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.

This Just In: Nanami Cafe Note – 7mm Rule

Nanami Paper Cafe Note Slipcase

While browsing the Nanami Paper website recently, I came across a new notebook from them. They created a mini-me version of my favorite Seven Seas Writer and called it the Cafe Note.

The Cafe Note is a B6 sized notebook (the Seven Seas is A5). There’s a lined 7mm ruled version and a grid ruled version with a 3.7mm grid. I got the ruled version. The B6 pages are 110mm X 176mm (about 4” X 7”). There are 385 pages in each version. By comparison the A5 sized Writer is 148mm X 210mm and has 480 pages.

It’s the same 52gsm white Tomoe River paper as the Writer. The lines are light blue. Like the Seven Seas, the cover is coated paper. I like that the paper is thin, so there’s a lot of it. It’s a little too fountain pen friendly for my tastes making it slow drying. The thin paper can also be subject to show-through. I typically use thin nibs so show-through usually isn’t an issue for me. I like to get the most out of my notebooks and write on both sides of the page. The slow drying bothers me much more as I do get more smudges than I would like. The notebook comes with a sheet of blotter paper so I use that before turning a page.

The paper is thin, so if you have a heavy hand you could leave an imprint of the page below the one you’re writing on. You could always use the included blotter paper under the page you’re writing on. The blotter paper also helps cut down on the show through when it’s under the page I’m writing on.

In addition to the pink blotter paper, cut to the size of the notebook, a cardboard slipcase for protection and storage is included.

While I like the Seven Seas Writer a lot, it’s too big and heavy for a daily carry notebook. At least for me. While the Cafe Note is a much more manageable size and weight. That said, I haven’t given the Note a workout yet so it may not travel as well as I expect it to.

The notebook does a good job of lying flat when opened. I haven’t found a notebook, other than wire bound notebooks, that are truly flat when opened. The Cafe Note is better than most. Once I bend the covers back on themselves to loosen the binding it’s better (so much for pristine notebooks). I do this regularly with the Seven Seas and the binding itself isn’t damaged and I expect the Cafe Note to hold up just as well. In the beginning I put something like my phone under the left side to provide a flat writing surface, but after about 10 pages it’s easier to flatter the notebook.

The Cafe Note is currently in stock a Nanami Paper at $16 each (plus shipping). The ruled version is also listed, but currently unavailable, on Amazon.

Review: Inky Fingers Currently Inked Notebook

Inky Fingers Currently Inked Notebook - cover

Matt from The Pen Habit has a line of notebooks that he sells, newly branded as Inky Fingers around the time of the Washington DC Pen Show. They were at the Vanness Pens table so I could see and touch them. I decided to try out the Currently Inked version in the Travelers Notebook (TN) size.

The entire notebook line is available in either a standard pocket size (89mm X 140mm) or a Travelers Notebook size (110mm X 210mm). I’d tried a similar notebook in a pocket size in the distant past but it didn’t stick. The TN size seemed more usable, at least for me, so I decided to try one. I probably wouldn’t have added it to my cart if shopping online, but at $8 it was my least expensive purchase at the show.

The short review – it’s worked well for me and all 24 pens inked up since the show have been recorded in the notebook.

I like the TN size because it’s easy to find in the clutter of my desk. It doesn’t get lost in a pile of pocket notebooks. While the TN size is common, if not an actual standard, it’s still unique for me making it easy to identify by either sight or touch. Of course this would change if I had a desk drawer full of Travelers Notebooks rather than pocket notebooks.

The cover is glossy card stock. Each notebook type in the line has a different cover color and the Currently Inked covers are green. There are 44 pages (22 sheets) in the notebook with four inking slots on each page. So as math will prove, there’s room for 176 ink records. Each record has room for the basics – Pen, Nib, Ink, Date Inked and Date Cleaned. There’s also a space for a swab (labeled “swatch”). I’ve never been keen on swabs since they rarely reflect how the ink will look in my typical thin nib. So I use this space for a writing sample. I like how there are labels for the basic information, but they get out of the way if you want to do things a little different. It’s a very clean design.

Inky Fingers Currently Inked Notebook - facing pages with blank

The paper is 80 gsm wheat straw paper. I’d never heard of wheat straw paper so I hit up google. I’d compare it to sugarcane paper in that both are made from what is typically farm crop waste. But the resemblance to sugarcane paper ends there and this feels like quality paper made from trees. It’s relatively smooth but does have a little texture, which I like. I find the ink dries quickly but does not bleed-through or show-through. It’s not a thick paper so if there is light behind the page it will show through, but not in normal use. Thanks to the lighting the show-through is worse in the photos than in actual use, it’s not noticeable. I haven’t used any ink that is known for bleed-through, such as some quick drying inks designed to be quickly absorbed, so your experience may vary. I’ve begun using a Travelers Notebook and I like this paper enough to consider it for other style notebooks as inserts.

