The Case for Paper Planners

The scenario goes like this:

Friend(s): Are you free on Saturday/next week/whenever?
Me: Let me check [pulls out planner from purse and looks].
Friend(s): [Insert jokes about my use of a planner, instead of keeping everything on my smartphone]

Every time my planner makes an appearance, my friends tease me about it. And in my work-world where people live and die by their Blackberries and iPhones, I get very strange looks when I update meeting details on actual paper, instead of in my phone. I’ve trusted my schedule to a planner for as long as I can remember: what started as a way to keep track of homework assignments and who had a crush on whom in middle school, evolved to include social and athletic commitments in high school and now has become the holder of just about everything going on in my life. My planner is what keeps me in the right place at the right time (for the most part).

I’ve always verbally defended my preference for planners, but it wasn’t until I read a post from one of the blogs I follow that I decided I needed to write about it. For 17 years my planners have helped me, so it’s time I make my case for them!

First – I just thing paper planners are more practical. Yes, it’s extra “stuff” that you must carry around, but mine is 6.5 in x 3.5 in and weighs less than a pound (actually, much less than my iPhone, come to think of it…). And planners give me the “big picture” of what’s really going on in my life. To see what I mean, take a second and open your smartphone (or other electronic) calendars, if you use one. Can you clearly see everything you have planned for the month in detail? All I see when I look at mine is a bunch of dots:



[For the record, the only reason I even have dots in my calendar is because I made the mistake of linking my Facebook account with my calendar. So now I have the birthday of every single one of my Facebook friends at my fingertips. If I actually used my phone’s calendar, this would really annoy me, but since I don’t, it doesn’t. Great story.]

Anyway, let’s say I want to get together with a friend on February 18. I can easily scroll to that date to see if I have anything going on that day (besides wishing a Facebook friend or two a happy birthday). However, what about my schedule for the rest of the week? I’d have to manually go to other days to see what’s going on. It just so happens that I leave for a business trip to McLean, VA on February 19. So even if I didn’t have plans on February 18, I probably should be spending the evening at home, packing and hugging Ryan.

BUT – one look at my planner tells me EVERYTHING I have going on for the week of February 18:


Plus, as you can see, I have a really specific scheduling system down that involves highlighters, initials and other cryptic coding (Type A much?). That kind of stuff is SO much easier to do outside of the digital world.  

In addition to my stance on my planner’s practicality, I also hold the sentimental value of my planner near and dear to my heart. One read of my “About Me” page is all it takes to see that I’m a sucker for sap. Being able to look back through my planner at the end of its useful life is a very sappy time. I still have my planners from high school and college, and when I look at all the scribbles from my teens and early 20s, I remember my awesome teammates from soccer, basketball and track and how much fun we had together; I remember my housemates in college and the random and silly things we did; I remember so many memories…everyday-events I probably would never had remembered without looking back at my planner.

For example, when I was writing this post, I flipped back through my current planner to December 2011. One event caught my eye, then another, then another…and before I knew it the entire Christmas season of that year all came rushing back to me. It definitely made me happy, but what made me even happier was all of the friends and family I spent time with that holiday season are still in my life over a year later. 


AND I found a sticky note with a fruit-smoothie-type drink a friend told me about! I had forgotten all about that. Thanks, Planner!

Can you really look back on your electronic calendar and get the same nostalgia? I don’t know for sure, but I would think not. My guess is that you would probably never even think to look back at your electronic calendar since it never really ends. This might be a “nothing” for some people, but for me, it’s definitely “something”. It’s so important to me that I’ve decided to start a “thought a day” journal (like this one), so life’s “little moments” aren’t forgotten.

I realize having a planner just isn’t everyone’s style – and I’m cool with that. The point of all of this was to just make the case for paper planners – and why I’ll probably always use one. Which will probably always be accompanied by jokes from my friends. But that’s ok – I’ll just smile like I always do, knowing that writing their name down today will preserve the memories we’ll make for a long, long time. And that is so worth the extra “stuff” I carry with my planner.


8 thoughts on “The Case for Paper Planners

  1. I LOVE my paper planner. I tried the electronic route but couldn’t do tot. I really love looking back at my old ones, too. Very fun and it does take me right back to those times 🙂

  2. Haha this post cracks me up! I could second just about EVERYTHING you wrote and I never realized anyone else felt the same. I unfortunately synchronized the facebook birthdays as well – bleh! I also get a laugh from people when I get out my little paper planner considering I have an Iphone but I know what you mean about seeing the whole week in total and need the “context” of the days around a day in order to know whether to book something or not. And come to think of it when I pull out old planners it is a flashback in time – right down to the day – and the scribbled notes in the margins. Maybe it’s a Ravenna thing! (They did always give us those planners at the beginning of every year and that’s how my addiction started.) 😉 Hope whatever your schedule brings you today is happiness! 🙂

  3. Whit, you certainly do make some valid points! Guess we shouldn’t be so hard on you! 🙂 love you!

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