Hobonichi Cousin: This Is What Tames My #WritersLife

TL;DR

My multi-book Bullet Journal system includes an A5 Hobonichi Cousin Avec planner, devoted to all-things-writing. Despite the Hobo’s calendar structure, its flexibility embraces trackers and other BuJo hallmarks. A review of the top five empowering features follows.Estimated Reading Time: 7:11 minutes

The A5 Hobonichi Cousin Avec, Taming My #WritersLife

( → → Hobonichi home page for the Cousin)

This Monday start-date planner is available in two forms: one book covering a full year (“Cousin”), or two books with each presenting six months (“Cousin Avec”). Handling  both blog and social media matters, as well as all other writing-based endeavors, the Avec forms my all-things-writing bible. At first, I assigned an “other writing” category to an A6 Hobonichi Techo Planner, restricting the A5 Cousin to online-presence concerns. Barely two weeks into the A6 pages, the dreaded “overlap” beast reared its ugly head. Determined to deprive the varmint of air, I pulled the A6 plug, moving its contents into the larger Cousin. That’s the thrill of the Hobo family of planners—despite the structure (eliminating repetitive draw-spreads tedium), the inherent intense flexibility lives to accommodate “more.”

Top 5 Features, Exploited to Embrace the Writing Aspect of my WorkLife

✧︎︎︎1✧︎︎︎ Monthly View, as Columns

Perfect for habit tracking, and hammering out steps in a massive project

Perfect for habit tracking, and hammering out steps in a massive project

● Main Area → Writing Process Tracking

10 horizontal blocks space each adjacent monthly column. Six months span facing pages, yielding a half-year-at-a-glance view—on steroids. Headers welcome insertion of category signifiers. The tiny blocks comprising the grid (3.5mm, I believe, rather than the standard 5mm) rest on Tomoe River paper, the BFF of fountain pen lovers. Because I use this view for tracking, I create alternating colored vertical columns using a yellow “Hi-Liter,” to keep my retinas within the targeted checklist column.

These well-behaved markers leave no blotches at the end of a drawn line, and refuse to smear, bleed or ghost. With a container built like a tank, they take forever to run dry. I stumbled across some oldies but goodies recently, stuck in cobweb mode for at least 5 years. Each inked the page as if new, causing my North Carolina based jaw to drop down to Florida. When it comes to assisting my peepers with alternating lines, this is the ONLY highlighter I allow myself to use.

The contents of this tracker reflect the various phases of my writing process, whether blog article, book in progress, legal document, or article for submission to a publication:

  • Admin (numerical codes assignment/Articles Log, organizing, etc)
  • Outlining
  • Drafting
  • Editing
  • Research
  • Proofing
  • Formatting
  • Word Count (spanning last 3 blocks of each month column)

The first letter of each forms the category signifier within the header area. My rule: GirlFriend, there better be at least one checkmark EVERY dang day. Exception: 5 “me” days monthly; an orange highlighter marks those “off” days. Punishment for failure to indulge some aspect of writing on a particular day: no photo shoot (my Xanax) for a week. My reward for compliance: consult my wishlist! 🤗

A solo work status carries multiple perks, but hazards lurk in that ‘hood. Tracking serves as my neighborhood watch. Serial checkmarks heighten motivation, while serial blank checkboxes thunder the need to regroup. Either way, I remain on top of my writing game, primed to celebrate or adjust as circumstance dictates.

● Space under Main Area → Books in Progress

Books I’ve started, or living only in my mind’s eye, grace this subsection. Succinct chapter  numbers provide milestones to conquer during the month.

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✧︎︎︎2✧︎︎︎ Standard Month View → Blog Editorial Calendar

The month view is home to this blog's Editorial Calendar.

The month view is home to this blog’s Editorial Calendar.

The screenshot reflects my exploitation of the multiple posting formats (e.g. image, quote, audio, video) provided by the WordPress blogging system. I color-code to remind myself of the type of post published. My framework approach: I assign certain post types to certain days. Monday = audio while Wednesday = an image; Tuesday and Sunday = blog vacation days, but I sometimes post then as a surprise; Thursday constitutes my Holy Grail day, that is, posting a meaty standard article. Friday witnesses a video, typically sourced at TedTalks, while a hit-&-run aside or link post appears on Saturday. Further nuances of this analog Editorial Calendar will be explored in an upcoming article.

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✧︎︎︎3✧︎︎︎ Weekly View: 7 evenly spaced days as columns, spanning facing pages ← multi info

So many possibilities in this spread alone- genius!

So many possibilities in this spread alone- genius!

Several aspects of this writer’s life fall into this section.
Twitter’s #5amWritersClub: This predawn daily riser knows: when the toes get ta tappin’, ain’t no more nappin’. My body’s natural rhythm awakens me between 4-4:15a.m. The ensuing fight involves leaving the cozy covers. As my retinas rotate to the open position, I instruct Alexa to play a specific Motown-era tune, selected as part of the previous day’s Evening Routine. Because the tune guarantees a fun start to my day, I share it with club members from around the world, each joining me in a 5a.m. hour of focused writing.

I insert the tune—song title with name of artist—as the first item under the date-numbered rows.

By the way, if Mr. Inner Critic pops up later that day intent on harassing me, I mentally sing that song, in repeat fashion, until I chase his sorry a$$ right back to Hades.

