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Thursday, February 26, 2009

This May Take Some Planning

At work, I was a list maker. It started on lined legal tablets crossing off “to do’s” as they were completed and adding new items to the bottom. It worked, but I used the subsequent pages for notes, and sometimes the front list was full and there was limited space underneath on which to continue. Then I became a Franklin Planner girl, keeping a daily log and dutifully recording notes on the corresponding page. The next morning, I moved the incomplete tasks from “yesterday” to “today,” added additional actions, and my day to some degree, was planned. For a refresher on specific conversations, it was easy to flip back to the date in question and review the documentation.

As a Franklin Planner disciple, that calendar came with me everywhere at work. Devoted Franklin followers brought their planners home for personal scheduling but I drew the line at that. Somehow, it seemed like allowing my professional life to infringe on precious family time. So, at home, the school calendar dictated our activities. Hanging on a nail over the kitchen desk, the blue and white squares were preprinted with school activities, underneath which we scribbled our hair cuts, mother’s group events, Girl Scout meetings and dentist appointments. For about three weeks at the end of each summer I would get twitchy because the school calendar went from September to August, and there was lag time before the new calendars arrived. Aside from that though, the system worked.

At work however, I embraced my planner. Except, as Microsoft became less of a corporation and more of a commodity, Outlook Calendars became the rage and we transitioned to online scheduling. I was behind the curve on this, early on witnessing our computer network go down and my peers at a loss as to their agendas that day. It seemed like my planner was a safer bet. Eventually though, I had no choice and hopped on the Outlook bandwagon, sending and accepting invitations on line. I continued to take notes in my planner but other than that, I was a full convert to online scheduling.

Next, the blackberry arrived. Plug in, tune in, and turn on. When I finally accepted the need to cross boundaries it was big time. I requested the devise because the work volume was overwhelming, a vacation was pending and a lap top was not yet in my bag of tricks. In my mind the only way I could relax while traveling was to respond to emails each morning, rather than fret about what wasn’t being done. I never became addicted to the “crackberry,” as my associates laughingly called it, but clearly it was an asset.

That blackberry of course vanished with my employment. The planner came home with me but the cubby where our computer lives offers little room to spread out. Between that, and the fact that it reminds me a little too clearly as to what so recently has changed, it seems easier to keep the book closed. As I scheduled appointments over the last few weeks, I trotted across the room to pencil them on the school calendar until that began to seem silly. So we hung a wall calendar on the cubby door we can see while using the computer, but which disappears when the cupboard is closed. I had it in my head that I’d use that to document my outplacement/job search related appointments.

Then I went to an outplacement meeting. After garnering additional assignments and further understanding of how to market myself to a future career, it was time to plan additional appointments. I caught myself patting my pockets looking for the blackberry. Then I looked over to my portfolio, hoping my planner was perched on top. No luck there. And guess what? I don’t carry a personal calendar. As we scheduled the next two appointments, I muddled through my memory, “Yup that time is OK because the doctor’s appointment isn’t until later, and “Hmmm, is that the day the cat has to go to the vet?” Once we landed on the dates, I strode out of the office muttering, “Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.” Climbing into my car, I drove directly to Staples, where I bought myself a purse size calendar. I don’t miss the blackberry, and I can live without the planner, but all the appointments we have are now recorded my new blue book. At present my personal and professional lives are one and the same and it’s up to me to ensure things stay on the right agenda.

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