A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Note to self: there is no such thing as the perfect planner

Well, I guess a "note to self" is really a "note to Note" in my case, eh?

As part of my digital-to-analog transition (as far as I can take it, anyway), I've been struggling to find a useful paper-based planner. There's something wrong with every one I've looked at. So, I asked Laurie at Plannerisms for help. She (and one of her readers) had some great suggestions.

Since then, I've become even more demanding. (I'm beginning to feel like one of those people who never marries because he/she finds something wrong in every potential spouse.) The basics, as I expressed them to Laurie:
  1. No address book section. (That info is all in my phone, no sense carrying around the extra paper.)
  2. Monthly AND weekly views. (It's hard to plan ahead without a monthly view, but I want the detail of a weekly view to plan my week.)
  3. A notes page opposite each weekly view. (So I can outline my priorities for the week. Something like the Quo Vadis Space 24)
  4. Goes through the end of 2011.
When you're an attorney who has to plan for court dates stretching out over more than a year, a 1-year bound calendar just doesn't cut it, unless I want to carry around two of them. And the next year's version frequently won't even be published when I need it.

I'm pretty sure I'll have to settle for some looseleaf style — Filofax, Circa, Franklin Covey, or the like — in order to get the sort of flexibility I want. But I've been trying out a Junior-sized Circa this week, and so far I hate it. The paper is horrible, the rings make it very uncomfortable to write on the left side, and I'd probably have to make my own inserts to get the layouts I want. (Don't take that as my full review. I promised several weeks ago to publish reviews only after extended use of a product, so I have to give the Circa a little more time.) But looseleaf seems unavoidable to get what I want, and especially if I want to combine my calendar and GTDing into a single book.

I've finally decided on a an interim planner, at least. At the suggestion of one of Laurie's readers, I ordered a Polestar Business Calendar, mostly because it has the weekly with notes format and monthly format in the same book; they also have a looseleaf version, which would allow me to keep a few years' worth of monthly calendars at a time — provided I can bring myself to use a binder, knowing how nuts it drives me to have my hand run into the rings when trying to write on the left side.

This is all one big experiment, anyway. My law firm, naturally, keeps a master calendar on the computer. My first challenge will be keeping my paper planner synchronized the digital one.


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