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Paper Planner or Digital Planner – Which One Is Best?

Paper Planner or Digital Planner – Which One Is Best?

Paper Planner vs Digital

In this post, we are going to tackle the BIG question…Is a Digital planner better than a traditional paper planner or journal? 

If you have been following Diary Of A Journal Planner for a while then you know that we have been a big fan of Bullet Journals and traditional paper planners for a long time. However, even when we started this site, Digital Planners were becoming more and more popular.

As time has gone on we have had some fun experimenting with Digital Planners so thought our readers would love the low down on what the difference is between a paper planner vs digital planner and which works best.

Keep reading to find out if a Paper or Digital planner is best and why!

What is the Difference Between A Bullet Journal and A Digital Planner?

Let’s start with the first big Ah-ha.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding if a digital planner or analog planner is best. Instead, it’s all about which will work best for YOU!

There is no one answer fits all for everyone. But don’t worry, working out which planner is best for you is easy…and fun. To help you we are going to explain what each planner style is, how it works, and then give a list of pros and cons which can help you decide which one will fit best into your lifestyle and help you be more organized and productive. 


What Is A Paper Planner or Bullet Journal?

bullet journal weekly layout

You probably already know this, but in case you are new here, a paper planner ( or Bullet Journal ) is a paper notebook where you keep track of tasks, appointments, goals, and more.

They are usually A5 size but can be smaller, bigger, lined, dotted, or even a ring binder. 

You can buy pre-made planners that have pages and templates set out or you can create your own spreads from scratch. 

They can be minimalist or artistic. All you really need to start is a blank notebook and pen. But as most Bujo fans know that is definitely not where the fun is. There are so many cool accessories like pens, washi tape, and stickers. 

Want to learn in more depth? Click below for our beginner’s guide to Bullet Journals. 

A simple bullet journal guide to answer all your questions about bujo


Pros and Cons of Paper Planners

As we have been using a Bullet Journal for years here are some of the pros and cons we have discovered. 

Pros Of Paper Planners

  • Writing on paper has been scientifically proven to aid with retaining information, as well as stimulating your brain for thinking and problem-solving. 
  • If you love to be creative and artistic, creating spreads and pages can be a creative outlet as well as relaxing you and helping reduce stress. 
  • If you love stationery you can use beautiful pens and washi tape. 
  • Easier to focus on your planner without distractions. 
  • You can create and customize exactly what you want in spreads and pages.
  • They can be a lovely keepsake of each year, especially artistic style journals.

Cons Of Paper Planners

  • Need to carry your planner around with you for it to be effective. And this usually means you are carrying supplies too such as pens, highlighters, and washi tape. 
  • Taking the time to make your planner look nice can be time-consuming and make you less productive.
  • Can be difficult to find information quickly and easily.
  • Migrating tasks can take a long time.
  • More difficult to correct or hide mistakes. 
  • If you misplace your planner or it gets damaged, there is no backup!
  • You need to buy a new planner each year. Quality planners and stationery can be expensive and not as good environmentally. 
  • If you run out of pages you need to start a new planner, this often means migrating lots of information from your old planner. 
  • Some pens and highlights can ghost or bleed. Ruining spreads and pages. 
  • It can be bulky to carry around two planners if you like separating work and personal planners. 


What Is A Digital Planner?

Free digital bullet journal

A Digital Bullet Journal or a Digital Planner is not too dissimilar to your usual paper version except that all your pages, collections, weekly spread, and calendars are on your device.

You can still have all the pages and spreads you need in your journal, they are just PDFs on your device. Once you have a notetaking app installed on your device like GoodNotes and a few extra tools you can use a digital planner nearly exactly like your traditional journal. This includes templates, and more aesthetic things like digital stickers, colored pens, and highlighters.  

Learn more in-depth about Digital Planners by clicking the link below. 

Digital Bullet Journaling 101 - A Step By Step Guide To Set Up A Digital Bullet Journal


Pros and Cons of Digital Planners

Unfortunately, no planner is perfect. As with all styles and types of planners, there are pros and cons to using them. Here are a few pros and cons of digital planning.

