Monday, January 31, 2011

Tied to the Planner...

Woman doing a survey - Stylized vector illustration of...I sat down in the big easy armchair and laid my head back. I was generally at ease for a few minutes. But, like most people, my fruitfulness is self measured by achievements that can be crossed-off, highlighted, or moved to the next day's agenda list. Some popular planning system with the initials FC is the devil. My life is tied to the planning system, it is a mind focusing, detail oriented, Task Master. I am lost without it. And I have only myself to blame.
I was always a list maker, from childhood. My short term memory is for the birds, and prioritization on paper helps me stop bits and pieces of information from swirling in my  head. If I don't make a list, I will be trying to remember what I needed to do, only my mind acts kind of ADD'ish when it comes to that.

In any event, it was logical for me to grab onto this popular planning system and all the great time management and project management training, right. Already a list taker. Check. Needs to prioritize. Check. Can't find her blip blip if not attached to her body. Check.

So, I signed on about 8 years ago. I took my first class and got my first planner. I lived by the planner. Only I did not really employ the planning techniques for prioritizing and quadrant living. You know, where you balance out the four quadrants of your life for a more effective, stress free, efficient life? Yeah. Chucked those with the box to the planner.

But I used the planner for the next two years. It was the law. If it was not in my planner, it was not happening and never occurred. But I was still a little stressed with time and project management. Aha! I will take the training again and this time actually USE the information I learn. Hmmm....why not? So, I gave it another shot.

I went to another class, with my planner in hand. I bought a new cover and insert as a part of class registration, but I wanted to have my active planner on hand so I could learn realistically.

First problem: The instructor seemed as if she used every single one of the effective habits on an hourly basis. I cannot do that. She seemed as if her life, career, family and finances were all magically in order because of her superior and specific use of every element of the planning system. I cannot use every element of a recipe, when it comes all together in a bag. I am the person who puts together a bed and always has one extra screw. THIS IS NOT GONNA mind was screaming.

But, my job had paid for me to have this full day of training with treats and beverages, so dag on it, I was gonna learn this system inside and out. Initially, after my hyper reaction subsided, it was all good. Turn to this page, Ms. Management would say, and do this...okay, now a group exercise.

To use a planner? Let me freshen my tea first, and maybe eat my apple. I feel fatigued. It is 11:00 a.m. already.

I participate, and make some great new contacts and acquaintances, even getting an invitation for drinks later from a group from out of town. I perk up a little and learn how to prioritize my day using the right symbols and categories, and how to use my monthly page to catalogue entries I may have made that I might want to get back to quickly. That never worked so well for me. Making a note about a note seems redundant, and just plain, well, strange.

By mid afternoon, after an hour lunch....I am going down. I have drank several cups of tea and coffee, and am now working on ice water. I have at least two more planned bathroom breaks. Great for me that I have my coveted crossword puzzles from the New York Times, USA Today and the Columbus Dispatch. I spend nearly an hour working on that while Ms. Management discusses the 4 quadrants and how our lives fit and overlap amongst them, and perkily 'what could we do to manage this better? YES, focus on another quadrant. Typically Quadrants II and IV.' Sigh.

At 3:45 p.m. on the nose, the instructor begins telling us about all the lovely materials we can purchase and she happens to have them on hand RIGHT HERE on sight. Yes, and your company can buy them all for you for today's special price of $298.33, but only if they act within the next 72 hours.

That is my signal to start packing up my puzzles and return my tea & coffee cups and water glass. By the time 4:00 comes, and the instructor says 'It was so lovely....I have my jacket on, and having already exchanged business cards with the interesting people, am at the exit door waving goodbye. I grab my certificate from the front desk on the way out of the building, and hit the interstate with a sigh of relief. It's the weekend, because of course I schedule all of my training classes for Fridays.
Girl with love on her mind - A beautiful African-american...On Sunday after Church, I sit down with my planner. I figure if I am going to retain any information, this is the time when I will be able to put it to use. I begin planning my week, and ohmygosh - these small nuances are incredible. Look what I can do: I can break my list of to-do's up in seven critical areas, list what my goal is for that area, and then list everything that needs to be done. I can prioritize THAT list with letters and or numbers, and immediately see where I should be focused. Then, I can make pertinent notes right across from that area (but I cannot make a note about the note on another page. #fail). I can color code!

After spending about an hour on my plan for the week, I do not have the energy to go on to the other areas I should work on, like one of my core areas of interest, blah, blah, blah.

I feel awesome when I am done - my week is right there in front of me. I did learn a couple of new ways to use the system, and even managed my Outlook email to maximize time and add ease to project management. Who knew I would retain all that while doing crossword puzzles?

In my mailbox, I saw the pamphlet with upcoming training classes listed. Project Management. I am registering as soon as I get back to the computer.


  1. I LOVE my FC!!!! I won't use electronic organizers -- I need everything all mapped out on paper. Never took one of their classes, so I'm using it "wrong," but when I actually use it daily just to keep track of to-dos and have-dones, I feel much better overall... and I get more accomplished!

  2. Elise - take the class. I used mine for years without taking the class, but it is really beneficial. I cannot live without mine. I even have a condensed version that I got hooked on this year.


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