Physical Planners and Digital Planners

Physical Planners and Digital Planners

Okay so I’m kind of really into planners and now with this blog site I can finally be free and talk about planners all I want! There are so many kinds of planners out there to meet your scheduling needs. You have your weekly planners, your calendars, you have bullet journals, project planners etc. The right planner for you depends on how you like to organize and plan your time. If you’d like to find out what kind of planner– physical or digital– would best suit your needs, continue reading!

Physical Planners vs Digital Planners

For a long time I was a physical planner type of gal. And I guess this is partly because I’ve also been journaling in notebooks for years, that it only felt right to keep track of my plans and goals with a classic paper and pen. But over time, especially because of how fast technology is advancing, I learned to embrace the idea of digital planners as well. And I wanna talk a bit about the pros and cons about each type of planner.

Physical Planners

The Benefits!

  • Physically handwriting memos to yourself actually has been scientifically proven to be better for your memory than typing out memos. 
  • You can decorate it with cute stationary and stickers!
  • The physical touch of turning pages is way more satisfying than swiping around on a device.
  • You can keep it with your other journals and remember what happened that year in 2022.
  • You can stick notes, receipts, business cards and any other important pieces of paper inside it.
  • Physical planners don’t require electricity, internet, or service to be accessed. 

The Downfalls…

  • It’s an extra item to carry around.
  • More paper means more trees to cut down.
  • If you’re clumsy, or like to throw your planner in your bag with your bottled water that you didn’t realize wasn’t completely closed (I totally didn’t make this mistake 4 times in my life 😐), you may risk damaging the pages and smearing ink all over the place.
  • Comparing the price value between a physical paper planner and your iPhone 13, the physical planner can be misplaced easily. Whereas I feel people are often more careful about protecting their digital devices than their books. 

You can add post-it reminders to your physical planners.

Despite the cons, I still have a soft spot for physical planners in my heart. When it comes to buying physical planners, I personally always look for a planner with an undated calendar. This is basically a calendar that has no set months or dates. I really love undated calendars because they allow me to fill the dates in myself, so I can begin a fresh new planner at any time of the year. Most standard calendars begin in January and end in December. If I were to begin using a standard calendar in June, I feel like I'd already wasted the first 5 pages– but not with an undated calendar. With an undated calendar, you can start whenever your heart desires. And if you forget to use your planner for a certain amount of time, you still have a blank slate to start over again on the next page, as long as you’re willing to put in the work to fill it out!

Physical planners come in big and small sizes. Many thick planners cover a span of years, like a 5 year planner. They may also come with calendars, weekly planners, pages for notes, emergency contact pages, and other pages with templates for you to fill. Some of my friends prefer to hold all the information they need in one place, but I personally like to carry as less weight as possible when I’m out and about. So for the longest time, I would only invest in pocket sized planners, with just a few pages of undated calendars and an undated weekly section. Some companies I personally love that have amazing physical planners are Papier, Poketo, Muji, and MochiThings. My friend, Camille, also recommends some other companies that make wonderful planners as well, including: 

Bullet Journals

There’s also a community of people out there who enjoy using planners in a fun and creative way, which brings us to our next topic: bullet journals! A bullet journal is basically a fun journal where you can plan, write and list anything you want in a creative way that suits your personal aesthetic. Bullet journals are often personal and usually done with physical books/planners. You can use colorful markers, cute stickers, post-its, and stamps to help you organize your thoughts in a fun way. My favorite thing about bullet journals are the different kinds of pages you can create and fill out daily. Besides the essential calendar, and weekly calendar, here are some ideas for other pages and spreads to start on your bullet journal: 

  • Study calendar
  • Habit tracker
  • Health/fitness tracker
  • Christmas lists
  • Mood tracker
  • Water tracker
  • List of birthdays to remember
  • List of holidays to remember 
  • Self care routine
  • Meal Plans for the week
  • Shopping lists
  • Doodle pages
  • Bucket list
  • List of books to read
  • List of movies to watch
  • List of places to visit
  • Daily highlights
  • A spread of your motivational quotes

 Bullet journals usually have colorful and aesthetically pleasing pages, with standard planner templates as well as fun activities like mood trackers and fun lists.

Digital Planners

The Benefits!

  • You can schedule your meetings and take memos, answer calls, and listen to music all in one device. There’s no need to pack your bag with an extra item.
  • You save trees!
  • In some cases, you can share your planner with other devices to view or edit.
  • Some planners or calendars can notify you about upcoming events or tasks that need to be completed. 

