In praise of the paper wall calendar

I’ve written several articles highlighting the intersection of technology and organization. There are many terrific solutions out there, both simple and complex, to tackle everything from recipes to your draft of the great American novel. Despite all of the advanced technology that’s available to a gadget guy like me, I still love, LOVE my wall-mounted calendar.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived in a house with a calendar on the wall. There have been more varieties than I can remember, but if I try I can recall:

  • Calendars advertising banks, take-out restaurants, and churches.
  • Dunkin Donut calendars that featured a pair of coupons each month.
  • Themed calendars that fit the whims of my siblings and me as we grew up: movies, sports, dance, rock stars, etc.
  • Plain, no-nonsense calendars that were all function and little form.

Today I’m a part of a big, busy family with a lot of moving parts: ballet, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, work, weekend activities and so on. All of these obligations have crafted what I look for in a wall calendar. The following are the particulars:

What I look for in a good paper calendar

  1. Size. It’s no fun to try and cram your handwriting into a teeny, tiny square. I want wide, open spaces that can legibly display several appointments.
  2. Single-page months. What I think of “‘fridge calendars” — 12″ x 14″ when opened — won’t do. The boxes are too small and they’re a pain to hang. In the beginning of the year they’re bottom-heavy and pull magnetic clasps down. In the latter months, all that bulk moves up top, requiring a more ample clip.
  3. Wire hanger. Tear-off calendars tend to get messy. A spiral wire spine is best as it allows you to flip each month away cleanly and easily hang the calendar on a nail, screw, or a hook.
  4. Mini reference calendars. It’s a hassle to flip back/forward to quickly reference a past or future date. I like it when a calendar has at least the previous/forthcoming months presented as mini reference calendars. The whole year is even better.
  5. Eighteen month timeframe. These are made with the school year in mind, which I appreciate.

Why I love paper calendars

Unlike their digital counterparts, paper calendars require no learning curve, are compatible with all my other hardware (pens and eyes), never “go down,” and simply work. They’re the very picture of reliability for my family.

Paper calendars in a digital world

I know what you’re thinking: “Dave, what if you need to reference something when you’re nowhere near your calendar?” Well, that’s a valid question, and I don’t have very good answer. You could, of course, buy a pocket-sized planner to take with you or enter your information into a digital calendar as well (that’s what I do). You could even take a picture of the calendar each day and delete the previous day’s image when you do so. All of these solutions require you to double all of your data entry, and, I’ll admit, that’s not ideal.

But, one thing it does is keep you from committing to a task on the spot. You always have the excuse, “I’ll have to check my calendar and get back to you,” which gives you time to really consider taking on the new obligation. If you do agree to something, you’ll know you are truly willing to take on the additional responsibility.

In case you’re wondering, my ultimate wall calendar is the AT-A-GLANCE Monthly Wall Calendar, Wirebound, 20 x 30 Inch Page Size. It meets all of my criteria and is my absolute favorite.

14 Comments for “In praise of the paper wall calendar”

  1. posted by Cindy on

    i am with you 100%. Growing up the calendar on the fridge was the keeper of all that went on (4 kids…). Today in my house of three busy boys, it’s the only way we all know who needs to be where when.

  2. posted by liz on

    Having a central calendar for an active family also teaches the children the habit of planning ahead as well as looking for the answer instead of always asking.

  3. posted by Kristy on

    couldnt agree with you more. I have yet to find a calendar solution that works for a family . I do take a photo but mine is the month at a glance

  4. posted by Amazonite on

    I use the calendar you pictured at work. For home, I order the FlyLady calendar from her site each year. It costs about $15 before shipping, has HUGE date blocks and there’s also a pocket at the back for stashing notes, coupons or whatever.

  5. posted by Amazonite on

    Also, just to add, we use Google Calendar to keep all of our appointments, etc., but still post them on the paper calendar on the fridge. Having the visual overview is helpful for me and my husband.

  6. posted by Stella on

    Am in total agreement with your article! My husband bought a new phone recently and lost all his calendar entries and notes when info was transferred to the new phone. His world almost ended. I keep my schedule on a paper calendar, which I could loose, but I back it up with the calendar on the refrig. Such peace of mind!

  7. posted by Osama AlMaadeed on

    I’ve tried many electronic solutions, but most would only help in seeing “today”.

    I have a size E 44″ X 34″ calendar that I prepare every year and hang in my office, I use Excel to set it up, and an HP plotter to print it out.

    It has:
    – Holidays.
    – Important deadlines.
    – Important meetings.
    – Much more…

    I use stickers and post-it notes on it.

  8. posted by Cheryl on

    I agree. I prefer a paper calendar. One way to keep a copy of it while you’re out is take of picture of the current month on the paper calendar with your phone or tablet and save the picture. Delete the picture when the month is over and take a picture of the new month etc.

    I also use services like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and OneDrive a lot to save schedules and notes. They’re backed up in the cloud and would be available through their respective apps on most devices. That way if I change devices or get a new device, I still have access to the information. You could also upload the picture of your calendar to one of these services.

  9. posted by Tiara on

    I’ve been using the Sandra Boynton Mom’s Family Calendar for years. It has columns for each member of the family (Mom being first and default, and four more columns for other family members). It has a great pocket at the bottom for us to drop in small pieces of paper that are needed. I hang it on our fridge with magnetic clips, and, while it does tend to shift weight over the year, as you described, I can’t really live without it.

  10. posted by GCalt on

    I prefer a calendar that’s printed on non-glossy paper so that I can use a pencil, in case plans change.

  11. posted by Sue on

    I use Microsoft Outlook for my calendar. I can add all my recurring appointments, and add other events as necessary after printing. I print off a smaller one to kerp in my handbag too.

  12. posted by Laetitia on

    We have a calendar that isn’t huge but does have reasonably sized boxes for writing – we don’t have children so don’t need lots and lots of space per day. Like G Calt, ours is non-glossy paper – pens also write better on this sort of paper than on glossy paper.

    Having the paper one allows us to see things that the other person has written up while we’ve been elsewhere. I copy things written on the joint paper calendar into my phone calendar. In my personal calendar, I include things that hubby is involved in but I’m not so, if I know that he’s not available for a potential joint event, I don’t schedule us both for it or I try to organise a different time.

    About the only things I don’t copy over are which bills are paid when, and how much they are, but having that info on the joint calendar allows either of us to check the account balance to ensure there’s the required funds available.

  13. posted by Bonnie on

    I like to keep paper wall calendars as records of our families activities, events and milestones. We enjoy reading back throgh theses fr time to time.

  14. posted by Neena on

    Technology is great for many things, including calendars. You can’t beat the search function.

    But seeing everything on paper, being able to jot notes, brainstorm, and move things around is important too.

    The wall calendar has an important role in my life too. Will not give it up!

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