Why Everyone Should Use a Paper Planner
Okay, so maybe not exactly everyone should use a paper planner. If you are one of those people who loves your Google calendar and phone alerts then maybe paper isn’t for you. Maybe I’m just tired of all the people that tell me paper planners are obsolete and I should definitely go digital, because I’m here to tell you that digital is not where it is at for me in calendars and planners.
I would never show up anywhere. Believe me, I’ve tried the digital thing. Google calendar and me are not friends. At work, I try to use it, sort of. At least, I get alerts to go teach my class (set up by the department secretary), and my students will sometimes send me their calendars for scheduling. But mine hasn’t been updated for several years.
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A paper planner is the only way I can keep my life together. So paper it is.
TL;DR: This is my very favorite paper planner ever. It’s the best.
Now, I’ve already written extensively about the paper planners I’ve used in recent years and their pros and cons. Today I’m going to tell you all the reasons why I keep using one, even as everyone around me goes completely digital.
1. The act of writing helps me remember better
I recently came across an interesting article about how writing is superior to typing when it comes to remembering. Not only did I feel vindicated about my insistence on using a paper planner, it cleared up a lot of things about my personal learning style for me.
When I was in college studying opera performance, I used to go through notecards by the thousands. The notecard company must have LOVED me! I used them to write the lyrics to my arias over and over and over again. I would literally sit down at a desk for two hours and write out Italian, German, French, and English lyrics on my notecards. I would then try to write them from memory, compare with the music, and do it all over again. That was the only way I could memorize the lyrics.
Nowadays, when I am learning a new song, I feel I don’t have the time to sit down and write for a couple hours. So I listen while doing the dishes, I listen while in the car, and I try to memorize that way. For me, it is ineffective. I was blaming it on being 40, but instead I think I’ll blame it on not writing it down.
When I write something in my planner, I remember it 90% of the time, even if I don’t look at it again. If I type something into Google calendar, it’s gone from my psyche in a matter of seconds. Just like that Facebook status I just wrote, er, typed.
I like to color code my planners, so these are my favorite pens to use to write in my planner. However, I keep thinking I should try these erasable pens that everyone raves about. Because if there is a downside to using a paper planner it is that you can’t just delete appointments with a key stroke, so really good erasable pens would be pretty awesome.
2. My planner can also serve as a journal
I have kept every single planner I ever had. I have also kept every single journal I’ve ever had, and that’s a lot. The only digital record of my life is this blog, and I even have hard copies of that. While most of my journals live in a bin in my basement, I occasionally enjoy digging them out and reminiscing about my life. Except I still stay far away from my embarrassing teenage boy crazy volumes—I may never be ready to revisit those journals!
Planners are the same. While many are in the bin with the journals, a lot are just on the shelf in my office. Sometimes I pull them down and flip through and I remember things about my life that I would have otherwise forgotten. When is the last time you flipped through your Google calendar and reminisced? Just saying. (In a very fun, teasing manner, mind you.)
3. I can see everything at once
I know you can see lots of things at once with your Google calendar, but I like to be able to see not only my calendar, but my to-do list, random notes to myself, inspirational quotes, etc. All on the same pages. I like that I can do that by opening my planner.
I also like that my specific planner has a lot more than just calendaring pages. It has holiday planning pages, it has note taking pages, it has budgeting pages, it has goal setting pages. You get the drift. Not only does it tell me where to go and when to be there, it helps me with many other aspects of my life.
4. It’s easier to use, and more accessible
Bria, my 14-year-old, recently got herself into a huge scheduling snafu, and I said, “That’s it! I’m getting you a planner!” She protested mightily that she absolutely didn’t want one and when I asked her why not, she said, “Because! I’ll have to open it up!” (I actually did find a planner for her that she doesn’t have to open, and she loves it! This Bloom planner padwas the perfect solution!)
But that’s the best part. It’s easy to open up your planner and write something in it! So much harder to get to your computer and type your schedule, and even my phone is annoying to use that way, for me.
I don’t have to learn any technical anything. I don’t have to worry that my battery will die and suddenly all of my appointments for the day will be inaccessible. It’s all right there in my book, which only becomes inaccessible if I forget to bring it with me. Maybe that’s happened a few times, but mostly it lives in my purse, so it’s all good.
