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How to Use Your iPad or Tablet Just Like a Paper Planner

Posted by Michele Gaylor on

How to Use Your iPad or Tablet Just Like a Paper Planner

Are you struggling with trying to find the perfect planning system? Are you spending "mucho dinero" on new planners that just don't work out? Do you own a tablet or iPad?............. Well, did you know that you can use your tablet to plan just like a paper planner?

I actually use both paper and my iPad to plan at this time and I'll explain how I do this.


How to use your iPad or tablet Just Like a Paper Planner


First, let me say that there are times that I'm one of the people who struggle with finding the perfect system. There are days that I just can't seem to decide what planner I want to use. There's no "planner peace" for me.

At this moment I'm using the following planners:

  • Hobonichi Weeks - This one goes with me everywhere and keeps track of my weekly and daily tasks.
  • iPad - I use my tablet with the imported PDF planner file to keep my monthly planner, weekly planner, daily planner, and notes. (More on this later.)
  • Hobonichi Cousin - This is my memory keeper book that documents and records my daily life.
  • Traveler's Notebook - This holds my gratitude journal and art journal.
  • A5 Planner - This is the big book of plans and ideas.

Man, this seems like so much and can be overwhelming at times....... I didn't even mention the notebook that I use as a bullet journal when I feel really over-taxed with work tasks and my phone which has checklists in Google Keep.

If you focus just on the "true" planning, that deletes the Hobonichi Cousin and Traveler's Notebook from the list. I'm left with my Hobonichi Weeks, digital iPad planner, and A5 planner. That is still two - too many for me. Any time I'm using more than one planner I start to get frustrated and anxious... but I can make it work well with one paper planner that I use to focus on daily tasks and my digital planner. This means that my A5 planner stays on my work table and only gets used for really big project planning. I can figure out task lists in that planner and then work them into my Hobonichi Weeks and digital planner to complete later.

I try to keep my current Hobonichi Weeks focused solely on tasks. No project planning or miscellaneous lists. Those things go in my A5 planner and Google Keep. I just received the new Spring version last week and I don't even have a single thing written in the Notes section yet!

My digital iPad planner is a PDF planner that I designed and currently have available in my shop. You can use any note taking app on your tablet to keep notes and design your own system but I just prefer to use mine because I enjoy the format and pre-dated pages. Watch the videos below to see how I set up my weekly schedule using the iPad and the Apple Pencil... It's just like using a pen and paper. I didn't really believe the Apple pencil would work as well as it does before I bought it. Now I know how fantastic it is.


The Erin Condren/Happy Planner Style Vertical Planner


The Weekly Vertical Timed Planner


Did you watch the videos?? - As you can see, I have more than one weekly planner format working for me. I have several different planner options in the shop right now in different colors and styles. Just remember that the Apple Pencil only works on the iPad Pros. Of course you can use any tablet and note taking app. It doesn't have to be iOS. I have an Android phone that works just as well but I have to use a different stylus for writing.

To make the most of the digital planner, you'll need a good note taking app on your tablet. There are so many to choose from.... but I'll mention the three that I have and use.

GoodNotes is a very popular note taking system that is available only for iOS. Many people use this and really enjoy it. What I like the most about GoodNotes is that the interactive tabs that I design into the planner actually work in this app. But... if you notice in the videos, this is not the app that I prefer to use. GoodNotes also has the ability to bookmark pages which comes in handy as an index in your planner.

OneNote is an app from Microsoft that you can download and use for free. I've actually been slowly converting all of my beloved Evernote data over to OneNote because it's much more versatile. You can import the planner file into OneNote and use it the same way you see in the videos and add extra functionality. It's also important to mention that OneNote works across all platforms at this time. So, it doesn't matter if you are on iOS, Android or even your PC or Mac. It works and syncs across all of them.

Metamoji Notes is by far my favorite note taking app (as seen in the videos). Please know that this is just my personal opinion. I'm not an expert but I just know it's more user friendly for me. My interactive tabs won't work in this app but I really don't mind scrolling up and down my page list to find what I'm looking for. This app is available on both iOS and Android and my planner file syncs across the platforms. That means that I can do my planning on my iPad and access all of that information on my Android phone at any time.

So you see? All you need is a decent tablet and a note taking app to start planning your heart out. If you want to get fancy, add a nice stylus or Apple Pencil and a pre-designed digital planner that you can import into the note taking app.

Digital planning can save a lot of money in the long run if it keeps you from buying every new planner that comes along (I'm totally guilty of doing that!). I know that paper will always be part of my system because I need to physically hold something in my hands much of the time. But going digital for the majority of my planning and note taking just makes sense to me right now. I don't have to worry about which planner holds the information I need because ultimately, I can always find what I am looking for on the tablet or on my phone. Even before I started using my PDF planner, I would snap photos of my paper planners and add them to Evernote for future access.

So, try it! You might like it!

Are you thinking of going all digital? Have you already made the switch? Let me know on Facebook!

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