While I’ve more than successfully transitioned from paper books to ebooks, I haven’t been as enthusiastic about giving up paper calendars and to-do lists. I think part if it is the endless ability to customize a system to serve my needs. I can’t find an app that appeals to me.

But I can’t find the perfect paper system either! As a result I spend time almost every year designing a new system, only to abandon it a few weeks later when my iPhone seduces me with a bright and shiny new app.

Here is a quick look at some of the paper systems I’ve abandoned.

My one sheet planner page, designed to keep track of all the important events in my day-to-day life.

This colorful sheet has space to capture when I wake up and go to sleep, what I ate (the big morning-afternoon-evening spaces), my energy levels (the 1 – 5 scale beside the food spaces), my mood, what I spent money on, any alcohol I consumed, exercise (yes, it’s a little space), medications, the weather, and things that made me happy. I liked this system, but could never remember to take the notebook with me as I moved across campus.

I based these weekly calendars on pages from a Martha Stewart discbound planner. The original pages worked, but I didn’t like the mini calendar in the sidebar. The sidebar in my version featured a grocery list with a few pre-filled staples. I perforated the sidebar so I could remove the list and take it to the store. The third page shows the back of the perforated like (with additional blank lines) and a grid space was for notes.

This system, the MiniDex (mini index) is my most successful system. All the cards were business card size, so I could fit everything into my notoriously small handbags easily. I bought cool metal business card holders to carry the system in, and even bought an ID lanyard so I could carry a few spare cards around my neck while running across campus. I used this system daily for almost six months during one of the busiest times of my career. The calendar cards were especially fun, I printed them front and back on business card “tent” cards, which allowed me to carry an academic year on a few cards.