Now, I've never actually been indoctrinated into a cult before, but this sure felt like it. I'm a pretty type-A kinda guy, so the thought of having a System for capturing your day, your to-dos, all the loose bits of information swirling around in your life was oh-so-very appealing. So much so that I went for the "Monarch" size, the full 8.5"x11" magilla, with leather cover, desk stand, fancy punch, snazzy ruler page marker... the works. It was Big. It was Black. It smelled Great. I wrote down everything in that monster, including plans for the wedding and honeymoon. Oh, and it went on the honeymoon, too. Yes indeedy, it was The Answer. Sort of. What it was was Heavy. And Bulky. And Awkward To Use. My new bride had the good sense to go with a half-page size, which didn't require a regimen of bicep curls. Buyers remorse had settled in with a fury. Then came the Newton.
Sleek. Black. Digital. Full of coolness and elegance and intelligence... most of the time. I lusted for one being a long-time Apple junkie, but was well-behaved and Did Not Buy. The Franklin looked more like a boat anchor and less like the One True Path. I opted to trade down a size on the planner as a nod to my need for portability. I even got the one made from recycled soda bottles, so I was feeling very green indeed, before being such a thing was cool, at least in the Midwest. Flash forward a few months: a new job opening in California, and me fully disgruntled at the old one. My new bride had quit some weeks before, and I'm thinking should I do it? Can I do it? it was time for a clean break. I did it. Ditched the barely-used planner along with about a third of our mutual belongings as we prepared for our Grand Adventure West.
No time to think or plan in the new job, at least not at first. Working in San Francisco during the height of the dot-com boom, who had time to plan? Everything's emailed anyhow, just get it done, chugga chugga chugga. Ooh! Palm Pilots! Gotta get one of those. And then the upgrade. And a keyboard. Ooh, and the new model! Even better. The most used feature of all: the beeping alarm warning me that I have a meeting to be at in 10 minutes. Developed mad graffiti skillz and was inseparable from the little digital brain for a few years. Oh sure, it ate batteries, and yes, firmware upgrades were a nightmare -- don't unplug it halfway through or it's ruined! And lo, a son was born.
Suddenly the commute seemed offensive, taking me away from my family. Time became the enemy, up at 5:30, on the train by 7:00, in the door by 8:00, and then reverse it all at 5:00. "He walked today" was the impetus for change. A few re-organizations later, and I worked out a telecommuting deal, home in the extra room with the laptop and DSL, my toddler son coming in to share his goldfish crackers. Meetings became a non-issue as I was out of sight, so far more important became the Work Log, my own system for keeping myself honest and focused by jotting down what projects I had worked on. Just an old spiral notebook from college and a Bic. The Pilot's batteries died and I never noticed.
A few more reorganizations later, and I'm back on the commute again, showing up with New Responsibilities. Managing staff! Preparing presentations! Arranging weekly meetings! It was all so complicated... perhaps it was time to dig out the old Palm again, fire it up, take it to meetings... hrm... still kind of clunky... and slow... and battery-gobbling... um, maybe not. On a lunch-break walk one day, I stumbled across the San Francisco Franklin Covey store. Maybe just a quick peek inside... what harm can it do?
Sigh. Back in the cult.
And that's where I was in spring of 2004, with my shiny new "Pocket" size planner (kangaroo pockets, maybe.) Diligently filling out the daily to-do list and its A/B/C priorities. Buying the annual refills and archiving the previous year's. A good little soldier, I.
Now flash forward to spring 2007, me with credit card in hand on the Franklin web site, trying to find the cheapest refill possible. I had just dug out my old Shaeffer fine-nibbed fountain pen, and was trying it out on my planner. Horrible, horrible bleed through. Luckily, I had my share of empty pages to test the pen on. And then something finally clicked: I've spent over $120 in four years to buy paper I barely use. What am I doing? Vast swaths of the planner went totally unused, except for days when I filled the pages. To-dos were either mostly empty, or completely packed. This was not a workable system. So I started reading up:
- hPDAs looked useful and low-budget, though I'd like to use my Sheaffer...
- FPN recommended Levenger papers pen-friendliness, and luckily
- The Levenger catalog kept gracing my mailbox thanks to my regular Franklin purchases
- But... what is this D*I*Y Planner thing I keep reading about?
Anybody need a Franklin planner?
UPDATE: photos posted on flickr