the Planner Post: 2014 edition

June 16, 2014

You all know I love a good planner.  And there are so many of them out there!  Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed using an Exacompta Space 24, a Korean Journal-J that I could only find on eBay, and for 2012-2013, the Erin Condren Life Planner.  I can stand behind any of those products/systems, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t suffer from planner wanderlust sometimes.

As our world becomes more and more digitized, I still think I will always plan on paper.  There is just something about seeing that day/week/month laid out in front of me in ink that just feels right.  It’s motivating and yet friendly in a way that an app is not.  It’s fast and incredibly flexible — especially with the right system.

SO.  While I loved the EC planner, I decided that I wanted a little bit more space to play with — specifically the ability to have a daily page.   I needed a place to put work details, home details, and random tasks that come up throughout the day all together.  I also thought it would be fun to be able to jot down memories or interesting things (for blog fodder, even!) from time to time.   However, I wasn’t willing to let go of my weekly or monthly views.  And I wanted something without too much structure, so that I could play with the space in different ways.

When I read Laurie’s Plannerisms post on the Hobonichi Techo Cousin, I knew I had to have one.  Yes, the planner has some Japanese characters and the website was a little confusing at first.  But so far I have been REALLY happy with the product!

Quick Details:
NAME: Hobonichi Techo Cousin – Spring 2014 Edition (March 2014-Feb 2015)
SIZE: about 8.5 x 6.5 inches without the cover
COST with COVER, including shipping: ~$80 (varies based on exchange rate)
PAPER: Very thin but also smooth and high quality.
ORDERING INSTRUCTIONS: Sadly I don’t think this edition is available now, but I’m guessing there will be a new one in January!  The smaller Techo is available, though.
Here’s the store link, and helpful buying instructions from an English/Japanese speaker are here.
Pictures of how I am using mine . . .

You can check out the Plannerisms link above for photos of the blank pages, but here are some shots of how I am using the different page layouts.
First, the planner on my work desk, to show size.  I usually have it open on my desk all day.  As you can see, the closure does double duty as a pen loop.
Inside front cover.  I don’t have anything in these slots, but could imagine stashing all sorts of useful things, like a small ruler, a few index cards, etc.
Yearly pages!  I haven’t really made the most of this, but could see it as a great place for planning large scale goals or doing a yearly (happiness?) project of sorts.  It could also be an at-a-glance training logs, pumping record (what? no one else has one of those?), or financial or health tracker.  I use it as a birthday reminder system.
Monthly pages.  I love that this is on two pages — one would be too small.  I use this for large-scale planning: vacation days, call schedules, date nights.  The heavy use of graph paper throughout the planner makes me unspeakably happy.

Weekly pages.  I use this to put all ‘fixed’ events, like meetings and events.  I also like to plan out dinners + workouts 7 days at a time.  I guess if I had to, I could do without a weekly view, but I feel like I might lose track of things if I were only using monthly + daily pages.  There’s space on the left to write a weekly task list, and I use this every week.

(I don’t actually get all of the nagging tasks done each week, but at least I have them corralled so I know what they are!)

The daily pages!  My main reason from switching from the EC.  This is a fake page I made just for you all, because I tend to put patient data in a list and obviously didn’t want to publish that.  There’s plenty of room to write out things like:
— details of a morning workout
— patient calls and to-dos
— daily important tasks (until it was routine, I had a checkbox for C’s medicine every morning)
— blogging ideas
— random bits of fun, like a new band I discovered and wanted to remember to tell Josh, or something cute that Annabel said
— really ANYTHING!

I started this planner a month late (in April instead of March).  For some reason, the March dates are cut in half while the rest of the dates are full pages.  I am making good use of the March pages as notes pages, like the (ridiculous) pumping log I showed you all before.  

Finally, there’s a slot in the back pocket that is perfect for an accessory notebook, like this little field notes special edition that I stuck in there.

And there you have it!  My rather involved planner system for this year.  I hope this inspires someone!  What are you using this year?  Do you like having daily pages?  This is the first time I’ve used something with a daily blank space and so far . . . I really like it!


  • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Does the calendar officially start in April? It’s Japanese, right? That’s when everything starts there (school, gov’t fiscal year, people start new jobs, etc.) Maybe the March days are cut in half because you’re just reviewing them before the main start of the year?

    I have a two notebook system that works for me. One is a pocket calendar, organized by week. That’s how I generally think of my life, so I like seeing a week at a glance. I put time-specific appointments on there and any time-specific reminders (e.g. "call this person" when I said I’d be back in touch in a few weeks — I write it at the start of the week a few weeks hence). Then I have a regular spiral bound notebook in which I write lists of weekly priorities. After setting the week’s priorities, I tend to make daily to-do lists in that notebook as well. I had a random project list on a separate piece of paper going for a while, but I’ve made it through most things that were pressing on that and haven’t replenished.

    I’m sure there’s some more comprehensive system I could use, but this works. Also, pocket calendars and notebooks are cheap (cheaper than $80!)

    • Reply Jen March 10, 2019 at 7:15 pm

      I was going to reply saying the same thing (about the diary starting in April). Generally diaries in Japan are sold with ones starting from January, then from April, then from June/July? and from around October. I’ve never seen anything sold here (Japan, in case that wasn’t obvious) that officially starts in March that was made in Japan (as the Hobonichi diaries are), so I expect that is what it is.

      I had a hobonichi diary a few years ago. I loved it at the time, but didn’t really need a full page for each day at the time I had it, so stopped using it after a month or so.. sigh! I love stationery but I don’t really ever seem to need that much of it!

  • Reply Chelsea March 10, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Because I don’t have a huge number of appointments and don’t tend to put details about meals (those go on the fridge) or training plans (usually keep that on a separate one-page calendar), I’d love to find a planner that had month pages and BIG daily pages. I love the idea of having all that space to write things down. I’ll have to check out Plannerisms and see if I can find something similar for next year.

  • Reply MSWR March 10, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    Love seeing your current planner system! I also love the graph paper throughout your new planner.

    I used Journal J for the duration of grad school, which I found thanks to your planner posts, and I even spread the Journal J love to a few grad school friends. Journal J and other paper planners haven’t worked for me since I started my full-time job and had twins, so I have been experimenting with a few other methods. I have to have meetings/events online because of the work that I do, so I have given up trying to keep track of appointments and meetings both online and in a paper planner. Right now I am keeping track of appointments online (combo of my work Outlook calendar and my personal gmail calendar) and notes, to-do’s, and thoughts in a medium Leuchtturm notebook with dot-grid paper. I’m using a modified Bullet Journal method in my Leuchtturm. Prior to the Leuchtturm, I experimented with the Bullet Journal method in a small dot-grid notebook similar to Field Notes. This combo system has been working fairly well for 3.5 months, but my busiest time of year is August through November, so we’ll see if the system holds up through that.

    For my daily gratitude list and daily habit building, I’ve been using a monthly/weekly planner I got at Office Depot. I track the habits I want to be building on the monthly pages with highlighters (one color for each habit) and my daily gratitude list on the weekly pages. I don’t need to carry that with me and it just lives on my nightstand, and I reflect at the end of each day. That has been working well, and I expect it to continue.

  • Reply Priyanka March 10, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    I love this post and the comments. I would love to have more space to write my daily task list and Erin condren has none of that which can be really frustrating. I love the color of your planner!

  • Reply Helen March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I just found this post, and love how you use your planner. I use an A6 Hobonichi, but am wondering about a Cousin for next year… Lets face it, I just want a new planner to play with! My blog post about my A6 is here:

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