Monday, December 14, 2009

Past vs. Future

As I've been going through my old planners (see my Ghost of Planners Past series) I've been reliving what my life was like during those years. It's really interesting to see what I was doing at the time, and little details I'd forgotten. For many years I have kept journals, but my old planners give me a much better picture of what my day to day life was like at the time. My journal is good for recording what I was thinking/ feeling, but my planners show me what I was actually DOING.

My favorite past planners to read are my day-per-page ones. An entire page for every day gives me lots of space (and therefore incentive to fill it) to write what I'm doing/ have done that day, which makes an excellent record. I tend to jot down things on the page that I wouldn't have with a smaller space, and it's these little details that tell a lot about what was going on in my life at the time.

The photo shown (which you can click on to enlarge) is a page spread from my Textagenda (that I bought on a trip to Paris which is why it's in French) that I used in grad school. I studied the origin of birds for my Master's degree, and was an assistant instructor. Here you can get an idea of what a typical Monday was like for me: the Priority of the day was to complete a section of my paper. My schedule at the top of the page was pretty full. In the notes section you'll see I had to email some guys about materials to set up the undergraduate lab I was teaching that week. You can also see that materials were in short supply so I had to borrow or share things like books and overhead transparencies. I needed to finish grading the previous week's labs to hand back to students that week. And, oh yeah, I had to get my homework done too. I was pretty busy!

You can also see where my money was going: a dollar to DeAnn, the secretary (for a Geology department chip-in for someone's birthday), $10 cash to buy materials at TIS (our university bookstore, which happens to be where my sister bought her Textagenda a few years before), and of course the big one, to pay my university bursar bill for the semester.

Just this one page tells a lot about what was happening in my life at that time. And my planner was a great reference too. Later when the Bursar's office called to give me a hard time about not paying my bill, I was able to look up that I DID make the payment, over the phone, on Lundi 10 Septembre. See the check mark? That means it's done!

Speaking of using a planner to record daily details, the Quo Vadis blog (which is excellent by the way and you should read it) recently had a guest post by DianeB of Pocket Blonde where she talks about how she uses her Textagenda to record what she did at work each day. This makes her monthly reviews easier to write and gives a more complete view of how she spent her time that month. When she kept a record of the little details she otherwise would have forgotten, she discovered she was being productive in ways she hadn't realized before.

Using the same book to record not only appointments and tasks but also ideas is very interesting to me. Jeff Abbott has said that he uses his Journal 21 as a combination planner/ journal. I love this idea because it seems like it would paint a more complete picture of your life at that time: what you were doing, ideas you were contemplating, what was going on around you. I may try this in 2010.

Ultimately I use my planner not only to plan, but also to create a record of when I did things such as when I sent that check, made that phone call, or whatever else because I tend to forget these kinds of details. My new Minister (that I luv-luv-luuuuuv) has large daily columns in the weekly view that give me space to plan as well as record. It makes an excellent record for me to look back at what I did and when I did it.

Format becomes an issue when using a planner not only to plan but also to record. The more space you have for each day, the more details you can write down. But in order to have so much daily space, sometimes you have to sacrifice other features. Although day-per-page books are great for recording lots of details, they can be difficult to use to plan ahead for upcoming events. A planner with a weekly view needs to have large day spaces in order to do much recording. But larger day spaces can mean a larger book, and of course the larger the book the harder it is to carry around everywhere in order to have it handy for writing down those details.

Do you use your planner purely for planning? Or do you use it as a combination of planning and also record-keeping to refer to later? Do you feel like you have to sacrifice a longer-range calendar view, or a portable size book, in order to have enough daily space to record all of your details?


  1. Laurie I swear that if you get me obsessed with Quo Vadis with your posts to the point where I start ordering these things to try them out I am going to SCREAM!!!!!

  2. MWAH ha ha ha haaaaaaa!!!!!! ;D

  3. Laurie, you must be reading my mind. This am, I went into my filo from a year ago this week and it seemed mirrored entries were noted in and I thought how great - past vs. present.... You know, I'm a pure Philofaxy, but your Quo Vadis seems really cool! Going to an A5 for work next week (Christmas Day!!!!!) and I can already see more detailed daily entries! Geez, you guys have really opened a whole new world to me!

  4. Laurie--would you and your readers please give me your opinion? I need a planner that has a month view so that I can see a global view of my appointments and travel schedule for work and then a page or so per day to list appt details and notes. I use a personal filo but am thinking that a bound book might be better. I need something durable since I fly a lot for work and am always schlepping a computer and bag. Thanks in advance.
    P.S. Luv your blog!

  5. Hi Ally, great question!

    The only planners with a day per page and also a month view that I know of are the Exacompta Journal 21 and Daily Pocket. The Journal 21 is the larger of the two, about 5 1/4 by 8 1/4 inches. Here is the link with an image:

    The Daily Pocket is much smaller (3 1/2 by 5 1/8 inches), good if you don't need to write tons each day and want a book that's very small and easy to carry even in your pocket:

    Both of these planners have a day per page, and also month views with the days as blocks with space to write in. Additionally, these each have calendars with the months as columns with a line per day to write the day's priority, deadline, event, travel etc. Great for getting a long-range view of the upcoming months.

    I think either of these would be a great option for you to see long-term, monthly overview and daily details. The Journal 21 would be best if you need to write a lot of appointments or details each day, and the Daily Pocket is a good option if you need to do less writing and want a very small, portable book.

    They both come with a choice of covers, and I think the best choice for going out and about a lot is the Club cover, which is very durable and has a fantastic color selection:

    The Club color is also refillable.

    I hope these suggestions are helpful! Does anyone else out there know of a planner with daily and also month views?