I've already posted about my planner setup for 2017.
For this post I wanted to share some of the notebooks and planners I used throughout 2016 and how they worked (or didn't) for me.
I've had a single A5 hardcover Leuchtturm 1917 notebook on my desk for the past few years. When it's full I replace with another one in a different colour. I was happy with these notebooks for general scribbles and note taking, and relied on digital task managers for planning my work.
Early this year I was reminded of the Bullet Journal system. I'd previously dismissed it as something I wasn't interested in but found myself curious to learn more about it this time round. As I explored the details of the system I decided once again it wasn't for me, but I was interested in finding an alternative analogue planning system.
After some searching I came across Strikethru. This system seemed to be a better fit for how I like to plan, and, like the Bullet Journal, it could be used with any notebook.
I started using the Strikethru method in my Leuchtturm A5 and straight away noticed an improvement in how calm and organised I felt, and how much I got done each day.
After sticking with the Strikethru system for a few weeks I was enjoying using analogue tools more. I've always enjoyed stationery but recently felt I didn't have a good reason to purchase or use many stationery goods. Using Strikethru to organise my work gave me a reason to look into different notebook options.
I discovered the Traveler's Company Notebook (then called Midori Traveler's Notebooks) and lusted over them for a brief time before purchasing a regular one in brown. I've never been big on leather products but, being a minimalist, I like the idea of products made to last, and especially those that grow in character as they age.
More recently I've heard pretty terrible things about the leather industry, so I'm conflicted about purchasing any leather stationery products in the future. But I do still love my Traveler's Notebook.
The brown leather is soft and comfortable to hold, and is developing a unique patina based on my usage. I worried that the slim page format wouldn't work for me, because I'd always liked the true A5 width of Leuchtturm notebooks compared to Moleskine's slim A5, but I got used to the slim pages quickly.
These days I mainly use Tomoe River inserts, as they work best with fountain pens and reduce the bulk of the notebook overall. I've tried various companies' Tomoe River inserts so far, including a planner from PoobirdsRarities, grid and dot grid inserts from PaperPenguinCo on Etsy, cream dot grid 68gsm from Taroko Shop, and blank pages with a line guide from Bookbinders in Australia. I still have Goulet Pens notebooks to try, but I've been putting that off due to high shipping costs, and the Traveler's Company 013 insert, which I have waiting to go into my notebook now.
So far the Bookbinders insert is probably my favourite, though the cover is a bit thicker than I'd like. Tomoe River paper lies flat so easily it would be nice to have a thinner cover that didn't hinder that so much. The line guide is a bit fiddly but I do like not having lines or grids in the way of my writing on the page. And the PaperPenguinCo inserts are a great option for printed pages, though the shipping to Australia is expensive enough that I've only purchased those once so far.
After getting settled into my Traveler's Notebook I started exploring the Bullet Journal system again. I ended up mashing up ideas from both Strikethru and Bullet Journal, as well as other ideas like Autofocus. I liked having daily lists in Bullet Journal style but I didn't like keeping them in my regular Traveler's Notebook. I preferred the idea of a day per page on smaller pages, so I bought a passport Traveler's Notebook.
I was surprised how small the passport version was when it arrived. Even though I knew, obviously, that it's passport-sized, it seemed a lot smaller when it was in my hands. I'd originally planned to swap to the passport version for all my planning but the monthly insert felt too small, as I use that for a lot of my planning, and the weekly insert didn't offer space for a weekly to-do list. I did like using it for daily to-do lists, so for a while I used it just for that, with all my other planning in my regular Traveler's Notebook.
My A5 Roterfaden is probably my most expensive non-pen stationery purchase from this year. I've always used it to house my journal, though at first that was in a hardcover Leuchtturm notebook, which wasn't a great fit.
When I got my Crossfield I started using it as a journal and put it into my Roterfaden. It's a great fit, and I like that I can put my Kindle in the cover too, which is handy for travelling.
For a few months this year I didn't need a Hobonichi but I heard about them a lot and kind of wished I needed one. Around September I finally decided I wanted to try a Hobonichi for my 2017 planner, and the Hobonichi archive store was selling some of the 2016 range still. I ordered the Hobonichi Cousin Avec set for 2017, which is an A5 two-book set covering six months each. From 2017 on the Avec set includes weekly pages as well as monthly and daily sections.
I also ordered the second half of the 2016 Cousin Avec set, which is just the July-Dec book. This gave me a chance to try the Hobonichi format before committing to the full year in this planner. I'd always used undated planners or planner inserts in the past, so I could change my mind without wasting a whole planner, but the Hobonichi is dated, so if you don't use it those pages are wasted. (Some people draw or take notes on unused Hobonichi pages but I like having my notes and planning separate so I didn't consider this an option.)
The Cousin Avec prior to 2017 didn't have a weekly planning section (unlike the normal Cousin, which is the A5 Hobonichi with a full year in one book) so I only tested the monthly and daily planning pages. I enjoyed having a day per page and having the pages dated for me, as well as the five small task boxes at the top of each page, which I found useful for listing and checking off my daily habits.
I kept my Hobonichi in my Roterfaden alongside my journal, which was a pretty bulky and heavy combination to carry around the house with me. Even working from home I felt the combination was annoying and wanted a slimmer, lighter option.
I ordered the Jibun Techo in a fit of rage over the paper in the Hobonichi planners. Everyone raves about this paper, but when I compared it to the Tomoe River paper in my Seven Seas Crossfield it seems rougher in the Hobonichi and not as nice to use. Nobody else seemed to agree with me, which made me more annoyed about it, and I went searching for other planners that use Tomoe River paper. The Jibun was the only one I found, so I ordered one from eBay (they're much harder to find outside Japan than the Hobonichi).
The day after I ordered my Jibun I reconsidered my thoughts on the Hobonichi paper. I still think there's a slight difference, probably from the printing process, but it's not nearly as big as I'd initially thought. And the fountain pen nib that was causing me problems on the Hobonichi paper and making it seem more rough has since become more smooth and is no longer a problem. I don't know what made me so frustrated about the Hobonichi paper now that I can see how small a difference it is. But anyway, I had ordered the Jibun already and was starting to regret it because it's very expensive. I fully expected to try to sell the Jibun without using it, and stick with the Hobonichi Cousin Avec set I already had ready for 2017.
But then the Jibun arrived.
I liked it much more than I expected to. The paper feels amazing. The cover is thin and light and full of handy pockets. The design is nice (though a bit busy for me). And it started from the very day I got it, October 31st. I had to try it out. And once I did, I had to keep it.
I was going to keep my Hobonichi Cousin Avec set for daily journalling but when I noticed someone in an Australian Hobonichi group looking to purchase the Cousin Avec I decided I didn't really need it and might as well sell it off.
I since bought a Hobonichi Original Avec, which is the A6 size and has just monthly and daily pages, for daily to-do lists that don't fit in my Jibun.
You can check out my plan for 2017 in this blog post.
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