Posts filed under Planner Reviews

Netto de Techo Kobo (Online Planner Bindery): A Customized Bound Planner Just for You

(Original Mai-Bun article published on 10/02/2017. Written by Makiko Fukushima. Translated by Bruce Eimon)

This is the time of the year when people start thinking about which datebook/planner to buy for the coming year. Despite all the different products out there, it is frustrating when you can’t quite find that perfect one for you. (There are literally hundreds of different kinds of planners sold in Japan. There is even an event called the 100 Planner General Election, where you get to try 100 different planners and vote for your favorite one!) If you are one of those picky planner users, why not make your very own for next year?

Making my own datebook? That’s gotta be hard, no? No worries, this September, a new service was launched: Netto de Techo Kobo (Online Datebook Bindery).

Image 1 Service bannar.jpg

This is an online service that lets you design a 200 page perfect-bound planner and have it delivered right to your doorsteps. Most custom book binding services like this require a minimum order of 100 copies. What is revolutionary about this service is that it is specifically designed for producing single copies. Each order will put you back 5400 yen (approx. $45 USD).

Oh and by the way, this isn’t a service run by a bunch of twenty-somethings working out of their garage. This is a service offered by Canon IT Solutions, a subsidiary of the company known for producing high quality cameras and printers. It was the winning project of an internal innovation contest, entered by their very own stationery fanatic, Mr. Tadashi Ono.

Image 2 Layout samples.png

All you have to do is create an account and follow the instructions. The sign-up and design steps can all be done for free. You can even print out watermarked sample pages at home. Once you confirm your order and enter your payment information, your planner will be delivered to you in 3 to 4 weeks.

Image 3 Finished product.jpg

The following is my experience of trying this service:

Adding my touch #1: I don’t use the monthly calendar pages.

I usually use a weekly left format (horizontal date pages on the left, note pages on the right), and hardly ever use the monthly calendar pages. Most planners have monthly calendar pages taking up two pages per month. I opted to condense these to a single page per month, covering two months per spread. The system offers a template for this, so the only thing I had to change was the font and the line color to suit my taste.

Image 4 Calendar page.jpg

Adding my touch #2: I don’t want to miss any birthdays, including those of my pets.

The service supports the uploading of CSV files with personal birthdays and anniversaries, so you can easily have these very special dates show up in your monthly or weekly pages. This is super useful! I set it up so that they will show up in both. Not only did I upload the birthdays of my friends and family, but I also uploaded work related anniversaries and the birthdays of my two cats.

Adding my touch #3: I like a simple and clean aesthetic.

I’m a fan of the weekly horizontal format. In order to keep the design simple, I started with the weekly horizontal template and tweaked the fonts and the line colors. I chose gray lines, removed references to auspicious days (Rokuyou), and included only the date numbers. For the right pages, I kept them blank.

Image 6 Weekly and blank.jpg

Adding my touch #4: I don’t want to wait until January 1.

One nice thing about this service is that you can have your planner start whenever you want it to. So rather than ordering it and having it collect dust for 3 months, I had it start from the projected delivery date in October! You don’t even have to have it span a whole year - you can design a 6 month planner, or even one that starts on your birthday!

Adding my touch #5: Making room for my Washi-tape collection.

Since I like to collect washi-tape, I designed a section to catalog my new acquisitions. I designed a format where I can paste both the tape and the labels. I specifically made sure there would be enough space for both the front and back labels. This is an example where I didn’t use one of the provided formats, but designed my very own format and uploaded it as a PDF file.

Image 7 Washi page.jpg

Adding my touch #6: For my list pages, I used pink lines.

I like the grid format in general, but I usually don’t like the color of the lines used in most notebooks. Since I get to use whatever color I want, I chose a faint pink line. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! It is awesome that I get to choose the colors of the font, the lines, and even the background for every single page.

Image 8 List page.jpg

Adding my touch #7: I made special pages for my two cats.

I uploaded pictures of my two beloved cats, Cookie and Anko, so that I could have pages specifically devoted to write down my favorite memories of them. The colors turned out really nice. I know there are a lot of people who like to paste pictures of their pets in their planners , but this way I don’t have to worry about the bulk from the pasted photographs. It is also a nice way to carry with you the pictures of your loved ones wherever you go.

Image 9 Cats.jpg

This is a planner that gives you complete freedom with the format and the content. What I showed you was very specific to my likes and needs, and what you end up designing is going to be completely different from mine. How fun is that!?

