Paper planners, diaries and notebooks in the digital age

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

diary-147191_1280One would have thought that paper planners, diaries and notebooks would, by now, have died a death with all the digital “alternatives” available on the PC and online. But they have not – which is also a good thing – and I doubt that they will.

I have tried a fair number of digital “alternatives”, to planners, diaries, etc., both on the PC and online and found all of them rather wanting as, in the main, they cannot be adapted and adjusted to how I want to do things. I do have, I have to admit, Google Calendar but rarely use it, to be honest. I do, however, make use of the calendar in my Thunderbird email program (Open Source Outlook equivalent) for some appointments, and to remind me of birthdays. Otherwise, though, it is pen and paper all the way for me, with the occasional journal note for the diary printed from the PC.

Seeing that so many so-called Millenials and some a little older than that returning, in droves, to pen and paper, and even fountain pens in some cases, seems to point to the fact that they have had the same experience. Furthermore is “pen and paper” also far more secure as it cannot be hacked and will far less likely be searched by (US) border agents.

There is something special about a proper day-to-a-page bound paper appointment diary and the paper notebook. Something that, in my opinion, no digital application or device can ever fulfill. Life without a proper notebook – or more than one actually – and a paper diary are, to me, unthinkable. I also use the diary like a daily journal and that is what may make them special to me and I also keep them on their own shelf as something to revisit at times. Something that you cannot do – at least not as far as I am aware – with any online calendars and other such programs, not even those that are on your PC.

Furthermore I can use my paper diaries, notebooks, and whatever, at any time, anywhere, with no need for batteries and such, and even if the diary or notebook should get run over by a Main Battle Tank – rather unlikely but one never knows – the information contained therein would still be retrievable without much ado. Yes, admittedly, they are a little bulkier than a smartphone or even a tablet computer but then they are more reliable and almost indestructible, short of fire.

Personally I also have another little note-taking system that is a leather wallet with reused A4 sheets of paper folded in a special way to create an A7 size. This gives me, as generally the backside of the page is printed on – as I said reused paper – eight pages of A7 per A4 sheet. And there are four of those in the wallet. Enough, generally, for a day's worth of notes and such.

For general notebooks there is no need to go and spend a lot of money for a Moleskine or such. It is quite simple to make one's own by reusing paper such as one side printed sheets and even the backs of larger envelopes, held together by whatever means.

Also, often, it is possible to, part way into a year, find diaries, A4, A5 and even A6 ones, that are reduced to very low prices. Such a blank diary, especially a day to a page one, makes for a great, almost free, notebook. By buying those diaries up cheaply for your notebook use you also keep them out of the waste stream, whether this is actual recycling or more than likely landfill. Considering that they are made of different kinds of material, aside from paper, the landfill will generally be the way that they would go and thus, by using them as notebooks, we can avoid that happening. I always tend to get a couple when the opportunity presents itself.

I known that there are some to who the use of paper – nowadays – is an anathema, believing that it is better for the Planet not to use paper and that using digital, especially “in the cloud” is better and more environmentally friendly. Alas, this is not the case, and that already on the energy level. As to paper and trees I have written and spoken about so many times that I will not repeat myself.

© 2018