The latest trend in organizing and planning is a digital planner. If you’re going paperless or just want to start using a planner without buying a bunch of supplies this method is fun and easy to learn.
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Getting started with a paper planner doesn’t require a lot of supplies, but it can if you like to use stickers and fancy pens.
Getting started with a digital planner just requires a device! I’m using my 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which I bought refurbished on Amazon.com a few years ago.
If you’re thinking about switching to digital or have never used a planner, this tutorial is a great place to start. I covered the basics using a digital planner that I designed and a free app called Notes Writer.
Undated digital planner
I designed a ten-page digital planner that’s scaled to the iPad. It’s in PDF format, so it should work with any app that lets you edit and write on PDFs. I haven’t tried it on an Android tablet, but it should work fine there too.
Take a peek at all the pages I included, then I’ve got tutorials on all the basic functions below.
The first page in my digital planner is the cover. It’s what you’ll see as the icon for the planner when you open Notes Writer and the first page.
The yearly page has space for a heading at the top, then 12 boxes each with their own heading and a few lines.
Making quarterly goals is really one of my favorite tips for getting more done. This page has space for the date and your goal, then three projects and their tasks.
The monthly calendar is like most calendar pages. There’s room to write the month along the left margin, then fill in the days.
The weekly page is also pretty basic. The days are vertical, like my printable version.
The daily page includes lines to write a long list or break your schedule down by the hour. There are four small boxes and one big one for whatever you need to plan for your day.
The other pages included in my digital planner are:
- lined page
- grid page
- half-lined half-grid page
You can see details on the pages below in the tutorial.
Writing and typing
The most basic function for using Notes Writer for a digital planner is the pen icon (and pencil) at the top of the page. You can change the color and size of the line.
Then just use your stylus to write like you would with a real pen/pencil. I have an Apple pencil and it was absolutely worth the cost.
Click the eraser icon at the top menu, then use the stylus to erase. It is as precise as the writing pen.
If you’re like me and your tablet handwriting is terrible, you can use the text box to type everything. It lets you change all the font settings by clicking the text icon before you type.
After typing, you can also edit everything. You can use the stylus or fingers to type.
Tap the hand icon to move the finished text around, resize the text box, or bring up the editing options.
You’ll notice on my monthly calendar, there is empty space on the left margin. This gives you room to write out the month. You can then rotate the text and resize it to fit the space using the hand tool.
Just use a finger to drag, pinch, or move the text box.
A feature that I think is pretty cool is the highlighter. You can make it any color and it automatically goes behind your writing so that it’s easy to read.
This is a great way to highlight things, obviously. But it’s also a fun way to add more color to your planner.
Moving or duplicating drawings
You can move anything that you’ve drawn with the stylus by clicking on it. You can make a copy using the scissors. Click the icon at the top of the page and then draw around the item you want to clip.
The item you clipped will duplicate. This is handy is you want to copy something from one page to the next or just need two of.
Adding and rearranging pages
So if you download my planner, there are ten pages. You can duplicate every page as many times as you want to fill your planner.
Click on the boxes in the top left corner to see a menu of all your pages.
From here you can select any pages to jump to it.
To add a page anywhere, click on edit in the top right corner. Tap on the page you want to duplicate and then on the little copy icon on the left.
The copy will appear right next to the original, but you can drag it anywhere. Click done when you’re done rearranging.
Once you’ve duplicated all the pages you need to set up your planner, you’ll probably have a lot of pages. This can make it hard to jump around.
For example, if you have set up 12 monthly calendars and then started adding weekly or daily pages in January, you might want to add an event to your June monthly calendar.
You can bookmark any pages in your planner. This will add them to a menu, which works a bit like an index.
To bookmark a page, click the three dots in the top right of the screen, then select add bookmark.
To get to the bookmark menu, click those three dots again and select bookmarks.
From here you can go to any bookmarked page. You can also rename them, so it’s easy to figure out where you want to go.
Beyond calendars and weekly pages
There’s so much more that you can use a planner for besides planning your schedule. I’ve included a few other pages that I think are really versatile.
There’s one page that’s mostly blank with a banner across the middle. This makes a great divider, whether you’re separating out monthly sections (like I do with my printable planner) or you want to create sections for journaling, projects, etc.
One of the pages is all lined. This is great for journals, lists, and other long-form writing.
Drawing and bullet journals
I also created a page of gridlines. There’s really a ton you can do with graph paper, whether for personal use or school.
Finally, I created a page with both lines and grids, because a lot of times I need to write and draw on the same page for a project.
Download this digital planner
You can use Notes Writer with any PDF, but if you’d like to grab this one that I designed specifically for it, it’s available in the Keri Houchin Design shop.
It includes all ten pages and they’re not dated, so you can use it year after year!
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