I miss the Franklin Planner I used to lug around. Before cell phones became smartphones, when people mostly only had beepers I used to have a Franklin Planner. In fact I had a Franklin Planner before Franklin Planner became Franklin-Covey. I listened to the tapes (yes this was a while ago) on how to use the thing like 6 times because Hyrum Smith was amusing to listen to. I really liked that thing. I think I carried it for more than two years. The planner acted as my wallet/purse and address book. In reality it was a proto-smartphone and handled all of my planning needs. What killed it for me was my own lack of need for all that functionality and the necessity to constantly update it.


Each morning you were suppose to spend time looking to see what needed to be done. Then you were supposed to prioritize that list. I found myself just not needing to write down things like buy groceries or get gas. I had a job where I went to the same place every day at the same time so it’s not like my schedule varied much. Also since I rarely had anything written down to do when something did come up I wasn’t in the habit of checking my schedule throughout the day so I would miss stuff I had written down. But I really liked the Idea of the organizational planner so I persisted in trying to make it part of my life for two years.

I think what finally sunk it for me was the cost. A Franklin planner could cost upwards of a hundred dollars with all the supplements you would need to make it really work if you were a salesman or project manager. Those were the professions that it was really designed for. But for the everyday joe like myself a pocket calendar that came with an address book from the dollar store worked just as well for remembering important dates or appointments.

I did learn some very important lessons from the Franklin Planner that have helped me.

When I have a big job to do I break it down into manageable chunks then break those chunks down into the tasks necessary to get the chunks done. Then I figure out on a timeline how long those tasks will take and which ones need to be done first. With that I start planning on when to get them done so that in the end the big job gets done on time. This really served me well when I went college.

The philosophy behind the Franklin Planner also was helpful in giving me a vocabulary to understand my own personal priorities and goals. It asked me what was important to me and if it was important to me why was I putting energy into other things and not that? It was that whole “is the Jar full” thought experiment but laid out in my daily tasks to help me see where I was putting my time.

In the end I didn’t need a planner to be the person I was trying to be but the skills it gave me have helped me to effectively make use of some of the helpful features on my smart phone and computer. I’m much less likely to forget a doctor’s appointment or to pay a bill late now. I still like to take apart big tasks to make them more manageable. I miss the solid feel of it sometimes. The ready access to all my notes has been replaced by my smartphone but the phone still seems a bit small sometimes. I miss the tactile feel of flipping through a bunch of paper until a note or word catches my eye however I can say I do not miss the piles of clutter that came with those piles of paper and notebooks. A simple keyword search helps me find things now in seconds that used to take me hours to locate. I think I’m better off now organizationally. I’m sure I’ve got my rose colored glasses on looking back at my time with the planner but that’s OK since I don’t dwell on the past, trying to recreate it.

I learned my lessons from it. That is the worthier part.