Three Things Tuesday #2

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.

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January 12, 2016

A photo posted by Natalie L. (@apis_mellifera) on

What am I interested in this week? Read on and see!

Bullet Journal

I’m giving this system a try after several years of looking at it and finding it intriguing–I had a partially used Leuchtturm1917 journal sitting on the shelf. I’d gotten it about this time last year and had been using it for random doodles, so I was able to repurpose into a Bullet Journal through page removal and deployment of paperclips to hold together the pages I wasn’t able to remove.

I’ve been browsing some bullet journal focused blogs but am trying to otherwise stay away from the rabbit hole that is planner enthusiast blogs/Instagram/Pinterest. I neither need nor want to go down the road where updating my planner is my primary leisure activity–the whole point of a planner is so I know what I have going on so I can get shit done. I am fascinated by how this particular community seems to be mostly female, though, and I do wonder if that has to do with the fact that women generally take on a lot more emotional labor than men and usually have a lot more things of which to keep track. And if you have to keep a lot of lists or a schedule so you don’t fall behind, you may as well make the act of keeping those lists and schedules enjoyable–therefore, pretty planners.

Goats in Trees Calendar

Seriously, this is the best calendar I could have gotten for work. It’s going to be a bumpy ride this year at day job, so the combined absurdity and chill of goats in trees is perfect.

Tiny Daily Habits

This is an e-course I’m taking that is all about establishing small positive habits. So far, it’s great–the habit I’m working on in January is a small drawing every day with the goal of doing a small drawing every day this year. It’s a really positive class and if you want to follow my progress, I’m holding myself accountable by posting pictures to Instagram.

I guess these three things are emblematic what I want from 2016: develop positive habits, more structure, and yet still be able to embrace life as it happens. I’ll get there, one way or another.

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  1. Sunita

    I think that a lot of the current planner mania has been adopted by scrapbookers, which accounts for at least some of the female dominance in the online planner community. I’ve followed a major Filofax-oriented blog for years, and it is still pretty old-school and there are plenty of men (I don’t know what the split is, but both men and women post and comment). In fact, the collision between the multi-color, washi-tape planner people and the old-style Filofax people has been amusing to watch. They’ve learned to coexist but it was definitely a clash of cultures! There are plenty of women who don’t beautify their planners, but very few men seem to go the other way.

    Also, the success of Etsy and other maker-culture platforms have meant that people can develop side interests and businesses in making covers, inserts, etc. And that group tends to be women-dominated, as is Pinterest.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      Sunita, I was wondering about the collision of scrapbookers with planner people–so many people mention keeping their planners as a record!

      I find it all so fascinating.

  2. Sunita

    @Natalie Luhrs: Oh, I do too! There are a number of different strands converging in the productivity discussions: the GTD/42 Folders groups, the Filofax/DayTimer/etc. people, the scrapbookers, notebook people, and other more generally artistic types. The Bullet Journal really took off, and I can see why. Even if you don’t use the whole system, it helps you think about different ways to manage your ToDo list, which just about anyone who plans in writing (on paper or electronically) needs. I like the different codes, and while I don’t use the full BJ layout, I use the codes in my daily ToDo list, which I keep separate from my daily planner.

    I was thinking about your emotional labor point. I don’t know if it’s emotional labor per se or the fact that women are often juggling a variety of different types of tasks as well as overseeing other peoples’ schedules (which of course is emotional labor), so varied colors and categories may be more important there. But you also need a fair amount of discretionary time you can and are willing to dedicate to planner upkeep in order to manage the artistic, sticker- and washi-heavy ones.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      Sunita, I tend to view the massively decorated planners as aspirational in nature–so often, the people with the hugely artistic and washi’d up planners seem to have updating their planner as their primary leisure activity and, naturally, not everyone is going to go down that road. I use washi tape and some colored pens, but my planner tends to functional first and decorated second. And it doesn’t take but 5 seconds to stick down a piece of tape, too. And stickers. I like stickers (and they’re cheap).

      I find it fascinating that when you look at the GTD/42 Folders communities–which I’ve stuck my nose into every so often over the years–that when the men talk about the sorts of things they use their planning systems for, it’s almost always for work that generates income or is a passion project. I also find it really interesting that these different systems are developed and initially publicized by men–GTD, 42 Folders, hipster PDA, Bullet Journal–and then women take them and morph them into something very different. I know it’s not as binary as I’m making it seem to be, but there does seem to be a division along gender lines.


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