Paper Calendars vs Technology. Who wins?

Jan 14, 2024

Paper Calendars vs Technology. Who wins?

In today's digital age, where smartphones and computers have become an integral part of our lives, the debate between paper calendars and technology is gaining momentum. While technology offers convenience and accessibility, paper calendars still hold a special place in many people's hearts and minds. Let's explore the advantages and disadvantages of both options to determine who comes out on top.

Advantages of Paper Calendars

  • Tactile Experience: Writing down your schedule on a paper calendar provides a tactile experience that can be satisfying and help with memory retention.
  • Reduced Screen Time: In a world dominated by screens, using a paper calendar allows for a break from digital devices, reducing eye strain and promoting a healthier balance.
  • Planning Tool: Paper calendars do more than record information. Walking past a calendar reminds us about important information and we use that information to think about what needs to happen. Do we need to plan travel, gifts, what to wear, babysitting, the time and so forth. There is a lot more to an event than just knowing about it and people need time to plan.
  • No Battery or Connectivity Issues: Unlike technology-dependent calendars, paper calendars do not rely on batteries or internet connectivity.
  • Memories: A month in a calendar tells a story about your life in a way that isn't replicated in technology. You can keep a calendar, share it and even frame a page if there is a very special month. A calendar tells your story.
  • Competing Priorities: A calendar lets you record different priorities for the same day and you can make notes in the margins to help you fit it all in. Try doing that in technology that thinks you life fits neatly into every hour!

Advantages of Technology

  • Accessibility and Synchronization: Technology allows you to access your calendar from multiple devices, ensuring synchronization and real-time updates.
  • Reminders and Notifications: Digital calendars provide reminders and notifications for important events, helping you stay organized and on top of your schedule.
  • Integration with Other Apps: Technology offers integration with other productivity apps, making it easy to manage tasks, set goals, and collaborate with others.
  • Efficiency and Flexibility: Digital calendars allow for quick rescheduling, drag-and-drop functionality, and the ability to easily share calendars with others.
  • Portability: Your phone probably goes everywhere with you and so you can hear the beep or buzz reminder anytime during the day, regardless of where you are. That's a huge difference but is it an advantage?

People vs Robots

In this age of technology, is a paper calendar still useful? Absolutely, hands down, if you're a human. Probably not very useful if you're AI or some sort of robot (not sure if just us oldies say robot, am thinking about the old Lost in Space series, should probably update my terminology).

You might think the power of the paper calendar is in recording an appointment, special event or specific reminder. Something like Henry's birthday, someone's wedding or a reminder to water the lemon tree. If that was the case, then technology might be leading the race because you can set and forget an electronic reminder and it even comes with an alarm.

Imagine your phone bringing up a message that today is Henry's birthday. You might see a Facebook reminder or some other electronic device telling you about something. Electronic reminders pop up, annoy you and then you turn them off. That is when the power of the paper calendar emerges! 

Many older people throughout the world will tell you, it is not just seeing an appointment or special event on the calendar that makes it useful. The real value lies in walking past it and reminding themselves over and over again. That is why paper calendars beat electronic reminders hands down!

People plan. An event or special day doesn't happen in isolation. Take Henry's birthday as an example. Knowing the day isn't telling the whole story. Are you going to call or visit Henry? Is there a gift involved? Do you need to leave work early that day or pick up the kids to prepare for a party? Are you taking food over to Henry's house and if yes, do you need to buy the ingredients? We don't have an algorithm to calculate that all for us.

There is so much involved in planning that all those details will never find it's way to a calendar because that planning process is in the mind. We think, question, reflect, debate, discuss and so much more before we come up with a plan and even then, it might change at the last minute. One thing we know for sure, it started as a note on the calendar which helped us with our plan and decisions. 

We're human, we make mistakes, we run late, we turn off reminders and we buy rubbish gifts sometimes. We're not perfect.

So if calendars help us plan for the future, do they do anything else?

Wellbeing

Paper calendars are more than just a tool for scheduling and organisation. They can also have a positive impact on our wellbeing.  Paper calendars provide a sense of control and structure. For some people without a routine, a lack of structure or routine, can lead to feelings of boredom or purposelessness. A paper calendar offers a simple way to create a daily routine, with space to write down tasks or appointments, and mark off completed items.

This can help people feel more productive, accomplished, and in control of their day-to-day life. A person can look back at their week or month easily when you are looking at a calendar, it tells a story. Sometimes a person is proud of their story, sometimes ashamed or embarrassed. It's part of being human.

Paper calendars can be an effective tool for reducing stress and anxiety. Many people worry about forgetting important events or appointments, and this can cause significant stress and anxiety. By writing down important dates and events on a paper calendar, people can reduce the risk of forgetting, and feel more at ease knowing that everything is in one place.

Using a paper calendar can foster a sense of community and social connection. By writing down important dates or events, people can stay connected with their family and friends, and feel more included in social activities. Seeing gaps may prompt a person to schedule more activities or to note down more birthdays. it is a reflection of the person, how they live and how connected they are.

The Verdict

Really Useful Calendars sells paper calendars so straight off, obviously we are biased. Then again, maybe we love paper calendars because we see them in action in people's homes and hear people rave about ours.

Technology is wonderful and in many other areas of life, technology beats paper in the same way that scissors beats paper but when it comes to reminders and planning, paper calendars beat technology like paper beats rock. 

That doesn't mean you can't have both but if you haven't got a paper calendar, try one because you might just love what it brings to your life.