5. It makes me happy
It really does. I LOVE writing things down as they inspire me. I love going through my schedule and making necessary adjustments. I love how cute my planner is. I love how functional it is. I’ll just never have these feelings about the Google calendar or even my iPhone. I just won’t.
This is my cute friend Trisha. She has the same planner as I do and loves it just as much. I love that we use our planners totally differently—we customize them to our own lives.
Here is what my planner looks like this week:
The sad thing is that I just added three more things to it since taking this photo last night. Also? My teenager is going to kill me off this Saturday, basically.
I divide my daily sections into Me, Kids, and Other. (Other is stuff like deadlines, sometimes The Maestro’s schedule, school events, etc.)
I use the bottom section to keep track of what I wear to work I hadn’t actually been to work yet this week when I took the photo, so here is a photo of a prior week.
I would wear the same thing every few days if I didn’t do this, I promise.
Here is a photo of Trisha’s planner from her Instagram (used with permission):
Trisha divides up her days between herself, her kids, and her husband. She uses the lower portion mostly for menu planning (I don’t DO menu planning, LOL). She puts a monthly focus in one of the boxes on top to remind herself each week. She also adds inspirational quotes and other random notes the same way I do.
I asked Trisha what her favorite things about her planner are, and she had thoughts that were similar to my own:
“I love the ability to see everyone’s schedule. Especially a week at a time. I love having things laid out so I can see everything. I especially love it when I am meal planning so I can see when I have time to cook and prepare or when I need to have something quick. I also use the boxes at the top to remind me of my monthly happy project goals. I love adding stickers and using different colors. I’m a big fan of the tabs, too, since I usually need to flip back and forth a lot.
“It’s also a way to make me feel better about not journaling since I can keep it and see the things I’ve written down. It grants me the ability to reflect on previous months, too.”
See? Everyone should have a paper planner. And that’s why I
am giving one away gave away my favorite planner ever! Even though you missed the giveaway, check out why I love it so much below:
A Mom on the Go planner. Totally cute and extremely functional. I already reviewed two versions of this planner in my big post about planners, but some good changes have been made in this years’ version.
First of all, they added back the metal spirals. I had mentioned that they had them before and went to plastic for the one I currently have (I like my planners on the academic year instead of the calendar year–this planner is available both ways). The plastic spirals haven’t been as sturdy, so I am pleased to see they went back to metal.
They added a two-sided pocket! I can’t wait to get my own pocketed version in July! I love to have a place to stick things like handouts from church, fliers I need to keep, and other random things like that.
Otherwise, it’s the same cute and wonderfully functional planner that I love. Here are some other examples of the pages in the one I’m giving away:
Several Birthday planning pages.
Month at a glance with a small space for note taking and look-ahead calendars.
Incredibly detailed holiday planning sections in the appropriate monthly tabs.
Weekly planning pages.
There are many more awesome features. I truly love this planner.
Are you ready to have one of your own? Go buy one HERE.
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What’s your favorite part about using a paper planner?
You might also like:
The Most Important Tip for Using Your Planner Successfully
6 Practical Ways to Decorate Your Paper Planner
Writing and Organizing Thank You Notes
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oh my goodness! I'm so glad I saw your post in my feed! I would LOVE this awesome planner. I suck at remember things LOL <3
Love this. I've been looking for a good Planner!
Wow, isn't it a bit presumptuous to say that "everyone" should use a paper planner because you really like yours? If you were going for clickbait or trying to create a "planner love" echo chamber, congratulations; otherwise, you're not doing a good job of being convincing.
My responses to your reasons:
1) Meeting reminders on a phone are a significant improvement on writing something down — a paper planner won't buzz and make noise at you if you get lost in a project and don't realize you need to leave in 5 minutes.
If you want to take up your brain cells remembering all your appointments, that's your prerogative. I'd rather use mine for things my phone can't remember, like how it feels to witness natural wonders and accomplish significant tasks.
2) Yes, I have flipped through the past year or two on my Outlook calendar now and then. It can be fun sometimes, but I'm not willing to collect boxes of paper to keep that information around. I hate boxes of paper, because they take up valuable space that could be put to better use if my records were digital.
