Let’s Talk Planners: Are You Team Paper or Team Digital?

Digital and paper planners

(SPOT.ph) Project officer Marielle has her eyes of the Hobonichi planner so she can map out 2023 in bullets and doodles using her fountain pen. A paper planner helps her focus even when there's a flurry of apps that are more accessible with a few taps on her smartphone.

"I think the act of writing helps me in remembering my tasks as compared to just simply typing them on the app... I prefer physical journals as I can also get to customize the pages," said the NGO worker, who also collected Starbucks and Coffee Bean journals.

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Business analyst Lily, on the other hand, relies on her smartphone rather than a pen and paper to organize her schedule. Her device alerts her to an upcoming meeting, something a paper planner can't do.


"Nasa sistema ko na rin ang paggamit ng schedules. Pinakaimportante sa akin 'yun kasi malilimutin na rin ako, sobrang important sa akin na ma-remind ako," said Lily, who works in IT.

Getting an annual planner helps you meet your life and work goals, and keeps you organized and productive throughout the year. So before you decide on a physical or digital planner for 2023, check out this list of pros and cons.

Why use a digital planner?

Digital planner
PHOTO BY Shutterstock
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It's free or cheaper

While we can argue that you can get a free Starbucks planner for a minimum amount of P2,070 (that's 18 cups of tall brewed coffee without any add-ons), you still have to shell out money to get it.

Some apps, like the most basic Calendar app on your smartphone, allows you to record your events without spending a single peso, said Lily.

It has an alarm

For Maan, who regularly uses Google Calendar for her meetings, baking schedule, and personal time with family, the alarm feature allows her to maximize her time as she works from home.

"Ang dami kong gustong gawin aside from work, alaga ng baby, plus maglilinis plus mag-bake, so nire-remind ako na okay, may meeting ka ng ganitong time. At least 10 minutes before the meeting ipapasa ko na si baby kay yaya or stop muna sa baking," she told SPOT.ph.

It can loop in the entire group with just a few clicks

This means personal reminders for important meetings can easily become a group notification, an important feature for Maan.


"You can share the data to others. Email mo lang tapos from the email itself makikita mo na sino makaka-attend or not kasi may option na 'Are you attending? Yes or no'," she said.

It's handy

For those who hate bringing bags and prefer to bring just their wallet and phone wherever they go, having a digital planner is a convenience.

For Lily who uses the Trip It planner app for her travels, this means she doesn't have to print out her South Korea itinerary as she can consolidate her flight and hotel details, transportation, and restaurants to visit all in one app.

"Nababawasan 'yung manual effort mo to prepare the whole plan and even execute the plan. Sobrang helpful siya, sobrang naa-appreciate ko siya sa travel. Mae-enjoy mo na lang 'yung travel mo."

It helps reduce waste

Unlike physical planners, stickers, pens, and washi tapes, digital planner can be  reusable and customizable to suit your needs. It also won't collect dust at home or end up in the trash bin after you're done with it.


Why get a paper planner?

Paper, physical planner
PHOTO BY Shutterstock

It inspires creativity

For lawyer and self-described non-techie AJ, there's a sense of accomplishment and rush from mechanically ticking off the things on her list.

Unlike digital planners, her paper planner allows room for her creativity to flow. This means scribbling using her fountain and colored pens and placing stickers to brighten her mood, she said.


It keeps your memory fresh

For Marielle and AJ, writing down their notes and tasks help them remember their to-do list and deadlines better.

And it's backed by science. This 2021 study showed that students who jot down their notes on paper fared better in a memory test compared to those who typed in their notes on their gadgets, likely because our brains are also tapping into memory and visual imagery when retrieving information. We remember whether we used a purple pen in writing down an important date, or if we wrote it along the notebook's margins.

No notification anxiety here

No matter how mighty a smartphone can be, it has its downsides too -- it has too many interruptions from MS Teams and Viber messages to Telegram and Twitter notifications. When jotting down notes on a physical planner, you can focus on writing down your to-do list without distractions.


It's low maintenance

At a time when even some wristwatches need to be charged, owning a physical planner means you don't need electricity to access it. You also don't need data or wifi to check what's next on your daily agenda, said AJ.

While others can go crazy with their doodles and collector's edition planners, you can use a minimalist planner and a cheap pen to write down their events and it will still work.

It's a tradition

For the likes of AJ, it has become a tradition to collect stickers for planners while sharing drinks with friends and family.

"We get coffee, we hang out, I get the stickers and the planner!" said AJ.

"For me, it's just like any other collection. It doesn't have to have rhyme nor reason, if it means something to you, if it makes you feel sentimental and all warm and fuzzy inside, you do you and collect the stickers!"

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