Welcome, welcome, welcome. How did my obsession begin?
Growing up my father was rather unorganized. He would put random items in random places, and then yell when he couldn’t find these items. The rest of the family had to help him retrace his steps and most times one of us could always find the missing object. After one too many times of this scenario, I vowed to always know where everything is – I would put things away in their proper place right away so as to never go on a wild goose chase to find something. This has served me well. However, this did morph into an obsession at the opposite end of the spectrum. I can tell when someone has been through my things – when I was younger I could tell when my sister had been in my room or had taken something from my closet – I could see footprints in the carpet, the hanger was backwards in my closet, something was out of place, etc. Now that I’m married, I’ve had to give up on all of that a little, or at least let most of that go – my husband, while not a messy person, isn’t as organized as I am, and so I am constantly up against challenges where all of this is concerned. Sometimes I can let these things go. Sometimes it’s hard for me, having made my own “rules” about organization and being the only one who needed to follow those “rules.” When you’ve been the one in control of such things for so long, it’s hard to let go of that control. But all of this Type A, obsessive organization led to what you really came to read…my love (and “unnatural obsession”) of planners.
It started in high school and has evolved slowly. I never thought too much about them in high school (and not at all prior to that), but every student was given a generic wire-bound “planner” for keeping track of his or her assignments. I thought this was as good a place as any to write down my homework and projects and the like. This generic book was what I used throughout high school.
When I got to college, I kept up with using an assignment book, though working at the college bookstore I was exposed to the latest and greatest in college assignment books. Getting a discount at the bookstore was trouble for me – I bought more than I needed, seeing what I could do with different formats and layouts and trying them all without hesitation. Mainly though, they were all basically the same.
It wasn’t until I graduated college and got my first full-time job that The Search was born – the search for the perfect planner, something that said professional and well-organized. For a few years, my planner of choice was DayMinder’s Executive Weekly/Monthly Planner. I loved, loved, loved this planner (and still do, though I no longer use it). Here is where I kept all of my meetings, notes and to-dos, directions if I needed them. The daily spaces were big enough to keep a lot of information without being cluttered or unreadable. The monthly pages allowed me to see appointments at a glance and the opposing monthly notes page allowed for various lists and notes, which came in handy. There were also monthly tabs at each monthly page, making finding a particular month a breeze. I also liked the fact that the planner was January – January. Each fall I would buy the upcoming year’s planner, but the overlap in the old planner allowed me to plan things for the new January and then just copy the information into the new planner. This worked well. Then there was an address booklet – I kept all of my addresses in here. The cover was reusable – when the new year came, I bought the new refill and used that with the old cover and address section, which was nice – I didn’t have to copy all of the addresses again. At some point, however, being 6 7/8” x 8 3/4”, this became too large to lug around, and most importantly, too big to fit in many of my bags (also another obsession, but that’s another post entirely). Plus, I had gone back to school, gotten a new degree and a new job (the job that’s lasted me the past 8 years) where I didn’t need all that extra writing space.
A friend of mine (who is just as in love with her planners) had always used the ring style binders. I had never tried this. I wrote them off entirely, mainly because I never liked using binders for school – the rings were too big, it’s was difficult to write on the left side pages because the rings always got in the way, it was too easy for the pages to rip out. I preferred the spiral bound notebooks, which was why I was drawn to those types of planners. However, one day I did a Google search to see what else was out there and came across the Filofax website. I found the Domino binder and immediately wanted it. This same friend bought it for me for my birthday. I loved it. Still love it. Still have it. However, since that fateful birthday, I have moved on to fancier Filofax binders, but always sticking to the Filofax brand. Being someone who tried many different planners and always ended up going back to “Old Faithful” (as I called my DayMinder Executive), this was a big thing for me. I could buy many different binders, satisfying my need for change and variety, yet the pages were interchangeable, making that change so easy – too easy maybe. If it wasn’t easy to change them, perhaps I wouldn’t have spent so much money buying (and continually buying) new binders. Ah well.
The format I originally chose has also served me well and is what I still use today: month-on-two-pages and ruled-week-on-two-pages. Plus there are sections for phone numbers, information, projects, research, lists, finances, random things. I got to thinking, however, that I don’t need to carry all of that with me all of the time. So I looked into a Slimline Guildford. I wanted something slim, but not so slim as to not be able to carry what I need with me. Many of the Slimline Filos have a ring size of 7/16” but the Guildford has 1/2” rings, which allows me to carry a little more than many slimlines but much less than the regular personal size (which has a ring size of 7/8”). So the Guildford Slimline is what I’m currently using as my main Filo. In it, I carry the phone numbers I use most often (doctors, services, etc.), shopping lists that I would need at any given moment should I stop to purchase something, lists that I constantly refer to, projects I’m currently working on and need to refer to, and three months of both the month-in-view and week-in-view. Finally, in the back, in the transparent top-open envelope, I carry my dad’s funeral cards, both as a reminder of the man I so loved and had to let go and my origins for being so organized in the first place (it seems fitting that a reminder of him should live in my ultimate organizing tool) – they always go in whatever Filo I’m using at the time.
I also have my regular personal planner (currently a brown Classic) that I use as my hub (it stays home at all times with the exception of travel when I would need much of the information with me) – in here I keep the rest of the year’s pages, additional projects and lists that I will eventually need, financial information, exercise routines, and other various information. I also have a family binder where we keep a list of household information – our full address book, household projects, account information, etc.
My planner search and usage is constantly changing and maybe always will. Like so many of you, it is an on-going work in progress. Some people may look at it as an unhealthy obsession or strangeness. I prefer to think of it as a passion, something I can work at and where I can create many different styles, reflecting my mood of the moment. Like anyone else’s passion and hobby, it reflects who I am and what I love.