It’s official: after 10 years of using an electronic calendar – usually through Outlook on my laptop, synced on my phone, and occasionally printed out – I am switching back to a paper calendar/planner for this coming year. I love working electronically: writing sermons, letters, curriculum plans, email, social media, etc. And, we have a Google calendar for our congregational events, which we need to keep updated. But I was growing increasingly frustrated accessing my calendar, tasks, daily and weekly plans via phone or laptop – they don’t always sync properly, leading me to double book or even miss meetings on a couple occasions. And, I do not want a tablet, which some people use effectively for their calendar/planner. I don’t need more hardware to lug around, power on, fiddle with, and sync. So, instead, I am going back to the old fashioned paper and pen for yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily planning, tasks, and notes, using a Franklin-Covey planner (www.franklincovey.com) plus my own adaptations.
I am already seeing benefits from the change: it is so easy to flip from month to month. Taking notes or even basic to do lists for a given day or week are a snap, and if I am checking email and entering events or tasks into my calendar, there is no flipping back and forth between apps or even tabs; the planner lies open right next to the computer. If I am talking to someone and trying to set a meeting time, it’s easier to just open my planner and check the calendar, no start-up time required, no scrolling through my calendar on my phone. If I am talking with someone on my cell phone, I can check the calendar while we are speaking. Also, I find that one of the so-called benefits of an electronic calendar, the ability to add recurring events, was filling up my calendar with too much information. I mean, I am a pastor; do I really need to have Sunday worship on my calendar each week? Weekly recurring events such as text studies and my children’s after school activities, it seems to me, are best put on a single sheet of paper in my planner rather than needing to be filled in every week on the calendar. I can put them into the daily schedule as I plan the week ahead. I also find that task lists or to do lists are easier to keep track of in my planner, rather than in an app. It’s too easy to just not open that app or that tab, and forget a simple task.
So this is my experiment: returning to a paper and pen model of planning, or really a hybrid model, since, of course, I still use the computer for writing documents, schedules, curricula, etc. And, I’ll probably electronically scan the monthly calendars from time to time for backup. How do you calendarize and plan?