Planner Picks for 2018

So. It’s that time of the year again! Time to decide on my planner system for next year.

For reference, here are my thought processes for deciding my planners for 2016 and 2017. To summarize what actually happened, I have been using the Hobonichi Weeks rather consistently for most of 2016 and 2017. I really do enjoy the format of the Hobonichi Weeks, and certainly the Tomoe River paper is a big factor too. At some point though, I noticed that I tended to leave my Weeks at my work desk, and barely look at it when I take it home for the weekends. Perhaps it turns out that the Weeks was still too big and bulky.

In the past few weeks I transferred my planning to the Hobonichi A6 Weekly Calendar (a supplemental book for the Hobonichi Techo A6), which is actually only slightly wider than a pocket size insert. It is quite the adjustment because the days of the week are oriented vertically, and for the past two years I’ve been using a horizontal planner. I was worried that there would not be enough space for my daily tasks or my weekly task overviews. So far though I have not yet encountered any space issues. I still get the Tomoe River paper goodness and the fact that I get a whole year in one book. I have already ordered the 2018 Calendar.

Planner spread from last week,featuring the prettiest washi tape I've encountered so far. 😍

A post shared by Becoming Sleek (@becomingsleek) on

 

On the other hand, the Weeks makes me really nostalgic. I love having everything in one book, including my collections, a monthly layout, and most importantly my bullet journal. None of the current designs for the Weeks really calls to me (not like the Meow), but if I had to choose I would get the Coffee Bean one.

Image credits: Hobonichi 1101.com

One of the reasons I fell off the Weeks was because I ran out of notes pages at the back, and had to transfer the bullet journal to a Weeks supplementary notebook (which is similar, but is still a separate book from the main planner). Of course, this year Hobonichi had to introduce the Mega Weeks, the same Weeks but with that crucial upgrade from 72 pages to something like 212 pages! If I got this, I would not be encountering the same issue with running out of pages for the bullet journal. It would definitely be thicker and heavier though, which means it might devolve into a desk planner anyway. I have to admit, the FOMO (“fear of missing out”) is strong with the Mega Weeks.

Image credits: Hobonichi 1101.com

My default choice so far is going with the Hobonichi A6 Weekly Calendar, which I am going to be treating as a pocket insert in a pocket TN. I can pair this with any number of my inserts, but definitely there will be at least one other insert that will become my bullet journal. This setup will be light and portable, and I can see myself using this all the time since it will be with me everywhere. It will also be the cheapest option, since the only thing I will be buying is the 2018 Calendar. The TN and the inserts are already things I own, and in fact I lean heavily with this option because of that. Granted, there is some sunk costs with the Hobonichi Weeks (thinking here of the custom Jaquie Ang cover which did not come cheap), but I’m not too concerned with that and anyway I’m not sure if the Mega Weeks will fit in there.

 

 

Stamp Favorites: September 2017

The last time I did one of these was a little over a year ago. It’s about time I showed you what I recently have on my desk, which is a good indication that they are indeed favorites!

  1. Micia Crafts Cat Stamps from Taiwan

I received this as a gift from one of my friends, and being the cat lover that I am this is perfect! I randomly would stamp a cat in my planner or journal; its small size makes it perfect!

2. Trio of stamps by Happy Handmade

These came with one of the subscription boxes that I am currently loving (will be writing about that soon!). I really love the simplicity of these stamps, and they work wonders as instant decoration for planners!

3. KW-trio Mini Date Stamp

I enjoy date stamps, and this one is perfect for the smaller grid sizes of Hobonichi Weeks. The stamped image is approximately 20mm x 4mm. Bought from National Bookstore.

4. Heidi Swapp Memory Planner Day Clear Stamps

I stumbled upon this in one of my trips to National Bookstore, and I immediately bought it. It’s perfect for the days that are not-so-perfect!

