Sunday, November 20, 2016

November Doldrums And Why Planner Fail Is Often Scheduled Now

You know it. That age-old dilemma of wanting the space of an A5 but needing the footprint of a Personal. There is no greater wringer of hands than this conundrum. Worse yet if you use larger sizes like I do. B5. Oh dear, B5 you are so grand. Large enough to make A5 blush and small enough to feel puny next to Letter or A4.

Court is now in session and the Queen of Planner fail for November is presiding over this divergent topic. My current disaster includes a delicious Filofax York Deskfax with mostly Filofax inserts. A series of luxurious Gillio A5s cast aside like yesterday's newspaper and the neat and tidy argument of a gaggle of Gillio medium sized planners in varying models Mia Cara, Amica, and the rarely photographed Trifoldasaurus.

There has to be a point where a line can be drawn and defeat or victory can be declared. 

Deskfax/B5 <---Something Gillio REALLY needs to consider when looking at the plethora of women like me who work for a living and need to function out of a larger display for professional application. Same argument for people who need a larger smartphone display.
This item is meant to be stored on a desk as the name indicates. I do a lot of my thinking and brain-dumping in B5 format (double the size of A5-just put two A5 sheets horizontally one above the other and you will get an idea of the wonders of B5.

I don't want to carry my Deskfax with me. It is rather cumbersome to write in on the go and doesn't create a propensity for writing on the fly. What gets written on the fly? Why is everyone so concerned with writing "on the go."? Are we attempting to lob golf balls into their respective holes as we attempt to make a shopping list? Are we having trouble holding the motorcycle handlebars while simultaneously color coding next week's appointments?

Not that kind of "on the go." When I am out meeting with clients or heading to a meeting, I want to have my world with me so I can mange anything that comes my way. What if I need to handle an emergency for the house? Do I have all the house emergency details with me? Do I need them all with me?
Those contrasting questions are at the heart of planner fail.

Remember: It's never the planners fault.

I have come to the conclusion our planner fails are really a failure on our own parts to delegate what kind of inserts we need and how to use them purposefully. True, the wrong planner can really get annoying quickly and you will find yourself moving out before you have ever fully moved in. It's visceral hurling of one set of standards while embracing a completely different set. Gillio has ruined me forever. I can never go back to a nylon stitched Franklin Covey or Filofax. The old Filofax models still make my heart beat faster though. Have I gone off course? Yes? Okay. Inserts.

PLANNEROLOGY LAW NUMBER 4: Our circumstances dictate the environment in which our planners will be used. 

What?! Take a seat and wonder upon the trueness of this statement. If you are an active sort of person, with gym memberships, children running amok and something to be picked up at the cleaners on a weekly basis then your circumstances of playing chauffeur to your self and loved ones creates the circumstances for you to want a quick-access, tell me what I need to know right now because I can't think too far down the line kind of planner. Deskfax is not for you in this circumstance. 
HOWEVER, even you warrior breeds like to have a bit of down time and reevaluate personal goals, to-dos, and pantry levels. If you do these things on the go, then carry on with the smaller sizes. If you do these things in the quiet stolen moments at home or work then perhaps it's time to think about a larger footprint for corralling these thoughts into workable bits of data. 

I always want to have my world with me in my planner, but my world changes with every activity I participate in. So the only out from this Dante-esque level of hell is to maintain only 1 calendar (as I have consistently done and professed) and attach or supplement said calendar with a satellite TRACKER. 

What gets tracked? Anything you feel would bring a sense of control to your life if you weren't home or at your command center of life. 

