How I Use my Hobonichi Planner

Non-fashion blog post ahead. This one is for the planner heads and stationary girls. Hello, fellow nerds.

Have you heard of the internationally-beloved Japanese planner brand Hobonichi? I got into bullet journaling three years ago and quickly realized there were two main types of planner devotees: bullet journal users and Hobonichi users. I began like many as a bullet journal user, but over the years I grew frustrated with the the amount of time I was spending designing my bullet journal spreads by hand, and I started to look into the Hobonichi cousin. Hobonichi is a carefully designed functional planning system and offers a few different kinds of planners. I recommend Mindful Productivity’s ultimate guide to finding your best Hobonichi planner, but today I am just going to talk about the Hoboinchi Techo Cousin Avec, because that is what I’m using!

Quick note: The Hobonichi Techo Cousin and Hobonichi Techo Cousin Avec only differ in that the Cousin Avec is split into two planners, so you have the first half of your year in one planner and the second half in the other planner. It makes it easier to carry around and flip through.

I pre-ordered by Hobonichi Cousin Avec back in November, and when it got here, I have to admit I was a little intimidated by it. It’s a lot of planner!
Heres how it breaks down: you get a yearly spread, a monthly planning spread, a weekly planning spread, and a full page of diary for every day of the year. It’s a lot of space to plan in. At first I thought, how am I going to use all of this space? But now, over a month into using this planner, I am grateful for the space and for the daily pages that make this planner so unique.

An example of one of my weekly spreads in my Hobonichi


A blank monthly in my Hobonichi

I already had my Hobonichi planner by December, and I was getting really excited about using it but not sure how to make the most of my planning system. I was Christmas shopping one day when I found the Best Self Journal, a 13-week goal attainment system by Best Self Company. I thought it looked pretty cool so I bought it for my little sister as a Christmas gift, and I picked up a Best Self Journal for myself too. Best Self Journal is a psychology-driven and research-backed goal setting system. The theory is that you’re more likely to achieve your goals when they’re always in sight, and 13 weeks is just long enough that you’re focused on the finish line. The Best Self Journal has it’s own planning and accountability system, and I really liked it and wanted to try their goal-planning system. But I already had my Hobonichi planner! What was I to do? I decided to integrate the Best Self planning system into my Hobonichi.

The Best Self Journal has it’s own weekly review and daily planning sections. I recommend watching Matt Ragland’s in-depth Best Self Journal review if you want a thorough tour of this journal. I use the Best Self daily planning format as a guide for my Hobonichi Daily pages, see below for an example.

Best Self Journal daily page format


How I use the Best Self daily planning system in my Hobonichi. When I write my top three daily goals, I add  black circles by each goal to indicate 30 minute time slots to indicate my estimated time to complete the goal.

Best Self has a weekly planning and weekly review section, and I do this in a separate notebook every week (I use a Midori A5 grid notebook, it’s my favorite for note keeping and idea development). It helps clarify my goals before I lay them out in my Hobinichi weekly spreads.

It might seem little extra to buy one planner just to copy it’s system into another planner, but I’m honestly really glad I did it, and I will probably use the Best Self Planner at a later date by itself just to see how I like it. At first, I thought the daily the pages of the Hobonichi Cousin would just be too much space for me to plan in, but now that I am using the Best Self planning system to give it structure, I find it really reinforces my focus on my goals each day, and it feels really gratifying to be able to write down my wins when I complete those goals. What I love most about the Hobonichi is that the weekly and daily pages allow you to sort your tasks into the hours of the day. When I was using a bullet journal, I would just have this big clump of tasks everyday and I was always improvising on where they fit into my schedule, which ultimately lead to less follow-through. The only thing I haven’t figured out in my Hobonichi is a habit tracker, but I’m not sure that’s terribly important to me right now.

If you want to see how other people use their Hobonichi planners, I really enjoy Sterling Ink’s Youtube channel and Yukiko Sakamura’s Youtube channel. They were the two people who sold me on a Hobonichi in the first place!

I’m still trying to find my perfect pen for my Hobonichi. So far I most like the Pilot G-2 gel pens. I also use Jellyroll Moonlight.06 colored gel pens. I do like to use a little bit of washi tape and stickers in my Hobonichi, and I get those from Mochi Things.

Where to buy a Hobonichi? The 2021 January-start Hobonichi planners are sold out on but you can order them from, for about $54 USD if I remember correctly. I ordered one for my mom on there, and it arrived in about a week, so don’t worry about a long shipping time. You can also order some really cool covers for your Hobonichi planner from 1001, or you can do what I did and order a clear A5 notebook cover and insert your own painted cover.

A gouache painting on brown watercolor paper that I cut down to A5 size for my planner cover insert

I hope this was a solid introduction to the Hobonichi Techo Cousin for you! I am really enjoying mine so far, and so glad I made the change. What’s your planner situation for 2021?


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