I love buying calendars and planners, even if I almost never get a full year’s use out of them.
Some time around February I’ll leave it at home, or start bringing a different bag to work, forgetting to stash the latest planner in it. In March, I may decide to start using the Google calendar again. Hey, it’s on my computer, it’s on my phone, it’s in my soul, I’ll never be without it. By the beginning of May, I’ll realize it’s been a month since the last time I entered a meeting, work event, or deadline in my inescapable Google life tracker.
Which gives me six or seven months using my default planning strategy — scraps of paper strewn across my desk, jammed into bags or pockets, hastily scrawled notes in notebooks I then misplace, and relying on an increasingly creaky memory. Basically, its foolproof.
Then another year rolls around, and I get all crazy and start unconsciously making resolutions (Update: I was down about nine pounds but that was after the after effects of eating Taco Bell, and before I decided a beer or two on the weekend won’t kill me, but am still heavy into the sleepytime tea on week nights) and I start thinking that maybe, maybe my life will be more organized and smoother if used a planner. First thing I do is try to find the last planner I bought to see if it’s one of those 18 or 24 month jobs, giving me a two-for-one deal, staying organized and being frugal.
The last planner I bought was from when I started my then new job, which was in the summer of 2018. So even with the extra school year tacked on bonus months, I was outta luck, and verified that I had been living on Post-it notes that had lost their stickiness and the dark recesses of my mind to keep track of my comings and goings for longer than I wanted to admit. Darn shame, too. It was a Moleskine planner, too. I either had a healthy balance on a Barnes and Noble gift card or was unduly optimistic about my new job.
But it was the beginning of a new year and I was already high on organization. Which means I cleaned my desk at work and threw out every unimportant paper on and/or in my desk. Which was really every paper when I started to think about it. Mostly, I threw out all the candy wrappers and tried to sweep up all the crumbs from the bottom of my desk drawers. Once that mission was accomplished, and I had clean spots for the two or three papers that had survived the purge and my coffee cup, the urge for a new planner only grew.
I knew that another Moleskine planner was out of the question, I’m no fancypants Russian oligarch after all, but I did remember that my boss had once told me that if I needed any office supplies to order what I needed. Okay, that boss had quit under somewhat cloudy circumstances the month before, but a boss is a boss, past or present. And I still had access to the company credit card. So I spent the rest of the day searching for a new, moderately priced so as not to raise suspicion with the accounting department, planner. My only requirement was that it wasn’t a fill in your own date type of planner. I have struggles enough staying organized without having to find another calendar to figure out how to fill in the calendar in front of me.
I ended up with a moderately priced, Japanese minimalist design, 24 hour planner. The 24 hours part seems a bit ambitious, but I guess I can pencil all those 3 a.m. appointments if I ever freelance as the social media manager for the International Society of Newspaper Vampires. Once it was delivered, I diligently filled in all the meetings I have scheduled for the next month. At the very least, I will have stretched my company’s investment through the beginning of February.
You know, I know, we all know that by March I’ll be relying on unsticky Post-It notes that fell behind my desk, and my brain, which the other day could not remember that the sandwich with mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and pesto is called a caprese sandwich for a good five minutes, nearly driving me insane. But there was something else about this planner (okay, most planners, it’s not like the Japanese minimalist 10 dollar calendar book had a secret door to Narnia) that I plotted putting into use. Blank pages. Not a lot of blank pages. But enough to use judiciously, wisely, for the benefit and betterment of, mainly, me. These precious few blank pages were for very important things. The first page I used for passwords. Because I cannot remember the word for mozzarella, pesto, and tomato sandwiches, there is very little chance I can remember all the passwords I need to remember. So if you ever find my planner when I inevitably lose it, you will have the password to my gmail account, which is conveniently written in the front of the book, giving you access to all the seemingly smart New York Times subscription emails that I never actually open. Enjoy! And also phone numbers for very important people. Because everything is stored as contacts in phones, and I could not tell you Leslie’s phone number if my life depended on it, but I can recite my best friend’s number from high school like it is the Gospel.
More relevant to my interests, I set aside facing pages with the headings To Read and To Write. Because, goddammit, I’m not going to be left high and dry without a pile of at least 17 books that I need to read AT THAT EXACT MINUTE. And also, I spend 99 percent of my time pretending I am a writer, and the remaining one percent pretending I am a writer who has nothing to write about. Documenting a one or two line idea, theoretically, gives me a prompt to actually write write at some unspecified future date. It it has worked out great so far. Because nowhere in that list is writing about my planner. Although I can’t be 100 percent sure about that, since I’ve already left my planner in the car as I write this, leaving me to rely on the unsticky sticky note of my memory.