Why I Still Use a Paper Calendar..and You Should, Too

I firmly believe that part of the reason everyone is so stressed out and over-scheduled is because they keep their calendar on a tiny phone screen.  They are scheduling their life on a screen that is 5x3 inches.

Do I love technology?  Of course I do.  But you will have to pry my TOP Planner out of my cold, dead hands.  If I ever lose it, you will find me curled up in the fetal position somewhere weeping …or wandering around town aimlessly with no idea where to go or what to do.

I have tried to go 100% paperless twice now.  The first time was mildly successful…the second time was a HUGE failure.  The only reason the first time was somewhat successful was for two reasons:  1.  I was not a mom yet. 2.  I worked full time, in front of my computer most of the day, with access to my digital calendar on a HUGE ASS monitor. 

I am going to make a bold statement here.  Hear me out.  I firmly believe that part of the reason everyone is so damn stressed out and over-scheduled is because they keep their calendar on a teeny tiny phone screen.  They are scheduling their life and all of their kids activities on a screen that is about 5×3 inches.  And that screen gives you two options:  1.  A detailed view of today only OR a “big picture” view of your week / month that just has dots on it. 

Dots.  I repeat.  Dots. 

Behind those dots….well, it can be anything from a 15 minute phone call to a 4 hour field trip.  Perhaps that dot is a reminder to get an oil change or perhaps it is a very important work meeting.  Each dot holds one or more appointments for that day…with varying degrees of length and importance.  But…to the holder of the phone…it is just a dot.

I can’t count how many times my husband and I have had this conversation: 

Me:  Don’t forget I have a meeting tonight.

Jeff:  Tonight?  You never told me that.

Me:  Yes…I told you 3 weeks ago…you said you got the info.

Jeff:  Hang on.

Jeff then pulls out his phone, goes to his calendar, looks at today, scrolls down, and sure enough…there it is. “Megs night out” on his calendar at 6pm.  Of course he missed that.  He has 4 other work calls on his calendar for today and just ONE dot.   One dot.

Jeff doesn’t have a paper calendar. 

Here is my theory on how the loss of the paper calendar…the day planner…has created a society of over-scheduled people.  Someone asks if you are free to meet for lunch on Wednesday.  You pull out your phone and go to Wednesday. Look at that! You ARE free for lunch! You have a meeting that ends at 11 and your calendar is open until your next event at 2:00.  You agree to lunch and enter it in your calendar.  What you DIDN’T see was all the other crap on your calendar for the week.  All you saw were dots which you now ignore because EVERY day has a dot on it.  What you didn’t see was that Wednesday lunch was the ONLY day that whole week that you were NOT booked.  It was the one free chunk of time on your calendar…and you just scheduled right over it. 

If you had an actual calendar in front of you…one where you can see all the stuff you have scheduled for the week or month…you might have thought twice before saying “YES” to lunch that day.

I require access to a monthly view of my calendar…at all times…where I can actually READ what is on each day before I will commit to anything.  Especially weekends.  If you aren’t careful, your weekends can get lost in the snap of a finger.  All of them.  Gone.  Just like that.

If you currently don’t have a paper calendar (or if you are not in front of a large monitor regularly where you have access to a weekly and monthly view easily), I strongly encourage you to get one.  My favorite is my TOP Planner (obviously). You can also get a really cheap 12 month calendar at Staples or any office supply store.  Or, go ahead and download a blank calendar on-line and print it out.

The next time you get an invitation for something, take the extra second to look at your whole week (or possibly month).  Make sure you know what all those dots actually mean.  Get a sense of everything going on before you jump in and say yes right away.  And, if you reach out to me to get together and I reply “let me check my calendar when I get home,” now you know why.

Overwhelmed? Frazzled? Tired of your calendar controlling you?

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