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

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

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Do you want to increase your productivity? If so, it maybe time to switch to a digital planner. Don’t worry if you don’t have a clue what all the hype is around digital planning. And if you’re totally confused about what it is and how to use it. I got ya covered here. 

What’s a digital planner

A digital planner is a pdf file, that has hyperlinks. And it’s designed to mimic a traditional paper planner. These hyperlinks make it easy to move around. You can also scroll through the pages, but a digital planner often has 100’s of pages, and the hyperlinks make it easy! The PDF file when opened in an annotation tool like GoodNotes allows you to write in the planner with a table pencil like an Apple Pencil.

What’s a Digital Planner?

How to use a digital planner

To use the planner, you upload it to an annotation app. And then you can write out your notes in a digital planner until your heart’s content. There are several apps you can use. But the flexibility of a digital planner makes it a favorite for many planner addicts. You can still use stickers, but its portable. More on that to follow.

Benefits

  • Makes Notes Easy to Find and Use: Scribble your notes until your heart’s content in a digital planner that looks just like a traditional paper planner. But you can use the built in search to find your scribbles. (Yessss!!!)
  • You Can Replace Your Collection of Spirals & Sticky Notes!: If you like writing out a plan in your paper planner or spiral stay tuned. Particularly if your constantly losing all your sticky notes or the planner is too big to travel with you, digital planning might be for you.

What Planner Layouts are Available? 

A digital planner can be either landscape(horizontal) or portrait(vertical). Specialized and general life planners are both available. A digital planner can include a daily planner, weekly planner or even monthly templates. If you can plan it in a traditional planner, you can do it better in a digital planner.

landscape weekly digital planner

Above is an example of a specialized planner, the above planner is a weekly time blocking planner for bloggers.

The planner below is a vertical planner specialized for Halloween planning.

Vertical or Portrait Digital Planner for Halloween

The portrait digital planner below is a very simple Monthly/Daily life planner.

Portrait Digital Planner Example

Each of these planners strives to mimic a traditional paper planner. But they both have features specific to the needs of the user. And they can all be added to, and customized.

Where a traditional planner is normally very basic a digital planner can be customized to fit all your planning needs. A specialized planner focuses on a specific topic.

What are the benefits of using a digital planner?

Benefits

There are a lot of benefits to digital planning including:

  • Stay organized and on top of your schedule
  • You can access your planner on any device or iPad, eliminating the need to carry around a paper planner.
  • Ease of use.
  • Expands with the use of template packs.

This is just the start. Digital planning can be extremely simple or follow complicated processes. It’s all how your mind works, and what you want to plan and track. I love that I can add the links to my tracking spreadsheets with in the planner. It helps me set up a more complicated process and keep track of what I’m doing.

How to get started using a digital planner in 2022?

How to get started

The process to get started is simple.

  1. Download the app of your choice and sign in
  2. Purchase or make a digital planner
  3. Download your planner to a place you can find
  4. Import the planner into your app
  5. Open your new planner
  6. Use the planner links to navigate
  7. Write out your plan.

Now this is the very basic “technical” how to get started. Be on the lookout for some new posts coming with specific how-to’s for GoodNotes, Notability, Noteshelf and XODO.

Choose your planner page layouts

  • Horizontal (Landscape)
  • Vertical (Portrait)
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
    • To Do lists
    • Time Blocking
    • Schedule
  • Daily
    • Schedule
    • To Do Lists
    • Journal
    • Project Plan

Choose Your Planner Focus (General or Specific Planner)

Know if you want a general life planner or if you’re looking for a planner for a specific task.

  • Mom planner
  • Holiday Planners
  • Meal planner
  • Weight loss planner
  • Self care planner
  • Manifestation planner
  • Goal planner
  • Family chore planner
  • Home cleaning planner
  • Trip Planner
  • Appointment Planner
  • Small business planner
  • Content planner
  • Blog specific content planner
  • Digital Product creation planner
  • Physical Product creation planner
  • Social Media planner
  • Sales goal/tracking planner

A digital planner is a tool that helps you organize your life and stay on track but it only works if your know how you plan best.

Learning this maybe a trial and error situation. If you currently have a preferred paper planning method, start there and find a planner that mimics your paper method.

PrintablesBuzz’s planners are going to be mostly weekly planners because they work best for my ADHD mind. Leave a comment below and let me know what works best for you. I’d love to know what works for you.

What apps do I use for a digital planner?

Digital Planner Apps

Best app for a digital planner

There are several apps that can be used for digital planning. The best known is GoodNotes, which is free to download and at the time of writing there is a 7.99 one time fee. These two are a great starting place if you don’t have an app you are already familiar with.

