I am sure everyone is tired by now of all the 2017 planner reviews that have been appearing here. Guess what! (laugh) This is one that I have been waiting for quite eagerly, and it finally came during the week I was in Japan! I really had to hold myself back from ripping it open and compromised by only showing a little teaser shot in my IG.
Now get ready to meet my (yet another!) 2017 planner!
I first got a whiff of this on one of the Facebook groups I am on. Again, I have to apologise to my non-Chinese readers, as this is produced and sold in Taiwan, and I do not have any English, or translated, sites you can refer to.
The Take A Note 2017 Regular Planner (A5 size) is produced by the National Taiwan University (NTU) Press and was touted as having a limited print run. Separately there is also the Mini Planner (A6 size) and a Slim non-dated Weekly planner (which I believe in TN-sized). The insides of all three are Tomoe River paper (68gsm in the planners and 52gsm in the Slim).
The description of the Regular Planner is here (in Chinese), the Mini here and the Slim is here (also Chinese). The descriptions are so wonderfully written and I wish I could correctly translate all of it.
The insides of all three are Tomoe River paper (52gsm). The Regular and Mini came in two colours: an orangey saffron colour described as that of monks’ robes; also the colour used by Japanese royalty, and a grey-green colour, which reminds me of a stormy sea, used in the everyday outifits of royalty.
I decided to get the Regular (S$30.80), which is my standard size of choice, in the orange saffron colour, and also decided to give the Slim (S$11.20) a try in my Traveller’s Notebook. Both cost me about S$50 after shipping, which is still slightly lesser than the cost of the Hobonichi Cousin before shipping, so I would say it is a rather good deal.
I bought them on the Pinkoi site, which offered the free gift of the black cotton drawstring bag.
Both come with a clear plastic cover, which is a nice surprise.
The planner, unlike many others, does away with many of the ‘extra offerings’ which are often unnecessary and results in a nice slim profile. It also means that the book lays out very flat when open.
Starting with some thick black paper, the planner begins very immediately with a cover page and jumps right into the planner proper.
Starting with the usual yearly calendar, it only provides the last 4 months of the previous year, and the first 4 months of the next. Some people may prefer to have all three years at a glance though.
On the facing page, you get a year at a glance, with all the days of the months laid out in horizontal rows, gantt chart style. The space is rather small, but it can be good for marking out personal special days, public holidays, anniversaries and even trips, especially if you tend to take many in a year.
Moving on tho the month on a spread, this starts in December 2016 and goes all the way to March 2018, which is fair enough for some future planning, if need be.
These are nicely laid out on grid pages, and there is plenty of space on the top, left and bottom of each spread for planning, tasks, and notes.
The print is dark enough to be visible, but not so much that it overpowers all writing that you will be doing in it.
We then speedily move into the week layouts. I am not 100% keen on their layout, as each week is divided into two spreads, which means there is difficulty in viewing your week at a glance.
But it also means there is PLENTY of space.
Strangely enough, the weeks begin in the final week of December 2016 (26th to 31st). Each week begins with a small week-at-a-glance on the left of the spread. Then you get Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday laid out side by side, and then Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the following spread. Then the next week starts all over again.
Weekdays are coloured in grey-green colour (the alternate cover colour), and weekends and public holidays in a light shade of the orange saffron. One point to note is only public holidays celebrated in Taiwan are marked.
The ‘coloumn’ of each day begins with a 4-grid space for to-dos, and the rest of it is split into hours beginning with 6am and ending at 3am, and then another 4-grid space. The Taiwanese must have really long days. As you can also see, there is a shaded grid between the hours of 12noon and 1pm, likely for lunch, or to split the day into morning and afternoon. It is rather odd, but something I can easily overlook.
The weeks end on December 31st, and we then have a few grid pages. Literally, just a few, like maybe five.
The book ends with a stylised metro map for Taipei and Kaohsiung, currently the only two cities in Taiwan with a metro (subway) system.
And that’s it! When I said they did away with all the unnecessary stuff, they really did. It is something I truly appreciate. Let’s be honest. Most of us buy the same planner year after year, but who truly needs world clocks or clothing sizes or flight times on paper, repeatedly, year after year. These things are not, if at all, subject to change, and most people would just look it up on their phones. That is unless you are on a round-the-world trip and stuck out in the middle of the desert or tropical rainforest. Otherwise, it is a waste of paper, because you cannot even write on them.
As mentioned, the planner comes with a simple clear plastic cover that has small pockets on both the front and back.
It is great for people who like to have their planner or diary stickers at hand, or for putting in receipts temporarily.
The pen loop is pretty generous in size, but the cap of my TWSBI Diamond 580RB was rather too large to fit through.
A normal-sized pen such as the Uniball Signo fits perfectly.
Moving on to the Slim, it comes only in black. The clear plastic cover fits very nicely but does not have pockets or slots.
The logo and the words SLIM Weekly are beautifully printed on the cover.
Again, this is a very lean book. There are no extras.
Because it is undated, you do not get the yearly calendar. It jumps straight into a yearly spread, again gantt-chart style, with the days of the months laid out horizontally across the spread. This is again great for project planning, special dates, anniversaries or trips.
Jumping now straight into the meat of this slim planner, the week is laid out across the spread, each day running vertically down its column from 8am to midnight. There is one empty column on the left, and some empty space at the bottom.
That’s it! There are about 52 or 53 weeks in the book, and that is really it.It is truly a lean and mean planning machine.
People who are used to the various types of planners such as the Moleskine or the Hobonichi might think that these are very sparse. But I honestly do like them a lot.
They are obviously modeled against the Hobonichi Techo or the Jibun Techo, another Japanese planner that is picking up popularity. Side note: I was eyeing the Jibun Techo covetously while in Osaka last week but gave up the idea because I knew these little things was waiting for me back home.
I have not decided what I will use it for. But out of all the planners I have on hand, I definitely favour these two a LOT. They are light, they are lean, they are truly about planning and nothing else, and I love that. I can almost imagine that these were planned out by engineers or project managers.
I am very grateful for the change to Tomoe River paper (as the makers claim). It is a huge draw because I have never been able to afford a planner with this expensive paper.
I can’t wait to finally be able to use my fountain pens on these two planners, so hopefully a pen test will be coming up soon too!
Again, I apologize that I am reviewing a planner that is totally unavailable in the English-speaking world, and now in fact, in the Chinese-speaking world too as it had only one print run and is now totally sold out.
But I hope to be able to step back from scrapbooking part of things, and taking a leaf from so many Japanese planner IG accounts, really delve back into the simplicity and zen of actual planning, scheduling, and writing in the new year. At least, that is the plan, but we will see how it goes. Hopefully, this idea will appeal to some of you out there, and we can take this simpler journey together in 2017.