Smartphones. Tablets. E-readers. Laptops. Life has gotten so much easier but also overwhelming thanks to portable devices. I’ve always been fascinated by technology, so much so, I’ve dedicated over 20 years of my life to the IT profession. On the other hand, I’ve also spent a lot of time experimenting with many different paper planners. So after two decades of ‘writing it down’ and ‘powering it up’, which is my primary planning tool?

Power It Up

When small electronic organizers started hitting the market back in the 1990s, I thought all those cool tech gadgets would be the answer to my prayers. Appointments, tasks, and notes would be stored on a powerful (powerful for the time!) mini computer, alarms could be assigned to bring attention to anything important, and there were extra tools like calculators and specialty apps as well as games to keep me occupied. So what happened? Well, let’s take a look and see what became of my ‘answered prayers’.

tech gadgets, electronic organizers, philips, philips velo 1, royal electronic organizer, toshiba, toshiba libretto, palm, palm pilot, palm V, palm m505, palm IIIc, palm lifedrive, blackberry, blackberry curve, blackberry bold, iphone, iphone 4s
T-B, L-R: Philips Velo 1, Royal Personal Organizer, Toshiba Libretto, Palm V on foldable keyboard, Palm m505 on ‘butterfly’ keyboard, Palm (1st model), Palm IIIc, Palm LifeDrive, Blackberry Curve, Blackberry Bold, iPhone 4S

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you! This is my ‘graveyard’ of most of the tech gadgets I’ve accumulated over the years—everything from the well know iPhone to the lesser known Velo 1. Not pictured above are tech gadgets that were lost, broken, or provided—and returned—to former employers like the ‘old skool Brickberry’ (Blackberrys the size of bricks, I kid you not!), the first model Windows phones designed to rival Palm Pilot, and others whose names I don’t remember from companies that no longer exist. When they worked, they worked really well and I was in tech nirvana but ultimately, with the exception of iOS, they stopped working, malfunctioned, became outdated or unsupported with no means of transition to the next generation of models.  It’s been a long, wild ride!

Write It Down

A few weeks ago, I blogged about My First Planner Obsession describing the paper planning system that started it all. At that point in time, both my planner and tech gadget journeys ran parallel throughout the years creating great efficiencies as well as unique challenges. I quickly learned there were some things better suited for paper while other things were best left to technology. As a result, there were periods of time when I was successfully using both, one or the other, or none at all (due to frustration). And the struggle continues till this day.

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T-B, L-R: Erin Condren, KikkiK, Van der Spek, Foxydori, Gillio, Midori, Passion Planner, Chic Sparrow

In a nutshell, I’ve used every conceivable layout over the years (dailies, weeklies, monthlies) from many brands and in various sizes. I’ve also accumulated a collection of beautiful, well-loved planners in many different styles (ring/book/disc/wire bound). New to the planner community in the last few years, is the practice of ‘pretty planning’ where planner pages are ‘dressed up’ using craft supplies like stickers, washi, stamps, paints, and drawings. I also gave this a try but given that I’m primarily a functional planner (I need space to write!), I settled on a simple, classic aesthetic with minimal elements that suits my style and leaves plenty of room to get stuff done!

Write it Down or Power it Up?

For me, ‘writing it down’ is the clear winner as my primary and preferred planning tool. As both a visual and hands-on learner, I find that planning, brainstorming, and tracking on paper is the most effective way to keep me organized and productive. Best of all, I never have to worry about accidental drops, running out of power, loss/corrupt data, or worrying about transferring everything to a different and potentially incompatible platform. Plus, I get to use all kinds of beautiful stationary and pens. 😉

As an IT Professional and longtime gadget geek, I know tech gadgets still have a prominent place in our lives—read more about my favorite iOS apps used in conjunction with my paper planning system here—so while I prefer to ‘write it down’ 80% of the time, I still continue and will always continue to ‘power it up’. 😉


What is your primary planning tool—‘writing it down’ or ‘powering it up’? Or do you use both? Tell us more in the comments below!

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Until next time, 🙂

♥ LilD ♥


P.S. To be continued…

This is the first post of a new ongoing blog series that I’m calling Write it Down or Power it Up? In the future, I’ll be writing more about ways in which paper and technology work well for some things and not others, together, or—sometimes—not at all. Given how long I’ve been ‘fighting this fight’, I have plenty to say on the subject! 😉