendar is followed by the four weeks that sit within January, then you get your February calendar, followed by February's weekly pages and so on. There is a tonne of space too with weekends getting extra room! It’s a miracle. There is a small section underneath the calendar which sets out your monthly goals, a small to do list and space for some notes.

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The bulk of this planner is pretty standard...nothing groundbreaking but they haven’t tried to do anything too dramatic. And that’s a good thing.

Goal Planning Pages.

The thing that really drew me to this planner, a little surprisingly, was the goal planning sections. There are around 30 pages that get you into the right headspace to review 2018 and plan 2019.

There are a load of inspirational quotes which isn't everyone’s cup of tea. What I like is how this planner focused my mind on what I want 2019 to be. The goal planning pages are conversational in style rather than formal and stuffy. (Although that being said they did slip in the dreaded annual, 5 and 10 year outlook section which I really don’t like.) Some of the questions included within these pages are What situations get you excited? What subjects do you enjoy learning about? What do you find easy that others don’t? A few years ago things like this would have caused my eyes to roll but actually they focused my attention.

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There is a Toolkit for Success spread that helps you identify who can help you achieve you goals and the things that make you happy. These aspects of the MiGoals planner make it feel a little bit more human, not focusing only on the aspirational goal or its success or failure, but they make you consider everything it takes to achieve a goal.

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There is a page where you can review 2018, things that you’re pleased with and things you want to improve and then what you want for 2019. You can then also rate your year on a series of factors and the planner has space to do this again at the end of 2019, a nice compare and contrast opportunity.

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The Goals pages.

The goals pages are the really interesting piece though. There are 10 in total. Each goal page gives you space to outline your goal, put a timeframe on it, say what sort of goal it is and why you have set yourself that goal. Then there are Key Milestones where you can highlight the things that will be big markers to achieve in that goal and a To do list. There is finally a Reward and Outcome section. All of this information is on one page making it simple to see all aspects of your goal on one page.

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It is in this section that you’re inundated with inspirational quotes but I think this is done on purpose. By limiting you to concentrate on one goal per double page there are no distractions, no opportunities for your eyes to wander to goal number 2. You’re there to concentrate on one goal only. It’s quite a clever little trick.

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I have set myself 7 goals, none of which are crazy and all are personal to me, nothing work or career related in here. The Key Milestones and To Do sections helped me to break down each goal into smaller parts which hopefully should make it a lot less overwhelming. It’s kind of like habit or project planning tool.

Why I chose this planner.

The MiGoals planner is not something I would ever have considered in the past. It would have appeared to embody everything I disliked in a planner but this year I was drawn to it because of its goal planning section. There are review sections and prompts throughout the year to guide you back to these goals and see how they are progressing. By including them in the planner itself it keeps it with you most of the time and stops these goals from becoming lost of forgotten by February.

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I really like the design and layout of the planner. Everything is concise and simple. I am really not fussed on the multitude of quotes in there, but the usefulness of the planner makes them easy to ignore. There are helpful guide pages to show you how to use sections, two bookmarks and decent paper.

Planner 2: Baron Fig Clear Journal.

This was a journal I ordered a while back when Baron Fig announced the planner. As yet I don't have it so I cannot give a comprehensive overview. I have just finished reading James Clears Atomic Habits which was surprisingly interesting. And yes there is a theme emerging here.

At the moment I aim to use this journal to track projects and personal items but until I have it in my hands....which won’t be until mid-Jan…then I cannot fully decide on how to use it.

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Planner 3: Hobonichi Weeks.

As I found a way to work with my 2018 Hobonichi Weeks I am using this again in 2019 as a diary. Co-ordinating the basic things and having this as my carry around diary. Nothing interesting in here, no decoration purely function.

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Planner 4: Travelers Company weekly + memo refill 2019

This was always going to be part of my 2019 set-up as I have used this for years now. It will continue to be the place I record little memories of my day and add a creative splash. I can decorate, use stickers and washi and make this a fun and memorable journal that I will want to review because its a marker of my year. In contrast to my Hobonichi Weeks nothing functional or administrative will go in here.

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Overall thoughts.

Despite the usefulness and my enjoyment of the Jibun Techo in 2018 this doesn't feature in 2019. The Jibun Techo became a time tracking and organisational tool that I don’t feel motivated to use going into a new year.

