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. ūüėć

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.

 

 

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.

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!

 

Folklore Prints Planner Kit January 2017 – Fresh Start

First of all, happy new year! 

One of the newcomers in the Philippine planner kit scene is Folklore Prints, who released their first kit last December. As I was super pleased with it, I knew I wanted to get the next one which happens to be the one to greet the new year. The theme for the month of January is Fresh Start which is an appropriate theme for the new year. It incorporates the Pantone color of 2017, Greenery. Let me show you the contents of this month’s kit in this virtual unboxing.

First of all, the kits come in this beautiful owl themed envelope with a handwritten sticker bearing my name.

Upon opening the kit I am greeted by a green tissue paper which matches the theme. There’s a note with another handwritten bit telling me that I received a little extra bit in the form of a cat decotape as thanks for subscribing to the first kit. I could already see that this kit is filled to the brim with awesome things! Let’s take a look at the contents.


Each kit usually comes with a set of six beautifully designed A5 cardstock. This month, one of them is personalized with my name, how awesome is that?! There is also a stack of A5 paper which I take to be a sort of letter paper which would be great to send to penpals.


This next bit really excites me! It is a cold laminated personalized dashboard and a monthly habit tracker insert, both pocket sized! I’m really looking forward to using this insert for the next year! I also got a cute little sticky note pad and a set of tabs, both very useful for planning.


One of the things I really look forward to in a planner kit is coordinated stickers, and Folklore Prints does not disappoint! I get three sheets of planner stickers and five sheets of deco stickers, both of which I’m sure I’ll be using in my planner and bullet journal. 


Since it’s the start of the year, I also got a 12-month calendar. Subscribers were asked to submit photos to be put into the calendar and of course I could not pass up the opportunity to get high quality prints of my cats. Aren’t they beautiful? I also received a set of five journal cards in the polaroid style, which would be great to use as tip ins in journals.


Lastly, I also got a pack of die cut ephemera pieces in the same theme. These are absolutely gorgeous pieces and my favorite is that adorable pair of peas!  

Overall I’m really quite pleased with the quality and design of Folklore Prints Planner Kits. They come with a whole variety of useful accessories for planners and are really designed to be used daily. I paid Php675 for the kit including shipping which I think is pretty reasonable considering the quality. This kit arrived on December 30, just in time for the coming month. My favorite has got to be the personalized calendar!

Interested in subscribing? Head on over to their website and watch out for next month’s release!

CBTL The Giving Journal 2017

One of the things I look forward to in the holiday season is the “coffee planner” offers of various coffee shops. CBTL (Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) is my preferred coffee shop and I really do like the look of their planners even if I don’t end up using them in its entirety. Last year, I attempted to use its weekly layout with notes page as a creative journal but to my sadness the paper couldn’t stand up to brush pens and fountain pens, and that killed the drive for me to use it. This year, I still got myself a CBTL Giving Journal anyway and I am planning to use it for some sort of journaling.

One of the things I like about this journal is that it only takes 12 stamps to¬†complete. It didn’t take me long to get this, and in fact I was already able to acquire this before December.

The journal, as always, comes with a cardboard sleeve with the name of the journal and the CBTL branding.

At the back is a nice big caption with space to put your recipient’s name if you are giving this as a gift.

I chose the purple journal, to match the one I got last year. It’s great that the icon embossed on the cover was a top view of a coffee cup, which I thought was appropriate given my coffee addiction. The cover has a nice smooth leatherette/suede feel to it, and it’s a delicious shade of purple. The journal also has two ribbon bookmarks built in.

The first page is the personal information sheet.

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The next few pages are a sort of introduction. I really like how the artwork is scattered all over the place, and the doodly style of it is really appealing.

The start of each month has a sort of cover page, with a two-page artwork with an inspiring quote. It’s really beautiful, and I think it can even be colored in if one wishes.

The spread after that is a monthly overview, with top 3 priorities, goals, learnings, featured here among other things. The opposite page gives us a bit of a peek into the activities that CBTL holds for their charity.

Next we have a two-page monthly spread that starts on a Monday. Each day has a nice amount of space for either appointments or artwork, depending on how you would like to use the journal. There’s also a smaller, fainter copy of the monthly artwork on the bottom of the left page.

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The weekly pages are structured in the same manner as last year’s. The notes pages alternate between blank and lined. The weekends are grouped onto one line, which may be a turn off for some.

