My 2024 Techo Kaigi

My 2024 Techo Kaigi

If you’re active in the online analog planning community, you’ve probably stumbled upon the Japanese term Techo Kaigi. “Techou” translates to a notebook or planner, and “Kaigi” means a meeting or conference. In simple terms, it’s a “planner meeting” or “meeting with oneself”. I recently discovered this concept via @fer_plans on Instagram.

Techo Kaigi is the practice of reflecting on one’s planners, journals and notebooks from the past year. Throughout this period of introspection, we can review the systems that have worked well and those that maybe fell a bit short. It’s like a system audit for your personal life wherein the idea is to implement these lessons and insights into your set up for the upcoming year.

As we’re wrapping up the year, I thought it would be fun to adapt this practice to the digital world of tools and workspaces. Most of my planning and personal productivity routines reside within my digital workspace which consists of applications that I use day in and day out.

While the analog community has bullet journals, Hobonichi techos, traveler’s notebooks, and Moleskines, we digital planning enthusiasts have our app stacks. Think Obsidian, Notion, Tana, Google Workspace, and so much more. In this review, I’m zooming in on the tools that form the heart of my stack — the ones I rely on daily. The rest of the tools in my accessory stack play supporting roles, used less often or when needed to complement the core stack.

Let’s dive in!

Core Stack

Tana

Tana serves as my digital home base for personal productivity. It’s the first app that I check in the morning and the last one I use at night. I leverage Tana for various purposes:

  • Task Management: The daily page is my go-to for planning tasks each day. I’ve organized a task priority board grouped by levels corresponding to the Eisenhower Matrix and my daily log supertag. I drag tasks from the priority board into the AM or PM fields of the daily log supertag and dive into work. At the end of the day, I add a quote or a one-liner takeaway. Previously, I used the daily log supertag alone without the priority board. This worked well at the time because I didn’t have any tasks in my backlog. Over the past few weeks, tasks have begun to accumulate, prompting the addition of the priority board.
  • Project Management: Whether it’s courses, certifications, or ongoing projects, I track everything here. While I might delve deeper into a project using Notion, Tana keeps a comprehensive overview, indicating whether a project is not started, in progress, or completed.
  • Annual Planning & Tracking: Detailed in my previous article, this is where I monitor goals, habits, and routines throughout the year.
  • Time Capsule: A collection of memorable moments as the years of my life progress towards its inevitable end.
  • Personal Knowledge Management: Most of my working PKM notes live in Tana. These are notes based on topics of interest from various sources such as books, conversations, podcast episodes, YouTube videos and seemingly random questions that pop into my head.
  • List Keeping: I maintain a list of lists covering ideas, quotes, current and future reading lists, films, restaurants, questions to ponder, and general pieces of information I want to remember.
The daily page in Tana.

Toggl Track

Saidi Alifa Jr inspired me to start tracking my time this month and it’s been eye opening to see how much of it I actually waste on a daily basis. While I don’t plan to continue this indefinitely, it helps me to spot trends in my productivity and develop healthier habits along the way.

A week of mostly consistent time tracking.

Cron

This year, Cron has replaced Apple Calendar as my calendar app of choice. I enjoy it’s simplicity, ease of use, keyboard shortcuts and that it takes me 2 seconds to join a Google Meet or Zoom call.

Notion

I moved back into my Notion daily journal and time capsule this month. I initially built and began using this in 2021 but I’m in the process of migrating journal entries from other applications and my physical notebooks here. I honestly would like to have a local back-up of these and, therefore, I’m also adding these entries to my Obsidian vault over time. I have multiple physical notebooks from over the years that have journal entries and I’d like to see them all in one searchable place.

As a Notion Consultant, I have a digital office for client work and related project management pages.

Notion also serves as my personal finance tracker, but more on that in the Google Sheets section below.

My digital office in Notion

SmartSuite

I’m currently writing this article in SmartSuite, of all tools! Trust me, I am just as surprised as you are. Similar to Airtable and ClickUp, SmartSuite is a work management tool mainly used by teams for digital project and agency organization.

