Back to the Basics: The Best Agenda / Planner
If you are a nerdy list maker that loves organization and color coding - this post is for you.
I tend to be a pretty spontaneous person. I love doing spur of the moment things and going with the flow. As much as I want to say that I'm okay with that life, I am most efficient with a checklist and structure. We are creatures of habit and sometimes need organization in our lives.
For most of my life, I had an agenda with color coded categories and a check list of daily tasks. I attribute my success in school to it. After graduating, I saw no need to carry around a notebook. Writing was so 2013.
Then things starting falling through the cracks. I would book flights last minute and oil changes would be forgotten. I was out of my element. Regardless, I pretended that I was just being a spontaneous person. Being spontaneous is effing expensive and very stressful.
After a missed rent payment (is it the first of the month already?) & an annoyed text from my landlady, I started downloading apps to help get my life together. These are my opinions on the ones I've tested...
(-) Much like iOS Maps, iOS calendar is a nightmare to look at on a mobile device.
(-) Month view is not at all useful because it doesn't show any detail. Also, Strangely, I find Outlook's app more user friendly.
(+) This app is beneficial if you have all Apple devices, and you want to use the native calendars app.
Outlook Calendar + Tasks
(+) If you use Outlook for work, try the Tasks module. You can schedule tasks for days of the week & get the satisfaction of digitally crossing them off when you're done with them. So when you look at your calendar, there are tasks under each day, which is a HUGE motivator. A lot of apps can't do this, so it's harder to see when exactly things were done / need to be done.
(-) The app is cleaner looking that the iOS calendar, but still looks messy for the average busy person.
(+) Google Calendar is a good way to record birthdays and events.
(-) It's not as good at task management. Tasks are not as readily visible as they are on Outlook.
(-) This app is $7.
(-) But when I have a million things to do, looking at this app makes me want to explode.
(+) It syncs multiple calendars (i.e. Outlook, Google Calendars, etc.)
(+) It has a lot of additional features, which is why it is $7, but I haven't used any of them.
(+) The benefit is that if you have Apple devices, you see your tasks across all of them.
(-) That doesn’t change the fact that the user interface is not easy to navigate .
(+) This is an application that is a 2 x 2 square that breaks down tasks based on importance and urgency. Guess what?
(-) The low importance tasks and low urgency tasks never get done.
(-) You can't see your tasks in a calendar view.
(-) You have to buy the iOS AND Desktop client
(+) Wunderlist is a web based app that you can get on all of your devices.
(+) I really like that you can create categories for lists.
(-) The only problem is that if you make too many categories, your to do list appears overwhelming.
(-) Also, it's hard to associate your tasks to a calendar view (like the Outlook).
I realized that (for me) an application is never as good as a tangible agenda. In an app, you can easily swipe away reminders and force close the app. Also, if you're using an app your mobile device, the month view is illegible for the run of the mill busy person.
(+) An agenda is concrete.
(-) It's a pain in the butt to carry around.
(+) BUT there's something novel about being able to cross of an item on your to do list with a real live pen.
So I'm going back to the basics. I recently bought a shiny new agenda (this one is similar to mine) and made my lists and checked them twice. The key with buying an agenda is...
- It has to be small enough to carry around.
- It as to be big enough to write in.
- Durable enough to last the year. If your agenda is delicate, it will become a raggedy mess.
- Aesthetically pleasing. You don't want to carry around an agenda with a quote that you may hate at the end of the year.
- Having nice thin pens for meticulous handwriting. (Maybe this is just a personal preference.) Writing with a bulky pen is the equivalent to drinking out of a thick rimmed wine glass. (This is the one I use.)
If you're a calendaring nerd like me, what kind of apps do you use or are you a firm believer of the basic agenda?