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Digital Calendar + Paper Calandar = Overkill or Necessity?

Pretty much since mid-September I’ve had THREE Things I’ve been worrying about. Hosting a wedding party for a dear friend, a half-marathon, and a trip to Baltimore. As of right now? They’re all over.

Now, I’m fully expecting to use today as a DETOX day. See, everything I’ve needed to tackle recently in my life has been put either on an ASAP list or an AFTER list. Meaning, it needs to be done IMMEDIATELY or it can wait until the big three have passed. The AFTER list is about 42 pages long.

So, today is going to be a day where I sit down and go through all of the crap in my life I’ve been putting off until AFTER those three things. A day where I realize how behind I am on everything else. A day where I decide I’d rather go back in time and live in the limbo in between those events so I don’t have to actually do anything on my To Do list. A day where my family will wonder where I am and they’ll find me curled up in a fetal position in the corner mumbling incoherently.

It’s going to be great.

I’ve been polling around to see how everyone stays organized with task lists in their lives. I’ve decided that the big tool that works for general obligations in our family is the Google Calendar. It helps us keep track of everyone’s schedule. But, the day-to-day lists of stuff I need to do for the kids’ school, my volunteer obligations, social events or workouts? That stuff is the hard stuff I’m managing.

Digital notes on the calendar or the phone don’t seem to work for me. I’ve tried but I just seem to convince myself that it doesn’t need to be noted in digital format unless it’s just an event on the calendar. The generic tasks like, “Call about the banners” stuff seems too small to enter on the calendar. Also, the “tasks” like that needing to be done? I think my brain processes those better if I write them down, and then check them off later.

But what do I write them down on? Do you use a digital calendar AND a paper calendar? Or is that overkill? It seems silly to use both. I’m carrying around a notepad right now, but it’s just like a fancy “TO DO LIST” with no real organization by dates or anything. I’m not sure if that’s the best method.

So…how do you stay organized with daily tasks? Because I’ve forgotten more daily things lately than I care to admit. Thinks like “Bring A Bear To School” day or “Deadline For Permission Slip” day. Things that don’t really go on the calendar, but need to be remembered.

And preferably, I’d appreciate if your suggestions involved a necessary purchase of adorable paper products or office supplies. That always seems to help me adopt a new method.

Edit from 2021: I’m not deleting this entry because I want to document how I struggled greatly before the bullet journal 🙂

27 thoughts on “Digital Calendar + Paper Calandar = Overkill or Necessity?”

  1. I’ve struggled with this too and finally found a system that works for me. First, EVERYTHING goes into my google calendar. Doesn’t matter what it is – if it’s something anyone in our family needs to do, it’s in there. No one else in my family checks it, but it’s my master calendar that I can count on having no matter where I am (syncs to my phone). It takes a little to set up but with the repeatIng option it’s easy to automatically get all the sports practices and revolving school obligations in there. I even have my work calendar sync into it so I can know if I have a meeting or anything scheduled if one of the kids wakes up sick one morning.
    Second we have a monthly calendar in the kitchen with BIG squares. No pretty pictures but very functional. Everyone’s a
    time commitments away from the house get written here along with holidays, birthdays, etc. This is where my husband checks since he won’t check the google one and it’s nice for me to see the month as a whole on real paper.
    Third we have a weekly calendar white board in our mud room (mine is from The Board Dudes @ Target). This is a catch-all for all the stuff that needs to get done that week. Each Sunday I look at my google calendar and write all the to-do type stuff on the board. For example, my son has books due at school on Wednesday, my daughter has a music lesson on Tuesday, dentist for both on Friday, etc. The Mudroom in our house is right outside the bathroom so I walk past it many times a day which helps keep that stuff fresh in my mind. It’s also where I can not down anything that pops up – remember to do a load of laundry bc everyone’s out of underwear type things or buy milk, etc.
    I’ve gone a little OCD and assigned everyone their own color (me-purple, hubby- green, black- all of us) but it helps me see at a glance the things I really need to pay attention to.
    Sorry for the novel but I hope this helps. The calendar is about the only thing organized around here!

  2. I used to take great delight in purchasing a new date book every year, but several years ago, I went digital, first via a Palm, then with a BlackBerry, and finally now with my iPhone. My iPhone does back up to my Google calendar, and it also syncs to my iPad, which is nice because I can look at any of those places to see what I have coming up.

