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Calendar Squirrel

You know I was just waiting to use that song title.

I love my love my love my love my calendar squir–

Sorry.

It’s time to talk planners, and this is one topic that I absolutely can focus on. So much, in fact, that we’re gonna cut this one in half so your eyes don’t glaze over. Both helpful. Promise.

(Before we start, I just want to state that this is my thing. I don’t buy expensive shoes or purses. Or sunglasses. Or boats. Or designer cats. Or wine. I don’t go to movies or clubs. We all have our hobbies, and hopefully all spend within our means on them. You can TOTALLY be a planner dork with a $10 planner from Walmart. Or you can be me. Both are cool.)

So where to begin? I was never a planner growing up. Fact is, I probably couldn’t find an agenda book in the mess that was my school desk, even if I had such a thing. I tried to use them in high school, but it seemed like a waste of time. I left everything to the last minute anyway, and I didn’t really want to do my math homework, so…

Yeah. Planners didn’t seem to be my thing, even as I got older.

Not paper. Not electronic. None of it. If I remembered to note a doctor’s appointment on the wall calendar instead of losing the little card with the time on it, I congratulated myself. Quite frankly, I’m surprised I remembered my kids’ due dates.

That changed. And the change has improved my life immeasurably.

It started when someone–I don’t know who, but someone–posted a link to a promotional video for Kikki K planners showing how they could be decorated and personalized. This seemed like a ridiculously expensive product at the time, but I was entranced. See, I’ve always been fascinated by people who ARE organized. I have nothing against making grand plans and shooting high, and seeing people break that down into organized chunks and crossing things off is just… well, there’s a reason we use the term “planner porn” for a whole lot of YouTube videos.

I started watching more videos. People were posting “plan with me” videos and comparing  different planners and talking pros and cons and THEY WERE USING STICKERS AND WASHI TAPE, GUYS.

Have I mentioned that my interests shift a lot? I’ll have a burning interest for a few months or a year, and then it will fizzle out or be replaced by something else. Usually art or craft related. Well, I was due for a new one, and MAN did this tickle my fancy. Pretty paper and a chance at maybe getting my shit together?

Count me in!

I weighed my options and decided what I liked. Honestly, buying an Erin Condren planner felt like buying a house. I got my first one at a slight discount*, but normally these puppies are fifty+ bucks a pop (plus insane shipping rates to Canada). But I tried getting creative with my crappy planner, and it didn’t work for me. What can I say? I’m a paper snob. I thought that if I had a good planner, if I found other people who used them and decorated them and made the whole planner thing seem appealing, it would totally be worth the cost.

Was it an impulse purchase? A little, if you can still count it as impulsive if I stewed for a few weeks, tried alternatives, and made sure we could spare the cash. But when that box came in the mail, I was as happy as any of the people in their unboxing videos. And unlike most impulse purchases, it held my interest and became more valuable the longer I owned it.

Oh, I stunk at the decorating at first. Like, really stunk. And it was hard not being able to buy all of the stickers and doodads that people used in their videos. But it was FUN. And, more importantly, I used it. Suddenly I was writing down appointments and not losing them. I was breaking my day into morning, afternoon, and evening chunks, and I was getting things done because I wanted to be able to check them off.

You can joke that small things amuse small minds. I say it all the time. But I quickly learned that accomplishing things, even small ones, is extremely satisfying. Tiny tasks, when I had the energy for them, became more satisfying when I could watch them stack up over the course of the day.

I checked it off when I did the dishes, and it became a habit. I wrote it down when I finished writing a chapter of Sworn. I checked it off when I wrangled the kids into the tub. Check, check, check.

Does that mean I was suddenly on top of everything and my house was spotless and my work days flowed beautifully? I think you know me better than that. Of course I forgot to write things down. Of course I said, “I’ll remember that later” and didn’t. Of course I did write things down and then didn’t have the energy or focus to actually do them. Of course I still didn’t have enough time for work because children and home and CAN’T FRIGGING FOCUS.

But I was building a habit. I was learning that organization didn’t have to be boring. I was getting enough negative feedback from myself when I had to copy tasks from one week to another that it was motivation to just do it already.

Was that worth $50, or whatever I paid for it? Hell yes.

It worked well. It really did. I decorated my pages until they felt like MINE, until they were something I felt like I wanted to look at many times a day. This was really important if I didn’t want this to fizzle out like my other interests.

It saved my sanity when I had to organize buying a house and moving. Because guys? I can’t remember ANYTHING on my own. If it’s not written down, I might as well have never heard it. I learned to use my planner for school events, holding on to tickets and notes (in the handy back pockets), scheduling work time, keeping track of my husband’s schedule, paying bills, planning meals, tracking exercise, noting who I needed to email, keeping a TBR list… everything. For the first time, I felt like I was controlling my days more than they were controlling me.

img_2858

The week before a move is hell, but at least it was fun to look at.

