Monday, December 19, 2011

Hyper organization

Delving into pen, ink, and paper blogs has sent me down a rabbit hole into an entirely new-to-me world. Amidst all the reviews and advice, there are stories about actually using these everyday items. And, in turn, the question of personal organization and productivity is asked and answered in many, many ways.

I discovered people who use a different planner for different aspects of their life (e.g. knitting, health & fitness, finances, professional, etc.). That's too much for me; I want to keep as little as possible on me at all times. And as I clicked on to more and more blogs, I found that a lot of people go the DIY or hack route to personalize a calendar or organization scheme to meet their personal needs. Fair enough, right? It's fun and encouraging to read about and see people's ingenuity and creativity. But it also added a lot of options for me, in addition to what's available commercially.

A few weeks ago, as I was pondering and exploring the options, my eye was piqued by the phrase 'nifty Japanese planner' on the sidebar of the DIY planner blog. And it was like falling down yet another, wonderful rabbit hole. Said planner is nifty indeed, a uniquely accordion-folded format, each panel a quarter sheet, each panel divided into eight columns for days of the week plus notes. I like the accordion style because it doesn't necessitate a separate month view (which Moleskine's weekly doesn't have and desperately needs!). Which means I wouldn't have to write things twice (once on the monthly, once on the week view). Each panel is 1/4 of a regular sheet of paper; printed double-sided, I can get a whole year in six pages. Not bad!

Of course I obsessed about the origin and evolution of this system. It was designed by an economist named Yukio Noguchi. There's not a whole lot of information in English, despite the face that he spent time at Yale and Stanford. The best one I found was on Postalco's site:


Chou seiri translates to " hyper-organized." These planners (chou seiri techou,「超」整理手帳) are still popular in Japan, and have, in the 15 or so years since their debut, a league of imitators. As you can see above, Postalco reimagined their version of the calendar, complete with leather or pressed cotton folio cover. Standard inserts and covers are easily available on Amazon Japan, too, but I won't have anyone buy it for me for two reasons: standard paper size in Japan is A4; and the weeks are printed with Monday as the first day. Secondarily, Japanese holidays are kind of irrelevant to me.

I found the link to one that someone created (can't find the link anymore) but it still didn't meet my needs: the week still begins on Monday and there is too much wasted margin space. Plus, Tuesday is written, "Tun" and Wednesday, "Wen." Small details, but still. How to get around this? A little DIY with Excel. I set all the margins to zero, created a basic grid, and drew in some boxes. Then I punched in each date separately (couldn't wrap my head around doing it by formulas). A little but of a PITA but not overly taxing. (And I can always leave it blank and write dates in as I go.) Fiddled around some more with formatting, shading the weekends and putting in a grid; and finally came up with this:


It might work! Now I'm cooking up ideas to create some sort of holder, with slots for cards, sticky notes, and blank paper for notes and doodles. Kinda like the original. But custom built for 8 1/2 x 11 and the U.S. calendar. I've been using my beta version for the past month and will give myself until about mid-January to decide what to do for the remainder of 2012. Here's to gettin' everything together for a productive year!

1 comment:

  1. [...] I pretty much decided that I was going to use the hyper organized (chou seiri) system, to which end I needed to create a case for my hacked calendar.  I considered [...]