I've tried a lot of planner systems and journaled on and off. In college, I used all kinds of systems. Cheap weekly planners that cost $1, the Traveler's Notebook system and knockoffs, The Happy Planner system and knockoffs, bullet journaling multiple times (each time ending in tremendous failure), Midori monthly+weekly planners, etc. Eventually, I decided to give Hobonichi Techo a go, but if you're familiar with the brand, you already know that itself comes with multiple system options and sizes. Here's been my experience exploring Hobonichi Techo planners.
Weeks - Nuance Pink: I thought it'd be easiest to start with the Weeks. The A6 & the A5 both looked too intimidating. By the time I finally decided I was going to get one, the color I wanted was out of stock everywhere. I ended up getting the Nuance Pink one because it was the only color I was alright with out of my remaining options, but I wasn't a big fan of it. The Nuance cover is different than the regular weeks cover. It got very grimy looking very quickly, and the light color didn't help matters. I was able to finish this planner though. I went through a lot of different formatting ideas and settled on something by the end of using it, but didn't feel satisfied. I started to feel very cramped in the Weeks, but still thought the others were too big. Blank A6: I bought a blank to use as a journal because I didn't have enough space in the Weeks to journal in. Yes, I know. This suggests something pretty obvious, but I couldn't sort that out then. Final 2020 Thoughts: While I wasn't entirely happy with how things worked out, I wanted to try using them for another year.
Weeks Mega - Cherry Blossom - Eric clear cover: At first, I thought I'd use the Weeks again since I was familiar with it, and any runoff thoughts would go in the A6 blank. Just to be safe with having extra room I even bumped up to the Mega. Made a point this time to not get the Nuance cover, but the regular covers for the Weeks feel so fragile I bought a cover on cover for it. I still felt far too cramped in this. So after a short period of time using this, I decided to switch up to the Cousin and keep this one as a junk journal for collaging and other abstract things. I filled it up and broke the spine of the poor thing. Between feeling cramped, and basically hating the covers of this, I have become pretty meh on the Weeks. I also realized I really hate the color of the pages in the Weeks, which is different from the other planners. So ended my testing with the Weeks. A5 Cousin Avec - minä perhonen Path cover (Textile Diary for Path): I kept switching between wanting to try the A6 or the Cousin, but I really liked the A5 Path cover and eventually caved and got the Avec version of the Cousin with the Path cover in case things got thicker than expected. It worked well for about half a year. By the time I was moving into the Jul-Dec book, it felt like the space was too much most of the days in July. I ended up, like with the Weeks, turning it more into a junk journal and switching down a Jul-Dec A6 Avec. I also realized I really had no use for the weekly spread at the front of the cousin, which the A6 lacks. A6 Jul-Dec Avec - Non-official cover bought online: By the latter half of the year, I switched to the A6 as my primary place for planning and found that size more manageable. The space some days felt a little too little, some days a little too much, so I took that to mean this was roughly the right size for me. Blank A6: This was the same A6 from the previous year. I just hadn't filled it up by the end of 2020. I finished it up in 2021. Briefly, I tried a more bullet journal-esque style of planning in this and remembered once again that I fucking hate the bullet journal system, so I stopped that. Mini Letter Set - Apple and Flower: Reviewed on my B Nip Friendly page as definitely not remotely FPF. They matched nicely with the Path cover, but were pretty useless. I soon learned on the Techos have quality paper in them. Hobonichi Papers - Eric: Scratch paper sold by the company. I bought them to test the quality of the paper for fountain pen use and reviewed them on that page. This paper was garbage. It's just meant to be scratch paper though, so it's not really that surprising. My wife used the papers more than I did. She quite liked the Eric design on the front. A6, A5, Weeks Pencil Boards - Orange: Bought these in all sizes in case I ever wanted to switch back to something, and A5 & A6 are standard sizes anyway, so I figured they could be useful in general. It was necesary in the Weeks, but I had no use for them in the regular techo or the cousin. I'm still holding onto them for now. Final 2021 Thoughts: I love the Path cover and don't regret buying it. Since it's an A5 size, it can be used with any A5 notebook or journal anyway. It's very well made. I wasn't that satisfied with the cheap A6 cover I got online and planned on getting official covers from the site or getting custom ones made. I ended up decided I'd keep going with the A6 into the next year, but that a Cousin may be something to switch back to at some point, a more busy point in my life or one where I'm more into journaling again. I had taken a very long break from journaling. Prior to going on this little rabbit hole, I had kept a journal in a Ro-biki notebook, my first proper physical journal in years and it took me a long time to fill that up despite how small the notebook was. The Cousin was, for me at the time, far too much space. From the Weeks and Cousin, I also learned I'm pretty good at making collages, haha.