Until now, a planner was something we had to choose from what was available at the stores. Yes, there are filofax-type planners where you can pick and choose your refills, but it was impossible to customize a perfect-bound planner to your liking. Of course, you would always have to write in all of your birthdays and anniversaries, and you were bound by the lines and space provided by the publishers.

Netto de Techo Kobo flipped all of these “norms” on its head. Why not make your one-and-only planner that fits you like a glove?

Recommended for:

  • People who aren’t quite happy with the planners available in stores.
  • People who have a meticulous attention to detail and know exactly what they want.
  • People who don’t want to be bothered by having to enter their birthdays and anniversaries into their planners every year. Information Netto de Techo Kobo | Canon IT Solutions
Posted on December 19, 2017 and filed under Planner Reviews, Notebook Reviews, Mai-Bun.

Baron Fig 2017 Planner Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

2017 is quickly approaching, and it's time to get organized. I've had my flings with weekly and daily planners in the past, and they've mostly been abandoned after 2 or 3 months into the new year. The Baron Fig 2017 Planner is a format that I've enjoyed in the past, and I'm aiming to give it a solid try in the new year.

The Baron Fig Planner looks like any old dark gray Confidant that you may have seen. It's sleek and sharp, and it has a classy cloth cover that makes people stare and ask questions. It also features a sleek silver bookmark for keeping track of the weeks as you move through the year. Overall, this is a Confidant on the outside, but a useful planner format on the inside.

Features

This is a planner, so there are several features that are expected, but the Baron Fig also includes some extras that are welcome additions to the standard weekly planner.

First off, the standard planner format. This is a weekly planner, meaning it has a two-page spread for each week of the year. On the left side of the book, you have Monday through Wednesday. The right side of the book contains Thursday through Sunday, but Saturday and Sunday share a section. It's a great format that mimics what I've seen in other planners from major retailers (Day Runner, Moleskine, etc.)

The right side of the book has a gray index marking to show the current month. This makes it easy to flip between months in the book to quickly find something you need in the future or past.

Apart from that, each day is labeled, and there's a handy week number listed in the top right of the right-hand page. Overall, this is pretty standard for planners.

At the beginning of the book, you have a small area to write pertinent contact details, followed by a quote from Heraclitus:

Time is a game played beautifully by children.

I'm not sure what they're trying to say here, but I'll assume that this refers to the way children perceive time as an endless and limitless resource that we can control and spend at will. Adults, as I understand it, are supposed to plan and manage this time responsibly, hence the need for a planner.

After the quote page, you're greeted by a well-laid-out "year at a glance" calendar over a two-page spread. I'll be referring to this many times over the year, though I'm disappointed that the format starts the week with Monday instead of Sunday. This isn't a die-hard preference of mine since I understand other countries and cultures view the beginning point of the week differently, it will take some adjustment on my part to remember that the calendar is slightly different. This would make sense if the notebook came from outside the US, but I'm a little baffled as to why they chose this format from NYC. Either way, it's really handy for gauging the larger picture.

After the big picture 2017 view, you have a two-page spread for each month of the year. This is great for planning out events for the month, and it also adopts the Monday-first mentality.

Immediately following the monthly view, you're dropped into the first weekly view for the planner. This is the real meat of the notebook and likely where you'll spend most of your time. The first week starts on December 26 and ends on January 1, so you get a few extra days in 2016 to ramp into the new year. This is a nice touch.

The days are roughly 3 inches by 5 inches (except for Saturday/Sunday, which are divided length-wise), and there is plenty of room for making a few notes. If you are looking for a planner that will allow you to map out 8 - 14 hours of your day, this is not the planner for you. There's not enough space (for my writing, anyway) to plan out each hour of the day. For that, you're better off looking at other planners such as the Hobonichi Techo. For me, I'll use this notebook for daily goal planning and accomplishment logging. At the end of 2017, I want to look back at this notebook and get a sense of what I was working through each week of the year. It's more of a logbook as opposed to a detailed planner.

Of course, if you don't operate to a strict schedule (say, you track to 3-5 major tasks each day), then this is a great area to write down and track your tasks and goals for the day. As with any planner system, it is exactly what you make of it. Baron Fig have simply provided a construct for you to operate within. You can choose to be as detailed or abstract as you like. That's the beauty of a system like this. In a way, I really like that they haven't included every hour of the day in the planner. It forces you to step back and look at your day as a whole instead of as a collection of menial, micro-managed tasks. (I'm not saying menial tasks aren't important, but maybe they don't belong in this planner).

Lastly, after you run out of weeks in the year, there are about 26 pages of blank dot-grid pages for notes. These pages at the back of the notebook are unnumbered, but you could easily number them to make note references in the planner section. These notes pages are all bound into the notebook without any perforation.

