Hobonichi Techo as a planner? THAT is the question

I had been dying to buy a Hobonichi Techo planner for the longest time and finally, around October or November I started to look at the Hobonichi shop looking at the planners, covers and accessories trying to decide which one I would buy. I didn’t know if I wanted an A5 size or the A6. I watched a million videos on YouTube trying to get a sense of the differences between the two. I can’t remember now whose video it was that I watched where she was showing the Hobonichis, compared to a filofax or a Moleskine notebook and so forth. THAT was the day when I decided that since I wanted the planner to be my work planner and also, I wanted to start little by little before investing in something larger, I would go for the A6 size. Which is almost the size of a personal size Filofax – maybe a tad smaller.

Around December I got VERY excited because I decided on the day when I was going to order my planner. I picked everything, a cover, a planner and a few accessories. The shipping from Japan is a little expensive so I thought that if I was going to spend money ordering it all the way from Japan, I should at least get a few more things to make the shipping cost worth it.

I ordered the planner around the first week of December because I wanted to be ready for the new year and set my planner as quick as possible, the planner came very quick. I think it took in total about a week and a half before it was shipped to me to Massachusetts – in the United States.

But before I go on blabing even more, IF you are new to the whole Hobonichi lingo here are a few things to know which characterize a Hobonichi planner:

  • Hobonichi is the name of the planner style. There are two kinds of planners, Hobonich Techo (A6) and Hobonichi Cousin (A5 size). Techo means (notebook in Japanese)
  • In the Hobonichi Cousin there is still another kind called Havec. This is a Hobonichi planner in A5 divided in two parts, one book goes from January to June, and the other one from July to December.
  • If you buy your planner a little later in the year, do worry not! They make a version that starts in April as well.
  • You will find one version in Japanese and one in English. I believe the one in Japanese is called Hobonichi original and usually comes in an A6 size – I actually do not know if it also comes in A5 but I would think so since this is sold in Japan for Japanese customers.
  • Hobonichi planners are characterized by being made with Tomoe River paper. This paper is magical! – to say the least – it is very thin, almost like parchment paper but the magic of it is that NOTHING bleeds through (or almost nothing). You can use fountain pens, sharpies and Paper Mate flairs without having any bleed through. You do get a little bit of shadowing on the other side of the paper but if you can live with it, then you will be fine.
  • All the books open completely flat on your table and this is something that, for people like me who are obsessed with writing properly, it is a very important quality.

One of the main reasons why I didn’t know if I wanted an A5 or an A6 size is because these two books are ALMOST the same, except for the fact that the A5 size – the cousin – has a monthly tracker, a monthly calendar on two pages, a weekly calendar on two pages and your daily pages, plus some extra blank pages for notes. The A6, however, has everything except for the weekly view on two pages, which is not very convenient if you want to use this planner as a work planner like I did.

Because I wanted the small size, and I really wanted it to be my work planner, I then decided to buy an extra notebook called “weekly”. This is a notebook made of Tomoe river paper that has a week on two pages and a yearly calendar. These two books together were still a little cheaper than buying a cousin, and I wasn’t sure I would use the cousin as a planner if I didn’t like the small one so there I went, I ordered everything.

There are a million uses for this particular planner and if you have even thought about getting one, regardless of whether it is to be used as a journal or planner, I’d encourage you to get one. The quality of the book is amazing and in general, all the accessories are beautiful. I am working on developing my creative/artistic skills that existed at some point in my early childhood but I wasn’t ready to use a Hobonichi as an art journal. I wanted mine to be used as a planner to plan my daily life at work.

I have been using the Hobonichi Techo for a month and two weeks and I am still in love as much as the first day i got it, BUT I am not entirely sure it is working for me as a planer for work. This is why I love this planner used as a work planner:

  • No bulk! The tomoe river paper is so exquisite that you can write as much as you want on each page and the planner won’t be as bulky as with other planners.
  • One day per page: I wanted to be able to have a whole page for each day without having too much space left, as it would happen with the A5 size. I write a lot of things for work but not THAT many. Mostly because I also use a medium size moleskine notebook for taking notes.
  • The monthly, yearly, and daily view, together with my weekly notebook.
  • The covers are beautiful!
  • Each page has grid paper
  • Each page has an entire page for you to play with a structure that works for you. You can add a timeline, you can add squares for notes, lists, and so forth.
  • You can use the hobonichi however your heart tells you, there are no rules and there are no perfect ways!

Even though there are so many things I love about this planner…. a month later I am struggling a little to make it work for me as a planner! – sob, sob – and here’s why:

  1. The planner doesn’t have a weekly view in it so I need to be carrying around my weekly notebook.
  2. There is no structure on the pages and for someone like me who needs a few things on each page, I get lost in the vastness of blank spaces, which makes me feel lost at times when I am trying to find a particular task or event I need to consult.
  3. If you don’t develop your own system you could end up using this planner just as a tool to make lists of tasks.
  4. I have ended up using this planner as a list making tool!
  5. My work is very fast paced and things go too crazy sometimes that not having a defined structure on each page, is time consuming.
  6. My tasks get lost

I don’t want to give up just yet on this planner so here are my thoughts. The other day I was reading an interview that a blogger did to the creator of the Hobonichi planner and he was talking about how, when he created the planner, he wanted a planner that would not tell you what to do and how to do it. He said “The Hobonichi planner is not about the planner, it is about you and the mind that is using the planner”. I translated this as: Your Hobonichi will become whatever your mind wants it to become.

A very philosophical approach but I actually believe this is true! For the longest time I had been using a Franklin Covey binder with the Franklin Covey inserts. A very western way to plan your days and hours, so no wonder why now with the hobonichi my mind is resenting the lack of pre-set structure. Because I really want this to work, what I will do is to combine the use of my Hobonich with some kind of key – just like a bullet journal system – and plan my days that way. These days, I highlight any tasks that have been done, just to see the ones that are yet to be done. And yesterday I thought of organizing my tasks, events and reminders from top to bottom in priority order using my bullet journal key as well.

February has started and this only means that I will have another month to try to find my own structure in the vastness of the pages of my Hobonichi Techo. This story will be continued and I will keep posted on any improvements and progress. I forgot to mention that because usually my weekends are planned with the family planner, these pages are blank and I use them as memory keeping. Also, I don’t decorate this planner, at least not that much – maybe using a bit of washi tape here and there – and overall this is a great planner, you just need to find your own system!

Also, the Hobonich Techo came with a card in Japanese that says “Hobonichi Techo – Life book” and now, a month later, I understand why! Because your mind will be the one defining what your Hobonichi will become and how your life will actually transform it to either a very useful tool or simply a planner to let your thoughts run wild.

Have you used a Hobonichi planner AS A PLANNER? If so, did it work for you? Let me know and also, do share your pictures with me! I promise to post more on this planner as I find my way through it, including pictures.




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