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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Why I use a paper planner . . . in addition to all my synced ones.


February 3, 2020
by Catherine

Life Hacks Living in LA

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This weekend I had the opportunity to go to Newport with my family. Despite being a couple of weeks into the semester, meaning I am now revving into full gear of balancing residency, classes and my private life, one of the benefits of living in the Los Angeles County area is that no matter where you are living, you’re never too far away from some fun in the sun. Luckily, having visitors from out of the area always gives us the excuse to take full advantage of this.

family playing basketball

Throughout my experience in the OTD program, I have found that it is helpful to not only develop a planning system that works for me, but to also to set realistic timelines for how much each task will take. Balancing the schedules of my family members with my own has taken a considerable amount of trial and error, but I’ve found a way that has worked for me and my family.

First is my schedule, it has been natural to utilize the Google Calendar and Outlook applications that connect seamlessly with my USC and Chan email accounts to make sure I am on top of any event invitations offered by the school, and any meetings that may be scheduled throughout the semester. I have been able to subscribe to my nephews’ school calendars that are automatically synced to my Google Calendar, so I can be aware of any school events or holidays in advance. This has allowed for a nicely organized monthly calendar on my laptop.

computer screen calendar

However, this can sometimes get a bit cluttered. While de-selecting some calendars will help in visual clarity, I have a secondary paper planner that I use to organize and orient myself daily.

traditional paper calendar

I use this as my daily mental practice of calm. Going through my “master calendar”, cross referencing with my shared calendars, and then prioritizing my tasks into a to-do list. In my experience, taking about 10 minutes every morning to do this has been very helpful not only in keeping track of my tasks, but giving me a minute to connect with what is meaningful to me personally, and motivating me throughout my day.

children jumping into a pool

With this daily practice, I am able to stay on track, plan my week, and make sure I make the time for not only my work, school, but for those special memory making moments with my loved ones.