COVID19 Planners

Day 38: More Screen Time & Digital Calendar!?

April 22, 2020

I . . . might be finally ready to start using my digital calendar more seriously. After years of stubbornly clinging to the weekly view in my Hobonichi to contain the ‘complete’ view of my life schedule, trying other methods has me wondering whether it might be time to change it up.

I have no intention of not using a planner. Obviously! I love love love writing things down, setting goals, working my way through the days/weeks/month with a pen and hand-drawn graphics and my cherished Mildliners. But when it comes to “hard calendar landscape”, the Full Focus (and some others I am considering trying in the future when it runs out) is . . . not great.

And the new explosion of online meetings — well, digital is just so convenient for them. It’s nice to just be able to click through the calendar event itself to join.

There’s also the issue of Josh. He would definitely prefer if I were more consistent about entering everything that has the potential to impact both of us (ie, anything for the kid) into google calendar. We do have a shared one, but admittedly I have not always been 100% about putting everything in, because it’s not truly my master calendar and in a way I sort of resented feeling like I had to enter it twice.

BUT. It might be time to just give the digital version a try. I have sort of a hodgepodge going on right now: I have iCal on my phone, Google calendar, and an Outlook calendar. They do all seem to sync to iCal so that has been my preferred way of checking what is going on, though I often use Google calendar to enter events for whatever reason. Outlook is just work stuff but it’s helpful to have my meetings pulled iCal. None of the apps are all that aesthetically pleasing, really. BUT I can see the appeal of being able to quickly add things. And let’s face it — I always have my phone. I certainly always have it when I need to access my weekly calendar. It would be fun to pretend that wasn’t the case, but I do. Most of us do.

I would still enter big events on monthly paper spreads (to see the big picture) and fill out daily pages based on what my electronic calendar showed. ALSO, this would be an experiment. I’m not ready to commit after an entire lifetime of clinging to paper!

Anyone else use this kind of hybrid system? Are there calendar interfaces that integrate everything and are prettier than the ones I mentioned above?

I have been following Cal Newport’s recent posts (Cultivating a Deep Life, Mindset). Since I wouldn’t expect him to have childcare right now, I’m kind of wondering what his actual life looks like right now (or is he allowing his wife to take over homeschool/childcare for his 3 kids?).

((I just left a comment asking him this question. Hopefully he will answer!))

ANYWAY. I felt both inspired and annoyed at his posts. Annoyed because it’s hard to get into a lot of depth right now, and as a father of 3 children I think he should acknowledge that. But also inspired because . . . well, I still feel like I could be doing ‘better’ with the time I have.

I am not being super harsh on myself, but I have fallen back into news checking and it is just NOT doing me any favors right now. A once-daily podcast update is really sufficient. I also would really like to check email less. AND I would like to stop picking up the phone so often when I’m with the kids (ie, during bath time and the like). AND AND AND I would like to read my books more than my phone.

(Though . . . overall, I feel no shame/regret about my Instagram scrolling. It’s partially social and partially calming, so I actually don’t think it’s a negative right now. I’d just like to be doing it in a more purposeful/relaxing manner).


2 walks outside, one without kids & one with. Isn’t this rainbow-looking plant gorgeous? Also not ours.
For the record, Cameron was also there and enjoyed his ice cream! But I love this pic!!


  • Reply Heather April 22, 2020 at 7:27 am

    Oh my gosh! I was literally thinking these exact thoughts yesterday when starting to add things to my new planner… I mean all of a sudden it was like “why am I doing this? I can click through on my outlook calendar, but not here…” Ugh. Everything is seriously being thrown off with this coronavirus! I did color code my outlook calendar though… But, I am at a a weird place with my planner and I’m not sure how I feel about that… Is this more of a to-do list planner or should I keep on trucking and write the stuff down? Or…I have zero idea…

    Cuties in the pic, by the way! LOL I have 4 kids, so making sure to note that the others were there just not in the pic is something i tend to do, too. So silly… of course they are there somewhere… 😉

  • Reply CBS April 22, 2020 at 7:33 am

    Argh, I think I’m particularly sensitive to this as male academic twitter is full of men treating lockdown as an extended writing retreat while those of us with children are just struggling to keep afloat. Journals are reporting increase in submissions but all from men. We’re in a 2 bed flat, deep work is hard when you can hear your child from any room in your house.

