If you didn’t know, digital planning has recently become one of the top ways to organise in 2021.
Why? Because it’s light, easy, saves time, it’s eco-friendly and above all – it’s fun!
But, if you’re new to the digital planning game and you’ve never even laid eyes on a digital planner, it can be hard to understand what digital planning is and how it works.
So, in this post, I’m going to break down digital planning for you. This is going to be the perfect guide for beginners!
Making a transition to paperless planning can seem overwhelming at first but this amazing guide should tell you everything you need to know before you take the plunge.
Here is the ultimate guide to digital planning!
But wait, before we start this guide on digital planning for beginners…
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What is Digital Planning?
Okay, so let’s start this guide at the very beginning. I bet your very first question is ‘what the heck is digital planning?!’.
Well, digital planning is where you’re organising your day, week, month or year using a digital device. Whether that be your Laptop, PC, Phone or Tablet.
Most commonly, digital planning is performed with an iPad using a digital planning app like Goodnotes or Noteshelf.
But, instead of transferring your paper planner over to your device by taking pictures or scanning it. You’re using a digital planner in your note taking app instead!
Okay, so what is a digital planner exactly?
Digital planners are PDF documents that you can transfer and use in a note-taking or PDF editor app.
The app allows you to write on the document using a stylus pen which creates a pen stroke. So, you’re writing on the document like you would write on paper.
However, with a digital planner you’re doing it digitally on your device. Hence, the term digital planning.
Digital planners, just like paper planner, traditionally have a series of tabs that have been created in the document.
These tabs are hyperlinked, so you get the illusion that you’re ‘flipping’ through the pages like you would in a traditional paper planner with tabs.
But, as you’re simply clicking on the hyperlinks in the document, this save SO much time and it makes it a lot easier to find what you’re looking for.
There are also plenty more benefits to digital planning, like being able to erase your font, move text from page to page, duplicate pages, change colours of your ink seamlessly and you can even use digital stickers! (More on that later).
What does a Digital Planner do and how do digital planners work?
If you have ever bought or used a paper planner, you’ll know that a paper planner already has all of its pages included.
You’ll find that it’s bound and its pages are divided by page dividers and you can usually flip through to that section by using the tabs on the side.
This then allows you to find what you’re looking for. You can also move any one of those organiser pages by opening your binder rings and moving the page to anywhere in your organiser manually.
A digital planer is exactly like that! But, instead of moving things around with your hands, you’re doing it within the app!
You’ll be able to click on the hyperlinked tabs in order to move around your digital planner. Also you can easily move pages and duplicate them too. So, you’ll never run out of paper and you don’t have to waste any either.
The app will then allow you to turn a ‘pen’ on where you can write with your stylus pen in the app.
Although it does take a bit of getting used to, you’ll eventually love digital planning so much that paper planning seems clunky – or it did to me anyway!
I could find everything so quickly using a digital planner and I didn’t have to worry about my writing. I could always erase if it went wrong.
What types of digital planners are there?
In 2021, there are digital planners for just about anything!
You get get digital planners for your lifestyle, fitness, blogs, social media, DIY, projects and even camper van renovations!
There is an endless choice when it comes to digital planners and it continues to grow with more and more people converting to paperless planning.
Why use a digital planner?
There are countless benefits to using digital planners in 2021. Here are a few of the top digital planning benefits;
- It saves time – clicking on hyperlinks throughout your planner is so easy! It means you can find what you’re looking in no time!
- They are eco friendly – I used to feel super guilty about buying so many planners and wasting so much paper I didn’t use. But, that doesn’t happen with digital planners. You can use them again and again and again as they are recyclable.
- They save space – I’m a travel blogging by trade and so I always struggle to carry paper planners in my luggage! I love having them all on my tablet or phone. It’s light weight.
- You won’t lose or destroy it – unless your device gets set back to factory settings or corrupted, you won’t lose your planner! Plus, there’s no way you’ll get water on it.
- Forget Tip-EX – I have terrible hand writing and I used to get anxiety over ruining a new planner with horrific writing that I’d have to strike out. I love the fact with digital planning I can erase my mistakes
What you need to start digital planning today
So, now we’ve covered what digital planning is and some of the benefits of paperless organisation – let’s cover what you need to start digital planning TODAY!
1. You need an iPad or Tablet
Digital planning can be done on pretty much any device. But, I would say that the easiest way to start digital planning would be on an iPad or Tablet.
The reason being is the fact that these devices are usually compatible with a stylus pen which allows you to write on your planner like you would a paper one with a pen.
