Why I Plan: An Ode to Ye Old Paper Planner and the Lives it’s Changing

Why I Plan: An Ode to Ye Old Paper Planner and the Lives it’s Changing

“You still use a paper planner?! Why not just put it in your phone?” Face meet palm. If you use a paper planner, chances are someone has asked you this ridiculous question. First off, smart guy, I DO use my phone for adding appointments, notes, and contacts on the go. But I still put everything down on paper at the end of my day. “But, why?!” the ridiculous questioner retorts back. Lets all take a seat, because this one might take a while.

Why do I plan?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a list maker. As kids, my best friend and I used to LOVE sitting down with a fresh ruled notebook, a gel pen, and optimism, making lists for just about everything. Annual Christmas lists to santa, packing lists for an upcoming vacation, lists of bands we liked, songs we loved, lists of ways to torment her older sister, I mean you name it, we made a list for it. And why? I don’t know, because there is something soothing about getting all the busy, noisy information that’s floating around in my head, out onto paper. Not just soothing, but calming, anxiety reducing, and yes, fun.

Making a checklist is a form of planning

Fast forward to today, and my planning style is much more than just making random lists. Today, I’m making my lists and then putting them to action. I sit down on a weekly and monthly basis to write down everything I want to accomplish in a time frame. Every task, every follow up, every project, starts and ends with a check list. From that list I can dole out tasks each day to ensure that by the end of the week or the month, I’ve gotten done what I’ve set out to do.

And it works. Like really works. I don’t miss deadlines, I accomplish goals and I do it with full confidence, with the help of my planning system. I went from marketing manager to full time badass shop boss in a two-year span. And I can confidently say that it was with a PLAN that I was able to accomplish this. Do I think the planner is solely responsible for my success? NO – I am responsible for my own success, but it was the action I took as the result of having a plan in the first place, that got me to this point.

Changing Lives one Page at a Time

The last thing I do each day, before I go to bed, is look at my weekly and monthly lists to set tasks and goals for the following day. Not only does this help me clear my mind before going to sleep, but I also am able to jump right into action the following morning. Which might not sound monumental, but if you knew how much of a morning person I am not, you would see how valuable that can be at the start of each day.

Ok so, planning helps me sleep easier and be less of a grouch in the morning, but is that really life changing?! Well, for me it was. But I can see you want more proof to the pudding here, so let’s start talking about other functions of planners.

For the sake of anonymity, I won’t be using any real names in the following examples, but they are 100% true and based off customer testimonial.

Gratitude Journal using the January Planners Anonymous Kit

Carla started gratitude journaling at the end of last year. She bought her GLAD insert from me and promptly started using it as a weekly reflection space to help with her depression and anxiety. The mindfulness she experienced while journaling allowed her to push through a period of her life that was incredibly painful. She has continued to use her GLAD journal into 2019 and has also now expanded into a deeper mindful dive with the Mental Notes mental health journal.  She reported to me last month that through intention setting she’s been able to improve the relationship she has with her daughter and has found a better balance with her work and home life.

Melanie has been using the meal planner since it was added to the shop back in 2017. Grocery shopping for one can be tricky, so she loves having a place to meal plan and mark her shopping list for the week, allowing her to shop smarter and waste less. More recently she also has used it to record her macros as she started her weight loss journey in 2018. To date, she has lost over 40 pounds.

And I would like to also add, that the Meal Planner has personally changed my life with my husband, no more arguments over “what’s for dinner?!”

Meal Planning in a Hobonichi Sized Planner

Finally, Danielle was the social media coordinator at her marketing job and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of strategizing she needed to do in order to grow the social accounts she managed. She has used the PR planner from my shop to not only double the number of followers her company has, on both Instagram and Facebook. But she then took that data to her boss and has landed a promotion and title change along with TWO raises in a nine-month period.

But you can do all of that on your phone

I could go on with additional stories of customers that have gone to do amazing things with the help of paper planning, but I know a true skeptic is still thinking, you can do all that on your phone. And you know, with the right apps, you probably could do all the same things. But phones are inherently distracting. Notifications can derail even the most diligent phone user and there is no such app that will do all the things in one, the way a planner can.

More importantly, your brain literally operates better when you write stuff down, and that’s not something I’m making up, neuroscience has proven it! According to a recent study on goal setting by Leadership IQ, “Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success, and people who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals.”

Using a paper planner changes lives and helps get goals done

This is because writing things down forces your brain to work in two ways: with external storage and encoding. External storage means you are writing down the task or goal on paper, which you can access and review at any time. Obviously if you see the goal or task daily you are going to be more likely to act on it just based on the visual cue.

Encoding goes much deeper though. Encoding is the “biological process by which the things we perceive travel to our brain’s hippocampus where they’re analyzed. From there, decisions are made about what gets stored in our long-term memory and, in turn, what gets discarded. Writing improves that encoding process. In other words, when you write it down it has a much greater chance of being remembered.”

Final thoughts

Say what you want about my paper planner, I know that is has improved my life and the lives around me. And bottom line, it makes me happy. Some days I just want to put my hands on some paper, feel the texture, see my handwriting and I find joy in that moment.

And while a paper planner may not be everybody’s cup of tea, I do fully believe that it can improve someone’s quality of life. Which is why I continue to create new and inspiring pages for folks to use to make their lives easier, more connected, less chaotic and all around nicer.

Using my paper planner to calm my anxiety

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1 comment

I couldn’t agree more with your reasons for paper planning. It helps enormously with my frequent sense of overwhelm and anxiety. It reminds what I have done when I feel I’m achieving nothing. It helps me see where the time went if I feel I’m wasting time. Sometimes I am, other times I’ve not really added up the time other chores/responsibilities have taken. Doing that on my phone would require me to pick it up and turn it on, find the appropriate apps and add to them, every time I needed to make a note during the day. My planner is open on my desk with a pen lying on it. Instant note taking, thought recording, to do list checking off and adding too. The whole day/week/month laid out in front of me all the time. And then there is the decorating ….. no technology compares to the joy of colouring in, adding washi and stickers and generally expressing myself in my planner.


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