So then, where's the out? It comes when you come to terms with the ever changing circumstances of your own life. Our lives are not stagnant. Why then, do we assume that our planner choices must be stagnant? Is it possible to have only one planner and move on with life. Yes. Be prepared to track who you are becoming as you step into December. Here he comes. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Delights of Ostrichy Cows Or How I Learned To Love Non-Flying Cows

The Delights of Ostrichy Cows
How I Learned to Love Non-Flying Cows

Planner courtesy of Gillio Firenze
Review courtesy of Plannerology

As planner aficionados, we all can agree that a great planner really sets the space for our planning needs. Many times I have found myself unable, YES, unable to write a single word down in a planner simply because the outer shell was not in agreement with what I wanted to experience. Everything is energy. In this particular review, the energy Gillio sent me came in the shape of a Medium Mia Cara wrapped in, never naturally occurring, purple ostrich, which in fact was also never naturally occurring, purple cow’s leather embossed with an ostrich-like pattern.

Behold! The Non-Flying Cow hailing from the island of Purpletopia (aka Florence, Italy). Can there be anything lovelier? I think not.

I had been enjoying the non-flying capability of the purple ostrich Appunto on A5 so I was familiar with the genus and species. Knowing I had a penchant for Medium Mia Cara models, the good folks at Gillio managed to make a non-flying ostrichy cow FLY across the pond to my home in Williamsburg, Virginia. I was shocked customs didn't’ think we were engaging in exotic animal trade. Pleased as punch, I engrossed myself in the usage of this planner to offer a very specific review on capabilities and limitations.

The following are my thoughts and my photos except for the two Mella Pieper shared with me. I have indicated her photos as her own.

First Thoughts: Resilient and hearty leather! For anyone that has already experienced the non-flying cow leather, I am sure you will agree with me the leather is robust and gives the use full confidence in considering participating in “Planner Throwing” events in Olympics. Not that I would want to throw this planner. I am simply saying the quality one experiences at first touch gives a resounding reflection of heft and sturdiness I have not encountered in any other leather save for Scotchgrain; weatherproofed leather! There is an essence of Saffiano leather which comes through slightly but doesn’t go all the way down that path. I love the texture and find myself gliding my fingers over the copious “dots” along the grain. Planners were made to be used-chucked in handbags, plopped on tables and demonstratively handed over to assistants glaringly whilst saying “I don’t have all the answers, I am the talent. Find the answer in here.”

Suggestion of Design No.1: Although seemingly wonderful, the pen holder on the Mia Cara was designed during an era when pens were an afterthought. I have never been able to properly use the pen slot designed for the Mia Cara models because either my pen will slip out as I tip my planner or it will mar the leather with various angles from the clip. I HIGHLY recommend an elasticated pen loop (or two while you are at it-one larger, one smaller).

Secondary Observations: As with all things Gillio, a lot of care has gone into the overall feel and function of this planner. One doesn’t even need to pick it up to notice the penchant for quality design. In keeping with the Mia Cara standards, all seven card slots accommodate various credit cards or Identification cards. I have never worried about these slipping out and this model continues to reassure me of this feature. Overall, the non-flying cow leather gives the planner a slightly “spongier” feel to it which is not altogether unpleasant. I quite like the rather haptic feedback my planner gives me when I am bit stressed out and I start to squeeze it. It doesn’t feel odd or awkward. It feels pleasant and welcoming.

Depending on the angle the light hits the non-flying cow leather, the color changes. Note the variations within my own photos which were taken indoors, with natural light, close to 12:00 PM with a bright blue sky. I have not added or edited the photos except for adding a black border around them.

The Dots! Dotting the landscape (get it?), the user finds elevated bumps intended to mimic the pores of the non-flying ostrich! Although slightly exaggerated in shape and color, they give a wonderful ton-sur-ton color combination, in effect allowing one to have a bi-color planner all within the same color hue.

The Dark Side of Dots: Lo and behold, the dots on my A5 Appunto have started to wear down and out revealing white marks underneath the darker purple hue. I was rather dismayed when I shared this finding with Mella.

