Jun 2, 2013

A Filofax-Week

Well, of course my week is a filofax-week as I plan my days and weeks and months in my lovely filofax! But what I meant to say was that this week had a particularly "filofaxish" feel to it. You see there have been all sorts of matters rolling around my nice, dark head regarding my filofax, and some strangely - and not so strangely - interwoven with my work.

Now, as you know - at least some of you do - I work at the biggest telecommunications company of Costa Rica. State owned, proud to be, Union member and all that. However, the thing is that when you work at a telecommunications company you are somewhat expected to keep up with technology. You do see people carry paper planners, but most of those are either planners they get from the company, or those they buy from our stores, or planners they get from our providers. You know how it is, do you? Some company wants to be the next getting a contract for a software, a softswitch, a new platform, or simply a consulting contract and they stop short from handing each person attenting to the meeting the kews for their new cars. Yes, all of them in suits while you sit there maybe in your jeans, but as you have the upper hand you inspect the fitting an the fabric of their suits, the cleannes of the cuffs, the edges of the clothes, and if something strikes you as less than what you'd see on advertisement, the company is cheap and you won't hire them.

Anyway, that's not the matter here. The matter is that in our company, in our industry, people simply don't do paper planners, unless they already have it lying there and want to put it to good use. Okay, sure, lots of women get their thick, spiralbound, sticker filled girly planners, or even the popular themed ones, like Mafalda or Paulo Coelho planners, but that's it. The rest of the people use their phones - 90% of which are iPhones or Samsungs (they all look alike) - and the rest use their company scheduled Blackberries (those are given to people on a higher rank, and yes, they are all Blackberries). So when you carry a filofax to a meeting, it's like you are taking something from a museum. It's the "oh, wasn't that the book in one of those movies from the 80's?". Well, this week at one of the meetings I had - and since I'm at this new position I go to much, much more meetings than ever before in my life! - one of our counterparts from the company had a Franklin Covey planner.

The first thing that struck me was the size of the rings. I could have fitted my wrist in them and could have worn them as a bracelet! Is it supposed to double as handcuffs? It was so strange to see someone else carry a planner, and then actually use it to take notes in it. I don't take work notes in my filofax, I use a livescribe notebook and pen for that - plus my planner is less of an "all work" instrument, for me to use it to take down work notes in it. The second thing that got my attention was that in spite of having bangle sized rings, this guy had only a couple of pages in it. And I mean, 20-30 max. This had me flabbergasted. Why would you have humongus rings and then waste all that ring-space in a couple of sheets you can secure with a paperclip? For that many pages you might as well carry them in an envelope and save yourself some space.

After the meeting was over I stood behind to ask the misterious planner-binder-owner about his contraption. That's were I knew it was a Franklin Covey, that the pages were undated and that actually a $26 pack contains only two months' worth of pages, thus the wasted ring-space. I wasn't going to tell him that Filofax users usually stuff their binders like they stuff turkey for Thanksgiving. He said he liked Franklin Covey because usually he could get the inserts at Office Depot or at the Franklin Covey center. I mentioned I have a filofax, but I have to have my stuff mailed to me from the U.S. which for the average Costa Rican is now quite a customary thing to do: we no longer relay on the importers, but get things for ourselves thanks to online shopping and smart addresses in Miami. However, some people do prefer things "now", instead of paying for shipping, handling and maybe customs too that rocket the price 100% more, and on top of it wait for a week to get things delivered.

Now, though I have been thinking about my planner somewhat, specially because the closing clasp has continued to rip, this week this close encounter of the third type with the FC entity got my head rolling again about my binder. I went to the FilofaxUSA page, and started browsing for my next filofax - oh boy, my next filofax! I never thought I'll hear myself say that! - but didn't really find anything to my liking. If the cover was nice, the corners weren't tucked in the way I like them. If they did, then there was a zipper right where I don't need it, or the card slots were wrong, or the back was bulky, ot the leather's texture was too flashy... I know, I'm a hard case to work with. I hope I can finish 2013 with my Sketch because it's really a perfect planner and I've gotten to love it dearly, and so I have time to warm up to the thought of another one... not Sketch.