5. Korean Personalized Name Seal

I got this as a souvenir from my recent trip to Seoul, and had this personalized with my name. I really love how classy this looks, and it’s a great way to sign notes or letters!

 

 

My Chic Sparrow Pocket TN Collection

Among the various options for traveler’s notebooks, the pocket size is really the one that seems to fit well with me. One of my favorite TN brands is Chic Sparrow, and at the moment, I have five pocket TNs of various leathers and configurations.

Here’s a quick review of each of these pocket TNs:

First the classics:

Outlander Jitney Red – This is possibly my most flexible Chic Sparrow. The leather simply bends without resistance, and molds quite attractively around the inserts. It’s not really any sort of red honestly, but it remains one of my favorites because of the suppleness. It marks quite easily too.

Odyssey Penelope – I got this from a second chance sale. As far as I know, Odysseys are basically Mr. Darcy leather that has been pre-distressed. The one I got is a very dark brown, quite stiff, and very distressed. I’m thinking of rolling it a bit more to soften up the leather, since I am no longer worried about damaging the leather since it’s already distressed.

Mr. Darcy Amaretto – As I have been looking for a nice, brightly hued red TN for a while, I did not hesitate to get this one when it released even though Mr. Darcy leathers are often stiff. I’m not too concerned that it will show scuffs and marks, but I would love this to be a bit more flexible. I would have gotten the Pemberly Poppy which is basically the same shade of red, but I thought I’d like to try this one first. Amaretto is possibly my favorite TN right now.

Then the deluxes:

Creme Brulee – Creme leathers are very luscious and tactile, and this one is very enjoyable to hold and caress. The pockets make it a bit chunky, but it doesn’t detract from the softness of the leather.

Pemberly Tenerife Sea – I also got this one from a second chance sale, and I am glad to get a bright colored one. Tenerife Sea is very hard to capture on camera, since it can range anywhere from blue, teal, and green. Pemberly leathers are also quite flexible, and this one is also quite pebbly.

I’ve been trying out a new filming setup, and I thought I’d test it out with a showcase of my Chic Sparrow pocket TN collection.

 

 

Laro Planner A5 Traveler’s Notebook

Recently, I decided to switch up my work TN from a standard size TN to an A5 TN. I realized that while the standard size is good for notes, I wanted more space to do mindmaps, rough charts, and free form note taking. A5 seems like a good size, so I went about looking for an affordable A5 traveler’s notebook. It was a toss up between the Laro Planner from Jacinto and Lirio (a local stationery and bag company) and an A5 notebook cover from Lihit Lab.

I decided to go with the Laro Planner because 1) it’s a local company with objectives that I agree with, 2) it already comes with an insert with pockets (with zippers!), and 3) it was a bit cheaper. I did not use the included planner, but I could see that it might be useful at some point in the future. I immediately loaded my existing work notebook and an extra notebook I’m planning to switch to when I run out of the current notebook.

Here’s a video walkthrough of the my Laro Planner setup:

 

Initial thoughts: The Laro Planner, while red, looks professional enough. I feel like I can take this to any meeting without anyone batting an eye. I’m still getting used to the larger (and thus heavier) profile of an A5 TN, and it’s not helped by having a hardbound notebook inside. I really like the yellow insert that comes with a ton of pockets! This is really the reason I chose this over other options. The water hyancinth cover brings a nice ethnic feel to it; someday I will have the courage to ink the artwork to make it pop out. Trivia: the cover art represents the childhood game of “Langit-Lupa”, which is very nostalgic for me. For Php999 I feel like I got a great deal. I bought my Laro Planner at Scribe.

Check out the shop link at Jacinto and Lirio if you want to get your own Laro Planner.

Blog Updates

 

Hi! Checking in after a long hiatus!

What’s been up? I’ve been pretty preoccupied with work stuff recently that I had no time to update and post to the blog. I’m learning R and really enjoying the return to data science (I did a lot of this back in undergrad). I’m still quite addicted to stationery, traveler’s notebooks, and all that, and in fact I continue to use my stuff and adding quite a bit to my stash! While I was busy, I still found the time to post to my Instagram, so do follow me there as well!

