New Year, New Journals: Our 2020 Journal Systems


Meet the Shop Abbey Sy team, their (many) journals, and the personal systems they've created for 2020!


Sophie, The Freshman Turned Fresh Grad

Everyone has their own style when journaling and each person has a specific pace to how they journal.

Personally, I like a no-frills planner/journal. While I was a university student, I jumped from planner to planner until I found the MUJI A6 Monthly Planner. It worked for me until I graduated.

Image: Blast from the past, university-aged Sophie jumped from journal to journal until she found The One.

I’ve also been using an A6 Hobonichi for daily journaling for the past two years.

Image: two of Sophie's Hobonichi Journals stuffed thick

Now that I’m working, the monthly view calendar space seemed too small for me and my daily/weekly tasks. I took the plunge and purchased a Hobonichi Weeks planner. I have been using it since December and I absolutely love it! It completely shaped up and increased my productivity levels.

For my daily journaling, on the other hand, I’ve shifted from a regular Hobonichi to a Day-Free Hobonichi—this is mostly because my 2019 Hobonichi is filled with a mix of blank pages and overstuffed pages. Some days I wouldn’t have enough space to fill in the day’s thoughts and activities, while other days, I don't have the urge to fill in a page at all!

Image: Sophie's current Hobonichi Journals side-by-side

My 2020 Journal set-up is relatively simple. For my Hobonichi Weeks, I use the monthly view for important dates and appointments. I keep it brief and simple so that I can see my month's activities at a glance.

Image: A look into Sophie's planner, the monthly spread

As for the weekly spreads, I list down specific details of my activities like reminders and notes. On the blank page on the right, I list down all the tasks I hope to accomplish before the week ends.

Image: A look into Sophie's planner, the weekly spread

I also decorate my task list every week to make it more fun and interesting! It's a simple set-up, and it works wonders for me.

For my Hobonichi Day-Free, I treat it like a semi-daily scrapbook (kind of like a Traveler's Notebook!) I like to fill in the pages as I pleasewhether it be full of illustrations, paper, or plain text.

Image: A two-page spread of Sophie's Hobonichi Day-Free

Nikki, The No-Frills Novice

This year will be my first attempt at a more creative journaling habit.

Every year since 2016, I’ve used MUJI’s A5 Monthly – Weekly Planners. Its minimalist layout consists of yearly calendars, monthly spreads, horizontal weekly spreads, and nothing else! This was a no-brainer choice for an overwhelmed university student who needed lots of clean space to keep track of daily to-do’s and deadlines.

It was hard to break up with one of my constants. We were really good together.

For 2020, I’ve decided to branch out into incorporating more of my “inner life”—y’know, thoughts and feelings—into my journals. I realized that checking in with yourself regularly keeps you grounded in your core values, intentions, and goals. All important to me now I have more ownership of my time as a freelancer.

The bare-bones, almost austere, layout of my old planners just wouldn’t cut it anymore.

First in my new system, we have The Daykeeper, a comprehensive planner and journal for my day-to-day needs. I still have my monthly and weekly overview to track to-do’s, deadlines, and appointments. Business as usual! For the days I need to get detailed, there are daily spreads (90 pages, to be exact).

I love the extra built-in features—project, habit, reading, and travel trackers—which I had to DIY when I used MUJI Planners.

Image: a look into Nikki's weekly overview, surrounded by pens, washi tapes, and sticky notes

Using the weekly view of The Daykeeper, I still use my bullet journal key to manage daily tasks. Things are always moving around, so I've found erasable ink pens to be a life-saver. Black ink for personal entries, blue ink for work!

If I have time to spare, or if I need a pick-me-up, I’ll occasionally sprinkle in cute post-its and a strip of washi tape.

Second up, The Starting Point Journal by Things That Matter and Where To Next. It was given to me as a gift. I love their prompts on gratitude, self-care, zero waste, and slow fashion!

I use The Starting Point for quarterly goal-setting and monthly check-ins. Planning the year by quarter has allowed me to set big goals with the flexibility to make adjustments as the months pass.

Third's the charm, I have a blank notebook to document the precious moments as they happen. It’s meant to be free form; no goals to track, no expectations to meet. In other words, a safe space from any pressure. I’ve been collecting my ephemera in it since December and it’s been lovely to look back!

Image: a neat stack of Nikki's journals for 2020

I know three journals seems like a lot for a novice like me. However, I designed this new system to dial in my focus just by switching notebooks. I can flip from high level goals for the quarter to the everyday tasks to my most personal memories.

Abbey, The Creative Chameleon

Over the years, I’ve kept changing journals and planners.

I remember using a TeNeues planner in 2010 (when I was in high school) and ever since, I’ve become a fan of planners in general. Needless to say, I’m not a creature of habit—but I always make sure to choose systems that work best for my preferences in regards to my goals for that specific year.

In 2018, I used a Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal. But let me get this straight—it was not well-designed like most of my journals, as I just used it mainly for work tasks and was very much straightforward (I literally had no time to jazz it up). My Future Log was the only decorated spread in my BuJo.

I liked it, but also I didn’t have time to work on my spreads regularly. So last year, I used a Field Notes 56 Week Planner, which is undated and lined. It worked for a while, but eventually I reached for a Leuchtturm dotted notebook (not a bujo) for work instead.
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So this 2020, I vowed to choose a planner that would align with my goals, track my progress, and log my daily work accomplishments and tasks: the Let’s Be Explorers 2020 Edition Undated Planner, created by my friend CH of Everyday Explorers.

With “The Next 90 Days” prompt, I am able to see things as they go—and break down my goals into quarters. That way, I feel less pressured to see the year at a glance.

In line with my Let’s Be Explorers planner, I’ve compiled my adulting tasks into a Hobonichi Weeks, which has just enough space to get a gist of what I need to do every week.

I love how handy and convenient the size is, and this Nojigiku cover instantly caught my eye (it’s designed by Tomitaro Makino, the father of Botany in Japan). I had to get it.

Lastly, to practice my drawing skills and at the same time, participate in the 2020 Creative Journaling Challenge, I’ve decided to use a Hobonichi Techo Avec. By getting the A5 size, I’ll have more space to draw and write.

You can view my full 2020 Journaling System here:

I'm looking forward to use these journals and planners for the rest of this year! What’s your 2020 set-up system?

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