  • GoodNotes for iPad Pro
  • Xodo for Android/Windows

If you are looking for more options and a break down check out the Digital Planning for Beginners Post we share several options for both iOS and Windows.

How to use the app for digital planning

Each app has an extensive user guide. But the basics include importing the PDF into the app so you can annotate (write on) the PDF.

How to add a digital planner to note taking app

How to find a digital planner

You can start by taking a look in our shop.

But I also recommend taking a look in some market places to see what they have. Digital planners are in a couple of different market places.

How to use the planner

Once you have your planner, there are a few simple steps to using it. Open the file with your annotation app. Set a planning routine. And open the planner frequently (or keep it open), and record notes, thoughts and complete tasks.

As a side note, I do find it easier to import the planner the first time on the desktop app. If you use a Mac and GoodNotes or Notability open the app on your desktop and click import

GoodNotes - Open a new digital planner
Desktop View of GoodNotes-Opening a new digital planner file

Planning Routine for Digital and Paper Planners:

Weekly:

  • Start (Sunday or Monday)
    • Review the prior week
    • Move stuff forward to this week that didn’t get done
    • Determine the top 3 things to get done this week. Break it into small tasks.

Morning – 15 min plan

Evening – 15 min review the plan

How do you write on your digital planner?

How to use the digital planner for writing like a paper planner

You have the option of writing in it like a paper planner, using text or adding digital stickers. Each program has an icon that switches you from view to annotate. If your links aren’t working, switch over. And if you are unable to write on the screen, try clicking the pencil again. If you use your Apple Pencil to write you always have the option to erase by double tapping the flat side of the pencil and start over.

How to write on a digital planner
Screenshot of a GoodNotes iPad planner

How to personalize the planner

Each planner will be a little different. You can personalize it with digital stickers, colored inks, highlighters, shapes and doodles. You can also add pictures. Some planners (like the ones in our shop) have customizable tabs where you can add templates to extend the flexibility of your planner.

Personalize your digital planner

How to make the planner work for you

Choose a planner that you like and that has a structure that will help you define your plan based on your goals. General planners are great for some people, but once you go beyond just recording appointments a more specific planner is needed. A good planner helps you reach goals outside of getting to your appointment on time.

To make the planner work for you, it’s important to define what you are using the planner for and set time aside to plan. Checkout the basic planning routine shared above.

The best way to make the planner work for you is to set aside time to plan.

How to use a digital planner to increase productivity?

A digital planner is a digital calendar that helps you stay connected, organized, and in sync, even when working on balancing multiple tasks and goals. A digital planner can help you manage your family, team (if you have one), and your projects. It’s a solution to ending the scattered feeling, that keeps you from moving forward.

A digital planner can help you break down the goals into manageable tasks and create great outcomes.

Productivity comes from setting goals, breaking the goals into tasks that need to be done to achieve the goals, and finally tracking the numbers. Keeping all this information in one place (your digital planner), increases your productivity by giving you a list of what you’ve done. And of course a list of what’s left to do. This is your roadmap to accomplishing your goals.

How to use a digital planner to organize your life?

Life Balance is a buzzword these days. But using a digital planner can help you organize your life and include a little “Life Balance”.

Your life has “buckets”, they include things like:

  • Social life
  • Family life
  • Work
  • Hobbies
  • Self Care/Wellness

And depending on your goals you may also have a side hustle, or other buckets that are important to you. A digital planner can help keep track of all the tasks and goals for every “bucket” in your life that’s important to you. It’s about setting priorities and setting a time for the important stuff.

What are some of the features of digital planners?

The features of a digital planner are only limited by the imagination of the designer. The perk of a digital planner is that your imagination can come into play as well.

Purchasing a planner with tabs for custom areas allows you to add templates of your own or purchase templates that expand the planner.

Just like buying the old template packs for a physical planner.

Below is a list of features you can start with to start thinking what features you want in your planner.

19 Digital Planner Features

  • Hyperlinks
  • Design of digital planner pages
  • Digital planner covers
  • Dynamic and allows you to add more pages
  • Monthly, weekly, and daily pages, specialty pages
  • Page options for notes including lined, dotted, blank, grid/graph
  • Digital stickers
  • Templates for specific project types
  • Budget planners
  • Project Planners
  • Chore Charts
  • Schedules
  • Journals
  • Goal Planners
  • Habit trackers
  • Workout Planners and Trackers
  • Mindmaps
  • Task lists
  • Todo lists

Benefits the flexible digital planner features 

A digital planner has been a lifesaver. You can track home tasks, remodeling projects, holidays, kids activities, business, blogging, launching, sales, oh just about everything.

The best features include:

  • Has hyperlinks: Allows for easy navigation and faster access to different pages.
  • Layout design: Choosing a design that works for your life, and makes you feel good encourages use of the planner. You should want to open the planner.
  • Can customize anything: The best digital planners allow you to add more pages, or choose your own page layout which suits you better.
  • No bulk to worry about: It’s digital so there is no bulk to worry about.
  • Portable: You can access it from your tablet, phone and computer. Making it easy to use.

How to choose the right digital planner for you?

There is an endless selection of planners on the market. You can get planner for moms, business, blogging, budgets, well you name it. You can even get planners to help those with ADHD.

Check out these types of planners…

Types of digital planners

  • Hyperlinked digital planners: These planners have buttons or text that take you to different pages of the planner.
  • Customizable digital planners: These planners allow you to customize the layout and content of the pages.
  • Full life digital planners: These planners allow you to set goals in different areas of your life, and they are a little more general.
  • Business specific planners: These planners are focused on business goals. You can include your other buckets, but it’s up to you create the plans and tasks without the guidance in the planner. (Look for a customizable planner so you can in templates for the other areas.)
  • Holiday Digital Planners: These planners are specific to allow you to manage your holidays with the content of the pages.
  • Landscape or Portrait Planners: Do you prefer holding your device horizontally or vertically? Keep this in mind when you are choosing a planner.

So how do you choose a Digital Planner?

Start by asking yourself some key questions.

  1. What means the most to you?
  2. Where do you feel overwhelmed and scattered?
  3. Do you need to write out all the details?
  4. Do you need prompts to put you on the right track?
  5. Do you have a process that works, but need a place to record it and track what is completed?

The answers to these questions will help you choose the digital planner that is right for you.

How to make the most of your digital planner?

A planner of any kind only works if it is your central location for planning.

To get the most of your digital planner create a planning routine that works for you. And most importantly reference the plan multiple times a day.

How to troubleshoot common issues with digital planners?

A digital planner is a PDF document. So most issues with a digital planner are going to be with the app itself, rather than the document.

So the first step is to see if the issue is with the PDF document. Try opening the document in a PDF reader like Adobe Acrobat or Preview on a Mac. If you are able to navigate the links, and the pages all look good. Then your issue is with the annotation software.

Let’s talk about what to do if you’re having issues.

What to do if

  • You’re not able to open your digital planner in a PDF reader
    • Try restarting the app, and restarting your computer. If this doesn’t work contact the seller. They might need to send you a new copy of the PDF.
  • You’re able to open the planner in a PDF reader, but it won’t open in your annotation software
  • Close the App on your device and restart the device. If you are still unable to open your planner try uninstalling and reinstalling the app from your app store.

Can you use a digital planner on either a smartphone or a computer?

A digital planner will work across devices. If you are using your planner across devices you will need to make sure you have wifi turned on, and the same application and application account on both devices.

  • You can use a digital planner on a smartphone or a computer
  • You need to make sure the planner is synced across your devices

What you need to get started

  • A digital planner
  • GoodNotes or other annotation software on your smartphone, tablet or computer
  • Synced across devices

Benefits of using a digital planner across devices

  • Works with smartphones, tablets and computers: The planner can be used on smartphones, tablets and computers.
  • Easy to view on a non-pencil device: Some people find it easier to use their digital planners on devices that do not use pencils, you do have the ability to add text via the keyboard on all devices. You can also use your finger to cross things off with the handwriting turned on.
  • Synced across devices: You need to make sure the planner is synced across your devices so you can access it wherever you are. This should be pretty straightforward for Apple products using GoodNotes 5. It’s a little trickier for Android and PC users, but it can be done with XODO.
  • Convenient: You can pull up your planner on your phone while out, which is convenient when needed
  • Provides tutorial: The platform provides a tutorial to help you get started with the tool.
  • Easy to follow: The instructions are easy to follow and provide an overview of all the features available on the platform.
  • Affordable: The tool is affordable for users of any size, making it accessible for everyone.
  • Searchable: The app allows you to search both handwritten and typed notes on any platform

Do I need to be on Wifi in order to use a digital planner?

No

Wifi isn’t needed to use the digital planner. You do not need to be on wifi in order to use your digital planner unless you want your planner to sync across devices.

How to use a digital planner without wifi

  • Once you’ve downloaded the app, you no longer need wifi to use it
  • If you want to sync it across multiple devices, you will need to be connected to the internet on both devices every time you want to sync it

What you can do without wifi

You can use the planner on the local device without wifi. All the planner functionality will work. If the planner includes links to the internet – those links won’t work.

What Next

A digital planner is a tool that helps you organize your thoughts and plan your day. By using one, you can better manage your time and achieve your goals. In this guide, we taught you everything you need to know about digital planners and how to start using one in 2022 and beyond.