Why Paper Planners are Overrated

I’ll be the first to admit to buying fancy pens and markers, planners and countless dot journals over the last four years. I’ve watched many hours worth of bullet journal, planner and planner review YouTube videos. I’ve searched for writing techniques and fancy writing styles, but at the end of it all, what’s been left has been only wasted pages and empty planners. 

This was my paper planner journey - and how I managed to realize that technology is not, in fact, evil.

In high school, I used an agenda to write down assignments and work schedules. My planners were simple - only filled with a few things each week.  When I headed into university, I attempted to bring these same techniques and only used a paper planner.

I wished to have a beautiful Instagram-worthy planner, one full of cursive writing and pretty pastel pages. This expectation lasted for one month before realizing that a paper planner could not keep me productive and in the know of my own life. Whether I was crossing things out, using a whole bottle of white-out each week or just forgetting to put in events and tasks, it was obvious that this method was not working. I quickly switched to my computer's calendar, but without the right tools, this too became a daunting task. It was not until December that I had it figured out: an online calendar system including how to effectively add/set tasks and reminders!

Here are seven ways that paper planners have failed me...and how the online version has prevailed!

  1. 1. Mistakes

    Let's be honest, we are all hard-working university students or professionals who have busy and ever-changing lives. My paper planner was always full of white-out or ripped out completely to restart. With Google calendar, I can click an event and hit the delete button on my keyboard and it is gone! No whiteout, no scribbles. Better yet, if the time has changed, I can simply drag the event to a new spot or edit the time in a snap!

  2. 2. Repetitive events/tasks

    If you’re like me and your class schedule is the same for 12 straight weeks, it can be a tedious task to block off and colour every day for the next 12 weeks. With Google calendar, I simply hit the repeat button and select when I want the event to recur. I can even set up the event to end the last day of classes! Convenience is key, here!

  3. 3. Colour coding

    This is my favourite part of my calendar. I am that person that assigns each class a different colour and separates my school work, residence life, and social events as well. This rainbow truly makes my calendar happy even when it is filled to the max! While, yes, pretty highlighters and pencils can do this, what happens if you misplace that $10 highlighter from Amazon? Do you skip the task of highlighting? Do you use a different pastel pink? This can really dampen the day of a colour coordinator, but with an online calendar, you never worry about misplacing your pens.

  4. 4. Notifications

    I don’t know about you, but I have never met a paper planner that “dings” when you have a meeting with your boss, or that will vibrate 30 minutes before your shift! With an online calendar, you can set notifications for anything, for any time! If you’re always late to work, you can set two alarms to remind you; and if you know that you’re going to forget about that coffee date with your friend, set a reminder for one hour before! And if you’re that person who procrastinates completing their assignments, you can add a reminder several weeks before the due date. This feature has been a lifesaver for me and my ever so full schedule.

  5. 5. Price

    My Google calendar is free! Paper planners can range in price from four to 100 dollars for leather-bound (and this price doesn’t even include fancy pens, because, let’s face it: Bic isn’t always going to cut it!). The savings can be significant if you’re not using dollar store specials! This point alone had me rethinking my planning system before I even made the switch.

  6. 6. Adding guests

    Adding guests is my favourite part of my online schedule. We all have that one friend who maybe doesn’t keep a schedule, somehow attempting to remember on their own about your coffee date or study session. With online calendars, you can invite them to your event on your calendar! Once they hit accept it is now in their schedule as well. This is perfect for group projects or just a friendly lunch date! While sharing your entire calendar is possible, this can be even more helpful and limit sharing all your calendar events to your online class group.

  7. 7. Tasks

    My calendar of choice is Google Calendar; this means that the Google tasks app conveniently adds in my online to-do list as well, either on the date itself or at the exact time I need to complete those tasks (and just like events these too can be repeated and prescheduled). The tasks even get crossed off once I mark them complete! Bonus points for the Google Tasks are that I can create multiple to-do lists, like school, work, and personal for myself!

If I haven’t sold you yet on the idea of an online calendar, I think you should at least try it out. Take some time to explore countless YouTube videos, tips and tricks, like the“goals” feature on Google calendar to learn something new, or the “Find a time” option for group projects!

Happy planning!