Bullet Journal: Top 5 Reasons Hobonichi + Kokuyo Own My Heart

Bullet Journal: Top 5 Reasons I Embrace Hobonichi and Kokuyo Products


Trying to shove all facets of my life into one-book (Leuchtturm) failed. Add: repeated drawing of spreads antagonized. Hobonichi & Kokuyo gifted the cure, fueling my entry into Planning Nirvana Land.

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes.

Brief Bullet Journaling Background

Stretching into a “new” career bids farewell to a comfort zone. Accountability rises to prominence, as does the intense need to chisel steps for goal achievement. Organizing ideas, conjuring milestones, noting commitments and wanna do‘s— the totality requires a definitive system. After many stumbles, I found my Eureka!

Standard monthly paper calendars present only one of two options: blank-background blocks, or ruled blocks. Research strongly suggests only Hobonichi and Kokuyo present a welcomed third alternative: a grid background within each day block. For someone like me, hobbled with handwriting simulating rum & coke overload, that grid spells legibility.

I know one thing for sure: the day the 2018 versions materialize (September) will be the day I place my orders.

The Primary Reasons For My Hobonichi/ Kokuyo Addiction

1️⃣ I’m a Functional Planner.

When I grab my bullet journal, I’m laser focused on

  • cementing thoughts on paper before they can take flight;
  • discerning open checkboxes;
  • noting items with my circled number, indicating “in progress”;
  • outlining work/ milestones for the next day/week/month/ quarter; or,
  • determining what’s working vs needs tweaking vs Bye Felicia!.

I’m a firm believer in incorporating joyful obsessions with mundane chores. But the glam planning some find therapeutic I find tedious. That mindset extends to repetitive drawing of calendar spreads and trackers. Hobonichi books spare me busy work, providing needed structure (e.g. calendars in multiple formats), plus a backbone for tracking. Yet, flexibility exudes from every page.

2️⃣ Quality Products Allow Me to Focus, without Distracting Petty Irritants.

As a decades-long stationery nerd, experience dictates my choices: pens, pencils, erasers (Kokuyo Campus 2B), and paper comprising my stash come from Japan. In my humble opinion, Japanese designers elevate all-things-stationery to a stratospheric quality unmatched by ANYthing stateside.

  • Spiral-bound books never snag.
  • All books remain bound, i.e. no paper falls out.
  • Books open/stay flat, even when jammed in a container with adjacent books.
  • I’ve yet to witness Moleskine-style irritants (read: anything short of air ghosts, bleeds, smears, etc., as if determined to trigger every ink-based woe known in this universe)
  • Nibs carrying a “fine” label prove truthful; Americans define fine as 0.5mm. PuhLeeeeeeeease!
  • Details count … and delight!

In short, dealing with Japanese paper/pen products reminds me of Steve Jobs days— before Apple quality control descended into Windows Vista mimicry. In Japanese Stationery World, everything just works— no close encounters of the oops kind. Evahhhh!

3️⃣ Hobonichi (& Kokuyo) Products Uniquely Meet My Needs/Desires.

I craved a flexible calendar. I wanted the structure of monthly, weekly, and daily pages. But I didn’t want to “feel” restricted by the layout. My handwriting remains shaky enough to warrant guides. But I didn’t want smack me lines. I want the freedom to exploit what is, without being hassled in the process.

It’s like Japanese manufacturers crawl around on hands and knees, with beaming flashlight in hand, scrutinizing nooks and crannies for nuances to conquer. Example: the Hobonichi Cousin Avec presents a fine how-to-satisfy-customers model:

  • Some folks want a timeline. Others don’t. The configuration addresses both contingents.
  • Some people choose 3 MITs daily (Most Important Task); others employ a different get-it-togetha! scheme. Hobonichi provides 3 “gentle” checkboxes at the top of its pages. Exploit them if desired. Otherwise, ignore them and they fade into the background.
  • Trackers tend to change month to month. Each monthly column provides room for notes and labeling. The vertical days week view, spread over facing pages, duplicates the feat.

