Monday, September 22, 2014

Wabi-Sabi-The Japanese concept of finding perfection in imperfection

The widely referenced website, Wikipedia, has a rather accurate description of Wabi-Sabi:

Wabi-sabi (?) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".[1] It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō?), the other two being suffering ( ku?) and emptiness or absence of self-nature ( ?).
Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

I recently decided to purchase an "as-is" Gilliodoro planner from Gillio
Photographed from the point of view as a "flawed" item, this Red + Gold (dual tone) Amica A5 planner, was positioned on display with the intent of disclosing, with full transparency, the obvious issues, the most prevalent being a discolored spine from having been placed in a sunny window display. This decidedly red planner had a blotchy, orange spine.
I kept looking.
The description stated it was missing its original box and as an added "flaw," it was equipped with a non-elasticated leather pen loop.
I kept looking.
And heard a little whisper say, "Look at the perfectness of this imperfect item." Thousands of miles away and I took a chance to order this unwanted item for a more than reasonable price. It finally arrived last week.
Here are my thoughts as we go through some photos I took early on a cloudy, Southern California morning. The cloud coverage added a hint of blue to the red. In fact, the red is brick/crimson red with soft, soothing undertones bringing an overall harmony to the entire planner.
Here is the open planner. As you will notice, the spinal discoloration is hardly visible in this light.





Let's take a closer look at the leather on the cover. You will notice a rather sumptuously textured and grained epoca leather.

There is a simple, refined, old world elegance to this planner. It's almost pensive.

As I opened the planner, I noticed the workmanship on the clasp, including the even and consistent stitching, the unbridled graininess of the gold leather on the inside and the little pocket of collapsible leather alongside the popper to add aesthetic design, show mastery of leather-work and clearly define this important mechanism of the planner-the gateway.
We are now presented with a rich visual marriage of red and gold autumnal colors to underplay the subtle and nuanced aesthetics of proper craftsmanship and design.

Notice the careful stitching alongside the pockets and card slots.
The interior is a visceral and tactile experience, drawing the senses to experience all the tamed portions of leather. This is the embodiment of refinement.

As we move across the planner from left to right, let us observe the matte Krause rings. My fingers took a loving stroll alongside these rings when I came across them. In a world where often gaudy color palates combat sophisticated and simple tastes, I am BESIDE MYSELF to find understated, high-quality, REPLACEABLE rings in a luxury planner. This small gesture speaks volumes to the overall value added when looking for an every day planner to inspire, quiet and record daily thoughts, plans and calls to action.

The back inside cover has two, full length pockets and 3 card slots with the Italians reminding us once again, they are, indeed, the gods of quality design and execution.

 As I wrap up the planner tour, I will attempt to highlight the blotchy orange spine again. To try and convince you there is actually something wrong with this planner. The lighting in my office and the cloud coverage blend the orange but it is readily visible to the naked eye.
It doesn't bother me. I thought I was going to rush out and get the color matched evenly, to try and bring it to a uniform standard of quality Gillio is notorious for upholding.







I am happy with this perfectly imperfect planner. It is a planner that I have been waiting for without even knowing it. I accept this planner with its perfect imperfections and would like to impart upon you the value of luxury ownership through something one of my heroes is quoted as saying:

"Luxury lies not in richness and ornateness but in the absence of vulgarity."-Coco Chanel

If we begin to look at our lives (our planners are a part of our lives) as an experiment of building consistent quality, then we ought to certainly not be afraid of finding imperfection. The Gilliodoro planner I shared with you is imperfect and can also be brilliant example of luxury. The imperfections do not take away from its essence of old world elegance. Similarly, your imperfections do not alter your essence. 

I consistently refine and simplify my life. I encourage all my clients to do the same-to remove what is unnecessary and become mindful of all our abilities and blessings. This A5 Amica, with no back pocket, no-elasticated leather pen loop and blotchy orange spine has now become the most valuable and luxurious planner I own and although I own more expensive planners, there are none more perfect than this imperfect model. 

I help my clients create strategic life plans, focusing on creating and designing a streamlined life. Yearly goals are broken down into monthly, weekly and daily routines that are built around small but permanent habit changes. I am thrilled, beyond measure, to place my routines, goals and permanent habits into this planner and carry with me the imperfectly perfect legacy I am working on in 2014 and will happily carry over in 2015. Automation Nirvana resides here. 