As an ink record I find it quick and easy to use. Unlike previous attempts I’ve been able to stick with it and there’s an excellent chance I will eventually fill the notebook. The paper, notebook size and clean design of the Inky Fingers Currently Inked notebook seem well-suited for me.

Quick Look: Nockco 3 X 5 DotDash Note Cards

Nockco opened their online store this week. Even though I already reviewed the remaining Kickstarter pen cases I thought it would be good to post a quick look at their 3 X 5 DotDash Note Cards since Nockco is more than just pen cases. I received this pack of note cards when I won the Pen Addict 100th podcast giveaway.
I’m not a index card type of guy so I don’t have a regular use for these (or any other) index cards. I keep index cards at my desk for occasional use (preferring notepads) but consider them one level above scrap paper. They end up in the trash within days, if not hours.
The DotDash name comes from the lines of the grid pattern printed on the cards, front and back. The lines are a subtle orange made up of dots and dashes. I typically don’t like grid paper but these are subdued and I like them. Similar to Doane Paper, the grid doesn’t dominate the card. According to the Nockco website the cards are 80lb. (216 GSM) cover stock, the grid is 4.25mm and the color is Pantone 143.
My only niggle is that the lines aren’t exactly perpendicular to the edges. There is no true back and front, but based on the way I took the cards from the package I didn’t notice the skewing on the front. Then I turned the card over and it was obvious, much worse on the back. And then I couldn’t stop myself from noticing it on the front too.
The cards are fountain pen friendly. The only noticeable feathering was with MB Racing Green in a wet stub nib. There wasn’t any bleed or show through with any of my nibs. Drops of Franklin-Christoph Black Magic did bleed-through. But that stuff bleeds through every paper I’ve used it on with anything thicker than an Japanese extra fine nib. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a glass dip pen (which is wet and puts down a thick line) did not bleed through, although there was just a little show through when the pen had been newly dipped and there was extra ink. I was surprised that swabs of Syo-ro and Infinite Grey did not show through.
Nockco has also designed the unique Fodderstock pen and index card case. This is not for me, the non-index card guy, but it’s a cool design for those of you who aren’t me.
If your like me and consider index cards to be borderline scrap paper then these probably index cards aren’t for you due to the price. But if you want fountain pen friendly index cards, or just want a change from the horrid blue grid lines, then these Nockco 3 X 5 DotDash Note Cards are highly recommended.


Staples Sustainable Earth Notebook

Photo of Staples Sustainable Earth cover
Front cover

I stopped into Staples the other day to get a Black n’ Red wirebound notebook. They didn’t have any in the size I wanted so I looked for alternatives. The Staples Sustainable Earth 9.5″ X 6′ wirebound notebook caught my eye at less than $5.

The paper is sugar-cane based which is where the sustainable comes from. The paper seemed rather flimsy but I decided to give it a try. The pages are perforated and at 100 sheets I figured I’d find some use for it.

The wirebound notebook has a thick cardboard cover and two pockets inside the notebook. The spiral binding is thick wire so the notebook seemed like it would hold up fairly well being carried in my bag. After I got home I did an internet search and it seems the paper quality varies widely. My notebook was made in Egypt. There’s a whole line of sustainable earth notebooks and I have no idea if the variation is between styles or within the same style, so your mileage may vary.

The paper is thin so there is show through, even with my thin nibs. Since wirebound notebooks are uncomfortable half the time (if bound on the side) I don’t often write on the back so this isn’t a huge issue for me. But when I did write on both sides the show-through didn’t bother me.

There wasn’t any bleed-through to speak of. One small dot did soak through when I repeatedly wrote over the same area. A swab did bleed-through just a little. Thick, wet nibs may not like this paper.

The inks I used behaved surprisingly well with this paper. It’s fountain pen friendly in my opinion. It’s not Rhodia, but it’s not priced at Rhodia levels.

The paper holds up surprisingly well even though it seems so flimsy. I use the notebook at work and flip back and forth through pages all the time and the paper has not torn or come loose from the wire. It wrinkles a bit, but doesn’t tear. The micro-perforations work well.

I’m not sure I buy into the eco-friendly marketing. I bought the pad because of the low price and trees can be replanted. According to the marketing blurb inside the notebook the paper is

… made from 80% sugarcane plant fiber waste. After sugarcane is processed and crushed to make sugar, the waste is converted into paper.

Using more parts of anything to reduce waste is good, so apparently it’s not just because less trees are used.

I find the notebook suitable for my use – work notes and checklists. The price is right at $5 but I’d be sure to check the paper before each purchase. Just like the Black & Red notebook I went to Staples to get.