Today, we’re going to talk about personal organizers. Before we begin, though, I want to point out that I never used one.
The typical business person has a lot of things to remember:
- phone numbers and addresses
- to-do lists
- meeting notes
- travel arrangements
- call logs
- upcoming events (i.e. calendar)
- other odds and ends
Some people who are far more organized than I am would like to see this stuff all in one place. Nowadays, that place is on your phone; before that, you’d keep it all on your computer, and before then you’d have a calendar, an appointment book, an address book, various folders and/or a notebook, depending on what you wanted to keep track of and how much detail you wanted to keep. I worked for a company that used to give away a pretty nice planning calendar every year, with day blocks big enough to keep my upcoming schedule and reminders, and I’d use that. When they stopped giving them to employees, I’d use a calendar that I picked up at church around New Year’s. Not quite as much room in those, but I’d make do. For other notes and whatnot, I’d carry a steno pad (sometimes several) in my briefcase, and manila folders to catch things like travel itineraries, receipts, WYWO’s (“While You Were Out” messages), and other loose papers.
People who were really organized would use a personal organizer, where they could keep all that stuff together in one place. There were all kinds of commercial solutions, including Day-Timer, FranklinCovey, Day Runner, At-A-Glance, and Filofax, which might be the oldest of the bunch. They’re essentially loose-leaf binders with many different forms, like calendars, diary pages, address book pages, maybe an insert for business cards and envelope pages to catch the random papers, note pages… in short, pretty much any type of form you might want to have to help you organize your life and keep track of what you’ve been doing all day. For people who organize their lives the way the forms are drawn, it’s great, provided you actually use the thing. If not, it’s just an expensive waste of paper.
Every now and again, I’d get a bee in my bonnet that I wanted to choose one of the systems and use it, come hell or high water. And I’d actually look at some of them and get frustrated. Either there was too much room for something or not enough, or there wasn’t a place to put certain types of notes, or I’d find an objection to the way the forms were designed, and say “screw this noise” and go back to what I was doing. I never thought of just buying myself a blank notebook and designing my own stuff, or, if I did, I’d talk myself out of it, thinking it was too much work and thus not worth my time and effort.
Now, of course, I’m retired and have no need of a planner. It’s a shame, too, because I think the Bullet Journal (to the hip, “BuJo”) is just what would have done the trick for me. The beauty of the BuJo is that it’s free-form: you can set it up anyway your little heart desires and change how you use it almost at will, because all it uses is a blank notebook (Moleskines are, of course, highly recommended), a pen (or 50, all in different colors and thicknesses), and your imagination. There are, of course, Bullet Journal Gurus who want to dictate how you use it (“Thou must use an asterisk for tasks that require further planning!”), but it’s your thing, and you can use it however you want to, and screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.
And Evernote… Wish I had that back in the day. I could have really used that forty years ago…