    I use a digital calendar for everything but still make my daily, weekly, and monthly to do lists on paper and use a monthly planner (Muji) to map out big things (travel, conferences, teaching). I like the shareable, consistent format of digital + the tactile experience of paper.

    • Reply Kara April 22, 2020 at 11:25 pm

      Totally agree with the imbalance on how this lockdown is perceived. One of my male colleagues was puzzled as to why I wasn’t getting as much writing done at home. I’m homeschooling three kids on my day off now.

  • Reply Lisa S. April 22, 2020 at 7:44 am

    Thank you for keeping up your posts! They motivate me to start reading your blog instead of the news when I get up in the morning. I got the a Hobonichi for the first time this year (long time planner lover though) and I picked the smaller one (though I wavered a lot) in part because my weekly calendar is fully digital. My job uses google, so that makes coordinating work and family a little easier. I love that in my work calendar I can click a button and all of my home/personal event lay on top, but I can also hide when I’m in focus mode and don’t need to see all of that. I can also access both of these as my “master” from my phone & my husband is on the family version too. Ironically though I’ve only been really using my work g-calendar in this crisis and have just started adding my family stuff right there (e.g. my daughter’s zoom classes, my blocks of “school” time) and that has been kind of liberating to mesh my worlds more directly. I still love the daily level planner and use that to set intentions and give myself the job of checking boxes.

  • Reply Laura April 22, 2020 at 8:25 am

    I suspect a number of men have their wives cover all kid stuff from 8-6, and then they think they’re incredibly involved because they are around outside of that. But they aren’t dealing with any of the interruptions.

    • Reply Sara April 22, 2020 at 10:08 pm

      Yes! This has been my experience most of the time. Other times when my husband does have a break during the day he comes upstairs and interrupts to see if the kids are available to go on a bike ride. Nice he is asking but it is obvious that our 1st and 3rd graders are still working on school so it puts me in the “mean gatekeeper” position since the answer is they can’t right now they have to finish school first. I work full time too, but my job is a lot more flexible than my husband’s since he has a lot of meetings and reports due at specific times, so the kids’ schooling fits into my schedule better.

      • Reply Amber April 23, 2020 at 4:02 am

        this is very similar to my experience – so frustrating and extremely hard to focus in any kind of depth when you’re also supervising kids. Long story short, we agreed on a compromise of my husband putting in for leave for a couple of mornings a week so that he can oversee the kids’ schooling. Meanwhile I can squirrel myself away in the bedroom/office and get a decent chunk of time to worry about things other than whether my 7 year old is bored and disengaged by his teacher’s neverending Zoom lesson.

    • Reply Sara April 23, 2020 at 9:37 am

      I’m a textbook example of this – my husband is still going into the office because the small company he works for requires it while the large corporation I work for is encouraging us to work from home if we can. However we were both home for one week because of a suspected exposure (which turned out to be negative) and during that time he worked his normal hours while I did all the childcare and homeschooling and then caught up on my work on Friday-Sunday (although nowhere near a full 40 hours because the kids still interrupted me at least every 30 minutes). Part of this is due to the demands of our job, he has to bill his hours and I don’t, but part of this is also because he’s an obliger and I’m a questioner. I’m much more comfortable saying no than he is. I’m also 38 weeks pregnant and preparing to be out anyways – although that just means doing a lot of work in advance! It’s not his fault but it’s still frustrating to fall into typical gender roles. One “positive” thing that did come out of this pandemic – if either of us decides to stay home with our 3rd it’s become very clear it should be him since we have similar salaries but I have more flexibility, lower stress, and my company has handled this pandemic in a much more caring way.

  • Reply Danielle April 22, 2020 at 8:29 am

    I hope he responds to your comment! It has been interesting to see how people are dealing with working/homeschooling/doing all the things. I feel relatively lucky that my son is not old enough to have to homeschool, but my husband works at a hospital so I’m juggling the telework/childcare stuff solo during the day. I haven’t embraced any productivity/deep work in the last few weeks, but maybe that will change if this lasts into the summer?

    I also use a combo of google calendar (work), ical (family) and paper planning (daily planning/to dos). I tried Cozi for a bit because they had an Erin Condren co-branded design, but it was so ad-filled that I never used it. I may also start digital planning in my ipad so I can access it across platforms, but still get the satisfaction of drawing everything out. I still love paper though, so not sure if that would be a replacement.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 22, 2020 at 8:35 am

      I hope he does too! Right now it’s in moderation. I will report back! I LOOOVE paper and do not want a replacement but more for the ‘hard scheduling’ stuff if that makes sense . . .

