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Thursday, June 20, 2024
The Observer

Why I’ll never switch to Google Calendar

My mom showed me her impeccably organized schedule on iCloud and Google Calendar over spring break. Every category of her life — social, work and family — had a coordinated color, a little box assigning a task to her day. It seemed like a great system, but when she offered to show me how it worked, I respectfully declined. Sure, that kind of organization is appealing. But in a phone-centered world, I will always remain loyal to my old-fashioned, spiral-bound planner.

As a self-identified control freak, I am willing to admit that I am more obsessed with my planner than the average person. Every single page contains appointments, overly detailed to-do lists and reminders written in my unkempt, half-cursive scrawl. I rely on this simple notebook to be responsible and to get through my day.

But there is so much more than schoolwork and scheduled interviews within the pages of my planner: a scribbled motivational quip to get me through a particularly sad week, the title of this very column, a barely-legible note so I wouldn’t forget it and end up writing about something random, a song that I heard in the dining hall scrawled underneath my English homework so I can add it to a playlist later.

As my friend pointed out when I told her my idea for this column, Google Calendar can remind me of appointments on all of my devices. This is true and convenient. But that feeling of crossing off an item from a to-do list, even if it’s something as unimpressive as “fold laundry,” is equivalent to the most intense shot of endorphins, more satisfying than the first sip of coffee or a hot shower. Nothing can beat the satisfying sharp cut of ink through an agenda item after a difficult paper has been completed.

Despite the fact that my planner keeps my life in order, the physical object itself is a wreck. I often write outside the lines, so the pages are a mess of rainbow-colored inks and messy notes that probably only I can decode. The spirals are falling apart from overuse, several of the pages are folded over and wrinkled and there are coffee stains and blotched ink on several pages from when I dropped it in a puddle — oops.

This doesn’t bother me, though. Google Calendar may have symmetrical and satisfying boxes with dazzling colors, but the reality is that life is messy. As much as I wish that everything could fit into a few squares and rectangles and remain separate, predictably planned in their boxes, real life doesn’t work that way. There will be days where all my to-do list items intertwine with some personal drama or sadness, and I don’t want to pretend that isn’t true. Even though it’s cheesy, I’m glad that my planner reflects the fact that my life is so perfectly imperfect.

And when it comes down to it, I’d rather hold my life in my hands than stare at it on a screen.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.