By Karine Tovmassian
Our to-do lists mock us. Persistently. We kneel before the leather and ring-bound gods hoping
for the sweet relief only the perfect planner can bring. We’ve aligned our inserts to match our
planner, our planner to match our handbag our nails to match the planner and next week, there
is a planetary alignment that has yet to be added, washi-taped and hole-punched. We’ve got
ample time to get things done because we’ve got digitization up the yin yang and if the gadget
can’t hack it we condemn it to already obsolete before the 90 days warranty has expired. Thus,
Sale at Planners R Us! GO! Set alarm clocks (is there such a thing, or are we really just setting
the alarm on the phone?).
Hobby Lobby sale! GO!! Get 40 of the same in case China stops producing that one type of
sticker you would be empty without.
Extra cash in the PayPal account! WOOT?! Etsy splurge, GO! GO! GO!
Most recently, I’ve cut up (most) of my loyalty cards. I used to hold on to them for dear life, in
case a rogue point needed to be cashed in. Having taken a contract with the U.S. Army
overseas in Romania, I can attest to their massive uselessness in the rest of the world. In fact,
being in a location where planning and planners are an operational requirement, I have come to
appreciate the normalcy of not having anything to do. What?!
choose when it gets done. For example, this article was
promised to Carie about a week ago and I had every intention
of getting it done earlier. With no loyalty cards to keep up with, I
find myself looking at the sheer space consumerism takes up in
my life. So far, I’ve managed to function out here on about
$40.00 per week. That’s radical. I’ve gone entire days without
spending any money. Not because I don’t have any but
because there is nothing worth buying out here in the
countryside besides the basics, food, water, shelter. In fact, the
Army was nice enough to provide all three of those but I chose
to provide my own. So, the article was delayed because I didn’t
feel like writing it then. But I do now.
I like waking up to my own day. I like knowing there are all sorts of things that haven’t been
addressed yet and I have all day to address them. One key feature has been my planner. Being
away from home, I found myself not using it at all the first couple of weeks. I lamented the time I
used to spend relaxing into my thoughts. Most everything was scheduled for me. There was
really nothing to write down because all I had to do was show up to work. Literally. Meals were
provided, sleep hours were obvious and work, well…just showing up seemed to be enough.
Look, here’s me showing up in a tank. Oddly, I did have my planner with me, which may, in fact,
be the first time ever, a planner was brought aboard a tank.
And I learned to let the day take its course. I learned to let the sun rise when it rises and not
have to track it. I learned to let the night come and not slot it in to my daily outlook. I ate,
sometimes hurried and sometimes when I wasn’t hungry but It was not something that required
my attention to remember. I found myself absorbed by the beautiful Black Sea Coast clouds that
rolled by daily. I started following the weather closely to track wind speeds and patterns. I
became absorbed in the color of the sky and how it compared to what I had known until now. I
can understand why there are so many Romanian painters. There are at least 50 different
shades of blue during the course of 24 hours.
Now, I know you are not here with me. You live in the real world where every customer loyalty
point matters and kids and husbands and traffic and all that jazz. But why do we have to
participate so fully? So committed to being loyal customers? Do any of these companies lose
sleep over us? Have any of them ever reached out to help you with some bills? More
importantly, have an of them contributed to our mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing?
FURTHERMORE, at what point in our planning lives can we take a breath and say “Well, I’m
here! It was a bit of struggle to get everything down on paper, but I’ve made it. I have got my life
lined up and can take a nap or daydream with zero guilt.” HOW MUCH effort is it taking to
maintain the levels of sanity we keep telling ourselves exist in the pages of our planners?
Can we step back and lay down in the grass and look at the puffy clouds and enjoy what life is
presenting us? Or are we wrapped up in maintaining the variations of calmness indicating we
are one planner away from going to the looney bin? Slow living doesn’t require living in the
countryside (but it helps). Creating mindful practices and developing a life of meaning is the
basis of my planning. I am not rushed when I use mindfulness as a living theme. In fact,
Episode 58 of the HitchHiker’s Guide To The Plannerverse doubles down on the idea I’ve
presented here (stolen from a David Allen Newsletter)-Slow down. It’s not a race. It’s a journey
that I intend to enjoy as long and as healthfully as I can. Why hurry? So you can get home from
the errands to get to the house do the kids can (insert activity here-extra points if you’re driving
Relax. I’ll save you a seat. Yes, even at the PlannerCon.
plannerology.com, with Mr Philofaxy at the first ever planner podcast “The HitchHiker’s Guide To The Plannerverse,
and in the Romanian countryside, by the Black Sea Coast.