After graduating high school, my parents gifted me an iPad 6th generation with an Apple Pencil first generation as a university admittance gift. I had wanted one so bad after discovering how people took digital notes on their iPad. I was so excited that I spent so much time exploring and learning everything I could about iPad digital notetaking. After that, I discovered iPad digital planning.
Table of Contents
What Is iPad Digital Planning?
iPad digital planning is when you plan digitally on an iPad. Normally this involves using an Apple Pencil to hand write on a digital planner on an app on the iPad.
You could also plan digitally without an iPad and instead plan on your laptop or phone. Normally when planning this way, you would use a calendar app or a website like Google Calendar. Or this could even be just a to do list written in memo file on your computer or phone that you keep track of.
Why You Should Switch to Digital Planning
I used to be a hardcore paper planner fan, but since starting university and trying digital planners, I have completely switched to digital planning. Here are the reasons why you should switch too.
#1 – Redo Button! / Nothing is Permanent
This is my favorite feature of digital planners. Whenever I use paper planners, I can’t really use them for a long time. My problem is that whenever I’m planning, if I make a mistake when writing or decorating I get so demotivated to keep on using that page.
For example, when using a paper planner, if I’m writing the daily page and I mess up the date or my writing of the tasks looks messy, it bums me out since I feel it looks too ugly. Then I kinda just want to not use that page anymore. So then I just stop planning for the day, and wait to start fresh again the next day. But then the cycle repeats, and by the end of the week, there are only 2 daily pages where I planned consistently during the day.
With a digital planner, this is not a problem. Whenever I write something and I don’t like how it turned out, I just erase my writing and do it again. Or if I realize I wrote my tasks in a crooked line, I can just select my writing and move it around till I like the position. You could argue that in a paper planner you could just use an eraser or white out, but then the paper gets all tattered and worn out. And sometimes I would make too many mistakes, that the page would be too ugly to use again. This was completely solved with digital planning.
# 2 – Portability
I love how portable digital planners are. I use my digital planner on my iPad and I also take notes on my iPad for school. So instead of having to carry notebooks and a separate planner to school, I just carry my iPad. It saves space in my backpack and it helps since I won’t have to carry a lot of things while walking around my big university campus.
For some digital planners, they are synced on all your devices meaning you can access them from all your devices. So you could plan on your phone or tablet during the day, then once you get to your computer, you could plan on there too.
# 3 – Accessible Variety of Digital Planner
Just like how there are many different kinds of paper planners, there is a huge variety of digital planners. However, with paper planners your variety is limited to your local stores, while with a digital planner it is not.
When I lived in the US, the only ‘good’ planners I could get were the ones from my local crafts store. And they weren’t even good ones that fit with what I wanted to plan. But when I started looking for a digital planner, I found so many different kinds that I could buy or get for free. Plus since they are digital products, I get them instantly, I don’t have to wait like how I would have to if I bought a paper planner that had to be shipped to me.
Even just on Etsy, you can find thousands of different kinds of digital planners. For students, workers, moms, work out enthusiasts, and just about anybody.
# 4 – Ability to Personalize and Customize Everything
If you still don’t find the perfect digital planner, you could easily customize one to your liking. You can always add extra pages to your digital planner, or add digital planner inserts. So if you have a student planner, but want to add a section for workouts, you can easily find a workout planner printable and import it to your digital planner.
# 5 – Budget Friendly
You can find cheap and free digital planners on the internet. Plus if you buy an undated digital planner, once you finish the one you have uploaded on your device, you can just upload a clean version or even delete all the writing you had and use the same one again.
This saves a lot of money compared to a paper planner where after you have finished one, you have to buy another again. It’s a constant expense, while with a digital planner it’s a one-time purchase and you can reuse it as many times as you want.
# 6 – Environmentally Friendly
Another reason to switch to digital planners is that they are better for the environment. As I mentioned before, after you finish a paper planner you have to buy a new one again and again. But what happens to your old planners? They either get thrown away or stored somewhere until ultimately they get thrown away too.
With a digital planner, everything is stored on your device, or on the cloud. You won’t have to waste any paper or have piles of paper stored somewhere.
How to Start Digital Planning on Your iPad
Which Digital Planning App?
There are several apps that could be use to plan digitally including…
- GoodNotes (aka GoodNotes 5)
- Google Calendar
- and countless planning/planner apps available on the App Store
However when talking about iPad digital planning, it normally refers to handwriting a digital planner with an Apple Pencil and to do that the best app without a doubt is GoodNotes.
Currently the latest version of GoodNotes is called GoodNotes 5. It is available on the appstore for the price of $7.99. GoodNotes is only available for Apple devices, which is why you only see this app on iPads.
Reasons Why I Love GoodNotes
– Can Import Several Kinds of Files to Annotate
I like to use the import button and import files from my Google Drive. Whenever I get a planner printable, I upload it to my Google Drive from my computer. Then I import the planner into GoodNotes through the Google Drive app on my iPad. After importing the planner into my iPad, I can start digital planning.
