The Tools We Use

Yesterday we talked about how we write things down (paper vs. electronic). Today I want a deep dive into these various tools.

Bullet journals and planners have made a huge resurgence. Not to say that using a smartphone to keep track of things has become yesterday’s news. It seems every day there is a new app for your phone to track this or that. But it seems more people are getting into the habit of using physical pen and paper.

I started with a planner back in high school. I would get one from Target and usually find it in the hands of my brothers, my carefully annotated homework assignments and such erased and replaced with their memos. Which, of course, I would erase and carefully write in my assignments. Again. I continued with planners through college, but by then I had graduated to Franklin Covey planners. About the time I got my Blackberry, I switched to the digital format of keeping track of appointments and stopped writing things down. Even general things. Like a shopping list.

A few years ago, I started carrying a little notebook around to write down ideas for new knit or crochet project. Then, after I was laid off and started working for an online call center, I started with a planner I had found at Walmart to keep track of my hours. The phone calendar just didn’t seem to work for me anymore. But even this format didn’t work for me. I needed something more. So a little over a year ago, I designed my first planner page and kept re-designing it until I have the format I use today.

I started to love to write things down again. Now my planner is like an extra arm – I never leave home without it. I stopped trying to find a purse that will hold it and everything else I need in my purse. But I still bring it to work with me and use it to keep track of my productivity. Like I said before, I still use my calendar on my phone, but that’s mainly for my son so he knows where I am when I’m not home. Also so he and I both know his schedule. Football games, dances, clubs – all the social activities for high schoolers. When he graduates, I will probably stop using the calendar function entirely.

When I have a lot of errands to run, I will write down the order of the places I need to visit on a Post-It note and put it on the dash of my car. I have an electronic grocery list for now, but that will change once my son graduates and moves out.

Yes, I will still be attached to my electronic leash, because my phone has my phone numbers (it is still first and foremost, a phone), Facebook, Etsy and various other apps. I prefer to shop on my Amazon app rather than my computer (especially for Christmas presents). But I love my planner.

I’m not the only one. Like I said before, bullet journals and planners have made a huge resurgence among millennials. Planners and stickers have a huge market share with the availability of Cricuts and Silhouettes. More and more therapists are recommending bullet journaling to keep track of feelings and moods. High schoolers get a planner at the beginning of the school year to keep track of assignments.

But for every new planner and sticker shop or Facebook group that opens, there are more and more gadgets to help you stay organized. The latest smartphones allow you to write a note on the screen without fully turning on your phone. Electronic personal assistants like Echo or Google Home are becoming more affordable. You can have your entire phone on your wrist with Smartwatches. New apps and fitness trackers help you get healthier (theoretically), by keeping track of calories burned and steps taken.

More and more of today’s workforce are combining work calendars and home calendars thanks to smartphones. College students and executives alike bring laptops or tablets to take notes and collaborate on projects.

There is no wrong or right way to take notes and keep your life organized. It is your comfort level and preferences. If you are going to adopt an organized lifestyle, it is imperative that you use one of these methods. Start small with a pocket or wall calendar and adapt from there. We’ll talk about this next time.

For now – which method do you prefer? Comment below and I’ll see you next time.

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