Another thing to mention is the included insert that displays the entire year on one Confidant-sized card. This will find a place on my desk over the year, and while I'm sure it will be misplaced and re-found several times, it will be an invaluable tool in 2017.

Paper quality

Now, once you get past the function of this notebook, you'll be pleased to note that the paper that Baron Fig uses is the same kind they use in the rest of their notebook line. This shouldn't be a surprise, but it's worth noting since some manufacturers inexplicably change paper lineups between special edition releases. What you've come to love (or hate!) in the regular line of notebooks, you'll get the same quality here. For me, this is a huge positive since the paper handles every kind of pen or pencil with ease. It may not be the most fountain-pen-friendly paper in the world, but it does a really good job of handling different nibs and inks. It's a little scratchy, but I love that feedback. Other people may disagree, and it's probably fair to say that this notebook isn't for them. Again, the Hobonichi features Tomoe River paper, which is one of the smoothest, well-behaved fountain pen papers out there.

Gel inks. ballpoints, rollerballs, pencils — these will perform extremely well with this notebook. Fountain pens — your mileage will vary, but I've been very pleased with all of the Baron Fig notebooks I've used in the past.

Conclusion

The Baron Fig 2017 Planner is going to be a staple on my desk over the coming year. I'm excited to give it a year's worth of abuse and see how it lasts through next December. I'm happy that the paper is of a caliber that accepts all kinds of pens I feel like throwing at it, because, let's face it, I'll switch pens about once a week through 2017. There's still a couple of weeks left to order a planner, and I really recommend the Baron Fig if you want a planner notebook that features a clean aesthetic, good paper quality, and a nice macro weekly layout. Either way, time is running out for you to make a 2017 planner decision!


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Posted on December 14, 2016 and filed under Baron Fig, Planner Reviews.

Quo Vadis Textagenda Compact Daily Desk Diary Review

(Evelyn Morgan is a plannerd, an office supply junkie, and a fountain ink hoarder. You can find her on Twitter.)

Founded over 60 years ago, Quo Vadis has a long history of producing high quality planners suited to the needs of many. The bound, Textagenda Compact Daily Desk Diary is no exception. This small, but not pocketable journal, at 4” x 6” (12 x 17 cm) is roughly B6 sized, covers the academic year (August 2016 - July 2017), and is geared towards the student. Mine arrived with the refillable Texas cover, a durable, faux-suede material, in red.

The Textagenda opens with a personal information page, and 12-month reference calendar. Next, are time schedules for plotting out when and where classes occur for two terms. It is a nice feature that Saturday is included. Following is a three-page spread for anno-planning. Quo Vadis notes this allows for “the organization of your year at a single glance,” and with clever code and notation, I would agree, however space is at a premium in this view. There is no monthly view and I found the absence surprising. As expected, the majority of the planner is daily pages. Along the edge of the book, months are marked, making them easier to find. At the back is the semi-ubiquitous and slightly useless maps and a table of average monthly temperatures in the world. Address pages finish off the planner.

Quo Vadis planners feature tear off corners, which make finding the current date easier. They are perforated, and generally easy to remove. If, however you are especially finicky about neatness, use scissors or leave them attached.

Daily planners seem to fall into two camps. They either provide so much space I don’t know what to do with it all, or so little that the information which can be put on it is minimal.

Textagenda finds a middle ground. The date is large and prominent, walled by a small hourly schedule with both 12 and 24-hour notation that runs from 8am to 7pm. This is just enough room to mark changes to my regular schedule with no details.

Underneath is a highlighted area for the day’s priority. Note that is singular. It is not a lot of room; however, it forces me to focus on the most important thing I need to accomplish today. There is also reference to the day of the year, days left in the year and tiny icon of the moon phase, because I need to know when the moon is waxing.

Most of the daily page is available for writing pertinent information about assignments, projects or tests. The 6mm lines are spaced well and the width of the page is comfortable for writing. A secondary highlighted Notes section appears at the bottom, which begs for brief future plans or reminders.

Overall, the Textagenda is a high quality product, with some well thought-out elements, but I would be hard pressed to make it work in my life. When I was in college, I could see the value of this layout, however I think it doesn’t provide enough room for all the information I needed to track, and it’s too big to carry around every day.

(Exaclair, the US distributor of Quo Vadis, supplied this product to The Pen Addict at no charge for purposes of this review.)

Posted on November 15, 2016 and filed under Quo Vadis, Planner Reviews.