Life at the Hall

When fancy (and expensive) let me down

So this is what happens when you go to the lady doctor and you have a babysitter: after my appointment, I ran to the Target at Stone Oak–the magical Target at Stone Oak.


As I was shopping for a big ass sharpie marker (one of the things that makes a person like me happy) I saw the display of planner/agendas so I thought I would have a quick look. Usually, your average planner on the market doesn’t satisfy me, so I thought I would just have a quick flip through.

But as I was looking, I thought, “WAIT! I know this design!” And they are white and black and gold, and then, on the inside, “What is this?! A NOTE FROM WHITNEY ENGLISH? OH MY GOD IT’S A DAY DESIGNER.”

GRRR. Why GRRR? Because I paid $72 for my Day Designer last December. This is a sore point. I was looking forward to blogging about how much I loved it–the balance of your daily to do’s with your big picture ideas. “We’re on a mission to get you organized and on your way to living an intentional, meaningful and well-designed life.”


Well shit that sounds magical–but I didn’t love it. In fact, I really didn’t like it. After using the Day Designer for two months, I gave up and went back to keeping calendar items in Google Calendar but I still write notes for to do’s and other reminders, and I keep those in my crazy notebook. And I was trying to not talk about the Day Designer since I paid $72. Serves me right.

However, when my godmother was visiting, she saw my crazy notebook which lead to a conversation about why I do this and how I organize myself, and yes, I pulled out my Day Designer. So not even two weeks ago I was explaining how the Day Designer let me down.

Before I go any further, let me be clear: I think that being organized is an elusive goal that nobody really has figured out or perfected, and if they tell you they do, they are lying, or trying to sell you an overpriced planner.

I don’t necessarily think keeping my calendar items in Google Calendar is “the best” but ever since I met T and we have this shared life, and ever since I had OJ and we have these recurring weekly items like music class, it makes sense. In fact, I just re-color-coded my Google calendar using 50 Beautiful Color Palettes and the ColorPick Eyedropper (really freaking cool extension for Chrome) and then edited the colour of each calendar (I keep 15, organized by priority) to a custom color with the formula from ColorPick. Because I am a nut bar. I used #2 by Cardsox, BTW.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 9.27.31 PM

But Google Calendar is not the full picture of being organized. There is still a to-do list and other reminders.

“So why were you shopping for a planner in December, M?” Aside from probably trying to get some control over that crazy time in our lives, and resolving for a new year, I was willing to give it the old college try because this is what women in the South do. I have noticed that since we moved to Texas, lots of women use handwritten planners and handwritten address books (modern answers: google contacts) and handwritten recipe books (pinterest). They also like to talk about sex. A lot. In DC, I blended with the rest of the over-scheduled, overachieving, neurotic Nancies. But now it’s like super obvious that I am way too anxious and wound up. And definitely wouldn’t talk about sex. I stick out like a sore thumb here. In time, y’all. In time.

Old college try, take two. Here is my cold hard breakdown of why the $72 version is infinitely less good (slash sucks so bad) than the line of Day Designers for Target (which run from $5.99 to $19.99 VOMIT).

  • Durability: the expensive version comes packaged in tissue with ribbons and butterflies and there is literally a note which says, “this is fragile and should stay on the desk or be carried very carefully”. Well for fucks sake, how useless is that. In the Target version, most of the planners have a plastic cover on the front and a manageable spiral that will fit into your bag. Note: the expensive version is such a tome you wouldn’t want to carry it anyway.
  • Layout: the expensive version has a month view at the start of the month, there is no week view, and then the day view is one day per page, and Saturday/Sunday are coupled together in one page. I thought I would like one page per day but it drove me crazy. I need that intermediary step–having 15 pages of day view between the month view made it harder to keep an eye on the five days that make up the week and then the weekend. In the Target version, most of the planners have a week view.
  • The expensive version has very delicate pages such that pen bleeds through. Who carries a planner and what’s more, who carries a pencil. 

After carefully examining seven different planners at Target (and getting totally waylaid and keeping the babysitter late) I was down to two:

1. Small and compact


2. Lovely landscape


They had some smaller versions but I cannot write that small and some larger versions which I really don’t want after the last go around. Ultimately, I selected the second one. It fit into my bag well (not looking suspicious at all putting products in my bag while hanging out in an empty aisle), I liked the “monthly to do” (a list I was keeping in the margins in the expensive designer), I liked that each day view had more space than in option one, and the novelty! of a landscape format.

In the quest for constant improvement, go find your local magical Target. In an effort to meet a compulsive habit, I bought a new planner today. Thank GOD it was only $9.99 this time.



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