This then gives you the feeling that you’re organising with a paper planner and you can barely tell the difference between the two!
You can start digitally planning on pretty much any tablet device. But, I would recommend the iPad Air 2020 or the iPad Pro!
2. You need a stylus pen
This is a super important part of digital planning! Why? A few reasons…
Firstly, you’ll need to be able to click on the hyperlinks within your planner. Most of the hyperlinks have small touch points and so you need something that is precise enough to allow you to click on the links easily.
Secondly, you’ll definitely want to be able to write on your planner. Even if it’s simply to underline text using the highlighter pen!
If you’re not confident with writing on a tablet, you can type on your digital planner using the ‘text’ function within a note taking app.
Plus, you can use a keyboard with your digital planner too! You can even make your own fonts to use within your planner which is pretty cool.
I would personally recommend the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation if you’re using an iPad. It has a look and feel of a chunky crayon pencil!
3. Download a digital planning app
Although you could edit your PDF within the Apple or Android PDF reader/editor functions, it’s far easier to download a note taking app to use your digital planner in.
These apps have so many features, it’s what makes digital planning so fun!
In the apps, you can write on your planner using their pen options. You can choose an pen type, increase the thickness and change the ink colour at the touch of a button.
You can also move your hand written notes around the pages, change the colour AFTER you’ve written it and change the size – it’s incredible.
Not to mention there are plenty of other features like the typing function, shapes, adding images and more!
Note taking/PDF editor apps take digital planning to a whole new level.
Best digital planning apps for iPad – Goodnotes 5, Noteshelf, Notability
Best digital planning apps for Android – Xodo, Noteshelf or Metamoji
4. Buy a Digital Planner!
So, the most fun part of digital planning and equally the most stressful is to find the right planner for you and your needs.
You’ll definitely want to find one that suits you and includes templates for everything you need to organise.
So, I would do some research first to find your perfect planner.
Here at Bold Visionary we have plenty of chic, minimalist and practical digital planners that are free of clutter so you can organise with a clear head!
All of our planners have been professionally made, are light weight (Under 7MB) but are extremely high quality with 300dpi.
There are no lag in our planners and all of them come with some amazing bonuses like free digital stickers and front covers to customise!
Whether you’re looking for a digital life planner 2021, digital blog planner, digital social media marketing planner, digital gratitude journal or digital notebook – we have some you may like!
Shop my full collection of digital planners on Etsy or watch some flip-through videos here
Check out the full Bold Visionary Digital Planner Collection below
How to use a Digital Planner in Goodnotes
So, once you have your digital planner downloaded from Etsy and ready to go – what now?!
Well, firstly you need to make sure that you’ve transferred your digital planner PDF to your tablet.
Then, you’ll want to share your digital planner using the ‘share’ icon in the top right of your PDF preview.
Once, you’ve done that – select your note taking app, like Goodnotes 5. Then, select ‘Import as New Document’.
This should have imported your digital planner to your note taking app and then opened it up so that you can start using your digital planner!
Once you’ve done that, the first thing I would recommend you do is click through your hyperlinks to get used to using a digital planner.
In Goodnotes, make sure that the pen icon is toggled off (you should see a pen icon with a strike through line).
Then, you can start tapping on the hyperlinked tabs with your stylus pen to flip through your pages.
On Bold Visionary digital planners, all the pages include hyperlinks. Which means you can flip through to your weeks, days, months easily by tapping on the text!
It’s really easy to do and you can start exploring your planner this way.
How to write on a digital planner
When you’re ready to start organising and using your digital planner, make sure that the pen is toggled off so you can flip to the page you want to write on.
Then, click on the pen icon again to start being able to write on the page.
Important: you will not be able to flip through the pages when the pen icon is set to ON – to flip, make sure it’s switched OFF again.
From here, you can start writing on your planner page. There are two pen icons that are the most important in Goodnotes 5.
The traditional pen – if you click on this you can start writing like you would with a traditional pen. Use the options to choose a pen type, thickness and your ink colour.
If you wanted to move your text around your page. Simply click one the ‘lasso’ tool and draw a circle around the text you want to move.
Then you can move it anywhere you want. Tap on the text and you can copy, cut, take a screenshot, resize it and change your ink colour!
The highlighter pen – you can also colour in things and underline notes by using the highlighter pen. This also can be changed to suit you! Also, no need to collect highlighters in all the colours of the rainbow, you get to choose a colour from the hex codes.
How to change ink colour in Goodnotes and use Hex Codes
In Goodnotes you can easily change the colour of your ink by using some of the standard presets, or you can choose custom ink by using HEX codes.
