Digital Planning Beginner's Guide

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Part 1 - Getting started

You might find yourself extremely overwhelmed with the amount of options and routes you can take with digital planning - especially if you are coming from a paper planner. 

After reading this guide, you will be fully equipped with everything you need to know to get started and stay laser focused in the world of digital planners.

Steps to get started:

  1. Choose a planning app

  2. Choose or make a digital planner

  3. Start optimizing your life!

  1. Choose a planning app

The app you choose to buy or download for free, will be the home for your planner. The planning app will allow you to write in your planner and use it just as you would a paper planner. You will be able to plan, take notes, decorate and add stickers.

 You can see why it’s important to decide on an app that will best suit your needs and planning style. There are options out there whether you’re using an iPad or an Android tablet. 

Here is a comprehensive list of planning apps to choose from: 


  1. Goodnotes 5

  2. Notability

  3. Noteshelf

  4. Zoomnotes

  5. Procreate (a lot of design options when using a bullet journal)


  1. Metamoji

  2. Xodo

  3. Onenote

I use Goodnotes 5, and the examples I show throughout this guide will be in the Goodnotes app. If you decide on using a different app, you will likely still be able to follow as they all rely on the same mechanics and principles!

2. Choose a digital planner

We are getting into the fun part now! Choosing a planner can be really exciting if you know what you are looking for. There are many options so you will surely find something you like. Here are the main formats planners come in:

  1. Portrait

  2. Landscape

  3. Landscape Split

  4. Dashboard

  5. Bullet Journal

  6. Dated + Undated

  1. Portrait Orientation

Portrait, or Vertical planners, take up the whole page and give you plenty of space to write. They can have rings to mimic a paper planner, or come without them, this comes down to personal preference. Portrait planners have tabs on the side, on top, or both. 

Portrait planner examples:

2. Landscape Planners

Landscape, or Horizontal planners, offer even more space than portrait planners, 

Landscape planner examples:

3. Landscape Split

This planner mimics a physical planner, and in my opinion looks pretty cool! You may end up choosing this layout if you like decorating your planner and want the paper planner look. They come in different colors, different table backgrounds and so on. They can have tabs on top, or on the sides.

Landscape Split planner examples:

4. Dashboard

This planner is a little different then the ones above. Dashboards are a fun way to access your to do lists and your planner spreads. You can access your planners by tapping on the items in your dashboard

5. Bullet Journal

Bullet journaling is my planning method of choice. When I switched to using a digital planner, the first thing I wanted to do is mimic the functionality of a bullet journal. Digital bullet journals can be simple, in the form of a notebook, or with layouts added for your use.

Bullet Journal examples:

6. Dated vs Undated

All digital planners come in 2 forms, dated or undated. This one is self explanatory but I want to cover some pros and cons to both.

 Dated planners can be convenient, especially if you have a packed schedule. Their downside is that these planners can be pretty complex and with hundreds of pages. You will also need to get a new planner every year. 

Undated planners avoid this problem by giving you freedom to use them whenever you please, no need to update. Their undated nature reminds me of a bullet journal, which I prefer. 

Make your own planner (or order a custom one)

If you looked all over Etsy and still can’t find what you’re looking for, you may want to consider designing your own planner. You can do this in many different ways (search YouTube for tutorials). 

Most use Keynote + Procreate for designing their unique planner. I am a Windows computer user so I make my planners in Powerpoint + Photoshop + inDesign. I find that I can get the highest quality this way. 

An alternative to all of these options is ordering a custom planner, made just for you by one of the many lovely designers online and in Facebook groups. I am currently offering this service as well (check it out here)!