Plan Your Day: Should I Use A Physical or Digital Planner?

Have you ever felt that you are just getting back into the swing of things as a new school year begins, only to have the holiday season creep up on you? Or maybe you start the new year ready to crush some new resolutions and then life gets crazy and your goals get put on the back-burner again? Chances are, you’ve probably considered using a planner to better manage your time in these situations. Some people love to have paper and pen, and others find digital planners easier to tote around. Whatever stage of life you and your kids are in, organizing your time can always help! Using a planner can help you squeeze in some of those activities you know are good for you but never seem to find time for, like exercise. 

Should I use a physical or digital planner?

So, which type of planner is best for you? Let’s start with digital planner options:

  • Phone Calendar: An absolutely free product that comes on any smartphone. You can easily add event times and locations with a customizable reminder alarm. Most people never leave home without their phones now, so you’ll always have your schedule on hand. You simply click on the date and ‘add’ button, and it walks you through the rest! 
  • Goodnotes/Programs created by others: This is an app made for iPads which has more options than a traditional calendar because of the ability to add clickable tabs and links, but you’ll have to pay to download it. This and other similar programs created by everyday users and sold on Etsy. After installing, just click on each day, and the features appear on the side of the screen.
  • The Planner’s Collective: Downloadable planners of all kinds for all devices! Plan monthly, weekly, and hourly, plus even download recipe planners! Each of these work differently but are pretty self-explanatory. 

But, if you like to write something down on physical paper, there are lots of good options! 

  • Mini planners: Smaller notebooks come in cute prints and fit easily into a backpack or purse. Most come with a calendar, monthly to do sections, and pages for notes.
  • Productivity planners: Calendar blocking is getting more and more popular, and this planner is made after that model! 
  • Tear-Off Planners: These daily planners are great for planning the night before and then tearing the sheet off to carry with you during the day. I personally use this kind because I love pulling it out and checking stuff off as I go! It’s a great starter planner for kids too. 

Digital planner or paper planner, how to use them?

Awesome, there are lots of options! But after I decide to try using a planner, how do I use it to the fullest? There are a few key practices to make it worth spending the money:

  • Use it daily. This one might seem obvious, but it’s easy to overlook it on less busy days. If this is a new habit for you, it’s important to not break the streak. 
  • Schedule a time to schedule. Yes, you read that right. Setting a time (right before bed, or first thing in the morning) to sit down with your planner and schedule your day will help you with the first tip.
  • Prioritize. Decide what you need to write down and what you don’t. You can get burned out writing down exercise at the top of the to-do list if you workout everyday without fail already. In the same vein, don’t let the note and doodle spaces go to waste! Write down meal ideas or how you want to decorate the living room for Christmas in these boxes.
  • Try Undated. For some people, getting an undated planner is best because sometimes you only need half a page for one day then two for the next. Or, if you’ve decided to get a planner in the middle of the year, you don’t want a planner that started back in January. 

Is a digital planner better than paper?

A digital planner might be better for your family if you need to sync it with a spouse, have it on you at all times, or if you want to be more environmentally friendly. However, if writing it down in physical ink helps you remember something better, or ticking it off helps you feel more accomplished, get a paper one. Whichever planner you will actually use is the better one for you! If you’re sold on the idea but are wondering what is the best digital planner, take a look at some I linked in the list above. 

How do you use a paper planner? 

Most planners come with a monthly overlook in calendar form where you can fill in important dates to remember. Then the next few pages will be in a weekly format with large spaces to write down activities and times for just that day. Others will have checklists, a space for notes, a space for exercise plans, and a space for meal plans. There’s not a wrong way to use any type of planner, as long as it is working for you! If it causes more stress than it relieves, consider planning differently. 

If you’re concerned about the impact of paper planners but would prefer a physical planner, consider ways to reuse or recycle your papers. I turn my papers over and use them for grocery lists, craft paper for DIY holiday decor, or put them in the recycling bin.

Remember, just like Troomi wants tech to become positive tools in the hands of your kids, any type of resource should be the same for you! Check out the Troomi blog for more helpful tricks and tips to navigate a world of technology.