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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ghost of Planners Past #4: The one that started it all

Here is my old Cambridge planner, the one that started me on my journey to Planner Nirvana.

Before I used this one I used whatever weekly planner had the prettiest pictures, usually Sierra Club or something like that. But one summer a co-worker of mine showed me her Cambridge planner and the rest is history.

I had never really seen such a book and was fascinated. I asked her what she kept in there and her enthusiastic reply was, "Oh EVERYTHING! My whole life!" She generously allowed me to flip through her book and I couldn't believe my eyes. She indeed had everything in there: her calendar, addresses, lists, notes, and anything else she might possibly need in her life. She said, "And you can be really mean to it and it's fine." As an example, she zipped it closed and banged it on the counter. Sure enough, no papers flew out, the book remained intact. It obviously would hold up to rattling around in a bag or being thrown around in any circumstance. I had to have one.

I ran out and bought the binder and a bunch of refills, including an awesome calculator that fits on the rings that I still use to this day. I decked it out with address pages, a calendar, notes pages, tabbed dividers, business card holders, the works. Instantly I saw the appeal of such a book.

I live a pretty nomadic life, and this type of a ring-binder book is very useful when traveling and moving frequently. My friend and I were both about to move to Hawaii (although to different islands), and she showed me how to photocopy a map out of a book, size it appropriately, and put it onto the rings of my book (a technique I have used ever since).

Of course having all of my addresses in one book is very important, and being able to add pages was revolutionary. The zip closure held everything securely and had a satisfying sound as it enclosed each of the three open sides: "Zip! Zip! Zip!" The book even has an exterior pocket for tucking in random papers.

I used this book for several years. This is the planner I took with me to Nepal. I remember buying several packs of blank monthly calendar refills for it. As I wrote in the dates for the following two years with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, I wondered what I would write in those daily spaces. I had no idea what lay ahead of me.

Now the book is like a time capsule of that time of my life. I still have a photo of my sister as she was moving into her college dorm room tucked inside the book. It contains the addresses of my friends at the time and people I met along the way. The exterior is a little scuffed and the zip isn't as smooth as it once was. But I'm grateful to this little book, not only for keeping my life together for so many years, but also for initiating me into the world of planners. Thanks Cambridge!


  1. Reading about how people keep all their previous year's planning pages make me wish I had kept mine. I don't like clutter, so I don't keep anything prior to the last year's information, which has always worked for me. When it's time to throw out the oldest year's information, I do look through the pages to see what I did then. I still have my first Filo and use it as a storage binder, but anytime I look at it, I reminisce about it's first use and the excitement I felt about it, and still feel, knowing what it started for me.

  2. After many many years, I replaced my original Made-In-England Pocket Green leather filo and stupidly threw it out five years ago... Now that I'm friends with all of you, I miss and regret tossing out that little filo.... It's so funny finding old pieces of paper and notes from my archives. I'm planning a long happy life for my new pocket.. and when Christmas comes, a beautiful A5 Finchley!

  3. (I'm just now reading this post nearly two years later, so my apologies for lagging in the conversation!) I just had to comment on how much your Cambridge resembles MY very first planner -- a Day-Timer zip-around binder with the same pocket on the outside and same color! (And it began my search for the perfect planner, too!) This was back in the go-go '80s, when looking busy was as important as being busy. ;-) Like you, I am filled with nostalgia when I see it now. I know there are lots of people who think of their planners as "just" a calendar and toss them at the end of the year. But for some of us, they hold memories and dreams, not just appointments.
    - Tina


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