The Kokuyo Jibun Techo is taking the planner world by storm. this year. It seems like it popped up into the community overnight but it seems to have been a slow build over the last year that has blossomed making the 2018 Jibun Techo THE planner to get this year. If you are unfamiliar with the Jibun Techo, it comes in a B6 Slim, an A5 Slim and a Biz version in the A5 Slim or B6 Slim. The Slim connotation essentially means that the sizing doesn’t fit the standard dimensions of A5 or B6. The regular editions have a very graphic, almost futuristic styling while the Biz edition has a more sedate styling.
There are two ways to purchase the standard edition: as a 3-book set with a LIFE book, an IDEA book, and the 2018 planner or as the individual components.
I got the Mini B6 Slim 2018 planner in Green. Since the entire system is in Japanese, the LIFE book ($10 purchased separately), which is designed to be a book that moves from one year to the next (and has all the details written in Japanese) I decided it wasn’t really going to be all that useful for me. There are dozens of videos on YouTube of other people flipping through it, trying to discern the purpose of each page if you’re curious about the LIFE book. The 3-book system also includes the IDEA books (pack of 2 for $9.10) which are blank books like Traveler’s notebook inserts for lists, to do’s and additional information. These are easily purchased separately so if I decided to add these, I could. However, I have several Hobonichi Techos that I plan to use in 2018, so I decided that I did not need the IDEA books right now, so I skipped on the 3-book set. If you are diving into this system, you might find the 3-book version more flexible and a lot of people are taken with the LIFE book.
SIDE NOTE: I’ll have reviews and details about my Hobonichis and covers and how I’ll be using them in the next couple weeks. I will also have a guest review about the Jibun Techo Biz A5 Slim coming soon.
The Jibun Techo comes with a flexible plastic cover that has a pocket on the front that runs horizontal and a pocket on the back that runs vertical for sliding papers or ephemera. Unlike the cover-on-cover from Hobonichi, the Jibun cover is included with the planner purchase and is a matte finish rather than shiny. Inside are three business card slots and vertical secretary pockets both front and back. Additional plastic sleeve pockets can be purchased if you want more room to tuck papers and ephemera into your cover. The plastic cover can be removed completely.
If you remove the cover, you’ll discover that the paper cover stamped with the date is a simple paper wrap. It’s not cardstock. This is probably a good bit of information to know since there are not a ton of color covers to choose from. If you are even slightest bit DIY, you can easily make a new cover by measuring the existing cover and cutting paper to the same size. I have not done this yet but I did tuck a postcard from Uppercase, trimmed down a bit, into the front pocket as a bit of embellishment.
Underneath this wrap is the actual book cover which is a stiff cream cover with a thread tape binding like a Midori notebook.
The first thing to note is that the paper in the Jibun Techo is definitely Tomoe River. What weight it is, I’m not exactly sure but it is good quality, fountain pen friendly paper with a dashed grid design on the pages and a warm white color.
The squares are a mere 3mm though so you had better be prepared to get out your XF or EXF pens. I included a regular pencil in the photos above for scale but I didn’t dare try to write in the spaces with one. If you ever wanted to try an 0.3mm mechanical pencil, this would be the planner for it.
The one upgrade or accessory I did add to the Jibun Techo was the writing board (I bought mine from Wonder Fair in Lawrence, KS for $11). It doubles as a “today” page marker and creates a smooth, firm writing surface. It also prevents indentations from passing to the next page due to pressing too hard on the lightweight Tomoe River paper. In a pinch, it can be a blotter card as well. One side is solid dark grey with a ruler down one side and the other side is the same dark grey with light grey dotted grid with the ruler down the edge. I cannot actually see the grid through the planner paper so it doesn’t really matter which side is facing up or down. The tab is light grey on one side and sky blue on the other.
The Jibun Techo planner has two slim ribbon bookmarks which are not sealed on the ends so I immediately dipped the ends in white glue (like Elmer’s school glue) to seal the ends to keep them from fraying. It makes them a bit stiff when I do this but I don’t like the shredded look of frayed ends. Its a pet peeve.
