The Diary Debate: Electronic or Paper

I have spent a bit of time over my break considering how to improve my performance at work in 2014 and, by extension, how to more effectively use my time.  One of the things I really struggled with in 2013 was management of my diary. The root of said problem seems to have arisen for two reasons: my own focus at times and the fact that my electronic diary is accessible across five devices (MacBook, Work laptop, iPhone, 2 x iPad) means that I often have multiple appointments that I have accepted or declined or otherwise without even really thinking about it.

The first problem is one that I can only fix myself mentally: focus is a funny thing I find.  Sometimes I am too focused on one particular task which means the other tasks fall by the wayside and then other times I am not focused enough and trying to do too much.  The only strategy that I can think of that will really assist is to maintain a full list of all tasks I have and methodically work through them.

The other problem, the diary issue, is also a difficult one.  Sometimes I accept and decline the same appointment on different devices.  Sometimes I mark appointments as tentative but then do not confirm them later so I do not know whether I have accepted or otherwise.  Sometimes I agree to meet with someone talking to them on the phone whilst out of the office and do not put the appointment in straight away and then forget.  As I wandered around Officeworks this morning (because I drove past and I can not resist) it struck me that maybe the answer was to be found in running a paper diary: so I have purchased one.

The more I thought about it though just running a paper diary is never going to work in the current environment in which we work because all appointments are made electronically.  That has led me to the view that for 2014 I am going to trial a dual approach to diary management.  It is obvious that I am going to have to run an electronic diary: everyone does.  I am also going to run a hard copy paper diary.  The way I think it might work is this:

  • Every appointment that comes to me electronically I will consider and either accept or decline.  I will not mark any appointments as tentative.
  • Every appointment that I make via phone or by talking face to face with someone I will put into the paper diary.
  • At the end of each day I will do a reconciliation between the two diaries to make sure they are both up to date.
  • Then at the start of each day I will print out the electronic diary which will stay on my desk during the day and I will carry with me the paper diary.

It strikes me immediately that this is double handling however I am hopeful that an extra 10 mins at the start and end of each day and more vigilance in what goes into my diary will help me be better utilised and better use my time.

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