  • Reply Ashley G April 22, 2020 at 8:31 am

    I definitely use both and honestly I’d give up the paper before I would give up google calendar. My husband and I use a shared one and both enter things. We use this for any sort of kid event or anything that we both need to know about (work travel, financial reminders, etc.) and for meal planning. We color code based on event and I always use the monthly view as I also enjoy the big picture look. I use my paper planner more for my own things that don’t impact him so much like gift reminders and planning more detailed things/trips. Plus, the task list on Google calendar is basically the key to my sanity.

    • Reply Grateful Kae April 22, 2020 at 9:29 am

      I am OBSESSED with Google Tasks! Do you have the phone app too? I love that I can add things to any of my lists right from my Gmail window too, which I usually have open all day on my computer. I have a bunch of different lists for different areas of my life and then I have a “Do TODAY” list and a “Do THIS WEEK” list and will drag things over daily as needed from the other lists. And, I love being able to quickly add anything that pops into my mind during the day on my phone too. I have a “Things to Buy” list on there too (not just “tasks” exactly) and will open it to quick add “lightbulbs” or “AA batteries” if I notice something random during the day. Love it!!

      • Reply Ashley G April 22, 2020 at 9:47 am

        Yes!! I love the phone app. I had no idea you can add things directly from Gmail (which I also keep open all day) and I also didn’t know you could have categories like this. Now I’m pretty excited haha.

        • Reply Grateful Kae April 22, 2020 at 11:43 am

          Oooh have fun!! I have separate lists in there for like Kids, School Stuff, Household, Volunteer Tasks, etc..and then pull from those to my “do today” or “do this week’ lists! You will love it 🙂

  • Reply Kersti April 22, 2020 at 8:33 am

    I use Outlook/Ical for work and Google calendar to keep an “ideal schedule” as well as hard landscape items for my personal time (I have two calendars/colors for this within Google calendar). I keep electronic to do lists for work (Outlook) and personal (Google). I use Google drive for goal setting and future planning. I then transfer my daily events/to dos from both systems to my Hobonichi the night before. Something about this setup eliminates a lot of mental noise for me!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 22, 2020 at 8:36 am

      that makes sense! So do your weekly Hobonichi pages lie dormant? I used to use them SO heavily. I only cast it aside b/c I can’t stand that it’s now filled with cancelled things!!!

      • Reply Kersti April 22, 2020 at 8:55 am

        They do right now, but I am still considering how to best use them as well as the monthly pages. You inspired me to purchase a Hobonichi just this year, so still trying to figure out how to best put it to use!

  • Reply Kelsey April 22, 2020 at 8:35 am

    I use digital and paper calendars. I fought against it for a long time but have embraced it. I use Google cal for digital and the Get To Work Book for paper. I enter everything in Google Cal and then on a weekly basis fill out my GTWB (bc things usually don’t change much by that point). I prefer the month view on Google Cal so I don’t do much with the month spread in GTWB. I see Google Cal as the place for appointments and calendaring and them GTWB as an integration of calendar and goals/to-do. I do really like the goal reflection in GTWB.

  • Reply Chelsea April 22, 2020 at 8:37 am

    I’d be very curious to hear Cal Newport’s answer if you get one! I remember being disappointed when he evaded the question when Manoush Zamorodi asked him in an interview (I’m paraphrasing), “So exactly what *does* happen if one of your kids has an emergency during one of your deep work periods?” I generally like his ideas, and it seems like being a good and involved father is really important to him, but I wish he spent more time talking about the childcare he and his wife need to make the “deep work” lifestyle available to him/them.

    • Reply Maria Pontikis April 22, 2020 at 8:50 am

      THIS, Chelsea! I really do like Newport’s work but this is a massive criticism of mine. You need to acknowledge the structures in place to allow this type of work to happen. From what I’ve read, his kids only seem to exist in special moments of focused bonding and play… but a lot of most days with kids does NOT look like this!

