How’s your calendar? Is it on paper or electronic?

A nice long piece in the recent New York Times Sunday Style section looked at paper versus electronic calendars.  Writer Pamela Paul said “it would take cold hard cash” for her cross over from her paper-based personal organizer to a high tech version.

Paul described the growing shift toward electronic organizers, but said that, for herself, “I would rather live a life of 1,000 missed appointments.”

I loved the article partly because I have spent way too much energy on the issue.

Long before I became a coach, in my days as an attorney and executive, I understood that a meticulously maintained calendar is a key to getting things done.  And I don’t recall that it was much of an issue, back in the day when I kept a leather-bound organizer.

I moved to an electronic calendar ages ago so as to be available for people who prefer to schedule meetings that way.   But after more than a decade, I still don’t feel like I’ve got it right.

After several approaches, I went all Mac and now am using iCal.  I love the idea that once I add an appointment to a desktop the data will immediately appear on my iPhone and my iPad.  And because I go back and forth between a city house and a country house, coordinating between two Macs is a high priority.

But the reality isn’t a smooth as the concept.  My worst experience was when some of my data disappeared into a black hole in the Cloud.  It doesn’t happen often, the Apple tech people said, but occasionally data becomes corrupted and cannot be reconstructed.

Then there is handler error.  I suppose when I wrote appointments on paper I occasionally made a mistake.  But it didn’t happen often and it’s unlikely that more than one date was confused by any single error.  Now I screw up more often, and the impact can be bigger.

For example, with iCal I sometimes inadvertently add a date so that it is saved on the device I’m using, but not in the Cloud.  I thought I was past that, but it happened just last week.  I could recall sitting at the desk in the other house, inputting an appointment, but I couldn’t find it via the Cloud. It was particularly embarrassing to  ask the client about our next date together because the efficient use of her calendar was an item on our agenda.

But even when everything works fine, it’s just not the same.  My old leather binder was my friend, its presence was reassuring, and I trusted it absolutely.  And somehow the act of writing a date on the calendar engraved the information in my brain.  Once I wrote it down I’d look at the calendar more for confirmation than information.

So now, even as I bring my e-calendar under control, I’m looking at supplemental ways to master important information.  For client dates I’m playing with a new log book, where each client has a page with space to note their upcoming appointments.  It’s retro, and maybe a waste of time, but I’m enjoying the effort.

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Bev, a former lawyer and Fortune 500 executive, is an executive and transitions coach, and a leadership consultant with a broad and varied practice.

Posted in organizational techniques, productivity, workplace issues Tagged with: ,

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