Monthly Archives: May 2007

The Annotated Scanner’s Toolbox

Version 1.0, 5-12-07

In addition to the inspiring stories, perspective-altering advice, Life Design Models, and career possibilities Barbara Sher serves her readers, Refuse to Choose also contains about forty tools that Scanners can put to work when they need a little organization or motivation. These tools are listed in an index in the back. Unfortunately, in spite of the creative names she has given them, I had a hard time remembering when I should use each tool. Hence, I have added descriptions of the circumstances in which each tool would be helpful, based on Barbara’s discussions.


Then You Need The

See Page(s)

You don’t finish what you start because you don’t have a clear sense of direction

15-Month Goal Calendar (use it with the Rotating Priorities Board)


You have many interests that you’d like to explore deeply, but you don’t have time

20 or 30 Three-Ring Binders

84, 157–158, 174, 253

You have ideas you want to put into action, but you’re anxious about it and/or you have trouble keeping in mind what you need to do

Appointment Planner (use it with the Success Team)


  1. You’re disorganized and spend too much time getting the materials together for your projects, or
  2. You find that you’ve neglected your projects for a while and you miss them

Avocation Station (use it with the Setup)


You think about your ideas but don’t get around to doing anything about them

Backward Planning Flowchart (use it with the Real Deadline)

91–95, 97, 98

You are interested in practically everything and you want to study each of those things deeply, but that’s impossible, so you don’t do any of it

Big List


You feel you can’t pursue your interests because it would be irresponsible

“Busting Open Either/Or Thinking” Game


  1. You’re trying to decide on a (temporary) career, or

  2. You want to explore a variety of new fields or jobs

Career Tryout

56–57, 207

Ideas enter and leave your mind too quickly without being written down, so you forget them, can’t show them to anybody, can’t do anything with them, and start to forget who you are

Catalog of Ideas with Potential


You have an idea for a project

Da Vinci Write-Up (use it with the Scanner Daybook or the 20 or 30 Three-Ring Binders)

11–17, 110, 243–244

You live two lives, and you want to keep your gear for your other life in one place while you’re waiting to get to it

Destination Steamer Trunks


You’re doing a project you intend to finish, and you need a little pressure to keep you going

Down-to-the-Wire Tear-Off Calendar


You want to find out what your interests have in common so you can find a job that matches that theme

“Everything I Don’t Want” List


You can’t fit all your interests into one job (and maybe you don’t want to be pressured to do those things anyway), yet you still need to pay the bills

Good Enough Job

60, 136–137, 143, 159, 233–235, 264

You can’t keep track of your ideas or follow up on your interests

Interest Index Binder


  1. You need to test your Setups, or

  2. You have neglected your projects and you miss them

Kitchen Timer (use it with the Avocation Station)


You want to find a career that can use all your experiences, or you’d like to find a theme to your interests, but you tend to get lazy about writing

Letters from the Field (use it with the Web E-mail Account)

189–190, 225

You need to adjust your environment, schedule, and/or career to give you the ability to pursue all your interests

Life Design Model


You finish a project, either completely or via a Scanner’s Finish, and especially if you aren’t used to appreciating your own wonderful mind or you think you never accomplish anything

Life’s Work Bookshelf

112–113, 210, 236–237, 252

You’ve started a lot of projects you haven’t finished and your home is cluttered with them, and you’re embarrassed by it

Living Quarters Map


You’re afraid of committing to a job long term because you know you’ll get bored with it

LTTL (Learn, Try, Teach, Leave) System

58–59, 169–171

You have a lot of stress and anxiety because you’re so busy all the time

Micro Nervous Breakdown


You keep accumulating a variety of skills and experiences, but it would look bad to put them all on your résumé

Never-Ending Résumé


  1. You’re very busy and you want to capture your ideas while you’re out and about, and especially if

  2. You need to take a break now and then to think about something else

Portable Dream Deck (use it with the Alternating Current Life Design Model or just by itself)

69, 167

You finish a project, either completely or via a Scanner’s Finish, and you want a creative way to display it

Private Museum


You have interests that are too 3-D to put in a binder

Project Box


You need some accountability to keep you moving toward your goal

Real Deadline

91, 94, 95, 97, 99, 250–252

You can’t decide if your idea is a good or bad one just by thinking about it

Reality Research


  1. You feel guilty about jumping from one thing to another, especially if you don’t finish your projects,

  2. You want to design a life that will fit your particular interests, or

  3. You want to know how far to pursue an interest, especially if you’re afraid you have too many

Rewards and Durations

29–36, 38, 79–81, 103, 117

You’re juggling several projects, and your interest level for each one is unpredictable, so you don’t know how to prioritize them from day to day

Rotating Priorities Board (use it with the 15-Month Goal Calendar)


  1. You feel ashamed of the way you dabble in many different subjects, and you avoid getting involved in new subjects because you have too many interests and projects already, especially if you haven’t finished the ones you’re working on,

  2. You tend to get ideas and then lose them,

  3. You’re doing a Scanner exercise from Refuse to Choose! or taking notes on something Scanner related,

  4. You’ve been neglecting or undervaluing certain sides of you,

  5. You want to understand what interests you, what causes you to lose interest, and the way your mind works,

  6. You want to capture the excitement you feel when coming up with a project,

  7. You want to preserve your ideas for posterity,

  8. You’ve been too busy to come up with any projects or to let your mind wander,

  9. You just want to have fun in Scanner fashion,

  10. You want to find a theme to your interests, or

  11. You’re returning to Scanner mode after doing your Best Work

Scanner Daybook (use it with the Da Vinci Write-Up)

11–20, 24–25, 33, 36, 57, 68, 77–79, 105, 109, 110, 140, 155, 156, 165, 167, 198, 209, 213, 225, 244–245, 252

You have several projects you want to work on, but you can’t organize your time well enough to juggle them

Scanner Planner (use it with the School Day Life Design Model)


You have a project that you feel bad about not finishing, but you’re not interested enough to keep working on it

Scanner’s Finish (use it with the Life’s Work Bookshelf)

111–112, 210

You’re really busy and have only two minutes here and there to work on your projects


69–70, 153

  1. You finish a project (typically something you’ve made) and you want to show off the results, or

  2. You need some accountability to keep you moving toward your goal

Show-and-Tell Party

237–238, 250–251

You want to learn and do a lot of different things, and you think informal learning would work better than college classes



You learn something that calms your Scanner Panic

Sticky Notes


You need accountability and moral support to keep you moving toward your goal

Success Team

92, 94–95, 99

You keep accumulating a variety of skills and experiences, but it would look bad to put them all on your résumé

Three Scanner Résumés


You’re afraid you’ll never get to do everything you want to do

Wall Calendar Poster

45–47, 138–139, 140

You need a convenient place from which to write your Letters from the Field

Web E-mail Account (use it with the Letters from the Field)

189–190, 225

You think you haven’t accomplished much in your life

“What Have I Done So Far?” List


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