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.

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).