Experiment Log – 006 | Weekly Planning using Digital Tools Results
It's been nearly two full months since I've started Experiment Log – 006. I'll admit that I almost forgot about it. So, today I'll officially end the experiment. Here's what I've learned after trying out different digital tools for weekly planning.
Weekly Planning using Email
This was the most surprising out of all that I've tried. I honestly enjoyed creating my weekly plans using email. Basically, I would write down the plan for Monday to Sunday, then email it to myself. I cannot explain it, but I get a kick out of doing that, sending myself my weekly plan. One other thing I liked about weekly planning using email, is that if I need to make a change, I need to send myself a new email by replying to my original email. It sorts of acts like a basic versioning system wherein you can actually see what the previous tasks were, versus what the new ones are going to be.
What I don't like about it is that I have to make sure I type in the right email address before hitting send. In other words, there is a chance that I will accidentally send someone else my weekly plan. And depending on the contents of my weekly plan, that could be a big privacy/security issue. There's also the fact that my weekly plan lives on an email server in the cloud, which means my email service provider can probably read what I have planned for the weekend. And if for some reason I lose all internet connectivity, then I probably won't be able to check my weekly plan. So, not ideal, but it was a fun way to do weekly plans.
Weekly Planning using Apple's Notes App
Weekly planning using the Notes app on my iPhone was okay. It was only okay because I hate typing up my weekly plan on my phone. I want to be able to do it with a full-sized keyboard. However, there are some major advantages to this approach.
- First, since I typed up my weekly plan on my phone, I don't even need internet connection to get to it.
- Second, since the weekly plan is stored locally on my phone, I don't need to be online to get to it. That means a decreased chance for third party online services to read the contents of my weekly plan.
- Third, because the weekly plan is stored locally on my phone, it loads up really fast. I don't need to sign-in into anything to get to it. I just open the Notes app and it is there.
The major drawback to this approach is something I already mentioned above, I hate typing up my weekly plan on my phone. So, for a second attempt at this, I borrowed my wife's, Coney's old MacBook and used the Notes app that comes with it. Now this, weekly planning using the Notes app with a full-sized keyboard to type up stuff, now this is ideal. It is just as easy as writing myself an email, but it doesn't have the security issue of accidentally sending the weekly plan to someone else. It will also automatically sync to my phone's Note app. So, while there is that cloud syncing thing going on, there's still no requirement for me to sign-in to anything to get to it. I can simply use my phone to check the weekly plan. The only drawback to this approach and this is me nitpicking, is that I don't get the unintentional versioning of the plans that I get with email. If I need to make a change to my weekly plan, I simply edit the weekly plan. Unless I try to leave the old task and mark it as invalid, I will have no idea that my plans changed midweek. Not a big deal, but just noting it down.
Weekly Planning using Microsoft's OneNote App
I also tried weekly planning using Microsoft's OneNote. This one is a pretty good experience as well. The OneNote app is available as an iOS app or a web app. So, I don't need to type up my weekly plans using my phone. Unlike with the Apple Notes app, I don't need to borrow Coney's old MacBook to create my weekly plans. Any computer with a browser would work. So, I can use their web app on a PC to create the weekly plan and then I can use my phone to check it. In this case, I used an old Windows PC at home to write up my weekly plans.
Another benefit of this tool is that I can create different notebooks in the OneNote app. I ended up creating a Bullet Journal notebook, which now serves as a digital backup for my own physical Bullet Journal notebook. This digital OneNote notebook has a Daily Log and Weekly Log sections, just like my Bullet Journal notebook. So, during those days where I can't write on my real journal, I pull up my phone or use my PC to type in some entries on my digital Bullet Journal notebook. It makes for a much more organized way of weekly planning and occasionally, logging daily entries in a pinch.
As to be expected with a web app, there are some drawbacks to this approach. Since it is a web app, I have to sign-in to a cloud service to write up my weekly plans. Same as with the email approach, this means my weekly plan lives on the cloud where third party services can read it if they so please. Another drawback is that it takes longer to get to my weekly plan using the OneNote app, especially the OneNote app on my phone. With the Apple Notes app, all I need to do is unlock my phone and open the Notes app and it will be there. With the OneNote app, I have to unlock my phone, open the OneNote app, pick the Bullet Journal notebook, pick the Weekly Log section and pick the current Weekly Plan page. That's extra steps that I could do away with, though I guess other people wouldn't consider it a big deal.
Weekly Planning using Digital Calendars
I tried, I really tried, but I couldn't stick with it. I wasn't even halfway to coming up with my weekly plan for this week before I gave up. Weekly planning using a digital calendar is too rigid, too restrictive for how I want to plan my activities. For example, I usually plan a “Play Video Game” activity every day of the week. The problem is, with a digital calendar, it will force me to select a time for that activity. That leads me to my other problem, I don't have a set time at night for when I can play video games. It depends on whether Baby Caleb is sleeping, or if my wife is not too tired to watch him while I do something, etc... In other words, my schedule at night is just so unpredictable that selecting a fixed time to set an activity on is so unrealistic for me. On Monday I could be playing a video game at 6pm, but there's no guarantee that it will be the same for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, etc... So, no, weekly planning with digital calendars will just not work for me.
After trying out all those options, I think weekly planning using a Notes app like Apple's Notes app or Microsoft's OneNote app is the best option for me. Currently, with me being able to work from home, I am weekly planning using Microsoft's OneNote app. I use my old PC to write up my weekly plan and use the same PC in the morning to check the plan for the day. Since I don't have to use my phone to check the weekly plan, I am not bothered too much by the hassle of opening up the weekly plan on my phone's OneNote app. However, if I am asked to go back to the office for work, I think I will switch to weekly planning using Apple's Notes app, simply because it is so much faster to pull up the weekly plan on my phone's Notes app.