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A Simple Truth Why Paper Planners Are Not For Everyone

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

I am addicted to paper planners. I am addicted to those beautiful, smooth, magical pages. They smell of promise - of something new and exciting.

While choosing one at the bookstore, touching the fragile pages with my fingers, I can feel a tingle of excitement and motivation. My life is about to change. All I need to do is use this particular paper planner.

Hands up if you end up buying a new planner pretty much every time you enter a bookstore?

I keep on smuggling new planners in when my husband is not looking. It is not like he forbids me to buy any... No. I hide them because I have too many and he knows that. And I know that.

But how often do I sit down and plan my year using my new shiny planner or two? Once a year, if that. 

And every time I discover the half-empty planner, I feel incredibly guilty. I feel like a near failure - yet again, my half-baked goals will not come to fruition.

If this sounds familiar - keep on reading - as I will try to find out why our paper planners die the untimely death of half-filled pages.

There are several reasons why planners might not work for us; here are my top five:

1. Buying equals planning

Cathy Hutchison, a freelance writer and marketing specialist, wrote that choosing and buying the paper planner is viewed as part of the planning process by our brain. In reality, it is a form of procrastination - we spend time selecting the planner, get home and put it away. But we feel satisfied as an imaginary box for goal setting is ticked.

Sometimes we remember them, get them out, look at the pretty pages and... do not feel anything - the planner does not motivate us enough to start planning.

So we go and buy another one as we think the one with genuinely magical qualities is still out there.

2. Feeling paralysed by fields, forms and boxes

It appears that I am not alone in not following through with paper planners.

Julianna, a blogger from The Simplicity Habit, mentioned in her newsletter that she is not good with planners either. She admitted she was quite often nearly paralysed by the fields you are supposed to fill in and could not think where her thoughts belonged, which field or box needed to be ticked. So she ended up creating her own system - downloadable workbook in PDF format.

3. Fear of spoiling the pretty design

Sam Laura Brown, a mindset coach and a blogger, suggested that the desire of everything to be perfect keeps us from filling those pages in. The planners look so pretty that we often feel we I might spoil them by writing something in that is not significant enough.

That is my case - I feel like my scribbles are not pretty or worthy of the beauty that the planner is. It is so slick, so creative that I will only ruin it, so I end up not writing anything at all.

4. Default boxes for unique ideas

We all are different. The thing is that planners are created and designed based on someone else's requirements. Your ideas might not be the right fit for them.

That is why every time one planner does not work out, we subconsciously, are looking for a new one - hoping it might fulfil our unique requirements.

5. Forget to use the planner

The most common reason the planners are left half-empty is because we leave them in the drawer. And we forget they even exist. They are generally quite bulky, and regardless of our intentions, the planners will not always fit in our small bags. Then we rediscover them closer to December, and the cycle restarts again.

Final Thoughts

So what is left for those of us feeling paralysed by the beauty of paper planners and not wanting to spoil those divine pages?

We need to answer one question: why do we buy those planners in the first place?

If the answer is - we buy them to write down our goals, plans and thoughts and paper planners do not serve the purpose - ditch them and do not feel guilty about it.

Choose something else instead, be it a plain notebook or a digital calendar on your phone, as long as your planner serves the purpose of inspiring and motivating you.

What is your preferred planning tool?


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