The last nine months have been busy in a way I have never known.  My Ph.D. is progressing well and I have written a couple of papers for publication, been rejected and lived to tell the tale.

My mind is always processing and I truly believe that thanks to the bullet journal system (all hail Ryder Carroll) I have captured more useful information than ever before.  I’ve also captured HEAPS of useless information of course but hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it!  Like my boss used to tell us “you don’t need it … until you do” and the devil is in the detail.  Just knowing the information has been captured all in one place that is easily accessible reduces the stress level by about 80%.

I started my bullet journal journey  105 weeks ago and have developed my own style which continues to evolve with me.  If I get sick of planning a certain way I change it up.  If I try something and it’s successful I keep doing it, if it’s not I stop!  It’s that simple.  I used to buy multiple diaries each year and I would be constantly scoping out new ones online because the system imposed upon me by the planner never quite suited me.  However, I think the Hobonichi Cousin, nine months on, is still ticking all the boxes.

The Japanese way of thinking about design, planning, and living involves a deeply considered approach; everything works together to deliver a superior experience for the user.

For example, the stencils they sell are exactly the right length for the timeline in the daily section of the Hobonichi Cousin and the bullet stencil is the perfect size for a 0.5mm ballpoint pen.  There are  circles and arrows to connect your bullet points to the timeline…I mean WOW.


Precision and functionality in a fabulous package.  I stupidly overlooked the timeline that was plainly there on the left-hand-side of the daily page for months, I think because it was so integrated into the very soul of the Hobo.  When I saw all the vertical timelines being done by @honeyrozes @shilen.qc and many others in the BuJo Community I thought it looked like a great idea…so I did this:



How stupid could one woman be??????? Pretty darn stupid!  Quite clearly there is a timeline EXACTLY like the one I had created on the far left *sigh* which should/could be used like so:


I may never live that down in my own mind…Onward and upward.

Plan vs. Reality

When I first stroked my very first Hobonichi it was obsessive possession love.  Everyone who knew me understood the deep connection that I had with regular stationery and that this was something completely different…it was true love ❤

I then felt compelled to tell the entire world (well just my tribe and my poor family members), via the very first post on this very blog, exactly how I was going to use it.  The beauty is that Ryder Carroll’s system is flexible and can be used very successfully with Hobonichi especially for those in the following circumstances:

  • If you like to have separate day pages with space to doodle and journal ad nauseum
  • If setting up daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly spreads from tabula rasa (blank page) seems completely overwhelming
  • If you can’t keep your hands off the smooth, thin yet incredibly tough Hobonichi Tomoe River Paper – like me 🙂


Originally I planned to use the Cousin in the following ways:

First was the Year overview, much like the bullet journal month spread but all 12 months are over two double page spreads in the Hobo Cousin.  I planned to use the year to two double page spreads like I would my bullet journal month page.  This was to include major appointments, birthdays, school term dates, deadlines for my Ph.D., that type of thing.  Really an overview of the two halves of the year.  I planned to use the three bullet points at the top of the section for pre-planning the month’s focus or theme.

Second was the Month to a double-page spread which I didn’t currently set up in my Bullet Journal prior to the adoption of the Hobo. This is where I planned to hash out the month in more detail, the next level down, including PayDay, cleaners visits, term dates, excursions, events, birthdays, kids parties, and appointments.

Thirdly was the Week to a double-page spread.  Previously I had used a separate large desk planner for this; planning my day by the hour and making note of large bills I need pay and that kind of detail. This is where I thought I could settle down with a bevvy of an evening and take stock of what has happened earlier in the day or during the week and allocate time to tasks that need to get done the next day.  I also thought this could also be the perfect spot for habit tracking for the week in the space at the side and bottom of the pages.

Fourthly was the Day to a page.  This is STILL where the action happens.  The detailed To-Do list, gratitude list, and the actual record of how I spent my time during the day.


So how do I really use my Hobonichi cousin after “living” with it for 9 months?

  1. Year Overview – this has remained where I plan out the year at the very beginning with birthdays, term dates, public holidays.  It doesn’t get used for anything else really.  My monthly focus was dropped early on because my focus is pretty monocular THESIS, THESIS, THESIS, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE! Maybe in the future when I’m running a business or working I will use it more for monthly drives…we’ll see.
  2. Month Overview – over time this has become a place for repeated tasks or events that I like to have a record of.  I use it most for paydays and bill payment especially when money is tight (isn’t it always…) and for garbage cycles.  At one point I was recording kids activities here but it just wasn’t necessary because Hubs keeps his eye on all of that.  If I make an appointment for the doctor, dentist, or with my supervisor it goes here first then I transfer it to the weekly section…
  3. Weekly Overview – My nemesis!  I just don’t really do that much to warrant all the pre-planning and time management I could be performing here.  I like to record the forecast for the week on the left-hand side, the actual weather, and the top three “actions” for the day at the top.  When I was feeling inspired I would doodle the activities I planned for the day in the time slots but I started to feel like I was doing it just for the sake of it not because: a) I needed to and b) because I wanted to.  It was a habit.  Recently I have started ramping up my exercise and clean eating programme and I feel this weekly section would be better used for this focus. Pre-planning meals and exercise daily will now happen in the weekly section. Wellness Tracking is going to need another blog post I think!img_3687
  4. Daily Pages – Still the centre of my planning and recording of what I ACTUALLY did for the day.  I still record three awesome things that happened and some days it is soooo hard to come up with something but I truly feel better about myself and my life when I have.  The use of the vertical timeline to record wake and sleep times and what I did, when during the day seems unnecessary right now.  HOWEVER, I’m going to keep doing it for now because I am about to re-visit the David Allen “Getting Things Done” (GTD) productivity system. Thanks to Kara Benz from Boho Berry and her fantastic post on the Bullet Journal + GTD which reminded me of my love affair with David Allen’s system a number of years back when I was Professional Organising.  I may find the vertical timeline a great asset when that is implemented and I might find the weekly section requires a facelift.

