Planner Review Planners

Hobonichi Planner Series Part 1: the Daily Pages

December 3, 2014

HI.  I know several of you have asked for this series, so here it is!  Instead of one behemoth post on how I use my Hobonichi Techo Cousin, I decided that I would break it down by part.

Background:  I have been a planner nerd for years and years, cycling through moleskines, various Exaclair planners (Space 24 was my favorite!), an Korean Iconic planner, the Erin Condren life planner, and currently — the Hobonichi Techo Cousin.  Honestly, I have love for all of the planners in that list!  But I am currently finding the Cousin setup the most functional for my current life.

Review:  Here’s my overview/review of the planner 2-3 months into use.

Today’s highlight:  The daily pages, and how I use them.

I created a mockup because I didn’t want any personal or patient data on the example!  I basically have my daily page open at my desk all day at work, and usually in the AM/PM at home.  I treat it as my to-do list, brain dump/journal, and motivator when it comes to meeting goals.  
The layout may vary depending on what kind of day it is, and whether I’m on call (often I’ll include a patient rounding list on my call days so that I can be sure I’ve written every note that I need to write).  On office days, though, I don’t need such a list because it’s built into our electronic medical record.  So most outpatient days look a bit like the above.
Sections include:
* Workout — usually noted on the top part of the page.  Getting to check it off in the AM makes me happy all day and sort of sets the stage for productivity.  I even write ‘rest’ if it’s a rest day 🙂
* Blog post — if I’m planning to squeeze in a post, I’ll often write that in, too.  I don’t plan my posts very far in advance most of the time, but sometimes if I have a topic in mind ahead of time, I’ll remind myself  a few days ahead.
* Work and home to-do items — These are often transcribed from the weekly list (more on that on another day), PLUS all of those nagging tasks that pop into my head throughout the day.  Basically, if I can’t act on the task as I think of it, it gets written down immediately.  For the work items, I don’t have to include things like returning patient phone calls or updating patents on labs, because again our medical record system tracks those sorts of things and it would be redundant.  But there are always little extras that need to happen that are easy to forget and stressful to track without a system, so they go here.
By having these here, I am better able to make use of those little annoying bits of time that might otherwise be wasted (ahem FACEBOOK and the like).  
* PM — I kind of like having some kind of nightly treat to look forward to, whether it’s reading a book that I’m into, or working on decluttering (YES this qualifies as a treat), or a favorite TV show.  By writing it down, I get to see it all day, thereby a) motivating me to get work done so that I can enjoy it and b) increasing anticipation, which makes it all the more fun.
* Nutrition log — Since switching to a paleo eating style, I have been more interested in seeing how my food choices impact my energy, in terms of my running and overall well-being.  So, sometimes I will track that here.  I tried using an app a few months ago but found it a) annoying b) cumbersome and c) more quantitative when I really mostly wanted qualitative info.  This super low tech version is much more my style.
Daily goals — I’m sort of ‘between goals’ right now, but usually have something that I am working on, whether it is decreasing technology usage (always) or trying to build a positive habit like meditation (or flossing — which comes easier to me than the items noted previously).  Having some kind of tracker on each page is motivating and helps me to remember what I’m aiming for.  
That’s pretty much it!  Some pages are much more cluttered than this one, and some pages (especially on weekends!) are sparse.  In my 2015 edition, I want to add more journaling/writing — not necessarily to keep (because I do not save old planners) but just for processing things as they happen.  
More on other sections in future posts 🙂  Questions?  Comments?  Care to share your daily layout?


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

    I purchased a 2015 Hobonichi Techo cousin partially on the basis of your previous review of the planner. I was so excited to start using the format that I made a "fauxbonichi" in an old notebook and I’m really enjoying experimenting with the daily, weekly, and two types of monthly pages. I look forward to the rest of your series for some more ideas and to 2015 so I can start using the real thing.

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

    I am a planning fiend as well, but I am not fond of paper planners (although I AM curious what the inspiration quote on the bottom in Japanese says 🙂 ). I like to use Outlook and and just an old-fashioned notebook for the day. Still, you’ve given me some good ideas to incorporate into my system – thanks!

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

    I adore this post! Paper diaries are the best, and I will continue to use them despite the amused glances my friends give me when I lug mine around. I use a Kiki K diary with weekly double spread pages, and am now onto my 3rd. I have a colour coordinated system with black being work items/appointments, light green social, dark green study/research items and purple running and indoor soccer. Just like you I put my running goal for the day in a box at the top of my day (though I’ve been very slack with the running going into summer). Looking forward to the other planner posts.

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

    Thanks for this! When you first posted about this planner, I was like, no way I need a daily one, but now that I’ve started residency, I’m thinking this may be handy! Just need to pull the trigger!

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

    Thank you for this post! Perfect timing – I’ve just started my 2015 Techo (they give you December 2014 in the half page views, before starting properly in the first week of January) I’ve been using google calendar for a while now but also a notebook for daily goals and time tracking, and I often print off ‘month-to-a-page’ calendars to plan when I start to feel overwhelmed, so this is a nice way to have it all in the one place. I’m starting full-time study again in the spring so I decided to go back to paper planning, with a Techo as a reward to myself for working so hard to get into the course. Your posts (and Laura Vanderkam’s) have been a great inspiration around getting more organised so I can fit everything I want into my life. I’m glad you didn’t stop blogging 🙂

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

    I really enjoy your posts on organization and how you manage to do all that you do. It’s so helpful to get this advice from a truly busy mom because so many blogs seem to be written by SAHMs who spend their days at play dates and shopping/restaurants. I haven’t taken the plunge to purchase a nice planner but I have liked switching to graph paper!

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

    I used to have a hobonichi daily planner (like yours but I think maybe a smaller size?) and I really really liked it, but when I had it I was in no way busy enough to justify having a whole page to write things on!
    I might get one for next year though (slightly busier now!), I keep on seeing them in shops here (I live in Japan, the home of amazing stationery :D) and being tempted.

  • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    I like the idea of writing the nightly treat on the planner. I constantly struggle with figuring out how not to turn the night into a time warp of nothingness, and forcing myself to write a plan for it (a fun plan!) would be a good idea.

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

    That is exactly how I love my daily pages and precisely the reason why I am not completely in love with my EC planner. There is just not enough space for the number of things I need to stay track on 🙂 Since I am currently a SAHM, I like to add another category i.e. activities for my son so that I can keep him busy. Every week I browse pinterest and make a list of all the realistic and easy craft/activity ideas for him and then transfer them on my daily page. Next month I switch to my Emily Ley planner and I am glad that I’ll have more space to work with.

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

    Your organization (and resulting productivity) continue to amaze me! I’ve been following your blog for years and am so happy that you’ve continued with it. Wish you could help me organize my life, too!

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