And then she revealed to me something extraordinary. Pay attention, oh ye of little faith. Someone had come in to the shop with an old ostrich planner, showing where the years of usage had worn down the ‘bumps’ down to their nubs. What a thing of beauty! I’m not saying this is for everyone and certainly this planner needs some conditioner (in the name of everything holy, please condition this planner!!!) But my goodness, doesn’t this look lovely?!

These photos convinced me to learn to appreciate the non-flying cow leather in a different way than I was used to. You can’t listen to classical music and then say you can’t dance to it. It wasn't made for dancing. Similarly, you can’t look at ostrichy leather and say why doesn’t it stay the same way I bought it? Because this is how it patinas.

Suggestion of Design No. 2: Dear Gillio, dual poppers. That is all.

Firstly is the Medium Mia Cara and secondly is my used A5 Appunto. You can see the wear in the bumps on the right. Also, the Appunto has slightly raised bumps whilst the Mia Cara has flatter bumps. I think overall, that will affect the patina for each planner.
Medium Mia Cara

A5 Appunto
Handmade items will always wear out and will do so recording the history of their timeline as well as they user’s thoughts. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of these models, I highly recommend embracing the variations. I am not saying this because I was given review sample. I am saying this because I fundamentally believe in the classic yet modern beauty these planners represent.

As a fanatic of design, I can appreciate the distinction of a typical models created by hand versus cookie-cutter models created by machines. As a self-professed snob of consistency and standardization how can I then appreciate something with so much variation? the answer for me is simple: We can consistently create beautiful designs, unique in their own right, while maintaining high standards of quality. I create resumes for my clients. Each one is different, yet each one is standardized to maintain consistency in various aspects. Make sure when you pick up your planner, you maintain your expectation of standards to the same aspects. That is, if you are about high-quality leathers, stitching and design, continue to evaluate your planner based on those quantifiers.

I am pleased Gillio have picked Plannerology to provide honest feedback for their latest model, the Medium Mia Cara in purple Ostrich print. I welcome you all to join me in further discussing how making first-class lifestyle choices, like picking handmade over machine made, impacts every aspect of our lives and creates the calm or stress we have.

You can find discussions at or via photo at Instagram @KarineTovmassian. You can also find me next year in San Francisco, California at the first annual PlannerCon speaking about the first-class lifestyle and analogue planners in a post-digital 21st century. You can also hear me telling Steve Morton to “shut-it” at our podcast, The HitchHiker’s Guide To The Plannnerverse, available at iTunes and on

These new colours will be released at 14:00 CET on Tuesday 27th September on the Gillio Website.There will be an introduction discount offer on each of the new colours, see the Gillio website for full details.

Each organiser will come with 2017 inserts and a free pen in a colour of your choice, make your selection at the check out.

Should you want a colour that is out of stock, you are advised to register your email address for each colour you are interested in as Gillio do take notice of the number of email addresses registered to determine which colours to have made next.

As soon as a colour is restocked then the list is cleared down. So if you miss out on a particular colour, please register your email address again.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Planning Doldrums And Other Thoughtlets For The End Of Summers

As summer comes to a sizzling close, I find myself pensively gazing out the windows of my upstairs home-office longingly hoping for a sign of a drip-drip-drop of rain. Some clouds had gathered today for a short meeting but it seems no one had brought coffee, so they dispersed later on in the early part of the evening. Planning on Sunday evenings feels cathartic, needed and natural. It often feels like some kind of beacon, honing in on what the week's pulse is destined to be.

This week we had 9 trees felled at our cottage. We still have a whopping 32 on the property and I know when the storms come later next month, I won't worry as much about which branches are hovering dangerously close to my office roof. Similarly, I have culled a tree's worth of data from 8 months of planner related detritus collected mostly a little thoughts, or thoughtlets, as I like to call them. Some of these thoughtlets were thought with the intention of them turning into full thoughts and upon weekly once-throughs in my planner, they became discarded entities, abstract realities with no tangible connections to projects or goals.

