Of Balance, Ben Franklin, and Boiled Eggs (-LES)

In September I discovered this daily schedule of Ben Franklin; (perhaps it was a map of his ideal day, something I’ve been trying to map out to myself with some difficulty.)

Ben-Franklin-Schedule

I was immediately enthralled. I had only recently returned to the ways of paper planning, having lived for a decade or so in the murky darkness of digital organization, flittling from app to app, from half-hearted google calendar to just keeping it all in my head. As, at the time, a full time working mother of one, (I’m a college professor), I was able to hold it together with only the occasional scheduling mishap, somehow; (I’m not sure how, honestly!) But as I contemplate going back to work after my sabbatical and maternity leave, now as a mother of two, the prospect is daunting to say the least.

But not only that; I don’t want to just be getting by. My goal isn’t just to not miss appointments. I want to live well, doing the things that matter, and I don’t want to be consumed by worry and stress. I want to be able to be fully present—or at least as present as possible—for my children, for my students, and for my research.

So to return to Ben Franklin, I think what impressed me most about this daily page was its synthesis of big and little picture, its insistence on mindfulness of our larger goals (What good shall I do today? What good have I done today?) while being grounded in the realities of every day (breakfast; dine; look over accounts—I don’t suppose he meant his Facebook account…. Can you imagine BF thumbing through his email as he dug into a boiled egg?)

So how to translate all this loftiness into my very different life? (Different from Ben Franlin’s, I mean…) Well, apart from the getting up at 5AM (I do do that, actually, when my little one does, but I wouldn’t exactly count that as part of my ideal day…)

In all seriousness, each day I have to find that right balance of family, self, and work. Speaking concretely: right now I am doing so in my planner with a combination of week on 2 day pages (WO2P), blank daily pages, and a chronodex.IMG_3746 Each morning, over my coffee, I plan my day on the chronodex, referencing my WO2P where I’ve scheduled my appointments. I also list 2-3 (maximum) priorities for the day. I’ve found if I list more, I get overwhelmed and end up being less productive. Often, I also have a next actions task list; lately (hmm, though not in this photo)  I’ve been putting that on a post-it note, so I can move it from day to day. (Note: this is different from my master tasks and projects list, an art I am still perfecting.) Sometimes, my priorities are more conceptual, like to remember to be “kind and firm” with my daughter, but mostly they are pragmatic: syllabus, or soon (eek!) prep class.

As the day passes, I take moments here to color code my chronodex, (black for work, purple for self, blue for family, orange for planning,) sometimes layering a couple of colors if these categories overlap. I was dubious about this after the fact color-coding chronodex practice, though I love the idea of it, like creating a little artistic representation of your day. In practice I’ve found it showed/shows me where there is balance and where balance may be lacking, as I pursue a functional and mindful synthesis of work, family, and self.

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Filofax Beginnings–LES

My filofax journey began in college, in the late 90s. My favorite planner was a… get this, a (non filofax) furry leopard skin pocket sized binder I bought for $9.99 in a gas station. I *loved* that thing. It had its own inserts and everything. This was at a time when I loved leopard skin everything, in a vintage inspired sort of way. I still do, just not to the same extent 🙂 Still, a leopard skin filo would be something, yes? I have no idea what happened to that binder, though I do believe it eventually began to fall apart. But when I think of it I think of college… discovering independence, romance, ambition, lemon drops, Kate Bush. Meeting my husband to be. I would really love to discover that binder in an old box somewhere, see what it says.

At some point, right when I was heading to graduate school, I bought a red patent leather pocket filofax at the stationary store in Amherst, MA, right next to that mediocre coffee shop that has since turned into a Mexican restaurant. I used that red patent filo for a while in graduate school, on and off, but it never stuck quite the same way as that fuzzy leopard skin one. That red patent one I swear I have somewhere… but again, I can’t seem to turn it up! They’re probably both hiding in a box somewhere, whispering secrets to each other.

When I rediscovered this planner love, recently, I think at first I was trying to recover old memories of an organized past. First I purchased a patent purple original, and then a pocket red finsbury.

The purple original is cheerful, and slick, but I wish it had more pockets, and sadly it came from Amazon with a gap in one of the rings, which I realized too late. purpleoriginal purpleoriginal2

The red pocket Finchley is basically perfect, actually, and stole a bit of my heart. Tut at this stage in my life I don’t think a pocket is sufficient, especially given that this one does not double as a wallet. But I think that someday in the future, this Finchley will be a daily companion.

pocketfinsbury

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Welcome to We Are The Pie, WordPress Edition

This is the shared blog of  best friends L & N, one who lives in small town Vermont, the other who lives in NYC. Inspired by the likes of 3191 Miles Apart and thevlogbrothers/Brotherhood 2.0 (though obviously we’re not textless…), we use the wonders of the Internets to stay close and share what we’re into. Here we may post about just about anything, from fandom and television (Supernatural! The Gilmore Girls!) to balancing professional and family life to life in New York City and Vermont, from workouts (bike commuting, dancing) to fountain pens, ring bound planners, and organizing our chaotic lives. Whew. And surely more, as we tend to get enthused (a nice word for obsessed) about all sorts of things. We also photo blog daily (as schedules allow, sometimes in weekly clumps!) at wearethepie.com.

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