Do you use a paper calendar? I do. In the past, I tried to use a digital calendar but found the process frustrating. I could only see dots indicating there was something scheduled on the day in question when I looked at the month view. It took a second step to see the details. Every now and then I enter a date in my phone but frankly I never think to look in my phone for appointments. I always check my paper calendar. Why is that? It’s because I can easily see the appointments for the day I’m curious about and even what is looming on the horizon. This is important for me and possibly also for you. Let me explain.
Here in Atlanta, spring is showing her beautiful colors. Daffodils and tulips are blooming, azaleas are just about to pop, and the redbud trees are putting out their lovely purple blossoms. The sky is often a gorgeous deep blue promising us that warm (possibly hot) days are in our future.
Speaking of future, what tool do you use for future planning? Are you like me and use a paper calendar? Or do you scroll through the days, weeks, and months on your digital devise?
Recently, I have been reading books on time management and productivity as well as taking classes on this topic. One of the things that many of the books talk about is the need to ‘see’ time. Digital devises tell you the time but do not allow you to see the passage of time.
How Do You ‘See’ Time?
For instance, a digital watch usually just gives you the time read out: 1:55. I know that some watches allow you to set the display in an analog view which gives you the clock face. For me personally, it’s easier to know that I have 5 minutes left in an hour when I see the clock face. A read out of 1:55 doesn’t give me the same message.
The same is true for me when thinking about my day, week, or month. It’s difficult for me to know what appointments I have when I just see dots indicating that there’s an appointment. It takes an additional step for me to see that it’s a client appointment or something I intend to do.
A paper calendar lets me see without any additional steps the things I have planned in my day, week, or month.
I am talking about this because when you use a paper calendar it’s easier to make future plans. Let’s say you have some paid time off you want to use in the next couple of months. When you use a paper calendar, you can flip the pages of the calendar to see what you have going on and if it’s realistic to take a little vacation. You have a sense of the passage of time.
The Other Benefit to Using a Paper Calendar
When you write in your calendar you are engaging another part of your brain. Did you know that? The more ways the information comes into your brain, the easier it is for your brain to retrieve it.
As you write the letters, you are engaging fine motor skills in addition to just seeing the text. If you speak the words as you are writing them down, then auditory senses are also tapped. Using all 3 of these senses; visual, auditory, and tactile helps imprint the information in your brain.
When you put the information into your digital calendar you are just tapping buttons – not forming letters. Sometimes, because the computer in your phone remembers, it provides you with the words to input using even less of your brain. No wonder it’s hard to remember what the little dots represent.
Of course, one of the benefits to using a digital calendar is that it is small and easy to carry with you because it is probably also your phone! A paper calendar is often large and not as portable.
Use Paper and Digital Calendars
My friend, colleague, and business partner, Jonda Beattie, uses a paper calendar and also takes time once a week to add appointments to the calendar in her phone. This way if she only has her phone with her, she can check to see if she is available – should someone ask.
The key to using 2 calendars is to be sure to enter the information into both of them. That’s why Jonda schedules time once a week to make sure both calendars contain the same information. You may be thinking this is double the effort. That’s true but if a system works (and it does for Jonda) don’t knock it.
A Monthly Wall Calendar
Some families use a monthly wall calendar to keep track of the big rocks – you know, the things the entire family needs to know about. Dad and Mom each keep their own calendars which are digital, and the children have their school agendas. Once a week the family gathers to review the family wall calendar. This is the place field trips, doctor appointments, school plays, and out-of-town trips are recorded.
Speaking of school agendas. The best calendar for children (adults like it, too) is the one published by Order Out of Chaos called Academic Planner. School agendas typically don’t have a place for students to record their after-school activities or weekend plans, this one does. It also has a place for students to plan how they are going to get those long-term assignments done. It lets them see time (as all those books recommend) so they aren’t cramming to get the project done the night before it’s due. I can’t say enough good things about the Academic Planner. If you have children in school, check out the Academic Planner.
Let’s review. The first reason to use a paper calendar is so that you can see what else you have going on that day, week, or month. You can avoid overscheduling yourself when you can see the rest of your appointments. The second reason to use a paper calendar is to help you remember your appointments and intentions by engaging your brain as you write in your calendar.
If using a calendar, planning your time, and being productive is on your list of things you want to do better consider joining the Clear Space for You support group I run with Jonda Beattie. We have new groups starting the first week in May.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia