How To Go Digital: Upgrade Your Paper Planner


But in a world where technology is replacing paper, some folks are making the move from traditional paper planners, to digital journals for scheduling, planning, and note-taking.

A point that often comes up when people think about leaving their paper planner behind is the question of typing versus writing by hand. Many people simply love the act of writing out their thoughts and plans by hand.

As I’ve pointed out in past articles, writing by hand is more engaging for your brain than typing.

  • Writing things down by hand helps you to memorize and internalize the information better than typing
  • Writing by hand forces you to slow down and better formulate your plans
  • The physical act of writing stimulates cells at the base of the brain to increase focus, giving more importance to the things you are focusing on

Writing out our thoughts and plans helps us to really connect with, and focus on, exactly what we need to do and plan for.

Thankfully, paperless technology is only getting better. We no longer have to sacrifice handwriting to use a digital journal. An iPad fitted with a PaperLike screen protector and an Apple Pencil, along with a digital journal and note-taking app, gives you the ability to write in your digital journal by hand.


What are the benefits of a digital journal?


With a digital journal you get more functionality, better organization, and easier portability than you can get from a paper journal, plus the ability to customize your journal with clipart, colored pens, and organizing tags.

There are many advantages to using a digital journal for life and work planning, and note-keeping.

To name just a few:

  • Portable: It can be hard to haul a paper planner around, and easy to misplace. A digital planner is easy to carry and all supplies are self-contained.
  • Always backed up: Entries in your journal are safely backed up to the cloud and also stored locally on each of your devices.
  • Easy to Search: Use the search function to find exactly what you’re looking for, quickly.
  • Automatic reminders: A digital journal will automatically generate reminders for events like birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Up-to-date calendar: Digital calendars are always up-to-date because they can keep your schedule synced across all of your devices.
  • Easy to edit: To edit your digital journal, simply delete what you want to remove. (It’s hard to edit in a paper planner, especially if you write in ink!)

Now that you know some of the reasons digital journals are so popular, you might be wondering what steps you can take to transition your paper planner to a digital journal.

How can you easily move from a paper planner to a digital journal?


Paperless tools, with all the latest features, can be appealing—but it can feel overwhelming to switch from a method that is already working to one that is new

But don’t worry, it’s really very simple.

If you’re already using a paper planner to organize and record your life, the easiest way to transition to a paperless planner is to use it the same way you’re using your paper planner.

What does this mean? It means choosing a digital planner with a layout that’s similar to the paper planner you’re already using so you don’t need to learn any new methods, just a new interface.

Start off by identifying what you use your planner for, and the features it must include.


What functions does it have that you can’t do without?  A calendar, space for notes, checklists?


What are the main things you use your planner for? Scheduling, note-taking, writing daily tasks, tracking projects?

  • If you mainly use a planner for scheduling daily tasks and appointments, you’ll need a simple digital journal that comes in calendar format.
  • If you use a planner for journaling, you’ll want a digital journal with a calendar, and note-pages for recording your thoughts and observations.
  • If your planner is used for goal planning or project tracking, look for a digital journal with a space for note-taking or a to-do list, and a calendar to mark due dates.
  • And if you like to organize your life with a bullet journal, you can find digital bullet journals with the same features (and more) of a paper bullet journal.


Now that you’ve identified exactly how you use your paper planner, you can look for digital options to fill the specific needs you have. This will make it much easier to find the right digital journal for the job.

One roadblock you can run into when choosing a digital journal, is having too many choices and not enough information. In an ever-expanding digital world, the options in digital journals and note-taking apps are increasing.

One of the problems I faced when moving from a paper planner to a digital journal was, I couldn’t find a digital journal with all the features I needed. I tried using a couple of apps to fill in the missing functions I needed that the digital journals didn’t have, but I didn’t like jumping from app to app for different functions.


I wanted everything I needed for my planning, scheduling, and journaling in one place.

Some of the features I was looking for were:

  • Yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily page views
  • Weekday names on daily view
  • Jump to any page by a simple tap
  • Drag and Drop Clipart
  • Tickable checklist
  • Track your yearly Milestones and Highlights
  • Track 24 Projects within a dedicated Project section
  • A minimalistic design that allows you to focus on taking notes



Since I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, I created Tom Solid’s Digital Journal—a digital journal I could use with my favorite note-taking app to schedule appointments, track my goals and projects, and keep notes, just to name a few.

With a lot of helpful feedback from the members of the Paperless Movement community, I created this digital journal with all of the functionality of a paper planner, plus more!

When you use a digital journal, your tasks, appointments, and notes are perfectly coordinated and easily accessible. You never run out of space for taking notes. And you can jump from monthly to weekly to notes just by clicking on a tab.

A digital journal is perfectly portable and safely backed-up to the cloud.

Because you can use an iPad, PaperLike screen protector, and Apple Pencil, you can have all the benefits of a digital journal combined with the best parts of using a paper planner. There is no good reason to delay switching from a paper planner to a digital journal.

There are many options for digital journals and organizing apps available. Whether you use the Tom Solid Digital Journal, or another option, you’ll be well on your way to having a more organized and efficient life.


In conclusion:

The ability to replicate the feel and functionality of paper planner in a digital journal has made digital journals very popular.

If you start by using your digital journal the same way you currently use your paper planner, you’ll find the transition much easier and with fewer frustrations.

Once you’ve integrated a digital journal into your daily life, you’ll have less physical clutter and much more functionality at your fingertips.

You can learn more about the details of using a digital journal in your daily life inside the Paperless Movement Inner Circle, where I answer questions and teach on topics like using note-taking apps and digital journals.


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