I had my first daily planner in first or second grade. I don’t remember those years clearly, but I remember keeping track of my homework in a notebook specifically designed for that purpose. I was also practicing to be a private detective, so I had another notebook very carefully marked SPY NOTES – PRIVATE on its cover.
In junior high, I distinctly remember decorating my daily planners with stickers. I decorated everything with stickers. My glasses had stickers on them. It was kind of a sickness, that stickering thing, and was to be the last of my Utterly Girly phases. The world is grateful.
When I got to high school, all the kids had Chandler’s assignment notebooks. They were just called Chandler’s, as in, “Here, let me write my phone number in your Chandler’s.” (By the way, that was a big deal, my freshman year: a boy wrote his home phone number in my Chandler’s. Those were the days of fretting over when exactly you should call someone’s home phone, or when someone would call yours, so you didn’t get scolded and/or teased by your family. Ah, the days before mobiles.) I was obsessive about my Chandler’s. I designed a color scheme for my schedule, and when I had homework in a certain subject, I’d write it in with that color pen. Ah, metadata.
But only high school kids carried Chandler’s notebooks, so when I graduated I got my very own Day Runner. I didn’t color-code things anymore, but this was the beginning of the address book that is now nearly 1,000 contacts long. I archive. Everything.
Somewhere during 1992, my Day Runner became known as my Book of Doom, and from that point on would be referred to as such by my friends and family members. I didn’t consider my planner an unholy grimoire, but to others it might qualify. (See aforementioned “archive of everything” note.)
When I got my first PalmPilot in 1998, I spent many, many hours attempting to replicate the simple satisfaction of crossing off a completed item on a to-do list with a stylus’ click. Certain aspects of the digital planner appealed to me, certainly: the promise of synchronization with my desktop was enticing for a control freak like me, not to mention the ability in later PDA models to compose email on the go. I owned several PDAs, including the T-Mobile Sidekick 2, before reaching a saturation point of Semi-Functional Technology and giving up.
Because you know, some things are just better in analog. My handwriting is legible, doesn’t mysteriously disappear overnight, and is nearly as fast as my typing. There is nothing quite like the tangible turning of a page to denote a new week, a fresh beginning at work or at home or wherever I might be. When there is no more whitespace on a page in which to schedule meetings, I know I’ve had enough for that day. And then there’s the joy of sifting through notes, looking for a phone number or address, and inadvertently stumbling upon “the MSG says my right foot is safe … for the time being” hastily jotted with my favorite fountain pen on our last night in Dublin.