2 A6 Techos - Count the Lights cover - Light cover on cover: I ended up only seeing one cover I really liked for this size, so I bought that one and continue to use the other cover I bought in 2021. This year, I got freebies from the site, the spoon and the free pen. I put the spoon on one of the loops of the new cover. Since then, I've also added a pin with a sun on it my wife got as a freebie from a shop on Etsy and a sword with a cat design on the hilt from my brother. I'm pretty sure going into next year, I'll likely continue to use this cover and may keep adding to the trinkets on it. The cover itself I chose because it brought up memories of a specific time period in my life, during the summer of 1995 before I started kindergarten. During the summer, my dad and grandpa would take me to work with them at the mechanic shop they worked at. I didn't actually do anything there but label things and bring them tools occasionally. My mother was working some kind of retail job around then and my brother was put in daycare. I was old enough to not need constant supervision. Most days, when I wasn't being asked to do anything around the shop, I would hang out behind the builting and play horseshoes by myself or with some of the other mechanics. We'd go home in the evening. I'd often sit on the banks behind the shop around that time, looking out at the changing sky and the city of Atlanta. I put the Light cover on cover over the Count the Lights cover because, in my mind, it felt like I was adding some kind of mystical angle to the image by combining these two "light" themed things with foxes on them. Just a silly thought in my head that the cover on cover was this ghostly, ancestral world layered on top of this modern, living one. The two foxes perfectly line up when you put these two together, somethinG I hoped would happen when I bought them. Also, the way the trees line up layed over the other design gives the illusion of a forest near a city, fitting to go with Atlanta's nickname, The City in the Forest. The sun pin dangling on the side of the upper loop goes with the evening, setting sun feeling. As for the sword and the spoon, I like how opposite these items are; something that can kill and something that nourishes. I had a lot of feelings about this set up visually, and it's all rather silly, but it does make me happy to look at it all. In the Path cover, I also added a sticker of the Atlanta skyline on the inside. I'll probably keep sneaking the city into places in the future too. As for the A6s themselves, I got two for having one as a journal and one as a planner. I figured I'd prefer having the two things separate, and this would give me less space than the Cousin by a bit and no weekly spreads to worry about. At this point, two seems like too many, and I have already stopped paying attention to the dates in the journaling A6 and use it as just a freeform writing journal to make lengthy, undated entries in. I'll update how things went at the end of the year, but I suspect I will fill this one up long before I get to the end of the year. As for the planning one, I've kept it in the cover I'm not particularly happy with at this point. It serves its function, but next year, I will either replace it if I get two A6s (which I don't think I will) or I may just use the Counting the Lights cover again next year with only one A6. I find a lot of days without the journaling aspect, I really don't need that much space. It's still too much for the Weeks though. I've started thinking it would be best to do some journaling and planning in there, and have a blank for runoff ideas again. Black A6 - Wish Upon a Star design: I plan on using this for a media journal. I will update at the end of the year how that went. Blank A5:Bought this just to keep on hand. As the old formula of TR paper is now no longer being produced, I figured there was no issue with getting a blank notebook with some of what's left of that paper stock for later use. A6 Five Year Journal - Custom cover with minä perhonen Land Theater design (Textile Diary for Land Theater): I bought this sort of on a whim to see if I could keep up with something so long term. I went with the smaller size out of fear I wouldn't be able to fill up the space in the A5 version. At first, I wasn't sure what I was going to use the side pages for, but I've been coming up with lots of uses for them. This has probably been my favorite thing I've gotten and the most satisfied I've been with any of the products. I'm debating about whether I should get an A5 version next year to have another focus with along side this one, but it's a little too early for me to be jumping the gun with that idea. The main day pages I've done quick summaries of the day alongside recording day to day weather information, like dew points, astronomical events, moon phases, and such. The blank pages have been used for all kinds of thing; reading/viewing logs, weather stats, logs of locations I've been, a 5 year lunar calendar I made, emergency numbers, monthly recaps, a yearly self-reflect page for my birthday, etc. I've been finding new things to add all the time, and it has now become a sort of commonplace book for me. If I abandon using the planners altogether, I'd likely still want to keep using a journaling system like this. For this, I got a custom cover. While the official cover options for the A6 5 Year are nice looking, none of them quite felt right to me. I had one made with minä perhonen's Land Theater pattern. The simple forest theme and neutral colors are nice to look at, and I