Notebooks and planners are a way to keep your crazy life and crazy thoughts somewhat organized and contained and recorded. Yes, I know that smartphones can do this. So why paper? I’m a staunch traditionalist, although seeing as I’m addressing an audience of people who wear blazers to play a sport, I may be in similar company. Sure, phones can do everything a notebook can and more – but there’s something very appetizing about flipping through a physical catalog of your life.
Thinking about using a bundle of paper to keep track of your days? There are so many options. Ideally, whatever you end up using should feel like an extension of yourself – something you carry around, confide in, and are inspired by.
It’s just a book with dates, right? Wrong! Ideally you’ll be keeping this with you at all times. Does it fit in your purse? Do you have enough room to write everything you need?
This year, I made the mistake of buying a pretty, flowery planner without looking inside. It was decorated with cheesy sayings such as “Play Hooky”, “Dance Under the Stars”, and “Play Dress Up”. It included a page of gold stickers with very un-inspiring sayings like “Mani/Pedi!”, and “Date Night!”. I was a little insulted. Wasn’t the whole point of planners to encourage productivity – not convince you to skip work? Those lessons do not pay for themselves.
Before you buy yourself a planner, ask: what exactly do you have trouble keeping track of? How much will you realistically be using it? It may take a few tries to get the perfect one.
It’s not just a journal – it’s a lifestyle. There’s a whole cult following surrounding bullet journaling, which is essentially using a grid-dotted notebook to make a custom planner. It’s labor-intensive, but very rewarding. Lists, time trackers and goals are all color-coded and often decorated with cool fonts and doodles. If you’re one of those creative perfectionists, spending a half-hour every night creating your own little world is very meditative. It may also drive you crazy, depending on your disposition.
Craving the custom structure of a bullet journal, but not ready for the time commitment? There’s literally a planner for equestrians called View Halloo – 297 faux-leather bound pages, complete with illustrations. It keeps track of training schedules, vet appointments, lesson notes and even travel itineraries.
Plain Ole’ Notebooks
You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy a fresh ruled page to jot down your thoughts in. Had a rough day? Vent through your pen, a la 12-year-old girl. Did your trainer say something pertinent in your lesson? Write it down – you may enjoy reading it again in a few years. Make a list of the horse shows you’d love to compete at – and start crossing them off.
It is completely normal to be overcome with Notebook Abandonment Syndrome. Speaking even from the perspective of a writing addict, I am the not-so-proud owner of a graveyard of half-filled notebooks and planners. I’m slowly getting the hang of what works, and getting in the habit of using them regularly. When I leave the house in the morning, my mental checklist of phone, wallet, keys also includes planner and notebook. I want it to become a proper thing.
When you put your thoughts down on paper, you effectively transfer the stress of having to remember to those pages and out of your mind. It’s a place where you can worry, plan, dream and ruminate.
And draw little ponies in the margins.