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I still love a paper planner. There are actually scientific reasons why having a paper planner sets you up for greater success.
When you write things down, you are more likely to rembmber them.
A paper planner limits your distractions, unlike having to open up a digital device just to check your task list.
And keeping a paper planner, where you can see your to list written out in your own handwriting, reduces stress.
But – we live in a very digital world. And carrying around a paper planner, in my already full bag, is just not feasible.
Which is why I have merged my digital calendar and paper planner systems over the last couple of years.
This gives me the best of both worlds and helps me to stay more organized and waste less time trying to plan out my days.
And as a working mom, I need all the efficiencies I can create!
Keeping a Paper Planner
I am currently using an Erin Condren Life Planner which I really enjoy. It has enough room to keep my daily to do list, and I love having the month at a glance view.
I do not use my paper planner to keep track of daily meetings.
Most of my appointments and meetings all come in digital invite form. Work meetings are always changing. All the birthday party invitations we get come through Evite. And my husband would never check my paper planner to know if I need to be working late during the week.
The focus of a paper planner should be to prioritize your time for the day.
Write down things like:
- A To Do List
- Your gratitude list
- Top 3 priorities for the day
- Encouraging words
- Tracking new habits
- Goal dates (ex: finish XYZ project by June 1)
I enjoy putting these in a daily planner rather than a notebook, because I like to keep track of the time frame in which I did things.
By the end of the year, my paper planner is a written scrapbook of my year.
I also jot down milestones that my kids hit as they continue to grow. Things like ‘first tooth’, and ‘first haircut’.
My paper planners from the past 10 years are stored in my office and I can look back at them if I ever get around to finishing my kids baby books.
So the paper planner should be the tool that you use to maximize your productivity and organization. The digital planner and calendar should cover everything else.
Keeping a Digital Calendar
We live in a digital age, and trying to keep track of your calendar on paper is just making more work for yourself.
Things you should keep in a digital calendar:
- Birthdays to remember
- Routine reminders (ex: Monthly – change the air filters)
- Date Nights
- School Closures
- Grocery Lists
As I mentioned before, we got a lot of party invitations via Evite. I love that I can add those invitations directly into my Google Calendar and add my husband. This cuts down on a lot of the confusion that used to happen when I would tell him at 9 AM on Saturday that we needed to be at a birthday party by 10:30 AM.
When you get an Evite like that, move them to a special folder in your email called “To Schedule”. Go through that folder at the end of every week and make sure all of those invitations were added to your digital calendar.
You can then go over to your paper planner and add in “buy gifts for birthday party” to your to do list. Say goodbye to those 9 AM rush runs into Target to buy a gift, a bag and tissue paper.
Combining a Paper and Digital Planner
In my view, it is essential to have a paper planner and a digital planner or calendar. You don’t want to duplicate any efforts (that would be a waste of time) but there are benefits of writing things down that just can’t be duplicated.
If you don’t want to get a paper day planner, then you can opt to get a notebook or a weekly notepad that sits on your desk.
Physically writing out a your to do list and daily plans has too many benefits to be moved to a digital format. Getting to cross something off your to-do list is just a certain kind of rush, right?
Plus, you need a place to jot down notes if you are on a call or during a meeting, when your digital access is tied up.
The need for a digital calendar is that things can shift so quickly and frequently these days that having a way to move appointments around easily is important.
Also, if you are like me, you HATE scratching out appointments in your paper planner. Having the option to easily reschedule is important.
My husband and I invite each other to the majority of our digital calendar appointments. If I have to work late or have an early call – I add a calendar meeting to my husband’s calendar too, so he is aware that he may be solo parenting for a bit.
This system has worked wonders for our communication and marriage.
Paper Planners and Tools
If you are looking for a paper planner or a weekly notepad, here are a few options that I would recommend. You can also get stickers and washi tape to help make the paper planner more fun (but it is totally not necessary).