  • Reply Maria April 22, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Please let us know if Newport replies. We have a 5-month-old and 23-month-old at home. My husband is in academia and we are in the “barely hanging on” mode not the “extra time to publish” mode, between sharing FT care for babies and the urgent work like grading and keeping classes running. And this us with much deliberation and foresight to organizing our days right now! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything by him about the division of labour in his household and I just want to know what it looks like.

  • Reply gwinne April 22, 2020 at 8:47 am

    I’m interested in this general question. I don’t see me going to a digital calendar any time soon, though I have used Asana as a project management system (working okay before all this). I really like paper. I was also a latecomer to smart phone…

    As a single parent, I have mostly given up trying to get anything done during this time. I am fortunate that that’s basically possible because I was on leave from teaching this semester. My “childcare” is 1 hr by teen/day. I protect that hour ruthlessly for whatever intellectual work I am capable of doing. The rest of the day is nonstop interruption or screen time (or a combo!) which really isn’t working…

  • Reply Irene April 22, 2020 at 8:48 am

    I have so many thoughts on this and not enough time. Ugh. We have no child care at all with a 2 year old and a 5 year old home. One parent is always “on duty” because with a 2 year old ( at least ours) there is no way to do ANYTHING else while keeping him out of the ER. This has required working less than my usual part time schedule for me and probably also less than ideal for my husband. It’s just awful sometimes despite my work being flexible and I kind of hate anyone who wants to imply that there is really *that* much I could do to make it better.

  • Reply Heather April 22, 2020 at 9:00 am

    So to use a quote I am 90% sure I got from you on the BOBW podcast, my electronic calendar is my schedule of events, my planner is how I actually execute that schedule. I do a very stripped down bullet journal as my planner. All my events and meetings are on the my phone calendar (outlook for work, google for home, iPhone shows both together). I don’t mind the look of the calendar. For me it’s just about function.
    A few days before the next month starts, I plot out the following month – putting events on a monthly view in my BuJo. I also plot out monthly goals and create a monthly habit tracker. Then on Friday afternoons, I plot out the upcoming week, and new plan for the next week. I have a 2 page weekly spread where I put my next week’s meetings/events. Then finally, on each day I have a running to do list. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not. Especially considering I don’t do the cutesy drawings many do. However, I do use a lot of washi tape!
    I actually bought a hobonichi this year (mostly based on my planner envy I got from watching you plan on this blog). I do love the weekly view in the techo. But it’s just to bulky and not as adaptable as my bujo.
    During the current situation I haven’t been doing full scale monthly and weekly planning. However, I still have my running daily to do list for work.
    I also feel like I can do better with my time right now. It may be time to add back in some monthly and weekly goal planning. We are reaching the point where, at least for me, I need to think of this as the new reality and not just an emergency situation to overcome. Like many folks we don’t currently have any childcare help and we are both trying to work from home. While it just sucks and I’m not going to say it doesn’t, I will say each week gets a tiny bit easier. Or maybe just different? I think at this point having goals can go back to being a source of comfort. At the being of this situation, my goals started to feel like just one more thing I couldn’t possibly do right now.

    • Reply neuromd April 24, 2020 at 4:42 pm

      I use the same system as Heather. This year I bought the new Hobonichi “Day Free”, so it really is made for bullet-journaling. You must have the Hobonichi “Weeks” though because I don’t think the other ones have weekly pages. I also draw in my own 2-page weekly spread. Your comment about starting to accept the “new normal” is really on-point right now.

    • Reply neuromd April 24, 2020 at 4:53 pm

      That will teach me to late comment. Just saw SHU’s post about how the Hobonichi cousin has weekly pages.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 24, 2020 at 7:45 pm

        Yep! Daily, weekly, and monthly! THE HOLY GRAIL!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns April 22, 2020 at 9:18 am

    I use both. My work stuff is all in my outlook calendar and I don’t bother writing that down in my bullet journal. My work privacy is so strong because I work in financial services that I could never sync it to a different calendar planning ap/share it will my husband. I put appts during the work day in outlook but that’s it. Otherwise it’s all work. We have a wall calendar in our kitchen where I put appts for our son and other family plans, like play dates, swimming lessons, etc. My husband is honestly NOT GREAT at looking at it and will often ask what we have going on this week… I mean, he would ask that before COVID because now we have NOTHING going on. If there is an appt that he needs to be at or take our son to, I send him an outlook invitation at work so it’s on his work calendar.