Pros Of Digital Planners

  • Can find the information extremely easily from anywhere in the planner with hyperlinks and search features. 
  • Easy to fix mistakes and edit details. 
  • Easy to migrate tasks with a simple copy and paste. Or the handy lasso tool in Goodnotes!
  • Once you have a page set up that works you can just copy and paste within minutes to reuse each week/month. 
  • A digital planner is always backed up and saved. 
  • If you do not like handwriting ( or your handwriting) it is easy to type in a digital planner or write with a stylus. 
  • You can easily share tasks or appointments with other people.
  • You can easily add aesthetic details like colors, themes, and digital stickers easily, even if you are not artistic. And then reuse them! 
  • Once you have either created your own digital planner or bought a digital bullet journal, it is easy to reuse each year. Perfect for your wallet and the environment. 
  • No need to start a new planner if you run out of pages….just add more!
  • It is easy to carry your planner with you. 
  • If you like to use separate planners for work and personal it is so easy to have both on your device. 

Cons Of Digital Planners

  • Updating apps and backing up files is essential for your planner to work and be effective. 
  • Can be easy to get distracted when on a device with social media, emails, and other apps. 
  • Learning to use a digital planner for the first time can mean learning how to use new technologies, apps, and programs. 
  • Learning to write with a stylus can also take some practice. 
  • It can be expensive to set up if you do not already have a device such as an iPad and a stylus. 
  • If you let your device run out of charge or you are unable to charge for some reason, you can’t use your planner. 
  • A digital planner is adding to your daily screen time which can affect sleep if used just before bed, and also be trying for some people’s eyes. 


Digital and Paper Planning

So, should I use a digital Planner? Or stick with a traditional bullet journal or planner? 

How To Combine Paper and Digital Planner To Be More Productive

We actually love to use a combination of both traditional and digital planning to be more productive.


As with all planning, you MUST find out what works best for YOU! Take the time to experiment, make mistakes, and streamline your process.

To get you started though this is what we have personally found useful and effective in our own lives. 

We use our digital planners to plan and keep track of our overall dreams, goals, and appointments. It’s so easy to update a digital planner, migrate tasks and keep track of our goals. 

We then use a small paper planner to show our daily tasks and appointments. Rather like a daily to-do list

This works for us because of a few factors. 

  1. As we already showed you earlier in the article. Putting pen to paper helps you remember things better. Which is great when you are going along during your busy day to have in the back of your mind those important tasks and appointments. And because you know all your future tasks are safely recorded in your Digital Planner you can have a laser focus on your daily plan of action.  
  2. It can be quicker and simpler to cross off those lists on paper ( and it also makes us feel accomplished when we can tick off our tasks for the day!)
  3. If we turn on our digital devices to check our planner throughout the day it can be very easy to get distracted with other things like emails and social media.

Our daily routine goes along the line of taking time in the morning to check our digital planner for things like events, appointments, daily tasks, and birthdays. We then make a daily to-do list in our bullet journal or paper planner. It is a great way to start your day, be organized, and ensure you are productive.

Then on an evening, we are sure to head back to our digital planner. Add anything new that has come up over the day, migrate tasks and decide what actions we need to take towards our goals. As we go along our day we add things to our to-do list that needs to be put in our Digital Planner at the end of the day. 

We also find that some spreads and pages just work for us better with a traditional bullet journal. A brain dump or brainstorming ideas are great examples. 

We think this is a fantastic way to get the best things out of each style of planner, as well as get the best out of your day. If you do decide to have a go at how we use our paper vs digital planner make sure you tweak things to fit in with your personal lifestyle and goals. 





We hope you found this post with everything planner vs digital planner helpful. We love to hear about your planner and Bullet journal journeys so be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have made the switch to digital and how you are finding it.



Pinterest image for paper planning or digital planning

Physical planner vs digital