Stay tuned for my upcoming book "The Streamlined Life: Quick + Easy Tips Bringing Order to Your Whole Life, by Planning, Tracking and Designing Small + Permanent Habit Changes



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Planning Your LIfe On-The-Go

I was not born knowing how to plan and keep my life organized. I learned this process by experimenting with different set-ups and invariably succumbing to consumerism. Being able to design a life on the go requires some planning. Not a lot. But some. 
First, how long will you be on the go? 

Are you taking short business trips, able to use your home as a landing space?
Will you be taking 1-2 month long trips away from your home State or country?
Are you just planning the "on the go" to mean time away from the family and the house while you are at work?

Assess your needs. Then create a plan. And work on it every single day. 
The household must keep running while you are away. What information will a stranger need to help your household continue running smoothly?
Gardner? Handyman? Pool guy? Seasonal charity? Cleaning? Pets? 
Inventory of things and life are probably the most valuable items one can have, away from the home. One of the most frustrating things I experienced was being in a foreign country and unable to determine how much damage was incurred to my flat, back home, from flooding. 

Here iis how I have set up my On-The Go planners for my needs.

Business travel 2-3 times per month
Average stay 4 nights 5 days 
Mode of transport: Airplane and car

1. A5 Gilliodoro Amica planner which contains my client list, schedule, and project management.
2. Medium (Personal) Gilliodoro Navy with DIY Fish inserts to track personal goals, development and well-being, including gratitude journal, vitamin tracker and exercise log.
3. Filofax Piccadilly Red Slimine for my wallet which has Daytimer soft silicone credit card inserts to hold practically every credit card, loyalty card, gift card or any other unnerving card that has a tendency to float around my office. They are all contained there. And when I do find myself shopping while away, I can always have my gift cards at the ready. I do a little happy dance when I use one up and can get rid of it. Making space in my wallet means making space for money to find its way to me. 
4. Laptop (depending on the workload) or iPad Mini, a tripod stand and a bluetooth keyboard with access to a full version of Word to keep my editing on track. 

At the airport, I merely have to have my slimline with me to show ID or use a debit card for miscellanous purchases. None of these babies get checked in. EVER. The only things I am willing to check-in are things that I would be ok losing. That is, I can always replace clothes, make-up, shoes, etc. But I would be lost without my planners and my trip would probably come to a standstill without proper ID to check into hotels, money and cards for car rentals. These items are always on me-usually in my handbag.

I travel with (read: carry on) a vintage Louis Vuitton Randonee Grand Model (GM). This has been a staple for me in the last 5 years and no matter how many other bags I try, nothing else comes close to the simple, practical clean lines. It goes with everything and holds the whole lot!
One suitcase: A Rimowa Cabin International (black) which can be checked in or carried on. I will do a separate post on what I take and how I pack. 

Keep in mind this is only for 5 days travel. However, the minute I leave the house (and my office) all my clients want to reach me. So I make sure I carry the essentials with me to remind myself of conversations I have had with my clients. Having a personal assistant (thank you, Joanne) also helps tremendously. 

International Travel
Average Stay: 1-2 months
Mode of transport: Airplane, train, car

When my husband and I travel we like to take our time and see our friends. We are lucky enough to have access to free plane tickets around the world and as such have to have a VERY flexible schedule. This means traveling light and being able to manage the home while we are away. 

1. Traveler's style leather notebook with important client details transfered over to include the past month only. Special pocket holds my passport
2. iPad Mini with tripod stand and bluetooth keyboard.
3. Filofax Piccadilly Red Slimine for my wallet

We have annoyingly cheesy, matching Gregory Rucksacks and we only take about a week's worth of clothing with us, because we usually get our laundry done on the go and can always buy more as we go. On trips where we are going to stay put in 1-2 places for the whole tiime, we pack regular suitcases and have now gotten into the habit of posting them via UPS ahead of our travel, so our belongings can meet us at the hotel. No losses, no damaged suitcases and we can always ship what we want home. 

Staying connected is important but even more important is having a system to make sure things are running the way they always do. Finding reliable and trustowrthy housesitters is probably one of the best choices you can make for youself on long trips away. Providing your housesitters with a manual on how to run your home is priceless. Currently, I am using a Filofax A5 Red Finchley. It seems to be working fine and holds up to the daily wear. 

