Digital Planning Basics: How to Get Started


Digital planning can be a flexible and efficient planning solution for those that find themselves collecting more planner supplies than they use or for those that just aren’t finding paper planning a good fit. In this video, we will be covering with digital planning is, what tools you will need, and choosing a note-taking app.

What is Digital Planning?

A digital planner is typically designed similar to traditional paper planners. The difference is that instead of being in paper form, you import a PDF into a note-taking app and use it on your iPad or tablet. These interactive PDF planners contain hyperlinked tabs that make navigating through your planner quick and easy. By just clicking on the planner’s tabs, the pages flip for you just like you would use a paper planner with dividers.

Digital stickers are PNG files that have a transparent background and you import these images into your planner to decorate them. There are a lot of different types of digital stickers so they don’t just have to be for decoration there are functional options too.

Digital planners are compatible with both Apple and Android devices so the tool depends on which device you have. For both iOS and Android devices, you will need their version of a tablet, a stylus to write with, a note-taking app from their app store, and a digital planner PDF.

Freebies to get you started

At this point, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed about digital planning, but good news! To save you some time searching for your first planner, we do offer a free one to try out. You just have to join our Freebie Library to access the planner. We also have digital stickers available there as well.



Choosing a Note-taking app

There are pros and cons to every note-taking app so it’s important to explore each app’s features to weigh those pros and cons before downloading one to try out. Many apps have similar features like handwriting search and scrolling options, but each app also seems to have something special about it that might be a deal-breaker for some.

With that being said, next, we’ll go through a few note-taking apps that we recommend and then review their standout features – the features that make them stand apart from the others.


GoodNotes as an Apple-only app so it will only work on Apple devices. However on Apple devices, it is available for iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS.

GoodNotes has very flexible organization options for both notes or documents and pages within those notes or documents. You can organize the documents with folders, sub folders, and favorites and you can sort them by date, name, and type. If you want to change the view you have a list option and a thumbnails option. Inside of the note or document, you can view the pages in three different ways – thumbnails favorites, or outlines.

The Elements tool is a great option for digital sticker organization. GoodNotes’ description of this tool is “easily save and insert frequently used objects like stickers, images, texts, formulas, and diagrams”. The last standout feature for GoodNotes is that you can have multiple tabs open at the same time. This seems like a very small thing, but if you are working consistently between multiple notebooks or documents, then it’s very helpful to be able to have multiple tabs open.


Noteshelf is a cross-platform app so it will work on both iOS and Android devices. In Noteshelf, you can record audio notes which can be helpful during meetings or online courses. And you have a lot of customization options that you don’t have in other apps. You can change the appearance of your app. You can also customize gestures, like how to bring up the page navigation and hyperlinks navigation is customizable. You can choose whether hyperlinks work in writing mode or not. You can also add tags to pages for another layer of organization and there are many text style options like fonts, colors, and custom styles.


The next app on our list is called Xodo. It is the only free option on our list and is a standard PDF annotation app. A lot of the features are limited compared to the other apps, but for a free app, I think it’s a solid one to have as an option. Xodo is cross-platform and has a web app.


Last but not least for our app recommendations is Notability. Similar to GoodNotes, Notability is an Apple-only app. However, similar to GoodNotes as well, it is available on iOS, iPad, iOS, and MacOS so you can access your notes on any of your Apple devices.

It has a very realistic handwriting feel. It is a really smooth experience and some say it’s the best note-taking app because of how great the handwriting feel is. You can record audio notes and you have the most media insert options with Notability. Not only can you add images and stickers, but you can also add web clips, URLs, and interactive checklists.

Our Final Recommendations

If you are using an Apple device, we would highly recommend using GoodNotes. The organization options are second to none, specifically the page organization options. Those are extremely helpful when you’re working in and customizing a digital planner and the ability to have multiple tabs of documents open comes in handy more often than not.

If you have an Android tablet, or if you’re not sure that you’re going to stick to one brand of device like Apple devices, then we recommend Noteshelf. It has a lot of the same features as GoodNotes and those smaller features that make it unique like tags and text styles.

There are a lot of note-taking apps coming out on the market. These are just the ones that we recommend if you were specifically going to download one for digital planning.


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