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How Writing Down Tasks in a Planner Helps Students to Remember and Do Them

How Writing Down Tasks in a Planner Helps Students to Remember and Do Them

Do Assignments Often Fall Through the Cracks for Your Students? Distributing Paper Planners May Be the Answer

Laptops and tablets have their place in academic settings, but nothing beats paper planners when it comes to helping students get organized and manage their time. If your students often miss deadlines or overlook assignments entirely, distributing custom school planners could be the answer, and here’s why: Writing things down in a school planner improves memory, increases the student’s personal accountability, helps with organization and boosts overall productivity.

Improved Memory 

When students record their assignment by hand in a paper planner it activates more regions of the brain than typing does, helping them to remember what they need to complete each night. Often students will report they don’t look at their planner after they’ve written it down because of the immediate encoding that can happen when writing. 

In one study of Japanese university students and recent graduates found that physically writing information improved retention. "Researchers say that the unique, complex, spatial and tactile information associated with writing by hand on physical paper is likely what leads to improved memory.”  The students who recorded information on paper remembered it an hour later with considerable accuracy. Those who used a digital device like a tablet or smartphone, on the other hand, were unable to recall nearly as much.  

Another review of three different studies on note taking revealed that recording information longhand results in deeper processing, which better supports learning and comprehension in the long run. The study reports, “the encoding hypothesis suggests that the processing that occurs during the act of note taking improves learning and retention.” 

Students likely are not being tested on what is written in their planners, however, being able to recall their assignments and its details proves extremely helpful when trying to manage and track homework loads each night.

Increased accountability

When students take the time to note to-do lists in their school planner, it increases their sense of ownership of their work. In most schools, teachers are responsible for posting assignments on the school online platform. Students rely on what their teachers post (or don’t) to determine what they need to complete each night. Those that take the time either in class or after class to create their own lists feel a greater sense of ownership of their education. And this simple act has positive effects. In a study of undergraduates at the University of Kentucky, students reported on the low-effort actions that brought about the most positive change in their lives. Using a paper planner ranked highest on the list. One student remarked, “Taking the time to write down important dates and reminders shows that I take them seriously. The little effort that this small task takes proves to have a great positive impact in my life.”

Better organization and less stress

Students feel less stressed and more organized when they regularly use a school planner. By writing down all of their to-dos along with extracurricular activities in one place, students gain a greater sense of calm by seeing everything in one place. When students hold their assignment list in their head, they often misjudge the amount of work. Either they think they have less than they do OR they think they have way more than they do. In either case, this can lead to increased stress and procrastination. For those that think they don’t have much to do, they likely will put it off thinking they have plenty of time. For those that think they have way more to do, they can get overwhelmed and not know where to begin.

Students that take the time to write out everything going on in their lives get a clear picture of what they need to get done. When they lay it out in their school planner they see how the assignments spread out over a week and can begin to craft an action plan for when and how they will do it. This helps to be more organized and less stressed when it comes to managing their work. One participant from the University of Kentucky student noted, “I have become a lot more organized than I used to be. I keep my planner up-to-date so that I never forget anything important. My grades have been better since I’ve made this change.” The simple act of writing things down helps students to see the big picture of what they need to do and by when, allowing them to make an action plan to get it all done. 

More Productivity 

Paper planners are the perfect productivity tool for students. They are available whenever a student might need them and are lightweight, portable and require no charge or log in. They are welcome in a device-free environment and provide a structured place for students to keep track of all their commitments. Unlike devices, planners are a distraction-free tool that allow students to zone in on what they need to get done rather than whatever notification pops up when they  look at their smartphone or computer. 

New research proves that students who plan their day on paper are far more productive and likely to complete their plans than those that use mobile apps. Using a paper planner allows students to see the big picture which helps them to see both assignments due tomorrow along with those due at the end of the week. Additionally, planners are more flexible by nature and allow for students to add details about and plan for assignments or test prep so they can estimate the amount of time needed to complete them. And finally, a well designed paper planner allows students to get a birds-eye view of a week or month. This motivates students to get today’s tasks done because if they don’t, they already know how falling behind will impact tomorrow.  

Order Paper Planners to Support Your Students’ Success!

If you want to give your students the best school planners, look no further than Class Tracker®. Our simple, intuitive school planners are designed specifically for middle school, high school, and college students. They give students a clear path forward, so that they can feel prepared – and succeed – in school and beyond.  To learn how to place a bulk order, visit our website today! 


Lesley Martin works with students privately as an Academic Success Coach and is the CEO of Class Tracker, a company she founded that creates academic planners for middle school and high schools and college students. Lesley has published two books: Where’s My Stuff: The Ultimate Teen Organizing Guide and Make the Grade: Everything you need to Study Better, Stress Less, and Succeed in School.