Monday, January 21, 2013


DEBORAH CROMBIE: January is the time for resolutions, for new starts. And it's also the time for new calendars.

There is a satisfaction to getting that calendar for the new year, full of blank pages, the possibility of adventures to be had and things accomplished, recorded on the waiting pages. It always makes me feel a bit like I did at the beginning of the school year with the pile of new textbooks and blank notebooks--who knew what might happen? (And I admit, there was nothing like a brand new box of crayons...)

But wait--it's the digital age.  We all have calendars on our phones, our tablets, our computers.  Do any of us still use PAPER?
I have an interior designer friend who uses a Day Runner (remember those?) that bulges with notes and drawings and scraps of fabric. My hair stylist, on the other hand, only uses the calendar on her iPhone. But recently my stylist updated the software on her phone and she lost everything in her calendar--not only all her appointments, but the record of everything she'd done for the last several years.  Ouch.

Maybe the desire for a permanent record of one's life is age-related, but having all trace of one's schedule, past and present, vanish into the ether ranges from the inconvenient to the disastrous.

So I compromise. I have Google calendar on my electronic gizmos. They not only sync with each other, they sync with my hubby's calendar, so there's no, "Oh, but I didn't know we had your great-aunt Mabel's birthday party!"

But I also have a big whiteboard calendar on the kitchen wall, and
at the beginning of the month, everything goes up in dry-erase. (Okay, so it's the box of crayons...) I need that quick visual scan, without having to pull up the month on a device.

And I still keep a paper week-at-a-glance diary. For the last few years I've used Quo Vadis Minister. It's not too bulky, but there's enough room to make notes on that day's to-do list, and to add a little detail about activities. (I know most digital calendars have a to-do list feature, but I forget to look at it...) Most important of all, I put my page or word count goals for every day of the week at the top of that day, and then I have to write down what I actually achieved.  I haven't come up with anything digital that makes the same impact on my brain.

What about you, dear REDS?  Paper, or...air?

LUCY BURDETTE:  I am digital all the way now, with my iCalendar. I definitely don't want to synch my calendar with John's--I have enough trouble looking at all my dates without his tennis, golf, and business appointments mixed in! One nice thing about a digital calendar is the ability to go back a couple of years and search for some I did. And it's great to put birthdays on it in perpetuity.

I did love my day planners--I still keep years of the old ones in my closet--but this new age is so practical!

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Funny you should ask. I have decided to resurrect my old Filofax. I used to love seeing the week on two pages. I will probably still put everything on my phone and - when I think of it - sync with Outlook on my computer, but I'm looking forward to using the old Red Book. In my office I have a gorgeous botanical calendar which is beautiful but useless. In the kitchen, an Italian perennial calendar which requires me to move the days and months manually so it will be January for a long time. And I'll still probably never be sure what day it is.

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm one of those people who hates to see footprints wash away, so I'm devoted to my paper. Years ago -- when I was still working a 'real' job -- I bought a red-leather (Yay, Red) Day Runner pocket planner.  Every year since, I insert a new blank calendar.

Like Ro, I like to see a week on facing pages. And it shows me when I've overextended myself.

I've saved them all. So valuable for all my biographers! Kidding... More likely for the IRS if I ever get audited.

RHYS BOWEN: I'm another one who can't abandon paper. I do put important dates in my Google calendar, plus all confirmation numbers when I'm traveling, but I still have a big calendar on the wall (always a pretty one) and a weekly planner--carefully chosen with lovely pictures or quotes. I put everything work related into that to show the IRS that I really did spend $200 on postage mailing out signed bookplates.

I used to love my Day Runner but it was bulky, wasn't it? I still keep it in a drawer and on New Year's Eve I bring it out and look on the GOALS page. I read what I had planned for the year and then write it what I actually accomplished. I go to my bucket list and see what still needs to be checked off.

And so right about biographers. Sometimes I have a long e-mail conversation with a famous person and afterward, when I click delete, I wonder if I should have saved it for posterity. All those lovely collections of correspondence between former literary giants don't exist in our generation.

DEBS: Interesting. So far the Luddites (or the semi-Luddites) are ahead. What about Hank and Julia? Will they tip the scales the other way?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Guess. Okay, you know what? Paper. Yes, paper. I love my little slim day planner book, it's thin and takes up no room in my purse, and it's a diary and for bookkeeping and memories and planning all in one. INVALUABLE for the IRS, and fun to look back on events and keep track of where and when and who. I love the quotes, too.

And I agree, I need to see the whole week.
Then on my desk at work, I have a monthly calendar, since I need to see the whole month, too. On some days I'll put a big X, which mean "Just say no" for appearance requests!
I also have a word doc that's my schedule with contacts and addresses, and I print it out from time to time so I can see the whole year (now, actually two years!) at once.
It's not Luddite, it's logical!

