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Choosing Between Analog and Digital

plan your life planning Aug 02, 2022

There are many choices available to you when it comes to planning out your goals and lives. And the how can leave you feeling stuck. 

You can use the old fashion way with pen and paper, either using a pre-printed planner or a simple notebook. You can choose to use just one trusty pen, or use a variety of pens to add colour to your plans. 

Then there’s the digital route to consider, where you plan using a mix of different apps on your many electronic devices.

And let's not forget that there are an infinite number of ways to combine both analog and digital.

My goal here is not to lay out every single option but rather to give you an idea of the pros and cons of both analog + digital systems in the hopes that by considering these, you will be able to create the perfect planning system for you.

Something to keep in mind is that setting up a planning system is not something you set up once and forget about. You’ll often find yourself tweaking and re-tweaking and that's okay. You’ll want to change things that don't work for you or you’ll just want to change things up and try something different. 

Regardless of what your planning situation looks like, it can be helpful to have an idea of what might or might not work for you. 

So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of both analog and digital systems. 


Pros of Analog

Getting creative - Putting pen to paper in your bullet journal or planner can be a great creative outlet. From creating elaborate spreads to just doodling here and there, it’s a fun way to combine productivity and creativity. 

Easier retention - It’s been said that the physical act of writing things down will help you remember things more easily. Personally, I have found this to be true. 


Cons of Analog

Size of a physical journal or planner - It can be an inconvenience to carry your planner with you wherever you go. For instance, taking your large planner with you to the grocery store because that’s where your grocery list resides, might not be the most convenient. 

Difficulty in finding information - It can be more difficult to find what you're looking for when using a paper planner because of the lack of a “search” feature. Of course, there are a number of ways to minimize this problem. Having an index or dividers, for instance, can be helpful. 


Pros of Digital

Convenience - When you’re out and about, having the information and planning details easily accessible on your smartphone can be much easier then taking a paper planner with you. 

Easily searchable - If you have a good app on your smartphone or computer for storing your events and to dos, you should have the ability to search for (and hopefully find) whatever it is you’re looking for. 


Cons of Digital

Feeling like things are falling through the cracks - Unless you’re well practiced in the art of planning digitally, it can feel like things get lost because you can’t readily see everything. This can give you the feeling that you’re missing something.

Too many choices - Our digital world is filled with endless choices of apps and programs you can use to track all the things, that it can become overwhelming to decide what would work best for you. You become faced with not only choosing analog vs digital, but this app vs that app.


How can you decide?

To help you get a sense of how you can pull all these things together to come up with your best system, let me share with you what I keep in analog form and what I like to track electronically. Hopefully this will give you some ideas of how you can put your perfect system into place.

Basically, it comes down to trying out what feels right in this moment and tweeking things as you go and learn more about your planning style and preferences.


Day-to-day planning (Analog)

My main planning happens in my Happy Planner. I use the vertical layout, setting up my week ahead of time with spaces each day for to-dos, gratitude, meal + exercise tracking, and any time specific appointments. 

On the week's sidebar, I keep my life editing cycle and any trackers specific to that week.


Future planning (Electronic)

For future events + appointments, I use my Google Calendar. Each family member has their own colour-coded calendar, which makes it easier for me to see who has what going on and to make sure there are no conflicts. Most of these events do get transferred to my Happy Planner when I do my weekly planning.

For future to-dos that I want to be sure I don't forget, I will use the Reminders app on my phone. Just in case I don't look at my planner on time to be reminded of something specific, like putting out the garbage.


Goal setting (Analog)

The physical act of writing things down has been known to be a very powerful exercise. It is one of the reasons I choose to do my goal setting in my Happy Planner. Specifically, I use my Ultimate Goals Workbook to create my ideal goals + projects.


Event planning (Analog)

I like to plan for things like Christmas get togethers and the kids’ birthday parties in my Happy Planner. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I find it easier to see all the details on a page in front of me than to scroll through the details electronically.

These plans also become a kind of memory spread, which can be fun to look back on.


Home chores and projects (Analog)

For anything home-related, such as recurring household chores or home projects, I keep them in my home planner.

I keep a list of recurring items, divided by month, week, day and season which I refer to when doing my monthly and weekly planning.

As well, I keep a list of projects we’d like to get done around our home, divided by room, with each room having its own page.


Budget (Digital)

Sometimes I'll budget on paper, but generally I like using a combination of a finance-specific calendar in Google Calendar and YNAB. For more details on how I do this, check out my post - organizing our finances.


Menu planning (Analog) and Grocery list (Digital)

Meal planning happens in my home planner and make my grocery list from that plan using a grocery list app on my phone. 

My grocery list is organized by aisle so that I avoid going down aisles where I don’t need anything and saving me the temptation to buy something not on the list. Saves me time and money!


I hope I’ve given you some good ideas and tips on starting or improving your planning system. 

Just remember that it’s an ongoing process and you’ll always be tweaking things as you figure out what works for you and your lifestyle. And as things change in your life, you’ll be able to adjust things as well so that you always have the best system for you!

What method of planning do you prefer? Email me at [email protected] and let share your thoughts. I'd love to hear from you!

*This blog post contains affiliate links. See Earnings Disclaimer for more info.*

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