Living Out of My Day Planner

Yesterday I talked about lacking a sense of permanence. I think that why I’m living out of my day planner so much lately. It’s the central object of my life, the nexus of all of my personal and professional needs. After my wife Katie, it has become my emotional core. And yes, I know that sounds kind of sad, but it actually makes me pretty happy.

There is great satisfaction in being so keenly organized. For 2018 I have two identical 100-page journals, which means 200 pages to write on. This means that each will get me through 6 months. At the top of each page I write the date. Down the left side I have blocks of time, which I fill in with meals, appointments, and broad categories of tasks like writing, administrative work, and running errands. On the right side is a 1-3-5 list of things to be done that day — 1 big thing, 3 medium things, 5 small things. All of that takes up about half the page. The lower half is for notes and thoughts and other journaling.

I also carry a small notebook, the same dimensions as the journal, for random notes and lists and doodling. The journal is the neat version of events, the notebook is the sloppy version. Both of these books go into a small bag along with one pencil case filled with gel pens in assorted colors, and another with colored markers. I use these to color-code the day planner journal, and to doodle in the notebook.

The journal bag goes everywhere. It moves with me from room to room, so I can jot down ideas and update things. When I go out, it goes with me, whether I’m grocery shopping or working from a coffee shop. It’s security and familiarity. There’s a sense of continuity.

This is no substitute for a “forever home”, of course. I know that nearly everything, from my kitchen utensils to our bed sheets, are temporary. If we do a major move to another country in the future, we’re more likely to do what we did when we came to Finland from the US, sell everything and start from scratch when we get there. It’s easier. It certainly makes being a minimalist, and not forming attachments to material things, a lot easier.

That’s why, I think, I cling to some essential things that I know will go with me. The journal bag, my laptop, my phone. Even though I’m happy with my life — I know, it’s hard to read the past few posts and not think I’m complaining, but I’m just making observations — I would someday like to have a read office, with a real desk, and some meaningful mementos.

This is why I continue to harp on the point that minimalism isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a tool. It’s allowed us to live in Finland. There is no “stuff” that I would trade for the opportunities and experiences that we’ve had. But there’s a happy medium. A middle ground. A balance to be struck. My day planner is a permanent headquarters while I’m operating without a permanent headquarters.

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