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Organize your life with a desk calendar

Don’t ditch your desk calendar: The benefits of handwriting events and tasks

My guest blogger this week is Jessica Pyykkonen.

Even with hundreds of available apps to help organize your life, a paper desk calendar may be just what you need to stay on top of your work schedule. Despite dire predictions, desk calendars are thriving in the digital age. Furthermore, desk calendars may even be gaining some ground. Between 2014 and 2016, the sales of calendars jumped 8 percent and the sales of planners grew 10 percent.

Why are people sticking with or rediscovering paper? As organizational guru David Allen says, “There’s still no tool better than a paper planner.” Scheduling with pen and paper even offers some advantages over digital calendars. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of analog scheduling and discover tips to improve your desk calendar.

The brain-hand connection

Typing and handwriting may seem similar, but our brains handle the two activities differently. Because handwriting requires you to make sequential strokes to form each letter, it activates large regions of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory. The same is not true for typing a letter on a keyboard.

In one study, pre-literate children were split into groups and taught how to draw letters by hand, trace letters, or type letters on a keyboard. Later they looked at the same letters while their brains were scanned in a functional MRI machine. Networks of the brain known to support successful reading activated in the students who’d written the letters, but not in the students who’d typed or traced.

The benefits of handwriting are also evident later in life. Older students comprehend lectures better when taking notes by hand rather than on a laptop. Moreover, adults are better able to learn a new alphabet when they practice letters by hand rather than on a computer.

What does this research on the brain-hand connection mean for your work calendar? You may remember your appointments better if you write them down on paper rather than typing them.

You could even think of jotting down tasks and appointments as exercise for your brain. “One of the advantages of moving away from the keyboard and doing something that requires greater flexibility in how we use our hands is that it also requires greater flexibility in how we use our brains,” writes Nancy Darling, a psychology professor at Oberlin College.

A desk calendar also provides a place to doodle. Scribbling idly may seem like a waste of time, but it’s a powerful way to improve concentration during boring tasks. In one study, people who were randomly assigned to doodle during an intentionally dull phone call remembered 29 percent more of the information transmitted on the call afterward. Doodling also quickly calms the mind, and most people find it enjoyable.

Dash digital fatigue

Of course, using a paper planner or calendar offers a way to step away from screens during your busy work day. If you feel like you spend too much time on mobile devices and are drowning in notifications and alerts, you’re not alone.

Devices are designed to be addictive. Our brains secrete the feel-good chemical dopamine when we hear a notification, and we experience real symptoms of anxiety if we can’t respond. American adults spend nearly 11 hours per day staring at screens, and iPhone users unlock their phones up to 80 times a day.

You may be suffering from spending too much time on technology without realizing it. The more time teens spend online, the more likely they are to say they’re unhappy. Adults randomly assigned to give up Facebook for a week ended up happier, less lonely, and less depressed at the end of the week than those who used Facebook.

Former tech employees are even raising an alarm about the negative impacts of the technology they helped create. A group of them started an organization called Center for Humane Technology; they feel too much technology erodes mental health and social relationships. Stepping away from your laptop and phone to schedule on paper is one way to decrease your time on digital devices at work.

Plan and personalize

Using a desk calendar may help with big-picture planning and organization because it’s easy to see all your appointments at a glance. Many people prefer the tangible feeling of paper. For instance, 92 percent of college students prefer to read print books versus reading on a digital device.

Furthermore, whether you love minimalist, elegant, or cute desk calendars, your calendar becomes as unique as you are once you put pen to paper. Personalize it exactly how you want and don’t be afraid to transform it into an efficient, artistic extension of your brain. Once you have your calendar, stock up on different highlighterssticky notes, and colorful pens.

Don’t ditch your desk calendar: The benefits of handwriting events and tasksInfographic by Quill

Long live the desk calendar

Digital devices aren’t going anywhere. Chances are you use some sort of online calendar, and you may want to continue doing so. But don’t ditch your desk calendar just yet. Many people use both a paper planning system and an online calendar because each offers different benefits. Writing down appointments helps you remember them better, gives you an opportunity to step away from screens, lends itself to big-picture planning and organizing, and offers a myriad of personalization options. Moreover, putting pen to paper may help you stay calmer and more focused.

