Digital Planning: A Quickstart Guide for the iPad

Digital Planning is here. It is happening. And it is amazing.

If you’re a tried and true paper planner, you may have reservations — and that is completely understandable! I was there. There was no way that I could ever prefer a stylus and an iPad over pen and paper. But then I started playing around with it on my iPad and pretty quickly had a change of heart.

Why Did I Make the Switch to Digital Planning?

First, there’s the convenience factor. It’s so much easier to simply pull out a tablet and a stylus than it is to pull out several pens, markers, stickers, and a planner. You might have an organized way to do this, but I did not. I just had to wing it. I’m a working from home mom so it’s unavoidable that I sometimes have to work and plan while I’m hanging out with my daughter. I can’t tell you how many times my daughter would grab a pen, or grab a sticker — so many wasted stickers. So using my iPad and Apple Pencil for everything has been convenient in multiple ways for me.

Next, it’s more cost effective! Sure, there’s a pretty big start-up cost if you’re starting from scratch, but you will save so much money over time — because everything only has to be purchased once. No more spending for a brand new planner (unless, of course, you want to purchase a new digital planner every year). No more spending money on stickers that you can only use once. Digital stickers are simply PNG images that you can use over and over again.

Have you ever been working really hard on a paper planner page and either misspelled something, messed up your handwriting, or written something in the wrong place? Those days are over with digital planning. If you make an error, you can delete it and redo it — if you write something in the wrong place, simply copy and paste it to the correct section of your planner!

And, guys, here’s the kicker — if you have a paper planner layout that you love or stickers that you love, YOU CAN SCAN THEM AND USE THEM IN YOUR DIGITAL PLANNER! Whattt! If you don’t have a scanner, you can simply take a picture using your iPad or iPhone! If you have previously purchased printable stickers that are in PDF format, you can easily convert them into digital stickers!

I will always have a special place in my heart for pen and paper, but I can no longer deny the major convenience and ease of digital planning — not to mention all of the money I will save!

Materials for Digital Planning


◾ iPad

First and foremost, you’ll need an iPad. You can actually do digital planning on Android and Microsoft devices as well, but I’m an Apple user through and through, so this digital planning guide is strictly for the iPad. I recommend either the iPad Pro or the new 6th Generation iPad that’s compatible with the Apple Pencil. However, if you have an older iPad — that will work as well! You just won’t be able to use the Apple Pencil.


A stylus is not required (you can use your finger), but it is highly recommended if you want your digital planning experience to be as close to a pen and paper experience as possible.

If your iPad is one that is compatible with the Apple Pencil, then I highly recommend the Apple Pencil. The feel of the Apple Pencil is more pen-like than any other stylus I’ve ever used. It’s important to know that only the iPad Pro (any size) and the new 6th Generation iPad are compatible with the Apple Pencil.

If your iPad is not compatible with the Apple Pencil, then I recommend the Adonit Pixel stylus.


Required App

The only required app for digital planning is an app that annotates PDF. The two most popular digital planning apps for iPad are GoodNotes and NoteShelf. I originally started out with NoteShelf, but soon after I switched to GoodNotes for a few reasons. One reason is that most people use GoodNotes and a lot of times when you purchase digital stickers, sellers have pre-cropped the stickers into a GoodNotes file. The second reason I prefer GoodNotes is that it is so easy to switch between Notebooks, so you can easily keep your stickers in one notebook and have your planner as another notebook — and switch back and forth to copy and paste stickers!

Recommended Apps

None of the following apps are required, but I do recommend these apps in order to get the most out of your digital planning experience.

The first app is Procreate. You can do so many things with Procreate. You can create your own stickers, change the colors of stickers that you already have, or fill out your whole planner in Procreate. I prefer to screenshot my entire planner page, customize it in Procreate, then bring it back into GoodNotes.

The next app is AnyFont. AnyFont is a simple app that allows you to import any font onto your device. The fonts that you import won’t work in all apps, but they will work in a lot of apps that support text.

Next is an app called Graphic. It’s somewhat like Photoshop for the iPad. Any fonts that you upload in AnyFont will work in Graphic. If there is anything that I want to be typed in a specific font in my digital planner, I upload the font to AnyFont, type the phrase in Graphic, then import it to GoodNotes or Procreate depending on what I’m doing.

Over is another great app. Over is an app that allows you to add text to photos. Over is great for creating your own stickers, and you can upload your own fonts!

If you have downloaded several printable PDF sticker sheets, then I recommend an app called PDF to Image. This app will allow you to convert PDFs to images, which you can then use as digital stickers.

Finally, I recommend an app called Magic Eraser. This app allows you to remove backgrounds from photos, so you can turn any photo into a transparent sticker.

Digital Planner

Last but not least, you’ll need a digital planner! There are thousands of awesome digital planners and start planning.

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