We live in a awesome time of digital everything where new apps are invented every day and we’re surrounded on all sides with digital integration into our lives. It’s great, but when it comes to planning, it’s also annoying and confusing somehow. I really do love my smart phone and refer to it constantly, checking what’s on the agenda for today or clicking the address I embedded in my doctor appointment entry so I don’t get lost… Yet, I can’t seem to really grasp what’s in my mind by simply typing it into an Evernote. Paper, however, allows my mind to flow and organize itself in the process of putting pen to paper. I love paper. I always have. I might even have a paper obsession… but I can’t search my paper with a click of a hot-key and there’s no spell-checker in my mechanical pencil. Since I love both paper and technology, I’ve struggled with a little internal ‘paper vs digital’ showdown. I couldn’t’ figure out which was better for planning and it bothered me. Now I realize that they simply serve different purposes.
Planning on Paper
I know a lot of people who marvel at my paper planner, saying they only keep a digital calendar, and that’s fine. However, in this season of my life, as my calendar has become more full and complicated, I’ve found that a little phone screen doesn’t show me all the information I need. More importantly, for me, a small screen is not conducive to the activity of planning. You see, planning is different from keeping a calendar. Planning goes beyond writing game times and appointments on the calendar. Planning is the intentional act of determining what you will and what you won’t do. It is the act of looking at that busy schedule, penciling in the most important things first, making time for life-giving disciplines, such as meditation and personal reflection, and saying ‘no’ to everything else.
Of course, I also keep several calendars on my iPhone, shared with my husband. It has many advantages: It helps keep u
s all on the same page, (well, most of the time). I love that it’s searchable for those times when I know I scheduled something way in advance but I’m not sure when (didn’t I schedule a hair cut for sometime next month?). I also love that I can add alarms for those things that I’m more likely to space out on. Finally, our family also enjoys using it as a record of past events. (When did we last go see your
sister?) I refer to my digital calendar when I’m on the go and when I sitting down to do my planning on paper. So I would never get rid of my digital calendar completely.
Digital / Paper Balance
It’s when I’m using my digital calendar to sit down and paper-plan the weeks and the months ahead that I realize if I’m overbooked. For example, when I saw I had four out of town trips in one month, I realized I’d be a wreck at the end of the month. That’s when I sat back and forced myself to rescheduleone ofthem. In her book, The Best Yes, Lysa Turkurst says “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.” I wholeheartedly agree with Lysa, we must guard our schedules and learn to say no.
So ask yourself, how do you do your best planning? If it’s really a digital process for you, more power to you. However, if you find yourself a little frustrated with digital, try balancing it with some planning on paper. Sit down with a blank piece of paper and write our your work flow like Smith over at Lifehack. Or get a basic weekly view calendar, write in the most important activities first and then ask yourself if schedule looks overwhelming or fulfilling. I know I find the most balance in life when I schedule digitally and plan on paper. When I finally figured that out, the tension between the two evaporated.
Are you convinced you need a little more paper in your life? If money’s not an issue I suggest Erin Condren or Russel and Hazel. They’re some of my favorites. However, if planner funds are tight, or you’re just not ready to invest $50-$100 on a planner, check out all my digital planner downloads. Buy them once and then print them as you need them, forever. They are made in Microsoft Word so you can easily customize them yourself!