Do you feel ashamed of using a paper planner when everyone around you is using a digital one? About 10 years ago, I was told by a business partner of mine that my paper planner was damaging my professional image!
Well, maybe if looking professional meant being equipped with the latest electronic gadget… But certainly not if it meant being on time for an appointment and meeting deadlines. My paper planner certainly helped me achieve both of those objectives.
Now, it’s obvious that we need a tool to manage our life. Even if you have an excellent memory, why would you clutter your brain with information that you can jot down somewhere, forget about, and then refer to when you need it? A planner allows you to focus on what you need to do and, hence, improve your efficiency.
What is less obvious to many is that you can only own one planner. Having one planner for your personal life and one planner for your work life just doesn’t work. These two worlds don’t co-exist but are interrelated. You would probably end up over-committing or double-booking yourself if you were to maintain two separate planners.
However, the tool you use, either paper or digital, is irrelevant provided it works for YOU.
Since being “put to shame” about my paper planner, I have moved on to using a digital planner, but only because the benefits offered by it made it an attractive reason for me to move away from my paper planner.
In essence, I find a digital planner to be great if:
- Other people – your secretary, boss, team members, or spouse – need to access your schedule or share theirs with you.
- Your schedule is made up of recurrent meetings, appointments, and activities that you can easily create through a single data entry in your planner. Most of the clients I’ve helped develop a routine schedule have found value in moving to a digital planner.
- You want to have a backup in case you lose your planner. It would be like missing one leg if I were to lose mine!!
- You benefit from colour-coding the various types of activities in your schedule. It personally helped me see at one glance whether the various areas of my life are in balance.
- You need to do searches by date and keyword.
- You make appointments and plan your workload when you are on the go, especially if you carry around a bulky and heavy paper planner.
Now, if you find technology to be cumbersome, or even a little bit scary, or if you feel that writing is more natural and much faster for you than typing, don’t fight your inclinations and stick to a paper planner.
When selecting a planner, you may want to pay attention to:
- Its size: Will it fit into your bag? Will you have enough space to write what you need to write in it?
- Its weight: Leather covers are beautiful but can add extra weight. Are you prepared to carry it with you? If it is too heavy, you might leave it on your desk which defies its whole purpose.
- Its features: Do you need a monthly, weekly, work week view? Do you need separate pages or sections for to-do’s, notes, etc?
Whichever tool you decide to use, I find it helpful to spend some time getting used to it and customising it to your specific needs. Paper planners for example quite often come with more features than you need and that you feel obligated to use. It’s good to remove the ones that won’t serve you and might in fact make you feel overwhelmed.
I’d be curious to know which type of planner you use, and why. Please do comment in the comments section below.
And if you need help to get back in control of your time, check my one-on-one Time Management Coaching Programme. I’d love to help you regain control over your time and life!
This article was first published in Connected Women Magazine.