ROSEMARY: I have a feeling that Hank's calendar is a little like the phone book - not many blanks!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Nope. Like most of the rest of you, I combine Google calendar (SO useful when making engagements vie email - I just paste all the info into the 'description' box) with paper. I usually order a small week-at-a-glance diary from a great European company, teNeues.   This year, however, since I registered for the Albany Bouchercon while in Cleveland, I'm carrying the quite handsome pocket diary they gave me.

As for wall calendars, everyone on the family has one! I have a
dear friend, the Rev. Mary L. Allen, who is a talented amateur photographer. Every year, she makes up calendars using her photos as gifts for friends and family. Mine usually winds up on the kitchen wall, where everyone can check it. It's particularly useful for me, since it's also a liturgical calendar, with moveable feasts, saints days, etc.

DEBS: Beautiful, Julia! 

So, on the whole, for people whose lives revolve around words, we seem to be a very visual bunch. And we are all concerned about our future biographers:-) After all, Agatha Christie left notebooks...

And what you, READERSDo you still want a tangible record of your days?


  1. Well, I, too, have a dry erase calendar on my refrigerator . . . we try to get everything up there [everyone has their own color so at a glance you can who belongs to the activity]. I am so not into the electronic calendar stuff . . . I have a really neat hardbound calendar book that gives me a page for the entire month and then week-by-week pages . . . . My biggest issue is remembering to write everything down in it!

  2. I like to keep electronic lists, things to do, places I've referred clients to. But I have to admit to feeling more secure with paper. I have a month-to-month calendar so I can see what's coming in and when it needs to go out; and I still maintain my Rolodex, complete with e-mail addresses, which meant when my computer went toes-up earlier this year, I could still reach everyone I needed to reach. Mark me down as a semi-luddite, I guess.

  3. I was a huge DayTimer person when I worked at the university. I organized my staff, my volunteers, my job, my family, and my life with that. When I got so sick I had to leave, I didn't keep much of a calendar. For a couple of years, the only thing I'd need one for was (multiple) doctors' appointments. Then I was consulting and coaching and writing, and I kept my calendar on the computer synced with everything, and it was great.

    Then a couple of months ago, my dog killed my hard drive, and though I had everything backed up, my calendar was lost. The backup files couldn't be read for some reason. So I'm keeping my computer calendar on line with Google now, and keeping a paper calendar in the nice one they gave me at Bouchercon. (Red Julia and I--two great minds...) BUT I'm starting to long for my bulky wonderful DayTimer again. I know I packed it away somewhere in that storage closet...

  4. Every year my school sends me a pocket organizer. I must have given them too much money. They used to be leather bound. Now they are plastic. Maybe I didn't give them enough money.

  5. Cloud calendars. Definitely.

    I used to love the little booklet calendars that fit in your purse but I've since become one of those people who now looks at paper and thinks - that used to be a tree. ;-)

  6. I keep mine in Outlook synced to my iPhone.

  7. Paper all the way, partly because I have a thing for paper and partly because I like the satisfaction of physically crossing things off my lists.

  8. Paper. A planner book where I remind myself what to do every day. A flat desk calendar that is color-coded to keep the various storylines of my life separate.

    BTW, the 2014 Downton Abbey calendar is available for pre-order, in case anyone wants to plan ahead.

  9. Daily planner here, where I also fill in the time slots with what I actually did, turning it into a writing diary. I put all appointments and dates things are due on a wall calendar. I don't even know how to use the calendars on my pc or iPad. My phone is just a phone.

    Kathy/Kaitlyn the technophobe

  10. Ha ha, Jack Getze!

    And agree with Joan Emerson's on the challenge of remembering to write everything down in it. Except for me, my bigger challenge is remembering to READ what I wrote down.

  11. Yes, writing AND reading. Sometimes that's a challenge.

    I used to keep a Daytimer with scrupulous detail. And when the kids were all home and going a million different directions, we had a big dry erase calendar on the fridge, color-coded with their school stuff, their jillion extra-curricular activities, my husband's travel schedule, my travel schedule, and social events. It was impossible to remember everything, and if it wasn't on the calendar, I could not be held responsible for someone not getting where they had to be.

    Now we keep a calendar on the side of the fridge, and maybe stuff gets on it, and maybe not. Maybe it will jibe with the events on my Outlook calendar, and maybe they won't. Guess one of my resolutions should be to get better at coordinating these things.

  12. Google has a calendar?? Who knew?!

    So you've probbly guessed that I prefer paper. Each year I get a paper calendar (Personal Motivational Calendar, by National Pen Company in TN). I've been using it for many years and I LOVE it. It's my "brain" and I do not want to be separated from it! The current week is on two facing pages, with plenty of space to write in appointments, meetings, social occasions, etc. At the front of the calendar is a personal information section, a couple of pages for keeping track of birthdays and anniveraries, and there is a Notes section in the back. I record frequently called phone numbers there. This calendar fits easily in any purse.

