Planners

Hobonichi Weeks Review.

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Last year I bought my first Hobonichi Weeks planner and then left it in my drawer for the majority of the year gathering dust. I couldn't fit it into my system as I already had the Jibun Techo and several other notebooks in use, so The Hobonichi Weeks was left abandoned.

However towards the end of 2018, I knew I wouldn't be using the Jibun Techo again and started to wonder if I could fit the Weeks into my 2019 system. I spent the last few weeks of 2018 testing the Weeks out and trying to get a feel for it, and I felt confidant that I could use the Weeks for a full year.

Overview of the Hobonichi Weeks.

The Hobonichi Weeks is a slim diary / planner / organiser (whatever term you prefer). It’s that familiar, portable size that a you see from numerous different annual planners. As with all things from Hobonichi the simple is elevated to something more through thoughtful design.

The Hobonichi Weeks comes in a number of different cover designs that range from plain, bold colours through to the quirky. I have the cactus design which comes with tiny stitched cacti of all different forms. I have a clear plastic cover to protect the cover and for the extra pockets. I bought this last year directly from Hobonichi, it’s not something I have found from any third party retailer.

The Weeks includes two bookmarks which is always very useful. I use one to mark the current month and the second for the current week. I think two bookmarks in planners now is a standard with more and more brands additional an extra bookmark.

Finally, the paper. It is similar to other Hobonichi planners with beautiful tomoe river paper that I love because it handles pretty much any writing tool. The paper is a cream colour which I know can put some people off. Personally I like this because I find it softer on the eye.

Layout.

The layout inside is simple as with most things from Hobonichi. The first two pages are three year long calendars, the 2019 calendar on the left hand page giving this prominence and more room. On the right hand side there are two smaller calendars, one for 2018 and another for 2020. Having the previous year on this spread is quite useful for checking last years dates. I have referenced this a few times this year already.

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The next double page is dedicated to the full year with a tiny amount of space for you to make notes. I guess the idea is that you can add annual dates, mark off annual leave, that sort of thing. I haven't used this spread at all because I am not sure what I could mark here, or how I would fit it in.

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Monthly Spreads.

Then you head into your monthly spreads which starts from Dec 2018 and runs through to March 2020. The additional coverage is helpful as you’re not completely restricted to the year, you can start early and you also have space for future planning.

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The spreads are good but space is minimal due to the size of the planner. The simplistic design does mean that the space is maximised as much as possible. There is a grid pattern on each of these pages too which helps the user to maximise the space and keep their writing tidy.

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There is a small amount of note taking space around the sides on this page. I have jotted down monthly appointments, actions or to-dos here which is quite useful. Having some sort of ‘space’ for the extra things is always useful, whether that’s notes or decoration.

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On a final note, as this is a Japanese planner there are Japanese holidays included in red throughout. These are easy to ignore but could be a little confusing.

Weekly spreads.

After the monthly spreads you head into your weekly views. I love the layout of these pages, the week is on the left hand page with 7 days, each with an equal amount of space (hurrah!). On the right you get a grid page which is blank for anything else you may need to include.

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There are some small little flourishes on these weekly pages, which again maximise the available space without giving you the feeling of overcrowding. Firstly you have the phase of the moon under the days date. Not an important feature but kind of interesting and useful. Secondly there is a Japanese quote on the bottom of the page, which I cannot translate or understand, but this is a feature of the Hobonichi Planners. There is a small monthly calendar in the bottom right. It highlights the current week within that month but again allows you to glance ahead if needed.

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And finally the week number is called out at the top of the page, 52nd Week, 1st Week, etc etc.

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The rest.

The back of the planner has around 60 pages of grid paper for notes. I rarely use these but having some space there is very helpful and it doesn't add to the bulk of the planner because of the super thin tomoe river paper. There are also a handful of pages in Japanese with some interesting illustrations but again I cannot understand anything there. These pages seem to adjust each year and have a different focus.

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My use of the Hobonichi Weeks.

I am using the Weeks as a functional planner. I am not decorating the pages in any way, I use only fountain pen and ink or a gel ink pen. The purpose is to keep track of my tasks and appointments for the week. On the right hand side of each week I lay out the tasks I have for the week. I also use the space if required for any additional notes, such as physio exercises and headache patterns.

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I like the format and layout of the weeks for lots of reasons. The layout is very similar to the Travelers Company Weekly + Memo Weekly refill which I have used for years. This format has always worked well and I enjoy it.

The size is great too making it portable and allowing me to focus on the short and mid-term time frames. I still use a digital calendar for long term appointments, but this works great for managing my month and week.