The Downfalls…

  • You sacrifice that sweet feeling of turning pages and using colorful pens and stickers to plan your days. 
  • Sometimes important information is saved and hidden away for a less cluttered-looking screen, which can be a downfall for those who prefer seeing everything laid out in front of them.
  • If your digital planner does not come with a stylus or pen, you may miss out on the joy of handwriting on your planner. 
  • Depending on your planner, you may need to rely on wifi or service to access it. 

Digital planning is so convenient for those of us who spend a lot of time on devices such as phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. You can be doing work online, and access your planner in a matter of seconds with specialized applications that cater to your scheduling needs. And for those of you who aren’t fans of digital planners, I have a few apps to share with you that may just change your mind. 

Google Calendar is great because you and other people can view and edit a mutual calendar. You can schedule meetings, create events, and set reminders for you and your team. The calendar app on your smartphone is also great because you can have it notify you for important dates or tasks coming up. And the best part is, if you are the owner of a Gmail account, it’s already free and accessible in your Google Workspace!

An overview of some of the pages on my digital planner journal.
Some of my current pages in my Zinnia journal.

I personally feel that I’m a very picky person when it comes to journals and planners, and that’s why I absolutely love using the Zinnia app!! I use it as my main planner, because it gives me so much freedom to get creative with a variety of templates, cute stationary type images, pages, stickers, fonts, pens, colors and more. They have so many kinds of stickers for every season, and you can resize, rotate, and change their colors. Zinnia also offers plenty of cute templates for all your organization needs, whether you’re looking for a yearly planner, a homework planner, or a habit tracker. While it’s a fantastic app to use on your iPad, I love that it syncs to my phone. If I’m on the go and I leave my iPad at home, I can quickly access my journal pages right from my phone. And if you want to send one of your pages to someone, Zinnia easily converts a page into a PDF or a JPEG. For free, the app gives you one journal and three blank pages, with a selection of stickers and templates. I actually stuck with the free option for a few months by clearing out and reusing my pages at the end of each month. But then when I was working on Queso plans, and began party planning, I decided their premium plan for unlimited journals, pages, stickers, and templates was worth the $39.99/year for me. 

The Weekly Planner

Some people like to plan ahead with short term goals, or plan by the hour and by the week. Planning your time by the hour is beneficial for people who often go to meetings or switch up their tasks by the hour, like students. If you feel you fit into this type of lifestyle, I would recommend a weekly planner for you. The weekly planner provides enough space to write down your tasks in hourly slots. Even if you don’t necessarily plan by the hour, the weekly planner is awesome because you can jot down any notes you need to remember for the week. When I was attending school, my weekly planner held everything that kept my life together. I relied on it to get my assignments done in a timely manner, it showed me what time of the day I had to be in class, what time of the day I needed to study, and when in the week I had some availability for myself. 

Minimal Planning

Some people prefer to just keep track of important dates and events, and nothing more; they don’t have many important memos to remember for the week, and don’t plan on writing many lists or plans. For those of you who don’t want the frills or the extra weight of a planner in their bag, I would kick it old school with a classic wall calendar to hang somewhere you are most often around (it can be your office, your kitchen, wherever. Although I don’t see too many people hanging calendars in their bathroom…).  I would also recommend simply using your smart device because it already comes with dated calendars and it’s simple to use. Also, their calendars are unlimited, so if you want to, you can create an event or task to remember three years from now. And again, you can adjust your settings to have your phone alert you about upcoming tasks/events. 

Set goals and oversee your plans for the year with a yearly spread.

I actually took a poll on my Instagram asking friends if they use a physical or digital planner. And I was slightly surprised to find out that 33% of the 15 voters say they use a digital planner, while the other 67% rely on physical planners. Two people reached out to tell me that they use both physical and digital planners, and another person explained that they find digital planners more convenient. I also asked my followers what are some things they look for in a planner, and the answers ranged from monthly spreads, to weekly spreads, to doodling corners, to spreads with time stamps throughout the day. It was really cool to see how people have different preferences when it comes to managing their time! 

Anyway, this was quite a long post and if you made it this far, I truly appreciate you for sticking through it. Feel free to share your planner preferences in the comments below, or if you have any other planner brands worth checking out, I’d love to hear about it!

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1 comment

Can confirm – Zinnia is amazing. Thanks for the recommendation Alexa!


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