Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
Helping You Make Every Minute Matter!



Thursday, January 13, 2011

Paper, Plastic or Reusable?

Okay... So we don't ask ourselves the same questions when picking out a calendar solution as we are asked in the grocery checkout line, but there are plenty of questions necessary for finding the calendar solution right for your unique needs. Are you struggling to pick your new calendar solution for 2011? Or had you previously selected a solution and are now finding that solution isn't really working for your current style and commitments? No problem... Let's evaluate your personality and scheduling needs to see what might be a better option.

QUESTIONS TO USE IN SELECTING CALENDAR FOR YOU...

Do you have tons of appointments each day? If so, a monthly view might be too overwhelming and might not allow enough space for all your commitments in each day's block. On the other hand, a daily view might make long-range planning more difficult since you won't be able to see the big picture of a week- or month-view to know all that is going on. Plus, if you don't have many appointments each day, a daily view might be way too much paper or

Do you know what size spacing works best for you and how it impacts which solution you should get? For paper planners, is your handwriting larger or do you prefer to write very small? For electronic planners, can you see your appointments in the program's available font sizes?

Do you spend more of your day sitting at a desk or moving around? If at a desk, can you keep an electronic program easily accessible and open on your computer's desktop throughout the day or would you have space atop your physical desktop to keep a paper planner visible, like maybe setting on a cookbook stand or one of Franklin Covey's Compact-Classic Planner Holder with Paper Storage? If more mobile, do you carry items in a briefcase big enough for a larger paper planner, do you need something smaller for a purse / shirt pocket or do you have a portable electronic device that can provide access to the electronic solutions available?

How many people need to have access to the selected calendar solution at any one moment in time? Are you the team's Chief Operating Officer, making you the only one that needs to access this calendar, keeping track of others' activities amidst your own as needed? Will all members of the office team and / or family be adding, subtracting and referencing this calendar equally? A personal paper planner versus a larger, wall-hanging calendar versus an electronic option will all offer differing levels of access, all depending on many variables.

How much time can you commit to maintaining your selected calendar option? Appointments must be added, regardless of whether the option is paper or electronic. Paper calendars need to be referenced since there aren't email or auditory reminders. Electronic calendars often need to be synced, particularly between team members' computers or your own devices, and always need to be charged or "powered up" to work.

Do you remember things better when you write them down? Can you look at a computer screen and memorize what's on tap for the day, visualizing that image throughout the day as a reminder? When you read a book, do you turn down corners of pages to mark content that needs to be referenced later? Do you enjoy the feel of flipping planner pages as the year progresses? Are you comfortable with tech gadgets? When you ask for directions, do you prefer a map drawing or turn-by-turn navigation provided by a GPS?

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF AVAILABLE OPTIONS...

Paper calendar solutions work well for visual folks who process information by writing it down, often more "global thinkers".
--- Always on and ready: there's no on / off switch to make sure is flipped in the right direction, no battery to charge and no syncing to occur.
--- Often less expensive, keeping track of appointments, big events, annual celebrations, to-do items and addresses in a cost-effective way.
--- Since a paper planner can't "crash", the only way to lose your data is to lose the entire system itself.
--- Offers sharing between team or family members with a larger, wall-hanging option, but that is not as mobile as a personal planner.

Electronic calendar solutions work well for detail-oriented folks who remember things without really looking at them all at once, often keeping track of tons of appointments by focusing on one day at a time.
--- Includes options like scheduling repetitions of activities at whatever might be your desired intervals, programming audio, text or email reminders of upcoming events / celebrations and easily updating directly from existing email applications.
--- Offers sharing between team or family members with web- or server-based options, but requires additional devices for mobility.

A hybrid solution that is often ideal for groups or individuals encompassing both personality types would be to enter things electronically and, then, print the daily, weekly or monthly calendar to carry with you or post on a wall, which is especially important when info must be shared.
--- Requires training yourself to always add data to the electronic solution, using the paper portion simply as a printout of what's in electronic

THE BOTTOM LINE...

There is no "right" or "wrong" answer to which calendar is best for you. In fact, when selecting a calendar solution, there really is only one "requirement" per se... Pick only one tool that will hold everything in it. That means all your personal and professional commitments are noted on that one calendar, not bouncing between different solutions. People that use more than one calendar have a much greater chance of something falling through the cracks, and we really don't want that to happen. Along those same lines, though, I do recommend incorporating color so different facets of your life or different projects in process have different colors, making it easy to see what's happening with each at a glance, and that tip is easy to utilize in any calendar solution, regardless of whether your chosen option is paper or electronic.

Then, once you have settled on the calendar solution deemed best for your unique style or personality and current commitments, I highly recommend allocating time to really get to know all that is offered by that particular option, training on its associated tools and applications so you take full advantage of what is available in getting and staying organized for your ultimate success.

What type of calendar solution do you use? How well is it working for you right now? What do you like best and what would you change?
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