Switching Between Low-Tech and High-Tech to Stay Organized

November 16, 2010

I still straddle the electronic and paper worlds in most areas of my life. While I initially consult my paper address book, I often end up double checking the address in my husband’s electronic version. I use my handheld device to help me with prescribing medications and checking doses, side effects, and drug interactions, but rely on my pocket pharmacopeia for using certain tables and finding the best antibiotic for a particular infection.

I think I’ve tried just about every organizational tool - PalmPilots, Google calendar, a desk calendar, an Outlook-based system, and my personal favorite: a hodge-podge collection of partially-filled notebooks, Post-it notes, and scraps of paper spread between my office, car, purse, and kitchen table. Nothing has “stuck.”

I recently took a quiz in a magazine that was designed to help me decide whether I was a “paper” type of calendar person or one who favors an electronic gadget. Like most of these quizzes, I already knew the answer before I started answering the not-so-cleverly concealed questions. It turns out I prefer paper calendars, as low-tech as they are. This probably explains why, despite the electronic address list my husband painstakingly updates and e-mails to me periodically with the tag line “don’t delete,” I still prefer my not-quite-up-to-date leather bound address book.

I once read someone’s fond description of their address book: a memory book of sorts chronicling marriages, births, moves, and job changes. That’s kind of how I feel both about my address book and my daily planner.

It’s kind of fun to open up my desk calendar and see that on March 20th, I had a date night with my husband or that on July 16th I was visiting my sister. The scrawled notes in my paper calendar bring back good memories of events I thought I had forgotten. The problem is that my desk calendar sits exactly there - on my desk. So, when I’m trying to coordinate another date night with my husband or schedule my next haircut or trade call with a colleague, I can’t commit because I don’t have the single copy of my life’s schedule with me at the moment.

So, I decided to give one more electronic tool a try. For the past month or so, I’ve been using the Cozi calendar (www.cozi.com). This is an online, multi-user accessible Web-based family calendar. I like it because I can set e-mail reminders for both me and my husband, both of us can enter dates, and we can easily indicate which family members need to be at various events. Since it is online, I can pretty much access it from anywhere, which automatically makes it more user-friendly. This calendar may have some staying power after my paper desk calendar ends on December 31st.

I still straddle the electronic and paper worlds in most areas of my life. While I initially consult my paper address book, I often end up double checking the address in my husband’s electronic version. I use my handheld device to help me with prescribing medications and checking doses, side effects, and drug interactions, but rely on my pocket pharmacopeia for using certain tables and finding the best antibiotic for a particular infection. I love that I have all of Jane Austen’s books on my iPod touch and can easily access them during times I am stuck waiting in line, but definitely prefer curling up with a book for some serious reading.

I guess I’m like most people - switching between low-tech and high-tech - in medical record keeping, menu planning, and all types of life activities to try to maximize the benefit of each.