As we start a new decade, it’s easy to reflect on how far we’ve come in 10 years. Toy Story 3 was No. 1 at the box office; the iPad and other tablets were being introduced; Facebook hit 500 million accounts; and fears of online privacy made headlines. Has it really been 10 years if these things still dominate our newsfeed?

Another question that never gets old is, “How do I keep my life in order?” We’re constantly looking for new ways to keep our lives streamlined. Yet the answer is the same now as it was in 2010—how does your brain work? Do you prefer paper or electronic? It doesn’t matter what your spouse or coworker uses, or the price, or how easy it is to access. It comes down to this: How does your brain best process, remember and track information? Here are tips when choosing from the multitude of of planners, calendars and apps available.

  • Decide start/end dates. Paper calendars are printed to run the school year, quarterly or a calendar year. Moms may prefer an August to July planner, while professionals may find the traditional January to December format suits their projects, deadlines and tax schedule. Decide which one best fits your lifestyle.
  • Electronic, paper or smartphone. Google Calendar works well when your schedule of appointments needs to be shared with coworkers or family members. Paper is still the most popular, and comes in a variety of sizes from wall to small pocket format. This works best when your activities and meetings don’t need to be shared since a paper planner tends to be more personal.
  • Customize. Paper systems offer many options to customize your day and week, such as lists, to-do sections, brain dumps, goal setting, doodle pads, food tracking and even a fitness section. Cal Calendar and Jorte apps allow you to synchronize calendars, schedules and task lists on multiple devices. Both paper and app-based versions are designed to be visual with your choice of stickers, colors and fonts.
  • Update with ease. Regardless of format, a calendar needs to be updated regularly. Be aware of how easy it is to alter an appointment. Birthdays don’t change, but dentist appointments do.
  • Month-at-a-glance. Seeing a whole month at once allows for better time management. When you see the “heavy” spots in your month, you’re able to rearrange, cancel or say no to further commitments that may lead to stress and overwhelm.

Ask yourself, “What fits my needs and method of reminders?” versus “What is everyone else using?” This is an individual choice that fits your unique method of capturing dates, details and data for your lifestyle. When you find the right system for you, stick with it so that in 2030 we won’t be having this same conversation! It’s that simple.