I meet with a lot of different people in a lot of walks of life in my passion of helping businesses enjoy a better presence in the digital world. But I was recently working with two individuals who I believe are terrific business professionals and both of them had one thing in common - they were still using paper calendars to manage their business. After hearing this I asked around and this practice is still relatively common. Paper calendars are dangerous and bad.
I have been a digital technology nut since the 1980s when digital technology essentially was terrible compared to today. But even since the 1990s I have been using a digital calendar and it’s always been a benefit. Furthermore, the calendar is one of the areas that is made so much better in the digital world and has absolutely no disadvantages so I’m surprised when people don’t use them.
Here are 9 reasons why using a paper calendar is a bad decision.
You Already Have One
With the proliferation of smart phones nowadays you already have a digital calendar. It’s right there in the phone - and is a core part of its functionality. If you still have a computer back at the office or at home, you have a digital calendar there, too.
Now I know you know this but did you know you can sync the calendars on your phone and computer? If you also have an iPad and your spouse has a phone, you can even monitor each others calendars. This process of unifying your calendar also means it’s backed-up off-site which makes it secure.
Digital Calendars are now Easy
I understand why having a calendar that is easy to use is important. Usually when you're out in the wild and something comes up you want to be able to add an event in a moment’s time. I can add something to my digital calendar faster than most folks with paper calendars can.
I don’t have to hunt for a pen or find the dumb calendar – it’s already in my hands usually. I tap on the calendar and start adding. If an item has a location usually that populates almost automatically with the complete address.
If there’s an invitation in email I simply click a single button and the item is in my calendar.
In almost no cases is a digital calendar more difficult than a paper one and if I want to move an event to another date or time, I don’t have to hope the event wasn’t written in pen.
Repeating events are also easy – you just tell the digital calendar about the first event and then ask it to repeat the event. It will work with you to make that event weekly, daily, monthly, annually or even other mixed times such as every two weeks or something like that.
Your Spouse or Coworkers Will Think You're Magical
Since your little digital device or confuser also has an address book, you can add people’s special occasions into that. If your friend or co-worker has a birthday, anniversary, work celebration or whatever when you find out when that is just add it to their contact. It will automatically popular on your digital calendar and most digital calendar software will allow you to set-up reminders at specific times in advance so that co-worker or spouse will think you’re incredible when they get a card or gift on their birthday that everyone else has forgotten. Digital calendars will make you look better and could make you more popular with your own significant other.
Reminders Actually Remind You
Birthdays and other special occasions aren’t the only place where reminders are powerful. Newer versions of these digital calendars can actually remind you about appointments when it’s time to leave, taking into account the traffic and road conditions.
Now I bet those of you who don’t use digital calendars are cringing right now at the complexity of setting up such reminders, but they’re also really easy. Remember your smart phone already knows where you are, where your appointment is going to be and knows all about the traffic. In most smart phones you simply ask the calendar to remind you when to leave and the phone does the calculations based on real world conditions and pops up a reminder.
In the newer versions of the calendar software this has been one of the most incredible updates which I rely on, and I live in a rural area. For those who encounter the city’s driving challenges, this type of functionality is worth the retail price of a smart phone alone.
Digital Calendars are Collaborative
If someone asks you if you can come out and play, or you have an opportunity to meet with a contractor or home repair tech or the bank you can use the collaborative functionality of digital calendars to also check your spouse’s calendar. Or other members of a team at work.
In my world I have 22 calendars, which is nutty. But there’s a reason.
I have a calendar for myself so if I have an engagement with someone, I can add it there. My wife has her own calendar, which I can see on my devices. If I have an opportunity to do something fun I can see if I can bring my wife along based on her schedule. Or, as I recently did, I can add new vehicle shopping to both our calendars so she can make sure I don’t buy that Corvette-powered pickup despite the fact that it was sooooooo cool.
Since I am, in fact, a nerd I also manage the calendars from our car clubs, for a local relief organization, social groups and much more.
On my phone or on my computer I can literally turn these calendars on and off so that, when someone sends an event for the car clubs, I just tap a few buttons on my phone and, wham, they’re on our club’s website.
Nowadays digital calendars are not only collaborative between individuals, but can be posted to websites or shared in groups and more.
Furthermore all digital calendars also have awareness of national holidays so you’ll actually know when Labor Day is this year before it’s too late to make reservations.
Digital Calendars are Secure
Imagine a scenario where your paper calendar is lost or stolen or damaged. Scary thought, right? Good digital calendars like those from Google or from iCloud (Apple products) and several others actually store the data on those company’s servers. If you lose your local device or it becomes damaged, you can literally automatically rebuild your calendar by logging in with your new device and it will update all your appointments. Easy. Powerful. Secure.
Paper Calendars are Dangerous
The single biggest reason that paper calendars are bad is that they are dangerous. I’m not talking about the chance of getting a paper cut, that’s just an inconvenience. We’ve already talked about the fact that a good digital calendar is shared with a “cloud” based entity.
If you goof up and wash your paper calendar, or drop it in a puddle in the rain, or just leave it behind you’re screwed. Plain and simple. There is no back-up. You will lose appointments and your business will suffer. Your social life may suffer as well. There is literally no reason to use a paper calendar.
People Won't Give You "The Look"
Sure, in high school you were cool but for those who weren’t you remember “the look” when everybody was doing something and you weren’t and the other kids didn’t think you were cool. Same look.
But nowadays they aren’t judging you because you’re uncool. They’re looking at you and your paper calendar and wondering where else you are deficient in your business. Where else are you ignoring a tool that’s so easy to use, so ubiquitous and offers zero disadvantages and yet you still are using an inconvenient, insecure and dangerous tool.
I know I am less inclined to work with someone if they are using a paper calendar only because digital calendars offer no disadvantage and are so superior to paper calendars that it makes no sense to use paper any more.
Now for all those of you who are disappointed that your cat calendar or that superhero calendar on your fridge is going to go away, it doesn’t have to. We still have photo calendars around the house but we don’t use these for appointments, we just enjoy the photos and like the overview of the month.
Probably the most widely used digital calendar is Google’s, partially because it’s installed on all Android phones and partially because it just works. If you’re using iOS devices or a Mac or even suffering with Windows you can still use Google calendars with the native calendar software on those devices. For my wife and I we have two iPhones, an iPad and three Macs so we use Apple’s iCloud services including their calendar. This offers similar functionality to Google and I also use some Google calendars.
What’s your choice? Is there any defense for a paper calendar? Leave your comments in the comments section below.