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Planners and organisers – work

I bought another Filofax during the week, another Finsbury. It’s my second and I feel a bit bad about that as they are not cheap, they are self indulgent and there are cheaper solutions around but…But I operated on a single notebook for a long time and that wasn’t cutting it any more.

I have two Metropolitan Filofaxes somewhere in storage and I needed to solve immediate problems which is why I didn’t wait until I could go looking for them. During the year I bought a Filofax to try and be able to organise my personal life and cross reference it at least with work commitments. This was all fine for 2 or 3 months – work was generally organised using a notebook with a stripped down version of the bullet journaling system. Essentially at work I did the following:

  • basic agenda
  • to do lists
  • meeting notes

It wasn’t complicated and mostly it worked in chronological order. I occasionally cross referenced stuff using the page numbers but it would have been easier if I could move pages. It worked until I went on holidays in September, and then when I came back, my workload increased such that managing things on a day by day basis became borderline impossible. I needed something a bit more flexible and able to cope with sudden increases in workload. I toyed with multiple notebooks, looked at my digital options, and eventually decided what I wanted was rearrangeable pages. But I didn’t want that to be A4 sized as it is a hassle to lug folders around the place. In the end, I decided that work probably merited a filofax of its own so I ordered one during the week and used up some amazon vouchers.

Both Filofaxes which I bought this year are FInsburys. I chose them because I could get the Aqua colour which I liked locally, and the texture of the cover is very pleasing. I bought a Raspberry coloured one for work. The storage areas in the leather cover are handy but not deal breakers at the end of the day.

One of the things I noticed the minute I bought the work one was that what I needed from it was a lot more flexibility and a lot more bits. I have a section for filofax admin until the habits I need are built up. For example, I use colour as an organisational tool and in the notebooks that was generally off different coloured pens. Filofax comes with assorted colours of paper and I use blue for to do lists and yellow for meeting notes, for example. Remembering things like that are habits that need to be built. The plus side though is that I just use blue pens now and there is one blue and one black pen attached to the organiser.

But now I can break down work in terms of categories, be those categories projects, departments or assorted tasks within business as usual. This is extremely handy because it means that – for example – meeting notes or work notes are stored by category rather than date. They are easier to find.

Being a social media child, I went on pinterest and instagram to look at other people’s filofaxes and what strikes me is that there is a major focus on appearances there. Lots of headers in brush script, lots of washi tape. Even where they deal with trying to organise work, it has no relationship to the kind of work I am trying to do.

I work in IT management. A pretty day page that has a to do list with space for 8 items is unworkable for me. My daily to do list regularly runs to 20 or 30 items. There is no real coverage of the business of actually having a job, but plenty to the business of running a social media site.

I want my planner to look beautiful – I’m of an artistic leaning my self – but I also need it to be professionally useful. The key issue with Filofax over the years – and why I have failed with them in the past – is that their paper has been pretty dire in the future. This is something they appear to have fixed.

Starting an organiser in November is…interesting though. I’m not a huge fan of the vertical week on two pages for work – I have historically used a month on two pages and then transferred meetings into the daily lists. But one of the reasons I wanted to move away from the notebook is that I really didn’t have the time ot be drawing up the agenda pages myself any more so for the remaining 2 months of this year, I’ll use the planner that came in the filofax and sort things out differently for next year.

After that, what I need are lots of unmarked dividers. Both filofaxes came with numbered dividers 1-6 and I wish that Filofax would reconsider this. So one of my first purchases to feed the filofax habit has always been unmarked dividers that I could mark myself.  The other main thing is to ensure that you have an adequate supply of the paper you use. I haven’t tended to use the filofax to do list preprinted for my personal stuff but I am finding them useful for my work filofax for use as a master to do list. This basically is all the stuff that I have to do but not stuff I necessarily have to do today. To be honest, trying to manage this wrecked my head with the notebook solution so movable pages is dead handy here.

In the meantime, I continue to look at planners and filofaxes on Pinterest and Instagram for ideas about organising the paper, whatever about the content. I struggle with writing around the rings – this is something I will just have to get used to. Mostly, I’m really only interested in things like printed dividiers, how people organise dashboards.

