Why I, a Millennial, Write in a Paper Planner

2018 Planners - Split -H 2017
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There's something romantic about it, don't you think?

A central plot point in 27 Dresses — the brilliant yet oft-overlooked 2008 romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Mr. Blue Eyes himself, James Marsden — is the “absurdity” of a 20-something’s insistence on using an “outdated” Filofax in which she meticulously plans her never-ending bridesmaid duties.

Throughout the film, the boyish and charming Kevin (Marsden) attempts to convert the type-A Jane (Heigl) into a user of the now-defunct digital tool, the BlackBerry. Eventually, she gives in to both the device and the boy — but I can only throw my support behind one of her decisions. (To be clear, that decision was marrying Marsden — er, Kevin — obviously.) 

In the almost 10 years that have passed since the era when the BlackBerry reigned supreme, thousands of innovations have been made to digital calendars and appointment-keepers, and the market for apps that promise to Marie Kondo your life by organizing everything from budgets to food to your regular rotation of dog walkers has exploded.

Yet, at the same time, so has the market for paper planners, with demand especially high among millennials — a shocking turn of events for the generation whose smartphones are as imperative to everyday function as opposable thumbs.

Consider this: In various corners of the internet, one can find a ravenous demand for delightfully sparkly, sticker-filled notebooks that my mother's scrapbooking club (not a joke) would fawn over. All you have to do is search Instagram for #weeklyspread, #plannersetup or the tried and true favorite, #planneraddict, for a glimpse into the world of women (and some men) who literally pencil in time to keep their planners in tip-top shape. Many of them even have YouTube tutorials detailing best practices. (You can even join a planner club!) 


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But is it actually all that surprising? 

There are several advantages to using a physical planner over a digital one. To start, unlike a Google Calendar, a paper planner can be an extension of one's aesthetic — and if you didn't know, a cohesive #aesthetic is of the utmost importance to millennials whose personal brand (which, these days, can have an impact on everything from one's career to dating life) depends on it.

Luckily, for all the neon books with phrases like "Believe in Yourself!" screaming at you in calligraphic scrawl, there are now just as many discreet, artisan-crafted, minimalist planners that will blend in nicely with your plain white Everlane tee and Daniel Wellington watch.  

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But it's not all fun and Instagram. Studies have shown that paper trumps digital in many ways that count — namely, information retention. Putting pen to paper is a more effective way to remember something than typing, and especially more effective than copy/pasting. 

There are other obvious advantages over digital, of course, namely that paper planners don't run out of battery, it takes seconds to scribble down a reminder — especially when you already have 12 tabs and 6 different programs running on the screen in front of you at a time — and they allow you a precious reprieve from screens, which can help prevent eye strain and fatigue and maybe premature wrinkles? 

Of course, there's also something romantic about picking up ye olde pen and paper, which fosters a sense of nostalgia for a simpler time. (And by that, we mean the '90s, because that's the earliest decade of a millennial's memory.) And the gravitation toward offline record keeping is not unlike a millennial's proclivity for vinyl records or vintage clothing. All of which circles back, of course, to personal branding. 

I, for one, have been a dedicated advocate for the paper planner for all of my adult life and a healthier part of my type-A teenage years than I’m willing to admit. Year after year, I relished the way my planners grew thick as the months went on, as flat pages become textured under the pressure of an aggressive ball point pen that urgently scribbled assignments, soccer practices, study dates and work shifts, as well as the occasional doodle or my crush's name in sloppy bubble letters. At the end of the year, this thick, meaty book stood as a testament to all that I had accomplished, and a record of that year in my life's hopes and dreams. Save you don't lose it, paper planners can be a pretty neat life souvenir.