17 March 2016

Renaissance of Paper Planning?

After talking with people at the meet up last weekend and listening to their comments, a radical thought slipped in to my mind on the journey home.

Did we start a renaissance in paper planning?

Think back about 5 or even 10 years and there wasn't the same level of social media usage, the same amount of activity on blogs or You Tube.

In the last 5 years I think you will agree that we have certainly seen a massive interest in paper planning, or an increased awareness of it. Not just in ring bound organisers but in paper planners in general terms.

Now if you look at how the commercial companies have reacted to this increase in levels of activity.

Filofax have just about managed to keep things ticking over they are still seen as the big seller in the organiser market. Their market share though has reduced in the last couple of years.

However, their dominance is being attacked at all price levels with companies coming in to the market such as Kikki K, Websters, Paperchase  all producing colourful organisers at the lower price range.

The discovery of Gillio and Van der Spek at the luxury end of the market has also made people think about spending money with Filofax in the hundreds of Dollars, Pounds, Euros price brackets.

Did we start a revolution? Have we saved a few companies from going out of business, or at least saved them from stopping organiser production/sales. And with the increased activity in the world of social media have we encouraged new companies to come in to the market?

I wouldn't claim to have done this singled handed... no it has come out of a lot of mutual co-operation and a lot of networking and bringing people together to share their love and passion for paper planning.

I looked around the restaurant on Saturday evening and thought. Who would have thought that all these people would have come together to share so much laughter and so much shared values more than 5 years ago?

More than 5 years ago you would never have thought that your organiser was the key to the growth of  your circle of friends! It just makes me smile and happy to think what a wonderful community we have created.


  1. Such an amazing community! It's crazy to think back to those early days - thank you, Steve and team, for all you have done!

  2. Steve I would like to think you have had a lot to do with the resurgence of paper planners! I think several companies owe you a debt of gratitude for raising the profile of their companies to a wider community.

    That said, I think some of the recent resurgence of paper planners has to do with decorating. In the last few years I've seen sooooo many planners (EC, Plum, Whitney, etc) by designers. These planners look great, and are functional too. And decorating planners has become so popular there are endless videos and posts about washi tape and other decorations for planners. I'm trying to remember when this started but it certainly wasn't this popular 5 years ago. I think it's a bit of a backlash from technology, and a creative outlet for people.

    So while planners used to be mainly about planning several years ago, now for many people they are just as much about creativity. As long as the companies don't go all the way over to the Decorating side and continue to provide functional planning pages, I'll be happy!

    1. Well said, Laurie.

      I’ve used paper planners for over 20 years. For those 20+ years, it’s been just that…a planner. Last year (so I’m late to that particular party) I discovered the decorated planners on YouTube. It drove me nuts. Sacrilege, that’s sacred space. How could anyone actually plan or see the important information amid all the pretties?
      Aha! If the page is enjoyable to look at, I’ll look at it more, and I’ll have a greater chance of knowing and remembering the Whats, Wheres, and Who’s of my life. I’ve changed my tune. With the judicious and strategic use of stickers, washi, color coding, and beautiful binders, my planner is getting so much more attention than ever before.
      Many of us Paper Planners have taken brief, some more brief than others, forays into the electronic planning world, but we’re back. Renaissance/ Resurgence…the label doesn’t matter. We know.

  3. I used Outlook for a few years to schedule work stuff and google calendar for personal task.
    Results: I just ignore those alerts.
    I hate alerts, -i don't ever know my cell phone ring since it is always set on vivrating mode (i don't carry it with me, I can listen it is ringing even from other rooms).
    Also once you have things done the note is cancelled, and it is not a good thing for me: I like to track activities and somehow I need that as a double check for per hour billed activities.
    Then I started to use the emails (even to myself from me!) to take note and track of everything.
    Worked for a couple of year, but when I tried the paper planning (a simple agenda) everything changed.
    I work less and produce more.
    That's it.
    It is not addiction to shopping for beautiful items. It worth it!
    They actually do their job: make you more organized and productive.
    They contains all your ideas too, so you do not have to struggle with your memory.
    If the planner is also beautiful that will help you to use it even more, even when not so inspired at work.
    I will write a post on my blog about thir revolutionary coming back to paper.
    There is so much more to say!