I usually plan out my week on a Sunday and see what I need to get done in the next week. The week is then referenced and adjusted if necessary and the tasks reviewed and assigned a day in a different notebook.

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Overall thoughts.

The Hobonichi Weeks has found a purpose and place in my rotation and I really enjoy it. It’s a simple planner that most people will have used at some point, but the Hobonichi Weeks satisfies all those small extras that the stationery nerd enjoys. High quality materials, cute designs and paper that is a total joy to use.

2019 Planner Plans.

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Deciding on what planner(s) to use for the coming year is a tough decision. Buy a planner that doesn’t fit in with your requirements and you spend too much time trying to find a fix, but find the right planner and it can act the perfect assistant.

I have a bad habit of buying too many planners. There is so much choice and variety available it can be hard to be concise with your purchases. If you read my previous post I didn't fare well with my planners in 2018 and I didn’t want to repeat those errors going into 2019.

What I have learnt from this year is that my planner needs have changed. What worked before doesn't seem to hit the spot anymore. Luckily I recognised this early enough and I was able to research and figure out what changes I needed to make for 2019. In today’s post I will share my decisions with you and how I think I will be using my planners in 2019.

Planner 1: MiGoals 2019 Planner.

I haven’t used a MiGoal product before but a couple of months ago I started digging around to understand what this planners were about. I have bought the 2019 HC Diary in Coral, drawn to the layout and how this seemingly traditional goal planner had found a way to not be stuffy.

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The Layout.

The layout of a planner is always crucial and also really personal. It comes down to how you like to see information, the way your mind interprets tasks and the types of information it’s important for you to capture. Some people like guidance from their planners, others don’t. So finding a layout that does what you need is always the most crucial aspect of your planner decisions.

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In the MiGoals planner the weekly spreads are allocated a double page, space for your weekly view sits on the left hand page and on the right there is a small habit tracker, weekly focuses and a massive notes area.

I was drawn to the planners simplicity. The weekly pages give you enough space to jot down those extra things that may not fit into a specific day. Each small section is clearly defined but not intrusive.

The monthly calendar is paired with the weekly spreads. So the January monthly calendar is followed by the four weeks that sit within January, then you get your February calendar, followed by February's weekly pages and so on. There is a tonne of space too with weekends getting extra room! It’s a miracle. There is a small section underneath the calendar which sets out your monthly goals, a small to do list and space for some notes.

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The bulk of this planner is pretty standard...nothing groundbreaking but they haven’t tried to do anything too dramatic. And that’s a good thing.

Goal Planning Pages.

The thing that really drew me to this planner, a little surprisingly, was the goal planning sections. There are around 30 pages that get you into the right headspace to review 2018 and plan 2019.

There are a load of inspirational quotes which isn't everyone’s cup of tea. What I like is how this planner focused my mind on what I want 2019 to be. The goal planning pages are conversational in style rather than formal and stuffy. (Although that being said they did slip in the dreaded annual, 5 and 10 year outlook section which I really don’t like.) Some of the questions included within these pages are What situations get you excited? What subjects do you enjoy learning about? What do you find easy that others don’t? A few years ago things like this would have caused my eyes to roll but actually they focused my attention.

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There is a Toolkit for Success spread that helps you identify who can help you achieve you goals and the things that make you happy. These aspects of the MiGoals planner make it feel a little bit more human, not focusing only on the aspirational goal or its success or failure, but they make you consider everything it takes to achieve a goal.

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There is a page where you can review 2018, things that you’re pleased with and things you want to improve and then what you want for 2019. You can then also rate your year on a series of factors and the planner has space to do this again at the end of 2019, a nice compare and contrast opportunity.

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The Goals pages.

The goals pages are the really interesting piece though. There are 10 in total. Each goal page gives you space to outline your goal, put a timeframe on it, say what sort of goal it is and why you have set yourself that goal. Then there are Key Milestones where you can highlight the things that will be big markers to achieve in that goal and a To do list. There is finally a Reward and Outcome section. All of this information is on one page making it simple to see all aspects of your goal on one page.

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It is in this section that you’re inundated with inspirational quotes but I think this is done on purpose. By limiting you to concentrate on one goal per double page there are no distractions, no opportunities for your eyes to wander to goal number 2. You’re there to concentrate on one goal only. It’s quite a clever little trick.

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I have set myself 7 goals, none of which are crazy and all are personal to me, nothing work or career related in here. The Key Milestones and To Do sections helped me to break down each goal into smaller parts which hopefully should make it a lot less overwhelming. It’s kind of like habit or project planning tool.

