The Hobonichi Weeks Planner: Satisfying Bullet Journal Goals
The Hobonichi Weeks marries the size of a long travel wallet with the glory of über thin Tomoe River paper, encouraging brain dumps throughout the day. Faithful input begets security, knowing matters of consequence appear in one receptacle. Inner security reduces stress while elevating a relaxed state of mind, the birthplace of creative productivity. To use the Weeks is to love it, a critical consideration when choosing the core of a bullet journal system. Why? Because we naturally gravitate toward the inherently enjoyable!
Each component of my bullet journal system responds to one or more goals, among them:
- eliminate tedious and time-eating duplicate data entry
- dwarf migration chores
- instill digital/analog harmony
By adding a Hobonichi Weeks to my BuJo system (thank you, A5 Lihit Lab SmartFit cover!), I tied up the last loose end on the road to planning nirvana. While in a wallet cover, the Weeks slips in and out of the Lihit Lab front cover without fuss. When I replace the cork-like cover with Hobonichi’s clear cover, the same no-fuss goodness embraces the back pocket of my jeans.
The Weeks slides in/out the Lihit Lab’s front slot pocket. My definition of perfection.
To instill digital/analog harmony between bullet journal and digital files, I decided:
- Every task would live only in its birthplace, the Daily Log. Read: no migration.
- When a task is assigned MIT status, insert a circled number before the checkbox.
- Add activity dates to the task entry.
- Include file alerts.
Let’s look at each step in the workflow.
✧︎︎︎ No Migration
Traditional bullet journaling involves moving a task to the day when it will be tackled. When one delays the task, it’s moved forward yet again. I resist busy work. In this case, I replace Migration with two procedures:
- Instead of a traditional todo list, I rely on time blocking. The blocks appear on my daily page as color-coded categories. In essence, I plan to devote x hours on a particular day to one category, another x hours to category #2, and so on.
- Planning also involves elevating selected items, within the Daily Log, to MIT status.
An easy numerical scheme reflects that MIT treatment. The numerical scheme glues digital files with analog notes. More on that below.
✧︎︎︎ MIT Status and the Circled Number
My evening reviews include checking for still open tasks within the Daily Logs. Each entry begins with a hand drawn empty checkbox. I choose a maximum of three entries as MITs for the following day.
Let’s say I choose two tasks from the July 11th Daily Log. That day’s log totals 9 entries, each task-oriented. I’ve touched only one task previously, appearing with a ①︎. Now, I choose a task from this log, assigning number 2, i.e. ②︎. Why?
- Circled numbers provide a quick visual indicator: on my radar.
While numbers appear throughout the log, only MITs merit circles.
- Seeing a circled number confirms the task is in progress, when the companion checkbox remains empty. If the checkbox instead contains a ✓, I know I’ve completed the task.
- I can use the circled number when saving related digital files, yielding a direct pointer to the precise task concerned.
Using the same source July 11th (Daily Log) task, with a circled number 2 (②︎), a related digital file takes this naming format:
- 17.0711.02 Client – brief description.pdf
Embedding the numerical scheme within the filename also quickens find-it chores within Google Drive. Searching on words tends to include irrelevant files in a search hit list. But the precision gifted by a numerical search pulls the precise files desired, and no more.
✧︎︎︎ Breadcrumbs: Adding Activity Dates, “Related Files” Alert
Many websites provide a mini navigation trail, such as Home → Issues → Development. This is what I mean by “breadcrumbs.” Within my bullet journal, I add breadcrumbs to tasks.
When I work on a task living in the July 11th Daily Log, I add the dates of activity (when I performed work related to the task) to the task’s line, e.g. 7/13,15. For this reason, I configure my Daily Log with a generous left margin.
Why? My habit involves adding activity notes, flowing directly from the day’s work, to the relevant Daily page of my Hobonichi Cousin Avec. Some tasks also generate research and resulting digital files. When I look at a task, I want to know about all related notes / files, without rifling through assorted devices or paper sections. The “breadcrumbs” satisfy this desire.
Example, with the added breadcrumbs appearing in blue boldface:
- 7/13,15 gD pb ①︎ | 🔲 task entry description
The red vertical bar = the left margin. That single line informs:
- I worked on this task (located in the July 11th Daily Log) on July 13th & 15th. Notes unfolding as I performed the task can be found on those two Daily Pages, given my standard habit.
- This task sparked research, resulting in one or more saved files in Google Drive (gD), and bookmarks at PinBoard.in (pb).
PinBoard.in bookmarks include a description field. I exploit that field, adding searchable info, e.g. 17.0711.02 7/13. Like file names, the bookmarks tell me the Daily Log location housing the task (0711, year 2017), the precise task (circled #2), and the date I performed the work (here, 7/13).
I toss every thought worthy of capture into one of two places: the hardlandscape month calendar, or that day’s Daily Log. No exceptions.
Each entry added to a Daily Log will remain there, and only there. This precludes mere busy work, such as moving a task from one location to another. It also prevents the confusion potentially generated when one item appears in multiple locations.
As a general rule, research chores find their birth in a task-oriented item, dumped into the Daily Log. Wisdom mandates tracking the status of Daily Log entries. The system outlined exploits what is —the dated header accompanying each Daily Log— and adds brief status notes.
In essence, each tackled task presents its own mini table of contents. That prevents wasting time hunting through several analog / digital areas. By adding pointers to related info, whether digital files or related notes, I ensure a comprehensive review each time my peepers land in the Daily Log.
Deliberate redundancy —
- Daily Log: points to related files, bookmarks, and analog notes
- Daily section: points to source Daily Log entry (e.g. 0711.02) sparking the activity
- filename: points to precise source task generating the research
- bookmarks: ditto re filename
— minimizes, if not precludes, a fell through the cracks syndrome.
One More Thing
Some situations—such as walking the dog, pushing a grocery store chart, indulging a photo shoot at the park, pumping gas—reduce reaching for paper and pen to a dicey proposition. As detailed in a previous post, the iOS Just Press Record app, appearing as a complication on my Apple Watch, responds well to the need. One tap on the watch face starts recording my spoken notes. A second tap ends it. Because the iCloud-friendly app transcribes the verbal notes, a Siri (Spotlight) search will pull the transcript into view on each Apple device with this app installed. I can then copy/paste into another app, or create an entry in the Daily Log. The latter is as close as I come to duplicating an entry.