Sand Through the Hourglass
girl in the FranklinCovey store didn’t understand what was
wrong with my day-planner filler pages.
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
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.
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
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
For each month there is a key word “to provide you with focus
for inspiration and self-examination” as it says in the planner
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.
as women wait for love, the world is waiting for spring,”
says sara teasdale for april 14.
by far that you should forget and smile than that you should
remember and be sad,” says christina rossetti for nov. 24.
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
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
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
can contact Jo Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.