Paper vs. Digital Planners

It’s no secret that I love planners. It only takes a quick glimpse at the blogs I read, the pictures I’ve favorited on Flickr, or even this blog to notice.  It’s also no secret that I love technology. I work for an IT department, and have even been referred to as iAndrea for having so many Apple products. {I’m not even joking.}

In high school, I practically lived out of my monthly/weekly planners the school provided. Ever since then though, I’ve been buying planner after planner hoping one would magically solve all my planning needs. Clearly I haven’t come across one yet, because I’m still struggling in the paper planner world, but if I do find one, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.

Before I continue, I want to clear up one thing. I write about planners a lot, and I have a LOT of calendars and a LOT in my calendars for that matter. I have had some people in my life claim they need to book an appointment with me just to hang out after hearing about it. {Think 27 Dresses, where the guy penciled himself in throughout her Filofax.} That’s not me. My Filofax/planner/whatever does NOT rule my life. In fact, I’d say 90% of what I write down with the exception of work related meetings doesn’t even get done. I just like to {pretend to} have a plan about where I’m supposed to be or supposed to be doing. It’s my way of dealing with anxiety, and I also like going back seeing what I’ve done or written down. It is by no means some minute-by-minute guide for my life.

Anyway, with that rant out of the way, I’ve been carrying my Filofax with me everywhere for months even though I rarely even use it anymore. Don’t get me wrong. It makes me feel incredibly fancy when I grab my Osterley out of my bag, and it makes me look crazy organized even though nothing’s written in it, but looking pretty isn’t what an organizer is actually for. Lately, I’ve actually started thinking that maybe I’m not in planner fail at all. {Crazy idea right?!} Maybe I just don’t have a use for a paper planner anymore. Maybe I’m just trying to use it because I’m used to carrying it around. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense. I mean, before I got to college, phones weren’t allowed in school, and laptops were almost taboo until senior year. Tablets weren’t even a thing yet. I HAD to use a paper planner. Ever since then, there’s been nothing stopping me from using my phone/iPad/laptop instead.

With that in mind, I started to think about what I gravitate towards when I do need a planner.

  • When I’m at work and have to schedule a meeting with someone, I open up Google Calendar on my computer.
  • When someone wants to schedule a meeting with me, they do it through Google Calendar, and I get an email invitation.
  • When a friend asks me to meet for dinner, I add it to Google Calendar from my phone.
  • All of my recurring tasks are in Things.
  • Anything I think of spur of the moment usually gets put into the inbox in Things.
  • Outside of that, my other to-dos are either in my email or in Pocket/Readkit.
  • And meeting agendas are in Google Drive.

Nothing is on paper. Everything is digital, so it makes sense that I wouldn’t check my Filofax. My Filofax ends up being just another place I have to write things down, and being the efficient person I like to be, why waste time doing that if I’m not getting anything out of it. Even the other things people track like health, books to read, or wishlists are online for me using my Fitbit, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

So here’s what I came up with about why I prefer using a digital calendar instead of a paper planner.

  • One device is all you need. At the very least, I have my iPhone with me, and that’s all I need. My events aren’t in a planner while my contacts are in another.
  • I can color code without toting around multi-color pens and highlighters.
  • I don’t need to rewrite things. Whether I check it at home, at work, on my phone, iPad, or computer, it’s the same everywhere.
  • I can switch between daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly views whenever I want without adding any bulk, having to rewrite things, or spending any money on inserts.
  • When plans change or I make a mistake, I don’t need to worry about whether I wrote it in erasable pen or how I can cover up the wrong information if I didn’t. I just have to edit the event. For a perfectionist, this is a huge win for me.
  • When I need to schedule an event well in the future, I never have to worry about where to write it down until I get next year’s inserts.
  • If I want to remember when something happened, I can search for it immediately rather than worrying about whether I removed inserts and if so where to look for them when I get home.
  • On a similar note, there’s no need to worry about where or how to store inserts or planners that you aren’t using. {I usually end up putting them in an old empty Birchbox and then losing the box in the pile of other boxes I did the same thing for the months before that.}
  • I don’t have to keep writing recurring events. When 90% of your life is routine, recurring events, it’s nice to not have to waste time rewriting them every day/week/month. It also keeps me on a regular schedule for appointments with doctors or when I need to get my hair done. {I will forget and it’ll be years before I go otherwise.}
  • Google calendar reminds me of events I might forget. If I have a meeting after lunch, you can bet I’ll forget about it if I don’t have a reminder, even if I wrote it down in my planner that morning and saw it on my calendar about 20 times. With Google Calendar, I get a reminder 15 minutes before my event which is enough time for me to get nearly anywhere on campus in time for the meeting.
  • It allows other people to tell me when they are available or unavailable. My coworkers share when they are leaving early or when they’ll be out. Similarly, my mom shows me when she’ll be away, and I need to watch her dogs. Simple.
  • I can choose which calendars I want to see. Some days I want to see when the Ravens are playing more than my Workout calendar. Some days I may want to check the dates on my university’s academic calendar, and other days I may want to see how my appointments line up with my daily routine. With Google calendar, I can choose to look at one calendar, a few of them, or all of them. I don’t always need or want to see everything, but it’s there if I ever need it. You can’t say that with a Filofax. It’s either there or it isn’t.

I’m sure some of you planner people are cringing at the idea digital could be better than paper, but for me it works. One of the most common things people mention in the digital vs. paper debate is battery life, but for someone who carries a battery pack and a car charger nearly everywhere, I’ve only once or twice been in a dead phone situation, but that was my own fault for not bringing the battery. Even so, I’m never going in a situation when my phone is dying {usually around 10pm} and I have somewhere to go to on foot. Moreover, phone numbers aren’t an issue for me either, because I rarely use the phone, and for those people I do call, I have memorized their numbers.

So for now, I’m actually thinking of leaving my Filofax home, and the thought of it makes me uncomfortable. Even though I’m not using it, I’ve carried a planner for so many years {since I was in elementary school really}, not having one to carry makes me feel like I’m forgetting something.

However, the point that proved I don’t need to be carrying it was that my first concerns were where would I keep my pen and store reward cards – two things I wasn’t carrying it around for. The pen is now going to live in the pen loop of my purse organizer, and I am relocating my cards back into my Vera Bradley wristlet. Problem solved.

I don’t plan on abandoning the planner world. I still very much enjoy reading about and seeing everyone’s lovely planners, but right now, it’s just not for me.

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