What I Use: Hobonichi Techo Journal

Hobo Techo Planner kept closed by an elastic

I’ve been using a Hobonichi Techo Journal this past year. Well, most of 2015, I did lapse a bit in the middle of the year. I haven’t written about it since I didn’t have anything to say that wasn’t already said in other reviews. That’s still the case so there’s links to other reviews down below. But the Year end is a good time to review the ways I’ve tried using the Techo along with my anticipated use in 2016, since I did buy a 2016 version.

I’ve never been much of a paper paper person, at least not since electronic options have been available. All my attempts at using a paper planner have resulted in quick and complete failure. So I didn’t get the Hobonichi with the intention of using it as a planner. I’d consider it as a planner but I wasn’t exactly sure how I’d use it, and this played out over the year as my usage changed.

I didn’t get a cover or any accessories for the Techo, they can be pricey and I wasn’t confident I would continue using it. I didn’t intend to carry the Hobonichi very often and when I did I thought any cover would add unwanted bulk. I ended up using a large rubber band to keep it closed.

2015 Hobonichi Techo Planner

The Techo is an A6 sized planner which is small. The paper is thin so the book isn’t very thick despite having a page per day plus many additional pages. Each daily page is grid ruled which is not my favorite choice. Sunday’s are a light red while other days are a thin black, and I’ve gotten used to it. There’s an area for a timeline down the left with “12” and dinner utensils preprinted. I wish these weren’t preprinted. While I do like recording a time for each entry I rarely match up to the two preprinted times.

As you may know the Hobonichi uses fountain pen friendly Tomoeo River paper. I used fountain pen exclusively. The paper is thin and while bleed through isn’t a problem there’s some show-through. In general show-through never bothers me and I regularly use both sides of any paper. With my thin nibs the show-through is there but minimal with the Hobionichi. What does bother me is the time it takes for ink to dry on this paper. I cut a piece of blotter paper to fit the Techo and place between the pages. In addition to making my current page easy to fine it keeps the ink from transferring to the facing page when I close the book. Sure, I could wait for the ink to dry but that would require patience. Plus, it provides a bit of a cushion to write on if I’m using a hard thin nib that might leave an imprint on the page below the one I’m writing on.

The Hobonichi contains a monthly section, with each month covering a two page spread. I started the year using this section to plan longer term projects and themes for a week. I never referred back to this information so this section died out in March. This was also my only attempt to use the Techo to actually plan more than a week ahead.

Hobonichi Techo Planner monthly page spread
Hobonichi Techo Planner monthly page spread

It was the daily pages that I used regularly, although in different ways throughout the year. It ended up being more of a journal than a planner. Regular use through the year included tracking goals such as weight and how far I walk each day. I would also track other things for short periods of time, such as my home bandwidth usage when it seemed higher than normal for the month.

One habit that I did develop, and plan to continue, is to start each day with a short entry about what time I woke up, how motivated I’m feeling and what the weather is like. At various times I’ve tried listing accomplishments during the day and a summary at the end of the day, but these never stuck as habits.

Lately I’ve returned to using it as a short term planning. On Sunday night I usually plan my week ahead. As part of this I copy any appointments from my electronic calendar to the Hobonichi. I don’t have many these days so it’s quick to do. Then I pick a theme, project, or client that I’ll concentrate on for each day of the week. This kind of works for me but I won’t be continuing this next year. It helps because I see the info as I make my morning entry first thing, but I never refer to it during the day. If I have the book out near the end of the day I can quickly see what’s on tap for the next day. That’s a big “if” so I’m still in the habit of checking my electronic calendar and OmniFocus to see what’s on tap for the next day.

I never did get into the quotes on each two day spread or any of the other specialized pages. I’d prefer more space to write instead of the quotes but I suppose they are part of the Hobo charm. I might use some of the other pages this year, but probably not.

I did get a Hobonichi Techo for 2016 but I’ll be using it a bit diffently. I bought a Agendio that I intend to use as a traditional planner. Having the Techo for a year helped me work out if I could use a paper planner (yes), and if so what I would want in one (not the Hobo). For me, the drawback of the Techo is that there’s either a month view or a day view. I like to see a week at a time and I don’t need a lot of room for each day. In 2016 I’ll be using the Techo as a journal rather than a planner. I’ll keep doing my morning entries and tracking diet and other health related metrics since I find this is a good incentive to keep me on track and stick to good habits. Despite past failures I plan to end each day with an entry about the day along with anything interesting that I saw or did.

Additional Reading

The Pen Addict – Susan mainly reviews the larger Hobonichi Cousin but there is a comparison. She did not like the Techo for several reasons, so it’s worth reading if you want to avoid surprises.

The Newsprint – Good review with lots of details about the book itself. Great photos.

Gourmet Pens – Azizah was a bit overwelmed by everything in the Hobo (as was I but I just ignored much of it). This review comes after it “clicked” and she’s used it awhile.

There’s a large fan community around Hobonichi planner. Use Ian Hedley’s Pennaquod pen blog searcher or Google to search for enough reading to consume a day (or week).

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