    For a to-do list, I use a long notepad with a magnet on the back and keep it hanging on my fridge. I actually have a good time buying ones that are season-appropriate or have cute and funny sayings and probably now own way too many of them. I like this method because the notepad is always handy when I am home, and it is easy to take a glance at. I also use this kind of notepad for my grocery shopping list, which works well.

    We do also have a normal twelve-month calendar hanging on the side of one cabinet where I keep track of my work schedule and anything else my husband has to know about my schedule because he doesn’t have access to my Google calendar (and wouldn’t check it if he did, honestly). This also has birthdays listed on it.

  3. Ah, I feel your pain. If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t get done. Every.little.thing. I tried putting it all on my iphone, but it just didn’t work for me. All my work appointments and commitments go on the digital calendar that we have to use at work. But I can check it from home if I need to call off sick so I can reschedule things.

    I tried all the fancy planners out there but what I found works best is a simple calendar. Its a bit bigger than purse size but still fits in my purse. I keep the long post it’s in there. In the calendar goes appointments, practices, sporting events. holidays, pay days, birthdays etc. I have a color code system and bought a fancy set of sharpie colored markers to help me keep it organized. I use the post its to write down what I need to do daily- like sent in money for school photos, drop off necklace to be fixed, order contact lenses, pay cell phone bill…, …and stick it to the day I need to do those things. I also use it to keep a running grocery list so if I hit the store I know what I need to buy (doesn’t ALWAYS work, see went to Target for lightbulbs and left $132 later and forgot light bulbs.) But this way I can move the post it over to the next day if I need to carry those things over. I keep the running grocery list attached to the inside front cover. I keep a paper clip attached to the current week. In the front and back cover I also keep any coupons, gift cards receipts etc that I might need. When I’m really organized I’ll attach them to the week in which they are needed. I just really need to have that visual list in front of me…and the joy of crossing things off, and tossing a post it when it’s all completed…sense of accomplishment!

  4. I use the digital calendar for events, then use this moleskine for to-do lists

    http://www.moleskineus.com/mc512w-moleskine-2012-pocket-soft-cover-weekly-planner.html

    I love it because I can put things on a certain day, or on the right in the notebook section I can just put things that need to be done that week and not on a certain day. I love love love this notebook and carry it everywhere. It’s so small but the little elastic band makes sure it doesn’t get messed up in my purse. and there is a tiny pocket in the back for appointment cards and the like so I have somewhere to stash them before I put them in the electronic calendar.

  5. I keep a digital calendar with everything on it, but mostly it’s used for reminders about recurring events like birthdays. Everything also gets put on a wall calendar in the kitchen, which is where most of our daily reminders come from. AND we have a daycare calendar on the wall in Evi’s room to remind us as we get her dressed in case it’s pajama day or wear blue day or whatever.

  6. First off, hello! I’ve been reading for awhile but don’t know that I’ve ever come out to say hi before 🙂
    Next, I also have to do the two calendar thing – google calendar for big family planning things, smaller day-planner that I can scribble on for to do lists, etc. (I will never be rid of my need for actually writing things down – with fun pens! on fun paper! – and then crossing them off. There is just something so satisfying about x-ing out a box on your list…)

  7. themamabeth – Arizona – Mom to four amazing girls, wife to the best husband in the world. Wrangler of a cat, four dogs, and two ferrets. Maker of things as the mood strikes.
    Beth says:

    I use Google Calendar to keep track of bills and budget stuff. We don’t have a lot of family obligations or busy schedules, so there’s not much event-wise to keep track of. I use a calendar stuck to the fridge to keep track of things I want my husband to be aware of, birthdays, and library due dates. I have a day planner that I keep in my purse that keeps track of everything else + what is on the Google and fridge calendars. That’s where I write notes to myself, grocery lists, to-dos, everything. That is always in my purse, along with an assortment of colored pens, so I have it all the time. I am a pen-and-paper girl, I think I always will be.

  8. I use Google Calendar very similar to how you do. I have one, my husband has one, and we have a joint one that we use for events, vacations, appointments, etc. We also use our individual Google Calendars for personal things (for example, I usually keep my library due dates on there). We both have access to all three of those calendars so we can see whether the other person is free. We also have a Google Calendar set up with everyone’s birthdays. Then, we have another Google Calendar with our race training plans.

