I’m now finishing my fourth year using the Hobonichi Techo as my daily journal. The Hobonichi is a one page per day, fountain pen friendly journal from Japan. As I wrote last year, I open it every morning to plan out the day, record a few notes and capture key actions for the day. Sometimes it’s a shopping list, sometimes phone calls or appointments that need to be made. If the daily pages are my roadmap for the day, the big monthly calendars at the front are my longer range planning tool, knowing when trips, holidays and other blackout dates are going be coming up so I don’t make mistakes about committing to being somewhere or taking on a project. As much as I’ve tried over the years to use digital systems for this, for me paper is a better way to see what I’m doing and when at a glance.
I’ve made two changes this year. One is adding in just a few photographs. And the other is becoming a bit more systematic by including some Bullet Journal conventions into my daily jottings.
Photographs I’ve been thinking a lot about integrating casual photography into my life and that has to include journaling. I’ve discovered that if I print four images on a 4 x 6 inch sheet of photo paper, I can get 4 little images that integrate well onto a Hobonichi page as a visual reminder of the day. So there’s now a bit of photography and the occasional image in the journal.
Bullet Journal Elements The second change is adopting some of the conventions of Bullet Journaling. I read Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal Method and scanned some of the many, many websites devoted to the method. For me, there was no need to use his methods to project structure onto the blank page of a standard notebook since I had the page per day and layout of the Hobonichi as a basis. But now, instead of just jotting down thoughts for simple capture, I use the page for a more organized linear capture. I’m using symbols for next actions (actually a GTD reference there), for observations and for reference notes. Collecting notes and actions means looking back over the last few days in the Hobonichi and transferring them to the current system.
A Separate List Notebook I avoid keeping lists (books read, books or recordings to get, etc) in the Hobonichi because of its daily, linear organization. The Hobonichi is a time based system. So I do have other notebook journals for that kind of capture. Much will get transferred into digital systems, just so that I have my shopping list, etc on my phone to be always available. I have a small notebook tucked into the outside pocket with reference lists: bicycle ride essentials, work conference call codes, weekday dinner menus, etc.
The Planning Calendar The Hobonichi provides two essentials for me. There’s the one page per daily planner for each day. But at the front is monthly calendar where planned travel and other blackout dates (Jewish Holidays, all day events) are blocked in so that I can see in an instant when I’m available for new commitments.
In the end, it comes down a trusted system for capturing tasks and reference information, a very fundamental part of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology: “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” The Hobonichi is my base paper capture system, accompanying me most of the day.