  4. Hi Steve,

    No, I don't think there is a "reinassance" of paper planning, maybe there has been a realization from some that non-paper planning just doesn't work that well. In the 1990-2000 there have been a huge amount of software and hardware companies that have dipped their toes in the "planning" arena, proposing this or that software or hardware solution (PalmPilot, I'm looking at YOU!).

    The prolem with that is that the hardware had severe limitations at the time and then they have gone toe-to-toe with giants like Microsoft and Apple and then Google. And that doesn't bode well for any new software or hardware company.

    Now, a lot of the peoples I talk with are geeks or tech-savvy, and they all agrees that no, software based planning is nice because you can "share" the appointment with your team and so on, but nothing really beat the availability and simplicity of the good-old whiteboard and some coloured marker.

    The various scam-scheme of agile-planning (aka: don't plan, just do) have been seen for what they are: a shortcut that never pay (or never pay enough) and so many have gone back to the roots and learned (or re-learned) how to handle that weird stick-that-makes-funny-sign-on-the-white-thingy.

    That that led to a realization by some companies that "hey, there are money to be made by selling this stuff", is just a side effect.

  5. Dear Mr. Morton,

    You, albeit not on your own, have raised awareness of this site, and the related sites (GTD, VdS, Gillio, TNT, et al), by a massive amount and you should be proud of what you have achieved since the inception of Philofaxy. Tireless dedication is what you have given the site, and its fan-base, and we applaude you for it.

    As has been commented above, did the use and enjoyment of paper planning ever (really) go away, and what is this "renaissance" you speak of? Surely it is just an increase in awareness, and those that do choose to use a paper planner, do. Those who choose to live in the other (electronic) world, don't. Maybe we were forced to hide from our peers because of the world-wide reliance in technology, but we have never gone away. Renaissance, no.....uprising, yes!

    We exist, and co-exist, to do what we choose to do, and sometimes have to do, but how it is planned out is the biggest choice. WE choose to write it, while others choose to type it. Both ways work for the different personalities we all have, but not always at the same time.

    The joy of our choice to record our plans on paper is exactly that, a joy, and our community is joyful for it, you, and the other contributor’s efforts. Long live paper planning (in all of its forms), and this community.

    Happy belated Birthday Mr. #notbenois

  6. In 1999 after using paper planners for a decade, I was seduced by the portability of the Palm V. Still enamored by electronics, I upgraded to a Palm Tungsten. When the HTC Touch Pro2 came out in 2009 I jumped at the chance to simplify my life by combining an electronic planner with a phone. Wow, I thought it was nirvana!

    My infatuation with electronics ended after the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak, which left my area without power for over a week. My lovely “digital assistant” expired leaving me without contacts and phone numbers. So I dug out my old Cross paper planner, blew off the dust and was able to contact people because I had their info in writing. When power was finally restored, I searched online for planners, found Philofaxy and was firmly back in the paper planner camp.

    Thank you for all that you do to promote paper planners. It is greatly appreciated.

  7. There's no doubting there is a new awareness of paper. You Steve (and several others) have contributed greatly to that. However, I don't think it could be accurately described as a resurgence in paper planning for several reasons :-

    - there is not a lot of planning being done on paper. As Laurie points out, it's colour, materials and decoration that dominates discussion (so called "planner love"), coupled with a constant switching between binders (in search of "planner peace") that many folk are obsessed by. It was all very different when organisers were used primarily for productivity and - well - organising!

    - hardly any of the new breed of paper users are men. On a typical day, apart from Steve, 90% of the contributions here and on other groups, as well as attending get-togethers, are women. Nothing wrong with that, but it shows that there is no widespread take up of paper by both sexes.

    - most people who do use paper, do so as an adjunct to their digital systems. Although there are a few people who reject anything to do with the digital world (and who presumably won't be reading this!) in a typical business setting those of us using paper will be doing so alongside one or more gadgets

    I'm not trying to be controversial here, just realistic. Paper planning is now niche rather than mainstream and the halcyon days of an organiser being everyone's "must have", are long since past. However, it's great that we still have such a great range of options!


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