COVID19 Planners

Day 39: Hybrid

April 23, 2020

I loved hearing about all of your hybrid planning systems! I read every comment and I am going to read them again.

(My fascination with planning knows no bounds and right now it is just a fun hobby/thing to think about that has nothing to do with what is actually going on on in the world. And for right now, that feels healthy.)

HOWEVER I have a slightly ridiculous confession. After overthinking this (and believe it or not, I am not usually an overthinker!), I . . .

I ordered a Hobonichi Techo Cousin 2020 April Start.

I know.

The thing is, I had planner peace for years. And the FFP has been fun (and I’m going to use it probably for another month, because the HTC won’t arrive until mid-May). But even though I do plan to embrace electronic methods more than I already have, I really REALLY miss a good strong weekly view. I like my weekly task list to live there, I like the visual aspect for time blocking, and I just generally feel slightly lost without it.


I thought about it (and thought about it!) and even considered an Erin Condren ( <– affiliate link) hourly — the new designs are absolutely beautiful and the hourly layout looks lovely for time blocking AND task management (lovely detailed Youtube review here). But . . . no daily pages. And I don’t want to wait until July to start! Maybe next year I will experiment with some kind of hybrid EC/bujo/electronic system.

But right now? I just want my Hobonichi layouts back but without all the writing already in there referring to 9834 meetings / trips / etc that aren’t happening. I recognize that is probably a little OCPD of me, but oh well. April start is coming, and I will somehow repurpose the old one and find a way to use the pages for Jan-Mar 2021 because I am sure I will want to start fresh in January.

Also, perhaps I have learned a lesson about the downsides of overeager forward planning for the year. I don’t know that I’ll ever do that again — at least not in ink on the weekly AND monthly pages 🙂

Cal’s Follow Up:

You can check it out on his blog, but here was the (brief) comment chat for reference:


Well. I am not totally satisfied, but perhaps he will elaborate in the future. Of note, his 3 children are very close in ages to mine so in theory I know what the atmosphere would be like. I tried to plant a seed . . .

And a (male) commenter agreed!

I know it’s not the focus of his blog, but it’s not a trivial point either. (Note: not going to put it in the body of this post, but there is a fairly priceless comment from OMDG in yesterday‘s comment section. All speculative of course!)

TODAY is a hybrid of sorts too — pod/life related stuff in the AM (also helping w/ school) and work in the PM. I divided my required day off into two halves. I am hoping that by the end of the week my work to-do list will feel under control again.

BB time!


  • Reply Alyce April 23, 2020 at 7:25 am

    Ha! I literally thought as I was writing up my hybrid system that if I were you I would just buy a new hobonichi and start over. Esp since covid-19 will clearly be here for the long term – who know how long it will impact our schedules.

  • Reply Connie April 23, 2020 at 8:22 am

    He didn’t answer the question. Simple as that, lol.

  • Reply CBS April 23, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Argh, all the eyerolls at that answer. It’s so vague, it could mean anything. It doesn’t speak to the practical realities, is he getting up at 5 to work? Is he squirreled away with a resentful wife?

    I do worry about this productivity above all else mentality that people like Cal Newport espouse – we’re both averaging 4.5-5.0 hours a day but that’s what we can manage for our mental and physical health and our family. I’ve been pretty productive, but it was mostly a result of a very equitable division of labour and where my projects were at, needing writing up rather than new research.

  • Reply Anna April 23, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Yeah. This Cal guy lacks self awareness. I’d bet $10 OMDG’s comment is right. He doesn’t know what he isn’t doing……

  • Reply Chelsea April 23, 2020 at 9:00 am

    I think Newport’s three boys are nearly identical in age to mine,and I call total BS on the idea of there being any kind of deep flow state in caring for a 7, 5 and 2-year-old at the same time. And that’s putting aside trying to do *anything* else during that time.

  • Reply Irene April 23, 2020 at 9:10 am

    Agree with the poster above – he 100% did not answer the question.

    I am thinking he occasionally helps start a school Zoom for the oldest kid and pats himself on the back for the rest of the day. I am doing the majority of the child care for various reasons but the fact that my husband is on his own with the kids even a couple hours a day trying to manage all of this gives him a sense of how freaking hard it is. I guarantee he would not give a BS answer like that, especially while pontificating about how to focus. He KNOWS he gets to focus because I’m handling things and not because he’s amazing and special.

  • Reply gwinne April 23, 2020 at 9:19 am

    Interesting response from CN. I do like his work a lot. And I don’t take the goal of Deep Work to be “productivity” although that might be an end result. I would also have liked a more satisfying answer from him to your question, as I concur that it seems impossible to have a sort of deep work focus *without* childcare. But it might be entirely possible for him to have an hour a day of deep work without putting any undue burden on his wife. (We have no idea what’s actually happening in his household, and I’d rather not speculate. Also not sure why I feel the need to defend him!)

    The time I can do “deep work” is the hour a day I have “childcare” (my teen, who does an activity with my 8-year-old the same time every day). There are other times in which I can work (hello screen time!) but it’s not particularly deep/meaningful/etc because I fully expect interruption EVERY FIVE MINUTES. I think what I’m saying has to do with mental focus (which I take to be the focus of Cal’s work) more than it is “time management” and “productivity” which are completely out the window right now.