– Different Pen Types and Many Pen / Highlighter Colors
You can choose from three different pen types. I like to use the ball pen for everyday writing and notetaking. You could also use the brush pen for brush lettering.
The pen size ranges from 0.1 mm to 2 mm.
For the highlighter, the highlighter size ranges from 1 mm to 7.7 mm.
For both the pen and highlighter, there are several color options and you can even choose any color from the color wheel.
– Insert Images
I love that I can insert images into my planner. You can also insert other files by selecting the ‘Insert from’. This is my favorite feature because I use it to decorate my digital planner with digital stickers. You can check out the Extra Tips section at the end of this post for a tutorial on how I insert digital stickers into my digital planner.
GoodNotes is not only great for digital planning but it is also great for taking digital notes for school. I use GoodNotes for both my digital planner and school notes and it’s so easy to keep everything organized.
For every new semester, I make a folder for that semester. Inside that folder, I have my student study planner for the semester and folders for each of my classes. Inside the class folders, I make a notebook for that class’s notes and I import any files that the teacher may give to students. Files like PDFs and class presentation PowerPoint files. Organizing it like this makes it easy to access all my school files, since everything is in one app and not spread around in several apps or devices.
These are the top reason why I love the GoodNotes app. As you can see in the previous images, there are several other tools and features I didn’t cover. GoodNotes just has so many different features, it would have to be on a different blog post.
Which Digital Planner?
This is all up to you! There are so many types of planners. The best place to get a digital planner is Etsy. There, it is sure that you can find a digital planner for your needs. You could also find free digital planners online, especially by searching on Pinterest.
Due to the amount of variety of digital planners, it is likely you will find one that meets all your planner needs. If you are a worker, you could find a digital planner specifically for workers, or if you are a stay at home mom, then you could find a digital planner for stay at home moms. Particularly for students, you will be able to find an endless number of student planners.
After you have gotten your digital planner, you can save it to your iPad (in the iPad files or through an app like Google Drive or Drop Box) and then import it into your GoodNotes app.
Start Digital Planning!
Now that you know which app to use and you have your digital planner, you can start digital planning on your iPad. Remember you can do everything a paper planner can, if not more, with a digital planner. You are only limited by your creativity, and even then you can always go on Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube and look at other people’s digital planner for inspiration.
Here is one of my daily pages from my digital student study planner, hopefully it can give you some inspiration to start digital planning on your iPad.
Use Digital Stickers!
One of the things that made me hesitate to switch over to digital planning is my love of stickers. I always assumed that I wouldn’t be able to use stickers on my digital planner. But then I learned about digital stickers.
Digital stickers are a great way to personalize your digital planner pages. There are tons of free and paid digital stickers you can find. You can get digital stickers from Etsy, blogs, Pinterest, or even search for some on Google images.
My favorite way of finding digital stickers is on Pinterest. You can find a lot of free digital stickers there. You can download the free stickers and import it to your planner, then you can crop out the stickers you want to use. I prefer to use this method, since it is free and because I only use those stickers for personal use in my digital planner.
You can check out my ‘Stickers for GoodNotes’ board on my Pinterest, where I have collected many cute stickers that I like to use on my digital planner. I have even made some digital cat face stickers you can get for free from my blog.
Disclaimer: Remember if you chose to to get free digital stickers from Pinterest, they should only be used for personal use on your digital planner or as how the creator wants you to use them, you shouldn’t try to sell the stickers since they are not yours. Plus be aware that the free stickers you acquire from Pinterest may not always be high quality. If you want high quality cute digital stickers, buying them on Etsy or from a creator is the way to go.
Here Is How I Import and Use Stickers In My Goodnotes Digital Planner:
Pick the image / free digital sticker you want from Pinterest and download it.
Go back to your planner and select the option to insert an image.
Select and insert the image.
Tap and hold on the image and select the crop option.
Then select the freehand option. You could also use the rectangle crop option, but I find it easier to select the individual sticker with the freehand crop tool.
Crop the individual sticker.
Press done, then resize the sticker.
Now, place the sticker where you want.
Remember you can crop the sticker again and make the edges tighter to the sticker.
Since you have already saved the image to your photos, whenever you want another sticker from that image, you can just insert and crop the image again.
Use Hyperlinked Planners on GoodNotes!
When picking a planner to use in your iPad, I recommend a hyperlinked planner. A hyperlinked digital planner is one where the planner PDF contains clickable links, or hyperlinks. It is common for the monthly page of a digital planner to link to a corresponding daily page. Here you can see an example of how hyperlinks are used in digital planners. This is one way I use hyperlinks in my 1 month student study planner.
Having hyperlinks in your digital planner is so convenient, especially if your planner has a lot of pages. So when looking for a digital planner, I recommend looking for one that contains hyperlinks.
I hope this post has helped you decide to start planning digitally on your iPad. Happy digital planning!