Skip to Content

The Tech Basics: How to Use A Digital Planner for the iPad (GoodNotes)

The Tech Basics: How to Use A Digital Planner for the iPad (GoodNotes)

Sharing is caring!

As I have been adding a lot of Digital Planners to the shop. For that reason, it’s time for some tech basics. This is where I begin to show you how to use a digital planner. In this post, we will focus on using the iPad and GoodNotes. But some of the basics will transfer to other tools like these on Amazon (not an affiliate link). This includes the iPad or Android devices.

What is a digital planner?

What'S A Digital Planner?

A digital planner is an electronic planner that is customizable because it’s a PDF document. You know that thing you often use Adobe Acrobat to open? But when you open the PDF in a note taking app magic happens.

This magical, beautiful digital document opens. And it looks just like a traditional paper planner. But it’s better because it’s portable. And it is contained in something you already take with you. You can view it. And you can make small edits on your phone. But do the main planning right on your iPad (or tablet of your choice).

But today we are going to focus on my favorite tool – GoodNotes. And I will share step-by-step how to get you planner setup on your device. I’m going to start off with the basics. But if you are a beginner you may want to deep dive into some of the earlier.

💫Digital Planning For Beginners – Get Started with Digital Planning (A digital planner is better than paper)

💫What’s a Digital Planner? Get Started With Your Digital Planning Today

What Do You Need as to Use a Digital Planner?

To use a digital planner you need, a tablet, a stylus and a note taking app. I also recommend a screen protector. The screen protector should have a Paper Feel. This last part is important. Overall, if you want that true “writing” feel you get from a paper planner. This is really important to me, as writing it out helps me manage my ADHD and perfectionist tendencies.

The following items are required to use a Digital Planner:

  • Tablet (it does not have to be an iPad Pro)
  • Stylus (like an Apple Pencil)
  • Note-Taking App or Annotation App like GoodNotes 5
  • Paper Feel screen protector (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Digital Planner PDF

Choosing The Best Digital Planner For You

Your digital planner choice will really boil down to what you are to planning. And of course what your current planning focus is. It may be easier to have seperate planners. The digital planning journey allows more planners because there is less bulk. Some may want a full life planner. (check out our full life planner here). I personally use the full life planner with some template inserts. I walk through using templates below.

But I also use my weekly time blocking planner for bloggers. I use it to map out my blog. And it’s my central planner because weekly time blocking is my fav.

Best Way to Choose A Planner

Choose your digital planner based on how you plan with paper. If you use a weekly planner, stick with it. If you are a daily planner find a daily planner similar to your paper planner.

You can try other ways too. But digital planning is paper planning on steroids. In my opinion, you can do so much more. The best digital planner is one you will use. And that has planner pages that help you plan.

While you get the hang of planning digitally, I say keep it simple. Planning on my ipad hasn’t taken the place of Google calendar. It is a supplement to it. I started off with premade digital note-books and digital planners. And then I added inserts. I did stay with my ios devices because this allows me to use my phone and 2 iPads for planning. And I used the text tool. I must say it was amazing. This allowed me to learn what I liked to use to digitally plan.

I also recommend using a premade planner to start with. Use this to learn what works for you. Don’t spend hours trying to figure it out. Perfection is not required.

Where can I shop for digital planners?

Well, I’d love it if you’d check out our shop. But you can also get great planners on Etsy, or InspiredFun. InspiredFun is a new marketplace with better prices and it’s more accommodating to the sellers and buyers. We are able to give you the best prices on this platform. And it’s a great place to find some of your favorite Etsy sellars.

  • Etsy
  • InspiredFun
  • PrintablesBuzz Shop

What App Do I Use for a Digital Planner?

Digital Planner Apps

In this post we are going to focus on GoodNotes, but here are your other options.

  • Apple Platforms Only:
  • GoodNotes
  • Notability
  • NoteShelf
  • Windows & Apple Platforms:
  • XODO
  • ZoomNotes

How do I Import My Digital Planner into GoodNotes on My Tablet

Importing your digital planner into GoodNotes can be done in a few ways. Today I’m going to show you the the most common way. Importing on your iPad from a fresh download. This will be on the iPad.

Importing on the iPad (On Safari)

  1. Download the planner from the shop you purchased the planner.
  2. Click the share button in Safari
  3. Scroll down until you see “Open in GoodNotes” tap here
  4. Tap “Import as New Document” in the GoodNotes screen
  5. Choose the folder you want to add the Planner too, or select “Documents” for the top level
  6. Tap “Import to FolderName”
  7. Begin Using!

