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Melissa Schmalenberger, Published November 10 2013

Ms. Simplicity: Straddling fence between paper, digital calendars

For two years I have tried to go paperless in all aspects of my life, including my calendar.

I like aspects of paper and digital calendars, but I went cold turkey and didn’t use a paper calendar for two years. I found I missed it.

A good calendar is one of the most important organizing tools parents possess in their tool chests. A calendar is a place to jot down milestones, appointments and funny things your kids say. A calendar is something that you need to reference when your second-grader comes home and asks how old he was when he began walking.

“Before you were in second grade” could be a correct answer, but there’s peace of mind in knowing that these things are written down. This way, when you go to work on your scrapbooks, you have all the dates at your fingertips.

All of my paper calendars are stored in one place. But that box is getting bigger and more cumbersome as the years go on.

One thing I struggled with is creating a system that makes the calendars easily searchable. For example, if I wanted to look up when the boys last went to the dentist, can I easily find that in a paper planner? I can if I have a section dedicated to those types of appointments.

I can’t easily find it on my digital calendar at times because I have to go day by day looking for it. But there is also this cool search box. Thank you, Outlook.

My mom always had a paper calendar in which she’d jot things down. When she took a picture of us with her camera, she always noted it on her calendar. Because of that, I have photo albums full of pictures with who-what-where-when on the back of them.

While most kids didn’t even have photos of themselves growing up, mine were perfectly organized and labeled and all in photo albums in chronological order.

Now my Nokia Lumia 1020 smart phone is my go-to camera of choice, with a 41 megapixel camera built right in. My phone has a feature that automatically organizes my photos by date, and I can search by month and year. So there‘s really no need to write down on the calendar when the photo was taken.

With Facebook I even tag the people and often where we are when we take the photo – thank you, technology. Facebook seems to be my new photo album.

But I still feel the tug of a good, old-fashioned planner. The one I had used for seven years had gone out of business and I had to search for a new one. It is like buying a car. Having the right planner is very personal and some come with expensive price tags.

I purchased the Mercedes of planners, and I have been using it for a week now. It is a work of art, which I had customized. The front cover has a favorite saying of mine and the back cover has a photo of our family. It has so many areas to jot things down on. The possibilities are endless.

But I still can’t let go of my digital calendar on my smart phone. I love the reminder feature. My paper calendar doesn’t beep when I have a new appointment in 15 minutes. My paper calendar doesn’t have a reoccurrence feature where I can select how many times a certain appointment will happen.

I also can invite my family to events when I enter them into my phone. Once I invite them and they accept, it is now in their calendar too.

I have come to the conclusion that there is no perfect solution for me. I have my smartphone with me at all times and I enter in all of my appointments there first. I have my paper planner next to my computer and I jot down things when I am sitting there. I don’t worry if I forget to jot down an appointment on my paper calendar because I know my digital one is my default one where the appointment always goes.

So the struggle remains, but I am OK with that as it works for me.

Ms. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger, operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo. Email her at melissa@mssimplicity.com.