For 2019 I needed to become more focused with my goals and the direction I want the year to take. I started 2018 thinking about what I wanted to do for the year and gave it a theme, a la Cortex. And the theme that cropped up was the ‘Year of Me’. I think I have done quite well with that theme in 2018 but I hadn't put any detailed thought into it, I found my way and things whirred around in my head but I didn't think about how I would do this and what I wanted to achieve. 2019 is going to be a continuation of this theme because it doesn't feel complete, but now it needs structure. I believe that is where the MiGoals planner can help.

As always I will share this journey here with you and when I have been using the MiGoal planner a little longer I will provide a comprehensive review of how the planner works in use but I have very high hopes.

2018 Planner Review.

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At the end of each year I like to reflect on the planners I have used and how I have been using them. I share the planners I have set-up for the coming year but I think it’s important to also review the past year and what has worked well. In today’s post I will run through all the planners (yes plural) that I had planned to use this year and run through what worked and what didn’t. If you’re interested in reading the 2018 Planner Plans post you can find that here.

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Jibun Techo

The Jibun Techo was new to me for 2018. I had never used it before and I was so eager to get my hands on this planner I had to buy from the US and important it, taking the hit on customs. It was a worthwhile decision because it’s been my most used planner in 2018. I wrote a full review of this planner and created a video walk through which you can see here.

But to touch on some of the highlights of this planner the paper quality is excellent. It has a version of tomoe river paper which means the pages are super thin and handle fountain pen and inks really well. I recorded a small clip of the sound the almost full planner makes, a stationery nerds dream.

The weekly layouts are brilliant and hold a huge amount of information. It’s actually very impressive that they’re able to craft that much space out of the page. Over the course of the year I made small adjustments with how I used these pages, but mostly I’ve stuck to my original review.

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And then what really makes the Jibun Techo that little bit extra special is the extras. The pages at the front of the planner that let you record the books you’ve read, the movies watched and a few extras I didn’t use are all really useful.

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With one of the monthly overview pages I used it as my Habit Tracker. Having all of this stuff in one planner was not something I’d been able to do before, so the Jibun Techo was unique in that way.

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There is a lot to like about this planner and for list makers and memory keepers it’s excellent.

Hobonochi Techo Cousin Avec

I have been a Hobonichi user for a few years. The first year I used a Hobonichi Techo is was the English A6 size and it was a sort of journal. But I found that it overlapped a lot with how I used my Travelers Company refill so with my next Techo I switched it up, and then I guess lost my way with it.

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This year I bought a Hobonichi Techo Cousin but I couldn’t find a way to use it. I tried several different set-ups including a bullet journal, a health tracker and a goal planner but nothing stuck. Unfortunately for most of the year the Cousin went unused.

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Hobonichi Weeks

This was my first Hobonichi Weeks and I bought it as I was already ordering from Hobonichi and the design was so damn cool. I was attracted to the slim size and thought I would use it as a functional diary which is how I started out, but this didn’t last very long and I just forgot about it.

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Pre-empting my 2019 plans I wanted to give the Hobonichi Weeks another run. In October I started using this to track my ailments (I seem to have a lot these days). Headaches and their severity, eczema outbreaks, physio progression and so on. I wanted to know what I felt and when over a period of time so I could link this back to the environment, place or circumstances that may have been aggravating these things. This did work out quite well but did mean I wasn't using it consistently each day. I wasn’t sure this was the best way to use one sole planner so I went again.

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In the past couple of weeks I have started using this as a diary again. Working out my week in the day sections, figuring out where everyone in the family is and what’s going on. On the right hand page I’ve been noting down the big things I need to get done that week. In the run up to Christmas this has been really helpful.

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Travelers Company Weekly + Memo Refill

This has been a constant notebook I have used for years now and I love this refill. My use over this time hasn’t changed either. I record small snippets of my day and decorate the pages. Nothing practical, no times, purely things that I experienced on that day.

Overall thoughts.

I went into this year with too much. I always do this, but this year it wasn't manageable and as a result I didn't use some of these planners. I hate being wasteful like this, but it has influenced my decisions about 2019.

The Jibun Techo has been a great planner for 2018 and it’s almost become a form of analogue time tracker. It’s enabled me to see how I spend my personal time and the things I achieve each week.

Next week I will be sharing my 2019 planner plans. I have most of the items already and I will share with you what they are and what attracted me to these planners. 2018 has been a year of personal change and as a result what I need from my planners has changed too.

