Monday, March 12, 2012

Planning a Life

It's all Marcia Ramsland's fault.
About five years ago, I read her book, Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way. In her section on time management, she has a sidebar on choosing a planner. Inspired by not just this sidebar, but the tone of her whole book, I set out to find not just a planner, but the right planner.
It wasn't easy, but I was undeterred, sure that the key to successful time management lay in having the right tool. After endless trips to numerous stores, I finally found my heart's desire in the pages of a catalog. After my new calendar arrived in its snazzy, professional cover, it became planning central for my work life, and the one item I took with me to every meeting.

Then the manufacturer discontinued it.

After a suitable period of mourning, I found a replacement - from the same source - that came close to the perfection of the original. Although it lacked the nuance and charm of its predecessor, it worked.

Then my job circumstances changed. No longer in one building on a daily basis, I needed to pack up my planner - and everything else, it seemed - and take it with me as I traveled from school to school.

Suddenly, my planner seemed heavy, burdensome. In need of some streamlining. My once beloved leather cover was showing its age, too, tearing at the edges and looking shabby and unprofessional. It was time for a change.

Once again, I began the search, journeying from store to store in search of a companion that met my expectations. I found it in the first store I went to, but didn't trust my instincts. Instead, I ended up traveling to several stores until, convinced it was "the one," I doubled back and made it my own.

This new, lighter planner has served me well for seven months, but I recently realized that with more changes coming, I will need to update this tool once again. Being both loyal and a creature of habit, I will most likely keep it until the end of the calendar year, which will give me time to mull over new candidates and consider their attributes, merits and drawbacks.

As I read Ramsland's book five years ago, I quickly became convinced of the value of a planner, but it never occurred to me that as my life changed, my planner would, too. In the scheme of things, it's not a big deal, but on a day-to-day basis, it is truly a reflection of what is going on in my life. How much space I need, how many increments of time must be represented and how many days I need to see at a glance - all of these are indicative of my lifestyle.

And, on the cusp of change, I also feel a sense of hope and optimism as I ponder a new planner, and all the details it might hold.

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