An Open Letter to the Blue Planner

May 3, 2004 | 9 comments
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Dear Blue Planner,

So it has finally happened. You’ve gone the way of Mr. Brown and projection films. I suppose I knew that someday you’d be gone, but I’d hoped against hope that you were somehow less transient than other proselyting aids that have fallen by the wayside. To me, you were nothing less than the platonic ideal of Planner.

Your departure, Blue Planner, is made even more poignant by the fact that your long-time travelling companion in the left breast pocket of my ZCMI-special Van Heusen 50/50-blend short-sleeve white shirts — the regal “white bible” — has been spared the long knives of the missionary department. What will keep that little vinyl folio snug against the back of the black tag now? Oh, you will be missed.

Yesterday I saw two sisters carrying around your replacement, a secular-looking spiral bound long-term planner. I had to turn it over and find the familiar logo before I was convinced that it was your legitimate successor. It’s a pale imitator, of course. What missionary wants to have a permanent list of contacts? I found it far more agreeable to throw you out every week and recompose the list of contacts — rarely did more than half of our finding pool make it onto successive planners anyway.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that my feelings were not always so affectionate toward you. In fact, when I first encountered you, Blue Planner, I was insulted that you would ask me to actually write down a number to represent the souls of those I hoped to teach. Then the aspirational numbers written during some euphoric blast of optimism would inevitably begin to mock me as the week progressed and my inability to successfully mobilize the commitment pattern manifested itself yet again.

Having said that, I never wanted it to go down this way. A training video from the brethren, a distribution of shiny new planners at a district meeting, and you’re never heard from again. It’s a shame, really. But take comfort in knowing that your pre-impressed creases that made for surprisingly easy folding will always hold a place near my heart, even when I am not carrying you around.

Sincerely,

Greg (née Elder) Call

(Inspired by this)

9 Responses to An Open Letter to the Blue Planner

  1. Steve Evans on May 3, 2004 at 7:12 pm

    I think it’s a huge mistake. The blue planner was a limited tool, but it was cheap and worked pretty well. These new coiled jobbies are too fancy for 19-year-old hotshots.

    While we’re at it, let’s bring back mandatory bowler hats and canes for missionaries.

  2. Ivan Wolfe on May 3, 2004 at 8:14 pm

    In my mission, the mission president went around confiscating missionaries Franklin Planners and telling them the blue planners were (basically) the only true planners. Franklin planners were leading the missionaries astray or some such.

    What are the new planners like? This is the first I’ve heard of it.

  3. Logan on May 3, 2004 at 8:19 pm

    But wait — it gets better. New discussions are in the works. Our missionaries here in the Bronx already have beta-versions to work out any bugs before they go global, but it should happen within the year, so they say.

    They’ve combined the good ol’ Missionary Guide with the discussions too (if you can imagine that). The missionaries seem to like the new ones, but it’s a pain trying to coordinate with them (I’m ward mission leader) because our old discussions are now obsolete and we can’t get the new ones from either the mission office or Salt Lake.

  4. Greg Call on May 3, 2004 at 8:22 pm

    Ivan,

    The new planners are basically little Church-produced day-timers. Too big for a shirt pocket but small enough to fit in a scripture bag pouch or something. They have spaces for weekly goals (albeit a bit different than those on ol’ blue) and contacts of all types.

    Apparently, lots of other changes to the peripherals of the missionary program were recently introduced: letter to the president, investigator records, what is reported weekly, etc. The sisters in my ward told me that the training video (featuring Elder Ballard) announced that the discussions were in the process of being revised as well.

  5. Gordon Smith on May 3, 2004 at 9:12 pm

    Didn’t the planners used to be yellow? Or has the color of the paper merely aged in my memory?

  6. John David Payne on May 3, 2004 at 10:58 pm

    I loved the blue planner. How much? So much that, along with the other elders in my third area, I rolled it up into a tube and launched it into the sky with a model rocket engine. (Lengthwise works way better, FYI.) That’s love.

    Blue Planner, we hardly knew ye.

  7. lyle on May 3, 2004 at 11:00 pm

    in the DR, we had blue sheets…as well as a goldenrod type color.

  8. Joseph N on May 4, 2004 at 9:49 am

    IIRC, the planners in English were blue and the planners in a foreign language were goldenrod.

  9. Jim Robertson on May 4, 2004 at 10:29 am

    I was always a big believer in the blue planner. As someone noted there were yellow versions of the blue planner produced and distributed in the early 80′s and I have a mixture of both. I still have every blue planner from my mission and used them extensively.

    If you actually follow the instructions on the blue planner and review your contacts each week then the process of moving them is only an outgrowth of the weekly companionship meeting. It remindes to specifically pray about each contacts needs, and allows you to keep those contacts that are making progress at the top of your priority list.

    I loved my blue planner – I used Day Timer/Franklin before and after my mission; however the principle is the same: review your priorities, think (and pray) about each contact, discuss their needs, etc was invaluable to me as a missionary. And the Blue Planner was simple tool that provided a way to help missionaries “organize themselves and prepare every needful thing.”

    When I returned to my mission, I used by blue planners to find old friends, converts or not. It was an excellent tool – I only hope the new tool can live up to or exceed the standard set by Blue Planner.