Going "All Digital" - Not Yet!

We recently had a customer of "Juggling Elephants" write to us about tips for going "all digital" with a system that would be small and compact. Here was my reply:

When it comes to calendaring I struggle like you do. I love electronics and technology. But I haven't found an electronic calendaring solution that I totally like - especially when I am away from my desk a lot. I am a visual person and like to see a layout of what is going on in my life and small PDA screens just don't do that for me. A few tips that work for me:

  • I carry a paper based system with me - mainly for my calendar and for taking notes (I can't take notes fast enough on a PDA especially when I am on the phone). I use Franklin Covey's compact planner with the 2 page calendar spread - it fits in a brief case (or purse) and is easy to carry

  • It is critical to have just one MASTER calendar (for me it is my planner). Everything goes in the Master calendar and then I update other calendars as necessary (the family calendar, my schedule in Outlook at work, etc.)

  • In my planner I carry a quad-pen that has red, blue and black ink along with a pencil. On my paper based calendar I track the 3 rings of my circus with a different color of ink (red-relationships, blue-self, and black-work). I use the pencil for stuff that is tentative and hasn't confirmed

  • I still use technology. I update my schedule in Outlook so that people that I work with know my schedule. I also like that my mobile phone will sync with my Outlook automatically and will "beep" to remind me of appointments (my planner doesn't beep). This function also mutes my mobile phone during meetings so that I don't get interrupted by an incoming call.

These ideas seem to work for me but I travel and am away from my desk a lot. If I were at my desk most of the time I think that I could go 100% digital due to the bigger screen of my computer. The key is to take planning of your circus seriously and to find a solution that works for you. A custom solution that fits your needs is probably the best answer. I have also found that talking with others and finding out what works for them has given me new ideas and increased my productivity.