Are you team paper or team digital?
I used to be team paper, but living abroad it is hard for me to get the paper planners that I love. Also, life is less predictable being out and running errands here, plus I work with people in all different time zones so I end up having to rearrange and move things around a lot. And I don’t like white-out all over my beautiful planners.
I have switched to digital planning.
This does not mean I never use paper. I still like my sticky notes and drawing brainstorming maps by hand. But digital planners and online project management tools really help me keep things together. And you can always use both. Play on both teams if you want.
I still love Trello, but I have recently switched to ClickUp which is a great project management system that has boards like Trello, lists like Asana, and more features. It is really helping me in working with the freelance agency I work for, planning an expansion for my new Etsy Shop Treasured Above Rubies, helping my husband with our baking business, managing the blog here at Immensely Social, and running our household. Yeah, it’s a lot going on!
Let me know in the comments if you want a post on online project management systems but today I want to focus on digital planning with digital planners.
What Are Digital Planners, Why Use Them, and What You Need?
Digital planners often look like traditional paper planners but are ones that you use on a smart device rather than having physical or printed pages. Essentially they are PDFs that have clickable tabs for you to navigate.
Digital planners are what my new Etsy Shop is about and something I came into this year and learned to love.
I feel like digital planners are the best of both worlds- paper and digital. Because if you have a stylus, you can still write your plans. I don’t know about you but I find writing rather than typing to be more therapeutic and helps me remember better.
But unlike with a paper planner, you can cut your handwriting and move it if things and dates change rather than trying to erase, white out, or cover up like you would need to do with a paper planner.
So if you are new to digital planning or just thinking about making the switch, we will dive into what you will need and how to get started.
What You Need For Digital Planning
- A nice to have: Paper like screen protector
Let’s get into the details…
There are people who use a digital planner on the computer but to have a great experience you really need to have a tablet. I’m an Apple gal so I definitely prefer the iPad. The iPad I have is an older model and is currently not available on Amazon, but it still works great. Mine is Rose Gold and it is beautiful. The newer model is also available in Rose Gold.
My husband has a Samsung tablet and that can work too. I just do not like the annotation apps available for Android as much as for iOS. We will get into that in a minute.
You can use your fingers to write in a digital planner but it’s pretty hard. A stylus is a good way to go and can make the experience so much better. I prefer one with a pointed tip like the Apple pencil. Apple pencils can be a bit pricey but there are similarly shaped stylus pencils with good ratings on Amazon you can use as an alternative.
It is good to look for a stylus with palm rejection which means that when your palm rests on the screen of your iPad as you write, your hand will not keep the stylus from working or making marks. Apps like Goodnotes have settings you can change but the type of stylus makes a big difference with this too.
Once you have your tablet and stylus you will need an app that allows you to click on tabs and write on your digital planner.
I use and love Goodnotes. Notability is another good option. Both can be found in the Apple App Store. They do cost but it is a one-time fee and both are currently less than $10. And they both have other uses too. You can use them to download and read your digital books while writing notes in the margins and write notes on paper pages with them too. You can also draw maps minds, journaling, and more.
If you have an Android device it is a bit harder. You may have to go through some extra steps to get your digital planner to work properly.
As I do not have an Android-run tablet here is a video that could help if you do and want to start digital planning:
If you have an iPad like me, here is a video on Planning with Goodnotes 5:
YouTube has tutorials for other app options also if needed.
Next, you will need a digital planner. Of course, I would love for you to check out my new Proverbs 31 planners but make sure you find a great planner for you. I will be expanding my shop but the planners I currently have available are great for beginners because they have a simple design.
They are also undated so you can use them again and again every year.
Inside these planners:
»Front and back cover with rings to look like a classic paper planner
»Yearly, Monthly, Weekly, and Daily pages
»Habits Tracker with an end-of-the-week review
»Health pages with meal, exercise, vitamins, and water tracker
»Money section with budget page, revenue, and expenses trackers
»Goals Pages to break goals down and a grid for different areas of your life
»Pages for notes and lists
But you can also get planners that are more business-related where you can plan content and track social media stats. Or planners that are more specific to health goals or meal planning, etc. My current planners are great overall life planners that also allow you to set some business goals, and health goals, and track meals and finances.
Etsy is a great place to shop for digital planners. Many lovely sellers there.
Feeling overwhelmed with all the things?
If you do not already have what you need to start digital planning and feel a bit overwhelmed by the things to buy, this is a good thing to keep in mind- unlike a paper planner, many digital planners can be used over and over again (if they are undated). You can either duplicate pages or erase them as needed. The other equipment you need has multiple uses like your tablet, stylus, and the apps we talked about so you are getting more than just digital planning from your investments.
The last thing is just nice to have and I have not found where I live but hear it helps a lot and that is a paper-like screen protector for your tablet or iPad. These types of protectors are more sensitive to a stylus and can make your writing come out cleaner more like it would if you were writing with pen and paper.
How To Get Started Digital Planning
Once you have the equipment you need, you will buy and download your digital planner. You should receive instructions on how to do that when you buy or you can find instructions online. My digital planners come with a user manual to help.
Once you have your planner in your annotation app, you can get started planning, brainstorming, tracking, and writing or typing to your heart’s content.
Here are some helpful tips…
Creative Fabrica has a short and helpful class Get Started With Digital Planning. In the class, Kymmie shows you how to set up your digital planner using Goodnotes, how to add stickers, and even how to do a little editing to the planner to cover what is there and make it more your own.
You can look up tutorials for whichever app you have chosen as each has some different ways of allowing you to write versus flipping a page, how to duplicate pages, etc.
In Goodnotes for example you need to click the pencil on for writing/editing or off to be able to click the tabs and flip pages as you can see from page 9 of the manual:
As mentioned earlier, I really like that I can write in the planner. Especially in sections like the goals grid. And you can change your writing color.
But you can also add text boxes and type if you prefer. With the text boxes, you can change the color, font, and size.
Don’t be afraid to have fun with the process and make it your own. Love stickers? Try adding digital ones to your planner. More minimalistic? Then you do you. But remember that this is your planner and you don’t have to plan like anyone else. Take inspiration from others but do what works for you.
This video has some great iPad with Goodnotes and Digital Planner tips:
If you have a planner style or theme you would love for me to create for the shop, let me know in the comments.
Want to make and sell your own digital planners? Check out Owl Society’s Digital Planner Template. It’s what I used!
Are you ready to try digital planning or is there something holding you back. Let me hear about it below.