I’ve used a paper calendar for over a year now. I never want to go back to digital.
In the past, I had multiple calendars loaded in my Google Calendar account. I had my personal calendar, our marketing calendar, company calendar, and my business partner’s calendar. I even used to write a lot of my to do items for each day on my digital calendar.
Then I heard a quote about Warren Buffett, the founder and CEO of one of the world’s largest companies and once the richest person in the world from his longtime business partner, Charlie Munger:
“You look at his schedule sometimes and there’s a haircut. Tuesday, haircut day.”
If Buffett can have so few scheduled appointments running a company worth hundreds of billions of dollars, what am I doing with fifteen or twenty scheduled appointments each week lighting up my Google Calendar like a Christmas tree?
I cut out all recurring meetings except one on Mondays at 8:00 AM. I avoided booking new meetings when a quick on-the-spot phone call would do. My schedule is now mostly free to do whatever is most important today, not what I committed to days or weeks ago.
After these two changes, there was still a way for new meetings to creep into my life…With a digital calendar it is far too easy for people you work with to shoot you invites and assume you’ll show up.
In an effort to solve this problem and to spend less time distracted by the digital world, I bought a $17 paper calendar on Amazon. (Here’s the one I use now for 2022.) (*Note: That’s an Amazon affiliate link. You can search for “paper calendar” on Amazon and find any suitable replacement if you don’t want to click it.)
If someone wanted to book a meeting with me, I had to actually agree to it (crazy, I know). If it it’s not on my paper calendar, I don’t know it’s booked and won’t show up.
Here are concerns I had and you might have right now as you consider the life-changing magic of the paper calendar (I imagine Marie Kondo’s paper calendar is incredible):
What if I lose my calendar and forget all my important appointments? I haven’t lost my calendar yet. I’m not even concerned about losing it now because I don’t have that many appointments. I can recreate most of my few calendar appointments from memory if necessary. If I miss one, life will go on.
What if I need to book an appointment but don’t have my paper calendar with me? Also not a big issue so far. When I get my haircut, I usually book my next appointment about five weeks out. I book it and write down the appointment when I get home. If there’s a conflict, I call to change it. Not a big deal.
What if I need a link to another joyful two-hour Zoom meeting with seven people, six of whom don’t need to be there? This is the biggest downside of a paper calendar in today’s digitally dominated world. Everyone uses Zoom and you need the long links or long codes to join the meetings. In this case, people still send invites to my Google Calendar or email and I go grab those links when necessary. I don’t manage my calendar digitally, I just use the calendar to grab meeting links. I even wrote down the Zoom meeting ID in my paper calendar for a weekly meeting with my executive coach. I could type that into Zoom and join the meeting directly bypassing the need to check Google Calendar at all.
This post isn’t only about paper calendars, as awesome as they may be…
It’s possible to succeed in today’s world without being so overwhelmed by technology. You don’t need a digital calendar, at least not to the extent most people use it, anymore than you need social media, Zoom, or Slack. These are all tools you can choose to use.
We can opt out of any tool anytime it doesn’t serve us working toward our goals. Using a paper calendar makes me less stressed, more in control of my time, and less distracted. It might work for you too.
What do you do with all the free time you’ll have because 18 coworkers can’t book appointments on your digital calendar anymore? Read. Yes, read. I currently read about 100 pages per day. Get my top five all-time favorite book recommendations to become richer and happier below.