In the world of freelancing, we’ve got online project managers, online content management systems, online calendars, online accounting and more. While we love our digital tools, the reality is we also have a love for paper tools.

In fact, I recently attended an event of local creative freelancers where the argument was made that paper was making a comeback. But before getting into the best paper tools for business owners, let’s first jump into why paper is such a big deal.

The Science Behind Writing Stuff Down

There is some science behind why freelancers may want to go back to paper tools. For example, have you ever noticed that you remember things much better when you write them down?

That’s because when you physically write something down, it engages two separate parts of the brain. First, we engage the spacial part of the brain within the act itself by creating spacial relations with words. In addition, we’re also using the verbal part of the brain. When the two are combined, the brain is able to filter out less important information.

But wait, it gets better.

According to the research, as far as your brain is concerned, writing stuff down is an act of doing. Essentially, by writing stuff down you’re engaging in a mini-rehearsal of what you’re writing.

Now that we understand why paper tools may work in our favor, let’s dig into some of the best paper tools business owners can use to get organized.

Moleskine Notebooks for Client and Interview Notes

I recently read an article that stated Moleskine notebooks are on the list of “favorite freelance things” along with coffee and a Macbook. While it may be totally stereotypical, I speak from experience when I tell you there’s nothing out there that feels quite as a good as a Moleskine.

Whether you’re looking for a planner, a reporter’s notepad or simply a journal, Moleskine has got you covered. The fact that they’re so durable means I can throw them in my bag, put them through hell and I know my notes will be fine. It’s also about the only notebook where I don’t have to worry about pages falling out, making it the perfect tool for keeping all my interview notes.

There are multiple ways freelancers can use Moleskine notebooks depending on their craft and this article breaks it all down for writers, designers, consultants, and developers. Their versatility and durability puts them high on the list of best paper tools for business owners.

Desk Calendar for Long Term Planning

As much as I love my Google Calendar, sometimes it’s easier just to use my desk calendar. In fact, my desk calendar serves as a visual calendar, a coaster, a planner and a notepad all at the same time. 

What I like best about a desk calendar is the ability to see a few weeks ahead. Since I tend to be a very visual person, I find this extremely helpful in helping me plan out projects and schedule my month.

Most of all, it’s helped me actually plan for vacations and holidays because I see them coming. For some reason, I could never quite get the hang of holidays when I stuck to purely digital calendars.

A Grid Paper Notebook to Track Money

You can’t talk about the best paper tools for business owners without talking about money.

Online accounting tools are phenomenal for helping you keep track of income and expenses, but honestly, sometimes it makes more sense to me if I’m scribbling out numbers on paper.

I use a grid paper notebook where I have a running list of client payments as they come in. I also use it to calculate how much I need to save for taxes and other savings goals. This helps me keep daily track of my revenue goals and I ensure I’m saving the right amount of money. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still use online accounting software. It helps me get paid, track profit and loss and keep a birds eye view on what’s going on in my business. The notebook is more for little details or personal money goals.

Final Thoughts

While paper tools can’t give you as much power as digital tools can, they can certainly supplement your digital tools to stay organized. By using these best paper tools for business owners, you can make sure you’re keeping great notes, doing proper planning and keeping track of important numbers.


Amanda Abella is a full-time writer who specializes in online business and finance. She's also an online business coach and the Amazon best-selling author of Make Money Your Honey.

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