Monday, 22 February 2016

The planner community - a little bit sad or the ultimate "cool girls" stationary group?

So, it's been a while since the last blog post.  Unfortunately our household has come to sickness again and we've been off the grid.  Really hoping for everyone to be healthy and well in March!

I've been using my Erin Condren planner for a couple of months now.  Like so many others, I was nervous initially.  Scared to put pen or sticker to the perfectly smooth paper, of not completing the perfect "spread" for the week.  For if you spend just a few minutes searching "Erin Condren planner" online, you'll quickly Facebook, Instagram and Youtube are full of images, blogs and videos of "how to plan".

At first I thought these sites were merely instructional and informative.  But I quickly learned they were all part of the "planner community", who know such a thing existed?! But exist it does.  Women the world over post their reviews of Erin Condren products, how they've used stationary to plan their week, and discuss the big old chestnut; decorative or functional stickers?  There are even Facebook fan groups dedicated to planning.

And then I realised, that the women participating in these discussions very clearly consider themselves to be part of the planner community, and that some consider planning as a hobby.  I found this bizarre.  To me, the process of planning is something I've always done, and has been purely functional; it helps me prioritise tasks, manage time and achieve realistic goals.  The Erin Condren vertical planner suits me perfectly; three sections per day, which I use for morning, afternoon and evening.  I've discovered that I'm definitely a colour coding pen kind of girl, with the occasional use of a functional sticker.  And if it's a special, really special, occasion I'll use the odd decorative sticker.

But it is the concept of a virtual global planner community that intrigues me the most: women who, for the most part, never meet.  They share extremely personal data (pictures of weekly schedules, including appointments and tasks etc), communicate regularly (even Periscope is being used!) and spend a small fortune on what appears to me to be stickers many a girl used in her Brownie scrapbook in the 80's and 90's.

That was my initial impression.

It struck me as a little bit sad.  Lonely women, connecting with strangers, to indulge in an extremely solitary hobby.  It seemed so far removed from the quilting bees of yester-year, where women gathered together at the end of a busy day.  They shared their story, sorrow and joy.  There was encouragement for all, and a sense of inclusion from being one of the local community.

But as I dipped my toe into the water of the planner community, and joined in the odd conversation or two, I quickly realised that it's a little more social than I initially thought.  First there are RAKs .....  Random Acts of Kindness , where one person will send some pretty stationary goodies free of charge to another in the group.  Next I noticed group orders; where one person orders on behalf of everyone interested, and splits the hefty Erin Condren shipping costs ..... particularly helpful if one lives overseas!  And then I stumbled upon planner meet-up groups; where planners living in the same locality meet up, presumably to share ideas, stationary resources and other advice.  And so the picture builds.  Far from lonely girls sitting in front of a computer screen, crying into their tea, I've come to appreciate the planner community for what it is: busy women, trying to get organised, and doing it in their own unique style.  For some, this means "no white spaces" (Google it).  For others, it means an intricate colour coding system of pens and stickers. Either way, it all helps us achieve our goals, and the ultimate planner goal ..... planner peace!

Cheerio for now
first time mammy

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