The Rise of Paper in the Digital Age

"The battle for our hearts is fought on the pages of our calendars." — Bob Goff

With the ongoing battle in the world of digital toys — iPads, iPhones, tablets, Kindles — we are becoming increasingly dependent on devices that can crash, delete, and malfunction. This impermanence is one of the leading reasons many people are returning to paper to keep track of contacts, schedule events, and document important areas of their lives. Simply search on Instagram for #filofaxaddict, #dayplanner, #simplifiedplanner, #filofaxlove, and #plannerlove, and you will find thousands of posts and pictures detailing the love and dedication that goes into these simple books. Paper planners are growing in popularity and these physical outlets allow us to maintain structure and order in our busy lives.

"Direction, not intention, determines our destination in life." — Andy Stanley

Whitney English's Day Designer, Emily Ley's Simplified Planner, Elise Cripe's Get to Work Book, and Erin Condren's Life Planner are four examples of designers changing the way we look at our calendars and they are all entrepreneurial mothers. These "life planners" — calendars, day books, and agendas — are so popular that they are selling out faster than their creators can announce release dates and new designs. These products are well-designed and beautifully orchestrated, but what is more fascinating are the women behind them. They each have found a niche that needed filling and are creating strong, smart, and successful brands around these products.

"A goal without a plan is just a wish." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This return to paper — planners, personal notes, business notebooks — is inspiring many women to create professional success in the stationery arena. They are designing products to help improve women's lives, helping to make them more productive and efficient while also bringing style, grace, and elegance to the office and home.

"We have so many digital options that it can feel a little overwhelming. There is something about just sticking a pen to paper that can make things feel a bit more solid and in some ways more official," says Elise Cripe. "Going back to paper might just be a reaction to too much digital." Emily Ley mirrors Cripe's thoughts on the return to paper: "I think women are thirsty for tools that work. It's easy to rely on technology, since we have our phones on us so often, but women love having a stylish, beautiful, purposeful, never-going-to-crash-and-lose-your-data physical planner with them to house all their important dates and tasks."

It's this desire to get a handle on time management as well as maintain style and individuality that seems to create such a strong pull into the paper planner world. Erin Condren, creator of the wildly popular LifePlanner series, explains, "I've always loved the simple act of putting pen to paper; from handwritten Thank You notes to manually crossing off items on a to-do list, there is just something so much more personal about the act of writing it out. I've also seen a shift in simply using the LifePlanner as a calendar, but more like real time scrapbooking. It's become a creative outlet for those that want to add stickers and photos to commemorate events and daily happenings that can be looked back on later and saved liked a memory album." The LifePlanner is extremely popular in the online community because of its customizable approach to planning. "Since the birth of the LifePlanner, my business partner and I agreed that it needed to be customizable. Something that the shopper could collaborate on and feel connected to. She can create her own cover by choosing her favorite colors or uploading photos, add custom stickers and stylish accessories."

With more and more women working from home, building home offices that reflect their style and wanting to maintain glamour even while keeping track of appointments, to-do lists, and business plans, stylish "agendas" are high on the list of "must haves." "Developing a time management system is imperative to finding balance in a career and personal life. It's amazing what I can accomplish in a day when I plan it out and do my best to stick to the 'script.' My motto has always been, 'let's get it done so we can have some fun,' and my kids have learned to live by that same mantra. If we procrastinate or waste time at work or at school, that just eats into the quality time that is most important with family and friends," explains Erin Condren.

Cripe, a busy mom of two young daughters, shares Condren's sentiment: "Knowing what you have to get done and working towards goals is extremely helpful in keeping you motivated and excited about daily life. If you have a method that works for you and allows you to stay focused and inspired, that's awesome. A planner is only as good as the use it gets. So USE IT!"

"If you don't know where you are going, you will end up some place else." — Yogi Berra

These inspiring business ventures are opening the doors for women every single day and proving that creativity and a strong drive can have impressive results. "I'm a big proponent of female entrepreneurs, and the paper and personalization industry has been a great place to meet and encourage other women," says Whitney English, creator of the Day Designer. "My mission, on a personal level, is to exhibit that through the power of choices and change, anyone can live a well-designed life." Big risks can lead to big rewards and these women are living proof. "I love to encourage other women to chase their big dreams, to jump off cliffs, to have faith, to remember that falling doesn't mean crashing and burning, and to believe in themselves," says English.

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." — Benjamin Franklin

Erin Condren, Whitney English, Elise Cripe, and Emily Ley are standouts in the world of paper and are inspiring countless others with their drive and passion for creating something lasting in a deletable world. "At the end of the day, it's about simplicity. Let's simplify life so that we can take care of our need-tos and focus on our want-tos. Let's ditch that standard of perfection and embrace a simpler, more what-matters-most lifestyle," says Ley.