Paper or Electronic Organizer: Which Works Better

Staying organized is one of the most important keys to success in the business world. If you aren’t able to return phone calls, show up for meetings and complete projects on time, then you don’t have much of a business, anyway. Relying on memory alone to keep you focused on your work might suffice for a time, but as soon as things start happening all at once, you’ll be lost without a way to organize your thoughts.

The real question here is whether you keep a personal planner or an electronic organizer. Both have pros and cons, and some swear by one or the other, but which will work best for you? I’ve always needed to have a paper planner – something in which I can keep excess paper, notes, pens, credit cards and contact information. I like to be able to see what’s going on in my life on a month-by-month calendar, while still retaining the detailed day-by-day, hour-by-hour schedule of events.

However, some people prefer the technologically-savvy palm pilot or PDA to keep track of their lives. Whichever you choose, you should keep only one or the other because having too many organizational mediums will lead to chaos. The point is that every business person should have a way to keep track of events, contacts and tasks.


A personal planner is a binded book that contains a calendar, a to-do list, a contact section and other various organizational tools. Usually, it will contain a place to keep credit cards, ID, pens and pencils, and a calculator. Using a personal planner, you can record daily meetings and events while also keeping an open-face calendar for each month of the year.


Resusability – Personal planners never go out of style. You can buy yearly inserts for less than $30.00, and use it until the stitching wears out or until you desire a change.

Customizable Features – There are a variety of options, and you can always add or remove features so that the planner works for you. For example, if you don’t need a section that provides budgeting and expenses, then you can simply take it out of the rings.

Single Entry – You don’t have to reenter data into a personal planner like you do with a Palm or a PDA. Information is entered directly into the planner, and you don’t have to worry about it again.

Durability – Personal planners don’t break when dropped and they can be stowed almost anywhere without worry over theft. Very few burglars will be interested in a personal planner, while electronics are much more attractive to thieves.

Ease of Use – When you need information quickly, you simply have to flip to the section in question, rather than painstakingly searching with the stylus on an electronic organizer.


Loss – If you lose your personal planner, there is no way to retrieve the information.

Space – There is limited space in a personal planner, which means that you have to find one that can accomodate your busy schedule. I often run out of room in the A-Z contact section, and have to buy new fillers.

Changing Information – When contacts change their phone numbers and when meetings are moved back to a different day, there is no easy way to erase information. It helps to keep a bottle of white-out handy.

Size – Larger versions are difficult to carry, while smaller personal planners lack space to record date. It’s sometimes difficult to find personal planners to fit your precise lifestyle.

Security – There’s no password protection for personal planners; if you leave it lying around, anyone can access your personal information.



Easy Transfer – Electronic organizers can often be connected with e-mail, the internet and other database networks. This way, everying can be accessed from your desktop computer and your electronic organizer.

Size – If you travel extensively or if you are constantly on the go, electronic organizers can be stowed easily in a pocket or briefcase. This also reduces luggage when traveling by plane or with others in a vehicle.

Changing Information – You can easily move meetings or change contact information, without the need to white-out obsolete information. Your organizer will appear less messy and more organized.

Search – When you need to find something quickly, you can always run a search and find the item in question. This helps when you need to locate something you recorded days or even months previously.

Space – You never run out of room to store more information. You can easily find old data that is no longer usable and delete it, rather than having to look at things that no longer matter.


View – You can only view data on a day-to-day basis, versus viewing information for an entire calendar month.

Security – Although all of your information is password-protected, you can still accidently delete information or crash the entire device, losing everything it contains.

Other Uses – You can’t stow papers or notes in an electronic organizer for meetings or phone calls. Extraneous paper must be carried separately.

Tedious – Most electronic organizers require complicated shorthand, and it takes a long time to enter data with the stylus. For new users, the entire system can seem complicated and overwhelming.

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