During the day, I keep my Filofax next to me at my desk. (One minor design deficiency I've found is that it doesn't lay flat very easily. So I have a sort of teetering v-shaped thing on my desk that I flatten out manually when I need to consult it. Maybe the spine will loosen up over time.) When a new appointment, phone number, or other data point arrives, via e-mail or otherwise, I get a little zing of pleasure when I realize I get to write it in the Filofax. I want to fill its pages with data, but it's still so new to me that most of it is blank. (I do, however, have an epic set of data points in the calendar for February, when my wife and I are taking a two-week trip to India. Now that's a trip that calls for serious planner deployment.)
Although my life is not unexciting (by my low standards), I don't have a constant flow of appointments and other data to put in the Filofax. So, for much of the day, it sits on my desk looking forlorn, and I make empty promises to it about the future. But I don't feel bad just for the Filofax. I feel bad for me too: I want to replicate that zing of pleasure caused by data-entering.
So what's a moderately-but-not-excessively-busy guy to do? Here's what: Planner Grazing. Planner Grazing is the act of picking up one's planner and flipping through each of its sections idly. The Planner Grazer has no particular goal in mind; there is no appointment that must be immediately recorded; there is no phone number about to slip out of memory. The Planner Grazer merely luxuriates in the splendid variety of data receptacles in the planner. In the process of grazing, the Planner Grazer will remember things and record them. Paging through the calendar, he might say, "Oh, I remember that my friend Joe's birthday is October 2. Let me write it in." Or, paging through the address book, he might say, "Oh, I remember that my friend Joe sent me an e-mail with his new address. I will retrieve that e-mail and write down the new address." Paging through the notes section, he might see an idea for a story that he recorded a few weeks ago, and say, "Oh, I would like to make Joe a character in that story. Let me note that." Flipping through the financial section, the grazer might say, "Oh, I forgot, that prick Joe owes me $60. I will make a note of it, and make a reminder to bust his kneecaps."
It's not unfun. I probably find it particularly fun because the Filofax is still new to me. The novelty of being able to flip through the four corners of my life so quickly and haphazardly is exciting. Also, as my Filofax assumes an increasingly central role in my life, Planner Grazing may become obsolete. I may reach the state of Planner Nirvana, in which there are no details of my life uncaptured in my Filofax.
Perhaps I will tire of Planner Grazing, or it will become unnecessary. But for now, I'll keep chewing my cud.