By David Gracey
My wife, Louise, and I were at dinner recently with two other couples when, somehow, the topic of keeping up with appointments arose. I, in my IT-smugness (and after having consumed one fruity cocktail and two glasses of wine), made the comment that Louise still uses one of those old-school paper calendars to keep up with her appointments. While my two male counterparts nodded their heads in silent agreement, not wanting to leave a fellow guy hanging but also not wanting to create trouble on the home front, the other two wives exploded with a stream of comments like “You are crazy!” and “Let’s see YOU manage carpool on your iPhone!” and “You probably think Jar Jar Binks was funny!”
Never one to let an opportunity to point out someone’s stone-age solution pass unchallenged, I queued up a nice “Can you BELIEVE someone still uses a paper calendar?” But then somewhere in the far reaches of my primal cortex, a single, fight-or-flight neuron fired and prevented my mouth from articulating those words. I am deeply grateful for that neuron because that comment probably would have put me in the doghouse for at least a day or two.
My calendar is on Microsoft Outlook, which syncs with my iPhone. I like the convenience of always having my calendar with me, being able to make changes (sans whiteout) and having it backed up to the cloud at all times. Plus, when I’m in the office, I can see my own month-at-a-glance on a big, 24” screen.
Since that evening, two weeks ago, I have observed the use of paper calendars in the world around me. I see people carry them around like ancient relics, clinging to them so they won’t get lost. It’s kind of like a cult. The members share a knowing glance, then move on as if nothing happened. Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.
My scientific research came to a quick conclusion: The brand of choice is clearly Month-at-a-Glance. And people are fiercely loyal to them. Techniques of tracking activities might vary, but the brand is the same.
Apparently, each year there is a ritual for these paper-owners to celebrate the New Year with a new clean, unwrinkled calendar. They spend those last, cold days of the year filling in anniversaries, birthdays and other important dates in their new calendars. (I won’t dwell on how I make a single entry in Outlook calendar, check the “recurring” box and I’m done…forever.)
The reasons cited for choosing paper over electronic are numerous but generally fall into one of these few categories:
- I can see the entire month at once. (Too bad they didn’t name the product “At Once.” Silly marketing people.)
- I have to coordinate several different activities for my kids at once.
- It’s easy to see what I’m doing; I use different colors of ink for different types of activities: blue for sports, green for school, pink for the hairstylist.
- When I need it, it’s right with me. Ever try to see a full month on an iPhone?
So I totally get it. People much more highly evolved than I am continue to cling to their paper products for what turn out to be legitimate reasons. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to update my wall calendar with upcoming employee vacations.