Here are almost 3 years worth of Field Notes that I’ve used, from April 2012 through December 2014. Field Notes have served me well as daily journals, but I’ve decided to use them differently, starting this year. I’m going to use Field Notes for lists, and let Hobonichi sort of take over their previous role.
To explain my change, I would like to go way back and describe what I used to use before Field Notes, why I decided to use them, and how I’ve been using them. I admit, this is a really long post. I started writing it more for myself, to think out loud, in a way. If you’d rather read a shorter summary, here it is.
Keeping a daily journal for the last few years helped me realize the benefits of writing things down, and I think Field Notes played a big role in developing that habit. Before Field Notes, I just used random notebooks, and I wasn’t happy with any of them. I never made a conscious effort to write daily either.
Thanks to Field Notes, I’m now writing more, and I want to expand on that habit. And I want to be more creative and play with my craft tools. My daily needs have outgrown Field Notes! So I’m going to add Hobonichi to my daily arsenal. I think it’ll be worth it to keep multiple daily journals, as long as each one has a specific goal. Hobonichi will be for more personal musings and doodles, and Field Notes will be for daily lists of to-dos and quick ideas.
- Field Notes for daily journaling (one or two books per month)
- A5 notebook (2014) for long-term projects, goals, brainstorming, etc.
From now on:
- Hobonichi for daily journaling and artistic playtime
- Field Notes for daily to-dos (one book per month)
- A5 planner/notebook (2015) for long-term projects, goals, etc.
If you’re interested in my thinking process behind this change, how I’ve been using Field Notes, or what I think about Hobonichi so far, read on!
Before I started using Field Notes, I’d use all kinds of notebooks for documenting my life. Perfect-bound, hard-cover plain books, leather case with 6 rings, slim pocket-sized datebooks, sketchbooks, weekly planners, Moleskine “Color-A-Month” daily planners, etc, etc. Whatever was conveniently available at the time. Way, way back, I used to write diaries but I gradually became lazy and started writing only lists of things I did, things that happened, and to-dos. Never really effectively used the calendar views or planning parts of planners.
Needless to say, my “system” was all over the place, and I knew it wasn’t effective. Looking back at these old notebooks makes me cringe, actually. Maybe I tried to make each notebook serve too many functions at once, i.e. planner + diary + to-do lists, and that’s why I wasn’t happy with any of them.
Why I chose Field Notes
Whatever the case may be, I knew I needed a change. I knew I wanted something portable. Something not so intimidating. Something that doesn’t give me only half the writing space for Saturdays and Sundays (wtf). Something not structured in content.
Then came Field Notes. I’d just started the subscription (thanks to Raven’s Wing's allure) and hadn't used any of them yet. So I decided to try using one Field Notes book for writing what I did each day. One book per month, so that I had something new and different to look forward to every month. I knew I was going to get more with the subscription, so it seemed like a good way to go through the growing stash and keep things fresh. Another point that convinced me Field Notes would be a good option was that my journals would look nice and uniform as a collection later.
How I’ve been using Field Notes
Each day, I would write or stamp the date at the very top of the page and write what I did. I would only use the right side of each spread. In the beginning, I used to write to-do lists on the left side but I stopped doing that. (For to-dos, I would often use loose sheets of paper and shred them once I was done with them. Later, I added a bigger notebook to my routine, to be used throughout the whole year, for more long-term projects and brainstorming.) I also started doing monthly summaries in Field Notes, where I would leave a couple of the first pages of each memo book blank for reviewing and writing a summary of that month. A summary included things like a new restaurant I tried, favorite things I bought, things I watched, etc.
After almost 3 years of “testing” Field Notes, I feel glad that I started using them. Looking back at all these filled books makes me feel pretty proud. Definitely not cringing. I’m happy I stuck to this routine and kept writing something (almost) every day.
Hobonichi for the new year
It’s time for a change! I started writing more per month, sometimes 2 Field Notes per month, with more details, but that hasn’t necessarily meant more personal thoughts. I want to change that. And I want to be more creative, and start sketching again. So I’m changing my system to include Hobonichi. I didn’t really consider many options. Actually, Hobonichi might be what prompted me to reevaluate my journaling habit because I’ve seen many talented people who are very creative with it. Some might think I’m just getting on the bandwagon, but if it got me curious enough to pick it up and start doodling on it right away, surely it’s not such a bad system to buy into?
So far, I really like it. I used to not like planners in general but I’ve been using it consistently by focusing only on the daily pages. I like that I’m prompted each day but don’t necessarily feel pressured to fill a page every single day; after all, it’s called hobonichi (“almost everyday” in Japanese), as opposed to mainichi (“every day”). If I skip a day, it’s okay, and I can use that day for whatever I want. I know that it’s just a label and that it shouldn’t affect how I think or how I use it. But again, it worked on me. :)
As for Field Notes, they’ll still be part of my daily routine. Heck no, not ready to let them go! They’ll be used for daily to-dos and events in a list format. Hobonichi is where I’ll get more personal and play with my ever-increasing arts & crafts tools. It has a little more room than Field Notes but not so much more that I’m inclined to write every little detail down (Hobonichi Cousin is a little too big for me). This will hopefully force me to think back on my day a bit more carefully and focus on the positives.
So, there it is. My declaration of intent for the new year and perhaps years to come. We’ll see how this set-up goes, but so far, so good. But if it doesn’t work out, I just have to tell myself, it’s okay to go back or try something else.
I’ve never thought (or written) this much about journaling before. Hopefully, all this is for the better. And I’m still not sure what the differences are between journals and diaries, datebooks and planners, etc, etc. Oh well!
How do you use your Field Notes and have you changed how you use them?
And thanks for reading this far! (＊*ᴗ*＊)