Why I chose this planner.

The MiGoals planner is not something I would ever have considered in the past. It would have appeared to embody everything I disliked in a planner but this year I was drawn to it because of its goal planning section. There are review sections and prompts throughout the year to guide you back to these goals and see how they are progressing. By including them in the planner itself it keeps it with you most of the time and stops these goals from becoming lost of forgotten by February.

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I really like the design and layout of the planner. Everything is concise and simple. I am really not fussed on the multitude of quotes in there, but the usefulness of the planner makes them easy to ignore. There are helpful guide pages to show you how to use sections, two bookmarks and decent paper.

Planner 2: Baron Fig Clear Journal.

This was a journal I ordered a while back when Baron Fig announced the planner. As yet I don't have it so I cannot give a comprehensive overview. I have just finished reading James Clears Atomic Habits which was surprisingly interesting. And yes there is a theme emerging here.

At the moment I aim to use this journal to track projects and personal items but until I have it in my hands....which won’t be until mid-Jan…then I cannot fully decide on how to use it.

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Planner 3: Hobonichi Weeks.

As I found a way to work with my 2018 Hobonichi Weeks I am using this again in 2019 as a diary. Co-ordinating the basic things and having this as my carry around diary. Nothing interesting in here, no decoration purely function.

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Planner 4: Travelers Company weekly + memo refill 2019

This was always going to be part of my 2019 set-up as I have used this for years now. It will continue to be the place I record little memories of my day and add a creative splash. I can decorate, use stickers and washi and make this a fun and memorable journal that I will want to review because its a marker of my year. In contrast to my Hobonichi Weeks nothing functional or administrative will go in here.

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Overall thoughts.

Despite the usefulness and my enjoyment of the Jibun Techo in 2018 this doesn't feature in 2019. The Jibun Techo became a time tracking and organisational tool that I don’t feel motivated to use going into a new year.

For 2019 I needed to become more focused with my goals and the direction I want the year to take. I started 2018 thinking about what I wanted to do for the year and gave it a theme, a la Cortex. And the theme that cropped up was the ‘Year of Me’. I think I have done quite well with that theme in 2018 but I hadn't put any detailed thought into it, I found my way and things whirred around in my head but I didn't think about how I would do this and what I wanted to achieve. 2019 is going to be a continuation of this theme because it doesn't feel complete, but now it needs structure. I believe that is where the MiGoals planner can help.

As always I will share this journey here with you and when I have been using the MiGoal planner a little longer I will provide a comprehensive review of how the planner works in use but I have very high hopes.

2018 Planner Review.

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At the end of each year I like to reflect on the planners I have used and how I have been using them. I share the planners I have set-up for the coming year but I think it’s important to also review the past year and what has worked well. In today’s post I will run through all the planners (yes plural) that I had planned to use this year and run through what worked and what didn’t. If you’re interested in reading the 2018 Planner Plans post you can find that here.

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Jibun Techo

The Jibun Techo was new to me for 2018. I had never used it before and I was so eager to get my hands on this planner I had to buy from the US and important it, taking the hit on customs. It was a worthwhile decision because it’s been my most used planner in 2018. I wrote a full review of this planner and created a video walk through which you can see here.

But to touch on some of the highlights of this planner the paper quality is excellent. It has a version of tomoe river paper which means the pages are super thin and handle fountain pen and inks really well. I recorded a small clip of the sound the almost full planner makes, a stationery nerds dream.

The weekly layouts are brilliant and hold a huge amount of information. It’s actually very impressive that they’re able to craft that much space out of the page. Over the course of the year I made small adjustments with how I used these pages, but mostly I’ve stuck to my original review.

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And then what really makes the Jibun Techo that little bit extra special is the extras. The pages at the front of the planner that let you record the books you’ve read, the movies watched and a few extras I didn’t use are all really useful.

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With one of the monthly overview pages I used it as my Habit Tracker. Having all of this stuff in one planner was not something I’d been able to do before, so the Jibun Techo was unique in that way.

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There is a lot to like about this planner and for list makers and memory keepers it’s excellent.

Hobonochi Techo Cousin Avec

I have been a Hobonichi user for a few years. The first year I used a Hobonichi Techo is was the English A6 size and it was a sort of journal. But I found that it overlapped a lot with how I used my Travelers Company refill so with my next Techo I switched it up, and then I guess lost my way with it.