I am a big fan of enjoying life. Being a connoisseur of life, such that travel is actually enjoyed and when I get home from my travels and I don't need a week to recover because I have been resting enough while I have been away. Although we do travel with alarm clocks, we only use them to make sure we are on time for the often early airport roll calls. Other than that, the alarm clocks stay tucked away and we do what we like. If we feel like we want to stay in and sleep, we will. That is a tremendously freeing experience. Our mantra has been: Travel light and often. Eat well while on the road, sleep in dark, cool and quiet rooms and stay hydrated. 

We hope to spend Christmas with my Godmother in Germany this year. Traveler's notebook is ready to go!



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Permanent Habit Changes (PHC) Doing The Things That Matter

Everyone wants the feel-good, quick-fix, get-it-done-yesterday pill. I want one too. Often. 

However, here's the problem: Even if we had the pill the immediate issue would be resolved but our fortitude in dealing with said issue will have been cast aside. The reason some things in life are more difficult than others is because life is trying to teach us a lesson at that particular moment and unless we train our emotional infrastructure to deal with a particular load, we are doing ourselves a disservice by seeking instant gratification. Furthermore, life will continue to teach us the same lesson until we get it. If you are noticing patterns of various issues in your life, I guarantee those patterns will continue until you change the actions taken when dealing with those issues.


Toddlers cannot walk with grace and ease, they struggle, and in doing so develop the heavy-duty muscles that will serve them their entire lives. If you find you are dealing with a particular issue repeatedly in life, this is a sign that you haven't learned your lesson yet. I don't know what that lesson is. Only you can tell and in order to decipher the universal messages of success or stagnation, you've got to get attuned with what's working AND what's not working. Most people can quickly and definitively work out what's not working. Period. Notice, I didn't say "success or failure." Often the terms are deemed opposites. They are not. Failure leads to success. Success is rarely sustained without failure.

In order for us to get aligned with our lives and have elements of our lives run smoothly, we must engage what IS working. There are some things you are doing right. Focus on those. Study them. See why they are working? Are you able to give more time and energy to those elements? Consider spending 10 minutes a day writing down what's working in your life. Are you healthy? Breathing? Not living in a country where war is at the door? Consider yourself blessed and start counting how many times life just keeps giving you things without you ever having to ask for them.

There are portions of our lives often out of balance, and that's a good thing. 

I worry about people who try to constantly get their lives "in balance." Those of you who are hoping to one day get in balance can take a opportunity to answer this question: What happens to water when it is balanced? Stagnant water goes stale. Perhaps the solution then is to not seek this mystical creature of balance and attempt to harmonize ourselves with the bits of our lives. Sometimes your relationships are in perfect working order, and your finances are down. Other times you have your work life sorted but your spiritual life is out of whack. How do you know which of these elements is harmoniously working or causing you anguish? 


We must analyze our habits and our selves to see what we repeatedly do. How often are we on automatic pilot? Only by tracking our lives can we begin to see the patterns of behavior that lead to the results we have in our lives. Tracking is crucial part of growing up and be willing to take responsibility of one's own life. This means being accountable for the good things as well. Very quickly people will deconstruct themselves and consider "everything a mess," when in fact, only 1-2 elements need attention and realignment.
More importantly, focusing on what's not working perpetuates the "what's not working." Why not make an effort to feel good about what's happening in your life? I am sure there is at least one good thing to feel good about. If you focus on this, and begin a gratitude journal where you list 5 things you are grateful for each day, you WILL notice a difference. Your attention will shift and you will begin to see how you can affect change in the areas of your life that require a different strategy.

Everyone can say "this is broken;" very few people will tell you to focus on the repair or look at everything else that works. Even more so, what about tracking the habits of your life? What about wanting to go from point A to point B? How do we shift the mindset that shifts the action that shifts the results? 


Through small, almost minuscule but permanent habit changes.

