Analog Planning, Time to Go Back?

Image showing an iPad and a Notebook. The text analog planning is it time to go back is shown in the top left corner.

After using a digital planning system for the last 2,5 years, I’ve started to wonder. Is it time to go back to analog planning? Could using a pen and notebook be a way to add more mindfulness and reflection back into your life?


Between 2017 and 2020, I used the bullet journal system. Before this, I had used traditional pre-printed planners like Filofax when I was a student or other more traditional planners. When 2020 hit, life became too hectic and I simply couldn’t justify the time I wished to use to create the look I wanted for my planner. Note, you don’t by any means have to create beautiful spreads to have a useful planner, but I liked having different themes to look at each month.

Fast forward a few years. Have the last years been hectic and stressful? Yes! So if I didn’t have the time I wanted to set up my months before, what has changed?

Why Do I Think of Going Analog Planning Again?

Not that much has changed, at least not on the outside. What I have realized though, is I need to slow my life down. I need to add more relaxation and time for my projects, not just things that need to be done for work. This has been on my mind for some time, judging by my log for previous blog posts. And it was the topic in the post Bullet Journaling – Is Analog or Digital Better? which I published earlier this year.

One way to regain some of my time and focus, as well as push myself to be a bit more creative regularly, I’ve decided to go back to an analog system for the remaining months of 2023. Well, to be honest, it will be more of a hybrid system than a pure analog one.

Image showing a notebook, an iPad and an Apple pencil.
My iPad, Apple Pencil, and new, teal Scribbles that Matter notebook

Pros of Using an Analog/Hybrid Planning System

So what are the pros of using a hybrid system, compared to just using a purely digital one? I’d say this is a way to keep the best of both worlds. Kaitlin Grey made a nice video to watch if you need help finding a way to combine analog and digital planning.

Will I add things such as meetings to my Google calendar? Absolutely! Besides, letting my phone or watch remind me a bit ahead of time when a meeting is coming is nice. Also, things that are repeated events make more sense to keep in a digital format.

As for analog, I will keep a copy of meetings for the month, week, and day so I will rewrite some events. However, writing out the most important things for the day or the next day could be a nice part of a morning or evening routine. If you, like me, know that you’re perhaps in front of a screen a little more than you’d wish then using a regular notebook can help you with this.

I’ve also noticed that when I have to slow down and put pen to paper, I tend to listen more to myself, what I want and need. And so, this is also a way to add a bit more self-care into my life. This feels similar to when I clean my desk from things or when I finally manage to get the number of browser tabs down to below ten – a rare treat! The feeling of peace and clarity, it’s what I wish more of in my life right now. To be able to see my own goals, dreams, and the steps I need to take to make progress and come closer to bringing these things into reality.

Why Make the Switch in the Middle of the Year?

Well, why not? Being in the middle of the year, more or less, is the perfect time to make a switch! I still have five more months of 2023 – and switching between two systems also forces me to take a look at the goals I have for the year. What stays, what goes, and what are new things to focus on?

I also don’t have any good reason to not make the switch in the middle of the summer. Right now, I have more time to be creative – and I already have a notebook that I haven’t opened until now

Image showing a Scribbles that Matter teal notebook on a wooden desk.
A teal notebook from Scribbles that Matter

Planning Resources

The only two things you need for planning analog, bullet journal-style is a pen and a notebook. That’s it! You don’t need stickers, washi tape, fancy pens, or special paper. Any old notebook will do, the rest is pure preference. In my case, I had a Scribbles that Matter notebook at home, probably bought two or three years ago. I thought it was time to put it to good use now.

If you don’t want your notebook to show wear and tear from being put in a backpack, then adding some type of cover or protection for your journal can be a good idea.

Tips When Switching Mid-Year

Making the shift of the planning system in the middle of the year means a few things.

First of all, and this is perhaps more of a note to me, be kind! Be kind and don’t judge yourself. It’s ok to switch things up and sometimes small changes could be just what you need! It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. As I mentioned before, I plan to keep appointments in my calendar, but tasks will move to my notebook instead.

Some Quick Tips When Switching Your Planning System:

  • Move what makes sense – Only move what makes sense to move! Keep the rest where it is, no need to double the work!
  • Reflect, refresh, or reset your goals – are the things you aspired to in January still valid? If so: move them over. If not, it’s time to set up new ones!
  • Don’t feel pressured to do everything at once! – it’s ok to plan things out a bit, wait and then continue building from there.
  • Use a pencil or movable notes when planning your layout – if you switch mid-year, you probably have thoughts on what to keep and skip. I used Post-Its to help pre-plan my layout a bit. Just use a word or two, and place your Post-it. Move as needed before you add ink to your page.
  • Enjoy the process – similar to the point about not having to do everything at once. If part of the purpose is to slow down and be more mindful, make sure to enjoy the process of planning.
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect! – this should really have been at the top of the list, at least in terms of importance. Done is better than perfect. Did you mess up creating a spread? So what? Scratch it out and re-write it or cover it up if you need to. The goal is not perfection.
Image showing a black notebook and a gel pen.
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Conclusion and Resources

If you feel that your life is spinning faster than you’d want it to, or if you wish to make mindfulness and reflection a regular routine then perhaps you wish to make this switch along with me.

I think having some sort of system to keep track of your appointments, goals, and so on is important. But make sure the system fits you, not the other way around!

If you think of using analog planning, these videos can be useful for you:

Previous posts on the topic:

What kind of planning system do you prefer? All digital, all analog, or a mix of both? Is it time to go back to analog planning, or is a hybrid system the way to go?


Language teacher interested in reading, art, games, and how technology can help out in everyday life.

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