Author Talk: What’s The Deal With Planners

Author Talk: What’s The Deal With Planners

As a child of the “Oregon Trail” era, I grew up using paper and pencil for the first half of my academic career.  Computers were only something you used during “lab” or “library” to play games or code little turtles to make colored lines.  But somewhere along the way, technology exploded into our lives and it feels like people have lost their love of paper.  Who needs a bound calendar when you have a smart phone?  Why waste money on ink when you can just tap tap into your tablet?  And yet, there is something inherently useful about many paper products. 

As an author today, I’m sure you’ve run across at least one ad, if not twenty, asking you to buy a planner from X company.  Or maybe you read an article on bullet journals.  Or better yet, maybe all your friends on Facebook have been snapping pictures of their doodles.  But the real question remains.  Do you NEED one of these planner things?  Yes.  No.  Maybe.

My college life lived and died by my planner.  I knew when all my papers were due, all the important events, and I even knew all my friends’ important due dates to boot.  Yet, when I graduated and entered the work force the first thing I bought was a PDA from Compaq.  Not a Palm thingy with the weird squiggles, but rather an amazing little gadget with a stylus and touch screen.  It was going to help me be super organized.  And it did work, until it died an untimely death. 

For the next several years I lived life by writing things down on my day job calendar…which sucks if you are at home and can’t remember what you wrote down.  So, I started using my phone calendar to alert me to important things.  Of course, that works only if the calendar beeps at you like it should.  Frustrated over not being able to see my schedule clearly, despite using the online calendar, I made my return to a paper planner two years ago.  You know why?  Because paper doesn’t forget to beep at you, Karen.

Funny thing is, about the time I returned to my paper planner world, the internet started screaming at me about bullet journals.  Next thing I knew, everybody and their brother was trying to sell me a “journal” or “planner” to fix my life.  Apparently “bullet journaling” became a big thing in like 2018.  Out came all these pens and special things to “journal” with.  I looked at a few photos from friends and was like wow, it’s a blank book.  And it costs HOW much?  I remember thinking WTF am I supposed to organize with that? 

Me, just wanting to write down appointments, I ignored the “journal” salespeople.  Instead, I found a cool planner for under $10.00 like the ones I used in college.  When that planner ran out in early 2019, I had to scramble to find a replacement.  I ended up getting an even better planner for about the same price.  The new planner came with lines on the sides of the pages with check boxes and large blocks for the monthly view. 

This year, I decided to make sure I have a planner ordered before my current one is empty.  For the last two hours I’ve been browsing Amazon looking for the perfect one.  It was during my search I finally figured out most “journals” are simply expensive planners and I know the key to why they work so well:  there’s just something about WRITING stuff down that helps us remember. 

I majored in Psychology, so I’m interested in articles about how the brain works, etc.  I remember hearing a news report about doodling helping people retain information if they doodled while on the phone.  I went and looked up information on that phenomenon and found a lot of interesting reports.  Basically, when you handwrite something, it registers in your brain a different way than if you type it.  I can get behind this because I’ve lived using both digital and paper reminders.  There’s just something about the act of writing that solidifies things in my mind.  When I WRITE a to do list, or an appointment down, I am more likely to recall that information.  Sure, I type fast, but sometimes my brain goes too fast for my fingers.  In those instances, I find paper is most helpful to capture my thoughts. 

In my next article, I’m going to show you some of the economical options I’ve discovered which could help you with your own planner/journaling needs.  Don’t pay somebody 50 bucks for a calendar before you consider what I have to show you!       



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