What’s in store for Becoming Sleek? I’m going to resume posting with a quick review and walkthrough of my new A5 TN, followed by what I’ve been subscribing too lately. I’ll also be resuming with my reviews of traveler’s notebooks and stationery (boy have I got a lot to catch up on!).

Thank you for keeping me in your feeds! I’ll be posting the A5 TN soon after this, so watch out for it!

 

 

ChicSparrow Nanos + Setup Video

I would say that I have fallen in love hard with ChicSparrow TNs, and my latest haul is a trio of Nanos. A Nano is the smallest size TN that ChicSparrow offers, with

inserts in the A7 range (or approximately 2.75×4″). It’s the perfect size for a teeny tiny wallet TN, and goes well if you’re going around with a tiny purse. Here’s my three TN cuties:


From left to right they are: Time Traveller Outlander, Castle Rock Pemberly, and Wine Outlander. Time Traveller and Wine are the new incarnations of the Outlander leather, but they are basically the same extremely soft and pliable and squishy leather. The main difference with the old Outlanders is that these have a smooth and shiny surface, but they are quite prone to scratches. Castle Rock Pemberly is actually my second Pemberly (I haven’t written about the first!!), and it is an awesomely pebbly yet pliable leather.

The Nano comes with only one inside elastic, but I purchased the Nano Gift Set which means along with the TN I also got a pair of ChicSparrow notebook inserts (one lined and one blank) that also has an elastic to hold them together, plus a nice suede-y dust bag. The Nano also has two interior pockets, which have a nice wavy cut. These pockets are roomy enough to hold 3-4 cards, which are great if you are using it as a wallet.

Speaking of wallet, I was able to take the Wine and the Castle Rock out for a trial run as wallet TN. I filmed a video so that you can see how I set it up. The main idea is that I used a @chrisella09 fabric wallet insert to hold cash and additional cards, and I used the extra elastic to piggy back the fabric insert with a ChicSparrow insert to serve as a catch-all notebook.

 

 

Work TN Setup

At the moment, I am using the Midori Blue as my work TN. It goes with me to meetings, and I use it mainly for note taking and research more than planning. Here’s a closer look on how I set up this stamdard size traveler’s notebook.

The first insert I have, which is also the outermost insert, is a Refill 007 (Card File), a standard size accessory that has 12 credit card pockets. On the front half I put a few sheets of post its (anchored on a playing card) and page flags, along with three plain paper clips.

I have a Pan Am shitajiki, or pencil board, attached to the front of my first notebook with a small binder clip on top. I don’t usually use the pencil board, but I like to have it handy in case I do need it.

Due to the sensitive nature of my work notes, I cannot show you the inside of my first notebook. It is, however, a standard size grid insert by Planners and Journals. I also have a few sheets of a larger post it stuck on the last page, as well as a few sheets of a long list pad attached with a binder clip. A small notation can be seen on the bottom corner of the notebook cover, to remind me of the insert maker.

Next we come to my second notebook insert, which is just a plain white one that I made myself out of Bevenia Splendorgel paper (works great with fountain pens!). Speaking of fountain pens, I have a couple of bigger binder clips on the covers of both notebook inserts to serve as my pen loops.

Here is a little peek inside the second notebook insert, which serves as my notes taker for learning the statistical programming language R. As you can see I write very rapidly here so the handwriting is not really my best.


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At the back is the second half of the card file refill, which holds some washi samples, an emergency supply of my preferred sugar substitute (for those impromptu coffee meetings!), and a band aid. I also like to keep a few sheets of tissue paper here just because I like to be prepared, and it doesn’t add much to the weight.


And there we have it! My work TN is very simple and practical, and I’ve been using this setup for several months now.

