What I Use: 2018 Planner Plans

Hobonichi Techo Weeks Planner One Week Spread with ribbon

I seem unable to learn that I’m not a paper planner guy. So, I’ll again be starting the year with a paper planner. My somewhat haphazard approach to picking the planner doesn’t bode well for my success. I’ll go on the record with my plans so that I can see how quickly and thoroughly I fail. (My confidence is underwhelming.)

I bought a Hobonichi Techo (A6 sized) from Jet Pens late in the buying season. I also threw in a Hobonichi Techo Weeks because I liked the coffee bean cover and I figured it’s similarities to my Traveler weekly planner would allow it to be my fallback plan and possibly serve as a daily log. Shortly after they arrived, I had pretty much swapped my ideas and the Weeks will be my planner while the A6 Techo will be a journal/log.

The Weeks starts in December, so I’ve already been using it a bit. I’ll cover the Hobonichi Weeks in this post and save the A6 Techo for another post.

The Hobonichi Techo Weeks is a smaller version (as far as the layout goes) go the Travelers Weekly Planner with which I’ve had some success. Each two-page spread has the days on the left page with the right page being black (well, grid ruled but wide open for writing). The weekly page with Monday and ends with Sunday as any good planner should. Saturday and Sunday are full-fledged days and get the same space as every other day. The month, the day of the week and numbers are all in English while the rest is in Japanese. I don’t read Japanese, so the quotes on each page along with the rest of the text is useless for me, but there’s enough English to make the planner useable.

As I said, I’ve been using the Weeks in December, and it’s been going well, although the paper planner habit has yet to take hold and become a matter of routine.

The blank right page gets a list of what I want to work on during the week. I avoid “planning” too far ahead, so I may list items for the following week but never more than a week in advance. I learned that if I get too far ahead, I’ll have more cross-outs than actual tasks by the time the week arrives. I usually fill out this list on Sunday night. The blank right page also gets used for checklists and notes.

Little of what I do requires that it be done on a specific day although it does need to be done by a particular day. Again, to avoid too many cross-outs I don’t fill out a day on the left until the day before when I’m planning the next day (the last task in my workday is to prepare for the next day). I may fill in specific things in advance if I’m confident that they won’t change but it’s rare.

I still use an electronic calendar for any appointments, and these get transferred to paper either during my Sunday night planning session or my end of day planning session. The transfer is not as involved or time-consuming as it sounds since I have very few calendar based events.

While I’m a long-time user of OmniFocus, I’ve been trying to wean myself off of it. That said, I’ve been unsuccessful and have continued to use it. I’ll plan out the steps in an OmniFocus project and merely refer to it in my Weeks planner, leaving the details to be looked up and managed in OmniFocus. Using OmniFocus may also help me stick to a paper planner since I’ll be fighting against fewer ingrained habits.

Hobonichi Techo Weeks Planner
A highly reflective transparent cover

I did get some accessories once I decided to try and stick with the Weeks. I picked up a transparent cover. Just in time, it seems, as JetPens no longer carries it. I typically skip covers, but the clear one still lets me see the coffee bean cover that I like so much. It gives me a sleeve inside both the front and back covers where I can slip papers. There’s also an inside pocket on both the front and back covers suitable for business cars or similar items, like the small Nock Co. index cards. The back cover has a pocket that can help secure larger slips of paper.

I also picked up a “writing board” sized for the Weeks to give me a hard surface to write on. It has a tab up top labeled “today” which I cut off. I didn’t like it sticking up, and I never used it to mark the current week. The Weeks has two ribbons that can mark the current week. I already had a blotter card that coincidentally matched the size of the weeks. The blotter card made the writing board superfluous since it was stiff enough to write on. It’s heavy paper with a blotter on one side and a picture on the other.

The Weeks using 52gsm Tomoe River cream colored paper so its fountain pen friendly but very thin. There is show through, not only for what I write but also for the pre-printed calendar. “Fountain Open Friendly” usually means slow drying, and that’s the case here which is why I carry blotter paper with it. I should also stick to thin nibs for faster drying and less show through, but so far I’ve just used whatever fountain pen is handy.

Hobonichi Techo Weeks Planner Note Year at a Glance

The Weeks includes monthly calendars (one month per two-page spread) up front and 68 grid-ruled memo pages in the back which I’ve yet to use. There are also two year-at-a-glance calendars up front, one of which takes up a two-page spread and may be useful for planning or tracking, provided you don’t need to write much.

The Hobonichi Weeks is smaller than the Travelers notebook. The Weeks is 3.7” (9.5 cm) by 7.4” (18.8 cm), so it’s much easier to carry. It does fit into many of my pockets, more or less. It is tall and thick, a little taller and thicker with the cover. It fits in my pocket well enough so that I can carry it from point A to point B and still have my hands free. It also takes up less room in my Nock Co. Lanier. Now that winter is here, and the bigger pockets of winter jackets and shirts that come along with it, the planner is even more comfortable to carry. The fact that I can bring it with me more often has translated into me using it more. I don’t have to write things down one place and transfer them to the planner at some future time.

Hobonichi Techo Weeks Planner with Bands

To keep the Weeks closed securely I’ve been experimenting with a Field Notes rubber band and a large rubber band, both of which I already had in a drawer. The large band is easier to take on and off while also allowing me to slip a receipt or slip of paper into the notebook without taking it off. The Field Notes Band is easier to stash in my pocket when I remove it. Both are shown in the photo, but I only use one at a time and have yet to develop a preference.

That’s my 2018 Planner Plans. Let’s see how they stand up to the test of time and my ingrained habits.

5 thoughts on “What I Use: 2018 Planner Plans

  1. I also started using a Weeks this month after failing to keep a paper planner. I continue to schedule meetings in Google Calendar on my laptop/phone, but use the Weeks for everything else. Like you, I dislike having crossed-out items everywhere, and I’ve had some success using trimmed-down Post-it notes to keep track of tasks that aren’t finalized yet. I stick them on the tentative day, move them around if necessary, and toss them if they’re canceled.

    Thanks for the thorough review!

  2. Enjoyable post Ray, your confidence level is right there with mine :). I have thried 3 years in a row with a Techo getting ramped up every December then currying to find one still available even though the last year’s version was about 20% used. This year I went with the Cousin and replacing my daily journal with it which was typically an FC or TWSBI A5 Journal. My December month at a glance is full so I’ve had a good start. I often wonder what drives me to really want to do a paper planner. My work environment is very structured in the whole Google suite calendaring. I wish you all the success!

  3. Nice thorough overview Ray. I do most of my scheduling on google calendar as I juggle multiple calendars – school, personal, organizational, etc – so I only use my pocket calendar to do a quick overview/glance to see if a date is open. I try to transfer most calendar information at the beginning of the month as well as a close look at the beginning of each week.
    Looking forward to seeing if you can make this work. Your approach seems pretty solid.

    • Hi Troy,
      Back when I had many more appointments I would also use an electronic calendar. In those days my to-do list was also all electronic and my “planner” was an index card written out the day before. For some reason, transferring in bulk at the beginning (or end) of the month struck me as doing twice the work and I hated it. On the other hand, transferring a subset the night before strikes me as prepping for the day ahead which is something I’ve done for years, in one form or another. It all depends on what works.

      Thanks for reading,

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