The very end of the book has a few pages of lined pages for any additional notes.

The back cover has a gusseted kraft pocket that has a sheet of planner stickers which are always appreciated. What surprised me about this is the branding of the sticker as being made by Viviamo, which is the company that makes the Belle De Jour group of planners. I’m not sure if that means they made the entire planner, or only the sticker sheet.

Overall I am quite pleased about the entire Giving Journal, and I am really hoping I can do it more justice than last year’s.

Do you have a CBTL Giving Journal? What do you plan to use it for? I’d love to hear about your plans!

 

 

Red Unbranded Weeks Cover

I really enjoy looking around stationery and bookstores for interesting things, and one of the these interesting things that I discovered is this very affordable standard size traveler’s notebook, which I turned into a cover for my Hobonichi Weeks. Why did I call it unbranded? It is because I could find zero traces of branding on the TN. It was actually advertised as a notepad holder, and it came with an actual notepad (mine has already been claimed by my daughter, so I couldn’t show it to you). What caught my eye is the color (a nice bright Christmassy red) and the weight (very light).

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I am pretty sure it is made of faux leather, but I have to say that the workmanship is pretty good. Let’s take a look at the outside first. On the cover is a weird blue-foiled sentence that says “Hello. I am your best friend I hope to make you dally life to be full of funny energy” which makes me think that the maker is not a native English speaker. The blue foiling is very pretty and contrasts well with the red material, but it is already beginning to fade in parts.

The elastic closure is very thick elastic, and is threaded with a metal plate stamped with “My First Step” which I thought was pretty cool. Except that it keeps wanting to turn over, and most of the time you cannot see the stamping anyway. I couldn’t figure out how to remove this metal plate without cutting off the cord, so I kept it on there as it doesn’t bother me too badly.

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The inside of the traveler’s notebook is the treasure! It comes with awesome stitched pockets! Before we focus on the pockets, I would just like to briefly point out that the TN comes with only a single elastic, and it is the same type of elastic as the outside one. As I am not actually using this as a TN, I just ignore this inside elastic. There is a felt-like fabric on the inside of the faux leather, and it is in a pleasing light blue shade that matches my Hobonichi pen.

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The left side of the cover has this interesting pocket configuration. There’s a smaller, credit-card-sized pocket on top (which I use to hold the elastic closure for the Weeks), a bigger pocket below that which I use to hold a stencil and several sticker sheets, and under all of that there is a full-length¬†pocket that I use to hold even more sticker sheets. The shape of the pockets are very pretty and unique, and the stitching seems to be acceptable enough.

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The right side only has a full-length pocket to match the one on the left, and into this pocket I slide the back cover of the Weeks (cover on cover included!). As you can see here, there’s a small slit near the top of the pocket, where the notepad was intended to be slipped into. In here I just inserted a Weeks notebook, and there is just enough space to slide in a second pen by its clip. I also put in a small set of decorative sticky notes into the big pocket.

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Here is how it looks like when closed. The Hobonichi pen goes into the pen holder I have in the Weeks, and the Zebra Sarasa into the notepad holder, and they both seem to fit snugly into the overhang space.

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Here it is compared to my Blue Traveler’s Company TN. It pretty much has the same dimensions, although it will appear bulkier because of the pockets.

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The height is exactly the same.

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Actually the thickness doesn’t seem too different from this angle.

I’m very fortunate to discover this TN, and for the amazing price of only Php250! It’s a great Weeks cover, and I foresee using it until my custom Weeks cover arrives in December.

 

Hobonichi Weeks 2017 – Meow Meow Meow

A few weeks ago I wrote about having a planning dilemma of choosing between the Hobonichi Weeks and a pocket sized planner for my 2017 planning. I had been sorely tempted with a particular Weeks, the Meow Meow Meow, purely because it has cats. The more I read up about it and watched people’s Hobonichi unboxings, the more I became convinced that I had to have it. In addition I had moved back to the Weeks after a few weeks using a pocket planner, and found that I really liked the idea of having a single bound (but portable!) volume for the whole year.

When Crafty Lane opened another preorder batch, I finally decided to jump on it and order the Weeks. My package arrived about a couple of weeks ago, and I feel like I had made a good decision.