Chicsparrow Deluxe Creme Brulee Pocket TN

One of the items on my TN wishlist has been the Chicsparrow Deluxe Creme Brulee, ever since I received my Pocket Classic Outlander. I really enjoyed the leather and workmanship and I knew I wanted a deluxe (a TN with pockets). The creme leather has been a staple recommendation in many TN groups, and I knew I wanted to own one. Back in November I was able to snag a discount during Black Friday, and after a long period of waiting (44 days exactly) it is finally in my hands!

The TN came wrapped in a dust bag made of this incredible suede-like cloth. It’s lovely! I’m definitely using this bag a lot!

And here she is, all set up to be my TN wallet. The Creme Brulee color is a right golden brown, and my particular piece came with interesting markings and striations on the front cover, almost like she has veins. The leather is quite stiff and thick, but I expect it will soften up with time and use.

The back shows the distinctive Chicsparrow branding.

Check out the view of the entire leather!

Here’s a quick video I made of a flipthrough of my TN wallet.

 

For those who are unable to view videos, here are some photos of the flip through.

In the front pockets I store most of my cards, identification, credit, and membership/rewards cards. I also use the back full-length pocket for this purpose, because I really have way too many cards that I bring everyday.

The first insert is a cloth insert made by @chrisella09 on Instagram. The left side are more card pockets, and the right is a zipper pocket where I store my cash.

The second insert is Ray Blake’s Daily Log Book insert, which I purchased from him as a printed book (instead of printable, because I didn’t want to have to cut my own this time). I use this as a sort of one-line daily journal. It’ll be interesting to look back at it when the year is done.

The last insert is a Field Notes Snowblind Edition, which I use as a catch-all notebook. At the back of this book I have attached a Leuchtturm pen loop to hold my very portable Pilot Birdie ballpoint pen.


At the very end of the TN is a secretarial pocket, where I put my doctor’s prescriptions, receipts, coupons, and random loose paper. There is also a built-in pen loop which is currently unused since one of my inserts has its own pen loop.

Overall I am super pleased with the Chicsparrow Deluxe Creme. The leather is lovely, smells great, and is not too heavy. The workmanship is of course quite excellent. The only thing that’s really difficult about ordering from Chicsparrow is the length of time it takes to arrive in the Philippines, but I do think it is worth it.

 

Bullet Journaling in Hobonichi Weeks

By now there have been lots of articles and blog posts already written on the topic of bullet journaling. If you’re not yet familiar with bullet journals, first check out the following: the original Bullet Journal system by Ryder Caroll, a comprehensive starter on bullet journaling by Boho Berry, and a short and humorous guide to bullet journaling by Buzzfeed. Each link is set to open in a new tab, so you can either go read those first or refer to them later on. I’ve always wanted to try out the system; I’ve incorporated some elements of it in my previous planning spreads before.

The aim of this post is to show you how to bullet journal in a Hobonichi Weeks. Or rather, I’ll show you how I do my bullet journaling in mine and maybe you can take away some ideas to incorporate in your own.

As you may know, bullet journals comprise of several sections. The beauty of the bullet journal system is the flexibility; you have complete freedom on how you lay out your journal and its components. Using the Hobonichi Weeks in this manner provides a lot of shortcuts since the Weeks already has its own sections. Here’s the basic breakdown of my Hobonichi Weeks as a bullet journal:

  • Monthly calendar – future planning
  • Weekly view – events on the days of the week, weekly task list on the right notes page
  • Notes section – index, collections, daily log

Monthly calendar = Future planning

The monthly view is just what it says. I log a list of events and tasks that will happen months in the future. I refer to the monthly calendar at the start of each week to copy any events that is scheduled for that week into the corresponding weekly view. Having this system also gives me a month-at-a-glance view of my schedule. For events or tasks that don’t have specific dates, I list them at the bottom right of the monthly page so I can remember them during the month.

