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Faster, Better & More Flexible With A Digital Planner: Here’s Why I Switched

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I recently discovered the joy of planning with digital planner, switching from traditional paper-based planners. Besides the obvious reasons, there is a larger motivation behind the switch which I will elaborate later.

Don’t get me wrong.. I love paper planners

Paper planners are an absolute delight. I had an assortment of stickers, junk journal elements that I have collected over the years, washi tapes, little notelets and embellishments that I used to adorn my planner pages. Touching and feeling the paper gives a different feel in planning. For those who loves planning with paper, no amount of digital planners can change their mind.

Switching to digital planner

I started to think about switching when I was planning for retirement. I needed to minimize the amount of things I own and that included books and planners. I started giving away a large portion of books and only kept the ones that I wanted to continue reading. For my continuous note taking and planning, I decided to use a digital version. I tried Goodnotes and Collanote, and decided to stick with Collanote. Although Goodnotes was far more popular and have a lot more advocates, I find Collanote more flexible to use. For the record, I have paid version for both.

What is a digital planner?

Digital planner is an electronic version of a traditional paper planner or journal, that can be used on tablets, smartphones and computers. It can be used as an organizer, to plan your schedule, track tasks and take notes. Here are a few things you need to know about digital planners:

Format and Structure: Digital planners come in various formats, including PDFs, images, or specialized digital planner files. These files mimic the look and feel of paper planners, with pages that resemble traditional calendar layouts, to-do lists, note pages, and more. You can often choose from various styles and layouts to suit your preferences, such as daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly views.

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Writing and Annotation: Apps like GoodNotes and Collanotes allow you to write and draw directly on the digital planner pages using a stylus or your fingers.These apps often support a variety of pen styles, colors, and thickness options, providing flexibility for note-taking and drawing.

Customization: You can often customize your digital planner’s appearance by changing the cover, page templates, colors, and fonts. Some apps even allow you to import custom designs, stickers, or other decorative elements to personalize your digital planner further. You can get a similar experience as of a traditional paper planner.

Navigation and Organization: You can easily navigate through your digital planner by swiping or tapping on the screen. For apps that supports interlinking, it can be as easy as a click on the respective links to navigate between different sections.

Import and Export: Some of these apps allow you to import and export digital planner files in various formats, making it easy to share, backup, or collaborate with others. Collanote have a sharing feature, so you can easily share an entire note with someone else.

Search and Accessibility: Many digital planner apps include search functionality, which helps you quickly find specific entries, even within handwritten notes. They may also support text-to-speech for accessibility, making your digital planner content more inclusive.

Synchronization and Backup: Some apps offer synchronization features, ensuring that your digital planner is accessible across multiple devices, like tablets and smartphones. GoodNotes and Collanotes stores the planner files on the device itself, on Cloud or in Google Drive – meaning you can access your notes anywhere you are. I like this feature because I can access my notes in any location, as long as I have a device with internet access.

Aesthetic of a traditional paper planner & more!

GoodNotes and Collanotes are two popular apps specifically designed for digital planners and note-taking. They provide a smooth and realistic handwriting experience, advanced annotation tools, and extensive customization options. By using these apps, you can enjoy the benefits of a digital planner while retaining the aesthetic and structure of a traditional paper planner.

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I know that using these apps give me a lot more flexibility. If I did a page that I didn’t enjoy anymore, I will have to tear it up or glue the pages together. With digital planning, I can delete it easily! Or if I started writing something that I didn’t want to keep, or maybe used a color scheme that I didn’t like – deleting or changing it can be quite impossible with a traditional planner. On the other hand a digital planner gives me the flexibility to just make these changes easily.

Exploring different types of planners

In the past, I only kept a few notebooks, journals and planners for work and my personal notes. As paper based books can be expensive to acquire (for example dot journals like Moleksine can cost quite a fair bit in where I live), I have to be mindful when starting a new planner / log book / notebook. Sometimes I just jam pack a few different topics into one notebook to save on cost.

With digital planner, it is a whole new perspective! On my Collanote, I have folders for work, personal and other projects. Sometimes when I feel like scribbling down something, I just start a new note and label it as such. If I don’t find the need to keep it any longer, I just delete it. I can also start new bullet journals (yes… there are dotted, grids, Cornell and many more types of templates to choose from) and make a habit planner. Whenever I am planning a trip, I can put my notes on my digital planner and access it even when I am on the trip – because every planner and notebook resides in my trusty iPad. As I speak, I am still exploring new planners to add to my digital collection.

Edit, Change, Delete with Ease

Gone are the days when making any changes to a paper based planner is either painful or ugly. Painful when I need to tear a page off. Ugly when I need to stick something over it. Either way, it is a reminder that editing anything or changing my mind will smear the planner. Somehow I just love it when my planners are all clean, neat, and nice.

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In the digital planner, I can easily erase a block of text if I got it wrong or maybe even delete an entire page. If I forgot to add something in, I can easily slot in a new page. Or if I need more pages for a particular item, I can easily add more pages to it without disrupting the flow of the entire planner.

Stickers, Highlighters, Different Types of Pen with A Whole Spectrum of Colors

You are only limited by your own imagination in digital planners. If the app doesn’t provide me with the stickers that I need, I can easily purchase them and load them into my app for immediate use. If the default highlighter colors doesn’t suit my taste, I can easily change the colors and set it as default favorites. There are ball pens, pencil, fountain pen, calligraphy pen, dooten pen, felt tip pen and so much more! For those with a creative eye, digital planning really opens up new possibilities – without costing you an arm and a leg to purchase these stationeries.

Below are some digital planner stickers that you can get. One thing I really like about these stickers is that you can use them multiple times and you only pay one fee for the rights to use them on your planners. I will continue adding value-for-money stickers in my list for your consideration.

Get started with digital planning

Now that I’ve covered the reasons why I’ve switched to digital planning, what about you? Keen to get started as well? Don’t forget to check out the freebies to get your started on the journey. Read my next post on why I’ve chosen Collanotes vs GoodNotes.