What is a Digital Planner?

Click on any of the images below to watch an animated infographic video of this post!

You may be familiar with a paper planner, but have no idea what a digital planner is. Let us teach you! Digital planners use an iPad or similar device to simulate the experience you would have by using a paper planner. There are many reasons why digital planners are preferred over paper planners.

Just like you eventually switched from a land line phone to a cell phone…the need for this switch will be obvious soon for you too.

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Typically, a basic paper planner is a document that helps anyone stay organized with their life schedules, to-lists, and notes. But digital planners can have more than just the basics; for example, pages for keeping track of expenses, detailing vacations, researching topics of interest, journaling, planning meals, note-taking, organizing celebrations…and so much MORE. Digital planners, like paper planners, can have all those features but it is managed in an easy-to-use format on your electronic devices!

Digital planners are PDF files that are imported to an application, like GoodNotes, on a tablet, like an iPad; and written on with a stylus, like an Apple Pencil or can be typed in using the application’s tools. It gives you a similar feel to a paper planner but on an electronic document that can be backed up to cloud storage for safety; plus synced to ALL of your mobile devices including your smart phone.

A digital planner can be used on any tablet that has the ability to be written upon, but the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil combo are the most popular for digital planning.

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There are other PDF annotation apps out there, but by far, our favorite is GoodNotes.

If you are using an Android device, we would recommend an S-pen enabled tablet used with the Xodo app. You can even use PDF annotation apps on a desktop or laptop computer but each application and operating system has varying limitations in tools and functionality. We haven’t reviewed them all but we know our digital planners work flawlessly in GoodNotes on the iPad or iPhone with Apple Pencil.

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A digital planner is easy to use because of its hyperlinked functionality. Sounds like a big deal, huh? Well, it kind of is when you consider that with just a single finger tap on your device’s screen you can jump to any location within a digital planner that has a hyperlink.

For example, you can have an entire year calendar on a page that has functional hyperlinks that enable you to tap on any month name to jump to a page with just that month in a large format. Or, you may be able to jump to any day of the year, just by tapping that day’s date on the screen of your iPad.

Our digital planners at Blessing by Design not only come with calendar hyperlinks; but also, we have hyperlinked buttons for categories too. With a single tap of a button, the hyperlink takes you to category sections for budgets, travel, parties, note-taking, etc., (to name a few.) It’s very cool.

A digital planner is customizable and expandable. Our digital planners come with many pre-designed templates that can be copied and placed anywhere in the planner file, as many times as you need!

We even have a planner that is 500 pages because it includes a page for every day of the year. Can you imagine how thick your paper planner binder would need to be to accommodate 500 pages?

It’s a one-time cost, unlike paper planners that require buying all the extra pages and/or specially designed pages for how you like to plan. Making your own custom templates with the tools in the GoodNotes application helps you design pages for anything you want to organize and/or plan for.

Screen Shot 2020-02-18 at 3.23.26 PMWith the tools in the GoodNotes application, you can create color palettes, favorite pages can be bookmarked, and you can outline a list of your own templates created by using the blank pages from the digital planner. Create any color pens, markers or highlighters. You can color code the details of your life until your heart is content.

Even digital stickers are available for adding special touches to your digital planner pages. The digital stickers are usually PNG files that can be copied, pasted, cropped, or resized on your pages for adding interest or highlights of events.

Screen Shot 2020-02-18 at 4.12.58 PMNot only stickers; but also, any image can be placed in your digital planner: family photos, beautiful scenery, inspirational pins, etc.. It can become a digital scrapbook of sorts; one you enjoy looking at every day as you plan.

We should also mention here that if you do create notes or pages that you want to keep longer than the calendar year, that’s possible too! GoodNotes allows you to export whole or part of your planner pages for merging and saving for future documents.

Screen Shot 2020-02-18 at 3.24.18 PMWhen we did a comparison of digital planners to paper planners we found major differences when it came to availability. We loved the fact that a digital planner can be downloaded anywhere rather than driving to a store to purchase. Easy expansion on a digital planner made the initial cost of the digital seem very affordable when considering the recurring expenses of expanding paper bound planners.

Also, the ability to backup our file so that it was never lost or destroyed was comforting. Not to mention that the best feature we found was it’s availability to be synced with our smart phone which we always have with us when we might not have our tablet.

Useability similarities between digital and paper planners are apparent, but differences are big. Both require a learning curve to use and are setup in a similar order. Digital planners are faster for getting to a certain location within the planner and it holds your place even after the application or document has been closed.

In a digital planner, you can erase. Don’t even try erasing in a paper planner!  You can even select items from one day that you didn’t complete and simply cut and paste those plans or to-do lists into a future day’s plans. Plans and event dates do change. Erase-ability keeps digital planners always looking neat and tidy even when schedules need changing.

It’s not uncommon for a paper planner user to carry six pens for planning! A single Apple Pencil or stylus lets you access every color of the rainbow in any size or opacity. Finally, adding more pages is just simpler in a digital planner….no pinching of fingers or tearing of paper.

We’ve experienced paper planners falling apart midway through the year. That’s frustrating. It’s really troublesome if you’ve invested over $60-70 in the planner to have it fall apart or be damaged.

Screen Shot 2020-02-18 at 3.45.46 PM_2Again, the digital backup feature will give you peace of mind that your planner can’t be destroyed. It’s nice and SAFE. Now, you must be diligent to set up that feature, just like with any computer file.

Who wants to carry around a heavy three inch binder full of paper all the time?  Whether a digital planner is 500 pages or 100 pages, it always weighs the same.

Thanks for taking the time to read and learn about digital planners. As always, we are always here at Blessing by Design to help you along the way. Watch our videos, read our FAQ page, or contact us to learn more about using digital planners!

Be blessed,

Rinne & Momma

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