A Review of the Jibun Techo Japanese Planner System
When I asked Yunus to let me start writing for the Galen Blog (twisting his arm may be more like it,) one of the things I was most excited about was getting to try new things, specifically new ways of organizing myself using Galen products and discovering new planner systems. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I am a Hobonichi and Traveler’s Notebook enthusiast, having used both of those systems for many years with my own modified Bullet Journal system. I like to think that what I’ve come up with has kept me organized and productive and I have certainly had a lot of fun making those systems my own, often inspired by others in the stationery, fountain pen and planner communities. It is really a privilege to have such beautiful tools to engage with and I get so much joy when I pack my bag for the day and see beautiful leather goods, gorgeous paper, special pens and keepsakes make their way into my tote bag.
There is almost something meditative about moving through life this way. Making memories, recording information and plotting the future in planners and notebooks and being able to look back on it all is so rewarding. But, like any good practice, I think it is important to shake it up sometimes. I always want to make sure I am not missing the thing that could take me to the next level because I might be forsaking my comfort. This is one of those shake it up moments. In thirty-five days, it is going to be a new decade. What better time is there to try a new way to plan? Enter the Jibun Techo.
The History of Jibun Techo
While it has been sold since 2012, I started seeing it in my usual haunts a few years ago. I have picked it up and leafed through it on occasion, but never took the leap. This year, I decided the best way to share it with you, was to get intimate with it myself, so I ordered one and I have loved exploring all of its nooks and crannies as it is chock full of interesting features.
Before I tell you what I found and how I think I might utilize it, a little history.
Jibun Techo is manufactured by the Kokuyo Company. Designed by Hideaki Sakuma, Jibun Techo translates to “Myself Planner” and the tenants of this planner align with that: this is a planner that can encompass all facets of your life and in fact, is designed to be used for life.
While there is a component of the planner that is to be used in the calendar year purchased, there are additional parts of the planner that you can keep planning in well, forever, if it suits you.
My Personal Jibun Techo Experience
I purchased my Jibun Techo in a First Kit set in the larger size A5 slim. This set has three booklets and is the best way to experience the entirety of the system. The system comes in a smaller B6 Slim size for someone who needs less surface area for planning or prefers a smaller size for carrying. I generally prefer an A5, but for those who are looking for something compact, I think both sizes can actually meet that need. Even though the A5 is larger in height and width, it is still a very slim profile due to the thinness of the paper. The Jibun Techo also comes in a BIZ version which has some modifications for the workplace, including thicker and smoother paper and subdued coloration. While the BIZ does not come with the other two books, all of them are available separately, another way to really make this system your own; by using all or just parts of it.
The Jibun Techo is divided into three booklets: LIFE, DIARY and IDEA. From the start it feels really satisfying to have them stacked all together. It suggests that it is a very substantial system before you even begin exploring it.
The Life Book
The LIFE book is for life! All of it! From now to until the end. The LIFE book, like the rest of the Jibun Techo is mainly written in Japanese, but there are some English headers to guide English speakers through the main components of the books. The LIFE book, unlike the other two books in the First Kit has a thicker Kokuyo paper called MIO. It feels similar to Clairfontaine to me. It is very smooth and took fountain pen really well. My rollerball and ballpoint pen tests took a little bit of time to dry, but my juicy broad nib and wet ink from Franklin-Christoph dried quickly without any bleed through, feathering or smudging. Since this is primarily what I use I feel like the MIO paper is a good fit.
There are many interesting layouts in the LIFE book. Here are the ones I found most useful and unique:
- Life’s Dream is a wonderful place for a bucket list or to hatch a big plan, it has two sections so it could be used to list on one side and date completion on the other.
- 100 Wishes List - I love this because I believe that manifestation and writing down one’s deepest desires for life sets the stage for making them come to fruition. This gives you a lot of room to wish and dream and when you get to 100, this would be an easy practice to continue on a blank page.
- Monthly Anniversary Pages - I like the idea that I can retire my separate birthday/anniversaries book and put all of the dates that I want to remember here. As I get older it’s becoming more and more important to write these things down!
- The World Travel Map will be really fun to fill in and will no doubt create a list of places to add to the 100 Wishes List. There are so many places I want to experience.
- The Years Pages have three sections for each year of your life (my news, family news and world news,) divided into sub-sections of twelve months each. It starts with your first year and continues through your 99th year. To fill in the first 46 years of my life, I’m thinking it might be fun to pull out my baby book and old journals and piece together some of my history and then fill in the most important family and world events. Going forward, I think this might start a month end practice of looking back through the month to pick out the most significant event for each section. I like the idea of reflection and that this section could be all about that.
