The Outline Digital Planner is massively redesigned and will change how you take your notes. Now you can capture plans at monthly, weekly, and daily levels and take notes organized in built-in notebooks.
Before I get into the steps, here’s a tip:
- Always keep things simple
- Take only the notes you need
- Use fewer page templates to avoid getting distracted
Tools for digital planning (on iPad)
Here’s what you should know: digital planning is like handwriting on a paper planner, just that you do it on the iPad. You’ll need some tools and a quick prep for that:
- Have an iPad with an Apple Pencil. Add a paper-like screen protector to get a similar feeling to writing on paper.
- Install one particular notes-taking app on the iPad. I suggest the Noteshelf app, but you can also try the Notability app or Goodnotes app (free to try, then one-time pay).
- Download a PDF planner with hyperlinks from the internet (I have a VAULT full of premium planners here) and save it in the FILES folder on your iPad.
- Open the app you installed (like the Noteshelf app) and import the PDF planner you just downloaded. Now you’re ready to take notes like on a paper planner, just on the iPad.
Not sure which app to use for note taking?
Eager to discover which app is best for you? Grab a coffee and discover:
— best practices to create, manage and navigate digital notebooks: Goodnotes vs Notability vs Noteshelf side-by-side part 1
— how to take notes, use images and shapes: GoodNotes vs. Notability vs. Noteshelf part 2
What is a PDF planner with hyperlinks
A PDF planner with hyperlinks is the best format you can use for digital planning. You need it if you want to jump from one section to another inside your digital planner. The hyperlinks added to the PDF planner are similar to buttons that will allow you to jump from the monthly to weekly, or from the monthly to daily, or from one section to another inside your digital planner, so you don’t have to flip the pages one by one.
Now let’s talk about the 2022 digital planner and how to customize it.
Meet the 2023 Outline Planner (PDF)
The yearly goodnotes planner by Outline Planner is the 5th generation PDF planner (following its 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 predecessors), and it’s the most efficient. You can download the free 2023 digital planner demo to see for yourself.
People love it, and I am sure you will too!
Here are the three main reasons why you’ll enjoy the 2023 Outline Planner too:
- this digital planner has yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily planning pages that are beautifully linked so you can quickly go from yearly to days or months to days, or between months and such
- this digital planner has a collection of 150+ built-in page templates that you can use to customize your digital planner (and that’s this article about)
- this digital planner has 7 built-in notebooks that allow you to organize notes in chapters to find them later easily.
I know that the 2023 Outline Planner will be the best digital planner template that will change the way you take notes, but it can also be overwhelming at first. So I’m here to help.
Step-by-step workflow to customize the 2023 Digital Planner
Here are the main three steps to get started
- Make three lists with the essential, relevant and nice to have notes that you need to capture
- Get clear on which page it makes sense to write each note and add it in the dedicated box: yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, or notebook.
- Go to the 2023 digital planner, tag the templates you need to capture your notes. Then copy-paste them to the planning section and the built-in notebooks.
Tip: save the worksheet to your Noteshelf app so you can refer back to it when needed.
Step 1. Get clear on what notes to take
You can use the 2023 digital planner to make plans, take appointments notes, track life events, capture books notes, research stats, health matters, and more. So it’s essential to get clear on what notes you need to take in your digital planner. To help out, I’ll share my list of Essentials, Relevant and Must-have notes.
However, you’ll want to create your lists, too, to get started.
LIST THE ESSENTIALS NOTES
These are the notes that rule my life. My work, life, and health may be chaos without these notes:
- a space to see my important life / work events
- deadlines / future logs / TO DO reminders
- health schedule, plan, treatments, lab results, a few details about meals, workout, sleep, or medication
- projects lists, projects progress tracking + details pages
- monthly & yearly recurring payments
- weekly brain dump before my weekly planning
- weekly priorities and action planning
- occasional meeting notes for design work
- workshops or one-to-one planning meetings, with space for users questions, struggles, details
- “mind your heart” log
- my progress review
- have my “why / how / what” master plan in front of my eyes most of the time
LIST THE RELEVANT NOTES
These notes are relevant for my life and work and can help me get clarity and be productive:
- mind clarity – where I am and where I am going (I need to re-check my plans and get clarity every 1-2 months)
- tracking activities – what I’ve done, what I am doing, and what I’ll do next
- money in / out overview
- social media tracking
- questions tracking
- vault members tracking
- books reading + book notes
- recipes ideas and meal plan ideas
- log productivity tips (about Noteshelf, productivity, planning)
- occasional journaling pages
- a bit more space to write details for particular daily tasks, especially when the job is complex or on a tight deadline
LIST THE NICE TO HAVE NOTES
I can skip these notes from my planner if I choose to. However, I’ll include them to nurture my mind and body:
- list my wins and lessons learned
- piano songs list progress & performance
- capture trips itineraries – location, people, moments, places, food
- birthdays & gifts ideas
Download the FREE worksheet (PDF) to get clear on what you need to track next year.
Step 2: Get clear on which page it makes sense to write each note
Now that you have a list with all the notes you want to take, ask these two questions:
Where on the planner makes sense to write them?
Some notes like the yearly birthdays or significant events make more sense to stay on the annual pages. However, meeting notes will stay better on a dated daily page, just as well a meal plan may be better on a weekly page.