Now let’s get into the actual planner part of the planner…
Inside is a “How-To Use the Jibun Techo”, written in both English and Japanese but the details are in Japanese. I immediately grasped the 4-year calendar, yearly schedule, some of the lists and plans and so forth but the Age Chart, Promise List and My Dream are still a little befuddling.
I’m assuming the My Dream is like a Bucket List? And I get some of the Age List but not all of it. If someone can explain what a Promise List is for or how it differs from a to-do list, please let me know.
The page shown above is what is listed as the Monthly Project but what a lot of people are seeing as a great place for habit tracking. There is space for several different things (even using 2 lines you could fit 12 activities each month) and include doing it twice like going for a walk, taking medicine, or brushing your teeth. If the only thing you want to track is drinking 8 glasses of water a day, you can just take up a whole chunk of space for that. It depends on how granular you want to get about your life.
So, on to the core of the planner! First, is the monthly calendars which feature big, blocky numbers that remind me of playing the video game Wipeout. Next to each day is a face indicating happy, neutral or sad so you can track your mood each day. The monthly calendar is set up with Monday starts and Saturday and Sunday on the far right which might be different for some Americans but is common for European and Asian planners and is consistent with the rest of the planner.
Next, the biggest part of the planner, the Weekly pages:
Towards the front of the planner is a “Weekly Plan” page. You can use this as a test page or if you like to have baseline plane for your week, you can outline it here. I’m going to use this page to describe the basic page layout.
On the far left is a column for to-do’s. Every other line has a check box. I use the space to divide up between work to-do’s, personal, shopping, bills, etc. The space allows me to draw a line between them and clump them together. The rest of the page is the seven days of the week, equally divided, starting with Monday and going to Sunday in vertical columns. The columns are full 24 hours so you can account for your sleep, evening activities as well as your daily schedule or if you are someone who works nights, evenings of weekends, you can actually schedule all of that in easily. At the bottom is space for additional notes, the same face icons to document your mood, sun icons to document sunrise and sunset (I’m guessing here) and a star at the bottom for your most important to-do of the day (again I’m guessing but you could assign a purpose to it). At the very top of each day, below the date is weather icons to document the day’s weather and space for marking a special event .
Did I mention that the Jibun Techo planner start on November 1, 2017? Okay, big news! I got to start using it this week so I am just getting my feet wet this week. you are seeing my real world use of it thus far. I haven’t gotten to inputting my sleep schedule or the weather but using it for my actual work and meetings and to-do’s is really effective. I always think I’m not going to like the vertical layout calendars but I love it. I like seeing how much time I have between meetings to actually work. The calendar has the time in 24-hour which is taking some getting used to since no one in the US outside the military actually uses 24-hour time. So when I get a meeting invite, I have to translate the “meeting from 2:30pm – 3:30pm” into “14:30-15:30” and put it into my Jibun Techo.
The dark dots on the weekly pages relate to the sunrise and sunset times in Japan, according to some of the videos I watched on YouTube… if you were curious.
Finally, in the back of the planner are some information pages like subway maps of major cities in Japan, time differences, a personal data page and an information page for Jibun Techo on Facebook and Twitter from Kokuyo.
I’m really happy with the B6 Slim Jibun Techo thus far. Its definitely way more function-based than the Hobonichi. The Hobonichi is very open-ended and can be very intimidating for a lot of people. The Jibun Techo has a lot of very defined spaces but those can be customized to individual needs and purposes. With just the planner, the Jibun Techo is super small and compact. It has the option to be super granular if you want it to be plus the paper is fountain pen friendly. However, be prepared to write REALLY SMALL.
Where the Hobonichi is basically a cult at this point, the Jibun Techo has the chance to be whatever you want it to be. It could be a planner that helps you stay organized or the next planner cult. You get to choose. And because the Jibun Techo starts in November, you can start using it right now!