Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Back to paper

I can't remember what prompted it, but a couple of months ago I decided to start using a paper planner again. It could have been something as simple as seeing someone using a nice planner in a meeting, or reading a brief mention in a book or something. I don't remember, but whatever it was, it set me off on a journey to document my life by hand.

I've used paper planners for a long time, all my life, really, but with the advent of the iPhone and iPad, it began to feel like a burden to carry a big book around. It seemed like I should be able to keep everything in my phone, and I always have the phone with me anyway, so why worry about an additional thing? I've tried taking notes on my iPad, and it just doesn't work that well for me. I've tried to find apps that simulate a notebook, and they're okay, but just not the same as actually writing with pen and paper.

There's something about writing by hand that is different than typing on a computer keyboard, at least for me. There's something about the act of writing things down, particularly notes from a meeting or discussion, that makes more of an impression on my brain, for lack of a better way to put it. I know that there have studies about that that find the same thing, that the act of forming the letters and words with a pen makes them "stick" better.

And I do enjoy it. It takes me awhile to get used to handwriting, I write so much on a keyboard. But there is something very pleasurable in picking up a nice pen and writing on nice, smooth paper. Over the years I have used several different planner systems. The two I have used most often are Franklin Covey and Day-Timer. I have a beautiful Franklin Covey binder that's just perfect. I've had it for years, and I reinstituted it for this incarnation of my planning life. It's unconstructed leather in a light taupe with a zipper all the way around. It has a zippered pocket inside, and lots of slip-in pockets. It's the desk size, for 5x8 fillers.

I chose to go with a Day-Timer refill this time. I actually think I like their paper better than Franklin Covey's, it seems smoother. I used to buy the decorated pages with flowers and cartoons and things, but I don't need that anymore. I bought the Day-Timer "Desk" size, which is equivalent to the Franklin Covey "Classic" size, i.e., about a half-sheet size, or approximately 5" x 8".

I use the two page per day version. On the left hand side are spaces for "to be done today," "phone calls," "expense and reimbursement record," and "Appointments and scheduled events. The right-hand side is lined, but otherwise not delineated. I use that page for extended notes on phone calls, meetings, or just as journaling space. I have a little business card-sized calculator in one of the slots, a USB thumb drive in the zipper pocket, stamps and return address labels in a vinyl pocket, and various post-it notes, flags and tabs in the back pockets, along with a few 3x5 cards. And two pens, a black one and a pink one, both Pilot G-2 .07, which is my current pen of choice.

The daily pages are divided by month, with two page per month dividers, and then in the front of the book I have blank lined sheets divided into "Phone," "Calendars," "Work," and "Personal." Those sections are for information that I have to refer to frequently, phone numbers and other info in the Work section, and medication lists, goals, and Christmas lists in the Personal section. I also have a new section, "Book Notes." I'm starting to work on a new book, so these pages hold notes and research which I then input into Scrivener, a software program that will be a whole other journal entry one of these days.