Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Planner Bug

I've got the planning bug bad right now. Not just the planning bug, but the planner bug.

Two weeks ago when I was next door at church, my neighbor innocently showed me, with some great excitement, her new, red planner. She said she had been looking for just the perfect one for weeks and she was so pleased with this new one, for it held everything she needed and included pockets for her various cards, change, photos, etc. And in that instant, I knew I was hooked.

Blithely, though, I said, "Oh, yes, that is so nice. I have one that I made and I just love it. I really have to have one that can hold all my school papers, so have a binder. That way I know all the girls work and forms, etc. will just fit in there nicely." And it was true. Or... at least partly true.

My current planner that I've used for a year and a half works very well for me on a number of levels. Given that it is homemade, it has exactly what I need as far as categories go and I can add and subtract from those categories at will. Given that it is a binder, pages do easily fit in and that paper is commonly available - no weird sizes. And the price is seriously right. With free, online calendars available to print and pretty clip art it has been easy to make and has been easy to make attractive to me. I change the clip art from time to time to freshen things up and change colors too. I can also change the cover at will, since I can slide any picture into the front and back covers.

However, of late I have been noticing drawbacks. They started coming in the form of late fees at the library and other missed items on the to-do list. That is because my planner stays at home... and so does my computer. I do try sending myself reminders via e-mail that books are due and it does help a lot of the time. But the biggest problem is that my planner doesn't travel with me. And why? Because of that great and easy size... so nice to fit all of my 8 1/2 x 11 pages... and just too big and unwieldy to carry around with me on a regular basis.

My mind drifts back to the red planner...

... soft, imitation (yes!) leather cover, a pretty, snap closure, very nice size - not too small, nor too large - and those pockets... did I mention the pockets?

What is it with pockets? And I'd like to say, what is it with women and pockets? Does it seem like women are suckers for pockets? Maybe I just have been trained to think that way, but it does seem that purses are more popular the more little nooks and crannies they have for keeping your stuff. And the same seems to go for planners.

I am not usually like this. You know me; I'm all about the homemade!! *sigh* But the lure of the perfect planner... ah, yes, the elusive, perfect planner. Don't we all just get sucked in? Or at least a lot of us do. I know that it has to do with wanting control in our lives. But for me, too, it has to do with wanting to live efficiently and getting the best use of my time. That doesn't mean I live by scheduling every hour of every day, but if I can remember to pick up that item at the health food store on the day that I go over to my Mom's and remember to drop off the library books that are due in the same trip, I will be not only preserving my time, but also my fuel.

Last night I had two friends over to watch a movie. Before we started, we were talking a bit about our days and the hectic feeling we share. Obviously, one of my friends can handle so much more than I can, because if I had her schedule, you could just have me committed. The other friend is here for a couple of months, keeping out of winter's cold. She and her family moved last March and their house here hasn't sold yet, so they're "camping" there for now. Her husband is away for a certain number of days at a time and then flies back to join them. She also homeschools. She was sort of thinking aloud saying, "I think if I were just in one place back at home, I would feel like we would have rhythm to our days."

Rhythm. Balance.

That's what it is. That's what it seems so many of us are striving for.

I confess I kind of laughed when she said that and noted that even though I am here in my permanent home, my days don't have as much rhythm as I would like. It's not that I don't ever achieve it, it's just that those days often feel fleeting: the trip to the library to pick up the books on reserve gets botched because now, because of cut-backs in county spending, the library has changed its hours; the grocery store had everything but that ONE thing that you actually must have for that meal and you need to stop at the other store on the way home to "just run in and get it"; the myriad of little favors we do for family or friends who are in need; the bump in the road in math and now some changes need to be worked into the plan to be sure she's actually getting it before moving on. None of it is wrong, it's just not planned for and disrupts the rhythm of the day.

I just feel myself walking around with a mental to-do list in my head and not enough of it on paper and not enough of it in one place - accessible, portable.

What do you use to plan? Are you a fan of all the technology available? I know some people who live by their Palm Pilots, iPhones, and Blackberries. Being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, it's not that I might not have a use for those things - I'm busy enough - but I certainly couldn't justify the cost and I have a hard time believing I would be stopping long enough to key in all the info I wanted to have about the next field trip or play date while my kids stood around waiting for me to be done with all those tiny keys.

I think, really though, that despite my true enjoyment of the internet and all its wonders, after that my interest in gadgets slows WAAAAAAY down. I have always been more of a paper and pen type of gal... and the prettier the pen and paper, the better. They must still be pretty popular, because the Office Max site lists over 130 planners/ refill pages to choose from. But the prices... wow... that's what's going to be the greater challenge.

I know I will be perusing some of the office supply stores over the next few days... just to look... right? Just to price things out... and then maybe...