think they go well with the Path notebook and go thematically with the Count the Lights+Lights combo. While working on something else, I accidentally got some clear glitter paint on the bookmarks, but it looked nice and "icy" with the interior color of the cover, so I painted the entire interior cover with the clear glitter paint. When I open it in the light, it now looks like looking down at a frozen pool. At the back of the interior part of the cover, I added a sticker from Leela Journals. I've kept the freebie card she sent in the order in one of the front pockets. I also have an art print I bought from her shop in the back pocket. I haven't been shy about decorating with this one either, risk of breaking the spine be damned. I've added washi to the edges of some pages, and quite a few stickers. A few pages I've just made collages to look at. I still use deco very sparingly though. Along the edges of the pages, I used a combination of reddish, orangish, and gold mildliners to color the sides of the book and give it an "aged" look similar to the color I already gave to my main tarot deck after I trimmed the sides to cover up all that glaring white. I may do this with my next planner and skip the page flags. After coloring the sides, I used the multi-pen freebie I got from the official site and drew a simplistic hilly scene alone the sides, some rather crude fore edge painting but with no actual paint involved. For daily entries, I typically write at night or the following morning. Sometimes, I fall behind on tracking the weather, but where I'm pulling data from is kept up online and has records going back into the 90s, so I can always fill the info in at another date. I don't worry about that too much. I'll update this at the end of the year about how things are going. Final 2022 Thoughts:
Various sticker packs & washi/PET tape: Lots of grid patterns, nature themes, a lot of tapes by Talkness Studio, Mind Wave, & mt. I use these a lot; for functional purposes, for deco, and for collage making. Talkness Studio is currently my favorite. Ephemera paper pack: Mostly vintage & grungey themes. I mainly just use these in collage making, but I don't think I'll buy anymore. Mildliners: Coral pink, red, vermilion, marigold, apricot, gold, green, summer green, brown, gray, dark gray, cyan, dark blue, smoke blue, lavendar. I used these more when I was in college for note taking. These days, I sometimes use them for sectioning off parts of a page, but they serve more of a purpose as art tools than anything planning related. 1.0mm Pilot G2 Pen: I have this as a back-up for when I can't use a fountain pen on something. I don't usually write this this pen unless I have to, and if I'm using it in a planner, it's because I was using the pen for something else and didn't feel like switching pens. Hobonichi Uniball Jetstream Multi-pen freebie: I really don't like ballpoint pens. Obviously, I received this as a freebie. I use it from time to time, on paper that fountain pens can't be used on, and sometimes I keep using it when I'm using a planner because I didn't feel like switching over. I've also used it for small details on art projects occasionally. Page flags: I have a few sets with nature themes. They're pretty cheap and the designs flake off easily. I won't be buying more of them once I've used them up. I was using them to quickly flip to specific months or pages with notes on them, but I don't find that I really need them after all and I will likely stop bothering with this system. 6" ruler: For getting a straight edge or measuring something small. Yellow eraser: For pencil, obviously. This doesn't get much use these days as I don't use pencils as often as I used too, but I do sometimes doodle in pencil. 2 Black Kuru Toga Roulettes: Used pretty heavily in my student days, but these days I only pull them out to draw with. 4 TWSBI ECO RG: 3 B, 1 Stub. These are what I primarily right with. I was initially hesitate about this version of the ECOs when I first reviewed them, but since then, I've really come to like the aesthetics of it and how the rose gold plated nib feels compared to the regular ones. My wife now uses the other 2 white ECOs I used during my student days. I've found four is a pretty good number of these pens for me to not have to be inking up a new one constantly. I'll usually wait till at least 2, if not all 4 are empty before I bother refilling them, which is usually 1-2 times a month. Glue sticks: For the ephemera papers, any scrap paper I want to past in, and gluing down any shitty washi I have that doesn't stick very well. I'm not particularly picky about brand. Yellow scissors: For cutting just about anything. I have a pretty standard sized pair of scissors I got from a nearby store. I've tried about every mini scissors out there or other "space saving" scissor design. They all suck ass. Nothing beats the basics. Plain yellow sticky notes: I mostly use these in collages or for art projects rather than anything functional. When I run out of them, I doubt I'll get any more. I've found sticky notes aren't really all that useful in general unless you're just sticking them straight on a wall or board anyway. Light teal pen pouch: Where everything goes. I got this pouch from my wife when she got a new pouch for her things and I was getting rid of my old, beat up case around the same time. It's more simplistic than my old pen case, but I like it better. Just a zipper and a big empty space on the inside. Toss everything in. I have plenty of room in it.
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