Everyone wants to change the world. No one wants to take the time to change the habits they have developed that are at the cause of their current quality of life. If you don't like where you are in life, move. You are not a tree. Consider tracking you life and color-coding the various elements, distinguishing one from another and allowing to more easily track where your time (energy) is going. To find out more about deliberately planning your life, sign up here with Thinker Extraordinaire, LLC. None of us are born knowing how to set up our lives on purpose. Most western cultures scoff at those who are disciplined in their planning, marginalizing these people as "extreme", at best. Why? If a normal human being decided to wake up 2 hours earlier than normal every morning to plan their life, people might think that person odd. If Jason Statham does it, all of a sudden "It's OK, he's a professional actor" and the "eccentric" now is embraced someone who works to maintain professionalism. I am the owner of Thinker Extraordinaire, LLC. I started this business from the ground up and here we are 8 years later and perhaps we are doing something right. I know, because I track my success. This is my planner, a red, Filofax Deskfax.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Color-Coding, Categories and Other Words That Begin With "C" But Are Pronounced With a Hard "C" Phoneme.


Modularlization during a planning session happens in various categories and whilst planning we may find ourselves, as I often have, in color-coding turmoil. Come out, come out wherever you are, all you colour-coders. This post is for you.

As avid colour-coders we know how to segregate the portions of our lives through color and by using the varieties available, we  literally, showcase the areas of our lives we've taken the time to plan. There is your life, in all the weekly or monthly glory, defined in high-definition colour by the use of analogue products. Gaze at the wonder of what you have created.
A coding system error occurs when we want to define the various portions of our lives and begin to dissect EVERYTHING we do as a category. Categories are VITALLY important in parsing out specific detail and clumping like bits together. Categories allow us to focus on what needs to get done within the home, or while away from home. Categories give us the limitations of mental space and free spirits though we are, we still need clear delineations on where to stop.
But how many categories do we create? Do we have one for our spouse? children? Errands? Separate by stores? Here's what I've come up with and I hope it helps you see through the mental clutter of basic human categories (assuming you are living in a developed country). I am also sharing the colors I've assigned each category.

1. Body (Lime Green)
2. Mind (Marigold Orange)
3. Soul (Eggplant Purple)
4. Food (Forest Green)
5. Work (Fuchsia)
6. Style (Hot Pink)
7. Home (Aqua Green)

8. Plan (Atlas Grey)
9.Travel (Sky Blue)

10. Write (Vermillion)

I struggled with adding the concepts of "Think" and "Beauty" but don't those technically fit under "Mind" and "Body" respectively? Similarly, if we choose to create a category for "spouse" are we not then creating and following an agenda within an agenda? in other words, if your husband has a doctor's appointment that YOU need to keep track of, why not simply identify it as "Body", use the designated color for "Body" and simply define the appointment as one for the husband. These overarching categories are vague enough to capture major life occurrences for me.

I've included "Style" to encourage my journey in finding and maintaining my own style for clothing and life-style as well. Also, you will find "Travel" may not suit your needs. I do travel often for work and identify work travel under the "Work" category, which is why I created the "Travel" slot for everything involving holiday travel and vacations or getaways.

I also realise that the "Write" might seemingly need to fit under "Work" as I am a writer and spend time writing to do work. However, I like to create time to write about subjects that are outside the scope of work, like children's stories. These moments are planned and designated to encourage the honing of writing skill. Any decent writer will (or should) write consistently to maintain a level of fluency and strive to ritualize the artful practice.

I'm very keen on this set of words to help me define the parameters of my life because when all is said and done, I can flip open my planner and visually see which colors are not appearing during the course of the week. I know, instantly, THESE are the categories which require more attention. And we all know, in life, energy flows where attention goes. I have weeks where I notice only a smattering of Aqua Green. Those are usually weeks where I am completely absorbed in work, either facilitating a workshop or engrossed in coaching clients. This system helps keep me honest about where I am spending my time, very similar to Benjamin Franklin's diary.

Deliberate living happens when we are deliberate about our planning. We must be able to face our own lacking in certain areas just as we are willing to celebrate areas that we champion with ease. The categories we use simply lay down waypoints in our journey of harmonizing our lives to purposefully live with grace and ease in as many categories as we care to curate.

What other major categories do you modularize your life besides these? I want to hear from you. For more information about the strategic life planning and career coaching, please sign up for my newsletter here: Career + Life Planning Success
If you sign up, you will have access to a free downloadable publication I wrote called "Top 7 Steps To Career Success." 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Analogue Versus Digital Planning Formats (and which is best for your life)

We have long since left the days of the Industrial Revolution. However, we have not left the argument of whether we ought to fully adapt and change to an ever modernizing world, embrace the digital lifestyle yet secretly continuing to stroke the books we find in bookshelves, hoping no one will see us whispering sweet nothings to it as we take a big whiff of its innards.  