If you’re not aware of HEX codes, it is essentially how a computer simulates colour by using a Red, Green and Blue representation.
A HEX code or colour is represented by a hashtag (#) and a series of numbers and letters. For example #FFFFFF is ‘white’.
There are millions of HEX code combinations which determine all colours of the rainbow!
You can then insert a HEX code into Goodnotes via the ‘Pen Colour’ section to get a custom colour ink.
Firstly, make sure that your pen is toggled to ON.
Then, you’ll see three dots of colour on the right hand of the menu at the top of your planner.
Click on one of those dots and you’ll see an arrow. Click on the arrow, then click on ‘Custom’.
Once you’re in custom, you’ll see a HEX code box. This is where you can insert your HEX colour to get the ink.
If you don’ know your HEX Code, click on the rainbow wheel to the side of the HEX box and swirl around it until your find your colour.
Remember to press ‘Add to Preset’ so you can select it again.
How to add images in your digital planner
If you wanted to start inserting images into your digital planner eg. For your vision board. This is super easy to do in Goodnotes.
All you need to do is click on the ‘image’ icon within the menu bar in the Goodnotes app. This will then show you a list of your most recent images to insert into your planner page.
Alternatively, click anywhere on your digital planner page and then select ‘insert from…’.
You can then search through all of your image library and even files!
You can even take a photo to add to your planner in real time by selecting the camera icon.
How to duplicate / copy pages in Goodnotes
Did you know that you can easily duplicate or copy pages in your Goodnotes app! This means that your digital planner essentially has unlimited pages for you.
You’ll never run out and, if your planner is undated like Bold Visionary planners are, you can use it over and over again!
To copy and paste pages in Goodnotes, firstly you need to head to the page you’d like to copy.
Then, head to the three dots in the upper right hand corner in your Goodnotes app.
From the menu, select ‘Copy Page’.
Then, head to one of your divider tabs eg. Personal or Notes
Once you have clicked on the divider tab, click on the ‘Add Page’ icon (It will be a paper symbol with a plus button in the middle).
Then, click on ‘Paste Page’ – Make sure that the ‘After’ button is toggled at the top of the menu.
Success – you have now inserted a page into your divider tab!
From here, you can easily duplicate the page by clicking on the ‘Add Page’ Icon again and then selecting ‘current template’.
You can repeat this in your digital notebook with whatever page templates you like!
Just remember that notebook templates taken from outside of the notebook will not have the hyperlinked tabs attached and so you may break your links…
You can also break links by removing pages! So, make sure to save a copy somewhere in case this happens.
Digital Planning extras you may love!
So, as well as the basic methods of digital planning, there are some extra bonuses that you may love when you’re using a digital planner.
These are digital stickers and being able to change your digital notebook front cover too!
With both of these options, you have unlimited customisation options to make your digital planner completely unique.
What are Digital Stickers?
If you haven’t heard of digital stickers yet, you’ll definitely want to if you want to start digital planning!
It’s easily one of the most fun part of paperless organisation, because you get to customise your planner.
So, let’s get you clued up on what digital stickers are.
A digital sticker is a PNG file which is a high quality image file type with a transparent background.
You can import your stickers individually to decorate your digital planner!
Another option is to use pre-cropped stickers in Goodnotes.
Pre-cropped stickers mean that all the PNG stickers have been imported into a Goodnotes file for you. So, instead of having to import them one by one, they are all ready for you to use.
If you’re interested in digital stickers and how to use them. See below.
Remember, you can access FREE digital stickers by signing up to my freebie library.
See my tutorials on Digital Stickers here!
What are Digital Notebook Front Covers?
Unlike a paper planner where your notebook cover is fixed, with digital planners everything is customisable – even the front cover!
So, you can easily switch your front covers to something you like better. Whether that’s to match your aesthetic or your favourite colour.
It’s a great thing to have, especially if you’re someone who likes to get seasonal. You could easily create festive front covers or something for halloween.
Digital Notebook Covers can be fond on Etsy for a small price. Then, you can easily switch your front covers in the Goodnotes App.
Don’t forget, you can sign up to my mailing list for some FREE Digital Notebook Covers for 2021 here.
Interested to know more about digital planner front covers? See below.
See my tutorials on Digital Notebook Covers:
Sign up to try out digital planning today with my Digital Planner freebies!
Before you invest in any kind of digital planner, I would always recommend that you sample one first.
That’s why I created a bunch of digital planner freebies for you that you can access for FREE in my resource library.
This is a great way to experiment with digital planning and see if our digital planners work in your note taking app!
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