Good. Evil. Bratwurst.

On Planners

Posted on by arlen

I’ve tried them all, even tried building my own, either from from other people’s templates or my own. I just can’t seem to make them work.

It’s no doubt just a personal failing. The common wisdom for them is what I call the “Highlander Principle” — there must be only one. It just doesn’t work for me. I can’t find one that I can get comfortable with.

According to Julie Morgenstern I’m a “visual/tactile” person. (This, BTW, fits with everything I’ve picked up from Hellen Buttigeig, so it’s probably true. That means I should be most comfortable with a paper planner.

And in many ways I am. But not for to-do lists. Appointment scheduling, sure. Even note taking. But I not only add tasks to my to-do list when they occur to me, I quite often edit them, either because when I first captured them they were too inchoate and I didn’t capture them correctly or because circumstances change and I’m no longer going to do them the way I first wrote them down.

So my paper-based to-do lists are covered with scratch-outs, line-outs, and erasures, often to the point of being unreadable. Which defeats the purpose.

My working life is spent in front of a computer; for a great portion of the day, my computer is never far away from me, so using an electronic to-do manager seems appropriate. For the most part I’ve used a piece of software called Thinking Rock to manage my to-dos. But it’s slow and rigid, and it blocks shutdown (I have to quit it before shutting my computer down) so lately I’ve been testing Things, and it seems to fit better. (A major reason? Every label you want to assign is a tag, and can be made up on the spot. This means if a to-do might apply to more than one topic or category, you can do it with Things. Never realized how nice that was until I tried the demo.)

But parts of my life are not spent in front of the computer, and for those parts, the electronic stuff just doesn’t work. So I carry an appointment calendar, and a Moleskine or two, but even they are tiresome, and then there’s the duplication, making sure the one squares with the other. And the PDA/Smartphone aids aren’t a complete solution. Sure they’re more portable than a laptop, and readily sync, but my house is two stories with a finished basement, and I’m not going to be tethered to one of those portable leashes every minute of my day.

So here I drift.

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