I want to see if anyone could give me a paper calendar recommendation. I have found that I am far more effective if I use paper and pencil opposed to task management apps or digital calendars. I think they are nice, but a paper calendar allows me to physically write in the tasks I want to accomplish for the upcoming week during a pre-week planning session. Ultimately it gives me greater control of my calendar; however, I can't find one that is designed in a way that includes the sections I would like. I currently have a weekly style pad called the “Planner Pad.” Also, just to elaborate, I use a legal pad as a capture inbox for all of my tasks.

I would like a calendar that includes these items:

-Daily box for deadlines – i.e.: “Expense Report Due”
-Daily box for events that are not meetings – i.e.: “mom’s birthday”
-Full calendar with space to add specific tasks, not just meetings
-And finally I would prefer to have a space for each day that has 5-6 lines for critical tasks that should be completed that day

As a second part to my question, I am curious to ask professionals who have been around long enough to remember what it's like not to use digital apps for task management, what were or are your best strategies for managing your work flow on paper?

BZOpportunityManagement's picture

Okay, so neither of the options I am presenting meet all your requirements but are the ones I have found useful. I had used Levenger's Circa planner ( I liked it, but decided to move to the Moleskine daily planner this year for size reasons. ( I have really liked it, it is the same size as my notebook so it is easy to carry them together.

I will say I customize the space for what I need - I use the right edge of the page for my to do list. I use the area on the top of the page for events and deadlines. I use the bottom for journal-type notes (what went well, what didn't, personal milestones, etc.). Finally, there is plenty of room for all my calendar needs (meetings, appointments, deadlines, etc.). 

I would recommend swinging by stores and trying out what you like and don't like. I found the Moleskine in a bookstore in London on a trip last fall and knew it was what I wanted. I waited until I got home to order it, but am glad I did.


davidwernerhh's picture

I am using this simple system:

It enables you to use any notebook you want and you can adapt it to your needs.

VPfreedude's picture

It has been a long time since I switched to a digital calendar/todo system but as I remember it, the Stephen Covey planners had most of what you are looking for and came in various sizes and styles.
hope that gives you another option.

beckyguid's picture
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I've been using a Franklin Planner for years!  They make different styled pages that give you lots of options. I use the "daily planner" pages - 2pgs per day with sections for a task list, meetings, tracker and notes.

I've been around awhile (20yrs in IT) and I've tried using Outlook, Onenote, blackberry, etc.  While I do keep my meetings on my Outlook calendar, I use the planner for all of my tasks and notes.



vlines's picture

I used the Harvard Business Planner and thought it was very effective. 

Carolyn Gowen's picture
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Hi Alex

Have you looked at I've not tried it, but heard an intervew with its creator on the Bregman Leadership podcast, and thought it looked it interesting.

brianr5's picture

Before switching to digital i used a Covey Planner.  I think it would do everything you'd like.  It was an effective system for me.

TNoxtort's picture

I'm big on being organized and productive and follow a lot of blogs on it. Have to when you are in the pharmaceutical industry. I really like Stever Robbins Get-It-Done Guy with his podcast (and book, 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More) and he led me to Mark Forster. I think his blog is called Get Everything Done. Mark has a number of systems, starting with AutoFocus, then SuperFocus, and then he got to Final Version. Now he writes on his blog about no-list systems, but I can't get into it though he really likes it. I like his SuperFocus method. You handwrite things on a list on the left hand side and urgent things on the right hand side. I use it with a handwritten Amy Knapp calendar. The Amy Knapp calendar is a weekly / monthly calendar. On the left hand side list (Grocery) I list personal things I need to do. In the To Do box on the left hand side, I put work things to do. On the right hand side (Menus), I put urgent things to do. Then on the right hand side it has a place for appointments, though I use Outlook (work) and Google Calendar (personal) for appointments. The Amy Knapp has stickers for birthdays, etc, so I put those on both the monthly calendar, and for important folks, on the weekly calendar. That works for my work life. I don't look at my calendar as often during my personal life. So I use as a phone / web list that works better for me for personal things on weekend. And I'm all about LastPass, Evernote, Followup Then, Dropbox, and feedly for staying productive; but for tasks lists, at work, paper works better. Wendii wrote about systems and systems not working in her column today. Mark Forster writes a lot about that in his book 50 Secrets of Productive People.


and there goes all my paragraph marks. Sorry.

aklausin's picture

Thanks for the recommendations. I will take some time this weekend to look into each. After reflecting on what I wrote, I am leaning towards using a full 8x11 weekly planner or daily planner with some of the added sections I mentioned. I think the main thing I am looking for is a place to write down my plan for the week. The podcast has mentioned the "weekly planning session" before. This tool will help me do that effectively.