Baum-Kuchen shared an excellent post on choosing your planner and the evolution of their planners. If you didn’t see this check it out here, it really got me thinking about what and how I use my planners.

Trigg Life Mapper: Initial Impressions.

Trigg kindly sent me one of their award winning Life Mappers to review on the blog. All the thoughts shared in this post are my own.

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The Trigg Life Mapper has been on my radar for a while. I had seen people posting about their planner on Instagram and the bold colour scheme really caught my attention. I have an interest in planners generally and I like to see what and how people use them. Trigg also won the Best New Product at the Stationery Show in London earlier on this year. So I didn’t come to this product cold, I already had some thoughts based on what I had seen.

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This is the time of year when people are looking for planners, researching, watching YouTube videos and trying to gather all the information they can to make the best decision for their annual planner.

This review is lengthy and I have tried to cut it back but I felt like the information needed to be shared. Hopefully the headers will guide you through the review, but the plan is to discuss the layout of the Trigg Life Mapper and then give you my personal thoughts.

Productivity Assistance in your planning.

So part of the idea with the Trigg Life Mapper is to offer guidance with your goals for the year. There is a double page at the beginning where you can plan out your year and what you want to achieve.

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There is some guidance here, but it’s very generic and made me feel like I was filling in a job application. I hate being asked about my 5 year plan. It has the ability to make you feel inferior if you don’t have one, but also I don’t like planning out that far in advance, I feel like it sets you up to fail. This sort of start-of-the-year page is not uncommon by any means, but I feel that the questions being asked are dated.

There is a Visual Assessment graph section to fill out. There are 4 focus areas outlined which are: Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. These focus areas are generic and in many ways inclusive to people who perhaps would be interested in a planner. However I come back to the feeling of being restricted by these outlines. The focus areas are too obvious and they don’t resonate at any depth. I do however like the idea of showing reflective or start-of-the-year information in a visual format.

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Monthly Calendar Spreads.

These appear at the start of the planner and you get two months per double page spread. The space per day is a little tight and there definitely isn’t enough room for my big handwriting or multiple appointments per day.

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Each month has a focus and colour theme which ties back to Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. The focus themes are loose associations to the months their given. So for January your focus is intentions which is an obvious choice for the beginning of a new year; February is relationships which I guess is down to Valentines Day and so on.

These focus themes also don’t go any further, they just appear as words on your monthly calendar. This planner is littered with quotes and Trigg comments, and yet at a point when I would have thought some guidance would be necessary, it doesn’t appear.

Annual Forecast pages.

My first note is that the annual forecast pages appear after the monthly calendars splitting the meat of this planner, the monthly and daily pages. I think this section should have gone before the monthly section and keep all the themes and big thinking pages together.

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The aim of these pages again comes back to Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. You write down your goals for each theme. This is done as a list based on the layout of this page but there is no further prompts. No trigger phrases or questions to guide and push you in your thinking and planning process.

The top third of each forecast page has a random assortment of descriptive words that could relate to the theme. Again I think this is for guidance and inspiration but I don’t really think they’re needed and they take up valuable space.

Weekly Priority Planning.

There is a page which kicks off each week. Again the 4 themes come into play here and you write your goal to tackle that week and the actions to help you get there. I am not sure I have a goal for 52 weeks of the year on all 4 of these sections. That feels out of reach entirely.

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The weekly planning though is a good idea and one I like, but I don’t think this page is the right execution of that idea. There is no space for goals that sit outside of the 4 themes either which feels limiting. There is no space for general weekly tasks, such as calling the vet, arranging your car service etc. These don’t fit into the 4 themes but they’re typically things you need to jot down in your planner as general reminders.

Daily pages.

We then come to the real meat of this planner - the daily pages. There is a quote or a Trigg point that heads up each day.

In the top half of the page there is a task, plan and delegation grid to help guide your day. Tasks gives you space for three must do items. There is a box named plan which I am little unsure how to use and then delegate / delay section. The delay / delegate section is interesting but I am not sure how to use this. I don’t think at the start of the day I would know what I want to delay, or whether this is a section that can be filled in at the end of the day and used for future reference? I think it’s an interesting addition to the daily spread but I really don’t know how to implement it.

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The second half of the page is for your appointments. I think the space allocated is too much. I don’t have appointments each day and most of my appointments are captured on my monthly spread. Obviously the headers can be ignored and general notes can be made here.

