CALENDARS, PLANNERS, AND LISTS, O MY!
Remember the puzzles in Highlights for Children: “What do these three things have in common?”Besides the fact that I’m addicted to all three, they are all time management devices.
I learned about calendars when I was in elementary school. You probably recall the old rhyme…
Thirty days hath September,April, June, and November,
All the rest have thirty-one,‘cepting February alone.
It has twenty-eight in fine,‘til leap year gives it twenty-nine.
After learning that rhyme, every month makes sense. Not logic, but sense.True, they don’t all have the same number of days. Which means they don’t have the same number of weeks.
The days of the week change from month to month—change their numbers, that is.But never mind the logic--most of all, calendars are ways we mark the passage of time—arrival and departure of seasons—special days, such as national holidays, or birthdays, or anniversaries of one kind or another—appointments we mustn’t miss—reminders to give the dog a pill or fertilize the lawn or get the car in for service.
They’re time keepers for all of us, if we use them.And sometimes their pictures are downright gorgeous!
About fifteen years ago I was introduced to the planner—now a ubiquitous part of many lives. My young friends assure me that their elementary school age children have planners. These are accompanied by agendas. Goals are set. Results are recorded. Progress tracked.
My own planner, now a shadow of its former self when I worked a regular 40-hour week, still helps me keep track of my days. There’s simply too much to put down on a calendar. A planner page, even divided into 4 sections, as I do, can list all the things I need to do or remember Today. And if something doesn’t get done Today, why, it can just pop over into the next section to be considered Tomorrow.
But my favorite, favorite method of keeping track—of anything—is The List. I call it The Today List, because what’s on it is for Today. If—as above with the planner—one item doesn’t get done, it goes on the next day’s Today List.My Today List is usually written on a 3x5 card that pops into my purse when I go to the store or run errands. When I get back from my running around town, I take it out of my purse and leave it on the dining room table where I sit to work at my laptop, eat meals, drink coffee, read…the ideal central place for my life. My cell phone lives there also.
Of course there's a disadvantage--lists have a way of growing in the dark, like mushrooms.
I had thought retirement would bring me more freedom. I wouldn’t have to keep track of so many things, because everything didn’t have to be done after work hours.This was one of the biggest boo-boos I’ve ever made. Freedom? My current calendar/planner/lists reflect the usual things—doctor and dentist appointments, birthday reminders, and so on. But retirement didn’t mean I had nothing to do. As most retirees find, activities expand to fill the time.
The former 40 hours spent in an office are now open for deeper cleaning, sewing and knitting, writing; reading; writing snail mail letters and notes instead of emails. I can spend a whole day at my daughter’s house canning her garden produce. I can investigate new stores or old ones I’ve never been to. My quilting friend and I go on road trips to quilt fabric shops within an hour of our homes. And those can be any day of the week we are free. Two mornings are set aside for exercise classes.
What did bring me more freedom is having a planner and a Today List to go along with the calendar. If I’ve been faithful in keeping all three tools up to date, then I find my days are less stressful. No forgotten appointments, no sudden memory of birthdays this week.
And believe me—reducing stress certainly feels like freedom. I’m a slave only to whatever list I’m currently following. And even I can manage to lose one from time to time.