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Like Sand Through the Hourglass

The girl in the FranklinCovey store didn’t understand what was wrong with my day-planner filler pages.

“I want less stuff on the page,” I told her. “I want less clutter. More space.”

Till then I had been using a style called Monticello, maybe to make you think your schedule was just as important as Thomas Jefferson’s house.

The Monticello filler is full of itsy-bitsy squares and columns, and lines so narrow you’d have to have the fine motor skills of a dentist to be able to write within them.

I needed something a little more along the “Don’t Fence Me In” lines: blank space in which to stretch out with my mechanical pencil and go wild with my task lists.

I also needed something a little less prescriptive.

Because what I hadn’t realized when I first switched from using Day-Timer planners is that a FranklinCovey planner is a way of life. I was supposed to be a FranklinCovey convert, not a mere consumer.

Their planners have the usual stuff: expense-report forms, long-term planning sheets, short-term goal cards, yearly expense tracker and automobile service record—pages I’m guessing most of us throw out or use for making supermarket shopping lists.

But, in addition, there are pages and pages designed to help you lead a more meaningful, organized and productive life. A real American life.

There are Values Clarification sheets and Have, Do, Be sheets and Tribute Statement sheets and Role Identification sheets. There are motivational quotes for each day so you never have to wonder what to think about.

For April 11 of last year, that stalwart puritan Oliver Cromwell noted: “A few honest men are better than numbers.”

On Nov. 10, Dave Weinbaum observed: “A window of opportunity won’t open itself.”

And Justice Sandra Day O’Connor gave us this perplexing little koan: “Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short-winded.”

Each month also has its own focus question that is repeated at the top of each new day. August’s sage advice was: “You shape your habits; then your habits shape you.”

If you live your life the FranklinCovey way, you can, apparently, be all that you can be. You can fulfill your potential. Realize your dreams. Or at least maximize your options.

“I don’t want all this stuff,” I told the girl, pointing at all the little motivational quotes and task lists and symbols.

She looked at me blankly. I think she knew I wasn’t a team player.

“All that we’ve got is right there,” she said, waving her arm, and went back to unpacking boxes full of aids to success.

I took a long look at what filler pages there were to be had.

And as it happens, there is a new FranklinCovey design.

It’s called Simplicity. I could tell right away this day planner was strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.

Monticello pages feature a border of faux marble and bold blue bars dividing columns.

Simplicity doesn’t have bars; it has little line drawings. A pair of birds. A sun peeking out from behind a cloud. A blooming plant. And its pages are the more muted shades of the Maybelline eye-shadow palette, with colors that change quarterly.

For each month there is a key word “to provide you with focus for inspiration and self-examination” as it says in the planner guide.

January’s word is “imagine.” In February, it’s “embrace.” It goes on like this all year.

Monticello features those masculine, goal-oriented quotes. Simplicity quotes are kinder, gentler. You won’t find a single big, scary capital letter in any of them.

“silent as women wait for love, the world is waiting for spring,” says sara teasdale for april 14.

“better by far that you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad,” says christina rossetti for nov. 24.

“can you come out and play?” queries poet audre lorde who would be pleased, I’m sure, to be remembered for such sage words.

You see the pattern, of course. Each and every quote is by a woman. Because after all, Simplicity is the day-planner filler that tells you “You go, girl” in a thousand gentle, uplifting, relational, empowering, compassionate and playful different ways.

And that’s just what we girls want, isn’t it?

So, what happened was, I bought Simplicity.

I know, I know, I can never pull out my day planner at a meeting anymore. Because I now have lavender, mint and peach-melba-colored filler pages in my planner. I have happy-go-lucky quotes at the top of my pages accompanied by sketches of beach umbrellas, tree swings and shooting stars.

Instead of toll-free numbers for rental cars and hotels near major airports, my Simplicity pages feature a Gift Log and a Party Planner, a Birthday Guide with flower and gemstone for each month and an Anniversary Gift List by Year. Did you know that it’s appropriate to give fashion jewelry to a couple married 11 years? Original pictures to couples married for 26? And for the 42nd anniversary, improved real estate?

I’m pretty in-touch with my feelings about this purchase: I feel market-targeted.

Because Simplicity was the only planner that had exactly the thing I was looking for: wider-ruled pages, big blank spaces and no motivational-speaker promptings littering every unfilled space.

Now I confess, I’m frightened a little. Has some market study somewhere discovered that people—women—who like big, blank spaces and wide-ruled pages are also likely to feel inspired by quotes from Coco Chanel and Zelda Fitzgerald?

Am I in danger of becoming market-sculpted into a kindler, gentler Jo for the year 2003, a Jo getting in touch with my essential FranklinCovey femininity?

Will I learn to Encourage one month, and Rejoice during another? Will I start giving month-appropriate flowers on birthdays? (My heartfelt apologies to those of you didn’t get carnations for your January birthdays. I’m working on the February violets.)

How far will this unfolding sense of the FranklinCovey female take me? Will I replace my Speed Stick with Secret and razors with cocoa-butter-scented Nair?

Time will tell. But in the meantime, I’m going to resist the pressure to write a statement of My Unique Purpose—at least until I’ve Uncovered What Matters Most.

Because after all, just like Anne Wilson Schaef says for the week of Sept. 15, “We cannot look to others to tell us who we are.”

—Jo Page

 You can contact Jo Page at

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