I know how hard it is to find “the perfect” planner. There are plenty of options on the market, from weekly to daily spreads, from paper planners to digital planners, and more…
Which one will you choose for 2021: the paper planner or the digital planner?
Or… can you go both ways?
Hear me out.
A lot of people have both types of planners. They use the digital planner for life and work planning and TO DOs and the paper notebooks for journaling, memories, and creative actions (like tracking hobbies).
Sounds like a good plan?
Don’t jump to conclusions just yet.
Paper planners come with a few disadvantages:
When it comes to using paper planners and paper diaries, in most cases, they are used from a few weeks to a few months, before they end up on the office table or in a basket.
If you are a planning hero and manage to use a paper planner entirely, chances are that you’ll become so attached to it that you’ll not trough it away … for years to come! And that just fills your library space, a bit more every year.
Now listen to my points on the digital planners:
With a digital planner, some of these struggles are solved. All the information, all the notes, and memories will be digitally stored either on your iPad (or iCloud) or your computer as simple PDF files. Plus you can easily manage your notes, images, repair mistakes and re-organize pages… all from one place.
I know it can be overwhelming, so I’ll outline the limitations and advantages of both types of planners, so you can choose the one that fits you best.
Limitations of the paper planner:
- You must carry the planner and accessories with you all the time
- If you lose it, there is no backup… sorry!
- The paper planner doesn’t have any security or password, so others can open your planner and read your information
- It’s so annoyingly heavy to carry multiple planners with you. Your back will not be very happy about it
- You can’t make written mistakes go away (or, you will need some creativity to remove them from the paper pages)
- You can’t move images, notes, or appointments around the pages to allow for adaptability in your schedule
Advantages of the paper planner:
- You can touch it and feel the paper
- The writing experience is a real pleasure (at least for some)
Limitations of the digital planner:
- There is a learning curve and you’ll need some time to learn how it works
- Using a paper-like screen protector WILL improve your handwriting experience, but it will still not feel as if you’re writing on real paper
- It relies on your iPad battery so don’t forget to charge your tablet so you can use the digital planner every time 🙂
- It’s basically a PDF file with (or without) hyperlinks imported inside a note-talking app (I’ll talk about it below). So it does NOT sync with Google Calendar, Outlook Appointments. And it does NOT send reminders either.
Advantages of the digital planner:
- A digital planner is ALWAYS with you (as long as your iPad is charged). Some note-taking apps like Goodnotes or OneNote allow you to sync across devices too, which is kind of useful
- No more scatter information. Having everything in one place is brilliant! Plus you’ll be more organized and productive throughout the day
- You can easily fix written mistakes or re-organize your schedule without leaving any marks on the page
- You can move images, notes, or appointments around the pages of the same digital notebook, or between different digital diaries
- You can add as many new pages as you want. Plus you can re-organize them or delete some of these pages when you need
- If you’re a DIY type of person, you can build tons of digital notebooks and digital planners using pre-designed templates
- You can use stickers to decorate the pages and make the planning process fun
- Don’t stick with the old boring planning process. You can take digital notes for various activities like meeting notes, hobbies, journaling, book reading tracking, and more
- Digital planning is environmentally friendly – you no longer need to buy paper ever again, so you can save some trees and have a sustainable lifestyle
How to get started with digital planning (in 3 easy steps)
Getting started with digital planning isn’t that scary (I promise), just follow the steps from below and you’ll be a digital planner hero soon 🙂
Step #1: Get a tablet and a stylus
You can use an iPad or an Android tablet. I have an 9.7″ iPad (2018) with a paper-like screen protector and an Apple Pencil that I love.
Now… I warmly recommend you having a stylus if you want to take handwritten notes. But if you don’t want that, then you can use your finger to flip pages around and the TEXT tool to type text to pages. 🙂
MY 2 CENTS: if you are planning to use a planner with hyperlinks, chances are that you’ll love to use a pen (instead of your fingers) to tap those hyperlinks.
Step #2: Install a Note-taking app
Choose one of the four leading apps that you can use: Goodnotes, Notability, Noteshelf, or Xodo PDF for Android. All are somewhat similar, but each has its own features and benefits. Choose the app you like the most, and you can get started.
Step #3: Choose a PDF Planner to import in the note-taking app
Choosing a digital planner (PDF file with or without hyperlinks) can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for. I’ll try to clear this out. Some planners formats to look for are:
- Portrait or landscape (horizontal)
- Dated and undated
- Yearly, weekly, and daily planners
- Work or life planners
- Minimalist or complex design planners
- Monday or Sunday start calendar planners
- Colored, grayscale or dark mode
- Monthly overview
- Weekly overview
- Daily schedule
- Habit Tracker
- Meeting note section
- Journaling section
- Financial tracker
- Meal plan and shopping lists
- Health section
- Books tracking
Let’s get started
Now that you’re all setup it’s time to begin filling your digital planner with notes, information, events, memories. Need some inspiration? Check my youtube livestream on how I take notes inside the 2021 Outline Digital Planner.