Isn't it silly the way I do go on over a pretty simple decision? But this is how my mind seems to work. I don't just go out and get things without really weighing the costs. But at least this time, I have tried the homemade version... and I know I'll still use it a lot with school. But like I said, I think I need something more portable. I'll let you know what I decide.


erika said...

hi - stumbled across your sweet blog - and read your post today - i have a couple easy methods for keeping track - 1. my $90 palm pilot - i bought the cheapest i could find - palm z22 - and love it - it color coordinates kids' activities, fits into my purse, holds memos, expenses, tasks to do - i add what i need and download to computer later - or vice versa. so handy.....
for the paper and pen love i have also, i found total cheapo out of date calendars the kind that give the day and a ton of lines, not the box kind - and they are the small spiral notebook - not big calendar --- i write whatever comes to mind whenever it comes to mind - groceries, book title, song to download, kid sayings, anything!!! then in my quiet time, sometimes a few days later, i either add to my palm pilot calendar, write on the grocery list, call whoever i thought of for whatever reason i wrote, pay whatever bill..... it's my written down brain that's always in my i always have a scratch of paper if i need to write a note for someone. i don't know if it all makes sense - but as a person who constantly struggled w/ finding out how to find a smidge of balance w/ 4 kids and 2 jobs, it helps ALOT. soory for the long note :)
be blessed!

Amy said...

I understand! Totally! I've used different systems over the years (no technology--paper and pencil). But I always come back to my old fashioned ones. I have a notebook that I use for the kid's homeschool plans, a wall calendar with large boxes for our appointments and outside activities, and a chalkboard in the kitchen for notes (for example-"we need baking powder"!)

The library books get stored in one central place, You take one read it but put it back in the "library bag". We go at least once a week to at least one (we have 4 libraries we use). So we check due dates and make sure no one's got any books in their room that need to go back. We do have some fines, but it mostly works.

It's all about habit and routine. I do need something smaller to take with me though. I'm often in meetings when the next date is being decided on. If I didn't bring my big old wall calander I'm lost. I do a lot of "I think that works for me, but I'll check when I get home and e-mail the group OK?" Not ideal by any means!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am like you, too, Nicole. I have to have something small in my purse(has saved me a lot of anguish), but it's only a calendar. Maybe that's all I need for now, but I love the little planners--small enough for a purse, but big enough to write in. And of course, the red color just jumps out at you!

Marie said...

I have actually never found written planners to be of any use to me. I have several, all given by vendors from work or bought for me by work when they were the rage. Big thick black ones with enough spaces to log a space mission. I don't want that thing with me and the moment you use it, it is instantly out of date.

Now, I am not home all or even most of the day. I live electronically. My families calendar is in my phone. It synchronizes with MS Outlook. It reminds me when things are due or appointments are coming up. It also shares this info with my husband, both on his work email calendar and also on his phone. I have a Motorola Q but any decent smartphone will have this capability. And as I work in applications and services for phones, I can tell you there are tons of those coming (mostly now out for iPhone and most of those free) which can help you find directions, find cheaper prices for items, store coupons electronically....on and on.

I would encourage you to keep two books--a binder system for your schooling and a small, electronic pda or smartphone for everything else.

Karen said...

my advice is that you go to and look for what you need, while supporting a handmade crafter in the process.

good luck to you!

kelli said...

Oh...I am NOT the one to ask on this! I, too, love pen and paper! (My very simple cell phone has an option to make a sound like a pencil writing when you're typing in a phone number...of course I chose that!! No beeps for me:)

Anyway...I just have a beautiful engagement calendar by the author of Under the Tuscan Sun. I have a few appointments jotted in on there, and that's about all I do.

It's funny...I just read Susan's post over at High Desert Home, and she is also talking about rhythm and balance and to do lists. She didn't really cover planners, but it's a beautiful post, and I think you'd enjoy it!

I like to live without much of a list...sometimes it's to the point that unexpected things bother me, and that's not a good rhythm either. Ah...the balance of life. Won't heaven be grand?!

I love that you mull over decisions! I am so that way! Hope you enjoy thinking through it all and find something soon that is just right!

kivyn said...

I've been using a home management binder for a little over a year, and I absolutely love it. Not sure how I lived without it so long, in fact. I think if my family were busier, I'd also want to have a smaller purse-sized or car-sized version (perhaps Etsy-made, like a previous poster mentioned!), but I don't think I could every give up my HMB.

Still, though, all those bells and whistles are enticing....

tonia said...

i've bought a ridiculous amount of planners over the years...i never use any of them. the more elaborate they are the less i am able to make use of them.

now i use a blank sketch book on my desk to write all over and make doodles...a big, boring office calendar for the wall to keep everyone's appts. and this is on my list to buy this week - simple:

i'm definitely a pen and paper electronic gizmos for me.

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