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3 Ways Paper Planners Help You Actually Achieve Your Goals In a digital-focused world, physical agendas still remain popular for brainstorming, prioritizing, and reflecting. Now is a great time to fit a paper planner into your routine.

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Today's to-do lists are endless: project deadlines, scheduled calls and meetings, personal appointments, reminders, one-off assignments, recurring tasks and long-term goals. Pair that with email and social media notifications, and it's no wonder people are finding it difficult to stay on track, achieve their goals, and hold it all in their phone.

You may be surprised to hear paper planner sales continue to increase each year, as digital natives reach for the tangible and authentic. People are searching for customizable pages, luxurious paper, and more interesting layouts. Add the possibilities of stickers, stamps, pockets, tabs and washi tape, and organizing life with a pen and paper has practically become an artform.

Even die-hard digital calendar users have adjusted their system to include a planning session in a paper planner that then feeds into their online project management tools. The physical space creates the freedom to brainstorm, outline and plan before committing goals, tasks and appointments to a digital format.

Consider these three ways that paper agendas help you to visualize and achieve your daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals:

1. Create space to dream.

As time-strapped business owners and professionals, our days are increasingly full of meetings and projects with no room in between to think, create, or solve problems. Sometimes it feels like our schedules rule us, rather than the other way around.

With online systems, it's easy to turn tasks and appointments into an automated workflow that moves forward with little effort and helps keep you on track. At the same time, the convenience of digital systems can prevent or interrupt thoughtful, intuitive planning that leads to real change and progress. The last thing entrepreneurs want to do is to run from one item to the next without considering the full picture.

Using a paper planner provides a space to think about your time and expectations. An open page allows you to sketch out your days with intent. Planning by paper has been linked with mindfulness, meditation, and self-care and a way to open opportunities for new processes and solutions. You may surprise yourself with creative ideas for the week ahead that you likely wouldn't have found if you simply looked at your phone to see the scheduled meetings. Plus, it can be satisfying to organize ideas by hand, check items off a list, and physically turn the pages to feel the passage of time.

2. Define your priorities.

Although our professional calendars can fill up with countless meetings and more, some items on our to-do lists are more important than others. With an online calendar, it can be difficult to visualize the most important tasks and meetings of each day and week. Although you may be able to color code or flag an item, one block of time looks similar to the next. This can create a sense of feeling overwhelmed because it's difficult to prioritize, often making us feel like we have a never-ending list of tasks to complete.

Paper planners, however, provide the space to define the hierarchy in your day, week and month. Add a star, use a colorful pen or marker, or simply write the most important tasks larger than the others. It sounds obvious but is effective for a reason — our eyes visually process the hierarchy, and our brain records that hierarchy.

Researchers have found that thoughtfully writing by hand helps you to retain information better than typing it onto a screen. As psychologists explain, writing stimulates an area of the brain called the reticular activating system, or RAS, which filters out the information that's most important to retain. Writing down your list will help you to recall those tasks and which ones are most important.

3. Achieve your long-term goals.

Successful business owners look beyond the present—they're planning for tomorrow, next week, and several months and years ahead. Beyond planning important meetings and deadlines, they're thinking about their company's long-term goals and how to achieve them.

Studies show that writing your goals down by hand also helps to set them in motion. Physically putting them on paper is the most important step, and it fosters the commitment and accountability that leads to success.

Dedicating your goals to the page also prompts you to become clear about what you want, how to achieve it, and the next best steps to take action. We often find it difficult to achieve big goals because we fail to break them down into manageable chunks. When you use a paper planner to set goals and then map out the milestones and action steps along the way, you're more likely to prioritize that time above other potential options, overcome barriers to getting started, and see the success along the way.

Importantly, it's never too late to start using a paper planner, whether you pick up a new agenda midway through the year or incorporate paper into your current digital routine. However you choose to organize your schedule, it should be a customizable and flexible system that works for you, rather than an automated software that dictates how you work and think.

Find calendars, planners and other templates to print that can help make you more organized and productive on How Life Unfolds.