|Photo: Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile|
No, we can't contain time. But like containers, planners are organizational tools, and the likelihood that we'll use them effectively increases when we consider the same three elements.
- Form. Despite the fact that my iPhone and I are inseparable, when it comes to planners, I'm a paper and pencil girl. I don't know whether it's the writing things down part, or physically opening up a book and seeing everything at a glance -- or maybe both -- but even when I use the calendar on my laptop, I need a paper back-up. You may be just as staunchly electronic when it comes to planner as I am old school. What's most important is that you know that and honor it so you can choose something you'll use and access frequently.
- Function. All planners have one function in common: to help us to organize our time. What we need to look at more closely is the details of how they'll perform that function -- things like ease of access and layout. I struggle with the calendar on my iPhone, but love the version on my Mac -- one is just easier for me to get to and manage.
Weekly? Both? If you're choosing a paper planner, how much room do you need to write?
Do you need to keep track of your whole life in one book, or are you just writing down
Price is also a factor. I like my months tabbed, but as long as the inside layout works, I
actually enjoy customizing a cheapie calendar with sticky tabs for months and sections.
Finally, do you take your calendar with you or hang it on the wall (or both)? Are you trying to
sync your calendar(s) with someone else's? Although it's usually a good idea to keep track of
all your obligations (work and home) in one planner, I've seen people successfully dovetail
planners and master wall calendars, particularly when the wall calendar brings together the
individual planners of several family members. To make this work, however, you must set aside
time to transfer events from the planner to the wall calendar, or you're likely to overbook or
miss something important.
- Style. My planners can be cheap and boring, but the wall calendar in my office has to be pretty. Conversely, when I took a survey about planner choice among my young adult students, the words "Vera Bradley" and "Lilly Pulitzer" popped up as a part of the descriptors on a number of the young women's answers for the planners they carry with them. While some of the young men in the group rolled their eyes at this, these young ladies were on to something. Many of us are more likely to use a tool that's aesthetically pleasing.