Are you a Kindle or are you a book?
iPhone or address book?
iPhone or Desk Calendar?
iPhone or notebook?
iPhone or tape measure? You get the gist. 

Despite the mass production of digital devices, and much to the detriment of our environment, paper planners are not only still around, but are making a comeback. I've read plenty of bloggers rather bigoted points of view which categorize those who use paper planners as "defunct" "outdated" "antiquated" and have even REFUSED those who enter meetings with a paper notebook and writing implement because they would be "slowing everyone else down."
Let us then first create distinctions between Analogue and Digital objects so that we can better relate to the world around us. The following information is stolen from a Scientific American article, entitled "The Reading Brain"dated April 11, 2013.

Analogue vs. Digital 

  1. Information Processing and can be identified as analogue if it is discrete rather than continuous pieces of information. The purpose of a piece of information or object one is looking at can be readily understood without explanation such that even if you don't know what it does, you can determine what is "most likely" used for. 
  2. Digital information or objects can be simulated by a digital computer or algorithm and their purposes are not easily identifiable just by looking at the object. 

ALWAYS ALREADY OBSOLETE is the mantra of digital devices and feed the consumerist mindset making users crave and reject an item simply based on modifications that hold the promise of a "productive" lifestyle. 

In "Proust and the Squid" by Maryanne Wolf, the author delves into the story and science of the reading brain. She very clearly states "using one kind of technology does not preclude us from understanding another." And so perhaps a combination of collection devices is best for humans who live in an analogue world but have brains that are both digital and analogue simultaneously. 
Our brains respond differently to onscreen text than to words on paper and the evidence collected in a Scientific American article dated April 11, 2013 called "The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens" we see that although people have embraced e-readers for their convenience and portability, they admit for SOME REASON they still prefer reading on paper, even those who have already vowed to forgo tree pulp entirely.
But handwriting and reading text on paper as opposed to e-ink allows us to establish mental map generation, a physical landscape of the material that if laid out would very much have hills, valleys and mountains, much like topographical map. We carry the "cities" of books in our heads allowing us to rest, exert and most importantly retain the information in way that cannot be manipulated digitally. The four or eight corners of a page or book allow us physical limitations within which our brain remembers that the butler murdered a guest at the bottom left corner of page 59. Paper is a dynamic medium, much more dynamic than touch screens. We as human beings are more dynamic than the smartphones we carry, which is why we still crave dynamic mediums and print out emails. 
Understanding this, and how our own handwriting 
The research results may seem common sense or obvious to many of us. If you're interested in the biology behind writing's effect on our achievements, though, here's a little background: Writing stimulates a bunch of cells at the base of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you're actively focusing on at the moment—something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront. In Write It Down, Make It Happen, author Henriette Anne Klauser says that "Writing triggers the RAS, which in turn sends a signal to the cerebral cortex: ‘Wake up! Pay attention! Don't miss this detail!' Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that […] were there all along."


Which brings us back to figuring out what kind of system would work best for you in lifestyle modularization. See if this chart can help you.

Things That Can Happen To Your Device Or Your Device Can Do
Digital Devices
Analogue Devices
Lost, damaged, stolen
 
Killed with a magnet

Used without electricity

Transmits information quickly and internationally
Scan and send!
Quickly duplicated
Carried through airports with no additional fondling by security

Dynamic interface

Can be used within .01 seconds of opening

Indicates how much space is used without opening

Must be stowed away on take off




Personally, I use the Filofax (with a hint of Mulberry thrown in) brand of paper planners. I tried a variety of brands and ultimately settled on a system I can trust. Even at 2:00 in the morning when I used to wake up wondering if I forgot to "insert panicked thought here". My planner has all these details. The more time I spend with my planner the more I understand how my brain works and the easier I can begin to compartmentalize and break into do-able chunks the uncultivated areas of my life. Ann Vital has a wonderful Infographic that includes 7 areas of life that can be streamlined into processes. (Here is a link to her infographic: http://notes.fundersandfounders.com/post/59500063068/productivity
We will discuss productivity and GTD in future posts. Let me know if you have an intense desire to want to print out the infographic. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone. 



