When we look at the digital and paper planners that are out there, there are hundreds of different ones to choose from. You can get any size, shape, color, style, and layout, both with paper planners and digital planners.
And yet, it’s beyond hard to choose which one is the perfect planner for you. Trust me, I’ve looked at and tried out so many different planners and productivity systems over the years! And, I even designed my own planner that I would draw out each week several years ago when there weren’t very many styles available.
Just think how much I could have accomplished by doing the work instead of searching for and spending time creating the “perfect planner”.
So if you’re struggling to decide, here’s a look at the difference between paper and digital planners to make your decision easier.
A Look at Digital Planners – The Good
It used to be that you had to be close to your actual computer to set up a digital appointment. I was forever writing things down on a Post-It note and then putting them into my computer calendar after I got home. But digital has become a lot more user-friendly and on-the-go!….Love the smartphone!
With the portability and functionality of our smartphones, you can just ask Alexa or Siri to set up an appointment for you on your calendar and you’re done. And with built-in appointment reminders, you can set it and forget it.
I love that the online digital planner will sync between all your devices! And how easy it is to access it from any phone or computer by just logging in.
I especially love how neat and tidy a digital planner looks and how pretty it is with color-coded events.
The Cons of Digital Planners
But digital may not be the best choice for you. If the Internet is slow or not available, then you’re still back to just writing things down and then putting them in later. I know these days this is becoming less and less of a problem but it still is an issue for a lot of people.
Also, it can take longer to type it in by hand on your teeny tiny phone keyboard than for you to write it down in a physical planner.
The biggest reason people like to avoid digital planners these days is to avoid distractions that come along with going online, even to just do one simple task and… before you know it, you’ve spent 3 hours scrolling through FB posts.
Or maybe you are not digitally inclined, and that’s okay!
A Look at Paper Planners – The Good
When we write something down on paper, a connection forms between what we’re writing and our brain. This neuroscience can help us to remember and process the things that we need to do better than in the digital space.
Whenever I have a client who is feeling overwhelmed, we get out of a sheet of paper and write down everything that’s floating around in their head.
A brain dump helps you see all the things in one place where you can then organize and prioritize them. This works well with a paper planner because when you have a place to write things down immediately, you create that connection while using your planning tool to make sure you get things done.
Cons of Paper Planners
But paper is heavy, and hauling around a paper planner can be a nuisance. (Especially if you love bullet journaling and all the pens, markers, stickers, and fun stuff that goes with it.).
A paper planner can also get messy if things change and you cross things out to move appointments around.
It’s also more difficult for others to schedule with you or for you as they since they can’t see your availability like they can digitally.
Maybe a Mix of Planner Types is Right For You?
The hybrid mix of an online planner and a paper planner might be the perfect solution for you. I actually use a hybrid for myself. I keep my calendar and fixed appointments online, but use a paper planner to keep track of all the things I need to get done and prioritize them.
To make sure that I am spending time on the important things I need to do as well as have some fun I use the time blocking method. This is done by blocking off focus hours for projects and/or tasks (3-hours is my sweet spot). This keeps me from overscheduling as well as holding time on the calendar I’m not available.
I then use those focus blocks of time to work on my projects and tasks, or just read a good book. Others don’t see why I’m not available, just that I’m not available. It’s an appointment I make with myself. This is a great way to weave in lunch and breaks throughout the day too.
How to Choose
In order to choose what would work best for you, you need to evaluate a few things. How much time you’re at your computer, vs how much time you’re out and about. What makes the most sense for accessibility? Do you share your calendar online or do others need to see your schedule and availability? Also, what is your natural style and personality?
Trying out different planners, both paper and digital will help you figure out which type of planner system is the most effective and efficient for you and that you enjoy using.
There’s no one perfect system out there that will work for everyone. We all have different needs, different lives, and different styles of doing things.
It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as it works for you and you’re actually productive. It’s all about the doing and the planner is just a tool to help us keep track of our appointments and get things done.
But, more importantly, a planner can help us make sure we are spending our time on the right things that are most important to us and making progress on our goals while not overloading ourselves!
Remember that wasted time is not time wasted. We all need time to recharge and recover and we don’t have to be productive 24/7.
Whatever type of planner you use, ultimately it’s a tool that can help in being intentional about your time, keeping track of the things that you have to do, and making sure that you are fitting in time for all the things you want to do!
Now go and block out some time for fun, time for your most important projects and goals, while weaving some breathing room throughout each day!