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Or, How I Stay Organized in this Paperless World

Let’s get this out of the way: I am not a Type A person.

It’s hard to attempt to be a Type A person, if it’s not in your bones, in your blood, in your Filofax. I think the sheer number of planners I have will lead people to believe my charade as Ms. Type A, but the truth is that I only have so many paper goods for planning because I need to write things down to make sense of anything. I love paper, but I’m also not very organized (though the paper helps).

Stuff I realized about myself:

  • I have a natural propensity to be lazy, which is a shitty thing to admit and a shitty thing to be, but there—it’s out in the open!
  • My sources of motivation are complicated. I don’t respond well to money or rewards. There are some tasks that I have to do for myself, which means I have to want it enough. However, I am also very easily swayed into thinking that certain things aren’t “worth it,” so I really have to dig deep sometimes to make myself want to make stuff happen. I swear, I am the world’s worst cheerleader.
  • Micromanaging works for me. I have to act like my own horrible boss and breathe down my neck. Figuratively. Obviously.
  • I picked the right phrase for myself this year. BE INTENTIONAL. You want to film today? Then fucking do it. No one will wait for you, especially if you are always late, and especially if you also make mediocre work.
  • I am a feet-dragger, both in real life and in terms of work. So unattractive.

When I decided to go back to paper organization, after a misguided attempt at going paperless left my life in shambles, my “system” went through a lot of changes and iterations. Here’s my current setup:


My Everyday Carry (EDC), from Left to Right, and what I use them for:

  • Hobonichi Techo: acts as a daily diary/dumpage of thoughts, a timeline, a space for the most important tasks for the day. Mostly for my own sanity than anything. It also has a “monthly view,” which I appreciate for scheduling.
  • Midori Traveler’s Notebook (passport size): it currently holds three Field Notes inserts: the Ambition datebook (a weekly planner for appointments), a Balsam Fir (graph, for drafts and sketches), and a Drink Local Stout (for my Bullet Journal). I also have the pocket insert, which holds my ID, credit cards, and cash.
  • iPad mini: I use my Google calendar for scheduling posts, blogging-on-the-go, some light photo editing, and social media.

Hobonichi Techo

I spotted this in Taipei, it was love at first sight, yadda yadda. As usual, I decided I wanted a Hobonichi after January. There weren’t any English editions available online, so I pined quietly. I spotted the cover I wanted and the Techo at eslite in Taipei, and decided to just go for it. I figured that I could just get the English refill in the future, if this worked out for me. Thankfully, I am enjoying it quite a lot.

Here’s an example of how I use the daily page of the Hobonichi. The top part has a ticking box area where I put my priority goals. I use the lefthand side for appointments (if any), then I just go to town on the pages. I’m hoping to be good at lettering again, since I seem to have stopped being able to draw letters properly.

Hobonichi - Monthly
Here’s a monthly spread of the Hobonichi. On the left hand side, there’s a skinny sidebar, which I use to put in my main month goals. I mainly use the squares for appointments. The skinny washi tape is used to designate trip times or long/multi-day schedules.

Midori Traveler’s Notebook (Passport)

I posted about this before (see here), but I’ve gone through a lot of changes, most of which I haven’t even documented. This is my current setup… it will probably change at some point, but I like the flexibility of paper, so there.

Ambition Datebook

MTN - Field Notes Ambition Datebook
This is one of my recent additions to the book. I switched out my original “diary/journal” quite a while back… Before the datebook, I had a ledger with lists that I took out eventually because it felt a little redundant when I had a Bullet Journal insert already. This is mainly for on-the-fly scheduling, and I love weekly layouts because they are more focused than a monthly view, but it gives a bigger picture than a daily view. I just started using it, so it’s a little bare.

Balsam Fir: Notes

MTN - Field Notes Balsam Fir - Notes
This is basically my catch-all for sketches, notes, ideas, drawings, thoughts, etc. Everything goes here. I’ve yet to devise a system or a workflow where I copy down pertinent notes into Evernote so that I can quickly refer to them without having to pore through my finished notebooks.

Drink Local, Stout: Bullet Journal

MTN - Field Notes Drink Local Stout - Bullet Journal
Currently in use for my Bullet Journal is a Drink Local, Stout, which has graph paper, something I favor for Bullet Journal use. These are my day-to-day “call to action” lists + general lists. Stuff I write in here are usually supposed to be ticked off or crossed out. It’s a little bit more than a to-do list, but what I put in here is time-sensitive and (usually) important stuff. This is probably the insert I refer to the most.)

Apple iPad Mini

iPad Mini - Calendar
Mostly for use with digital calendars. I like this because I can move around post ideas in case I don’t like where I initially scheduled them to go up, or if I miss drafting them up and posting them, which sometimes happens.

And that’s pretty much it! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Planner nuts often joke about never reaching planner Nirvana, but I do hope this is it for me.

How do you stay organized?