For me, I’d say that the following items are required:

  • some sort of calendar agenda
  • blank paper of your choice, be it lines, grid, blank, dotgrid
  • at least 1 book mark and probably 2
  • Page markers
  • Dividers.
  • some sort of hole punch. I use the cheaper plastic one that fits i the planner itself.

After that… your options are fairly unlimited. Basic point is, you can find stuff so put effort into ensuring that you understand why things wind up in separate sections.

My primary sections at work are:

  • calendar
  • daily to do list
  • master to do list
  • meeting notes
    • these get moved to the relevant project when complete – this is to ensure I always have meeting note paper
  • projects
    • subdivided as required
  • work journal.
  • careers planning

I tend to think it’s important to review each day, and note any important stuff on an ongoing basis and review those notes from time to time to ensure that you are aware of what is going on and how different people are reacting.

 

St Nicolas is coming.

I arrived in Luxembourg at the start of December and got side tracked by the Christmas markets. This means I missed the Christmas section in Auchan where I do about half my grocery shopping. Also I was living in Bonnevoie at the time and did all my shopping in the Cactus over there. No recollection at all of whether they had much chocolate at all but then I was dealing with sleepless nights caused by endless drum and base from one of my then housemates.

As Halloween is gone, the supermarkets have decided The Time Has Come. I walked into Chocolate Wonderland today.

I have never seen ANYthing like it. I didn’t know Lindt had so many product lines. I cannot tell you how many different brands of marron glacées are to be acquired. There are selection boxes the like of which would put our paltry options to shame.

The only thing they really didn’t have was a tin of Roses.

Snowflakes don’t want to live with their parents (and rightly so)

I don’t live in Ireland at the moment but Bank of Ireland got into a bit of trouble over the last day or two over some advertising campaign whereby they had Orla moving in with her parents so she and the other half could save money for a deposit. There was war and rumours of war. The ad got pulled.

There seems to be broadly two trains of thought: a) this should not be normalised and b) this is normal and what’s the problem.

I’m of the (a) school of thought. For the most part, if I were ever to move in with my parents, I’d expect to be paying rent and upkeep. Fair is fair. I’m an adult. The model in the ad looked like she was in her 30s. I haven’t lived with my parents since I was 17. I think if I’d had to move in at the age of 32 it would have been extremely culturally difficult for all of us. And it certainly would not have been free gratis either.

The property market in Dublin is utterly crazy at the moment. There are a lot of reasons for this: the numbers of units which have moved from the residental market to the commercial short term let market via AirBnB is one contributor, the lack of building over the last 10 years won’t have helped either. The fact that there have been very high profile failures of regulation for property built in the time period 2000 – 2007 also won’t be helping.

But.

Normalising adults still living with their parents is socially a very bad idea. Doing it for money even more so. Parents should be able to expect their off spring to fend for themselves by the time they hit 21. Neither the offspring nor the parents should be having their style cramped by living with their parents.

This is the problem I have with the ad – that it normalises something which is probably not a great thing from a social point of view. That being said, it’s one of only a myriad of problems that are not great from a social point of view. The accommodation problems in Dublin have wider ramifications in terms of quality of life, people commuting from further distances, impacts on spatial planning, people will wind up trapped in negative equity again, and there will be problems again. I got out of Dublin because I could afford to neither rent nor buy and this is the reality for a lot of people working in the Dublin area. That’s not sustainable and a few people moving in with their parents to try and stash the guts of more than a year’s gross salary in savings isn’t going to fix that.

The simple problem is this: for property to become affordable, property values are going to have to halve again. And there are a lot of people yowling about the current snowflakes have it too easy and are entitled who are doing that yowling because they own the property and they don’t want to sell it for an affordable price.

Updates to TreasaLynch.com

If you follow my blog about IT and Language stuff at treasalynch.com/blog you might want to update your RSS reader as I moved the blog to www.treasalynch.com today. I also cleaned out a bunch of subsites and killed two of my older sites (so you’ll not see an update from livingforlight or thingsthatstrikeme for a while unless I reuse the domain name).

