paper planner

Are You Team Paper Planner or Electronic Calendar?

So I’m going to get right to it. I’m a paper planner girl. Always have been. Always will. There’s something about putting pen to paper that makes me feel organized, time managed and yes, in control. And it seems like I’m not the only one. In our high tech world, paper planners are making a comeback— and in a really big way. And not just for adults, but for students too!

According to The Paper and Packaging Board’s 2016 Annual Back-to-School Report, 63% of K-12 teachers’ courses involved paper-based learning and that included using a student planner! Want even more proof? In February 2015, the Washington Post recognized paper’s unique role in the lives of our “Gen-Z” students, born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s, who have grown up in a world of cell phones, laptops, and touch screens, still choose paper to study, read, share and send.

On a more personal level, sales of academic planners in college and private school bookstores have seen an increase of over 400% in the last 5 years and since introducing our Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management,  we have seen massive growth in our sales each year.

So why even when schools are posting assignments online and giving students iPads to use are our students reaching for a hard-copy paper planner?

  • Writing in a paper planner helps you remember. Philosopher and psychologist, Nicolas Clausen said it best. “Typing only activates the “language” areas of our brain; whereas writing with a pen/pencil activates multiple brain regions and therefore makes the process complex, sensory-rich and memorable.” Research shows, and there is plenty of it, that students who take notes by hand have a higher retention rate than those that take notes on laptops.
  • Paper planners are more time-efficient. Try selling that to your student! But it is oh so true. How do we know? We actually tested it and timed our students! We asked them to record the same homework assignment in their academic planners and then again on an electronic device. The physical planner won every time!
  • Electronic devices are distracting! I hear it all day long that my students go to open up an app on their phone/computer to write something down and Instagram/Snapchat/text messaging/YouTube/Facebook (should I go on?) start calling their name. And of course what they intended to do never gets done.
  • Paper planners build time management skills. I can’t say this enough! They allow us to see the big picture using clear weekly and monthly views to help us create a time sense and future awareness. I can’t count anymore how many times I have heard a student say, “I need to see everything I need to do all in the same place.” Seeing so helps us plan, prioritize and stay on task and track.
  • Paper forces connection. I love this one! According to the Paper and Packaging Board’s annual report, 76% of parents felt more comfortable helping their child with homework if it was being done with paper rather than a computer. Paper encourages interaction and opportunities for expanded learning.

Is Paper Here to Stay?

So for those of you who thought that paper planning was a thing of the past? Well, maybe? But I think the better point is that it’s very much the present and the wave of the future! Feel free to drop me a note at to let me know what team you’re on!

Need more ideas to help you manage your time?  Our 5 Tools for Effective Time Management post is sure to help! Read all about it HERE

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