Where will I look for the next time I need to review my notes
Knowing how you normally look for your notes will give you insights into where to put them in the first place.
Once you get clear, add every note into their dedicated box: the yearly, the monthly, the weekly, the daily, or the notebook box. I have included the exact structure I used to organize my notes in “boxes”, at the end of the article.
Step 3: Customize the 2023 planner with the suitable templates
Next, spend 20 minutes getting familiar with the Outline Planner’s planning section, going over the 150+ extra page templates, and understanding the 7 built-in notebooks.
Then go to the EXTRA templates area and tag the page templates you’ll need inside your 2022 digital planner. Here’s how I suggest you tag them:
- [yearly] – for all needed yearly templates
- [monthly] – for all needed monthly templates
- [weekly] – for the needed weekly templates
- [daily] – for the daily templates
- [notebook] – for all the other templates that you need and won’t fit in any of the boxes above
Don’t over-use the page templates. The rule of thumb is to use less than 10 extra page templates. Ideally, you’ll go with a maximum of 5, and you’ll make sure to select the best ones.
Don’t skip this step. Tagging the page templates will prevent the temptation to add more templates than you need, plus you’ll also find these pages quicker when you need them in the following action:
Copy-paste each of these templates inside the planner on the location that makes the most sense to you.
Start with the yearly section – go to the 2022 Calendar and 2022 Overview pages and add the extra annual pages you’ll use. Don’t miss the yearly reviews, money, tracker, or wins pages that you can also use for more content.
Continue with the monthly pages – go to any of the four monthly pages available (planning, money, tracker, one-win-a-day, and reviews pages) and add the extra templates after these pages, where it makes sense.
Do the same with the weeklies (planning, meal plan, ideas, and reviews pages) and the dailies (planning, life, work pages)
Then finish with the notebooks customization – add titles and chapters to your notebooks, then bring inside the relevant templates that you’ve previously tagged with [notebook]
That is it!
At this point, you’ve just finished customizing your outline planner to fit your needs. You can add to this structure later on, but today you’ve just created the foundation!
For more inspiration, I’ll wrap up the article with the structure I’ll use for my 2023 digital planner.
How I plan to organize my planner in 2023
How I’ll organize the planning section
The Yearly Money page will hold:
- my yearly money summary
- monthly & yearly recurring payments (business, house, car, taxes) – this is the only EXTRA page template I’ll use and will place it after the yearly money page
The Monthly Planning page will include:
- life/work events
- general deadlines / future logs / TO DO reminders
- health schedule block
The Monthly One-Win-A-Day page will hold:
- my daily wins and lessons learned (I will use two colors to differentiate them)
- “mind your heart” log – I’ll most probably create a post-it to the right side of the page and add a list of things to do
The Monthly Review page – will hold space for my progress review.
The Weekly Planning page will include:
- weekly priorities and action planning
- my weekly question
- my “why / how / what” master plan (to the right side column)
- space to add a few deadlines/meetings
The Weekly Results page – will hold space for my weekly results review.
The Weekly Ideas page – will be used to brain dump before my weekly planning.
The Daily Planning Notes – will give me a bit more space to write details for particular daily tasks, especially when the job is complex or on a tight deadline.
Daily Work Notes – I will occasionally use them for meeting notes.
Daily Life Notes – I will occasionally use them for journaling or quick notes that I don’t get back to often.
Tip: To know which daily pages have written notes, I’ll go to the weekly planning page and add a circle on the icons connected to these pages.
How I’ll organize the color notebooks
My Life Notebook
Section 1: mind your heart ideas
Section 2: health plan, treatments, lab results, sleep and meds
Section 3: books reading list template + book notes
Section 4: recipes ideas / meal plan ideas
Section 5: piano songs list and progress
Section 6: trips itineraries – location, people, moments, places, food
Section 7: birthdays & gifts ideas
Outline Planner Notebook:
Section 1: MIND CLARITY (unstructured brainstorming)
Section 2: DIGITAL NOTEBOOKS & PLANNERS VAULT with these pages:
- yearly outline with goals, milestones, and actions
- available / future notebooks (list page)
- notebooks details (simple notes pages with digital planners ideas, edits, feedback)
Section 3: WORKSHEETS & FREEBIES with freebies and worksheets list tracking
Section 4: MEMBERS with these pages:
- vault members tracking (numbers progress)
- a simple workshops schedule
- users profile with notes (questions, struggles, the app they use, etc)
Section 5: SOCIAL MEDIA & BLOGGING will include pages for social media numbers tracking, the monthly focus (list page), and blog post ideas brainstorming
Section 6: DIGITAL PLANNING TIPS will list tips to share in my videos and blog posts (about Noteshelf app, productivity, planning)
Section 7: FUTURE PLANS – will be a set of notes page to brainstorm plans for the Outline Planner.
Unfold Atelier Notebook:
Section 1: PROJECTS – project listing and project notes
Section 2: MONEY – calendars and details
Section 3: MUST HAVE EQUIPMENT & EXPENSES
I hope you’ve got some great ideas from this article. Tell me about it in the comments below.
Don’t forget to join my VAULT with premium digital planners and notebooks and if you need help, go on Facebook and join my support group on how to take better notes on the iPad.