This site will remain live but most of the language and tech stuff should appear over on treasalynch.com now. All sorts of other random stuff, drawings and photographs will probably wind up here.

Dragon Queen of Horndressers

I was up early this morning and drawing. The end result was this:

 


To be honest, I had done a greyscale version of it with a HB pencil during the week but having finished that, decided that really, probably because it was a dragon it merited the coloured pencil treatment.

The piece took just about 2 hours to complete, start to finish. It was done on Hahnemuller 1584 sketching paper which is 190gsm, so a bit heavier than some of my other drawing paper, and bought as a cheap layout pad for a different project but as it turned out to be really nice paper to draw on it has been a bit repurposed. The coloured pencils are Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils, which I love. The underlying line drawing was done with a Faber Castell sparkly which is my go to for a lot of stuff like this. I have a beautiful Swiss Wood Caran d’Ache too but it is prone to smudge so I tend to use it for watercolour rather than for coloured pencils. Smells beautiful too.

I haven’t been drawing all that much lately – it seems to be a Sunday morning activity at most lately – because I have been playing the piano (Handel is spinning in his grave as is Chopin, to be a bit frank). The last significant bit of work I did was for a Faber Castell competition for a Karlbox which is 2500E worth of drawing gear, mainly Albrecht Durer watercolour pencils, PItt pens which I use a lot and some Polychromos – about half the full range, all neatly tidyable away. If I am really honest, it’s the ability to tidy this stuff is which really attracted me to the competition. I have my Pitt markers in a shoebox for example. Anyway, FC announced during the week they had 1500 entries. My chances are, at best 1/1500+, and then you bear in mind that winning is not completely random either. But I had fun doing it and I appear to have a slight cartoonish quality to my drawing of people. It was a learning process

Let’s put the oldies back to work

Rama Yade, a French politician,  has suggested that senior citizens should be compelled to undertake some sort of civic duties.

Clearly she hasn’t worked out what the word “retirement” is supposed to mean. She’s made some comments about how “aging is a taboo subject in France” but I think the point is this: she wants people who have worked, and retired, to start working again and she wants to make it obligatory.

The response to her proposition has been near universally negative. I’m not surprised. It is an idea which can really only be described as completely stupid. If people wanted to undertake duties of some description without any personal decision on that front after retirement, well they would not be retiring in the first place.

Aging is not a taboo subject. People get old and they do what they like. Yade really should work that piece out before trying to line people up into forced voluntary work again.

We choose to go to the moon

I was just a month old when Eugene Cernan and Harrison Jack Schmitt left the Moon behind for the last time and since they left, no one has been back. I wasn’t even alive the last time the V-15 flew, in 1968. It still holds the record for the high speed achieved by a manned aircraft.

Technology has entered our lives a lot since then; well, in parts of the world. We carry little boxes around that allow us to talk to people anywhere in the world (at some financial cost but the technology is trivial), which take photos, which make television, which allow us to play games, which allow us to read newspapers. We fly around the world almost trivially, and we drive all most trivially. Our trains are faster than ever before, well some of them.

But none of these are big visionary changes except maybe the trains. No one stood up and said We Will Do this.

When people think about John F Kennedy speeches, I suspect that the one which comes to most people’s mind is Ich bin ein Berliner.

I don’t. I think of We choose to go to the moon. There’s a line in it which I think resonates greatly and illustrates the difference between a generation which went to the moon, and a generation which has not.

Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? (okay, a bit more than 35 now) Now, flying the Atlantic is trivial. But space travel remains, pretty much, non-trivial. Challenging. Massively expensive. Oh we’re talking about space tourism but…even now, you don’t rock up to a spaceport and say here’s a lot of money, I want to go to space…

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

For me, this is the key piece. We accept challenges. We seek them out. Or at least, we used to.