Planning time on Sundays became something akin to a spa day for my brain. Lay it all out. Put it in boxes. See how it fits together. Notice that Friday is busy, so maybe try to get this and that done by Thursday so Friday doesn’t turn into a disaster. Put a sticker on it.

Put another sticker on it. Have some fun.

Feel in control. Relax.

But I got frustrated with the spiral-bound format. I wanted to have more note pages. I wanted a binder that would allow me to have adjustable note sections. My eyes wandered. My heart strayed.

I looked at those Kikki K binders again, and this time decided to shoot higher. For me, the ultimate treat was a Filofax Malden in ochre leather with horizontal Inkwell A5 inserts. And yes, I can recite that in my sleep. What a beast. What a beauty. She stole my heart, and my Erin Condren was demoted to a quiet life in the dining room, holding onto the family’s affairs while the Filofax took over as Work Central. Note sections for production, publication, and promotion. A spot to record paperback sales (my old, non-planner self would have been SO SCREWED come GST time without this). And in the front my planner, on this thick, buttery, GORGEOUS paper with colourful weeks and goal-setting pages.

Not a typical week by any means, but a fun one. Check out the Inkwell press site linked above if you want to see what they look like without the stickers. 🙂

Those goal pages were a big selling point for me. Right after the paper quality, which really is drool-worthy. I think I mentioned that I’m big on dreaming and making big plans, and anything that helps make those a reality is going to make me a happy camper.

I don’t focus well in my mind. But laying it out on paper helps so much. It doesn’t tame my pigeons, but it sticks them in a holding cage for a while.

Processed with Snapseed.

Dat mission board.

And it has been wonderful. The major drawback has been its size and weight. It’s fine for leaving on my desk, but I needed something I could carry with me everywhere. Because the more I learned the benefits of writing some things down, the more I understood what I could do if I could write everything down. If I could basically transfer my flighty brain onto paper, I could remember things. I could sort through big problems. I could be in control.

I tried using a smaller planner as a wallet. It was good, but not quite what I wanted. It was great to have on the go when I needed to make appointments… as long as I kept both planners updated at all times. And that was a little beyond me some days. And I never pulled it out to make notes like I wanted to. Still too bulky.

I asked for a Day Designer planner for my birthday to try it out. It was lovely. I discovered the joys of writing out not just tasks, but priorities, my top three of the day. But it was still massive, and still had no notes pages. Not quite the planner peace I wanted. (It has hourly lines on each day’s page, so I’m now planning to use it as a time use/energy tracker for weeks when I do that).

I did find an answer. Something completely different and totally unexpected that allowed me to put everything I wanted in one sleek, compact, fits-in-my-purse package that almost never leaves my side. Ever.

Future planning. Monthly planning. Weekly planning. Daily planning. Project pages. TBR list. Meal planning. Blog ideas. Instagram challenge tracking. Vacation memories. Goal setting. Random ideas. Space for doodles when the mood strikes. Inspirational quotes.

Planner peace.

Oh, the Filofax is still going strong as my command centre for family stuff and permanent notes for work that I don’t need to have on hand all the time (contacts, sales, ISBNs etc.). Those buttery leather covers aren’t leaving me any time soon.

But on Friday, we’ll talk about what’s become my brain on paper.

For now.

QUICK NOTE! I’m going to be at Krista Walsh’s release party for Death at Peony House tomorrow night (September 20, link here). You’ll want to check this one out, as it’s book one of a fantastic new urban fantasy series by an author I love. I’ll be giving away some ebooks and a paperback copy of Into Elurien.

I’ll update here when I know what time I’m on, but come on out for as much of the party as you can. Should be a good time. 🙂

*Stick around for the conclusion. But if you’re in the market for an EC planner, my referral link will get you a few bucks off when you create an account. Click here for that.

 

 

 

 


Snobbery*

“I’m a coffee snob. Starbucks tastes like crap, and if you drink it, I’m laughing at you.”

“You listen to One Direction? Gross.”

“I’m super kinky. If you’re vanilla, you must be a boring, lifeless person. Sorry.”

“You say you like My Little Pony, but you collect VINTAGE ones and have only seen season one of Friendship is Magic? Poser.”

“You’re not a gamer if you haven’t played x and y. Noob.”

“You’ve watched Game of Thrones, but not read the books? You know nothing.”

“Fantasy? Really? Why don’t you read a real book?”

You all still with me? I’m sure you could come up with more examples. Whether it’s fashion or food, comics or current events, pop culture or ponies, you meet them everywhere.

