E-Calendar or Paper Planner: A Comparison

We all have our favorite way to planning our hectic lives, whether it be on a paper planner or an online calendar. Or if you’re me, it’s both! I use Google Calendar (as well as just about every other function Google offers) for my online calendar and a Passion Planner for planning on paper. They offer different options and I’m going to outline some differences between the two.

Society is moving greatly to a fully electronic record nowadays. Its scary, but it sort of works, which is wonderful. I find my online calendar very useful as I can always access it, don’t have to worry about carrying it around, and can easily repeat events instead of writing them in every week. However, probably my favorite aspect of an electronic calendar is the ability to block off times. For instance, if I’m working from 7am-3pm, I can’t really plan anything during then, so having this type of layout allows me to see my available and busy times. As someone who tends to be on the busier side, seeing my free time is a breath of fresh air that I didn’t exactly find in a paper planner.

Paper planners come in all different shapes, sizes, and forms. The one I use has space to make to-do lists, note-taking space, goals for the week, and so much more. It’s meant to plan your life in a more goal-orientated manner, which works really well when I have plenty of projects to do. However, it’s not the best layout for planning all of my time.

That’s why I use both. I have one to plan my time and one to plan my projects and outline my weekly tasks. Having them separate allows me to make sure it all matches up and gives me options depending on the task at hand. For work tasks and projects, I tend to use paper planners, as I usually have projects and tasks to do. For scheduled shifts and class times, an online calendar is my best friend.

So, use one, use two, use none, it’s your choice! I do recommend using at least one as planning your day-to-day activities is crucial to staying on top of your tasks.

Images from: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.calendar and http://www.passionplanner.com/buy/passion-planner-undated-compact-sunday.

Do you have a ‘Plan Z’?

This post was authored by Manuj Goyal, on Co-op in India. notes-514998_1920Evolution is a fundamental aspect of life on Earth and I believe a key principle in the road to success. Having the ability to adapt, to think on one’s feet, and to find opportunities when all plans you have fall apart is even more essential in the country of India where chaos seems to be the driving factor of all life. In a place with such a long history, a place where so much innovation and discovery has and does occur, a place where so many people coexist harmoniously, it is sometimes difficult to fathom how things happen smoothly considering the seemingly haphazard and chaotic progression of events in any situation.

Earlier in my coop journey in India, I traveled the state of Rajasthan in collaboration with the Department of Information Technology and Communication as well as the Department of Planning. Learning about and analyzing rural conditions, farming techniques, and common mindsets, I gained clarity on the direction my product development and my overall project. I began to narrow down and define the exact area of the agricultural and farming process which I wanted to make more efficient and easier and began creating a plan with goals to develop this product.

Before diving deep into product development though, I decided to head to a small farm where volunteers from all around the world came to learn about permaculture, and agricultural technique based on the mindful usage of resources and careful integration of the environment with agricultural processes. Permaculture has been used throughout the world and due to its foundation in basic principles of agriculture rather than specific techniques, it is effective in a variety of environments. This institute and center of innovation and learning was an ideal place for me to refine my design parameters and gauge the possibilities of success of a technical product in a rural agricultural setting. The farm also offered a unique setting with limited access and resources as it is three kilometers, about 2 miles, up a mountain from the nearest town, a town with only tea shops and limited supplies. The closest major town is more than thirty minutes by a local bus and so the environment and setting was ideal for planning and analyzing the development of a product.

Things sound too good to be true, don’t they? A few days before I was meant to head to the farm from Rajasthan, riots and civil unrest broke out near New Delhi, the city I had to connect through in order to get to the farm. The government shut down all road and railway travel entering Delhi from the Rajasthan direction and cornered me into staying put where I was. So my options became to either change my plans or take a 400 dollar flight to a city approximately nine hours by bus from the farm or take an 800 dollar, 24 hour travel time flight to a city approximately two hours from the farm. I decided that it might be best to postpone my trip to the farm but with no way of knowing when the unrest would end or if it would spread to other parts of the country, my project teetered on a precarious edge of collapsing completely.