Do agree with this article? Paper or electronic what works best for you?

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

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Need a Great Collapsible Storage Container?

Samsill Medium Pop’n Store Box

I have used a lot of pop up and unfolding type boxes in my organizing business.  They usually like to refold themselves flat, have weak bottoms that collapse and may or may not have lids.  The Samsill Medium Pop’n Store Box is great.  It has none of those problems.flat

It is easy to assemble and it stays together.  Although it can be unfolded it may be hard to get the bottom back up which I like. Having a strong, tight fitting bottom means the sides are well supported, the box will stay square and the lid will fit on firmly.

It is made of very thick strong cardboard with a lovely low gloss pebbly looking finish.  It gives it a look of being made of fabric not cardboard.  The corners of the lid are reinforced with metal to prevent them from ripping or tearing. The bottom is made of fabric so it won`t scratch your furniture.

Samsill Pop,n Store Container

Samsill Pop,n Store Container

It is light and easy to handle but strong and ridged and lovely to the eye.  It combines functionality with beauty to store and organize your items.  It comes in 5 sizes and multiple  colours.colour

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca  www.mindoverclutter.ca

Need a New Style Binder for Organizing?

Samsill  2-in-1 and 3-in-1 Organizers

Samsill  has a 2-in-1 organizer and a 3-in 1-organizer.   They are binders with a section of 7 clear plastic accordion style dividers and a fold-over cover with an elastic closure to hold the organizer closed.  They come in a variety of colours.

1 Inch 3 Ring Binder + 7 Pocket Accordion Style Expanding File + Hanging File -

1 Inch 3 Ring Binder + 7 Pocket Accordion Style Expanding File + Hanging File –

There are very few differences between the 2 products.  The 3 in 1 organizer has 4 slide out clips that allows you to hang the binder in your filing cabinet.  The clips lock into position making it easy to use them. This function makes storing the files neat, tidy and easy to retrieve.  No more shelves of binders that slide and tip over every time you remove one.

The binder has clips to hang in a filing drawer.

The binder has clips to hang in a filing drawer.

 

The 2-in-1 organizer has tabs on the top of each file section making it easy for labelling. It also has 2 elastic closures so you can open just the file section or just the binder section.  This is helpful as it prevents any loose papers from falling out when you open the binder section.

In addition to the clips to hang it in a filing cabinet, the 3-in-1 organizer has tabs only on 3 file sections for easy labelling and one elastic closure.

The fold over lid is quite stiff and initially caused me some problem but if you fold it open and re-crease the fold the lid will stay back and make it easy to access the plastic file section.  The files hold paper that is exactly 8 ½  by 11 inches.  If you have manuals or slightly large paperwork you may need to trim it.

Fold over lid keeps document secure.

Fold over lid keeps document secure.

At first you may be fooled and think the elastic closure won`t stay closed because the elastic is loose. The elastic closure works well when the organizer contains paperwork making the elastic tighter.

The elastic closure hooks securely onto the front of the binder

The elastic closure hooks securely onto the front of the binder

The file sections are open at the bottom edge, it is not a pocket.  Some small items may slide under the edge and into the next section.  If this is a problem for you try using an envelope to hold small items in the file section. The dividers are flexible and bend slightly making it is hard to get paper to slide easily into the correct section.  As you get used to it and you have more paper in the sections it becomes quite easy to use.

This may be the perfect product if you have large client files.  You can record your ongoing notes, to do lists, reference information in the binder section and use the file section for billing, receipts, marketing material, information to give to the client, calculator, and ipad.etc.  It would also be a great networking tool.  You can have a place for notes, following up with clients after a meeting, recording upcoming events and to do lists and file all your marketing material. It would always be ready to go when a networking event arises.   Having the binder and file system in one organizer gives you the flexibly of storing paperwork in the way that suits your preferred style and the paper best. You can pick it up and go and look like you are ready to work.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca  www.mindoverclutter.ca

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