So far the one I see rather acceptable is the Fusion, but the inner distribution isn't to my liking. I know, I know, my problem is that it isn't a Sketch. Then the material looks a lot like denim, and that's off putting because that takes away the professiona look I expect from a filofax, but hey, I still have time to think about it.

From there I've been thinking also about the inserts, and the thought of the dividers came to me again. After having an impossibly full filofax with over 15 sections (yes, don't ask me how I did it, you don't want to know), teamed in three macro sections (yeah, that was grand), I slimmed down and used post-it flags instead of dividers. Did it work? Not as perfectly as my dividers, so after a while - today, actuall - I reinstated the flyleaves (all six of them) to mark some of my most important segments, basically because flyleaves are much thinner than regular dividers, BUT... how should I lable them? The tabs are all at the same height and I really don't want to cut them off. Also... would need at least 10 flyleaves more (okay, I can order that, that's not much hassle), and if I do, shall I also consider embelishing them by putting some picture under it I can take anytime I want?

Then I'm back to the sections... which should I take out to thin it down? I could take the calling card holders, and maybe a couple of plastic envelopes, but as I think of it, I believe I need more sections! Specially after last week. The last day we had a little "Action Movie" situation, thanks to the fact that one of my coworkers - the one I work most with - doesn't have the type of communication skills that work with me. You see, he tends to embelish his speaking with all sorts of important sounding words, and then has attention issues, so he would talk to you like you could hear his thoughts and fill in the blanks. There was something that had been basically assigned to him, or he was in charge of (he went to a meeting were details of it were hammered down, and I wasn't even let in the details), but for the day things came to be, he was out in vacations. Right before he went - the next day to be precise - he casually mentioned the case, but never mentioned the deadline or that it was a Live-or-Die situation. Well, in his absence, with him not picking up the phone (though he loves so send work e-mails in Saturdays and Sundays), I had an adrenaline filled day, where I ran, phoned and made deals like a veritable Andy Sacks. By the end of the day, I managed to send the stuff - thought it seems part of it was lost somewhere, because there was something else, but I never got the info I needed to get things rolling - and I was mad at this guy for not giving me the headsup.

Saturday he actually had the nerve to answer to one of my sms with a "No, I did tell you". Yeah right, because "Oh, do call Annie and remind her to send you 'the data' (which data? No clue), but don't worry much because they'll sure will be late with it, so we'll send it next week", is the same as "Look, Annie's people must send you the A Data tomorrow, and that has to get mailed to Roxy at B Institute tomorrow before 2 o'clock or we will face death". Is it only me, or you also see the lack of important information here? Well, I decided I won't have this any longer, so next week I'll grab this guy, sit him down and take over the control of all our operations. I'll set up a meeting table, a way for him to tell me what he's doing, with whom, when is it due for and what it is about, so the next time he decides to walk away on vacations right before an important date either I ask my boss not to let him, or at least I'll be able not to depend on his pompous blable and know exactly what's going on. For that my mind is already working on an insert for project. I used to have one but it didn't really worked the way I wanted it to work, however with the idea I have now in mind, and the type of projects or "cases" I'm working with, I could definitively use the old system or a variation of it.

Tomorrow I don't have to get to work because of the visit of the Chinese President - yes, now everybody get's the "Obama Treatment", so I have one extra day to calm down and declutter my head. I'll get on my Cleaning Program, and tackle the things I've stashed in two closets, specially now that I've suggested my folks that for my birthday they would give my closet a revamp: I want new divisions and new doors - mirrored. So yes, since I'll have to move my stuff already so it can be teared down and worked on, I have an extra incentive to just go through everything and decide what stays and what must for ever leave.

Decluttering... yes, I should do that with my filofax as well.

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