    My use of my paper planner has really changed since having our son. I haven’t felt as driven to plan in as much detail in my paper planner. I mostly use it for meal plans and to do lists. And I also write all the things we have going on in my monthly calendar layouts. But I always have that planner with me as it’s a small bullet journal so fits in my purse.

    So I guess you could say I end up writing the same thing in multiple places, but it works for us I guess! For that most part!

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly April 22, 2020 at 9:26 am

    YES I have settled happily into a hybrid system this year. I use digital for meetings (and always have). I use the Full Focus planner for my daily to dos and major time blocking. I really like it! I never liked putting meetings into a paper planner, though. It seemed like duplication of effort to me. So the electronic calendars (Outlook for work, Google for home) have always been my “calendar of record”. I also have gone to a hybrid method for the kids. They have a Kanban To Do/Done board for each day and google calendars to track their class meetings, etc. So far so good.

  • Reply Gillian April 22, 2020 at 9:42 am

    I use a hybrid system and have for several years. Our family uses Cozi (the free version). Everything goes in Cozi including kid activities, after work commitments, plans for various family members on the weekend. All the adults in our house (me, husband and au pair) can add things to cozi and cozi can be exported in full or in part to Outlook, Google etc. On Friday afternoon (thanks to Laura) I look at the coming week, compare it against the au pair schedule and make any adjustments, sort out conflicts and put any thing that pertains to be in my weekly page of my paper planner. Then I add my workouts. Then I meal plan for the week and consult my monthly list to set my goals for the following week. From there I print a copy of the Cozi for the fridge for easy kid reference. I keep Cozi open on my computer at work, just to have a sense of what is going on at home, but I work entirely from the paper planner at that point. This has evolved over the years but has been working really well for us. It is easy to include childcare givers in Cozi which is helpful in a big family with multiple caregivers, it is web based, free and interfaces with all of the popular calendars and is the master calendar for our family unit. My planner is my master calendar but more on a week-by-week basis.

  • Reply Myleen April 22, 2020 at 9:57 am

    If you haven’t checked it out yet, I would highly recommend the Fantastical Calendar app. It’s not free but totally worth it! I keep all appointments electronically and use the Hobo to plan each day. I pull calendars from Outlook (work) and iCloud (personal/family), plus I subscribe to public calendars so they’re automatically updated (e.g. holidays, event schedules, etc.). Everything gets color coded so there are about 15 categories for our family of three. It also makes it easy to see if things are out of balance when one color appears more than it should.

    As for productivity now…it looks very different. As a single mom of two, I’ve prioritized getting the most important things done and that’s about it. I’ve found that any online discussion of increased or consistent productivity during this time generally assumes a level of childcare that isn’t available in my life right now.

    Stay healthy and safe!

  • Reply Sara April 22, 2020 at 10:14 am

    I am the opposite of you and have gone from exclusively digital to digital with some paper planning during this WFH period. I bought a beautiful customized Plumwell planner in the fall (which I think I learned about on your blog?) but only used it for maybe a week. Then a week or two into this situation I realized that I needed something beyond my Google Calendar and it turned out the Plumwell planner was just the thing! I like having my Google Calendar to be able to click into all the various Zooms but the paper planner is great for jotting down task lists and a quick visual of my week. I’m an elementary school teacher and things were so static before that all I needed was the one pager of my weekly class schedule (which I memorized by mid-September) and my Google calendar for my occasional meetings. Now? NOT the same…

    • Reply Sara April 22, 2020 at 11:13 am

      Edit: Uh, I’m using a Plum Paper planner. I think I combined two planner types and made up a new name. 🙂

  • Reply Alyce April 22, 2020 at 10:29 am

    I use a hybrid electronic/paper calendar system. Electronic calendars include my work calendar (Outlook), and my and my husband’s google calendars – we each have a personal calendar and my husband has a work calendar. We share all of our google calendars with each other. I schedule most of our daughter’s doctors and OT appointments, but he’s usually the one taking her, so I need to know his schedule. The work calendar my husband shares only includes the non-negotiable events/appointments/meetings that can’t be rescheduled. He has another work calendar that he doesn’t share with me that has absolutely everything on it (it’s pretty ugly), but if an item doesn’t make it onto the shared calendar, it can be rescheduled if I happen to schedule on top of it. On the (relatively rare) occasion that I have work events that goes past work hours, I add it to my personal google calendar. We both consult the shared calendars before scheduling social events for the family. We sync our google calendars with the Apple Calendar app on our phones so we don’t use iCal directly.

