Combining Electronic & Paper Planning: How Rachel Does It

Paper Planner & iPhone

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Some people plan using paper only.  Many ditched paper long ago and only use electronic planning tools.  And then there’s the group that somehow manages to combine the two.  My daughter, Rachel, falls in that category.  She’s tried using only electronic and that didn’t really work for her.  She’s tried using only paper and that didn’t work well either.  But using the combination of electronic and paper has been a great solution.

These are her tools of choice:

  • Daytimer Portable Malibu Planner with Franklin Covey Compact Weekly pages
  • iPhone 5
  • Evernote
  • Computer

In her Daytimer, Rachel has A-Z tabs, monthly pages, weekly pages and blank paper.  The A-Z tabs are pretty much only for passwords.  The monthly pages are primarily for scheduling photo sessions (she’s a freelance photographer) and a few other appointments.  The weekly pages are where the magic happens.  Rachel records appointments, tasks, meal plans and miscellaneous notes.  These pages give her a view of her week so she’s know what’s going on and when and what, if anything, she needs to do about it.  She also uses her planner as a wallet so it goes everywhere with her.

Daytimer Malibu Planner

Malibu Daytimer

Malibu Daytimer

Malibu Daytimer

Malibu Daytimer

The iPhone 5 is used for mainly for contact information and reminders.  Any task that she’s likely to miss on her planner goes in her phone.  For example, on Tuesdays she goes grocery shopping and takes reusable bags.  Because she tends to forget to grab the bags, she has a reminder set to go off every Tuesday when she goes home for lunch.  The reminder goes off and she grabs the bags and puts them in the car for her after work grocery trip.

iPhone 5 reminders

The Reminders are sorted by category.

For her job, she has a notebook that she leaves at work.  Job related information stays in the notebook at work.

For her photography business, she uses Evernote for everything.  She has access on her phone and her computer.  How to use Evernote is a post for another day but I did want to show you part of a workflow template she created.

Evernote Template

And that’s how Rachel combines electronic and paper planning.  Questions?

Do you use paper, electronic or a combination of both?


  1. I also use a combination, which is the Star Trek Engagement Calendar and Outlook on a computer. I generally don’t post any work meetings or events in the planner — I don’t want to mingle them! I did put on the Holiday Party and Christmas Tree lighting though. I do have priorities. :) I also have a Post-It for one item, a report, that comes out every two weeks because if I take time off, I have to coordinate for someone else to do that.
    For Outlook, I have two calendars. One is the official one that everyone can see, which has got basic meeting commitments on it. I use reminders for it because I can get busy or have an emergency and forget that something is coming up. The second one is my schedule for things I have to do. I might put something on there that is a reminder I need to do something, or if I have to check the status of tickets, put an entry in and insert the ticket emails as I get them. That way, they don’t clog my email, but I can do them all at once and just move any not completed to another day. It’s sort of a work in progress because I’m doing the job of about four people, and I feel like I’m barely staying ahead of the speeding train.
    Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller recently posted…Books that have first and third personMy Profile

    • Wow! I’ve been down that road before – doing the job of four people. It’s not easy! Sounds like you have a good system, though.

  2. I am a combination E&P planner…I use Outlook at work Google at home and my Cal app on my phone sync’s both. Work appointments are mostly always initiated on Outlook and then move to the personal events are started in the personal and then move to Google and Any.Do on my mobile devices. So for those time I forget to look at my paper planner or forget to make note of a work event…which has happened, I will get a reminder on my phone or computer. So many times this has saved me from disaster of missing key meetings or being somewhere. Most planning, such as set ups for my planner, finance set ups, large home projects, etc. start out in the planner but move to Evernote and Google Drive. That way, if I fall off the wagon or archive the pages and forget what storage binder they are in, or I am away from my paper version, I know I can quickly pull up those notes and move forward. Now a few personal events have still slipped through…but it’s a work in progress. Tip for your daughter…I also use reusable bags for groceries and was notorious for leaving them when I would go shopping…so now I leave them in the trunk of the car and have them with me all the time :-)

    • Great tip about the bags. I’ll mention that to her.

