My Planning Approach: Using the Hobonichi Cousin Daily Pages

January 23, 2019

Let me preface this post by making it very clear that there is absolutely no right way to use the Hobonichi planner (or any planner, for that matter!). Every person has their own needs when it comes to developing a planning system, and what is on your pages should reflect those needs. Furthermore, I believe that in order to encourage consistent use, your system should also bring you pleasure, or in other words — forgive me for this — it should spark joy.

Mine definitely does.

yesterday + today

Do I always fill the page? No.

Do I always get everything done that I set out to do? HELL no. I wish.

Do I think that everyone should track their workouts? time? nutrition? No. In fact, I’m a terrible time tracker, in particular. I’ve pretty much made peace with this and only aim to do it on occasion.

With all that said, I feel confident that my daily pages help me focus my efforts for each day and stick to the habits I want to prioritize. Plus: they are generally fun for me to write on. I enjoy throwing in a memory or comment or motivational phrase from time to time, or even trying some lettering.

I will include several examples — obviously, I had to steer clear of any page with personal data included, so some of my ‘busier’ layouts will not be published. Generally though, I include:

  • anywhere from 2-5 priorities at the top
  • a rough timeline along the left edge
  • a checklist of other to-do items on the top right
  • nutrition / workout / habit log bottom left (random note: I find that just jotting down what I eat in vague detail — no quantities, measurements, or specifics — helps me eat about 383574 times better and avoid mindless snacking. I have done this off and on for years)
  • notes, comments, etc on bottom right — this is my mini-journal of sorts. Sometimes it’s blank, and that’s okay too. In an ideal world I’d love to stick little mini sticky photos on there from time to time!
Here’s a random weekend day after we moved
a rare color-coded time bar that felt right for the day
a weekend, logged

I hope these examples are helpful to some of you! I will be including features of my 2019 System every week or two, so if there’s something planner-specific you’d like to see, let me know!

Now it’s Beachbody time . . . come on G, stay asleep!

PS: Is the font big enough yet? I think it’s much better – let me know!


  • Reply Ana March 15, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    Obviously I have some weird hidden voyeuristic tendencies, ‘cuz I am SO FASCINATED by looking at other people’s planners and schedules! I also track my workouts, habits I’m working on, and food in my planner. I have the whole week on a 2 page spread, but have plenty of space to write what I need, I feel.

  • Reply gwinne March 10, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Ana, me too!!! Thanks for sharing this, Sarah.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm

      Haha thank you! I am the same way.

  • Reply Sarah March 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    I love seeing others’ calendar layouts – inspiring!
    What is your notation for tasks: x for completed and – for incomplete?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 15, 2019 at 9:12 pm

      – Completed: X through the box

      – Horizontal line through the box – deferred OR just gave up on (I use the same notation for both; either way it means I’ve acknowledged it wasn’t done that day and dealt with it)

      That’s it – I”m not big on a lot of signifiers! I know I’d just end up confusing myself!

  • Reply Kelsey March 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Love this!

    Just letting you know under “organize” and “list making queen” the link doesn’t go anywhere

  • Reply Michelle March 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    This is my first year trying a paper planner (partially influenced by your podcast) to try and make my days/weeks more productive. I am trying the Exacompta Space 17 because 1. I like that it is so small (3inx6in) 2. I wasn’t sure how to maximize daily pages.

    Thank you for posting this because if I find the paper planning system useful and helpful I will switch to the Hobonichi next year because you make it so versatile looking!

    When I was looking into different planners, I went to the hobonichi website and had a hard time navigating it and figuring out what I would NEED to purchase to have a complete set. Can you post links to what would need to be purchased (i.e. main book, “accessory” books, cover) to get started?

  • Reply Laura March 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    I love the full day on a page. I do a week on a two page spread which I find works well but it does not let me track as much each day. Thanks for sharing! I am going to try to increase my space per day!
    I use the moleskine carrier notebook. They are really thin and each lasts me about 6 months and are completely flexible.

  • Reply Ashley July 1, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Where do you purchase your Hobonichi planner? I found the website pricing confusing (yen). The Hobonichi website links to Amazon but I am hesitant to purchase there.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 1, 2019 at 8:42 am

      I always purchase from the website and google yen currency converter to determine how much it costs in dollars. For me the ordering experience is part of the fun! There are some things on amazon and also check out jetpens!

  • Reply Sandra Barbera July 26, 2022 at 8:11 am

    Hi I have a hobonichi weeks. I need to keep track of my health but can’t find a layout to do it. Am not a planner girl so is been very difficult. Do you have any suggestions. My writing is kind of big also and hobonichi space is very small.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 26, 2022 at 12:47 pm

      What kinds of things do you want/need to track? Agree a weeks is not great with large handwriting!

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