I like the notion of a New Year, New Beginning, as much as the next woman, but with age comes pragmatism.
If I were meant to be thin, nice, teetotal and out of bed at 6.30am each morning for a bracing run, it would probably have happened by now.
That does not, however, stop me – as I kiss goodbye to one year, and peer down the barrel of another – having aspirations.
These can be fuzzily summed up as a vague wish to be more focused, productive and organised. To make better use of my daylight hours; to do one thing at a time, at the right time, in time.
Cue the annual examination of my management techniques.
I currently operate a five-diary system. There’s the one in the kitchen that comes from Boots – I’ve had the same model for 20 years and would twitch if it were any other sort. We might call this The Downstairs Diary. It has relevant family movements in it – dental appointments, haircuts, washing machine repairman’s promises – and birthdays. The latter are written in red ink so as to stand out, and are carefully transcribed from old to new diary each New Year’s Day. (A job I used to make my husband help with, until he deemed it hilarious to write silly names on the wrong days and I threw said diary at his head.)
Upstairs, I have an office diary. This has a selection of events from The Downstairs Diary plus “work” dates. If the latter involves me going away for more than one night, I also add them to the kitchen diary so that the rest of the household knows it has to do its own washing and the bin won’t empty itself. This Upstairs Diary is also a special sort. Exhaustive searching of the internet some years ago located the perfect specimen: an A5 volume with a perforated corner to each page. Imagine a week-to-view one side, with a blank sheet on the other on which you can make a LIST (I need lists). Then – and here is the clever bit – when the list is complete (naturally you cross off each item as you go), you tear the corner off the page! Thus, should there be an important “to-do” left undone in late March – that corner will flap away accusingly at you throughout the whole of April. Genius. When I first showed the torn-corners technique to my mate, the foodie guru and restaurant critic extraordinaire Marina O’Loughlin, she was deeply – almost speechlessly – impressed. (I think she is less impressed now she realises it doesn’t stop me double-booking when we’re due to have lunch.) She herself keeps her entire life on an all-singing, all-dancing, practically-makes-you-a-gin-and-tonic smart phone. (She says she still misses every parents’ evening.)
I also maintain a rather beautiful leather-bound journal in which I note my thoughts, hopes, dreams, the day’s weight, severity of hangover etc, plus the current position of the latest work on Amazon (if your resolution involved a diet and you’ve already caved in – I have just the book for you!), which lives in a drawer. And a small handbag diary, received free with my Equity membership, which rarely gets written in at all but is there to be casually pulled out when I want to show off.
Finally, I have an electronic calendar on my Blackberry, with reminders.
I still forget things. I am still late. I am currently taking the bold new step of writing the birthdays from downstairs, upstairs as well, so I don’t miss those so often (on a long day when I don’t descend to the kitchen before the last post goes, the whole system falls apart) and am considering the input of such anniversaries to the phone.
“You could then sync these to your computer,” says a nerdy friend helpfully. I think it would be easier simply to give up crisps.