Why do people prefer paper diaries, journals and planners over digital versions?

Why do people prefer paper diaries, journals and planners over digital versions?

March 16, 2020

As someone who runs an online business, the conveniences and opportunities of living in the digital age have been huge. Like many new business owners I probably couldn’t have started my business without the benefits of all the amazing software and mobile apps instantly available for next to nothing, not to mention the instant exposure that social media can provide. And as I’m sure it is for you, my smart phone is many things to me – it’s my phone, my camera, my email, my music and so much more… but one thing it can never be, is my planner.

And it would seem that the majority of people who use a diary, journal or planner would agree with me, with paper versions out-performing digital versions year on year. So why is it, that when our phones have become so many things rolled into one, and there are a huge number of planning/productivity apps out there offering convenient reminder notifications, so many of us refuse to give up on, and more and more people are turning to paper versions?

Firstly, we have to admit most of us spend way too much time on our phones, have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them and are actively trying to use them less. We can waste hours scrolling though Facebook or Instagram after we get distracted by a notification whilst intending to do something else. Using your phone as your planner increases your screen time, increases your phone dependency and just opens you up to being even more distracted whilst actively trying to focus on your planning.

Secondly, for those of us who have always used planners, they are way more than just a calendar, or a to-do list - they feel personal to us. We have invested time and money into choosing the right planner. They contain our goals, our plans and our personal reflections as we progress through the year towards achieving those goals. For many of us, using our planner adds a distinct element of mindfulness to our days. It provides us with some quality ‘me’ time, when we turn off our phones and spend time actively reflecting on the previous day and planning the next. This time is something we cherish, and can’t simply be replaced by an app.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, for most people digital versions simply don’t work as well. The fact is that writing down your goals makes it far more likely that you will actually achieve them – and there’s science to back that up. A large experiment conducted at Dominican University in California involving 267 people from all walks of life, concluded that people who regularly write down their dreams and goals are a staggering 42% more likely to achieve them. Simply put, writing down our goals rather than just ‘thinking’ about them taps into the left hemisphere of our brain (the logic side), which in turn actively influences our sub-conscious minds and drives us to turn these goals into a reality. You can read more about this in this really interesting Huff Post article.

So, for each person who decides to continue using a paper planner, it is likely due to their unique blend of fighting back against their phone, their daily enjoyment of using their chosen planner, and the knowledge (backed up by the science) that at the end of the day, paper planners are just better.



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