    For everyday tasks, I really like the Lobotome notepads. http://www.lobotome.com/ I have three: Feed Me, Fit Me and Save Me. (There are many others that might work for you.) I then got someone from Etsy to make me a custom tri-fold notebook portfolio to put them in. (Here’s the shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SewFantasticHandmade?section_id=5938736) This works great, because my husband can check it at any time to see what we’re having for dinner and what our to-do list is. This is also where I keep track of my weekly workouts.

    I’m still trying to figure out a good system for work though. I’ll be keeping an eye on the comments!

  9. I keep EVERYTHING on my phone, which is synced with my Google calendar. But I also have a page-a-week paper calendar that I write stuff on so that I can see it at a glance and my husband can too. The one I have I got at Target, and it’s got spaces for 4 family members (I think — maybe 5, but we only have 3 so I don’t look past that third row) and a spot to write down what you’re having for dinner each night. THAT has been the most helpful part for me, as I am terrible about meal planning.

  10. I love Simple MOm’s Pocket Docket. It prints 2 to a page and I buy a fun cardstock to print them on. Link: http://simplemom.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/pocket-docket.pdf

    Every few months, I print out several months’ worth. It takes all of 15 minutes to print, cut the pages in half, then staple a week’s worth of Pocket Dockets together. Each Sunday, I sit and think about how I want to organize the To-Dos for the week. Also, I like jotting notes to myself on it, I enjoy that process of writing with an actual pen.

    For calendering I use Google Calendar and for grocery lists/shopping I use the Out of Milk app. I thought the app was a little clunky at first, but now I am used to it. I am utterly religious when it comes to shopping apps and even the entire family is trained to tell me to put things on the list as we run out.

  11. Should have mentioned, I like the Pocket Docket being printed on card-stocked, then having a week’s worth stapled together — the card stock makes it durable and the packet is small enough that I can easily shove it in my purse if needed.

  12. I feel so old school because I do not have a smart phone–it’s a very basic cheap phone–so no syncing up with an online calendar. I’m a full-time college student, Mom to a tween, wife, Girl Scout leader, plus several other volunteer obligations. I keep a master calendar that has all the family birthdays on it and then I write things on it as needed (in a red Sharpie!). I also have a big organizer calendar for school that I update monthly. I take a lot of online classes so I have to keep my assignments organized. Sometimes I write family obligations on there just to have it in two places. I keep a small notebook in my purse for quick notes and a “To Do” list on my desk for lists or notes. I’m a huge list maker and sometimes I make lists of my lists…it’s a sickness LOL! I’m also a fan of sticky notes. I have them stuck all over the wall around my desk.

  13. I put all events into google calendar, without it I won’t survive. I share it with my husband, so he knows what’s going on too and he can add events as well. As for school field trip slips, anything that need to be signed from school, I sign them right away when my kids hand them to me. Otherwise they just go into a pile be forgotten! I also have a family wall calendar next to my desk, I use it mainly as a quick visual reminder.

  14. I’ve never tried Google calendar but I’ve been using Cozi and a paper calendar to keep everyone straight.

    The Cozi calendar is pretty cool, you can set everyone up with their own color and code appointments, set up reminders to text to your phone (and your family members phones), etc. The TO DO list is my favorite part. I set up a list for the hubs and text them to his phone or email them to him. You can set a date on to do list items as well so it will show in both places, the To Do list and the calendar.

    Cozi offers ipad/iphone, BB and adroid apps so you always have it with you.

    cozicentral.cozi.com

    I keep a Fly Lady paper calendar on the fridge also. It serves as a visual reminder and has main items on it like school schedule, family events, etc. The non-phone using person (son, 6) actually reads this calendar and knows what’s going on too.

    Of course, I’m a list maker to the bone but my follow through gets me every time 😉

    Good luck finding what works for you!

  15. And I forgot, Cozi just added a Menu feature so you can do your meal planning in the same place. You can add menu items to your shopping list – did I not mention the shopping list before? That sucker is AWESOME! There’s a basic list for Groceries but you can create additional lists. I help care for a family and I keep a list for their house as well.

  16. A second shout out to Cozi, it helps me stay on task. In addition to all the cool features Joceyln mentioned, I have a few more to add:

    1. Cozi is free and has a smart phone app for both the iPhone and the Android. If you don’t have a smart phone, it’s okay, because the whole calendar is internet-based–access from anywhere! (Or you can sign up for the paid subscription to go ad-free. I don’t find the ads bothersome, but some might.)