I use SmartSuite for my content creation process. I like that I can have everything that I need in one place. For example, as I write this article, I have fields for the start date, publish date, priority and status. Then, I have a workflow checklist that I can use to track where I am with the article and to ensure I don’t forget anything. I have a text area for brainstorming and a SmartDoc which I use for writing. Lastly, I have fields for the article’s link when I post it to Medium and the thumbnail for future reference. I can even track the time that I’ve spent working on the article here as well. Overall, the features that reeled me in to SmartSuite and kept me here are:

  • The checklist field that includes an automatic progress bar and the ability to enter a due date and assign the list item to another workspace member.
  • The ability to group fields by sections! If you are an avid Notion user like myself, you know how badly we’ve been wanting to group properties. Sorting them is not enough, the ability to demarcate clear sections and sort within them is one key reason why I enjoy using SmartSuite for workflows and processes like content creation.

My main drawback with SmartSuite thus far for writing is that I need to manually click save while writing. Is it just me or since the days of Microsoft Word are behind us, shouldn’t automatic saving be a standard for these work management tools? Nevertheless, I love you SmartSuite and I’m here for the long haul!

This article in SmartSuite.

Apple Notes

I recently did a little personal research project wherein I surveyed 285 blogs to answer this question: “What are the most commonly used default apps for task management, note taking and personal finances?” You already know the answer to the most used note-taking app: Apple Notes. It’s quick for capture, reliable and pleasing to use. Apples Notes houses my shopping lists and those temporary and mostly random notes that we all keep on our most used mobile devices.

A snippet of the results from my little research project.

Obsidian

Obsidian is the tool that I feel most guilty about. It’s like that kid in school who always did their homework no matter what — reliable like clockwork, always there without hesitation. Logically, I know that I should be like this kid but more beautiful and enjoyable experiences hypnotise my senses and I stray from what I know is right and morally good. This is my relationship with Obsidian. I know that this should be the home for my notes. My notes are so precious to me, I know that I should have them locally stored on my machine and backed up in more than one place. Yet, I am stubborn and I fear that I will learn this lesson the hard way.

One day, I will learn how to dance with Obsidian. Until then, I’m slowly adding my notes to a vault which I’m making my own. I fell in love with Obsidian Publish last year and I’m seriously deliberating creating a digital garden there but my main concern is SEO.

My very humble Obsidian vault.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is my go-to for easily tracking anything with numbers and formulae. My fitness trainer’s macro tracker lives here and I’ve also set up my own sheet for commonly used foods and their macros so that I can plug them in to ChatGPT to create my weekly meal plan.

I am considering moving into Google Sheets to track my personal finances. Notion was great as I was getting started to learn my spending habits but I see a lot of potential in Google Sheets for a simpler and more succinct workflow. I don’t think I need to continue tracking every single item that I purchase anymore as I have more or less fixed spending habits now.

Cronometer

I tracked the macros of every meal that I had for 6 weeks from November 6th to December 17th as part of a macro tracking challenge set by my trainer. While I lost the challenge (a story for another day 🥲), I gained tremendous insight into my eating habits. I chose Cronometer as opposed to My Fitness Pal because I like to test apps outside of the status quo and because it has a much simpler user interface in my opinion. I loved tracking meals in Cronometer and will continue to do so into 2024.

Arc

It’s been a beautiful year with Arc. I have zero complaints with this browser and I don’t even remember the days of Safari 😅

Accessory Stack

Digital tools

  • Eagle — photo and, especially, screenshot organization.
  • Raindrop & Telegram — bookmark management
  • NetNewsWire — RSS reader
  • Cleanshot X — screenshots, screen recordings
  • Screen Studio — screen recordings
  • Whimsical & Miro — mind mapping, process mapping
  • Airtable — embeddable databases, like the one below.

Active physical notebooks as commonplace books

  • Zequenz Classic 360 — A6 in red
  • Zequenz Classic 360 — B6 in black
  • Minimalism Art Premium Dotted Hardcover in Marigold, 8.3” x 5”

Conclusion

In summary, this year-end reflection on my tools has been a fun and introspective exercise. Each tool holds a special place in my workflow, and I look forward to another year with them.

What about you? What tools will you be reflecting on for your Techo Kaigi? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Here’s an Airtable base summarizing all of the tools mentioned: