Why I Use The American Date Format

Being British, I have naturally used the British format for writing dates all my life. But once I started writing and blogging and keeping track of other date-based things in software such as Evernote and OneNote I began to notice a problem. I was creating a page-a-day file in Evernote and using the date as a title, in effect a digital journal. After a while I noticed that my entries were all over the place. This was because they were being sorted by date then month.

For example,

01.01.19  – 1st Jan

01.02.19  – 1st Feb

01.03.19  – 1st Mar

02.01.19 – 2nd Jan

02.02.19  – 2nd Feb

02.03.19. – 2nd Mar

If you had an entry for every day of the year then 31st January would appear way down towards the bottom of the list. Really, it shouldn’t matter that much because computers let you search—if you searched for “01.19” you’d quickly get a list of the January entries—but if you are a little OCD about order and neatness, like I am, then seeing the entries out of order is pretty much intolerable. I pondered for a while about how to restore order to my lists. Then it dawned on me. Use the American system of MM.DD.YY instead of the British DD.MM.YY. That one simple change in naming convention was all it took for my dated entries to fall obediently into line.

01.01.19  – 1st Jan

01.02.19  – 2nd Jan

01.03.19  – 3rd Jan

02.01.19  – 1st Feb

and so on. 

Order restored. No doubt some of you will be thinking that software such as Evernote has sorting options that could have achieved the same effect. There is indeed a “sort by date created” and “sort by date modified” option but unfortunately it does not work for me—it applies globally and there are some notebooks where I actually want articles to be sorted alphabetically. Also, there are times when I’m not able to make an entry on the day itself. I might be away for a few days and then have a catch up later in the week which would mess up the “sort by date created” system. For me, sorting by US date has solved the problem perfectly.

Of course, I cannot fully adopt the system in my life since I still live in the UK and have to use the British system for forms, letters, etc. But whenever I date my own personal documents now I always use the US format.