- The favorite photos section may or may not end up being all of my dogs, Ivy and Zelda. My three nephews may end up there, too.
The Diary Book
The DIARY book is the dated planner for 2020, though it generously starts in November, so I was able to give it a test run prior to writing this entry.
The DIARY was previous to this year, made with Tomoe River paper, but this year Kokuyo has started to use their proprietary Kokuyo Thin Paper. It is very similar to Tomoe River in weight. I do feel that that Tomoe River is smoother, but I like that the little bit of tooth might be good for the times that I use pencil in my planner as I have always found the Tomoe River a little bit fussy with graphite and erasing. Fountain pen, rollerball and ballpoint (BIC Cristal, you never disappoint,) all performed well on the Thin paper, with some ghosting which is to be expected, but no bleed through or feathering.
Some of my favorite sections of the DIARY:
- The DIARY starts with current, next and last year’s calendars. These are always helpful, especially for my business purposes. It is always of great assistance to see what dates fall on which days of the week for planning purposes.
- My Dream 2020: I love writing New Year’s Resolutions, though I don’t call them that and I generally write them well before the new year and throughout the year. This will be a great place to see them all together.
- Favorite Phrases: Do you love quotes? I LOVE quotes! I love that Jibun Techo has a section for quotes. It’s only a two-page spread, but it’s a start.
- Book and Movie Lists: As far as I am concerned, until retirement (something I aspire to every minute of every day,) there is not enough hours in the day for all of the books I want to read and movies I want to see. Having a place to remember what I’ve read and seen and also those books and movies I want to remind myself about is very useful.
- Promises Made - I’m not sure how I will use this. I want to, though. Perhaps as a place to make affirmations to myself.
- Monthly Project Pages through April 2021 - These can be used to plot long term projects, but I think I am going to use them as habit trackers. They are organized in a way that will make this easy to do and I am happy to have a place to track my progress on some things I’m working on. Writing every day is one thing I’m tracking, so today I get a check. I will love looking at these pages when they are filled with checks!
- Monthly Planning Pages - These are fairly standard with a useful to-do list section for each month.
- The Weekly Plan: This is where the bulk of my planning will take place, I suspect. These weekly layouts have lots of space for to do lists, are divided into 24 hours per day for day to night and back again planning. There is also space to track your mood and the weather. They might coincide! Mine often do.
- Looking Back: Reflection offers many lessons, so I like the idea of finishing the year with a section of highlights, what went well, what happened and what didn’t, but might in the next year. Mindfulness starts with self-reflection and I appreciate that this was included in this planner.
The Idea Book
All Jibun Techo booklets are printed with a light gray grid that is pleasant and unobtrusive. The grid in the A5 slim size is slightly larger than 3 mm, while the grid in the mini B6 is slightly smaller than 3 mm. Map pages have a grid of about 2 mm to accommodate the more complex diagrams.
The IDEA book is a gridded notebook with a margin that offers free, blank space for ideas, notes and more space for continuing items in the other books should one need it. If you are someone who likes to digitize your notes, Kokuyo has an app called the CamiApp that allows you to upload two-page spreads from the IDEA book using your smart phone. Realistically, I will never do this, but you might want to and now you know you can!
Like other planning systems, this one offers some nice accessories. They are thoughtful items, like sticky notes that are perforated and fit the width of various sections of the DIARY book, stencils (which I like better than Hobonichi’s and owned prior to buying the Jibun Techo,) and tabs. Additional LIFE and IDEAS books are available as a separate refill and next year I will be able to buy my DIARY book separately, as well. There are several different covers to choose from made by Jibun Techo, but I think this is where Galen comes in in a way that is far more beautiful and useful than the Jibun Techo plastic covers. The A5 size fits perfectly into my GalenA5 Hobonichi Planner Folio. It comfortably fits all three booklets without taking them apart, which is really nice. The slim profile easily zips in the case. The B6 size fits quite nicely in the Galen Traveler’s Notebook Wallet Insert. Currently available in 5 colors, this will make for a really nice compact system to carry with you.
One last thought. While I really like the IDEA books, I am in L.O.V.E. with the Galen Everyday Books, so my big modification is going to be to continue using them as my primary place for notes. I love everything about them: the Tomoe River paper, the covers, the number of pages, etc. For me, they are perfect and so I’m sticking with them and ordering more.
I hope I’ve helped you to get to know Jibun Techo. If you are someone who is looking to start 2020 with a highly adaptable system that allows for 360-degree planning this might be your new planner. It offers flexibility in spades and while I think it will keep one on track, productive and organized, I think what makes it most special is that it allows one to take the whole of their life into account, focusing on the present without sacrificing opportunities to catalogue and remember the past, while dreaming about the future.
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