Staying organized with an old-fashioned paper diary

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Paper PlannerWhile I am no Luddite and do use technology – obvious, isn't it, as I use the Internet and a computer – organizing my personal life is one area in which technology has failed me. Thus I have gone the old-fashioned route of keeping track of everything on paper, and here's why it works so well.

November or December is “buy a new planner” month for me and it has been like that for me now for a number of years since I have given up various different methods in digital form and also by making my own planners from templates.

I never got on really with the calendar and diary on the Blackberry and neither with any of the ones that come with the computers, such as in Outlook or the Open Source equivalents, neither with the online ones. None could provide me with what I wanted, namely something where I could make entries in my way.

Then I went to do my own from templates, initially in the old Filofax, but that also was more effort than it was worth and simply did not give me a big enough page to write everything. Following this were printed out templates put together into a diary/planner in a ring-binder. Again it did not really suit my purposes.

That's when I went back the old route and bought again a paper diary (or planner). The first one of this kind, in fact, I did not even have to buy; it came my way as a gift at the Garden Press Event a couple of years back, an A51 standard A5 Day-to-a-Page hardback bound diary with full pages also for Saturdays and Sundays, which has a ribbon bookmark. And since then it is that kind of diary that I buy every year at the end of November or the first weeks in December.

I always chose a diary that has all days – including the weekends – on a full page as those days are for me as busy as the days of the so-called “working week” and just having half a page for each of those days just does not cut it for me.

Yes, A5 is quite a size and such a diary may be a little bulky to carry around all the time it is, nevertheless, much more versatile than any electronic device and I do not have to worry as to whether the battery holds out, and such. Having paper pages also makes it possible to stick or staple in additional notes and other things and over the year it becomes a record of things done (ore not done, though planned, as the case may be) and I can always go back through them for reference purposes.

There are lots of reasons why I love my paper diary beyond being organized:

1. There is no battery to recharge and pens are available everywhere.

2. It also feel less rude pulling out a planner such as this to scribble a note in the middle of a conversation than pulling out my phone. Though for notes I carry a paper note-taking system that I devised myself and which is always on me.

3. While some people may prefer one brand over the other – and there are many famous and not so famous – such as Moleskine or Leuchturm1917 or Faber Castell there are also others, especially of the A51 kind that do not break the bank and cam be had for less that US$5.

4. A paper diary planner is quite often a conversation starter and the same goes for paper notebooks it seems and people are always surprised to see someone using one and most say they want one, too. Everyone seems to be fed up with the impracticality of phone calendars and such like.

5. A collection of past planners is an instant collection of diaries. Without any extra effort, you have a fairly detailed record of everything you have done for the past how ever many years.

If you are looking for an alternative way to stay organized in 2015, give a good old paper planner a try. You may be pleasantly surprised at how effective it is. And you may never want to go back to the electronic way. And the same goes for note-taking. Here paper also surpasses everything else, at least in my book (pardon the book pun).

© 2014