Fans hold on to paper planners, citing comfort, creativity

Katherine Roth

AP – In a digital and increasingly paperless age, fans of paper planners remain enthusiastic and steadfast.

“There’s something comforting about using a planner. It’s very personal, and apart from the cacophony of screens,” said Executive Editor at Martha Stewart Living Jennie Tung, adding that paper planners have “a retro appeal”.

“The act of writing things down by hand slows you down and makes you more mindful,” she said. “A paper planner becomes a personal record, and for some people it’s almost like a diary.”

Many paper planners today are so well-designed that they become a way to make a statement, she said.

“They are beautifully designed objects that are a joy to hold and use,” she said.

A collection of planner accessories The Happy Planner has available in 2020. PHOTO: AP

And contrary to what one might imagine, many of the biggest fans of papers planners aren’t older people who grew up with them but a younger generation embracing their comfortable vibe. According to Stephanie Fleming, co-founder of Me & My BIG Ideas, which makes The Happy Planner, “the age demographic is around 25 to the early 40s range, with a lot of movement toward college-age women”.

“I had imagined younger people preferring digital planners, but younger generations really want to slow down a bit. Having everything at their fingertips is not necessarily making people happy. There’s something about going back to basics,” Fleming said.

“A lot of people are looking for some digital detox,” she added.

Tung notes that paper planners now come in an array of designs and can be carried around all day. A few brands noted by the pros at Martha Stewart Living as chic and well-designed include Smythson, Appointed, and Sugar Paper, as well as the “bare bones but gets the job done” paper planners from Rollbahn.

All the planners offered by The Happy Planner feature encouraging words and positive messaging for those working toward health wellness, career or financial goals, for example.

And with their accompanying planner stickers and customisable extension packets, they can be a creative outlet akin to scrapbooking.

“A planner is not just about being a calendar. It’s about so much more than that,” Fleming said. “There’s the aspect of focus and creativity, in addition to productivity.”

She admits that “digital calendars are nice because they keep your desk uncluttered”, but added, “people do engage more when they write things down”.

Paper planners range from minimalist versions costing a few dollars to fancy planners for over USD100.

And there’s always the option of using both digital and paper in some combination.

In the meantime, paper still has a place with many people trying to keep a complicated life in order. “When I sit down on a Sunday and plan my week in my planner, it’s registering things in a way it doesn’t if it’s on my phone or computer,” said Fleming.