As with all seasonal changes, the beauty of their reality is dependent on our own ability to see ourselves within those same changes. I would very much like to have a clear space when the rains do come, to examine goals progress and adjust milestones to account for the being of human being. Knowing the seasons change should allow us to be kinder to ourselves when we take an account of where we are in the year, based on our own expectations of where we anticipated we might be at the  beginning of the year. We are now different people. In a month or so, so much more will have changed in us and in our lives.

For anyone looking at a laundry list of failed goals, consider this new season one of renewal where a recommitment to idealistic hopes can be reassessed and repurposed, this time with clearer instructions and actions to help pick apart behemoth goals we often set for ourselves. The key to succeeding is to pick 1-2 goals only. Make sure when you ARE picking your goals you are not inadvertently picking out action items to help you progress toward your goal success. Often actionable items can be conflated with goals. For example: I want to exercise more is not really a goal; it is a vague descriptor of an action one can take to gain a better sense of well-being. The goal might be to feel more supple in 6 months or to lose x number of pounds or be able to walk for x number of miles. A well-defined goal, with milestones, realistic outcomes and a motivational reason for accomplishing it all serve to help create momentum around achievement. Habit is what helps us succeed with the drudgery of actually getting things done. 

If, for example, you are setting a goal you hope to maintain as part of a new lifestyle, changing your lifestyle habits must also be part of the actionable items, otherwise you will go back to what you have now. 

I shall be using the remainder of summer to plan out and track a single goal for myself with a deadline of 3 months, to keep me honest. Now to find my to-do list in the pile of papers I've just culled...

Copyright Karine Tovmassian, LLC 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Meeting Place Or: How To Create A Passive-Agressive Planning Hub in Your Home

I want to dedicate this post to the many paper planner aficionados who understand the value of paper planning and want their families to reap the same benefits. Whether or not your family is into writing things down, you can BET they would love to know where you are going to be during the day and I am not just talking about stalking someone's whereabouts on the "Find My Friends" app.

Consider setting up a spot in the home where everyone is guaranteed to go past at least twice a day. This spot exists in our home and I have the following items on an old desk.

  1. A lamp
  2. A wire basket for outgoing packages
  3. An envelope holder for outgoing post (very often we have so many outgoing packages they end up crushing the regular outgoing post, so I have to separate them.)
  4. A badder than bad Filofax Sandhurst Deskfax indicating MY weekly plan.
  5. An old pen pot with viable pens.

That's it. No fuss, no muss. Our keys are nearby on the opposite wall hanging off a key hook. Here's the basic premise of my plan...If the family gets used to seeing where I will be during the week, they may appreciate anticipating my return to plan out events we will be doing together. But, there is more! I am going to leave a very thin pack of post-it notes nearby to make it look like there is a scarcity. Oh, sorry, that was me falling about laughing thinking there is a post-it note scarcity in my home. I have enough note pads to last me two lifetimes. But, yes, place a thin pad next to the desk fax and see if anyone feels inspired to write their own a-la-Carie Harling.

Here is where the plan gets slightly evil. I will take the planner away in one month. So when they all go to see where I will be, there will be nothing but an old desk surface looking back at them, along with the post baskets. Ideally, they will all call out in unison "Bring Back The Planner!" 

I will begin testing this theory after a month of desk usage and will naturally report my very non-scientific findings here. Developing a habit is not an easy task, let alone developing it in a passive-aggressive way for others to employ. I have high hopes. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Defining The Space Between Planning and Thinking

There are many reasons to throw one's planner out the window. One particular reason is the perpetual space created between our thoughts and our plans. How we planned something doesn't necessarily end up getting executed the same way we intended. For example, you may have planned a nap in the afternoon and instead found yourself attending to a client that really needed your input. *Ehem, Sam*.

Planner fails happen because we have failed to clearly identify our personal goals in relation to our expectation of the planner's potential. 

