With digital appointment calendars available everywhere from your laptop to your cell to your email account, it’s easy to dismiss the idea of jotting down obligations on an analog sheet of paper. But you might want to consider putting down your device and picking up a pen. Take a look at a few reasons why keeping an old-school to-do list can be more productive than the digital alternatives.
1. Writing helps you remember more.
Typing is an automatic process. We can do it without retaining much information. But writing things out by hand is more engaging. If you have a doctor’s appointment at 2 p.m. on a Thursday, you’re much more likely to remember that if you write it down than if you typed it into a digital planner.
2. You can put everything in one place.
Apps are undeniably useful, but they’re also very fragmented. You might have one app for note-taking and another for day-and-date appointments. You’ll soon find yourself bouncing between programs to keep track of your daily obligations. With paper, you can keep everything you need to accomplish in one convenient space.
3. You can keep track of both short and long-term goals.
People tend to think of planners as ways to remember appointments, but some planners—often called lifelong planners—allow you to engage in long-term scheduling. You may, for example, want to plan on running a certain number of miles six months from now. These task-driven entries allow you to keep track of what you want to accomplish and then take the necessary steps toward your goal.
5. Crossing off completed tasks is satisfying.
There’s a tangible sense of achievement when you cross off an appointment on a physical piece of paper that just isn’t the same in an app. Drawing a line through a task can offer a sense of satisfaction and can motivate you to tend to the next item. You can also use a style of planner known as a “bullet journal” that uses a key to identify each step in a given task. If your goal is to clean the house, a bulleted list may include your bathroom, bedroom, and attic. For more involved tasks, breaking them up into manageable chunks lets you focus on one at a time and helps you understand how much progress you’ve made.
6. You can reflect on your activities.
Paper planners allow for a measure of reflection. Let’s say you felt the previous two weeks were especially hectic. A quick glance at your planner can tell you how many obligations you had and where you might be able to reorganize your schedule. Digital planners are often ephemeral—they’re made to notify you, not examine your life. Paper not only tells you what you’ve been doing with your time, but also how to save more of it by discarding activities that affect your productivity.
7. There are no distractions.
Opening a calendar app can be a little dangerous. Elsewhere on your phone, games, videos, and other distractions can pull you away from your other responsibilities. Paper offers no such temptations. It’s there to record information in the most efficient and productive way possible.