Choosing a Planner is a major annual undertaking for me.
Yes, I own an ipad and an android phone, both of which - I am told – offer more effective ways of helping me document and track my appointments and activities. But habits are very hard to break. I have always used a planner since I started working (and I need not tell you how long ago that has been) and has been dependent on those “reengineered notebooks” since then. It’s just a little more satisfying to physically write down your thoughts and see them materialize on paper. So thanks for the many suggestions about new apps that could “change my life” – but it’s still the old-fashioned planner for me.
I will admit that there were two years in a row when I jumped into the bandwagon and drank a lot of designer coffee just so I can brag about having that overrated designer planner from that overrated but oh so indispensable coffee chain. But those planners are not really meant for – ehem – hardworking people with many commitments. They just don’t offer as much space for notes and even for appointments, so I ended up keeping a separate notebook. Yes, the situation was pretty much like how a person who wanted to kick smoking by eating mint candies ended up with two addictions – smoking AND mint candies. In the end, I figured I was too old to be a victim of trends and ditched using those status symbol planners. It did not mean that I stopped drinking their coffee, though. Or worse, having notebooks as well.
But to go back to the topic, the process of choosing a planner usually starts around end of November when the bookstores and the specialty stores start displaying all kinds of planners for consideration. Oh yes, they have learned well from Skinner and company – they are masters in the science of behavioral conditioning.
My preference has always been for a daily planner since I tend to write not only appointments and a host of To Do’s, but practically everything else that I happen to be in the mood to document at that very moment. This can include expenses, bank account balances, observations about life in general, the price of cabbages, and the like. The sad thing is that I am very bad at being consistent – I prefer being spontaneous – so anyone looking for a pattern in my planner would be hard pressed to find one.
The quality of the paper, the binding, and the cover are also important considerations. One buys a planner for a whole year’s use and one tends to lug it around everywhere, so durability is of utmost importance. And then there’s the quality of the paper. I tend to prefer a variety of pens and I am partial to fountain pens, technical pens, and yes, gel pens in different colors. If the quality of the paper is not so good, the ink tends to blot and bleed onto the next or the reverse side of the page. I know this sounds like I am an OC person, which I honestly am not. It’s just that I have been using planners for almost four decades now and thereby possess ample experience on the matter.
What struck me while going through my annual selection process, however, has been the growing variety of planners out there. I am not just talking about the design of the cover, or of the inside
Pages, and the inclusion of pictures and other helpful data such as a multiplication or conversion table. I am talking about planners designed for every possible kind of advocacy, temperament, or personality. There seems to be a planner for every kind of person.
For example, I saw a planner meant for the inveterate traveler, one for budding writers, and another one for chefs. A planner I saw must have been designed for people with spending problems because the details required for budgeting were just so meticulous. The variety of spiritual planners has always been quite wide – from the Daily Bread type to the write-a-reflection sort - but I recently saw one with pictures of saints, religious trivia, and interesting biblical facts in addition to the usual scriptures. I saw a planner with a feng shui guide; which was quite tempting I almost picked it up except that I balked when I considered how spooky it would be to have daily reminders of one’s fortune, or lack of it. I was amazed to find out that there are now planners that promote more balanced lives – it was almost like having a personal manager to manage one’s life. You get the drift.
Anyway. After much consideration, I decided to just pick up an old reliable Moleskin planner. I know. All that huffing and puffing were all in vain.
But perhaps that’s exactly the whole point. Experience is the most reliable proof. Very often, despite the abundance of choices, there remains no substitute for the things that we have gotten used to. Pretty much like Levi’s jeans. Or Hanes undershirts. Or Pilot sign pens.
We consider alternatives because want to be convinced that our default choices are still the best choices.