It's not the planner's fault you had high expectation of it! You set up these lofty ideals and then forgot to tell your planner how you were intending to set it up. Womp. Womp. Planner fail ensues. The best and quickest way out of planner fail that DOES NOT require more insert purchases is to assign your vision and intention to your planner and set it up with the end goal in mind.

Say you want to keep better track of where you are spending your time during the work week and you forgot that that's what you wanted to see as a result at the end of the week because SQUIRREL! Ideally, you will have noticed on day 2 that your tracking is not going as planned because you have failed to plan. However, if you are like me and you realized your tracking is nowhere to be found an hour before the end of the work week, proceed to the following steps:
1. IMMEDIATELY, go to the next week and pick the end date (the following Friday).
2. Write in BIG, BOLD letters: Congratulations! Tracking achieved!
3. Close your eyes and think how you will feel, yes feel, when you know you have a full week's data at your greedy little finger tips and sit with that feeling for a solid 10 seconds.
4. Open your eyes and create a tracker, tick box, hyperdex, checklist, slot for every single day working back to the day you are starting on.
5. Close planner and feel MUCH BETTER about the fact that your tracking system is now in place.
6. Refer to planner the following day and NOTICE how your end result is there WINKING at ya, helping you succeed.
Once you have your vision aligned with your planner, execution should be a lot simpler to remember and you have now set yourself up for success.

Challenge yourself with little goals like this to help you learn how to identify and prioritize your values so your planner can become a reflection of who you are and how you are evolving throughout the year. 

Planners are more than appointment keepers. They are a living, breathing record of how you are navigating your life and the medium you choose initially may not be the ideal set up for how your brain thinks. If you catch yourself failing to plan, you may have just discovered a system that does not work for you. Don't give up. Keep trying until you get to a point where your planner becomes your assistant. You can name it Jeeves. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Planning On The Weekends, Like Your Life Depended On It.

There is a definite moment in the time-space continuum where the giddiness of Friday evening, knowing an ENTIRE WEEKEND is about to begin, turns into the reality of THE WEEKEND HAS BEGUN and we must now endeavor to squeeze every last drop of weekendness out of it before it Mondays again.

And to those of us that use the weekend to plan, I raise this cool glass of club soda to you, to us for understanding the potential of next week lays at our fingertips and we must, at all costs, strive to plan before the doldrums of Sunday night overtake our senses.

As we settle in to our planner planning, let me make a simple comment. "Planning out the week will only be as good as the hope you are willing to throw at it." That is, if you can imagine what your week will look and feel like, BEFORE you begin planning you can stir the needed sparks of joy to infuse in your planning and develop an entire theme for how your week will play out. Systematically, define all the waking and sleeping hours and see if you can find corners of mental and spiritual renewal. We live in a culture where productivity is awarded and slothfulness is undesirable. Is it possible to find a time-space where we can refill the well of creativity, thoughtfulness, ambition and desire so we can be productive with purpose versus glorifying busyness?

Taking time to set up the emotional platform for planning means taking time to allow the "what is" to exist with you before you dictate just how productive you will have to be to out produce everyone else you are trying to get ahead of. It's quite possible to have yourself as your only competition and see if you can manage to be kind to yourself whilst being productive. Anyone (and everyone) manages to be productive whilst letting their health wither. That's too easy. So, really, the time to breathe, and think and daydream are all part of the planner planning process and we must listen to that inner voice that longingly calls for "doing nothing" before we begin to plan. That time-space is medium in which our true purpose can exist seamlessly with our thoughts and to deny that is to deny your own inspiration. No amount of "quiet music" can cure the inability to listen to the internal dialogue that comes from sitting quietly. There must be space to breathe so that calm and order and reign within the week you just sat down to plan.

You say you want more peace in your life? You want to start living the First-Class Lifestyle? Start by bringing it into your planning. Quiet down. Power off and see what happens when you let your mind drift for a bit. 

Have a great week ahead kiddies. Don't forget to tell me how your week went at Plannerology.