Dating the diary, planning on paper in the digital age

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Jan 27, 2019 12:14 PM IST

In the last week of December, Archana Singh bought, as she does every year, a new page-a-day format paper planner, one with a pink ribbon as a marker, pop art on the cover, neatly laid out art pages inside.

In the last week of December, Archana Singh bought, as she does every year, a new page-a-day format paper planner, one with a pink ribbon as a marker, pop art on the cover, neatly laid out art pages inside.

Image for representation.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
Image for representation.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

Singh, who runs TravelSeeWrite , a popular travel blog, is otherwise a digital evangelist, but when it comes to a planner, the paper vs digital debate is a no brainer for her.

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“I have been using a paper planner since my college days; it helped me define who I am, containing everything from my to-do lists, class assignments, to books I wanted to read. You are more clear-headed when you plan with pen on paper,” said Singh. “And I never shop for it online. I need to touch and feel it before I buy it; sometimes it takes me quite a few hours to select one. “

In fact, there are a number of proponents of paper planners like her, who might use their smartphone for everything from making calls, taking photos, to messaging friends and family, but when it comes to planning their day, they continue to rely on the good old paper planner.

And a planner, they will tell you, is not just about schedules, but is a tool for keeping at bay a sense of drift; creating a blueprint for a successful life, and a tool for self-expression.

“I love this analog way of time management. There is something about writing on the paper that makes you think deep and hard, something which you do not do when you type on a smartphone screen,” adds Aditya Sharma, 44, a lawyer by the day and a writer by night.

In the past few years, there has been an explosion of planner apps - well, most are branded as “productivity apps” - such as Google Calendar, iCal Organizer HD, To Do List, TickTic. While these feature-rich apps come with enticing interfaces and an infinite amount of space, allowing people to add events, texts, contacts, maps, pictures, those dating the diaries say they do not want to be distracted in a maze of browser tabs and noise of notifications.

“I tried switching to a digital calendar on my phone last year but returned to my paper planner in a day. I lost a sense of purpose; somehow, writing tasks in the paper planner, I feel I am more focused on the job at hand,” says Manish Sharma, 39, a graphic designer.

“Paper planners do not irritate you with constant notifications; don’t put a strain on your eyes, and you do not have to worry about battery, and they don’t tell you to upgrade regularly. You do not have to create an account and give a company access to your daily schedule,” said Singh, adding “Somehow, using a paper planner also allows me to visualise my days, weeks and months in advance as I plan them, which gives me a sense of control over my schedule.”

Recently, there have been several books that deal with the history of the daily planner. Published in October, “The Accidental Diarist: A History of the Daily Planner in America” , for example, explores how vital “these unassuming and easily overlooked stationery staples” are to those who use them. It traces their evolution in almanacs and blank books through the 19th century to their enduring popularity. The critics hailed the book as an ‘appealing history of the daily act of self-reckoning, and timekeeping”.

In fact, for many, the daily act of scheduling includes not just writing down meetings and appointments, but also a wide range of other matters, small and big - shopping list, meal planning, books to read, TV shows and films to watch, tracking fitness and finance goals.

“I write an inspirational quote every Monday in case I am having a bad day or feel like I’m going off track, and need some inspiration,” says Sharma.

Dr Debraj Shome , a cosmetic surgeon, says the first thing he does every day at 5.30 am is to look at his paper planner, which has his notes on surgeries.

“I glance through my notes which I took a day before - what I will be needing during surgery, the personality type of the patient, the particular nurse or assistant I would need, any particular instrument I would be needing. They kind of help me visualise surgeries in advance,” says Shome. “I carry my planner to the operation theatre (OT). A lot of OTs are in basements where the internet connection is bad. So, I just cannot take the risk of using digital planners , which are mostly Recently, several books on the subject of paper planners and journal writing have come out -some deal with their history, others teach how to keep a planner or a bullet journal for a better life. “The Accidental Diarist: A History of the Daily Planner in America,” by Molly McCarthy has been hailed as an “appealing history of the daily act of self-reckoning, and timekeeping”.

Then there is “The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future”, which came out in October last year and became an instant bestseller in the US. This book by Ryder Caroll , a New York-based digital product designer, throws light on deals with his new method of setting up a bullet journal. Another talked about book is the updated “The New Diary: How To Use a Journal for Self-guidance and Expanded Creativity” by Tristine”

Paper planners have evolved over the years in term of paper quality, binding, cover design, inside layouts that allow for different sections for various tasks, goals and wish lists. Now we also have coffee journals, travel almanacs, the book lover’s journal, road trip planners; and the companies that design and produce them say they are flying off the shelves.

“Our sales have gone up at least four times in the past four years. Most buyers are young corporate executives; our page layout focuses on functionality more than anything else. Weekly planners are most in demand,” says Ajay Batra, founder, myPaperclip, a company that produces a range of planners, journals and notebooks.

“There is a growing demand for a well-curated planner and journals for specific purposes

such as travel, “ says Pushkar Thakur, founder, Origin One, a stationary brand.

These days, bullet diaries - or bullet journal ( BuJo) are a rage too. For the uninitiated, it is a journaling system created by Ryder Caroll , a New York-based digital product designer, who, having been diagnosed with learning disabilities early in life, was forced to figure out alternate ways to be focused and productive.

According to Caroll, the BuJo, which essentially involves writing down information as bulleted lists, is the art of intentional living - a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system.

Unlike the regular dated paper planner, a bullet journal doesn’t have any pre-laid-out boxes and sections. “I create my index, keys, future logs using colour gel pens. A bullet journal is a work of art; a more evolved ,

more customised version of basic bullet-point writing,” says Prachi Gupta, 27, a Gurgaonbased teacher, who has been keeping a bullet journal for a year.

In fact, Caroll’s book ‘The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future’, which came out in October, became an instant best seller in the US.

Even as paper planners and journals continue to be popular, there are many like 26-year oldRohit Taneja , who feel that paper planners are nothing but extra luggage. “I am likely to leave my diary at home, but not my phone, so why not use a planner app instead,” says Taneja, an IT professional. But Aditya Sharma says he depends a lot on dairy for his emotional well-being too. “After a long day, crossing out items on his to-do list with a pen gives a sense of achievement. “ NEWDELHI: A 40-year-old woman was killed after a speeding SUV allegedly hit her in southwest Delhi’s Rajokri on Friday morning. Police have registered a case and are trying to identify the accused driver.

According to the police, the deceased, Maya Devi, a native of Alwar in Rajasthan, had come to Delhi with her husband to meet her relatives in Delhi. Police said, as told by her husband, as tbey got off from a bus and started to walk towards Rajokri on the main road, a speeding car hit the woman from behind. The driver stopped the car for a while but seeing the woman injured he sped away from the spot, police said.

“The man told police that the impact of the collision was such that the woman was thrown metres away in the air. She hit an electricity pole and was fatally injured. The man the rushed her to hospital and police was informed. The woman succumbed to her injuries in the hospital, “police said.

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    Manoj Sharma is Metro Features Editor at Hindustan Times. He likes to pursue stories that otherwise fall through the cracks.

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