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Diaries, Personal Organisers and Getting Things Done

Do you spend more time planning what to do than actually doing it? Perhaps, like me, you’re an innately organised Virgo, who loves nothing better than rearranging papers in the inbox of your desk, or neatly rewriting part-completed lists for future reference?


My journal writing goes back to the early 1970s, when diaries were doodled with love hearts and musings on David Cassidy. In my Charles Letts and Co 'every girl’s guide to the 1973 SCENE’ diary, the entries suddenly stop on May 3rd with the words, “I think I will give up my diary.”

Come 1977, and I was using a fat, page-a-day appointments diary, filled to bursting point with all sorts of additional attachments - from concert programmes and newspaper cuttings, to correspondence from school friends and pen pals. For a whole year I chronicled the obsessive details of my teenage life.

Meantime, my dad received a ‘foolscap’ sized Boots Scribbling Diary for Christmas every year. Once a week, he would retreat upstairs to ruminate over his finances, resulting in columns of important-looking long hand calculations filling every page. Only after he died did my mother discover the numbers didn’t add up. Her own Woman magazine journal was mainly used to keep a record of the weather, and jot down recipe ideas.

By the early 1980s, my pressing need to record every inner thought required a succession of heavy-duty notebooks. And then I discovered the Filofax. I had an A4 version in black calfskin, but also a smaller one in fuchsia pink. Later, an annual perk of my City job was a Financial Times desk diary. As work got more time consuming, this became a register of appointments with scrubbed out notes, and I continued with this particular model until the late noughties, when I started to favour Moleskine diaries.

Recently, however, I have found the ultimate journal for my current needs. The Clever Fox Planner is so much more than a diary, it helps me set daily and monthly goals – so, as well as organising my life, I can actually get things done. The premium version, available in a range of curiously cool colours, comes in a presentation box - making it a perfect gift. Plus, there’s an instruction manual, and sheets of stickers.

I love the methodology behind setting out a mission, writing down objectives, and creating affirmations. There are even spaces for mind-maps, and a vision board, which is great for people of a creative disposition. Best of all are the sections that encourage you to review achievements and reflect on what you’ll do differently next time, before revising plans and moving forward.

One of the main advantages of planners is that they are undated, so you can start your diary at any time of year. There are other organisers you may prefer, depending on what you are looking for. The Legend Planner, for instance, also comes in a range of funky colours, with stickers, and a wealth of self-motivational inspiration. This organiser may be more useful if you are following an academic year.

By the way, I have kept all my old diaries, with their handwritten pages, quirky annotations, old photographs and sticky-taped memories of yesteryear.

I bet you are curious to know what I wrote… Are you?

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