Digital vs. Paper Planners – Part 1

Hello everyone! I’m really excited about this new series Momma and I are starting. In this series, we will be comparing apples to apples between traditional, paper planners and the modern, digital planners. Through varied scenarios, we will be comparing planners—the pros and cons that we think will not only be helpful to students; but also, to any planner lover! In this post, I’m gonna be reviewing the availability and useability between the two.

Comparing Apples to Apples — the NEW versus OLD.

To go along with this 2-part blog, we’ve created a 4-part video series on our YouTube channel. If you would like to check that out you can click here for part one of the video series. But go ahead and read on…

Before I jump into this topic, it’s time for a story…

Throughout my entire academic career, I’ve used paper planners. I like to be organized, because if I’m not, I can’t work efficiently. So for years, I used planners that you can get pretty much everywhere. I loved paper planners, they kept me so organized and they were sort of practical. As a downside, I couldn’t take them everywhere and they would rip and get broken, but I still loved and used them. I used them all the way through high school. But then my GAP years rolled around and I started to think about college and how long I would spend planning out my week, or even my day. I also started to think about the weight factor. In school, my backpack was EXTREMELY heavy and I HATED it. By the end of the day, I was exhausted from carrying my bag around and my shoulder would ache. I didn’t want this in college, not again. The last thing I needed while running around class-to-class was a heavy backpack. So I started looking for different options and I found something called the “Paperless Student.” This “movement”, if you will, is basically a group of students who are turning all their notes and textbooks to digital. Digital planners are a BIG part of it. Since then, I’ve converted as many of my academics into digital formats as possible, even taking notes on my iPad Pro. This has allowed me to use a SMALLER, LIGHTER backpack that doesn’t make my shoulder hurt.

1. Availability

First, let’s talk about the differences in availability between a digital planner and a paper one. Paper planners can be bought in one of two places—either a brick and mortar store or online. Either way, you will have to wait to receive your planner for some length of time, through shipping or actually driving to go and get it. Also, paper planners are PHYSICAL products that have to be printed and stocked, so at any given time, the store could be sold out. Which brings me to expansion of a paper planner—if I want to add more pages, I have to return to the store, or order more. And with paper binders, there’s always the possibility that I run out of room to even add more pages.

Digital planners, on the other hand are…well…digital. They’re NEVER sold out, they can be bought at any time, any place and THEY’RE AN INSTANT DOWNLOAD! Thanks to their digital nature, they don’t get torn, they can’t get ruined and best of all you CAN TAKE THEM EVERYWHERE. I carry my planner on my iPad everywhere that I need it, but like everyone else, I sometimes forget stuff. But even if I forget my iPad, I will still have all my notes and my planner. How? Through iCloud sync! I can sync all my notes AND my planner to my phone and iMac. So, if I’m out at a restaurant for dinner with friends, I can always check my schedule if they want to plan our next get-together.

Go check out our fun little Video 1 that shows these differences in digital and paper planners.

Bright Life Digital_Planners
A sampling of some of our Life Digital Planners

If you just can’t wait to see part two of our video series, click here. But go ahead and feel free to read on…

2. Useability

Now let’s talk about the differences in useability between a digital planner and a paper one. Paper planners have great navigation for a big binder or notebook. The months usually have their own separate tabs; as well as, the year overview and any extra templates in the back. There are the ring planners, which act just like binder planners, only you don’t get pinched by the binder rings (how many of you had that happen?). These ring planners have become very popular since they were released. The only issue is that it’s difficult to turn the pages as compared to the binder planners. The pages will sometimes get stuck on the rings, making it difficult to turn to a specific page quickly and efficiently. In part 2 of our new video series, Momma and I did a friendly duel between the paper and digital planners. While we were making this video I could kinda see the time difference. But I rewatched what we recorded and I could really see the time difference. The video definitely makes it very clear how much faster digital planners really are. Paper planners have one way to get to a location: flipping pages. Unless you use a paper clip, you have to flip to the today page in a paper planner every time you open the planner. Also, when you buy a paper planner, any paper planner, it only comes with a few extra pages to add to your weeks. So if you want any extra you have to buy them as well. The one Momma was using in the video only came with ten “To-Do” Today List pages. So…you would run out of those after 10 days! This can be a recurring bill of about $20. Where does all that paper go when you’re done with it? Right to a landfill. So you won’t be saving any trees on that one.

Classic Life Digital_Planners
A sampling of Classic Life Digital Planners (including a recipe-only version)

Then there’s the digital planners. They’re digital, meaning no paper going to landfills! Most digital planners already come with special templates (quite a few more than paper planners) that you can copy and paste as many times as you want in the planner. If the planner doesn’t come with your desired template, the seller will usually have that template as an instant download for a small fee or even for free. Best part of all, digital planners are usually a FRACTION of the price of a paper planner. For example, our digital planners are usually less than $30 and they include up to 12 extra templates. All that…and I haven’t even gotten to navigation yet. The best part about digital planners IS navigation, because 99% of digital planners on the market right now are hyperlinked. This means that the planner basically acts like a little website. (Momma was jealous of my quick tapping to reach locations in the digital planner as she fumbled through pages of the paper planner.) If you click on one of the tabs, you will be instantly navigated to that page. Hyperlinks make digital planners not only faster to navigate through; but also, more helpful as well. Some planners, like the ones we designed and sell, also include additional hyperlinks to each week in a month, all the extra templates and additional help via videos, email or a website. A digital planner has several ways to jump to a particular place, all by basically one or two taps, and on an iPad it always holds the last place you had open.

Because of my years of using a paper planner, I have determined that a clean, well-organized digital planner is the best! Now, depending on your style, you can select one of ours that comes in different color palettes with inspiring, fun covers. I prefer to use mine on the GoodNotes App, but all you need is software with pdf annotation capability, and there are several out there. You can create your own system for color coding events, plans, lists, etc… You can even go all out with specialty digital ‘stickers’ or paste in your own photos. I’ve got some videos that show how to do this. I will be adding more “extras” to my digital planners, for example, stickers, post-its and planning pages for special topics (if you have any that you would like to see, comment here below this post or contact us on or contact page). And let me tell you a secret…I’m really excited about the new wedding planner that I’m currently working on.

So that sums up the first part of this 2-part blog. Go check out Video 2 that has a ‘side-by-side’ timed duel of Momma and I using digital and paper planners for the same tasks.

Now, that you’re convinced that digital planners are AWESOME! Go check out all of the digital planners we offer in our store. And as always, we will continue to be available for questions or help with your digital planner purchases. Either watch our helpful videos or contact us directly.

Be blessed,

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