4️⃣ Thin Paper Permits a Multi-Book Bullet Journal withOUT Girth.

So, what components comprise my bullet journal system?

  1. Kokuyo Schedule Book 2017 Campus Diary Month (c103d-17) — A5 3.7mm gridded month calendar (Editorial Calendar. Only book on this list without Tomoe River paper, but the paper responds in a glorious manner.)
  2. Kokuyo “Idea” book— A5 Slim, 4mm grid (Prospecting)
  3. Hobonichi Cousin Avec— A5; month/ week calendars with full 1-page Daily
    • Month cal = all hardlandscape dates
    • Vertical months = Daily Writing Process Tracker
    • Vertical days as week = The Plan vs The Reality timeblocking
    • Daily = notes flowing directly from the day’s activities
  4. Hobonichi Cousin Memo Book #1— slightly smaller than A5 (Articles Log)
  5. Hobonichi Cousin Memo Book #2— (Freelance Writing Log)
  6. Taroko Design Memo Book— A5, .5mm grid (Skills Mastery)

The six books live as a single grab-it bundle, courtesy of an A5 Lihit Lab cover.

The Hobonichi Weeks, B6-ish Slim, forms my core bullet journal (braindumping into Daily Logs; calendar). The Weeks hangs out in a wallet converted to cover, providing an EDC (Every Day Carry) on steroids. Like the Cousin, the Weeks mini-pack includes helper notebooks:

  1. Hobonichi Weeks Memo Book #1Fun Lists, including:
    • Audible / Books to digest
    • Entertainment: streaming movies, documentaries, tv, theater movies, bands coming to town
    • Twitter #5amWritersClub: daily 4-5a ET Motown-era YouTube postings (Pinterest; Twitter: @writesquire)
    • No-Longer-a-Cigarette-Smoker: $$ saved by day, + Benefits
  2. Hobonichi Weeks Memo Book #2Lists, including:
    • Expenses (what, when, amount)
    • Income (who, for what, when received, deposit date)
    • Waiting For
    • Work deadlines: Writing
    • Work due dates/deadlines: Law

The Weeks bundle slides with ease in/out of the front slot pocket of the Lihit Lab cover. The svelte profile, with embedded wallet, ensures the Weeks accompanies me on every out & about venture.

Carrying that number of books, with standard paper tucked between each set of covers, would awaken Memory Lane: the back-breaking backpacks of my school days. But here, the magic of a dwarfed stack (1¼” high) lies in Tomoe River paper (TRP).

5️⃣ The Products Jointly Provide a Trustworthy System.

My home office includes book shelves. I’ve dubbed one shelf Abandonment Row. That zip code houses neighbors with whom you may be familiar: Ms. Lucy (formal surname: Leuchtturm) lives next door to the tall B6-sized Harry, a/k/a Quo Vadis Habana. Equally lean, both provide pleasant company. But Momma taught me to keep only those friends who bring out the best in me. These friends failed the test. Calendar relatives too numerous to mention round out the population.

Getting things done mandates a trusted system. (David Allen). A system becomes trustworthy only when used on a consistent basis. Because these books bend to my will, I truly enjoy them. Because I enjoy them, I reach for them daily. The Weeks simulates an appendage, always within easy reach. It works hand-in-glove with the Cousin bundle. No other books —jointly or standing alone— instigated the long-term fidelity these books inspire. I’m faithful. Translation: I get things done!

Image Gallery: Hobonichi and Kokuyo Pages

Call to Action

If your bullet journal plays productivity BFF, questions:

  • Are your trackers geared toward goal achievement, or do they constitute mere busy work?
  • Have you established a fail-safe method to catch thoughts while out and about?
  • Is your use of your system consistent? If not, what joyful obsession can you incorporate to coax consistency?

Your world. Your choices. Emerging as the best requires implementing the best get-&-keep-it-together scheme tailored to your workflow, strengths, and weaknesses. It took me umpteen tries to get to my homerun. So keep trying. Happy planning!

👋🏽😎 Til later, y’all!

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