The Many Benefits Of Using A Paper Planner Over Digital Versions

We all remember the persistent teacher who wasn't going to let up until you complied with their rather forceful command: "Write it down!" It didn't matter if your eyes were glued to theirs and if you were alert, attentive, and followed all the other hallmarks of being a good student. This teacher acted as though they knew the information imparted would slip through your memory bank if you failed to make a paper record of it.


And so you did as you were told, how ever begrudgingly. And now you're glad you did because you see that it's hard to argue the wisdom of putting the brain through the motions of listening, deciphering, and recording with a writing instrument in hand. As the experts at Psychology Today explain, "Handwriting in a notebook triggers more robust brain activity." In the end, something sticks.

Since the world has gone digital, you may be considering replacing your paper planner with a digital version. There may be good reasons to do so, especially if it will work in tandem with your other electronic devices. However, you may wish to keep more expansive life notes in written form — perhaps as a useful adjunct to a digital planner where you record short, terse notes. Because the benefits of writing paper notes are monumental, proving that the persistent teacher had it right all along.


Improve your recall ability

Without getting too technical about how the brain works, your memory performs three tasks, which include "encoding, storing, and retrieving information," Lumen Learning says. You might say that the latter two depend on how well the first task is performed, since encoding, or processing, requires that our brain decide what information is worth keeping and what information can go. Encoding can be a swift step, occurring in less time than it takes to blink an eye.


Writing things down improves the encoding step substantially. Forbes summarizes well what teachers have been exhorting for centuries, explaining that you have more chance of actually retaining information when you physically write it down, as opposed to verbally trying to memorize it, or typing it. 

Revel in less stress

According to office products supplier COS, physically writing down information by hand can be an exercise in mindfulness, which has been shown to reduce stress. The mental health benefits of writing things down include feeling more present, organized, and balanced. You're also more likely to understand the information that you're recording. 


From her own research, Dr. Virginia Berniger of the University of Washington tells COS that writing puts the brain in automatic deciphering mode so that it forces clarity. This is different from recording information by typing it, which Berniger calls "mindless processing." 

Embrace the possibility of greater productivity

You may be skeptical of the fact that writing things in a paper-based planner can make you more productive. But if the previous two incentives make sense, this one should, too: When your recall ability is sharpened, and you're feeling less stressed and more organized, you're more likely to experience greater productivity when it comes to your to-do list, Psychology Today says. That's no stretch.


Once you become more productive, you're likely to feel extra motivated, partly because feeling (and being) accountable can be such a rewarding feeling, Popular Vedic Science explains. 

Expect fewer distractions

You may find that paper and digital planners can co-exist quite nicely in your world. But there's no denying that digital devices are inherently disruptive — beeping with notifications, ringing with alerts, and generally pulling your attention from one task to another, per COS. Ultimately, something is bound to slip through the cracks amid all these distractions. Of course, phones ring, and people barge into offices unannounced and interrupt with silly questions. And these disruptions can challenge our ability to focus as we write on paper. But paper planners hold the trump card: They are inherently silent. Only blank pages compete for your attention. 


As Notiq explains, you will always be able to use your paper planner, whether you have Wi-Fi or not. Paper is accessible 100% of the time (provided you don't lose it or forget it).

You might find spare time in your schedule

Writing in a paper planner brings the possibility of seeing open spots in your calendar, Popular Vedic Science points out, allowing you to find free time that you might have missed when dealing with a digital planner. This can help you plan ahead and take better advantage of your days off work. Mind you, a paper planner will not create more time in your day; it doesn't hold this power. But being able to eyeball your schedule for one afternoon, and compare it to that of another, might allow you to readjust your priorities and reshuffle your schedule.


You might feel more capable of reaching your goals

There's a reason why you're 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down (via Inc). Physically writing down your targets may make you more likely to accomplish them thanks to the power of visualization. As Forbes explains, several successful people — including Jim Carrey and Oprah Winfrey — swear by the powers of seeing a certain reality in your mind in order to feel more capable of achieving it in real life.


Similarly, once you've written something down in your planner, you're less likely to experience thoughts like, "Can I get this done?" You just get it done because it has been so written. When your brain sees something declared on paper, chances are you'll feel more capable of bringing it to fruition.