    2, Email and/or text message reminders for calendar events.

    3. Cozi emails the whole family a weekly calendar which I print out and post on the fridge for the kids.

    4. Everything is (or can be) color coded–everything. The lists, the calendar events, all of it!

  17. My method is a bit of a hodgepodge and it works as well as it does because I spend my working day (mostly) behind a desk:

    Events–Go on my calendar. I have my google calendar and my outlook calendar synced so that I can add them from my phone or at work and it goes to the same place.

    Tasks–Post it notes. When I have a moment, I make a to do list on a post it and stick it in front of my keyboard. I check it off as I go. When I get new tasks, they get scrawled on a post it and stuck in front of the keyboard. Once the post it’s accumulate, I re-consolidate and make a new list. I like this because then my to do list is always in front of me.

    Deadlines–Go on the digital calendars because then I get automatic reminders! Things that are in the next few days might go on the post its or stay in my head.

    Home Tasks–Get put on a list about once a week. I check them off as I go. Often, I don’t make a list and just go based on what appears to need doing.

  18. All good systems use a combination of lists and a calendar. It’s jutst a question of which kind you use and which info you put in where. I highly recommend the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. It really changed my life and the way I handle it!!!

  19. Have you looked at the Reminders app on the iPhone 4s yet? I am better with paper lists than electronic but sometimes the electronic list work fine for me. BUT this app is so awesome because you can put in tasks and link them to not only a date/time (which so many apps do) but more importantly to a LOCATION!!! For example, put in task to take chicken out of freezer, put in your location as HOME (your phone should already have your home GPS location or just put in address) and tell it to remind you about task when you ARRIVE at that location. It will beep at you when you pull in your driveway. I LOVE THIS! You can have it remind you about stuff when you leave a location too. So if I am paranoid that I will forget to do something when I am at the girl’s school, I set a reminder to beep at me with a message when I am leaving school just in case I do actually forget so I can run back in and take care of what I forgot about. I don’t know if you have upgraded yet so go look at it on the E or D’s phones and try it out. IT CAN BE A LIFE SAVER for folks like me whose memory cells are severely depleted.

  20. I am silly and use both. I’m just weird like that.

  21. The digital calendar (on my iPhone) is for alerts and reminders or I will forget. The paper calendar is for back up in case something happens to the phone.

  22. We each have our own Google calendars, with viewing privileges for the other person. So I can see when my husband will be out of town at a meeting or whatever.

    For the grocery list, I use OurGroceries. It syncs to the phone, website, and iPad (although the iPad app is really an iPhone app, which is kind of annoying).

    I also use Remember the Milk for my online to-do list. I have multiple lists for work projects, home, personal, etc. It’s been a great help – but now I am tempted to try the Cozi calendar / to do list mentioned above. I probably won’t move away from the Google calendar – just too easy and I’m too used to it – but it *would* be nice to have grocery lists and to-dos in one place.

  23. I have an excel document with my schedule week by week, colour coded for different things and To Do lists at the bottom that can be moved along from day to day if needed (cut and paste)

  24. I third (!!) Cozi. I was a paper-calendar freak (like with highlighters and everything) and we tried Google calendar with various sync options and it just always seemingly glitched up someone’s update or another.

    But Cozi, oh I how heart thee! Love the “To-Do”lists, the weekly email, the color-coding. Love it so much that I gave up my paper calendar.

    The only downfall is that both my husband and I have to be careful to still talk about schedule stuff. Because there have been times (not. good. times.) were we both can claim to have “cozied” something. Versus actually communicating about how it works for the other person. But that’s just us 🙂 The Sunday email is a great reminder for us to sit down and actually talk about what the week looks like.

    Really, truly, cannot say enough good things about Cozi!

  25. I use google calendar for most of the stuff occurring in the future, although sometime I will map out the series of things I have to do throughout the day if they are tasks that have to be done at certain times.

    I also carry around a notebook (used to be the cheap steno notebooks, but now I use this one http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001B0H5RO/ref=oh_o04_s01_i00_details because it is much sturdier) and I make all sort of casual lists in it (planning out meals for the week, long term goals, etc) but I also frequently make lists of my “accomplishments” for the day (only write down the stuff I DO, rather than the stuff I want to do) with a slanted list of “goals” in the left margin. I also write casual journal entries just for myself in the notebook. Emphasis on casual, there are no rules for what can or can’t go in the notebook.

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