Ask the Experts

Day-Planner or PDA?

Need organization help? Follow our checklist to choose the right handheld organizer solution for adults and children with ADHD.

There used to be limited options for would-be organizers–you either wrote down your appointments in a notebook or day-planner, or you made mental notes and forgot them.

These days, smartphones offer a high-tech alternative to old-school paper planners, but do high-tech solutions necessarily work better?

For those who are not tech-savvy, day-planners have an advantage when it comes to ease of use. There are no updates, new models, or competing apps to worry about. Most day-planners have space to record appointments, to-do items, addresses, and any other bits of information you need to remember. Some people prefer the physical presence of a day-planner, and the very act of writing things on paper can help you remember them. They are also less expensive than smartphones, and don’t require a data plan.

Compared to day-planners, smartphones come with a lot more bells and whistles. Most models include features like calendars and alarms. And there are apps for everything from recording where you parked your car to helping you plan your budget. Because they will synch to your email, and connect to services like Dropbox and SkyDrive, smartphones can be invaluable tools when it comes to workplace productivity. They are typically lighter than day-planners, and easier to carry around.

Whether you prefer a day-planner or smartphone, an organizational system will only work if you use it. Keep it in one visible spot all the time, so you’ll remember to take it with you every time you leave the house. Keep it on a small table or shelf by the phone or the front door–or just leave it inside your purse or briefcase.

NOTE: This article was last updated in June 2013.

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