Have you ever felt like you didn’t know if you were coming or going? Like if you only got your schedule under control, you wouldn’t feel so frazzled all the time? The truth is many people feel this way in part because they don’t have control of their calendars. While digital tools like smartphone calendars have made life easier in some ways, they have also encouraged us to overload ourselves with activities. This happens because of how the brain processes information. Calendars on our phone really don’t allow us to see the big picture and how our daily schedules fit into our week or month as a whole. As a result, we wind up doing too much.
Surprisingly, a printed paper calendar offers a low-tech solution to this issue. The visual structure of the printed calendar works within the parameters of the brain’s cognitive processing abilities, allowing you to get a better idea of just how much you have going on. Because of this, it can be a surprisingly useful tool for decluttering your schedule. Also, it is really easy to use and personalize. For example, if you need a sheet for August, you just have to click here, select your desired format and hit print.
Work With Cognitive Processing
An article on the Forbes.com website highlights why people benefit from reading material on paper as opposed to online. Paper documents, like direct mail or calendars, can be processed by the brain more easily. Not only is the information easier to process, it’s easier to remember as well. Information on paper does not overload the brain in the same way that digital information does.
The point of a calendar is to help you remember important information. Basically, information that you can hold in your hands become more “real” to the brain: It helps the brain process information on an emotional level, which boosts memory.
Further, the segmented visual nature of a calendar prevents cognitive overload. According to the eLearning Industry website, you can fight against cognitive overload by breaking content information down into smaller segments, which allows the learner/ worker to control the speed at which he/ she absorbs information.
Printed calendars by their nature break each bit of information down into easily digestible segments. Typically, the user only reads one square (or segment at a time). When you print a calendar and write your schedule on it, you automatically have to consider how much you’re putting on your calendar. You also make an emotional connection with the material, which allows you to remember it, process it, and even make decisions about it.
Vetting Your Life
But your printed calendar does more than just break information down into bite-size chunks. It also provides you with a look at all of your activities as a whole. When you stand back from your calendar, you get a glance at how individual events fit into your week or month. If you’re reading your calendar and feeling overwhelmed by everything you see on it, chances are you have too much going on. You don’t get quite the same impact from your digital calendars because typically, these show you only one piece of information at a time. You get no context. You don’t know you’re possibly heading toward burnout until it’s too late.
A paper calendar gives you the room you need to start vetting your obligations a little better. If you’re not sure how you should proceed, the University of Phoenix suggests that you ask yourself a series of questions. Is the activity essential the life I’m hoping to build? Is it the best way I can spend my time and resources? Will I be closer to reaching my goals if I do this event? These questions combined with the paper calendar will help you start to unravel your tendency to do too much.
Use Digital and Paper in Tandem
This is not to say that you can’t also use your phone’s digital calendar. You can. In fact, you can use your paper and your digital calendars together. The way to do this so that you don’t inadvertently overload yourself is to put your activities on your paper calendar first. This allows you to see how busy your schedule is becoming in one look.
Once you’ve vetted each activity using your paper calendar first, then you can put a calendar notification on your phone. This allows you to keep track of your activities when you’re out and about, which is especially helpful if your calendar is a desk calendar and too big to carry.
Your paper calendar can be your at-a-glance visual reminder of all your activities as a whole. It can also be a way for you to start decluttering your life. By using a printed calendar, you automatically make an emotional connection to each of the activities on your calendar because you are working with the brain’s cognitive structures when you do so. This allows you to develop some boundaries with your time. With a paper calendar, you can literally see how much you’re scheduling for yourself before you get into schedule overload. You can still use a digital calendar on your phone as a backup but the paper calendar becomes your first line of defence against overscheduling.