One other small note, is that Saturday and Sunday don’t get the same layout as the weekdays. They share a page and have none of the daily page features. The weekend days always gets shafted when it comes to space in planners which leaves the weekend workers, or the side-hustle people without the space they need.

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There is a small weekly reflective slot that is included on the weekend pages too, limiting the space even more. This prompts you to reflect on your week and write down something you’re grateful for. There is also the inclusion of some of the map artwork from Mapper theme that comes up on these pages. Everything on this last page feels too tight and squished.

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End of Year Review.

At the end of the planner there are some review pages for the year. There’s another Visual Assessment where you can rate yourself on your 4 pre-set themes. You’re then guided into a double page spread review by themes where you can note the successes and set backs for the year.

There are also a few Notes pages at the back of the planner if you need them.

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My personal thoughts.

I’ve alluded to my thoughts throughout the write up and have tried to not sound harsh but objective with this review. I realise that a planner cannot please or work for everyone but I think there is a lot which could have been improved upon in this planner.

Firstly I was shocked when this planner arrived by how big it is. It’s a very bulky planner, which means it’ll be heavy to carry around and would be uncomfortable to write in with such a huge ledge. I appreciate this is a page a day planner, but there are alternatives out there that are a lot slimmer.

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The mapping theme is good for a planner and I can see why Trigg used this. The use of the mapping artwork doesn’t feel right throughout the planner however. This is a really small thing, but subtler tones (even though grey is used a lot), better quality artwork and thought on the placement and use of the theme would have lifted this planner a lot.

The thought behind the daily pages is a step in the right direction. It guides your day and tries to focus the attention on doing the important things. However in order to focus on the top 3 things for that day I need somewhere to dump the master list, and I think that is what’s missing. The monthly calendars and weekly planning pages don’t give me the space to do this because they’re trying to force me to focus on 4 themes I didn’t choose and potentially don’t care about.

Rethinking the weekly planning pages would help a lot. Some guidance here is fine but I need to space to use these pages as I see fit. And this is likely to change over the course of a year too. Moving the goals and aims piece into the monthly spread would also mean I can focus on more manageable goals in a more manageable period of time.

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Overall thoughts.

I think a productivity planner that isn’t aimed at a corporate person needs to be more than the obvious. Its needs to open up to creative professions, to the side-hustle people, to those who seek out the planners. It has to have a different mindset behind it to really help people be productive.

At the moment I can’t see past the Trigg Life Mapper as some sort of HR self assessment form that I am forced to complete in order to get my bonus. It’s something I go through physical strain to do racking my brain for some nominal thing to include under a header I don’t believe in.

I thought this planner was going to be something more than it was. In part I think I formed these preconceived ideas based on the awards it has won and the social media influences I have, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with the Trigg Life Mapper.

I would like to thank the guys at Trigg for sending me their planner to review.

2018 Jibun Techo Review

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The Jibun Techo was a planner that I discovered towards the end of last year. I was drawn to the design and the format seemed to offer more than you could get with the Hobonichi Techo.

I have been using the Jibun Techo since November and wanted to share my thoughts on the planner and overall system.

Planner format and how I’ve been using it.

The Jibun Techo has its own format like many other planners but there are some layouts that really set this planner apart from other options available.

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Interesting Layouts.

The Jibun Techo is chock full of ways to record stuff. At the front of the planner are numerous double page spreads but the ones I use are the Book and Movie List. There is space to note down the book/film, the date and your thoughts on the book/film.

There are three faces - happy, indifferent and sad - which appear throughout the planner for a very basic record of your views.

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I also like that there is a blank spread for you to create your own list. I have used this to record the TV programmes I am watching.

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Monthly Spreads.

There are also a series of monthly calendars which two months per spread. I have been using this as a habit tracker. I write out the habits I am trying to improve on and record if I have achieved them. Having this sort of layout built into a planner is really helpful and makes the Jibun Techo a viable bullet journal planner.

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Monthly Calendar.

The Jibun Techo includes monthly calendars as you would expect. This starts from November 2017 and runs through to March 2019 giving you some decent coverage. Each month has a colour which corresponds throughout the planner linking your weekly pages, the monthly spreads etc.

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I have been using the monthly calendar to track my appointments, but there are some interesting small extras that make these spreads really nice. The bold type and the colour schemes I really enjoy. It’s nice to see some character in planners rather than a dull monochrome colour scheme.

