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Jillian Conochan’s Take

seems like an innocuous question… maybe even a rhetorical one, left unanswered entirely.

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Oh no. Not on my watch. As society’s last BlackBerry holdout (who now uses a keyboard accessory for my Samsung); the sole The Prompt Mag staffer, it would be weird if I didn’t use a paper planner.

But Jillian, you protest, have you tried Google Calendar?

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Call me me old-fashioned, call me a dinosaur (or preferably, just text me your two-bit slurs), I haven’t had success with technology solutions to scheduling and reminders. I’ve tried email boomerang apps only to realize I can’t shag that goofy Aussie plaything for sh*t. I used to schedule calls, but those little pop-up notifications are easier to dismiss than the iTunes thirst trap begging to know if you’re ready for their update (NO!).

What can I say; we are living in a digital world, and I am just an analog girl.

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And so goes my highly opinionated, wildly-specific, co-dependent relationship with a day planner.

To his great dismay, my biggest takeaway from an old manager of mine who desperately longed to be considered a ‘mentor’ was advice on the type of agenda to use. Weekly, with all the dates appearing on one page. A lined sheet opposite, for calls and tasks, which get completed (✔) or carried over (→). I’ve been committed to this format for 4 years now and I can honestly say, it helps me stay organized and sets off the little OCD sparkles in my heart. 💖

3 planners at Staples fulfilled this absolutely mandatory criteria.

Option A: $14.99, softcover with some mauve and black Navajomeets-Saved-by-the-Bell graphic pattern. Not my favorite aesthetic.

Option B: $29.99, hardcover with a linen feel and washed denim color scheme

Option C: $21.99, softcover. Decent design, but the weekly format was on the right hand page, which would take some adjusting. The task page had sub-sections like calls, emails, to-dos, etc. I quickly ruled it out on account of it being too cutesy.

Which left me with Options A and B. Using a patented mathematical equation*, I decided to splurge on the more indulgent version.

Before I could change my mind, I checked out with Saquon Barkley speed and got to work. First order of business: plug in important personal dates on the monthly calendar pages. The year is young, so it’s mostly birthdays for now, but will later fill up with vacations, concerts, dinners, sports, and even humdrum weekly obligations. I like being able to look back and see what I’ve accomplished, no matter how small, every year.

Weekly pages belong exclusively to Corporate Conochan. See below for a snapshot of some of the calls, flights, and appointments on the left; less time-sensitive responsibilities on the right.

So, to answer the original question,

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the price of a day planner cannot be circumscribed. It can only be ascertained by the heart.

Sydney Mineer’s Take

“How much is too much to spend on a planner?” I mused aloud to Twitter.

From the depths of internet despair, I received an answer in the form of a *mathematical equation from fellow prompter, Jillian Conochan.

No word problem has ever made more sense to me than the one Jillian presented. Of course I should invest in my happiness and well-being at any cost! This planner will be the key to my life and scattered thoughts, after all.

So what is my deal with planners you ask? Am I old-fashioned like Jillian, relying on paper and pen to print my plans? Not exactly… I am glued to my iPhone and use iCal in conjunction with my planner. The purpose of the physical planner is less for scheduling and more for organizing my scattered mind.

I got hooked on planners back in first grade. All through grade school, each student was issued an “agenda book” in which we would write down all of our homework. In the lower grades, there was a space where our parents would sign our agendas indicating that they oversaw our completion of the homework. I once forged my mom’s signature in said agenda because it was a Friday, and I had forgotten to give it to her to sign before she left for work. I still carry that guilt with me. Sorry, Mom!

When I went to high school, I was once again issued a planner each year. At that point, it had become a habit. By college, it was an addiction. Not only did I write down my homework assignments, tests, and paper due dates, I was also detailing days off, snow days, and breaks, along with various notes about things like future writing topics.

Now that I am no longer inundated with the stress and work level of school life, my need for a planner has morphed into something more abstract. It’s part agenda, part to-do list, part stream-of-consciousness journal. It’s really just a safe space for me to organize my brain and provide myself a little room for creativity.

Because my planner needs are non-conforming, it’s challenging to find something that I click with, hence the price point question. Originally I was looking at this open-ended planner from Urban Outfitters. It had plenty of white space to accommodate my mind-wandering, with enough clear structure for planning, and a dedicated notes section. It was also aesthetically pleasing on the outside, which is important because I’m going to be looking at it every day.

After Jillian’s encouragement, I was ready to purchase this $24 planner, but the more I studied it, the more I knew it wasn’t right for me.

It was the looming time table on the side of each page. I like structure; I crave structure, but I’m afraid of commitment. How could I possibly commit myself to this very large planner that wants me to plot times for my tasks??? I DON’T KNOW THE EXACT TIME THAT I’LL BE EMOTIONALLY AVAILABLE TO COMPLETE MY TASKS, OKAY!!!

See, what I need is a planner that will guide me, but also just let me live. If I miss a week because I’m just chilling (read: lazy), I want that to be okay! So dated planners don’t really work for me because I don’t want to feel obligated to account for every day if I don’t want to.

And if you can’t tell, I am susceptible to peer pressure, even when that pressure comes from an inanimate object… so in years passed when I have had dated planners and I did miss a week, I would absolutely go back and fill in what I had going on then. As I said, it’s an addiction.

I also cannot have a planner with spirals. I hate spirals. Spirals are death. They’re a nuisance because they’re fragile, so I prefer the stability of a bookbound planner. And though I do not like dated planners, I do appreciate a weekly planner that provides me with an easy once-over look at my schedule.

At this point, I’m sure you’ve noticed I have a very clear idea of the things I want and the things I do not want in my planner. Just imagine what it would be like to date me.

Let’s review the requirements shall we?

  1. Bookbound
  2. Undated
  3. Open Concept (i.e room for notes)
  4. Weekly Layout
  5. Aesthetically pleasing and inviting on the outside… And ticks all of the boxes on the inside.

It is extremely difficult to find something that checks all of these boxes, but after a trip to Urban, Staples, and two Targets, I found my man!

Let’s crack it open, shall we:

Weekly Layout:

Perfect for keeping track of my daily schedules—this includes my social plans so I know when to schedule the completion of my goals, like when to write and when to practice self care.

Notes Section:

A free space for me to write down stray ideas, important dates, and underscore big to-do tasks.

As you can see in addition to my planner and my iCal, I also love to work with sticky notes. It’s all part of my grand system of making sure I do not lose my mind. And also, I respond well to colors. Often I will go as far as tracing over plans in various highlighter colors to further categorize them for myself.

This planner also has two bonuses: an additional notes section in the back which will be used for long term goals and more in-depth writing ideas/concepts, and a yearly undated calendar with an additional mini notes section for each week which will allow me to layout the broader/big picture goings on for the week.

Would you like to know how much this planner cost?

Lean in closer.

I’ll tell you….

*Looks both ways; Checks over shoulder*

It was a mere $12.99 for utter organizational happiness! How did I get so lucky??

I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking, yo this chick needs therapy, she’s clearly psychotic. But guess what, my planner is a form of therapy! And it only cost me $13.00. Don’t @ me. Or do. Either way, I’m happily organized. How are you?

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