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Automation Nirvana: Routinizing our Lives for Maximum Spontaneity



We Are What We Repeatedly Do. -Aristotle

If the way you lived your life today was captured and recorded for review by complete strangers to get an impression about who you are, would the things you did be a reflection of how you want your life reflected to others?

If today was the last day of your life, and you only found out in the last hour of the day, would you have spent it the same way you did knowing it would be your last within the first hour of the day? 

Asking these questions is fundamental to understanding why routines are key to deliberately living our lives. I've seen people's faces grow sad or bored when the subject of "routine" comes up, almost as if I have recalled an unpleasant experience from childhood. Routines are wonderful things. Automating one's life can be the difference between spending money and making money. Truly. 

I want you, dear reader, to get excited about the idea of a routine, boring as though initial thought processes may sound. I usually get "pee pants" excited about the idea of setting a up a new routine because it means I have unlocked the automation process to one more nuanced level of my life. That is,  one more level of unraveling complete, allowing my mind to focus to focus on other ideas. 

This systemization of thoughts culminating in #AutomationNirvana or Streamlining follow 3 basic steps.
1. Observation of the moving bits of your life
2. Placing those bits into processes
3. Connecting those processes into a consistent schedule where they occur calendrically

Making Peace With The Moving Bits In Our Lives


Streamlining my life seems to come as a natural progression. I used to have a lot of stuff. Now I have some stuff that I need, use and love. My goal is to only have stuff that I need, use and love. Chalk it up to being obsessive about having 1 quality item versus 45 bad quality items. I am particularly fond of going through this journey because it allows me to find systems processes throughout my life. If we can agree on the basic concept of a business' strength determined by the ability of the owner to walk away from it and have the business continue chugging along with minimal interference, then we can also agree the systems processes we place in our lives determine the strength the life systems that hold us up in place. I suffer from this condition daily. I seek out constant refinement of process and have given the syndrome a name: Automation Nirvana. I have nothing but love for myself when I operate out of this space. 
In my mind's eye, there is nothing more gratifying than knowing, at a moment's notice, just how many:
1. White T-shirts I own
2. Where a particular book lives in my library (and being able to look up my inventory of books, identifying its genre and realising that's number 4 out of 7 Science Fiction books, in fact).
3. Being able to systemise my life, such that, I can set up a home planner, with the various processes outlined, hand it over to a house sitter, grab my keys, passport and handbag and head to the airport because MY LIFE IS IN ORDER AND ORDER IS IN MY LIFE. 


What is streamlining? 

According to Merriam-Webster:

streamline

 transitive verb
to make (something) simpler, more effective, or more productive 
So why am I obsessed with getting all the moving bits of my life to work more effectively, more simply? The answer for me is based out of my inability to cope with clutter. Oddly enough, I am the one creating most of the clutter in my life. But what is clutter exactly? A collection of things lying about in an untidy fashion (according to the dictionary). But, I want to go one step further. I've noticed people having massive collections of dolls or cars or (insert odd collectible here). What's the point of all this stuff? I collect planners. HOWEVER, all my planners have a purpose and are used. The moment a planner stares at me from across the room with no purpose, it becomes clutter. It goes from $80.00 to clutter in 2 seconds. The actual monetary value of things do not increase their inherent value for me. I have a planner that cost me $19.00. It is one of my most loved planners. (It's the Personal Buckingham Filofax in red, in case you planner geeks are wondering). 

There must be a point when we walk into our homes and reach a level of satisfaction with life such that we can make peace with the things in our lives. I have become acutely aware of the loveliness of less. The more I let go of, the more space I have to enjoy what I have. And so, it is not the accumulation of collections that make us happy, but the search for the happiness within the collectibles that has us convinced peace is hidden somewhere within the stuff. Haven't found *THE* planner yet? Keep looking. But in the name of everything holy, save yourself a lot of time, money and aggravation. Take the time to see what you actually want, write down a list of "wants" in that particular planner (or whatever you are looking to bring into your life). When the process of bringing new items into your life slows down and you begin to address the moving bits in your life as things that need love, attention, care, etc., only then will you ask yourself the question that determines where you are in the spectrum of stuff: "Am I willing to have THIS item be the only item grab and run if there were a fire blazing in my house?"