    As for paper. I use a hobonichi cousin, and during my weekly review, I transfer events from my electronic calendars for the upcoming week. The exercise gives me the opportunity to be mindful about the upcoming week, and what I want to accomplish. I don’t rely on the weekly calendar to be my definitive calendar. I don’t tend to update it during the week, and I don’t carry it everywhere with me (only to and from work). I really use the Hobonichi for the daily pages, and the ability to plan and execute the day’s goals.

    I’ve used digital tools (going back to my palm pilot in high school!), and paper calendars/planners. I’ve had periods of being all digital, and periods of being all paper. I’ve found I need both. Digital is great for keeping track of (always changing) schedules and sharing them with others, but paper is invaluable for planning and executing goals.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 22, 2020 at 10:33 am

      Totally agree on the need for paper in execution and intentionality!!

  • Reply Erika April 22, 2020 at 11:30 am

    As is popular with everyone else, I also use a hybrid system but my Google calendar is the master. I love my current system. Both my husband and I have Google calendars that we share with each other. I also have Google calendars for kid activities, personal and workouts. These are easy to add and mine have different default colors so I don’t have to change the color of every calendar event to differentiate it – the separate calendars do that for me automatically. The kids activity calendar is shared with my husband and our nanny and is right now filled with Zoom links but usually contains activities, playdates, etc. My personal (e.g. a friend’s birthday reminder) and workout (training log) calendars aren’t shared with anyone and I like keeping them separate. My work schedule is exclusively on my Outlook calendar and isn’t synched BUT I do copy over anything outside of normal ~8-6 hours (e.g. a work dinner) to my Google calendar as those may require childcare or a change to the family plans. I work FT so it is usually just a distraction to see what my kids are doing while I’m at work, and vice versa for when I’m home. I ALSO use a Hobonichi Techo cousin avec to organize my life. I don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t have all my appointments because the master for me is Google. But I like to write out my schedule some days on the daily pages and I keep loose track of habits and to-dos there. I use the weekly pages for dinners, childcare planning and family activities. I use the monthly pages to plan vacations, when either my husband or I have work travel, birthdays, etc. (I mean, back when those were a thing). I know everyone is different but adopting a paper planner as a side kick to electronic has been amazing for me. I highly recommend it!

  • Reply Kelly April 22, 2020 at 11:45 am

    I use a hybrid like you are thinking about. Appointments, meetings etc all get entered into google calendar. Then, monthly I enter in big things in my planner on the monthly landscape. This gives me a sense particularly if weekends are looking too full. Then, weekly I fill in the weekly calendar on Sunday, planning for the week ahead. This works for me, and was actually useful during this time because I didn’t have much in my planner yet that didn’t actually happen. I did have to delete from my google calendar though.

  • Reply Courtney April 22, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    I have a digital-paper hybrid system and it works for me. I dont have a fancy planner, just a good old college rulled notebook. I do all the hard landscape in Google Calendars (syncs to work, home, and husbands schedules.) I also use google calendar for dinner planning because I can link to recipes and my husband can see what we are having and maybe even cook once in awhile! For my paper notebook, I use it to record daily habits, prioritze daily tasks, set goals, and make lists.

  • Reply CNM April 22, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    Another hybrid system user! I have an Outlook calendar for work-related things, that is generally updated and maintained by the admin staff. I have a Google calendar that I share with my spouse for family related things – birthday parties, trips, doctor’s appointments, and so on. But I use a paper system daily. My bullet journal (now Hobonichi based on your raves!) has my weekly calendar, goals, things I’m tracking, memories, etc. written in it. Every week, I consult my various calendars and update it all on my paper planner so I can make sure everything gets done on time.

  • Reply Ana April 22, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    Yup, hybrid system. Google calendar is for anything that is scheduled on a specific date or time. So if I have to plan something, move something, etc… I can look quickly on my phone & figure out what works. And I can share with husband. AND I get reminders on my phone when its time (so helpful lately!). The paper planner is for everything else—all the tasks I assign myself—I copy the events into my planner Friday for the next week, and then plan my own work around them.
    I think you know my quibbles about Cal Newport and Deep Work, but I am also VERY curious to see if he replies and what he has to say! I do love his ideas, but I wish he’d even slightly acknowledge the privilege of being able to disconnect from family to be able to achieve that focused state.