    At work we use Outlook, and I record personal appointments there, too. I would never rely on Outlook, though, because we seem to have too many glitches with it, resulting in not always having access to it. At work I also keep a pretty calendar on the wall, usually with nature photographs, and I record appointments, meetings, etc,there, too. I keep a similar one at home in the kitchen. My philosophy is that the more places there are for me to record the things I need to do, the better! The more often I see something in writing, the more solidly it gets cemented in my brain! There is a calendar on my Kindle but I find it too annoying to use, so I don't bother. There isn't enough space for me to make note of things that must be done, and things need to be coorfinated in too many tiny spaces. I aways end up typing "oo many characters". I have no idea if my cell phone has a calendar and if it does and it's anything like the Kindle one, I wouldn't want to use it.

    So Google has a calendar? I may at least take a glance at it, but I can't imagine anything replacing my beloved paper planer!

  13. "Coordinated" and "too many characters" and paper "planner"! It annoys me when I type too fast and miss some letters or my finger slips over to another key!

  14. Once again, because I'm scared to death of losing anyting (hence the 2 external hard drives, a couple of thumb drives, etc.), I keep multiple calendars. Google, my iPad and paper. I admit to missing my DayTimer I used to use when I work - now there doesn't seem to be a need for that so I use a large calendar that I have made up from some of my photographs I've taken the year before. (Harley seems to be in a lot of those . . . . )

  15. Deb Romano, I love Google Calendar but don't depend on it, although as I have a new Android phone and an Android tablet, I'm loving the fact that every syncs, including my laptop. But, like you, the more places I write things the more likely I am to remember--and to actually do--them. So the first of every month I transfer everything from Google (which also has perpetual birthdays, etc.) to the white board. But nothing works like the paper planner for the writing goals. Do those of you who don't use paper find that the digital calendars work for goal planning?

  16. Franklin Planner, for maybe 25 years. Always had the version that gives each day 2 pages; accidentally bought the 1 day/page version this year and am not used to it yet.

    I love the look and feel of paper inside leather, and not being tied to a device. Plus, as Darlene says, checking things off is so nice.

  17. Debs, I did find the Outlook calendar that I used to keep great for that, as well. I used mine totally (as I had used my DayTimer), including the tasks and notes and journal parts, as well, and Google not so much. But I refuse to ever be totally digital again and have a chance of losing years of records of what I did. (I still have years of the DayTimers with that permanent record of everything I did and accomplished, etc. during all those years.)

    Google is convenient to put in dates that arrive through email--as most of mine do. BUT I've also set up a Word calendar that I transfer them into, so I can access them if the internet's down, plus the paper purse calendar. I'm finding it handy to carry to meetings/appointments and set a future one, but the small spaces are a bother. I may have to break out my old much-loved DayTimer, after all.

  18. LOVE to check things off!

    1. Make list.
    2. Check off number 1.

    See? Two things done!

  19. Be sure to drop in tomorrow. We have a guest so cool she might even turn our techies into Luddites!

  20. I used to love my Day-Timer but was spending much too much money on their wonderful products and way too much time organizing my organizer.

  21. Hank, that's my favorite, too!

    Must be a Libra thing. LOL

  22. I rely on paper. There is an attractive calender in the kitchen with everything listed, month by month. And another without entries by the computer. I also have a pocket calender in my purse. The trick is to keep them in sync!
    I also write "to do" lists. My son used to say that I carried my brains in my pocket. The trick, of course, is to remember to read the notes!

  23. I looooooooove my Google Calendar, which syncs with my iPhone. I have Mine, my kids, and whatever the hubby wants me to know about. I sit down with all the schedules and put them into the computer, then I can just check my phone. The kids lunch calendar from school even syncs so I know what days they need lunch made.

    As for paper, did you all know you can print out the Google calendar? I print it out weekly for my kids, so they have what is up for the week. Also, I have given them all google accounts, so our schedule/their schedules pop up on the iPod/ or phone, which ever the child has. 3 are still younger and do not get iPhones! but they all have iPods. :)

  24. I live off of Outlook both working and retired, esp the Task List. I have it set up for monthly reminders of household tasks and civic mtgs. There is a wall calendar in the kitchen that is mostly decorative. And I get a little pocket-size calendar from a religious org with holidays and holy days - handy - the spaces are just about an inch square...and that's the one on my desk that holds reminders of what I did today! I used to carry one in my purse too, but had the problem of transferring info, so now I just pick up business cards and appt cards, put the appts on Outlook and the business cards in the old Rolodex. I'm a techie, but I don't trust it completely.