Marking Time

10th December 2014

Happy end of the semester! Oh, you don’t count your time like that? Whoops. I’ve thought a lot recently about marking time. My brother got married a couple of weeks ago, and the weeks and months leading up to that were thrilling. My entire family looked for places to stay, watched flight prices change ever so slightly, and hunted for dresses and clothes for the event obsessively. So obsessively, I’ve worried we might be depressed by the time it was all over. But here we are, and we’re all doing just fine. For me, though, it’s necessary to have points on the calendar to look forward to, places delineating the time before and the time after, special dates with friends and family.

Once upon a time, I had a Dilbert planner. And by Dilbert planner, I mean a black agenda with a foldover latch in the shape of Dilbert’s head. Inside were snippets of the cartoon and stickers in the shapes of the main characters, and I. Freaking. Loved it. For several years they had the refills for sale, and I would fill out my mail order form and get the next year to put inside. And then they discontinued that line.

For a few years after that, I wavered. I didn’t know what to do without Dilbert and tried the mini-purse-calendar route, which was largely unsuccessful. Then I found Pam Socolow’s Family Facts On-the-Go Organizer. It had everything I wanted – monthly calendars, the week on two pages, envelopes to store receipts or business cards, stickers, pen holder…and it went out of business after I used it for three years.


I then entered what I call the “Dark Years” – the absence of a stable, reliable planner hit right as I entered my adjunct years, a dark dark time.

So last year when I got the job as Writing Center Director, I knew it was time to step back into the world of serious planners, but I couldn’t find anything I liked, so I just created my own planner from supplies I found at Target – essentially I found a spiral-bound planner that I liked and ripped out the pages to insert it into a much cuter and more functional mini binder. But it was homemade and started acting like it. My punched holes weren’t perfect, and some of the pages pulled out. The binder itself didn’t hold up well, though of course, I had used it daily since January.

Then in August, I got a request for a series of presentations in January and then in March. And no planner in which to mark these dates. Plus, my job includes both duties as a program director and a faculty member and faculty senator, and that sort of schedule gets crazy. I panicked and spent an insane amount of time over a few days in August searching for the best solution. There’s the Day Designer, the Simplified Planner, the Erin Condren Life Planner, the Plum Paper planner, and so many more, but these are all costly and only last for one year. I went deeper down the rabbit hole and discovered Filofax. And the heavens sang.

Filofax A5 in Nude


I had a case of serious, serious lust and finally gave in to it, after making the boyfriend listen to me debate it for days. This bad boy is patent leather and a classic. Plus, it beckons to my much less classy Dilbert self of 12 or so years ago with its ability to last over the years. And this Filofax is sexy. It’s like Eva Green, best Bond girl ever. It doesn’t even have to whisper “I’m the money.”

So this is an investment at $105, but the refills are about $12 (and I actually designed my own and printed them at Kinko’s). There is an entire world of slightly crazy people who basically ‘roid up their Filofax like scrapbooks, but I’m not so into that. I want it to be cute and customizable, but I don’t want to spend the kind of time and money some people do. (Really, Google Filofax obsession.)

And I must say, I absolutely love it. This may be one of my favorite purchases ever. I love bringing it to meetings. I love leaving it open before bed and checking it first thing in the morning (to see if I need to dress up extra special for meetings). I love opening it up each morning and laying it on my desk. It’s just about perfect in every way.

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I thought perhaps my devotion to a planner had to do with aging, since I also bought a watch last year and now can’t believe I lived without it. But I think it’s more than that. As I recall the planners of yore, I think about when I recently redid my office and had to part with those old inserts, counting down the days until important trips, marking thesis deadlines. I also think about the days I marked with stars with no idea now what so special happened that day. Maybe it’s the tactile experience, but at least for me, time seems more meaningful this way, or at least more intentional. And it’s nice to know that at some point down the road, I’ll look back at these days, thinking back on the excitement, remembering days of heartache and joy, and wondering exactly how I got where I am.



  • I miss having a full enough life to need a real planner. I would have been lost without one in college, but these days I just stick my commitments into Google and call it good.

    • I get that. But even with just personal stuff, Google doesn’t work for me. For some reason, entering it into an online calendar is like memory erasure for me. I seriously seriously forget anything if I try to keep track of it electronically.

  • That Filofax is gorgeous! I’m drooling.

    I’m obsessed with organization, and I am NEVER satisfied with the planners I buy. I’ve found that the bullet journal system works well for me. I just use a Moleskine journal to plan out my month and make daily to-do lists. The only drawback is that it doesn’t work very well for planning in advance, but my life isn’t very busy. I lost my job a few months ago, and my to-do list each day is basically “Clean litter box, wash dishes, apply for X job, etc.”

    • Oh, I’m so sorry. That sucks.

      I guess the thing to say is that even if I’m not super busy for a period, I still love my FF for all the other organization I keep tucked inside it. Addresses, passwords (I know I shouldn’t, but I do), lists, etc. And yes, I ADORE it. I looked into the bullet system, but like you said, the planning ahead bit got me. Plus, visually it never really made sense to me. But I have coworkers who swear by it.

  • Ti Reed

    When you posted it on Instagram I got all riled up! LOL! I am a planner type of gal. I used to have a planner like the one you have, no quite as fancy and a little larger that would get really heavy. When you posted about yours, I found Passion Planner but haven’t taken the plunge yet. I like the idea behind it but to be honest, there is no pen loop and to me, that is a deal breaker. I use the At A Glance Plus now. Not pretty but has all I need.

    • You can buy pen loops! Let me know if you can’t find them, but they have them. I’d hate for you not to get one you love because of that, but yes, it can be so difficult because I’ll love one planner for one reason, but it will just be missing something key. That’s why I love my FF because I can really customize it as much as I want. I’m in love. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Ti Reed

        I feel dumb. LOL, I found the pen loops but the planner is like a bound book. I’d have to stick it on the outside. Might not work. I never even thought to just buy a pen loop.

        • I would NEVER have known it without my obsessive research a couple of months ago. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Yvann

    I would really love to have this love for a physical planner, but between Outlook (mandatory work email/calendar program) and Remember The Milk, my planning needs are met by the internet. I want a planner but have absolutely no need for one!

    Glad you’ve found one that you like and have left the Dark Years!!

    • That’s awesome! I tried several like Remember the Milk but just couldn’t love them. I need my day laid out where I can glance at it, and usually my desktop is so full, I don’t have an open window. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I love planners! For me, they hold so much promise for the days to come. I’d love a Filofax but right now I’m bullet journaling in a Moleskine grid notebook and it’s been working out well.

    • I know several people who use the bullet method. I just couldn’t bond with it.

  • You’re a better woman than I. Every year, I buy planners in the optimistic hope that this will be the year I manage to keep track of one. And I never make it past June, and most years I don’t make it anywhere close to June. I always think I should buy a Filofax, but it seems like a hideous waste of money for an item I will almost certainly abandon after a few months.

    • Well then of course not! As long as you have something that works for you, you’re fine. But for me, this definitely fit the bill. And even three months in, I love it just as much as when I first got it.

  • Meg-A Bookish Affair

    I’m envious of your organization. Your new planner looks so fancy!

  • Krantichandra Bhave

    You have organized your planner very nicely. I will try this with my Wordsworth Daily Planner