On Day Planners and Chaos

I spent 20 minutes staring at the DIY day planner display at the craft store yesterday.

20. Minutes.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of papercraft. So you would think the DIY Day Planner trend would be right up my alley…but instead, like most things, it just gave me an anxiety attack and a sad feeling.

I like Day Planners. My dad, ever adorably practical, gets each of us girls one every year and I, with my millions of appointments, deadlines and other nonsense, find it very useful…(for the first three months, before I leave it on the counter and forget about its existence). So I, still in this post-book cloud of alternating relief and stress, floated towards the aisle, like a moth towards a bug zapper.

After 20 minutes, I was sad and confused.

For those of you with actual lives who don’t know about this stuff, the DIY Day Planner trend consists of a lot of stickers, inserts and an expensive folio that you jam pack with affirmations, lists, folders and other nonsense. It is the most useless thing in the world, because that thing must weigh at least 10 pounds and if you took it on a plane, you would be forced to check it as oversized luggage. 

Men’s planners are not like this. Men’s planners do not charge you $4 for a fuzzy cactus on a card that stays “Look Sharp!” Men’s planners do not sell you separate inserts for Bible Study, Wardrobe Tracker and Meal Planning. They are a basic calendar, a time-zone list and a place to put your mistress’ phone number under a fake title.

So here’s what the DIY Day Planner trend says to me:

  1. A desire to organize the chaos of modern living, right down to what you’re wearing on Thursday, as though that will somehow allow you to finally gain some control of the madness of the universe.  Who are you kidding, imaginary planner-lady, you haven’t worn anything but yoga pants since your honeymoon. How do I know you don’t work? Because career women don’t have time for this shit.
  2. Crippling ennui of suburban drudgery. Our lives are so devoid of real meaning or plans that “Meet Sue For Lunch at Starbucks” warrants a sticker set, an insert card that says “Good Times Are On The Way” and a whole list of things you like about Sue (total cost: $7). Your life is not that interesting. Sue is not that interesting. I’m sorry, this is not worth anything more than a post-it note to be crumpled up and tossed away later.
  3. The gussied-up reinforcement of the WOMEN HAVE TO DO IT ALL message that screams at us from every magazine, from Martha Stewart Living to Glamour to Shape to Reader’s Digest. The DIY planner trend is just the Culture of Busy wrapped up in Pinterest. If you don’t plan your wardrobe and your meals a week ahead of time, you’re a FAILURE, Stacy, just a goddamn failure to this WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD. Because now not only do you have to keep track of doctor’s appointments and playdates and lunches and wardrobes and everything else, you have to decorate it too! AHHH!!!!

It’s a con, ladies, just one more way to play on both your insecurities about success in your field (from being a mom to being a CEO and everything in between) and your fear that it’s not pretty enough, that you’re not making it yours, that you are falling behind in your life because it’s raining and you had planned to wear flats and you can’t wear the canvas flats if it’s raining!!!! Because you want to use the stickers at say “Like a Boss.” You want to feel like you’ve accomplished something because damn it, the whole world is out to tell you that you are worthless…but don’t fall for it. You don’t need the stickers to rule the fucking world.

Put DOWN the washi tape. It’s fine, it’s all fine. Yes, you probably need a day planner, because day planners are useful. Get one with flowers on it if you’re feeling fancy. Put stickers in it if you want to put stickers in it, make lists if you like making lists. But don’t get suckered into an expensive project that turns the simplest outing into busy work. The DIY Planner trend is creating chaos, not managing it.


1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the intervention. I had been considering Define Your Life because Facebook kept suggesting it. BUT I DO NOT NEED IT NOW.

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