Planning to plan? Don’t put it on the agenda.

It’s March. Time to reassess the analog tools you set out to use at the start of the year. All those beautiful planners, agendas, journals that were going to keep you on task, onward and upwards to your goals and dreams and…oh…sorry, what? Your agenda has gone unused for weeks?

I’m right there with you.

I love to see how other people set up and use their planners, but I have not kept an “official” planner in many years. Plus I have this weird dislike of the word “agenda.” But I recognize their value. So when I saw an ad for the new Hobonichi April start, I wondered if it was time to give it a shot again.

To back up: I have been using a form of planner this year: the Theme System Journal. The best thing about this system is that the system is whatever you want it to be. It’s not predetermined.

Theme System Journal in state of disuse.

The general idea is that you pick a theme or themes as a framework you will follow for a set period of time; the north star that will help guide your actions, or provide a touchpoint to tell you if you’re on the right path. This year I chose the theme of FINISHING. For me this meant completing personal projected that I have been kicking about for months or years. It’s led to some positive results, one of which has been getting this blog going!


It’s not a very opinionated system, which in my view makes it more enticing to use. And the paper is fountain-pen friendly, which is a huge plus.

That said, no matter how “free” a framework may be, it’s not going to work if you don’t keep up with it. And even here I have started to falter.

When the year started I was checking in with the Theme System Journal on the daily. That soon became sporadic. Which led me to think that perhaps I need something more structured or demanding, like the Hobonichi. But that doesn’t make much sense. I’ve never really pursued bullet journaling because of what I perceive as all the parameters and rules. I get a similar vibe from Hobonichi products. There’s too much stuff to figure out. What I need is something that I can just get going with minimum fuss and keep going.

So I ended up buying a LEUCHTTURM1917 Weekly Planner on discount. I like that you have the week at a glance when you open it up; the book stays open, and the paper is great with anything you throw at it. Well—I haven’t tried something like a brush pen.

LEUCHTTURM1917 Weekly Planner interior

One thing I’m struggling with is deciding whether to keep the planner for just personal stuff, or include day job duties as well. It’s been 80/20 so far, and it seems to be working. I’ve used it as a rudimentary content calendar indicating when and what I want to post to Instagram, for example. Say “hi!” @PensPencilsPlus BTW!

I’ve been slowly coming back to the Theme System Journal as well. I also keep a separate nightly journal that I use as a mental download at the end of the day. So that’s three things running, in addition to the two work notepads I have going.

Everything has its use, though. The trick is to just find what works for you.

Just don’t call it an agenda.

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