Snobs. People who judge and exclude those who know less than them, whose tastes are less sophisticated, who haven’t been members of the community for as long, or who don’t enjoy the same experiences. If you mention that you’ve never read that book, or say you like something they consider beneath them, you get the derisive snort and the eye-roll.

I grew up thinking that snobs were rich people who refused to eat Kraft Dinner. Maybe they are, but there are snobs everywhere, at every income level.

And I’m getting sick of it.

I get it, I do. I’m guilty of it myself, have been for years. Excluding other people makes us feel better about ourselves, doesn’t it? A club’s not exclusive if just anyone can join, and we all want to be a part of something special. And what’s worse than having an interest in something, investing time and money into that interest, and then having these effing noobs stinking the place up with their ignorance, calling themselves blank-keteers when they’re TOTALLY NOT EVEN?

Oh, and there are LEVELS of snobbery. There’s a guy who only likes coffee from his Keurig and cries if he can only get regular brewed, but then there’s ANOTHER guy who refuses to use any beans that aren’t fresh-ground, and someone else who thinks THAT GUY’S grinder is a waste of space… you can never win. Never.

“You have a CASUAL interest in music, and listen to Top 40 radio? You drink Tetley? How adorable. Gag. I’m off to listen to Stealth Gingerbread feat. Giraffes on a Trampoline while I sip this green tea I just had shipped in from… oh, you wouldn’t have heard of it. Or them.”

“You’re looking for an agent because you want a contract with a big publisher? Pfft. I’m with a small press, and you’re a sheep.”

“You supplemented with formula? Sorry, I’m a huge lactivist. I can’t spend time with someone who hates babies.”

“You call yourself a writer. You write stories, but you’re not consumed by them to the point where you would rather DIE than not write? *snort* Whatever, not-writer person.”

The internet is a fantastic tool that allows us to meet people we wouldn’t have otherwise, who share our interests and we can have fun with. There are open, supportive communities out there, and I’ve made some good friends through them. But it can also allow us to become so absorbed in these groups of people who think like us that we forget there are others who think differently, who don’t agree that our interests are the most fascinating things in the world, and who maybe don’t care if their coffee comes from a can. When we do remember these poor souls, we think that our group is better than them because OF COURSE IT IS.

I’m not against interests. I’m not against communities and groups. I hope they thrive and grow…

…and I hope that some day we’ll all grow up and stop being snobs about the things we love. That we’ll learn to be passionate and enthusiastic about them, and eager to share what we love without making outsiders feel small for not knowing anything about them.

“You liked Twilight? It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. Say, if you’re into vampires, you should check out  ______. Her characters are amazing, and she really has an original approach when it comes to…”**

“You’ve never heard of Stealth Gingerbread? They’re pretty obscure… but they’re great, I think you might like them! Look up the song “Hire a Goat for That” on YouTube, let me know what you think.”

“Yeah, I love coffee. You know, injecting Maxwell House into your eyeballs will get you your caffeine fix, but you should try (insert brewing process here). The flavour is fantastic! No? Well, just putting it out there, if you’re ever interested.”

“Oh, I see you dunked that customized doll in a bowl of mod podge and re-haired her with steel wool. You know, when I need to seal paint, I’ve found that _____ is much less glommy. Let me know if you need a tutorial, I have some on Pinterest.”

Why chase people away from the things that we love when we have a fantastic opportunity to include people and share our passions? Why look down on people who like different things when it’s all a matter of taste and preference? Why make people feel stupid for knowing less than us when it’s so easy to share what we know?

A lot of us seem to think that knowing a lot about a specific pop culture THING (or health fad, or whatever) makes us SUPER SPESHUL. Newsflash: It doesn’t. It just means we have something interesting to share, and a reason to be friends with people who also love that thing. Great! But if we act like it makes us better than everyone else, that just makes us snobs. I’m starting to realize that that’s the least special thing I could possibly be. From now on, I’m going to try to use my interests to build people up, not to exclude them. And if they’re not interested? That’s fine. Maybe there’s something I can learn about from them.

And as for the snobs? You can all send your n0oOOo0bs and fake geeks and drinkers-of-instant and readers-of-whatever over here to sit with me. We’ll have a fantastic time, trying new things without you. Next time you turn up your nose at something we love or find amusing, we’re going to laugh it off and refuse to let you make us feel small.

Loser.***

So tell me: Have you ever judged someone for not appreciating something that’s important to you? I have. Have you ever felt excluded for being new or uninformed? I’ve experienced that, too. Most importantly, what amazing thing do you know about that you want to share with the world?

*No direct quotes were used in the writing of this post, and no specific people were referenced.

**Yes, this is going to be tough for some.

*** I’M KIDDING. Jeez…


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