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Here is the Meow Meow Meow Weeks. It is undoubtedly pink, on the side of soft pink, with the cats embroidered on it. The cover feels very much like fabric, and compared to my 2016 Weeks it is a little bit more of a soft-cover book.

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Here is a close up of the cats. The fabric pattern is more apparent here. I really like the effect of the embroidery, and the cats are adorable. The fabric does feel like it would get dirty easily and show it in a very obvious manner, compared to the darker colored and more sturdy surface of my 2016 Weeks, which means it absolutely requires a cover.

I did already write about the innards of my 2016 Weeks, but I wanted to show what differs with the 2017 version and what I plan to use each feature for.

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The first spread after the cover is the 3-year overview. There really isn’t any difference with the 2016 version.

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The next spread is the year-on-two-pages, where each day of the year gets a tiny little box. I am not sure what I’ll use this feature for yet, but it seems to be made for some sort of tracking. Again, nothing is different here between 2016 and 2017.

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We come to the monthly views next, which spans December 2016 to March 2018. The only difference here is that the Sunday boxes have been increased by one column so that all days of the week are sized the same. It’s a small but definitely positive change. I am probably going to use this the same way, which is to record appointments so I have a visual overview of them.

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After the monthly views we come immediately to the weekly views, which comprise about half of the whole book. It starts on the first week of December, which means I can start using the Meow Meow Meow as early as November 28, 2016 (I’m so excited!), and if I’m not mistaken it goes all the way to the last week of December 2017. The biggest and most annoying change that happened with the 2017 Weeks is on the weekly spread, and that is the removal of the three lines at the bottom of the days of the week on the left hand side of the spread and was replaced with a two-page spread of the Japanese quotes. I used to put motivational phrases there, or something I really wanted to remember for that week. Now, it’s a whole five rows of unusable space, and I need to think of a way to reclaim it.

The main body of the weekly view will be used the same way as I do now, which is appointments on the left and task manager on the right. It’s working really well, so I see no reason to change it.

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After the weekly pages, we come to the bulk of the other half of the whole book: the Notes pages. We still get the index in front, and you can see here that a page has been added and now we get a total of 72 pages of notes (compared to the 71 pages of 2016). Extra pages are always welcome! There’s quite a lot of things I’m planning for this section, and it deserves its own post, but the main block of it will be used for bullet journaling.

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There are still a few pages of informational stuff after the notes pages, but they are all written in Japanese. I did appreciate this particular one, which is all about cats and dogs. I’d have a lot of fun figuring out what it’s saying, and it’ll be good Nihongo practice for me.

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Towards the end of the book we come to the address pages, which had been reduced to a single page; the 2016 one had¬†four pages. I do understand why this change was done, as I imagine a lot of people had turned to their phones to record their contacts. I do use these pages though, for doctors’ information. I still get space for six contacts, so that may be enough for my needs.

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Lastly we come to the information page and the serial number for my particular book. Nothing has changed here between the years.

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The Weeks itself came with the sticky pocket which I think is really essential, so I’m happy they did not change this. Since this is the first time I’m using the Weeks from the beginning of the year, I also get to receive the railway map and the Life Book flyer. I forgot to include it in the photos here, but the Weeks also came with a Uni Jetstream multipen in powder blue. It turns out to be a good writer even for a ballpoint, so I’m quite pleased by this inclusion.

The changes in the 2017 Weeks are a combination of good and bad, and while the loss of the bottom section in the weekly spreads are quite substantial I think it’s not a deal breaker for me. The rest of the features have been maintained, and that is the one I really care about. Overall I still feel like I’ve found planner peace with the Hobonichi Weeks, so I am quite satisfied with my purchase.

Are you also using Hobonichi Weeks for 2017? I’d love to know how you plan to use it!

 

Cristina Gomes Burgundy Personal TN

One of the new TN makers I’ve been following in Instagram and Facebook groups is Cristina Gomes. She is from Portugal and makes the TNs herself. I fell in love with her Burgundy leather, and decided to get one in personal size, to serve as my wallet with my Hobonichi Weeks. There was a bit of a wait since she cuts and assembles the TN after each order, and of course there’s the standard shipping wait.

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The TN arrived and I had to find the time to come pick it up from the post office. I could barely stand knowing it’s here and I couldn’t pick it up! Finally I got it in my hands! The Burgundy is such a wonderful leather, deep dark red and almost brown really. It was stiff, especially with the pockets, but it feels like it will soften in time. It is also the kind of leather that keeps dings and marks, although it can be rubbed out slightly.