How Do You Use Handwriting for Digital Planning?

When you first start out with GoodNotes if your brand new writing can be confusing. You may be wondering, “How do I write on the planner?” All of the annotation apps require that you make a switch. You are switching between writing and navigating. At first it feels a little clunky. But this does become a natural part of your using process.

To switch over you just click the little pencil with a circle to write on the app. We will discuss the navigation in the next section.

How To Use A Digital Planner - Handwriting

Once you have switched to writing mode clicking the pen will allow you to write. Like I showed in the video to write out the phrases marketing plan and digital products. But you can also add a text box. The text box will convert your writing to the text of your choice. I like “chalkduster” because it looks like handwritten notes. It’s just neater than my handwriting.

How To Use A Digital Planner - The Annotation Toolbar

How Do I Navigate Using the PDF Planner Hyperlinks?

Navating is the “opposite” command of writing in the app. In the video you see me click the Pencil with a line through it in the right hand corner. To be honest, I thought it was just and X for a really long time.

Switch From Annotation To Navigation Good Notes

How Do I Add Pages In My GoodNotes Planner?

To add pages to your GoodNotes planner just click the Page with a Plus sign in the top right corner. This is shown below. There are a few options when you add a page. If you are adding another page of the same template. To do this navigate to the tab section you want to add to. Then click the add page button. And finally, you will choose where to add the page. I always want the new template on top of the old one so I go to the section divider and swipe forward to the latest page. This allows me to organize my planner in a way that is quicker for me to navigate.

Add Page To Good Notes 1

How Do You Use Digital Stickers On Your iPad?

Digital stickers are a fun way to add personality to your planner. There are some great sticker bundles that you can buy. Or you can turn just about any image into a sticker and load it into your planner.

You can use them to decorate photos, personalize messages, or just have some fun. To access the stickers you must be in annotation. So that is the first step.

Next you will want to click the the circle with the star to access the stickers panel.

To use digital stickers, simply tap and hold on the sticker you want to use. Then drag it to wherever you want to place it. When you’re finished, just tap the Done button. You can also turn your most frequently used text and blurbs into sticker elements.

Using Stickers Good Notes

Customize Your Planner Layouts With Templates That Look Like A Paper Planner

One of the perks of using a planner is its ability to be customized. And you customize the planner with templates. You can find these templates just about everywhere. Looking for something that matches what you have? Then you’ll want look check in the store where you bought your planner.

I make my templates as images that can be inserted into the blank tab pages. Then I can add it as a sticker, or as an image. I find that easier. Below is one of the checklist templates I use constantly for creating a new product and my blog process checklist template.

How To Use A Digital Planner - Adding Templates To Your Digital Planner

But you can get or make templates for anything. I have templates for meal planning, and cleaning chores too. You can even write or draw in your planner and use the lasso tool to circle that area and turn it into an element sticker. I am not artistic, but I do create layouts with the shapes tool. And I turn those shapes into stickers for templates.

You can also purchase or make PDF templates and insert those in the planner. But I’m not a fan of this because the tabs of your planner won’t show on those inserted templates. I create image templates so that you can embed them in the numbered tabs on the planner and still access your tabs for navigation.

How To Use A Digital Planner - Adding Templates

Why Use Image Templates?

The great thing about the image templates is that you just add pictures and size it to fit the page. Once the picture is added it’s just a matter of using a stylus to “write” on the planner. This is the easiest way to use digital planners.

If you want to spend a bit of time you can also design and make these inserts yourself. I like the pre-made planners and notebooks, for some stuff.

If you have a special request for a template to add to the shop, just shoot me an email at

Ready to Get Organized Digitally? What Next…

If you’re looking to use your digital planner, I hope this post explained the basics. Are you ready to get started planning digitally now? There are so many more options this way. They are easy to navigate, with undated planners they are reusable for years, so it’s a one-time purchase. And the designs range from minimalist to extravagant. The only limitation is the imagination. Using a tablet for planning doesn’t stop you from using washi tape either. If you want to include stickers and sticky notes you can.

It’s time to choose your planner if you don’t already have one. You will not want to go back to paper planning. It will be time to write and erase until your heart’s content, right on the screen. This post taught you the basics of using a digital planner in GoodNotes.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *