Paper vs. Digital Planner: Which Is Really Better?

Which is really better: Paper vs. Digital Planner?

Which is really better: Paper vs. Digital Planner?

My planner holds all of the important (and not so important) notes of my life. It wasn't always like that. I thought I'd take a moment to explain why I use a paper planner instead of digital calendars and apps.

When portable devices came out I was really excited to get my entire life in there. I love technology! Finally, a small hand held device that kept everything organized for me: notes, to-do lists, meetings, appointments, as well as other lists and items I wanted to track.

Unfortunately, the problem was, it didn't seem to work for me and I didn't know why. I just couldn't remember the information I had placed in my phone. For example, when I make a grocery list on a piece of paper, I can go to the store and remember all of the items on the list. I usually glance at it near the end of my shopping trip to make sure I didn't miss anything. Most of the time I don't miss anything on the list.

The Science Behind Writing on Paper

However, when I put that same information in my phone, I have to keep checking the list over and over. Why can't I remember the information I type into my phone? I thought it was just me, then I stumbled on this article, Writing and Remembering: Why We Remember What We Write that validated my thoughts on paper vs. computers.

Author Dustin Wax explains writing things down helps us remember them better. "When we write something down, research suggests that as far as our brain is concerned, it’s as if we were doing that thing. Writing seems to act as a kind of mini-rehearsal for doing. I’ve written before about how visualizing doing something can “trick” the brain into thinking it’s actually doing it, and writing something down seems to use enough of the brain to trigger this effect."

Now that's the science behind writing things down, but I have to say there are other reasons I love using a planner. I actually use my planner as a planner/bullet journal hybrid and I'll explain how I do that in another post.

8 Reasons Why I Use A Paper Planner

8 Reasons Why I Use A Paper Planner

8 Reasons Why I love Using a Paper Planner

  1. My whole life plan is in one book - I didn't always have just one book. I went through a period where I had both a planner and bullet journal. This year I created a hybrid planner and bullet journal with my Hobonichi Cousin and now everything is in one place.
  2. I put everything in there no matter how big or small the task - Everything goes in the planner. I have my calendar, to-do lists, notes, passwords, blog ideas, open orders, sales goals, website color numbers, social media images sizes..all of it..in one place. 
  3. It allows me to be creative - I love the ability to be really creative in my planner! I work in a very creative field, however, it's my job. What others do for fun is work for me, I'm usually crafting a project so that I can make a design for others to recreate. I enjoy it but I'm often racing against the clock so that I can meet a deadline, use the project in a tutorial, or other blog post. Being able to doodle for a few minutes in my planner is not only a good diversion and mental break, it also allows me to come up with creative ideas. Some of my best ideas have come from sitting and coloring in a little drawing in my planner.
  4. I can map out a new idea or process - Did you ever want to start a new project and not know where to begin? I keep those ideas in my planner. I start a new page and title it the name of the project, then just start jotting down notes and brain dumping all my thoughts on it. Then I go back later and organize the information and begin mapping out the project, adding dates, to-do lists, and steps to make it happen.
  5. I can track all kinds of information - I love keeping track of so many things so that I can easily find out how things are going. I track my company sales, email newsletters, social media stats, orders placed with vendors, popular keywords and hashtags for my business, and even my website analytics.
  6. I love the feel of the paper and finding just the right pen to go with it - I know I'm not the only one with a paper/pen addiction. There is something special about hearing the crinkle of the paper after the ink has dried on it. And, there's something equally satisfying about finishing a book for the year and being able to look back at what you did that year with a sense of accomplishment.
  7. It's easy to go back and reference previous dates - I've been using a planner for the past five years. It's amazingly helpful to be able to go back and view previous projects, sales, store events, and even personal events.
  8. Having a paper planner next to my computer is handy - I know there's a Notes section on my computer, but I have to say, it's really nice to have a planner right next to me as I work. Sometimes I have to write down quick information such as a phone number, a task to add to my to-do list, or an upcoming event. Being able to jot things down and not have to switch between screens on my computer is really helpful. There's also something super satisfying about being able to check off items on your to-do list.

Do you prefer a paper planner or a digital planning system? Which has worked best for you?