How to Buy a Day Planner


First, read this from “The New Engagement Book” in “Mrs. Miniver” by Jan Struthers: 

…”It is a thing, she knew, which must never be done in a hurry. An engagement book is the most important of all those small adjuncts to life, that tribe of humble familiars which jog along beside one from year’s end to year’s end, apparently trivial, but momentous by reason of their terrible intimacy.

… Of the week-at-an-opening kind, there were only three left. That was the worst of leaving it so late. One was bound in crimson leatherette, one in brown calf, and one in green lizard-skin. She rejected the leatherette at once. In a spasm of post-Christmas economy, she had once bought a very cheap engagement book, and it had annoyed her for twelve months; everything she put down in it looked squalid. The green lizard on the other hand, was marked seven-and-sixpence, which seemed a fabulous price to pay. She decided on the brown calf, at three-and-nine: a smooth pleasant little volume, an honest and sturdy companion for a year’s march. It would wear well; she could not possibly, she knew, take a dislike to it. She paid, put it in her bag, left the shop and stepped on to a no. 11 bus.

…she walked back to Sloane Square as fast as she could. At this very moment, perhaps, the green lizard-skin diary was being bought by somebody else- some wholly unsuitable person who merely wanted to get one in a hurry; a rich earnest woman who would fill it with committee meetings, or a business man who would not even glance at the binding when he opened it to jot down the words ‘Dine George.’ While she herself, with all her dearest activities soberly confined in brown calf, would be thinking about it in an agony of regret.

But it was still there. She produced another three-and-nine pence and bore it away delighted…”


I love this story because it is so true. It always takes me awhile to pick out calendars and day planners because I know I have to live with them for a full year. This year I made the massive mistake of buying my day planner online. I do not know what I was thinking. You have to hold a planner, flip through it, really scrutinize the lay out, see how it feels.

I bought the “pocket diary” on-line because it had a lot of inspirational stuff in it, which I like. Each month has a different theme and color with quotes and ideas of things to do. I like that part. But as a day planner it was never going to work. First, it is too small. I thought a smaller size would be good so it would fit better in my purse, but 4” x 6” makes me feel like a giant and there isn’t enough space to write legibly.  Second, no spiral binding so it won’t stay open. Third, the month view page is really tiny (only on half a page of the already small pages) and it comes after the weekly pages. I had no idea I had a preference for the monthly overview being before the weekly pages but apparently I do. And last, the monthly calendars started the week on Monday. What? I just couldn’t wrap my brain around that. I wrote all of our paydays on Saturday instead of Friday before I realized what was going on.  The week starts on Sunday on calendars, period.

I am happy that I admitted to myself that I had made a mistake before torturing myself trying to use the tiny planner. The next time I was on base I looked for a new planner at the BX (base exchange, a department store for the military). Like Mrs. Miniver I had left it too late and there wasn’t much selection left. I immediately spied a single teal blue splash of color. It was spiral, with tabs; monthly pages starting on Sunday and one week at a time spread over two pages. Unlined, with each month a different color and some sort of island picture at the top and a spot for future planning for 2017 (very important near the end of the year). I clutched it to me while dutifully perusing the other planners but of course teal won. Sometimes you just know.

The cover is a bit plain but I can remedy that with a few stickers and some washi tape. I have transferred all my appointments and notes over, shocked at how full the year already is. So now I know how to buy a planner: in person. Some things just can’t be bought online.


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