In Praise Of Slow Living: The Modern Human’s Guide To Navigating Life With A Planner

By Karine Tovmassian

June 2017

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,

we spin.

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?!

Well, it’s not like I have NOTHING to do. It’s just that I can

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.

You can find Karine on Instagram @karinetovmassian, on Facebook with Plannerology, on the web at, 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.

6 thoughts on “In Praise Of Slow Living: The Modern Human’s Guide To Navigating Life With A Planner

  • June 18, 2017 at 1:24 AM

    I hear you Karine….I’m about to drop a subject this study period because I have well and truly overwhelmed myself with an impossible workload. I woke up this morning with that familiar crushing desolate feeling and thought, this is stupid. Wind back, smell the flowers, actually spend time with my family. My degree isn’t a race. I thought ‘overplanning’ would solve everything…maybe I’m not organised enough, maybe I need to plan better. No matter which way you look at it, 6 litres will never fit into a 4 litre bucket.

    Must say, love your style…..taking a planner into a tank for ops. Niiiiice. πŸ˜€

  • June 20, 2017 at 1:44 PM

    Love this point of view, planning every single thing sent me down a rabbit hole of details. I missed the big picture. I will eat when hungry, sleep when tired, do laundry when I need to. Putting it all in my planner, only made me think “I need to X”. If I do X, great, if not the world will go on. I only plan those things I have to do (work schedule, because it varies), time with friends, and appointments. The weather will be what it is, not what is forecast….My new planning philosophy

  • June 24, 2017 at 10:30 PM

    While I am a fan of mindful living I’ve found that living in rural areas requires more planning than it did in urban and suburban settings. For example, I do my main grocery shopping once a month when I am in an area with a Wal-Mart. The nearest Wal-Mart to me is an hour drive, and the nearest Target an hour and a half (and it’s tiny).

  • June 26, 2017 at 1:10 PM

    Great and original article! Such a joy to read it. You make some good, valid points, while giving a little insight in your unique life.

  • August 13, 2017 at 1:11 PM

    Yes, that’s why eberybody loves Romania . .. πŸ™‚ – but the truth is that we, Romanians, also plan… just not always in a planner. Why not in a planner…? Because all agendas available in Romania are the same ugly type of, hourly planning (docking time),and Romanians like to think that (sometimes) they are free to manage their time without constraint. BUT they plan always… because they must live, after all, on a tiny budget and still pretend that mindfulness is pretty πŸ™‚ – so, they simplify and tend to take small bites of happiness every day. And smile at the roses around them. Welcome to Romania, and may you find only happiness! πŸ™‚

  • December 17, 2017 at 7:29 AM

    I love this!! There are days that I don’t plan. Days that I wrote the date down in my bullet journal but nothing else (so then I will write underneath it, what a wash)!
    Then there are days that my brain needs every individual task written down so that I can breathe properly and my legs and arms can do what needs done.

    Also, as a soldier I can tell you it’s likely not the first time a planner was on or in a tank lol.


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