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Day Timer


A day timer, or personal agenda, is a paper calendar an individual can take with them. It provides a similar function to an e-calendar. The only difference is whether or not the calendar is loaded onto a mobile device. While day timers are typically used to organize a schedule, they can also been used more as a journal; to document occurrences in an organized way (Carabin et al., 1999). Despite the rise of organizational software on mobile devices, day timers have remained popular and continue to be sold.

In childcare, tailored day calendars have been used to increase compliance with immunization records (Kreuter et al., 2004). Families given personalized calendars with reminders for immunization times were 20% more reliable in showing up to appointments. Day timers have also been used in day-to-day routines to increase regular hygiene care for toddlers, which then reduced risks of developing infections (Carabin et al., 1999).

Day timers in education have been used to increase student self-regulatory behavior (Agran et al., 2001). Agran and colleagues (2001) ran a study looking at types of reinforcement. Students were given day timers to organize themselves and were taught using a self-reinforcement or teacher-reinforcement scheme. While both groups showed significant improvements in organization, the students who were allowed to self-reinforce (provide their own rewards when they completed a goal) showed more improvement and benefit from the day timers (Agran et al., 2001).

Day timers have not been directly compared to electronic calendars; however, handwriting in general enhances memory over typing information (Smoker, Murphy, & Rockwell, 2008). Because of this, day timers may provide an advantage in memory over their electronic equivalents.

Research Rating: Due to the experimental nature of the information cited in this description this information is to be trusted as valid and reliable.  


  • Increases organization and facilitates compliance to and memory of important events

  • Effective with self-reinforcement strategies reduces management requirements

  • Very inexpensive

  • Do not need to be charged up

  • Printed notes have mild retention advantages over electronic notes (Smoker et al., 2008)


  • Have to be carried around and regularly written in for best use; therefore require handwriting skills

  • No automatic notifications

  • Tend to be larger, and therefore more difficult to carry around, than smartphones

To Consider

  • Both day timers and electronic equivalents like e-calendars help students to organize themselves.

  • Electronic calendars are generally mounted on devices (smaller and lighter), can be combined with numerous other apps, and provide automated reminders.

  • The most appropriate type of calendar and organizer will depend on the individual needs of the child.

  • Day timers may be less effective for lower functioning children, children with language delays, or children with motor delays, based on the basic demands of using the tool.

  • Entirely visual day timers may be appropriate for children who have language impairments.

Special Consideration: Workflow

OS Compatibility
Internet Reliance
Optimized Use

Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed. 

$ - Under $5

$$ - Between $6 and $50

$$$ - Between $51 and $250

$$$$ - Over $250



Kreuter, M. W., Caburnay, C. A., Chen, J. J., & Donlin, M. J. (2004). Effectiveness of Individually Tailored Calendars in Promoting Childhood Immunization in Urban Public Health Centers. American Journal of Public Health, 94(1), 122-127. doi:10.2105/ajph.94.1.122


Carabin, H., Gyorkos, T. W., Soto, J. C., Joseph, L., Payment, P., & Collet, J. (1999). Effectiveness of a Training Program in Reducing Infections in Toddlers Attending Day Care Centers. Epidemiology, 10(3), 219-227. doi:10.1097/00001648-199905000-00005


Scott, V. G., & Compton, L. (2007). A New TRICK for the Trade. Intervention in School and Clinic, 42(5), 280-284. doi:10.1177/10534512070420050301

Agran, M., Blanchard, C., Wehmeyer, M., & Hughes, C. (2001). Teaching students to self-regulate their behavior: The differential effects of student-vs. teacher-delivered reinforcement☆. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 22(4), 319-332. doi:10.1016/s0891-4222(01)00075-0


Smoker, T. J., Murphy, C. E., & Rockwell, A. K. (2008). Comparing memory for handwriting versus typing. PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e578562012-018


Written by Francis Wall, Last Revision May 2018

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