Book in focus: Writing a book involves nitty gritty work likely to chase away all but the most determined. Outlining. Brainstorming. Research. Reading competing books and studying associated reader comments—markers for improving my approach. All this and more form the #WritersLife as it pertains to crafting/drafting a book. Related notes litter this view, pinpointing nuances of various chapter segments on the drawing board for the week.

Specific items to investigate: These entries may concern the blog, some other aspect of social media, or a late-breaking idea for a new article/book. The memory nudges remind me to dig into a certain subject. When I do so, I simply checkmark the related hand-drawn checkbox, knowing the details can be found in the companion Daily page.

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✧︎︎︎4✧︎︎︎ Daily, 1pp → Detailed Notes

You name it, this luscious Daily page can embrace it

You name it, this luscious Daily page can embrace it

Background: A glue-2 package pulsates my analog life-management scheme, forming my core everywhere-carry BuJo. Briefly, a Hobonichi Weeks and Hobonichi Weekly Calendar Insert are with me, literally, always. The combo—the Insert tucked into the Weeks—slides in/out my back jeans packet without fuss, courtesy of the Weeks’ hard cover. The small size, combined with an über thin profile, triggers extreme portability, ensuring faithful braindumps. The Weeks calendar fondles every date, while it’s rear pre-numbered 70+ pages caress my Daily Logs. Longevity through the year sparks no concern; Hobonichi offers equally stellar Tomoe River 3-pack memo books with complimentary sizing, designed to tuck into the Weeks. The Weekly Insert embraces 2fer timeBlocking, reflecting both the plan hatched during a review session and live updates noting how I actually spent my time throughout the day.

Usage: Because the glue-2 package lives to prevent duplicate entries, I’m empowered to treat the Daily pages like a notebook, entering the resulting details of research missions, massaging thoughts blossoming as I write, and other writing-focused commentary.

● A Word About Artistic Flourishes

The one thing you will not find, anywhere, within my system: artwork. What some find a relaxing endeavor morphs into tedium in my hands. My choice of bullet journal receptacles flows from my umbrella enhance-productivity goal. End result: I indulge only flourishes with a productivity-aware purpose.

Example: During a review session, once I mark the last open item in a Daily as completed, I need not include that page in subsequent daily review sessions. I could enter a large red checkmark in the page’s lower right corner, signalling “done deal; move on.” But I live with Mr. Inner Critic. To tame him, I relish “atta girl” opportunities to rub his face in the dirt. Therefore, I elevate the moment of accomplishment to celebration mode, courtesy of an under-$10 self-inking red thumbs up stamp.

A flourish, with a productivity-enhancing purpose

A flourish, with a productivity-enhancing purpose

The act of reaching for and applying the stamp (1) reaffirms my commitment to my better self; (2) provides an encouraging pat on my back; and, (3) serves as a preemptive strike against my nemesis, Poindexter the critic. THAT, I find relaxing.

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✧︎︎︎5✧︎︎︎ “Remember This” Page, preceding each month of Daily Pages

A page tailor-made for outlining the month's primary projects/goals

A page tailor-made for outlining the month’s primary projects/goals

Each Weekly Review session instigates focus on a series of projects/tasks, milestones on the path to goal achievement. This page nods to that reality, encouraging mindmaps or listings of the month’s designated primary concerns. In other words, everywhere I turn within Hobo pages, I’m greeted with a mechanism designed to assist in my increase-productivity quest.

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WrapUp

From grade- through grad-school, I dedicated one book to each subject. It worked so well I never gave it a second thought—then. The more recent aha! recognition smacked me while mulling over potential curative steps, for a bullet journal triggering more gloom than boom. The life lesson, once absorbed, coerced a revamp of my manage-me system. I tossed my one-book bullet journal, replacing it with multiple books—each assigned a “home” tray at my home office desk area.

Two super thin pocket size books (Hobonichi Weeks and Hobonichi Week Insert)—my critical glue-2 package— jointly play maestro, harmonizing all aspects of my bullet journal scheme. My wedding band is always returned to a certain finger; these 2 books are always within immediate grasp. One provides my core BuJo (the Weeks); the other accommodates my 2fer timeblocking, reflecting both plan and reality regarding my time expenditure on a given day. The combo precludes both duplicate entries and the Where’s Waldo? syndrome (where do/did I place xyz task), sore spots with previous iterations of my bullet journal.

The most difficult part of constructing the system concerned the writing category, so I tackled it first. My chosen receptacle, the Hobonichi Cousin Avec, offers structure but with an unique level of flexibility. Of monumental importance: the structure works with me, rather than against me, always bending to my will. That, in turn, sets the groundwork for this writer to shine … via increased focus. Translation: #HappyCamper!

Call to Action

  • For life-management purposes, have you discerned the core/major areas of your (work) life?
  • Do you have a system in place to keep an eye on your related productivity level, re each of those categories?
  • Does your daily tasks list respect your goals, with the inclusion of precise milestones pushing you closer to achievement?
  • If not, why not?
  • How do you celebrate your wins, and counteract the grrrr’s?
  • Thought: pen, paper, plot, plan…… Achieve!

Hey, just sayin’…

Til later … 👋🏽🤗