  • Reply Sarah April 22, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    I’m another google calendar/paper hybrid user. However, I can see myself moving more towards digital for the near future due to all of the uncertainty.

    I’m in academia, so I typically fill in all of the major academic calendar dates and all of the key public school dates for the year when I get my paper planner. It is such a satisfying way to start mapping out the year! Now, I think I’ll leave those on the digital calendar and just fill in my paper planner week by week. As you’ve written, it’s depressing to see what was supposed to happen, and I have no confidence that whatever we plan for next fall will actually happen as scheduled.

  • Reply omdg April 22, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    Cynical answer: Cal Newport is WFH like the rest of us, holed up in his office most of the day (and maybe evening as well) under the impression that his wife is joyfully taking on the homeschooling all by herself. He feels super involved because he is physically in the house more, but in fact is participating in childcare even less. He still escapes to his woodworking shed on the weekends because he needs a “break.” He is feeling more centered and focused than ever. His wife is irritated AF, but their familial wellbeing depends on projecting a facade of domestic bliss, so she is biting her tongue. She is instagramming like mad under a pseudonym between school zoom chats as an escape mechanism.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 22, 2020 at 4:43 pm

      Certainly possible!!!!

    • Reply Danielle Lee April 23, 2020 at 7:12 am

      Would definitely follow this Instagram account/watch this reality show (Real Housewives of Productivity Gurus?).

    • Reply Ashley April 23, 2020 at 11:07 am

      That’s my cynical take, too. It’s to the point where I’m really not interested in what men have to say about productivity because it’s often so divorced from reality (i.e., they’re relying on their wives to magically make it all work).

    • Reply neuromd April 24, 2020 at 4:47 pm

      1000 likes on this comment

  • Reply Sarah April 22, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    I recently started using Google Keep for all of my lists, goals and tracking. It’s really easy to use alongside Google Calendar and I love the ‘checkbox’ function and the colour options that are available. You might also find it helpful, Sarah, because we both track similar things 🙂

  • Reply JESSICA MACDONALD April 22, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    I do a paper/digital hybrid, but probably not anything too out of the box. I have a job with very distinct work/home boundaries, so I use Outlook calendar for any and all work stuff. I use Google Calendar for any appointments, planned activities (parties, book club, etc), upcoming events that look interesting, and travel. The hard landscape of my weeks. I try to get my husband to use it for his own activities, with mixed results.

    When I have a set weekly planning process, I typically begin by reviewing my Google Calendar for the week and transferring everything to my paper planner du jour. That’s it!

    I don’t feel very conflicted about using both. Nothing is going to convert me to all digital because I love paper planning so much. And a paper planner doesn’t let me check my schedule or add appointments on the fly (most often one-handed while standing at doctor’s office desks and also wrangling one or more very small children… you know, back when we actually went to doctor’s offices…)

  • Reply Eva April 22, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    I use a hybrid planner system: Google Calendar for time blocks and appointments, and then weekly/monthly/semester spreads in a notebook to see my priorities on a daily basis!

    I’m curious to see what Cal Newport will say to your comment – I was also wondering if he has time to think and do research now that we all have to move our courses online on the fly. At least for me, between not having childcare for my toddler, online teaching and office hours, and project calls, I find my time (and mental space) for research is very limited…

  • Reply Sara B. April 23, 2020 at 5:23 am

    I love my digital hybrid system – I use an electronic calendar (multiple color-coded calendars, mostly google, and fantastical and task management system (OmniFocus) but I plan on digital paper (an electronic Hobonichi knockoff + some FFP pages in goodnotes on iPad + Apple Pencil) and I love it! I think I would love a real paper planner too instead of my goodnotes system, but I need portability and you can’t beat digital for that. I do miss the feel of paper and pretty pens and all the aesthetics though. I don’t think I could survive just on paper – I live and die by my digital calendars, especially when the kids activities are in full swing – their stuff is all on one shared calendar and I print it for the nanny at the beginning of the week. And alarms – what do you paper-only people do without alarms? I’m kind of meh about OmniFocus right now – I love OF, but I don’t really have a good workflow with it except as an inbox. I 100% agree that planning on “paper” daily and weekly is key. It’s a bit awkward for such a fancy planner, but you could print a weekly template on half-sheet and trim it to fit over the “weekly overview” vertical calendar FFP page (sideways? Or print a whole page, trim the edges, and fold it in half? <—I like that better) weekly view FTW!