But using the resources I had available to me, I reconnected with my collaborators, advisors, and mentors and quickly came up with a Plan Z since Plan A and Plan B and pretty much every other plan had fallen apart. Instead of forcing my way to the farm and potentially endangering my project further, I spent some time in Rajasthan looking further into the infrastructure and agricultural difficulties within the state. After this it was time to head to Delhi in March where 3.5 million people were meeting up to celebrate all cultures, diversity, and spiritual living at the Art of Living’s World Culture Festival. Together we meditated and celebrated for three days while discussing leadership and innovation at the Global Youth Leadership Forum. After a silent retreat in Bangalore with thousands of leaders from around the world and a week-long service project in a village in Orissa, I finally got the ability to travel to the farm.

I write this blog post from a small farm on the side of a mountain, three kilometers from the nearest town. The food is prepared on a fire stove, the water comes from a river a kilometer away, clothes are washed by hand, running water works because of gravity, electricity comes from the sun. Rural life can seem fantastical, picturesque, otherworldly, and simple. The fact of the matter is that getting into the rural mindset, living the rural life, farming at a rural scale on the side of a mountain is not easy. In the west and in urban areas throughout the world, electricity, food, water, clean housing, and many other faculties are often taken for granted. I work here in India to bring these same faculties to the people who support the rest of the world by feeding us and taking care of the natural world that allows us to be alive and enjoy life on Earth. My hope is that through the technical skills I have and through the lessons I’ve learned in India, I can inspire others to also give back and find ways to celebrate the simple things in life. I hope that my posts inspire you to join this celebration, to speak up for nature, to give back in whatever way you can.

Getting Lost and Finding Your Own Way

This post was authored by Mika White

My friend Brin and I were so excited to be in Ethiopia – we heard it was a beautiful place with wonderful food and rich culture. We had planned this five-day trip as a visa-renewal trip, and after exploring the capital Addis Ababa for two days, chose something around #21 of things to do in Ethiopia on TripAdvisor: Wenchi Crater Lake. It sounded simple. To get there, we would take a bus from Addis Ababa to the small town of Waliso where we would take another local bus that would take us out to the crater lake and natural hot springs. We first made the mistake of thinking that it would be an accessible, commonly traveled-to place.

We boarded a bus that took us 9km out to the tiny town of Chittu and realized that we were still very far from the crater. The transportation system was completely incomprehensible – nothing was written down, there was no proper bus schedule, and we had no idea where we were actually going. The driver stopped and everyone unboarded the bus, so we had reached the end of the line, with no crater in sight. I felt like the idiot from An Idiot Abroad, trying to navigate in a country where I could communicate with virtually no one, with no cell phone service or proper instructions on how to get anywhere.

So here we were, two young white girls in this little town where no one could speak English, looking for a lake that turned out to be about 30km (about 18.5 miles) away. We weren’t aware of this minor detail, so after disembarking the bus at the end of the line, we just started walking down a never-ending road that seemed to be in the direction of the mountain. After walking for about an hour, we concluded that we weren’t going to make it in time. We ended up hitching a ride back to town to confirm with locals that there was no way we would make it to the mountain by nighttime.

That evening, after we took the same bus back to Waliso, we approached a large number of people at our restaurant to ask if they knew of any drivers in the area who could take us. We happened to meet the nicest people from Save the Children who offered to take us, since their office was apparently not far away. The next day, we headed out, passed the small village from the previous day, and made it to the crater. They joined us in our hike and made it the most spontaneous, memorable trip I’ve had. The crater and springs were as beautiful as we had hoped, but the journey made it even more special and worthwhile.

Crater Lake

A lot of things generally deemed unacceptable and careless are actually okay. It’s okay to be lost sometimes. It’s okay to wander and see what happens. It’s okay to rely on others. If you haven’t seen the parallels already, these hold true for the career path as well. Luckily, we have a lot of people who can help you figure out what you want to do when you are feeling lost. You can always call or schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor in the Stearns Center. Who am I to be speaking, as an undergrad who is just embarking on my own journey? I can speak from hearing the experiences of others, and from knowing that opportunities will arise, as long as I am attentive and working hard towards something.