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I really like the space to the left of the calendar for your tasks. I have found this really helpful to make notes of big events, appointments or tasks I need to take of during that month but that don’t have a specific date. This running to do list helps me plan my month but also gets tranferred over into my weekly pages.

There is a also a tiny three month calendar at the bottom of each page which shows you the previous, current and next month. It’s little useful touches such as this that make this planner a real resource.

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Weekly Pages.

The weekly pages are where everything really happens and where you spend most of your time. Here you can track the weather for each day with the very simple and easy symbols right underneath each date.

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There is a full 24 hour calendar which means you can track everything. For me it means I can get a good idea of how many hours sleep I am getting, but it also means if you work unsociable hours these spreads are still useful, although the space is a bit more limited.

I use the 24 hour section retrospectively. This isn’t pre-filled in with my tasks for the day or meetings that I am due to have. I fill this in during or at the end of the day to record what I did and where my time was spent.

There is the same tasks list section on the left hand side of the spread. I use this to write out my weeks tasks, referencing back to my monthly calendar to transfer big items across.

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At the bottom of the page there is a section to record your mood for the day, write a brief commentary and track your food. Surprisingly I have filled this section in most days and again its quite interesting to review over time and see if there are any patterns forming.

The blank space at the bottom of the page I have been using this to record my sons illnesses or days when he is not at nursery. This simple section has been really helpful in seeing information over a period of weeks and the best format I have found so far.

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2018 Reflective Pages.

There is a double page spread at the back of the planner which gives you a small amount of space to summarise your month. These are referred to as the reflective pages. It’s always good to look back on a period of time, whether its personally, for work or from a development point of view but finding something that defined your month is a nice idea. Honestly its a page I have deliberated over and found hard to fill in but I think the intention behind this page is really good.

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Planner design.

The above gives you an overview of the pages and how I have been using them but there are some other specific bits of information that are worth sharing.

The paper in this planner is tomoe river paper meaning its brilliant for your fountain pens and ink. I have used nothing but fountain pens in this planner and its really nice to have this high quality paper. It also means its nice and slim because the paper is lightweight.

I like the colourful nature of the Jibun Techo. You can get a business version of the planner which basically means its monochrome, but for me the colour in the planner is a feature and makes it more fun. The colour coding throughout means you can link up your pages easily and find information. It is an added element that removes unnecessary thought and makes the planner visual.

The Jibun Techo ships with a plastic cover which has a tonne of different pockets throughout. The cover keeps the planner clean but also minimal and slim. The pockets are really handy too. You can decorate this adding in photos or bits of ephemera or simply use it for bits of paper you may need.

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There are two bookmarks in the Jibun. I use one for referencing my monthly calendar and the other for the current week as these are my most used pages. I have a couple of small sticky bookmarks for my book list and movie list. The habit tracker pages are easy enough to find due to the side colour coding.

I also really appreciate the size of this planner. I have the slim A5 as I wanted the additional room, but you can get a slim A6. I was apprehensive about the slim width of the planner before buying but really its not an issue.

Overall thoughts.

As planners go I have tried a lot and used them in various formats. I used the Hobonichi Techo Cousin as a bullet journal, the A6 version as a way to record personal thoughts of my day. I have used the Travelers Company vertical weekly refill to track how I spend my time and the Jibun Techo shares a similar set-up and format to this.

I have also used my own DIY bullet journal in the Leuchtturm1917 to track and plan my time. So I am susceptible to change and when planners are involved there is always the lure of something better and something new…but I really do like the Jibun Techo. It’s a great size, the design is nice but the inclusion of the additional, different pages is really nice. I use much more of this planner than I have done on any other before.

There are some things that would really strengthen this planner for me. A few more English translations would be very helpful. It hasn’t stopped me using this planner and figuring most things out but I think the final few pages could be used if I knew what they were for.

Also a few extra blank pages would really be helpful. There are just 2 at the end of the weekly spreads and honestly I am not sure what you’re supposed to do with just 2 pages. I know the Jibun Techo can be used in conjunction with their larger system which incorporates a blank notebook and a longer term life notebook but for people just using the planner a few extra pages here would really be helpful.

Otherwise I really like the Jibun Techo. It’s colourful, slim, practical and has great paper.

If you have the time I also rambled on about I use the Jibun Techo in the video below, so please take a look.