The benefit of a good list is obvious, but here’s why I use a paper to-do list to be more productive and practice better self-care in our digital driven lives.
To-do lists in all their forms, are a simple but brilliant tool for helping us to feel grounded and instantly more organised. With the help of technology, we have access to anything and everything right in our pocket but writing down your plans on paper has so many more benefits than just a well-planned day.
From easing my mind of worry, achieving more goals, to better digital well-being, when it comes to list making here’s why I prefer to keep it analogue!
1. Writing to-do lists helps memory
Writing is a much more engaging process for your brain, unlike typing, creating lists by hand helps our memory. It’s much easy to recall things you’ve written down which means you’re less likely to forget those important jobs. Even if I forget my shopping list, I will often remember the order I wrote things down and roughly how many items there where, I just need to write down ‘remember the list’ now!
Putting pen to paper is a commitment to get things done. Similar to journaling, a paper to-do list helps clear the mind and improve our thought process. A clear plan on paper has intention and provides greater accountability for jobs that would otherwise get lost between apps, emails, and spreadsheets. For me, writing lists often inspires new, more creative ideas along the way, as I review my progress and make changes, I’m more likely to achieve my goals and with better results.
2. No battery or reception needed
We rely on our phones for everything, from online banking, food shopping and appointment reminders. It often feels like our whole life is tied up in technology. For those times when you’ve forgotten your charger, the laptop unexpectedly crashes or there’s just no reception, cue the inevitable panic.
Using a paper to-do list removes that total dependency on our favourite technology and avoids unnecessary stress when things don’t go to plan. A paper list gives me complete control over my plans with unhindered access whenever I need them. There’s little point in making positive steps to manage my time efficiently for it to be so easily undone by poor reception or a dreaded flat battery.
3. No need for another app
At this point in my life, I’ve pretty much exhausted all possible variations of my password, there’s only so many memorable pet names and birthday combinations one human can remember! Then there’s the time it takes to figure out the latest app, sync it to my calendar, my tablet and laptop. While there may be certain benefits to well-designed apps for improving our hectic lives, there’s a lot to be said for keeping things simple.
The virtue of paper to-do lists are their no-frills, simplicity. I don’t need to login, worry about software updates or whether the app is taking up precious phone memory that would be better reserved for cute puppy pics. I just grab a pen and pad and I’m ready to get things done.
4. Reduces screen time and eyestrain
Between zoom meetings, online yoga classes and binge watching Line of Duty, it’s easy to spend several hours a day staring at bright screens. Our smartphones and laptops are full of wonderful distractions, affecting our productivity and prolonging our screen time. My eyes have never felt so tired.
Keeping my to-do list offline helps me stay focused and motivated. Jotting down my to-do list on paper helps clear my mind away from a constant stream of online notifications and more importantly gives my eyes a chance to rest. Knowing how often we use our devices every day, these little acts of self-care will only improve productivity and our digital well-being.
5. Take a quiet moment to destress
A paper to-do list is the perfect excuse to take a quiet moment to offload in your favourite spot, away from life’s distractions. Whether that’s sitting in the garden, in your favourite coffee shop or in bed before you start the day, list making helps to reduce feelings of anxiety and bring order to chaos.
Grabbing a notepad and planning the week ahead in a calm environment, reminds me to slow down and destress away from overflowing inboxes and social media notifications. Keeping my to-do list offline has been an intentional way for me to take a break with a cup of tea, feel more inspired and mentally focused on my goals without distractions.
6. Using nice stationery is joyful
If you’re a stationery lover, like me, you really won’t need an excuse to go shopping but treating yourself to a fancy, new to-do list can also increase your desire to tackle those jobs in style. Whether you pick a notepad to perfectly match your kitchen décor, a planner that makes your desk totally ‘gram-able or has been specifically designed to help you manage you time more efficiently at work, using nice stationery is joyful.
As a self-confessed procrastinator, practical stationery that I’m looking forward to use, creates a positive experience and helps keep me motivated. A beautiful paper to-do list is the incentive I need to get things done… oh and some cute washi tape wouldn’t hurt either!
7. Physically ticking off tasks is satisfying
I recently quizzed our stationery loving, Instagram community and when it came to ‘why do you love using paper to-do lists?’ the same response flooded in - the pure satisfaction from ticking off those jobs!
I agree. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing a list of things you’ve got to do and reflecting on your achievements to spur you on. You can not underestimate the rewarding feeling that comes from physically crossing off a job and the encouragement it inspires. That little tick feels good. I use a to-do list pad for the same reason, as much as I love a good spreadsheet, ticking digital boxes isn’t quite so satisfying.
Some of the replies from our Instagram followers when asked "Why do you love paper to-do lists?" (original names have been edited for privacy)
No matter the medium, whether you want to feel more productive or just less overwhelmed, any kind of list will help you. But a handwritten to-do list has some added little bonuses.
From a practical point of view, keeping my plans on paper means I’m less distracted by emails, social media and the rabbit hole that is the internet and so I’m infinitely more focused and committed to achieve my goals. As for my digital wellness, using paper to-do lists allows me to keep things simple, take screen breaks and really revel in the satisfying feeling that can only come from ticking off those jobs by hand!
If you’re looking for a fancy new planner, you can find our collection of to-do list notepads and daily organisers here.