Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Paper planners

Two more days until I talk about organization for my church group.  I'm having fun obsessing about this.  I'm preparing handouts on disorganization, and on tickler files, and on calendar systems.

A friend of mine uses Google Calendar.  She has a different color for each member of her family; she can set e-alarms for her husband that go off to remind him that [Ding!] it’s 5:20; time to leave work and pick Nathan up for soccer practice.

My husband uses Outlook, which coordinates his schedule with that of everyone else in his office.  He never loses his calendar, because it’s stored somewhere in the cloud.

But I use paper.  I appreciate that electronic calendars work best for some people, but they don’t work well for me.  Here are some of the reasons that I like my paper system.  Forgive me for getting a little gushy . . . 

It’s quiet.  By that, I don’t mean that electronic things always make noise, but I find the computer can be a distraction.  Email flashes up.  The blogosphere beckons.  The half-written report sits there glaring at me on the desktop.  When I want to plan my day, I like to have a moment of silence where I can focus.  The computer doesn’t let me do that.  But when I open my paper planner to Monday, January 9, all I see is Monday, January 9.  It’s a finite list.  I can manage it.  It’s not the entire e-universe blinking in and out at me.

My paper planner page.
A paper planner works even when the internet is down.  In my life, the internet can be invisible often: on airplanes, in fancy hotels (the cheap hotels have internet for free); at my sons’ basketball practice; at the playground.

In a paper planner, things have a physical place, a location.  "To-do" items on the left; scheduled appointments on the right.  The note about calling Patty is in the lower-left corner of today's page.  The address list is at the front of the planner book.  My notes to myself have certain physical shapes:  there are circles, arrows, hash marks.  I know my schedule not only by what is in it, but also by where it is and what it looks like.  (It’s like the difference between a stack of letters and bills that I can sort around on my desk, and an email inbox that remains decidedly linear.)  Paper allows my schedule to have both a geography and a geometry.

And of course, for me, it’s familiar.  I can’t pretend that paper inherently is better than electronic, but I can admit that I like to stick with what I know and love best.  This planner entered my life long before my husband or most of my children did; I got it before I got my current job or home.  It’s a bigger part of my life, in some ways, than the biggest parts of my life.

Other people have their teddy bears or childhood blankets; I’ve got a planner.  Two more days until I get to pull it out for Show and Tell.


  1. Hello!

    My name is Michelle Trincia and I am the Production Manager for Student Media Group, publishers of Plan-It Daily Planners.

    We produce Plan-It Daily Fashion Planners which are fun, fashionable daily planners for college students and moms. I think you would love them! You can check out our designs here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=bl_sr_office-products?_encoding=UTF8&node=1064954&field-brandtextbin=Plan-It

    We would love to send you some of our products in exchange for your feedback in a blog review. We could even send you some extra planners so you could do a giveaway to your subscribers. Our new planners run from August 2012 - July 2013, and are valued at $11.95 each.

    If you are interested, let me know and I will send you out a package! Thanks so much and we look forward to hearing from you!


    Michelle Trincia
    Production Manager
    Student Media Group
    Plan-It Daily Planners

  2. Honestly, your paper planner entry lead me to your blog, but I like the frugal tips, so I added you to my blog reading list.

    1. Ander and Loki's mom: I think somewhere there's a pod, of which you and I are two peas! Thanks for the sweet compliment. We should trade summer kid ideas . . . I think you and I are both fretting about that! -- MM