How Tos, Personal
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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?

  • Drea

    YAS notebooks/planners! :) I got myself an Alunsina Kislap journal, which is lovely but it’s too lovely that I don’t want to tarnish it somehow with my ramblings and doodles heh. I’ve been thinking about keeping a writing journal for writing specifically, and one for art, but I want something I can carry everywhere without being too bulky so I guess that’ll never happen haha. I usually just write really important lists or things at the back of my notebooks, and for really important things I should never forget, I use the notes function of my phone. I finish several notebooks in a month because I do a lot of brush lettering (space hoarder) and when I write, I write in huge scrawled letters. :)

    • They never replied to my query :( Haha. I used to feel that way about “nice” notebooks, but I realized that they need to be used because that’s their purpose! I personally felt like I needed to use the nice stuff because I felt sad that I would buy nice things but withhold them from me and end up using the bleh stuff. Haha parang, what’s the point? Of course, that’s just my own reasoning :)

  • Just curious, what do you do with your notebooks once they are full? I am constantly fighting with myself over this question because I want to keep them, but then I feel like a hoarder. Also, these posts always inspire me to want to journal/plan more, I love them! :)

    • Hi Shannon, I keep them. :) I don’t keep post-its or useless pieces of paper, but I keep all of my notebooks. They’re like an archive. I’m glad this is somewhat useful for you!

  • I love notebooks, but restrict myself to using just one at a time, which is actually quite helpful. Only, all my family know how much I love notebooks so I’ll never need to buy another one again :)

    • Ha! I know what you mean. My best friend is the same way, so I try not to get her notebooks as a gift anymore. :) I used to dump everything in one place, but then I’d be swimming in data!

  • Rae

    I saw me in the post. I also think I’m lazy. I suck at doing the stuff I ‘need’ to do (administrative tasks, routine activities, and other activities that I feel are becoming a ‘job’). I can only stay focused in thing that I feel like doing, which is not a very good thing when you’re trying to be a responsible adult. I need to just DO regardless of what I feel or think I should be doing instead.

    Paper helps a lot. I thought I can just make do with just a phone. But I need to physically jot down words and I need to physically see what I wrote down on paper to keep myself in check. Otherwise, I forget.

    I think I’m ADD-ish.

    • Hahaha oh no, Rae, I think we might be sorta the same person. I can’t with just a phone. Everything’s still a jumble in my head. Funny how things work for different people.

  • I’m currently transitioning to a 3-notebook (planner, catch-all, art journal) to a 2-notebook (traveler’s notebook, art journal) EDC system. I’m loving the Alunsina traveler’s notebook so far! I find that having paper always on hand really helps with organizing and remembering (I have very poor memory!), and keeps me on track with tasks.

    That said, I still want a hobonichi! O_O

    • What do you use for planning! I love paper, it’s so much more intuitive for me to write stuff down than keying them in a device. Haha I say go for the Hobonichi! They have a new one that starts on April, I think :)

      • I use a blank Alunsina refill and formatted it to my desired layout (wrote about it on the blog!). Writing things down on paper helps me remember too, which is why I highly prefer it over digital. I want a hobo, but I’m afraid it might overlap too much with my current system.