Why a Paper Planner?

Why should I use a paper planner? Doesn’t my smart phone do all that and a whole lot more? Why on earth would I want to use both and have two things to have to keep track of?

I’m so glad you asked! 😉

I started using a day planner/calendar decades ago, in college, to keep track of deadlines, assignments, and whatnot. They helped me stay somewhat organized and on schedule, but the pre-printed basic calendars never fit just right; I always wanted more. When I got my first Palm Pilot (okay kids, here’s a history quiz for you! What was a Palm Pilot and why were they significant?) I thought paper planners were going into the dustbins of history — moving on!

It’s true that an electronic calendar has some tricks it can do that a paper calendar could never dream of doing. It’s fabulous at syncing information across multiple devices, giving you a reminder right when you need it (or at least right when you thought you would need it when you set it up 😜), and coordinating things with other people. But I discovered that there are some limitations too, and ended up going partially back  to paper.

A couple of years ago, I discovered bullet journaling (or bujo as the cool kids call it 🙃). So creative! So organized! So perfectly designed for exactly what I want to keep track of! So much freaking work to maintain! Finally it dawned on me (more like thumped me upside the head, but hey, whatever…) I could design and print my own day planner! And that wasn’t even a crazy idea since I am (amongst other things) a graphic designer who works in a print shop!

And so, the Tempus Fugitt Life Planner was born 😊.

But I digress. And still haven’t answered the initial questions…

I use both my electronic calendar (phone and laptop, synced to the cloud) and my paper planner because they complement each other and each does something the other cannot. Anything that needs a reminder (appointments), or recurs regularly (changing the furnace filter), or needs a chunk of time blocked out (working on a project) goes on the e-calendar. Once it is there and has synced to the cloud, I am reasonably confident that I won’t forget about it. I then transfer them to my paper planner when I’m planning my week. The miscellaneous to-dos and odd-jobs of life that pile up every day (refilling a prescription, or doing a load of laundry, or helping a kid with a project) don’t make as much sense to schedule at specific times on an e-calendar, so a written list-of-the-day works better for me. I like to be able to look at my day laid out on paper and make notes along the way.

Another answer is that “studies have shown” (no, really here’s an actual citation*) that hand written notes are more likely to be remembered and with more accuracy. Students who take notes on their laptops or tablets take more notes and students who take notes by hand tend to process the information more deeply. Sure, not all the information in your planner warrants commitment to long-term memory. But some of it probably does. And if you are like me, I add notes and reflections and gratitudes to my planner each day, like a mini-journal. Those are the things I want ingrained deeper.

Also, who doesn’t love checking things off a list when you complete them? I mean really, that has to be a pretty universal thrill, amiright? 😉

*Mueller, Pam & Oppenheimer, Daniel (2014). The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking. Psychological Science, vol 25/6, pp. 1159-1168.