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Wednesday
Aug252004

Paper Planner Longings

Paper PlannerYesterday, the latest Franklin-Covey catalog appeared in our mailbox, activating a curious longing for the paper planner days of old. I admit it — I miss the feeling of writing on paper, handling a nice leather binder — the physicality of keeping my time, addresses and notes in the old fashioned way.

Now, before you load up your fingers for a retort, I know all of the good reasons to use an electronic planner, particularly, how do you back up a paper planner? I like how Palm Desktop works on the Mac and how my Tungsten E functions as a portable copy of my PIM and other data.

Maybe it's the emotion of a paper planner butting up against the logic and practicality of my Mac and Palm handheld that I was experiencing. Fortunately, as an artist and designer, I get a daily fix of writing on paper, by sketching concepts and writing notes about projects in my sketchbook.

Still, why this odd attraction? Maybe it's related to an experience I had a few months ago, at a wedding reception. At this reception, I spoke with Rick, an old friend who I'd known as a hard-core Pocket PC guy. He did everything with his PDA, including evangelizing whomever showed interest.

When we got onto the topic of gadgets, and his latest PDA, Rick admitted he'd given up his Pocket PC, in favor of a paper planner, a paper diary and a mobile phone. I was surprised, as Rick had always been so hard-core about PDAs and Pocket PCs.

I asked him why he made the shift, and he told me he'd become increasingly frustrated with his Pocket PC's limitations, as a diary and a note taking device. He felt his time tracking, to-dos and notes were a hassle to input, because the device could never keep up. Specifically as a notes device, he felt the screen was just too darn small to write notes and scribble on as freely as paper.

So, he decided to try life without a PDA for a while. He used his mobile phone as his address book, and ditched Outlook and his Pocket PC in favor of a low-tech planner and diary. He found that his notes improved, his diary was actually useful and enjoyable to write in, so he stuck with this combination of tools.

Now, Rick's case may be unique, but I must admit, there are times I can relate. I never consider my Tungsten E as a note taking device, because text entry is such a pain. I much prefer the Dana (with full keyboard), direct entry into a Mac OS X application, or (gasp) paper and a pen.

For similar reasons, my time tracking and to-do lists have moved away from the Palm to the Mac. I found myself loathing the fight of writing entries in the Tungsten E, because even with retrofitted Graffiti Classic, my recognition rate was frustratingly bad. As soon as I began entering time in the Palm Desktop, my work documentation improved to the point that I only consider entry in the TE when I'm away from home.

Now, I love my TE, and it serves many purposes — as my address book, and a device on which to read the Bible (MyBible), weblogs and news (iSilo), ebooks (PalmReader), email (via e*Mail) and for access to data on the go. For this, my Palm works quite well. But, as a device for capturing my schedule, to-dos and notes, it has lost some luster.

I'm curious to hear other experiences — do you find your PDA is used less because of your mobile phone, or because it's difficult to enter text into? Has it been replaced by a smartphone, or a phone and paper planner/diary? Is your PDA still going strong as when you first looked longingly into its glowing screen?

Please feel free to leave your comments. I'm all ears. :-)

UPDATE 2004-08-25: For those who had problems commenting earlier, I've now repaired the problem in Moveable Type (related to the spam blacklist tool). Many thanks to Jeff G. for pointing this out to me! -- Mike

Reader Comments (6)

Looks like the comments are now repaired. :-)
August 25, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
As a matter of fact, your post has allowed me to begin the healing.. starting with a confession at my own blog. :)
August 26, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
I have to admit it: after reading several e-books on my Palm this summer, I'm actually reading a traditional paper book! And its another experience! Specially at the Catalan sunshine, where my color screen is no more for my eyes!
August 26, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterPaco Rivi�re
Brad, congrats on "coming clean" on your weblog. Bet that was cathartic! ;-)
August 27, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Alan, please keep me updated on your experiment. I have also thought about doing someting similar, as long as my time tracking doesn't suffer. Your feedback might be very helpful for me. :-)
September 27, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Alan, this is quite interesting! Would you be willing to consider writing up an article for my weblog, describing your experiences "going back" to paper, to include the plusses and minuses? I think it'd make a very interesting read.

Let me know...

Mike
October 2, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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