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This year I bought a Hobonichi Techo Cousin but I couldn’t find a way to use it. I tried several different set-ups including a bullet journal, a health tracker and a goal planner but nothing stuck. Unfortunately for most of the year the Cousin went unused.

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Hobonichi Weeks

This was my first Hobonichi Weeks and I bought it as I was already ordering from Hobonichi and the design was so damn cool. I was attracted to the slim size and thought I would use it as a functional diary which is how I started out, but this didn’t last very long and I just forgot about it.

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Pre-empting my 2019 plans I wanted to give the Hobonichi Weeks another run. In October I started using this to track my ailments (I seem to have a lot these days). Headaches and their severity, eczema outbreaks, physio progression and so on. I wanted to know what I felt and when over a period of time so I could link this back to the environment, place or circumstances that may have been aggravating these things. This did work out quite well but did mean I wasn't using it consistently each day. I wasn’t sure this was the best way to use one sole planner so I went again.

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In the past couple of weeks I have started using this as a diary again. Working out my week in the day sections, figuring out where everyone in the family is and what’s going on. On the right hand page I’ve been noting down the big things I need to get done that week. In the run up to Christmas this has been really helpful.

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Travelers Company Weekly + Memo Refill

This has been a constant notebook I have used for years now and I love this refill. My use over this time hasn’t changed either. I record small snippets of my day and decorate the pages. Nothing practical, no times, purely things that I experienced on that day.

Overall thoughts.

I went into this year with too much. I always do this, but this year it wasn't manageable and as a result I didn't use some of these planners. I hate being wasteful like this, but it has influenced my decisions about 2019.

The Jibun Techo has been a great planner for 2018 and it’s almost become a form of analogue time tracker. It’s enabled me to see how I spend my personal time and the things I achieve each week.

Next week I will be sharing my 2019 planner plans. I have most of the items already and I will share with you what they are and what attracted me to these planners. 2018 has been a year of personal change and as a result what I need from my planners has changed too.

Baum-Kuchen shared an excellent post on choosing your planner and the evolution of their planners. If you didn’t see this check it out here, it really got me thinking about what and how I use my planners.

Trigg Life Mapper: Initial Impressions.

Trigg kindly sent me one of their award winning Life Mappers to review on the blog. All the thoughts shared in this post are my own.

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The Trigg Life Mapper has been on my radar for a while. I had seen people posting about their planner on Instagram and the bold colour scheme really caught my attention. I have an interest in planners generally and I like to see what and how people use them. Trigg also won the Best New Product at the Stationery Show in London earlier on this year. So I didn’t come to this product cold, I already had some thoughts based on what I had seen.

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This is the time of year when people are looking for planners, researching, watching YouTube videos and trying to gather all the information they can to make the best decision for their annual planner.

This review is lengthy and I have tried to cut it back but I felt like the information needed to be shared. Hopefully the headers will guide you through the review, but the plan is to discuss the layout of the Trigg Life Mapper and then give you my personal thoughts.

Productivity Assistance in your planning.

So part of the idea with the Trigg Life Mapper is to offer guidance with your goals for the year. There is a double page at the beginning where you can plan out your year and what you want to achieve.

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There is some guidance here, but it’s very generic and made me feel like I was filling in a job application. I hate being asked about my 5 year plan. It has the ability to make you feel inferior if you don’t have one, but also I don’t like planning out that far in advance, I feel like it sets you up to fail. This sort of start-of-the-year page is not uncommon by any means, but I feel that the questions being asked are dated.

There is a Visual Assessment graph section to fill out. There are 4 focus areas outlined which are: Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. These focus areas are generic and in many ways inclusive to people who perhaps would be interested in a planner. However I come back to the feeling of being restricted by these outlines. The focus areas are too obvious and they don’t resonate at any depth. I do however like the idea of showing reflective or start-of-the-year information in a visual format.

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Monthly Calendar Spreads.

These appear at the start of the planner and you get two months per double page spread. The space per day is a little tight and there definitely isn’t enough room for my big handwriting or multiple appointments per day.

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Each month has a focus and colour theme which ties back to Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. The focus themes are loose associations to the months their given. So for January your focus is intentions which is an obvious choice for the beginning of a new year; February is relationships which I guess is down to Valentines Day and so on.

These focus themes also don’t go any further, they just appear as words on your monthly calendar. This planner is littered with quotes and Trigg comments, and yet at a point when I would have thought some guidance would be necessary, it doesn’t appear.

Annual Forecast pages.

My first note is that the annual forecast pages appear after the monthly calendars splitting the meat of this planner, the monthly and daily pages. I think this section should have gone before the monthly section and keep all the themes and big thinking pages together.