Weekly view = Weekly planning

The format of this section is simple: events on the left, tasks on the right. The tasks are unfortunately not specific to the days, which sometimes causes me some problems especially for time-sensitive tasks. To address that, I put deadlines on the left as well.

Notes section – Bullet journal

Here is where I consider the bulk of my bullet journal lies. The Hobonichi Weeks conveniently already comes with its notes pages numbered, and even kindly provides an index page.

I have decided to use a pair of facing pages for each week of the year. As I wanted to leave pages for my collections in the front, I started my daily log on page 19. However, since I started using this when the weekly pages started (November 28), this will only give me enough to last until week 22 of 2017. It’s not really a big deal, since I had already bought the supplementary Hobonichi Weeks notebooks which I plan to use when the notes pages run out. On the daily entries, I use the rapid logging system to mostly list down the things that happened during the day that I thought needs recording. I put my bullet legend on a sticky note that I just transfer to the current week.

After about six weeks of doing this, I find that the two-page spread is indeed enough for one week, with space to put some decorations should I wish it. I really like the look of decorated pages, so I do put in as much decorations as I feel could fit around the entries. I use a combination of pens, stickers, washi tape, and stamps for my decorating. Here is a sample of a completed decorated page, which usually matches the design of the weekly spread for that week.

Notes section – Collections

In the pages before the “daily pages” I put enough space for the collections that I want to keep for the year. A good example would be my wishlist (which I try to minimize as much as possible!) and my order tracker which gives me an idea of which packages are still pending and how long I wait for each to arrive.

My other collections include a 2017 Goals page, a book recommendation list, and a list of my TNs.

 

So far I feel that this system is working very well. The way I see it, the weekly pages tell me what I plan to do for the week while the bullet journal at the back tells me what happened during the week. The decorations keep me interested and look forward to each week, without making me feel like I need everything to be perfect. In fact, I do get a lot of mistakes in this book which I either just cross out with a red ink or use a correction tape. As the readings I linked say, the idea of a bullet journal is that it should be a tool that suits your purpose and its versatility is its strength. Take advantage of it and shape your bullet journal the way you like it!

 

Becoming Sleek 2016 Year In Review


Becoming Sleek has become (sleek?) a fully fledged planner and stationery blog in 2016, which is just the way I wanted it. It’s time to take a look back at the year that has been.

Monthly Highlights

January saw me acquire my second Zenkraft, snagged during the holiday sale. February continued the acquisition trend, and I finally got my long-awaited pocket TN in my favorite Gav and Sav cat print, and in March I got a Hobonichi branded cover in Framboise Chocolat. April saw me getting my first Hobonichi Weeks which turned out to be my ideal planner. May was very eventful blogwise, for it was then that I got the Midori Camel passport and mini as well as my first Chicsparrow, and I finally finished my blog series on traveler’s notebook features. I went on a beach vacation in June and of course I brought along my planner stuff. More acquisition in July, this time a custom cover for the Weeks by Sunday Leather Craft. August is when I started considerably posting less due to an increased workload, but I was able to talk about a pen loop substitute for planners and journals. In September I was seriously considering which planner system to use for 2017, which I ended up deciding in favor of the Weeks in November when I realized I had achieved planner peace with it. And finally in December, I rounded out a year of acquisitions with my most extravagant purchase of a matched pair of Weeks cover and pocket TN by Jaquie Ang.

Blog Statistics

Overall this is awesome growth for my little planner blog! While the yearly post count is practically the same, I received twice the amount of pageviews both in total and in average per day, all thanks to you my wonderful readers!

What’s Coming in 2017?

2015 has been quite a year of acquisition and the trend sadly continued all throughout 2016, and honestly there are still a few more packages that are coming in from purchases in the last few weeks of the year. I am determined to streamline my collection and keep only those that really makes me happy. One of my goals is to use what I have, not only in terms of traveler’s notebooks but in all things hobby related, so expect more review posts for stationery and a lot of Hobonichi Weeks planner posts.