I’ve been using a planner since I got married, 33 years ago. My first planner was simply a 3×5 week-at-a-glance calendar. I really didn’t have much to write down so it worked fine. And back then, there weren’t very many planner options that I was even aware of.
I was at the office supply store one day for work and saw a 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 3-ring notebook. The cover was red vinyl. There were no pen loops or fancy pockets. But I fell in love with it and purchased it that day. And that’s when I really started using a “planner”.
By then I had a little more to write down so I was using a 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 week-at-a-glance calendar for my appointments and a few notes. I began using the notebook for information. The notebook contained finances, contact information, birthdays, notes, ideas, etc. I left my calendar at home but I carried that notebook with me EVERYWHERE. I remember my friend, Linda, asking me: “Why do you carry that thing everywhere?” I told her: “Because I never know when I’ll need it.”
I had been working full-time as a legal assistant in a law office. But then I got pregnant with our first child, struggled with health issues and at 6 months along was confined to bed. I developed toxemia and our daughter, Rachel, was born 10 weeks early weighing 2 pounds 2 ounces and measuring 13 inches long. She was in the hospital for 2 months. If you’ve ever had a premie or know someone who has, it’s a tough time because you just don’t know how things will turn out. One day everything’s fine and the next there’s something wrong. We were so happy when she was given a clean bill of health and sent home with us.
But that started a new phase of life. Now I was a full-time homemaker and had no idea how to fill my time. It didn’t help that I had ADHD (I didn’t know it yet). So in order to keep from wandering around the house all day, I started making a daily to-do list in a steno pad. Now my planning tools included my red notebook, my week-at-a-glance calendar and my steno pad. The only thing I continued carrying with me everywhere was my red notebook.
My daily to-do list consisted of anything that popped into my head. I usually filled the whole page but I never felt pressured to get everything done. It was really more like a checklist to keep me from sitting around doing nothing. I had certain things I did every day – like tidy and sweep and make dinner – but the rest of the tasks I did when I could. I highlighted tasks as I completed them and then the next day re-wrote what I didn’t get done. One benefit was that after I had re-written something several times I tended to just do it so I could get it off the list. It worked very well. And as an added bonus, my 10-year-old neighbor, Aimee, who liked to come over often after school, would either help with the kids or do something on the list. She’d look at the list, pick something, do it and then mark it off. Can you say “lucky me”?!
By then we had a second child, Danny, born 25 months after Rachel. Life started getting a bit more complicated and my planning system wasn’t working well. I tried a lot of different variations but nothing really worked. That’s when I discovered Franklin Covey. A friend of mine at church had just purchased a compact Franklin Covey and I was in love! I wanted one so bad!
So David and I and the kids drove to the local Franklin Covey store (back then it was Franklin Quest) and I purchased my first Franklin Quest planner. It seemed SO expensive but I was sure it would be worth it. It was a compact burgundy vinyl binder with original two pages per day. I was SO excited! That was 1993.
My FC planner became my ONE book. I had worn out the red binder and replaced my week-at-a-glance with the new Franklin Covey planner. When I got my planner, FC also provided a cassette tape teaching how to use the system. I listened to that tape SO many times that I knew backwards and forwards how to use the system. I thought it was brilliant.
I started out using it as designed and gradually modified it to suit my needs. I also saved every year’s pages and still have them. They are a treasure trove of information about my family. I would never voluntarily part with them. I think that’s one of the best parts of the system.
About seven years ago, life began changing rapidly. Our son got married and moved out. I went back to work full-time. Our first grandchild was born. Our son and his wife moved back in with us for 1-1/2 years. I quit working and came back home. I started this blog. Our second grandchild was born. Our daughter got married. Menopause. Moving. ADHD. And that’s just some of it. Life had been fairly steady and predictable up to that point but suddenly it was changing faster than I could keep up and my planner didn’t seem to work anymore.
And that’s when I hit the planner quagmire. Since then, I’ve tried:
Filofax Personal 2 pages per day
Filofax Personal week on two pages
Franklin Covey Classic 2 pages per day
Franklin Covey Classic with homemade pages
Filofax Personal with homemade pages
Franklin Covey Compact 2 pages per day
Franklin Covey Compact with homemade pages (3 or 4 different formats)
Life Mapping Inserts by Fish
Bullet Journaling in Filofax
Electronic planner (briefly)
Currently I’m going back and forth between Filofax Personal with Fish Life Mapping Inserts, my tried and true Franklin Covey compact 2 pages per day and homemade pages in the Filofax.
I want you to know that it’s hard for me to admit this because I like to think of myself as “organized” and all this flip flopping seems unorganized and embarrassing. I know I’m not the only one who does it, but I hate it. I’ve never struggled like this and I don’t like it. It’s inefficient and ridiculous.
“It doesn’t end until you decide to end it.”
I wrote that on my daily planner page for at least 2 weeks because it was so profound and so true and so simple. However, I still haven’t “ended it”. But her words are true. It won’t end until I end it. I have the power to do it by simply making a decision and then making it happen.
So in case you’re interested, that’s how my planning system has evolved. And even though I’m in the midst of a planner quagmire, I won’t give up. I need my planner!