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The aim of these pages again comes back to Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. You write down your goals for each theme. This is done as a list based on the layout of this page but there is no further prompts. No trigger phrases or questions to guide and push you in your thinking and planning process.

The top third of each forecast page has a random assortment of descriptive words that could relate to the theme. Again I think this is for guidance and inspiration but I don’t really think they’re needed and they take up valuable space.

Weekly Priority Planning.

There is a page which kicks off each week. Again the 4 themes come into play here and you write your goal to tackle that week and the actions to help you get there. I am not sure I have a goal for 52 weeks of the year on all 4 of these sections. That feels out of reach entirely.

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The weekly planning though is a good idea and one I like, but I don’t think this page is the right execution of that idea. There is no space for goals that sit outside of the 4 themes either which feels limiting. There is no space for general weekly tasks, such as calling the vet, arranging your car service etc. These don’t fit into the 4 themes but they’re typically things you need to jot down in your planner as general reminders.

Daily pages.

We then come to the real meat of this planner - the daily pages. There is a quote or a Trigg point that heads up each day.

In the top half of the page there is a task, plan and delegation grid to help guide your day. Tasks gives you space for three must do items. There is a box named plan which I am little unsure how to use and then delegate / delay section. The delay / delegate section is interesting but I am not sure how to use this. I don’t think at the start of the day I would know what I want to delay, or whether this is a section that can be filled in at the end of the day and used for future reference? I think it’s an interesting addition to the daily spread but I really don’t know how to implement it.

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The second half of the page is for your appointments. I think the space allocated is too much. I don’t have appointments each day and most of my appointments are captured on my monthly spread. Obviously the headers can be ignored and general notes can be made here.

One other small note, is that Saturday and Sunday don’t get the same layout as the weekdays. They share a page and have none of the daily page features. The weekend days always gets shafted when it comes to space in planners which leaves the weekend workers, or the side-hustle people without the space they need.

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There is a small weekly reflective slot that is included on the weekend pages too, limiting the space even more. This prompts you to reflect on your week and write down something you’re grateful for. There is also the inclusion of some of the map artwork from Mapper theme that comes up on these pages. Everything on this last page feels too tight and squished.

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End of Year Review.

At the end of the planner there are some review pages for the year. There’s another Visual Assessment where you can rate yourself on your 4 pre-set themes. You’re then guided into a double page spread review by themes where you can note the successes and set backs for the year.

There are also a few Notes pages at the back of the planner if you need them.

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My personal thoughts.

I’ve alluded to my thoughts throughout the write up and have tried to not sound harsh but objective with this review. I realise that a planner cannot please or work for everyone but I think there is a lot which could have been improved upon in this planner.

Firstly I was shocked when this planner arrived by how big it is. It’s a very bulky planner, which means it’ll be heavy to carry around and would be uncomfortable to write in with such a huge ledge. I appreciate this is a page a day planner, but there are alternatives out there that are a lot slimmer.

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The mapping theme is good for a planner and I can see why Trigg used this. The use of the mapping artwork doesn’t feel right throughout the planner however. This is a really small thing, but subtler tones (even though grey is used a lot), better quality artwork and thought on the placement and use of the theme would have lifted this planner a lot.

The thought behind the daily pages is a step in the right direction. It guides your day and tries to focus the attention on doing the important things. However in order to focus on the top 3 things for that day I need somewhere to dump the master list, and I think that is what’s missing. The monthly calendars and weekly planning pages don’t give me the space to do this because they’re trying to force me to focus on 4 themes I didn’t choose and potentially don’t care about.

Rethinking the weekly planning pages would help a lot. Some guidance here is fine but I need to space to use these pages as I see fit. And this is likely to change over the course of a year too. Moving the goals and aims piece into the monthly spread would also mean I can focus on more manageable goals in a more manageable period of time.

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Overall thoughts.

I think a productivity planner that isn’t aimed at a corporate person needs to be more than the obvious. Its needs to open up to creative professions, to the side-hustle people, to those who seek out the planners. It has to have a different mindset behind it to really help people be productive.

At the moment I can’t see past the Trigg Life Mapper as some sort of HR self assessment form that I am forced to complete in order to get my bonus. It’s something I go through physical strain to do racking my brain for some nominal thing to include under a header I don’t believe in.

I thought this planner was going to be something more than it was. In part I think I formed these preconceived ideas based on the awards it has won and the social media influences I have, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with the Trigg Life Mapper.

I would like to thank the guys at Trigg for sending me their planner to review.