      I’m pretty much a paper only person so your system sounds complicated to me but it sounds like it works pretty well for you. Whether you use paper or electronic, things slip through the cracks sometimes.

      I like your idea of having a back-up for really important stuff (the phone reminder). I need to do that.

  3. Kelley Fluharty says:

    I LOVE this post! I am also a combination planner! I work as an Office Manager/CEO Assistant during the day and have a budding business I work on at night and on weekends. I use Outlook for my work/CEO’s calendar, Google calendar for some personal/entrepreneur appointments, and a 2-page-per-day Franklin Covey planner for daily tasks, appointments, to-do’s, meal plans, and exercise plan. My boyfriend is a musician and I’m starting to get more involved in managing his career, so I’m also going to try a 12-month planner on the wall of my home office, with post-it notes for various things. Oh, and I have a 13 year old son who is a sports kind of kid, so we have those things to track as well. :) Thanks for this post!

  4. Mostly – in fact almost exclusively – I use paper. I keep everything in my Filofax, but set alarms on my phone if I have to remember out-of-the-ordinary events.

    Also, that DT planner is absolutely stunning, and how great that it fits FC Compact inserts!

    • You plan the way I do. Mostly paper with a few alarms on the phone. Or a timer.

      It is a gorgeous planner. Very soft. Two pen loops. Beautiful color.

  5. Will you please tell what app your daughter uses on her iPhone that colors and categorizes her to-dos? Thank you kindly.

  6. What a great post! As i have worked these last months to gain back my lost reorganization skills, I have struggled with this very thing….. paper or electronic. Thanks for the great tips on integrating the use of electronics with the paper. I am using a Galaxy S3 and one app that I love is Also available for the iPhone. It s simple quick and easy. But keeps no records. Nice for those small reminders you need. Funny thing .. never thought of co-ordinating with my paper calendar. I am looking forward to the post on Evernote. Tried to use … but didn’t seem to be a “larger than needed” program. So… Rachel…. would love a couple posts on the pros and cons.! Thanks for today!

    • Thanks, Mary. Yes, Rachel loves combining paper and electronic and it works really well for her. And from the comments on this post, I’m assuming that a lot of other people combine them, too.

      We’ll see what we can do about Evernote.

  7. Hi Mollie :)
    I use the Reminders App that comes on the iPhone & iPad. Then it gives me the option to color code and stuff. It’s great.
    Rachel McCloud recently posted…Cave Springs Session – The Valdes FamilyMy Profile

  8. I do so thank you and Merry Christmas

  9. I am primarily using my paper planner, but I do use my smart phone for things like checklists and reminders – wasn’t even aware I had started to do it. Lots of great ideas in here – thanks for the post!
    Lisa @ The Meaning of Me recently posted…Ten Things of Thankful – Couldn’t Help Myself EditionMy Profile

    • I’ve been doing the same thing – using my smart phone for blog notes. I usually think of them when I’m driving so I asked Siri to make notes for me for later. It’s been working great.

  10. Dianne in the desert says:

    Although I am retired, I still have various things that need to be scheduled, remembered, and dealt with, so I use three tools: Paper planner, Android phone, and computer software. The computer program gets all of the information and I color code things so I don’t have to do more than glance at it to know what goes with what. I use Cozi Family Calendar on my phone and tablet, then the paper planner is with me nearly ever moment, which leaves me with far fewer times when I forget things. I use a color code system for the things that I must take care of (banking, taxes, insurance, warranties, and such). Oh! I also use a Neat Receipts scanner and have a duplicate file on the computer and on CD backup. I am so glad that I began doing the redundancy files and the IRS hates that I had all of the proof available during our audit!

    • So tell me about the Neat Receipts scanner. I’ve been trying to switch to digital on most of my paperwork but it’s such a tedious process to scan, label and move everything. I’ve seen the Neat Receipts scanner and wondered if it was as good as it claims to be.

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