Someone asked me to share how I use my Hobonichi as a planner, because you tend to see it used as a doodle journal or a diary so I thought, why not? But first, you need to understand where I’m coming from;
- I refuse to maintain multiple planners to record the same thing
- I would love to decorate but honestly, I need the space
- I adore multi-ink pens
- My inbox is a monster that regularly needs to be slayed
Before I fully embraced the Hobonichi as a planner, I had to come to terms with a few things that took quite a few bucks and multiple failed planners (yes including the Hobonichi Cousin at one point) for me to realise:
- Without discipline, the best system in the world will fail me (or rather, I fail it)
- Updating my planner needs to be a regular, active item in my day rather than something I get around to when I’m free
- The planner needs to be mobile because my work can suddenly bite me in the behind without warning
Considering all that (and instigated by the fact that the love of my life gave me the 2016 Hobonichi English planner as a gift), here’s the system that I’ve come up with that, colour me happy and excited, is actually working.
Determine how your work comes in and how you’ll capture it
I use an amalgamation of David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) and the Bullet Journal system. Here, I follow the GTD principle in that;
- You don’t keep anything in your head (besides your brain)
- Do only emails/work that takes less than 2 minutes to settle. Leave the longer ones for later
- Log everything in a rough sheet first
So I blaze through my emails, doing only the <2 min emails and logging the tasks on a cheap notepad. Then I do the longer stuff and also log it on the cheap notepad.
Keep one thing in mind; I follow the GTD definition of a project as well; a project is anything that needs a few days/weeks/months and a few steps to complete. This is important in a short while.
Then record your work in the right places
Referring to my cheap notepad, I do the following:
- Events are logged in the yearly view of the techo
- Project deadlines are logged in the monthly view using colourful post-its that are colour-coded
- The daily pages are updated with the tasks that need to be done that day, either a standalone task or part of a project
Use it to log events
Use it to log project deadlines
Use it for your daily schedule & tasks
Here’s where the Bullet Journal system kicks in;
- Tasks are written down using checkboxes
- If the task is being done, it’s filled partway
- Done, I shade it fully
- If it’s a bigger task/project that has several things I need to do on that day itself, the main task is recorded using a circle, the smaller tasks with a checkbox
- I add signifiers to the tasks for example, an exclamation point to show it needs my attention that day; an arrow going in a circle to show that even though the task is done, I’ll need to do more e.g. follow up with someone; an arrow to the right means I need to push the task to the next day
- And here’s another important key for me; if I have to move the task again, I’ll add the number ‘2’ to the right arrow to show this is the second time I’ve moved the task and so on. This is super helpful because it forces me to see why am I avoiding this task
The Master List
How the signifiers work
One thing you need to remember though is that you need a master tracker of your tasks/projects. Here is where I usually fail in the past because I keep it somewhere I always lose it or forget it, or I just plain ignore it because it’s not synonymous with my planner.
To avoid that, I got the Hobonichi A6 memo book (set of 3) and I tab a few pages for one section. This is also another key item–
Understand the grouping of your work
Generally your work will come in themes. As I’m in HR, my work comes in these buckets;
So everything, everything that comes in to me is classified under either one of these themes and if they’re a task, they get a smaller post-it and if they’re a project, they get a bigger post-it and then they’re placed in the appropriate tab in the memo book. See below;
Used to track tasks & projects
Why post-its? Because I’ve realised that I want to transfer completed tasks/projects into some place else as a record of what I’ve done so that I can totally wave it in my bosses’ faces during performance review haha!
And most importantly, I need to remember that I’ve done good work 🙂
Remember to review review review
And here’s the crucial part of my system which I haven’t fully implemented because I’m still in the process of cleaning up but I think it’ll work as I’ve experimented with it;
Pick a day in the week (I would recommend Friday) where you dedicate a block of time to review your Master Tracker and update your Year/Month/Daily view accordingly.
Do this religiously and you won’t even need to use Sunday evening to plan your coming week because you got it done on Friday. You rock!
- Do I need the Weekly book to do this? What if I forget what’s coming in the next few days? It doesn’t matter if you use the Weekly book or just the daily pages, if you don’t discipline yourself to review it, it’ll fail you.
- How do I track my daily schedule? I like things aligned so my schedule is laid out in a grid because you need a visual reminder of how much of your day is taken up already. We have a tendency to overestimate our time; a visual clock helps you remember you don’t have that much so make the best of it
Anyway, that’s it! I hope that was helpful and if you have any questions, just ask~