Now, then, our brightest and our best don’t seem to be working on challenges like going to the moon. NASA is aiming for Mars in the 2030s. I know I’m getting old, and I know time is flying, but that seems like AGES away. It’s a far cry from the attitude in 1961 of We’ll get to the moon before the decade is down. Possibly it’s because he’s dead, but I can’t think of a politician since Kennedy who pulled inspiring stuff like this. And God knows the man himself was far from perfect.

Certainly, none of the ones in Ireland seem to operate beyond a vision of the next election. It’s a limited horizon to say the least

Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Where is the adventure of our generation?

What is the defining achievement of our era?

I’m not suggesting that Ireland puts money into a space program seeing as we hardly have money to put into education and health at the moment. But our priorities don’t seem set – and this is a world wide issue – on a grand future any more.

Reality and fiction

One of the very few works of chicklit – for want of a better word – that I have returned to time and time again is The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy. Maeve Binchy has never, per se, been my favourite writer but that book spoke to me for several reasons; I felt greater empathy with most of the characters, they seemed to come far better to life to me.

There is one jarring scene in the book though, where Kit McMahon’s father is meeting his friend Peter for a drink. Peter has left the house in a temper because his wife is fighting with his two daughters for whatever trivial reason. He doesn’t want to deal with it because triviality is not what he is about at that point in time. Peter is the local doctor and that day, Peter has attended the death of a baby in one of the more rural locations around Lough Glass, the town where much of the book is set. The family of the mother have let him know that it is for the best that the child has died for he didn’t have any father, you see. The book is set in 1950s Ireland. Peter rails against this because the child could have lived, could have grown up happily in the care of his mother in the hills. There was no need for this child to die.

This baby, its mother, its family are tangential to the primary plot of the novel, almost unimportant in certain respects. Binchy could have chosen any sort of a bad day for Peter to have. He is a doctor in 1950s Ireland. TB kills people. Farm accidents kill people. Road accidents kill people. Polio is still a problem in the country. Instead, very deftly, Binchy includes a fatherless child of an unmarried mother, abandoned, if you like, by the father of that child. And the death of the child is preferable to his survival because he didn’t have a father. We know nothing about them; we don’t even know their names. They occupy at most a few lines in a novel of around, oh, seven hundred pages as far as I remember.

But the baby is not tangential to life in 1950s Ireland. He is a searing commentary on social attitudes in Ireland during that time. And, in certain respects, the mother of the child, no doubt a young woman, and almost certainly somewhat naive, had a lucky escape. She did not wind up where a lot of poor young women wound up. I don’t use the word poor in its sense as unfortunate (although it does fit), but in its sense as less well of economically. It is not the unmarried mothers from the well of families who wound up in the Mother and Baby Homes or the Magdalene Laundries for extended. £100 bought you out of staying in at least one of the Mother and Child homes for a year to work your costs off. And the healthy babies were adopted or fostered anyway.

I’ve always found that tableau of Peter, going for a drink with his friend to try and work through the idea that a child might be better off dead than loved by his mother and not finding the relief of talking it over because that just isn’t the night for it to be particularly jarring.

While the primary plot of the book focuses on a girl who does not actually wind up pregnant at any stage during the novel, the question of pregnancy before marriage is very much otherwise present in the book, and touched on in different ways. The town has the memory of a girl who reputedly drowned herself because she was pregnant. The primary character’s mother is believed by Peter to have drowned herself because she was pregnant also. When his own daughter winds up pregnant, he is only glad that things have changed enough that she does not drown herself. And it is not the only book in which Maeve Binchy deals with the question of pregnancy. Circle of Friends focuses on the issue too with respect to the fate of Nan. Pregnant. Father of child abandoning her. The edge of respectability such that her mother will not take on the child and pretend it is hers, a wonderful miracle and late pregnancy, wasn’t God so good to them to grant them another child with Nan already so grown up. In the book, Nan reviews her options dispassionately to the extent that she knows none of them are options at all in 1950s Ireland.

We need to make sure we don’t go back to that way of seeing things.

I’m mindful that much of what I have written here lately is less than uplifting. I want it to be different and I have some personal projects to deal with which might, if I am lucky, be more uplifting.