Over the last few months my pages have started to get less doodly (is that a word…according to Grammarly it is) and more serious as my deadlines loom larger and larger in the rear-vision mirror. All I can say is thank GOD for the Bullet Journal System, Ryder Carroll, the entire BuJo community (yes I’m talking to YOU), and the Hobonichi boffins for helping me achieve my goals and become a better me.

My next post will be about my new and improved BuJo Wingman/Sidekick with some product reviews and general hilarity. Hope you come back now y’hear!



16 thoughts on “Hobonichi & Bullet Journal learnings: Anticipating 2017

  1. Jan!!

    Virtual high five. I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful post. Too cute at “less doodly”.

    I love how you explained each section. I am so excited now. You have no idea how relieved I am. It will be my first time getting the Hobonichi Cousin and using it as a planner. I got the Original A6, for the first time this year, for art journaling.

    Just bought a Cousin and a Weeks for next year. The Cousin is set to be a planner thanks to you! The Weeks *cough* Me shall see about that one. lol

    Always exploring and tweaking I love that you are sharing this Jan. I look forward to seeing you kick butt in 2017!!

    Thank you for taking the time out to create this post! Sending you many virtual hugs!

    Quick question: Will you still be using your Roterfaden next year?


    PS: Look forward to your next post and your hilarities. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. N’Deye, you are so welcome – this was dedicated to you. I am definitely using my Roterfaden next year because without it I’m lost :/ When I’m working at home I’ve been separating my hobo and my bujo wingman for ease of use lately but I still love it so much. Love you heaps and sending you hugs jxoxoxo

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much chloerin135! I’m not sure how I missed your comment…I approved it and then didn’t come back to reply to your lovely words. I hope you find more interesting stuff in the coming months 🙂
      I do write A LOT and do the #rockyourhandwriting challenges on instagram so it does improve with practice.


  2. Hello Jan,

    This is the first time I read your blog and love reading them! Found one of your picture when I’m googling Hobonichi for inspiration and glad I found yours.
    When you said weekly page is your nemesis, I was like “OMG I WASN’T THE ONE!” because I still can’t find the right way to use it.
    Thank you for sharing your spread! Have a nice day!

    Nurul from Indonesia 🙂


    1. Hi Nurul,
      Thanks for visiting my blog and making a comment! I’m using it as a food log at the moment but I forget to write in it 😦 I still love the Hobonichi Cousin for it’s flexibility and the paper…don’t get me started on the paper it’s bliss.

      Hope you continue to enjoy my blog!


  3. I am usually to blogging and i also truly appreciate your articles. This great article has really peaks my interest. My goal is to bookmark your blog and maintain checking for brand new details.


  4. Hi Jan!!!

    I just discovered the Hobonichi journals… and I am struggling to change my Bullet Journal for one of this… one of my major concerns are two things:
    1- Trackers… I am using lots of habit trackers and I don’t know where i can use this in the Hobo.
    2- Collections… how did you resolve this? i have lots of collections in my Bullet Journal and I dont see the Hobonichi have the space for this…

    Thanks in advance for your opinion. 🙂



    1. Lily,
      So so sorry I didn’t see your comment until tonight :/ I’ve found that I need a separate notebook for my collections BUT I do have 2 possible solutions for you…

      Next year try the Hobonichi Weeks MEGA, which is new for 2018 and it has tonnes of blank pages at the back for collections. This year why don’t you try the Taroko Designs Tomoe River Paper notebooks –
      either the “breeze” which appears to be new

      or the enigma which is what I use for my collections

      Hope this helps and again so sorry I missed your message. Happy bujoing 🙂


  5. Hi Jan,

    Thank you for your lovely blog posts. I was wondering how well the Hobonichi works in your Roterfaden? Do the clips tear the paper or stress the binding? Do you use a Hobonichi cover? I haven’t purchased my first Hobo yet, but am a regular Roterfaden user.

    Thanks so much,


    1. Hi Jenny! Thank you so much for your comment. I have been off working on my new business so haven’t been very present on my Plannerphile blog…

      The clips are fine with the Hobonichi…I have had no problems at all. I don’t use a cover-on-cover but you could if you wanted to. It works beautifully…
      Hope that helps


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