Should you plan your 2016 on paper or online?

Adrian Lewis, director of Activ Absence, asks whether the traditional wall calendar/planner has had its day.

Wall planner_321383612A popular gift, calendars and wall planners have long been the stalwarts of the office. Indeed calendars carved into bone are some of the earliest human relics.

Every winter sees a whole new series available for the coming year, featuring every conceivable image, band or lifestyle, free ones, paid ones, designer ones, cutesy ones – and boring ones!

Calendars are so popular that they even have their own ‘league’ published by licensed calendar firm Danilo. Last year’s number one was Disney’s Frozen, followed closely by boyband One Direction’s calendar and a surprising third was a calendar from the massive Minecraft game (Cliff Richard nearly always features in the Top 10).

Calendars are still big business, so are we really ready to sacrifice our pretty pictures in favour of electronic calendars? There is Outlook, Google Calendars, Apple’s I-Cal, Android Calendars, and a whole host of others on smartphones and pcs – does it all get a bit confusing?

Most electronic calendar systems all talk to each other easily and relatively painlessly, so the information only needs to be entered once, and while everyone has their personal favourite, one could in theory use all of them with few issues.

When it comes to staff holiday planning, the new tools come into their own. With an online staff holiday planner, every single person has access to the calendar for their team – no matter where they are.

The technology is revolutionising planning – if staff are in the travel agents, they can see immediately which of their colleagues are off that week and whether their leave requests are likely to be approved. Managers don’t need to manually update their diaries to sync with the office diary to book a meeting. Leave clashes, logistical nightmares and key dates being missed are painlessly eliminated. It’s a big leap forward.

Spreadsheets, paper diaries and wall planners are very definitely ‘last season’s news’. Most of the people who still use them are in the market for a replacement.

Now people are used to getting email, Facebook and a myriad of social media messages on mobile phones, it is only a matter of time before cloud based calendar syncing and diary features are used by everyone rather than the tech savvy few.

However, firms like Danilo have nothing to fear – those novelty calendars given as gifts every Christmas get hung on the wall and people enjoy the pictures, but few people use them for serious planning past the end of January.

One has to wonder what we will be using 10 years from now to plan our lives. No doubt someone will be writing a similar piece to this saying how out of date ‘old online calendars’ are!

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