Paper planner on table

Paper planners: 7 good reasons to plan your week on paper

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Paper planner or digital calendar – which is a better time management tool? Each has its pros and cons, but when it comes to organising a busy life, many believe that the pen and paper calendar are mightier than the keyboard and smart devices. Here are some reasons why.
1. Fewer distractions

“Ping… buzz… ping” …the average smartphone user receives dozens of alerts and push notifications every day. The constant bombardment can be disruptive, and you easily find yourself side-tracked at the cost of your productivity. How often have you responded to an “important” reminder only to find yourself wasting time on Facebook or Instagram? A paper planner doesn’t ping, vibrate or constantly distract you from the task at hand.

2. Your brain loves pen and paper

It’s basic neuroscience. Many studies confirm that you remember things better when you write them down. When you craft each letter by hand, you engage your brain’s encoding processes more deeply than by pressing keys. The coordination of visual perception, touch and motor skills forces the brain to process information in a more complex way, boosting your ability to retain information and recall tasks on your to-do list.

3. Honour your downtime

The line between work and home is evaporating faster than ever in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. People are spending more and more time “plugged in” after hours, which presents a growing risk of digital burnout. Do we really need to be available 24/7 to answer every alert? A paper planner reduces anxiety by establishing boundaries. When the day’s work is done, it sits quietly on your desk while you enjoy your well-earned rest.

4. Taking control

One of the benefits of digital scheduling tools is that they can be synced across multiple devices. The downside is that bouncing between apps can feel fragmentary. With a paper planner, your work week is laid out neatly in one place in a tangible form. A physical object you can hold in your hands furthermore offers a superior sensory experience and feels more “controllable” than fleeting messages that flash up on your screen for a few seconds.

5. Stress coping mechanism

Having too much on your plate can be a huge source of stress, and a frequently beeping digital calendar only exacerbates the anxiety induced by a hectic schedule. Writing down a task list in a paper calendar is like a form of meditation. By jotting down a to-do list by hand, you create a “brain dump” that allows you to release and organize overwhelming thoughts floating around in your head.

6. Motivation boost

A digital calendar simply cannot match the satisfying feeling of crossing off items on a physical to-do list. The sheer effort of writing a list also increases your motivation to achieve your goals. What’s more, a paper planner is more intimate and inspiring. Each day looks the same in a digital calendar, but with a paper planner, you can add doodles, personal touches, and customised highlights to special tasks, goals and dates.

7. Nostalgia boom

Analogue devices and physical media like pen and paper have made a big comeback recently. Physical formats are perceived as cool – and our love of retro might signal something deeper than a passing fascination with the past. With gadgets taking up a growing chunk of our lives, the popularity of paper planners expresses our desire for greater simplicity and a connection with the real world.

Which suits you?

So, which is better – digital or analogue? Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal needs and preferences. A digital calendar is easy to sync, eco-friendly, and harder to lose, but it might be more productive, calming, and motivational to put down your device and plan your day with a pen.