3) Ever heard of putting a window containing your calendar up beside an Evernote window? Just like a planner/journal/scrapbook/whole freaking filing cabinet, except without the need to flip pages to see two or three things at once. And with search functions and off-site backup.
4) Here, "It's easier to use" is shorthand for "I don't know how to use the other option effectively." In terms of physical and mental effort, it's generally much harder to dig out a book, find a pen, locate the correct page and make sure you have a surface to write on than it is to pull out your phone, tap the calendar app, tap the date you want and type a couple lines. I can even check the availability of my co-workers if I'm using my laptop, so I can choose a meeting time that works for everyone on the first try.
Also, I can use my calendar and Evernote account on my phone, iPad, laptop, or any other device with internet access. I can never forget my planner, because it's on servers I can just sign into wherever I am. (And no, I don't have trouble remembering passwords. I use LastPass, which is a thing everyone actually should be using. Much safer and simpler than anything else out there.)
5) That is the only reason on the list that makes real sense, but it just means YOU should use a paper planner; it has no bearing on the rest of us.
Lest you think I am a naïve futurist or one who believes the past is worthless, you ought to be aware that I spent many, many weeks of my childhood working on an 1880s farm and loving it. I now have a manual typewriter because I would rather use that to make story notecards than my laser printer. I know how to do calligraphy and cross-stitch, and I refuse to buy fiberboard furniture under any circumstances because I want things that will last. But I don't think that my calendar should be in a book, because the digital ones we have now just work better.
In conclusion, please avoid sweeping generalizations. They're insulting and ignorant-sounding far more often than they're correct.
Thanks for the well-thought out comment. I am really happy that digital planning and calendaring works so well for you. I am sorry you felt my title was insulting and/or ignorant, but if you read the very first paragraph you will see that I do not actually believe "everyone" should use a paper planner. My title was meant to be a humorous rebuttal to all the people out there who tell me that "everyone" should go digital. I've tried it, and it doesn't work for me, for all of the reasons listed, even though I am actually very technologically savvy. I sometimes use alerts on my phone, but writing with pen on paper has proven to be the only thing that truly helps me keep my life and schedule organized.
Again, I think it's wonderful that digital works for many people, and I'm sorry to have offended you by a title that was meant tongue-in-cheek.
Thanks for stopping by my blog–have a great day!
Hi. Just discovered you blog–and really like it! I used to use the Franklin Planner system and really enjoyed it. Then, I tried digital…and it didn't work. Now, I use a combo of my iPhone and a small planner (must have the one month at a glance). Sometimes I want to go back to a mid-sized planner.
I'm not a mom, but I do like how that planner looks!
It's definitely a great one. And I think most of it can be used without being a mom. There are just a few child-specific pages in it!
So I have the same planner and I LOVE it too! I divide my day between to do / schedule / Educate (homeschool) on the schedule part I have a different color for each member of my family and a color for family things. I use the stabilio 88 pens (from germany) they are my fav!
I'm always on the search for the perfect paper planner. I tried this planner several years ago. I haven't seen the 2015 version, but one complaint I had is that there were so many(!) random pages between the monthly tab and the beginning of the weekly calendaring pages. Everytime I needed to add something for a date in the future, I would flip to that month and then have to page and page and page and page (!) until I finally found the weekly calendaring pages. I hope she has put the weekly date pages right behind each monthly tab now. It would make navigating this planner a lot easier!
I'm with ya, sister. I love, love, love my paper.
All of this rings true to me! Great write-up!
Yep! I'm a paper and pencil and pen and marker and highlighter and sticker and clip kind of woman!
Love this, I love using different color pens, markers, stickers etc.
I have used some form of a paper planner for the past 35 years (or longer). It used to be a day at a time when I worked full time. As a retiree I have a week at a time. With three daughters at home (long ago) I had them color coded, hairbrushes, toothbrushes and ink in my planner. Mine was the master calendar. If it didn't get in my planner it didn't get done. I've tried electronic but electronics fail. It is still color coded for my DH and me. The only way he gets to appointments. My cell is only used for daughters' texts and phone calls. I can't live without a good planner.