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I immediately set it up with my Weeks and I was relieved that it fit! I also blinged it out with some charms.

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There’s a look at the entire outside. As you can see the leather already has quite a lot of scratches. It came with black elastics as I had requested. Cristina’s logo is stamped unobtrusively on the back.

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The front has a series of seven card pockets, with a larger full-length pocket behind it. This is primarily what makes this side of the TN stiff, since there’s a lot of layers of leather here. The presence of the cards makes it even stiffer, but I’m not really bothered by that. The TN also has four inner elastics. I strung the Weeks on the back two, and the wallet/card insert on the frontmost. At the time that these photos are taken I did not yet have a personal sized wallet insert, so I made do with a pocket sized.

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The back of the TN featured a simple secretarial pocket, which is great for quick-access stuff such as cash. The pen loop is also attached here with the same stitching. The pen loop is very generous and can take really fat pens. Perhaps my only issue here is that the leather is a little bit too thick and some clips have difficulty gripping it. The Pilot Metropolitan as shown here luckily has a strong grip and manages well in the pen loop.

Overall I’m very pleased with the Cristina Gomes Burgundy Personal TN. It’s very well-made, reasonably priced, and the leather is beautiful! If you want to find out more about her other works, check out her Instagram.

 

Planning Dilemma: Hobonichi Weeks Vs Pocket Planning

I am honestly having a lot of trouble with my planning system right now, and not because it’s not working. It actually works! I find that I work best with a weekly view, with the days of the week on one side and a notes page on the opposite side. My dilemma is as follows: I am a huge fan of Hobonichi Weeks, and I’ve found a great planning system with its weekly views and the other features of the planner. In fact, I was able to spend about five months of continuous planning in it.

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On the other hand, I have recently discovered that I work just as well with the pocket size version of the Hobonichi Weeks. And by this I mean the weekly planner insert of CN Papercrafts works really well for me. As long as I have an accompanying bullet journal to help document my days, I can use with the smaller amount of space for my day to day planning needs.

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Now that the 2017 release of Hobonichi has come out, I am starting to again think that the Weeks is the planner for me. The moment I saw the Meow Meow Meow Weeks, I felt a really huge pull to get it (the cats were such a tease too!). To make things even harder for me (or easier, depends on how you look at it), there are several merchants who offer preorder service so I don’t really even have to mess with customs or post office. Perhaps the only disadvantage of this is the relatively steep price of the Weeks to begin with. It’s really quite the investment.

Image credits: 1101.com
Image credits: 1101.com

On the other hand again, I have a tremendous amount of pocket TNs that will remain unused. For the most part, I only have¬†one in active use; maybe two at most, if I am feeling a lot of writing mojo. If I used the pocket size weekly planner insert as my main planner, then I would be able to really put into use my pocket TNs and it would justify the original purchase of them instead of just sitting pretty on the shelf. At least this way too, I don’t have to shell out a huge amount of money for planning for next year, since my current insert can handle 7 months already. If I really stretch, I could even use up my pocket insert stash and hand-draw the weekly layouts myself!

Pocket TNs, charms, and a lone fountain pen

A post shared by Becoming Sleek (@becomingsleek) on

 

I’m not really sure what I should do! What do you think?

 

Easy Pen Loop Substitute for Planners and Journals

Not all of planners or journals have their own built-in pen loops, and not all of the time we are willing to bring along a separate pen case. While there are available adhesive pen loops out there, it’s either hard to find, expensive, or does not entirely work with our chosen pens. Here is a quick and easy substitute for pen loops: binder clips!

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Binder clips are quite versatile, and come in different sizes and designs. What I do is to choose an appropriately sized binder clip that would match both my intended pen and the planner or journal that needs the pen loop. I would attach it somewhere in the upper third to halfway down the planner/journal, and not push it all the way in. I would then hook the pen’s clip into the exposed area of the binder clip, and there! Instant pen loop!

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The disadvantage to using binder clips as pen loops is that this won’t work for pens without clips. In this case, a proper elastic pen loop would really be necessary.

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The biggest advantage to binder clips as pen loop is the wide availability, and in addition it would be easy to swap out and change on a whim. Have you tried using binder clips to hold your pens?