  • Reply MBC April 23, 2020 at 8:53 am

    I use a hybrid of digital and paper. In a nutshell digital has everytime I HAVE to be somewhere. Paper has ‘to do’, goals, etc. I have 2 google calendars. The one associated with my personal email has my work hours (I work rotating shift so it varies a LOT!) and any appointments, anything that must happen at time/place. I really like keeping home and work separate and one of the advantages of my oddball hours is when I’m not at the offie I do not have to do anything for work. nothing. nada. Thus I have a second google calendar associated with my work email address for time sensitive work things. Conference calls, meetings etc. When I’m at work I can look at it and see I have a call at 3pm but at home all I need to know is that I’m at work 2-10pm. I have my home calendar shared with work calendar so I can see any personal conflicts before making work commitments. The only time work stuff goes on the personal calendar is if it falls outside of my normal hours (like I work 2-10pm but need to be on an extra call at noon).
    I similarly keep 2 paper planners. My Plum paper work planner has a weekly view where I can write priorities for work, sketching out what I want to do what days, with back sections for yearly/quarterly goals. For home I have a small field notes notebook with a to do list and one with a monthly calendar which I use for habit tracking or big picture stuff. This fits easily in a pocket or purse if I want to take it with me or else gets pulled out to look at my habits.

    Writing it all down is seems crazy but it works for me. I think the key points are:
    *Specific time items are digital (so I always have them on my phone and can make it beep!)
    *Goal/planning/big picture/to do are paper
    *Home and work are separate worlds.

  • Reply Alissa W April 23, 2020 at 9:06 am

    My planner game has really fallen apart in the past six weeks. I’m pretty much all digital schedule wise since Zoom adds stuff to my google calendar and that is also synced to my phone. I had switched to A primary digital calendar before this but used to sync my paper planner during my weekly review. Now I don’t bother because I’m basically at my computer all day and with the calendar tab open it reminds me. I used to use a get to work book for home/personal/weekend plans and projects but put that away in March. Now I use my blue sky planner to take some notes and track a few tasks but sadly I’ve given up planning for April. Hoping to reboot for May. This week I’ve been using sample pages from the panda planner to try and get my groove back. I like it so far.

  • Reply Emma April 23, 2020 at 9:59 am

    I use a paper/digital combo and love it! You can make different digital calendars but have them show up in one spread. So we have a family calendar and I have a personal calendar, and I also use this feature to align my ideal week with my planned week. You can read a description here:

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 23, 2020 at 10:53 am

      ooh! going now!!!

  • Reply Lori C April 24, 2020 at 10:34 am

    This was a great post. I have a hybrid form of planning myself. Very similar to you, my husband and I share a Google calendar that can be accessed via desktop/android/iphone so it is easy to see quickly. I too am not so good about adding things to it, but in fairness my husband also is known for not removing things that are cancelled, so the process could be improved. In my weekly and daily review, I look at both my work/outlook calendar and the shared calendar and make updates to my Hobonichi accordingly. Both can be accessed from my phone, so its relatively quick and painless to do. It allows me to continue to keep my webinars, work meetings, and even work time blocking on my Outlook calendar but also make note of it on paper. I think of the Hobonichi as the central planning database that pulls everything together.

    Re: Cal Newport, just another example of perfectly curated online blogging, which I would say most bloggers do. Not the ones I am interested in following though 🙂

    Screen time is… what it is. Last night after being in front of my computer all day, I just wanted to scroll instagram, read blogs on my phone, and watch TV. I told myself I didn’t need any more screens (my poor eyes!) but it’s easy, its passive, and life is hard right now. Seriously. I don’t care how privileged you are, and I recognize that I am very privileged, its still a complete 180 on life and very challenging. Who would have believed it if you told them in January that you wouldn’t be going to work, kids wouldn’t be going to school, you couldn’t even go to the playground, there would be no sports on TV, and life as you know it would be cancelled? You would have to wear masks leaving your house, and businesses would be closed? It sounds crazy typing it out. It is an insane time so we all need to show ourselves some grace and just survive…. that’s my take on it at least!

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