The Paper-based or Electronic Planning debate – which is better?

The Paper-based or Electronic Planning debate – which is better?

Paper based or electronic journal planning
With a new year upon us, it’s a perfect time to get organised and stay on track with your planning and productivity resolutions. While shopping around for a new planner, you may be wondering whether to use a traditional paper-based system or try a digital alternative. Both have their advantages (and downsides).

The Pros and Cons of Paper Planning


  • Memory Magic – The main advantage of using paper for writing down notes and reminders is that memory retention is significantly higher when writing by hand. Studies show that by simply writing something, you’re more likely to process the information easier and remember it later.
  • Creative Cleverness – Paper planning is ideal for visual and hands-on people, as they can get creative with colours, highlighting, drawings and stickers. Many people choose a paper planner because they enjoy putting effort into decorating the pages – an example of this is the popular ‘bullet journal’ trend.
  • Paper planners have been around for a long time, and they’re most likely what you started using first in your career, or even at school. A trip to your local stationary store will offer you a huge range of choice in size, colour, and style for all kinds of paper-based organisation.


  • On the other hand, the main drawback of using a paper planner is that you can only access the information when you have it with you.
  • Plus, it’s difficult to share with others, so not as inclusive if you work in a team.
  • The worst risk is that paper can be damaged, lost or stolen (not great if you have personal information inside).

Popular forms of paper planning: Diaries, journals, notebooks and wall calendars. Prices vary from small basic outlay to expensive leather bound options.

The case for Electronic Planners – pluses and minuses

The number and use of electronic planners have skyrocketed in recent years as we move to a digital and networked way of working.


  • Flexible Access – There are many advantages of electronic options to organise and plan. The most obvious is the ability to access your notes from anywhere. Most electronic planners or note taking websites can be accessed wherever there is an internet connection. So, whether you’re at home, the office or working remotely – you can always get a hold of your schedule and notes.
  • Security Savvy – You can keep your notes safe by using a password, and there’s no worry of losing info kept safely in a cloud setup.
  • Easily Share and Search – You can quickly share notes with team members or friends and find important information by searching, rather than flicking through pages. Another great thing about digital planners is the ability to sync them across your devices, and easily add calendar dates and reminders.


  • The downsides of electronic planning options are that having your notes online does come with certain risks such as hacking and information loss.
  • If the internet is not available, then you must wait to get online again to access your info.
  • Some people find that taking notes and planning on a computer or phone means that they can’t destress during the process.
  • For those that view planning and journaling as a hobby, a paper option is better.

Popular forms of digital planning: Google Keep, Evernote, DayOne. Most digital options are free, with some more premium services charging a small amount.

Is there a Verdict?

Everyone is different, so there’s no one size fits all approach to planning and there’s advantages and disadvantages to either. At the end of the day, the planner that you end up using will always be the most practical option.
The best solution is be flexible – there’s nothing wrong with using a variety of planning tools to keep you on track with your work and study goals. You may want to keep important due dates on a wall calendar but keep your daily to-do lists on a note taking website. Give both paper and electronic planners a try and then decide what you prefer. Goodluck – and get planning!

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