This is the third year I have used Hobonichi planner. The first year, I have tried the original Techo in A6. The Tomoe paper was versatile and I like the possibility of having a planner that can also be a journal. The downside of it is that it is a tad small. The second year, I switched to Cousin that is A5 in size. Sad to say that it was an utter failure on my end, as life became busy to the extent that I found myself rarely touching the beautiful planner. In addition, I am suffering from the Goldilocks dilemma where A6 is too big and A5 is too small. Even though in the past I have not minded the blending of my personal and work life, it started to become gnarly where I find work related tasks in the midst of my personal journal jarring. A first-world dilemma, isn’t it? I am very reluctant of using the calendar on my smart phone because I have found myself simply dismissing the reminders before I read it, so the solution must be somewhere in the paper world.
I took a plunge of getting two planners: Techo in A6 and Weeks. The plan was to dedicate Tech0 to my personal rambling and musing, while Weeks to track daily task log for work and to-do lists done in a format that somewhat resembles bullet journal.
My first impression of Weeks is how compact it is. The dimension of it is 18.7cm x 9.4cm x 1 cm (7.36 inch x 3.7 inch x 0.39 inch). Though it appears significantly slimmer than the A6 Techno, the surface area of a page is nearly the same as Techo, according to Hobonichi’s site. Definitely a functional yet portable planner. Aesthetically, Weeks is fairly simple. The current year is embossed on the spine and the front cover (in gold leaf) of the planner, with the Hobonichi logo embossed on the back cover, all on rayon cover. My experience with it is that the rayon cover soils very easily. While there is a PVC cover for purchase, I elected to sew a “pillow case” for the planner to keep the covers clean.
The planner comes with two bookmarks for easy marking of the current week and other page of your preference. The corners of the cover are rounded off preventing any self-stabbing tragedy. It also comes with a card/map holder made of PVC with adhesive backing, as seen below. I placed it on the back cover holding my work ID.
Pages included in Weeks are similar to that in Techo. The progression of these content pages funnels from broad yearly overview to the most granular level for Weeks, the weekly overview. The planner opens to a simple title page with the current year and the product name. It then follows a 3-year calendar, including last year, this year, and next year, as well as a list of federal holidays in Japan. The next spread is an interesting one; it is a yearly overview page that I honestly do not know how to use properly. This year, I decide to use this page to track vacation days and sick leave I have used, as the page gives me a concise overview.
Thanks to the lightweight and thin Tomoe paper, the thickness of Weeks is unassuming at merely 10mm (approximately 0.39 inch), yet it packed plenty of room to write. It contains a blank memo page on the opposing side of the weekly spread, as well as 71 more memo pages in the latter half of the planner. The planner is definitely designed for people who love to scribble reminders or record other important details in life in their planners. One neat feature on the monthly and weekly pages is the lined space toward the bottom; I usually use this space to record major projects completed at work and to write down weekly summary. In a way, it is providing snapshots and overview on significant occurrences. I find this feature helping me compiling annual reports at work.
Here comes one significant difference between Weeks and Techo: the 71-page note section; it is almost like a small notebook within a planner. The section begins with a blank table of content that facilitate locating information. Personally, I keep bank ledger with the planner, as I found most standard ledger that comes with personal checks cumbersome. Downloading templates for ledger from Hobonichi’s own Download City, I can print these pages on Tomoe paper, cut them to size, and paste them onto the note pages. These pages are also ideal for the index portion of bullet journal; it may be a challenge to run out of room!
One nifty inclusion of this notebook section is a page of suggested shorthand. Since Weeks is on a smaller side and not everyone has ant-size handwriting, these shorthands in a way become essential. It will also help bullet journal novices starting and streamlining their systems. Since Weeks is only available in Japanese, this list of shorthand is friendly to English-only user, since each abbreviation is spelled out.
Similar to Techo, Weeks include many other pages that are pertinent to anyone, such as emergency preparedness plan. I am amazed by the level of details conveyed by a list of items one ought to have handy, in event of emergency (see in the photo below, page on the left; personal emergency preparedness plan on the right)
It is evident that Weeks is meant to be utilitarian and portable. In Techo, there are only 6 slots for address book; there are 24. I have experienced a handful of software and hardware failure on my phone and computer that I habitually keep a hard copy of the address book. Instead of carrying yet another notebook with me, Weeks has lightened my load by keeping important information in one place.
Weeks appears more like a planner than its sister, Techo. Overall, it has exceeded my expectation. Initially, I was worried that both planners would be pigeonholed, but I constantly find myself reaching to Weeks, dutifully recording and updating to-do list and planning out my weeks. At times I wonder, whether an appealing planner motivates me in using it, or I have become more conscious in using it out of my genuine will to try? Maybe bit of both. The upside of Weeks is its portability, compactness, and indisputable paper quality. The downside of it is that it is currently available in Japanese only, which renders some of the useful pages within the planner moot. Language barrier aside, the page layouts are flexible enough for anyone to use and tailor to their work/life style. If you do not mind ambiguity in general, it could be an adventure in its own. Because it is compact, the limited writing space may not be suitable for users who have larger handwriting, which can be mitigated by using short hands.
Now it seems that I have found a planner that works, but of course, new dilemma arises. Can I do the same with the Midori Traveler’s Notebook (TN)? I already have a TN, perhaps I should revive it?
Dilemma goes on…
How is your year with the planner thus far?