    I’ve also largely stopped using my planner. I just jot down any firm commitments (zoom meetings) and the rest is a mishmash. I do have a new notebook I started called “Quarantine Days” though…

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns April 23, 2020 at 10:25 am

    OMG. His answer is such BS. Whatever, man. “With full attention and intention, the days seem much deeper.” I call BS! Maybe they are deeper for him because he’s locked in a room somewhere totally oblivious to the chaos his wife is managing. I don’t care how much attention and intention I put into my days, working full time + watching our 2 year old son is really hard (awful? Can I say that? Ha). I’d like to hear how his wife feels things are going and if she’s doing lots of deep work and feeling super fulfilled.

    Gosh, do I sound bitter!! 😛 I haven’t read his blog and after hearing his response, I don’t think I ever could. He just sounds way too pretentious and out of touch with reality IMO. I don’t know anyone who is doing ‘deep work’ right now. All the moms I talk to are just getting by and surviving, especially anyone with a toddler.

    • Reply Ali April 23, 2020 at 11:40 am

      100% agree. I only work PT, but with kids 1.5, 5, and 7 at home even PT hours have been a CHALLENGE. His answer is ridiculously vague. He’s either locked away in a room somewhere thinking deeply or somehow still has childcare.

    • Reply Grateful Kae April 23, 2020 at 12:19 pm

      I totally agree the age of the kids makes a huge difference. Mine are 10 and 11 now and I know I have it GOOD compared to those with younger kiddos at home. Mine are pretty self-sufficient, and I still feel all out of sorts many (most?) days working from home with them while my husband is away at work. But I know it is way, way easier for me since my kids generally can “watch themselves” and aren’t getting into things or being unsafe (usually.. 😉 Nevertheless, I still have to work evenings and weekends to get all my hours in most weeks! Working full time with a toddler home has to be basically impossible! I agree his response is pretty bogus.

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly April 23, 2020 at 10:39 am

    Life goal: be a time management/productivity expert for modern parent. 🙂 I find his answer deeply unsatisfying as well. Ever since I had kids I can’t ignore this “who is watching the kids” question…in movies and in time management/productivity advice.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 23, 2020 at 10:53 am


  • Reply VSH April 23, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    I’m also unsatisfied by Newport’s answer.

    We have had a very interesting turn of events in our household. We are 2 physicians and I’m still in training. I’m in one of the most male-dominated fields there is (Cardiology). My husband usually outearns me by A LOT because 1) training and 2) academia. Now he is working PT and bringing home 0 salary as they prioritized paying their employees. I’m still working FT (mix of ICU shifts and research) and the only source of income. We have a 5yo and 2yo. I have never in my life been so grateful for my decision to stay in the workforce.

    I’ve read every article about gender disparities in household work and promotion in academia. I could write these articles. I could make a list of all of the things that hold back people like me. But- I’ve found that consuming too much of this literature is counterproductive for me. Thus far I have done well, and while I am not oblivious to all of the obstacles in my future, sometimes its best for me to look at my track record without wondering when the other shoe will drop.

    The other striking realization I had this week- my husband is 100% committed to equality in our home. But I still feel that my setup is unfair. Why? Because I’m working alongside people who benefit from inequality in their homes, so equality starts to feel like a setback (!).

  • Reply Kersti April 23, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    I am glad you got a new Hobonichi! I don’t like the other planners as much because they impose too much “structure” for me.
    Was wondering where you keep your list of “someday/maybe” items. I like to keep a google spreadsheet so I can move things around and because there’s not a great amount of room to do this is in a Hobonichi.

    (Also why doesn’t Cal just say “my wife watches them” if true? My husband is the primary caregiver and caretaker of the home and I have no problem telling people that…)

  • Reply Li April 23, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    See for a much more realistic viewpoint from a dad. I really dislike Cal’s side-stepping your direct question. He will unfortunately now be known to me and all my colleagues in academia as an example of someone with insufficient integrity/honesty. Science is supposed to be in pursuit of truth. If one chooses to provide a biased or incomplete view, the validity of his/her words are questionable.

  • Reply Kay April 23, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Cal has always been pretty vague about the details of his family life. I have always found his work to be more academic than nitty gritty practical. I think it his particular style. Here is what he has said about his morning routine at two different times (not during the current situation).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 23, 2020 at 7:11 pm

      Interesting! I definitely can’t fault him for any of those things; I too love my morning routines. I guess I have just noted he is currently posting a daily series about deep living, and knowing he has 3 young kids at home (parallel to mine!) I can’t ignore the practical. Not right now! Now maybe he has a live-in childcare provider – which is great! Or his wife is cheerfully doing everything alone. But it’s a non-trivial detail around how he is able to stay so deep right now when many women especially are struggling to do so.

      • Reply Kay April 23, 2020 at 8:20 pm

        I do not think it is a non-trivial detail either. But we very rarely get the male perspective on childcare in general. It’s a problem. Also, we have no idea if Cal is actually managing to stay deep himself or not. Maybe that one blog entry per day is all he is getting done. He seems to be writing about “the deep life” esoterically not his daily life. Truthfully, I haven’t been loving the series at all. But this Single Mom of 2 is so far into the shallows right now that depth of anything is laughable.

  • Reply LEE April 28, 2020 at 1:08 am

    Sarah, I started using Frixion erasable pens in my calendar about 2 years ago. It was a total game changer. I used to have lots of items crossed out and moved, or I’d have to stick a white label on and write over that. The Frixion pens are truly erasable.

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