• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Nov. 11, 2009
After years of resisting, I recently gave in and bought a daily planner.
Admittedly, there isn’t a terribly good reason to resist owning a planner. There are far more important things in life to resist – such as temptation, peer pressure and the Borg. I simply never saw the need for one.
However, it turns out I did need a planner. Rather badly, in fact.
Being an editor of a newspaper means there is a lot to remember in a day. There are meetings to have. Stories to plan for. Stories to edit. Web sites to update. Phone calls to return. E-mails to respond to. More meetings to have. Letters to confirm. And so on and so on. And my memory isn’t the best to begin with. Not only would I lose my head if it wasn’t screwed on tight, as my mother used to tell me, I probably would forget that I had one in the first place.
Through most of my life, my method of memory enhancement has consisted of little notes – usually scattered across my desk and organized by distance. The closer the note was to me, the sooner it needed to be taken care of.
Despite this seemingly foolproof system, I found that I would forget to do things from time to time – as if the note had never existed. A few days ago, while trying to recover a pen that I accidentally knocked behind my desk, I found that it had discovered a number of buddies in the space between my desk and the wall. And all of those buddies, strangely enough, were shaped like little notes.
It was time to buy a professional planner.
And, as much as I hate to admit this, it has been wonderful. I wake up in the morning. I construct my day in the planner – writing down everything I need to accomplish. Also, I get that satisfying moment when I check something off. “Finish editing video for football show.” Check. “Take care of thing for Chris.” (Yes, that is the actual wording of the note. No, it did not involve a “Sopranos”-type crime.) Check. There’s just something satisfying in penning a check mark.
Of course, I’m still working on the system.
During a recent late afternoon – hours after I had made a list of things to do – my planner instructed me to “e-mail Kevin.” Good thing I had my planner. If I hadn’t written that, I very well might have forgotten all about Kevin.
There was just one problem.
“Who do I know named Kevin?” I asked the person sitting next to me at the time. “And while we’re on the subject, why do I need to e-mail him?”
Better organization 1, Clarity 0.
(I did eventually figure it out after racking my brain for a few minutes. I will use last names in the future. At least I didn’t have to “take care of thing for Kevin.” Then I never would have figured it out.)
So, if it ever took me too long to return a call or an e-mail, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize. The little note reminding me to do so very well might have been partying it up behind my desk with the little note reminding me to buy more little notes.
But with my new planner in tow, less things will slip through the cracks – both literally and figuratively – and my memory can focus on important things at home such as wedding anniversaries (which I did remember) and taking out the recycling (which I did not). And, maybe best of all, I get to make a little check mark after finishing this column.
• Joe Grace is the editor of The Chronicle. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 630-845-5368.