Hobonichi & Bullet Journal learnings: Anticipating 2017

Hobonichi & Bullet Journal learnings: Anticipating 2017

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 every.single.day. “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!



Hobonichi & Bullet Journal: February Review

Hobonichi & Bullet Journal: February Review

Well this has been a long time coming.  I’ve been promising to give you a run down on how I found my plan for my planner…how my hobo & bujo are doing…so now is the time!

Well it’s a match made in heaven —with some caveats which I will talk about here and show you my solution in a separate post.

So—let’s do it!

By the by can you tell I’ve just worked out how to do an em—dash on my Mac?  Pretty obvious isn’t it…I’m using it all.the.time.  “How do you do an em—dash, like that one there between the em and the dash, I hear you ask?”  I’m so glad you’re curious because I love a hot tip myself.

Option + Shift + -minus sign concurrently. Cool ha?  Put that one away for safe-keeping.

Now back to the hobo & bujo…

First was my yearly overview and this was my premier disappointment.  I didn’t really use it much at all, finding the monthly and weekly views enough macro to keep me happy and when Jess, @plannerbynature put up an IG post showing her habit tracking idea for the yearly overview I was devo because that was the perfect use for this section.   Because I’d already inked up the yearly view there was no turning back so I had to stick with the plan.  *Sigh* there’s always 2017.


So using the 3 bullet point section at the top (horizontally) for each habit like Jess does would be awesome.  Moving on from failure is the best thing to do—(hehehehe just laughing at my over-use of the em dash) onwards and upwards.







Second was the month to a double page spread or, as I called it the other day, my monthly which got me some strange looks (when I combined these two phrases I was shown the door :/).

This is exactly what I intended it to be used for and I love it! This is the section I document the family’s major appointments, birthdays, school term dates, deadlines, birthday’s and parties.  I now also record basketball game times for both my husband and son and check off if Archie (my youngest) and Finn (my eldest) actually attend their activities.  I wasn’t capturing that and found I would often want to use the info to discuss commitment and follow through with them but I didn’t have a log of it.  My monthly to the rescue 😉

Third was the week to a double-page spread. My plan was to do my time allocations here at night for the next day.  I thought I would be able to allocate time slots to the day’s activities and detail the top 3 for the day; my top 3 tasks that absolutely MUST happen.

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I stuck to this pretty much.  I added the weather at the top of each day.  The high and low temperatures for the day plus a doodle of the conditions – cloudy, partly cloudy, sunny, stinking hot, etc.  I really like to have a record of this and it has come in handy more than once because the weather does help you to remember what you did on a particular day.

I kept the weekly completely monochromatic but did try some colour at one point; I didn’t like in the end so I stuck with black pen only.

At this stage, almost 2 months in, I have no complaints with the weekly plan I am currently using.  I soon realised I don’t have that many different things to do it’s really just: write, exercise, housework, blog but I know I could utilise my time better so next month my goal is to spend more time at the end or the start of the day planning out my time in more detail.  Maybe even by Pomodoro…25 minute blocks…?

What was a bit unexpected was the sketchnoting/doodling that pored out of me in my weekly pages.  I loved creating these little sketches by looking at others efforts (thank you—hopefully you know who you are already) for inspo and also using Pinterest to look up icon vectors for the topic.  I realised I need this creative outlet.  I can spend hours doodling and messing around with new icons; it’s really my idea of fun 🙂 and I feel like I’m in the flow (if you haven’t read “Finding Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-hi) then don’t try coz it’s a bit dry—amazing but very dry, just watch this TED talk).

Fourth is the Day to a page.  This also evolved into a fun sketchnotey area to visualise what I had to do for the day in bullet form which I can check off as I go by shading in the square bullet.

I didn’t log my food intake…I never quite get around to that—ever.  Wonder why that is? I read somewhere that tracking water intake is next to useless (controversial I know) and I never keep up with it anyhow so that went by the way side.  My gratitude section has stayed but I have reworded it to be “cool stuff that happened”… just worked better for me.

IMG_3335In the daily page I take note or sketchnote what I actually achieved for the day so I can compare it with the planned day in my weekly section…which can be very enlightening sometimes :/ .  I also write down any highlights of what happened should I need to reflect on it later.  My learnings section was dropped too.  This was something I didn’t originally plan to do but decided I liked the idea of so I adopted it.  I soon started to find it hard to come up with anything and began writing down trite crap (excuse the language) so I dropped it.  Instead I put in challenges or doodles or something.  Here’s a little montage 😉 —I love a good montage (actually it’s not a montage but I wanted to write montage).


Overall I’m pretty happy with the results.  This is the first time EVER, in the history of my life, where I haven’t missed a day in my journal or bujo so I think that’s a strong recommendation for the hobo/bujo marriage.  WHY?

Four reasons:

  1. aesthetics – I am an aesthlete so the fact that it looks good keeps me committed
  2. creative outlet – being a PhD student is creative cognitively but not physically so this gives me some “me” time with a practical purpose underlying it
  3. logical – bullet journalling makes sense to me
  4. layout – the hobo gives me the structure I need  all in one package without the hassle of drawing up my own layouts (I think I would have given up already if I had to draw up all the layouts I want and need).


BUT, I hear you cry—what about COLLECTIONS…?

This is the small problem with using the bullet journal system with the hobonichi cousin. But that is something for my next post.  I DO have a solution and I think you’re gonna like it.

How’s your bullet journal looking?  I’d LOVE to hear from you.  Any feedback for me?  I am going to try to start posting more regularly both here and at hoardinginsite.wordpress.com  …with the help of my hobo&bujo 😉 so keep an eye out!




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