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Planned Happiness

Who remembers the day timer?

Before there was a “smart phone,” a laptop and electronic reminders, there was good old-fashioned pen and paper. The expression “I’ll pencil you in,” actually originated somewhere. Back in the day we used pencil or pen (if you were truly committal) to place appointments, events and important dates in our calendars.

Personally, I was a day timer user. A nicely bound leather book which held a monthly overview calendar, as well as space for day by day happenings. It also hosted space for my address book, because in the way back years our phones didn’t hold all that information. If we needed to call someone, we actually needed to know their number or have it listed somewhere. The address book is also where we kept birthdays, anniversaries and the like.

In short, the day timer was my everything. My to-do lists would fill the pages and my grocery lists would be clipped inside. It was a staple right alongside my handbag, wallet and car keys.

The past decade I’ve done my fair share of relying on my smart phone to keep me organized and all dates in line. The exception to this rule would be my work desk calendar where I faithfully document upcoming community events, as well as magazine deadlines and vacation days.

If being completely honest and not too hard on myself, the smart phone hasn’t served me as well as my good ol’ day timer once did. As life continues to fill up with personal, professional and kid activities and functions I found myself feeling more scattered than ever before. How did I forget to pay the water bill? My daughter’s choir concert was three days after her play performance? How did I miss being prepared for this?

One of my favorite things about this job, is not just the new people, places and stories I get to share, but the time (professionally speaking) I get to spend with some of my favorite people who happen to also be community movers and shakers.

So recently, while taking in a cup of coffee with a girlfriend for a work assignment my life was changed. Now three months in to my life change, I can see this with absolute certainty. The change I speak of has little to do with what we met for and everything to do with the beautifully bound book she placed on the table beneath her smart phone. 

The book I’m speaking of is “The Happy Planner.”

As we sipped coffee and stayed focused on conversation (a small miracle in itself) I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by this book. As we concluded the work portion of our coffee meeting, I quickly inquired. 

A busy mom of two and an avid planner with little spare time, my girlfriend quickly opened the mystery book and began a quick show and tell. 

The fun thing about this “happy planner” she showed me was multifold. Filled with inspirational quotes on varying pages, spots for goal setting, top three items for the month and “top priority” boxes it was 18 months of … this is what I need. To add a little spice as well as fun, were the stickers which could be purchased to simplify and motivate. In short – I was sold.

Now four months in to my life post “happy planner” I can honestly say I’m feeling less stressed and more motivated. My work load remains full, my children remain active and my personal life continues to be both full and fulfilling, yet somehow it all seems a bit more under control. 

Back I’ve returned to marking my “to-do” list on each and every given day. My priorities are well laid out each week and my life can now be viewed in a snapshot on the planner page with a few cute stickers.

Perhaps for some this seems all a bit simple, maybe even trivial – to each their own. Now as I juggle through the holidays and look to the year ahead, I’m excited for 2020 and the 12 months ahead of me. 

In short, the smart phone, e-events and electronic reminders were not the “smart” choice for me. As my girlfriend put it via text when I shared this would be my column topic, “the happy planner is just happy” and indeed it is. 

So, for those like myself not feeling your optimum via the new way, I encourage you to return to what works. Happy New Year and Happy Planning! ■