We’re honoured today in having an incredibly creative planner lover sharing their tips with us. Let me introduce our guest, Sarah Cheever, who is going to show us how to create a digital planner with printables.

I’m excited to learn from her and I know you’ll enjoy this too! So let’s get started with today’s masterclass.

So why a digital planner?

Sarah : I wanted a versatile planner that was as detailed as I needed it to be and yet, compact enough to be carried with me everywhere. I wanted it to stay neat and yet be easily edited. And as I was going digital, I wanted it to be accessible and up to date, regardless of the device I was using.

If you have ever looked at planners, you know how many different ones there are.

Finding a planner that works for me is pretty tricky because of how picky I am as to what I want in my planner and because of how detailed I like to be.

I love, love, LOVE paper planners, but getting everything I need on paper was going to create a phonebook size planner!

And if I forgot my planner, I wouldn’t be able to see my calendar in order to plan appointments or see what was next on my schedule.

With a family of five, my schedule gets PRETTY busy.

After looking at several planner templates, I came across the 2018 version of the Color Your 365 Burst Planner. It was colorful and had several templates to try out for my month, week and daily pages, and some other fun and useful pages I wanted in my planner… Win!

Having more than one template meant I could put together my planner using what worked for me in the order I wanted… if I was willing to spend the money to print and bind it all together. So I considered doing a digital planner.

Jacqui : As creatives we so often want a custom solution to our needs. I love that you knew exactly what you needed your planner to do for you.

I could put together a planner that worked for me

It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to make the way you do things fit a planner, and that rarely works.

So tell us what did you use to create your digital planner?

Sarah : The tools + supplies you’ll need to follow along are :

  • 2018 Colour Your 365 Burst Planner
  • HP Laptop
  • Dropbox
  • PDF Architect 5
  • iPad Air 64G
  • iPhone 7
  • GoodNotes 4 App (version 4.12.12)

I’m going to turn it over to you Sarah so you can step us through how to create a digital planner of our own.

How to create a digital planner

Step 1

I had gone through pinterest, looking for digital planners, and since I had an iPad and an iPhone, I thought a digital planner was an achievable goal.

I already had PDF Architect 5 on my HP Laptop, so I bought the 2018 Colour Your 265 Burst Planner Kit from byjacquiesmith and saved my digital file download to my Dropbox account under my Organizing Printables folder.

I browsed through each of the files to see what templates I thought would be a good fit for me based off of which features I liked best and came up with a list of the Year, Month and Today formats, along with the other pages I wanted to use.

Step 2

Once I knew what pages I wanted to use, I planned my layout. I loved the bright cover, and of course all my information sheets had to be first, then it was matter of what created the smoothest workflow for me in terms of scrolling through my planner and actually using it.

Step 3

Using my PDF Architect 5 program, I began creating my digital planner base by merging the files I wanted to use. (image 3a).

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Once I selected the files, I was able to put them in the order I had already planned out. (image 3b)

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Then I was able to create my first draft of my planner! (image 3c).

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Once I got to see the planner in its “book” format, I got really excited! This could really work!

Step 4

Next, I had to figure out what app I could use on my iPhone 7 and my iPad Air to be able to edit my PDF files.

Turns out, I like the GoodNotes 4 app best. I installed it and found it easy to use. It had a template library (more on that later) and different features for writing and marking up my planner.

I had already saved the planner from PDF Architect into my Dropbox account, so uploading it into GoodNotes was fairly simple. I used the “+” button at the top left corner to begin to add my file (image 4a).

Since I already had the base of the planner started, I simply had to “import” the file (image 4b) from my Dropbox (image 4c).

As you can see, I have several documents I now use GoodNotes for because I love being able to edit my PDF files. (image 4d)

Step 5

I will note that this next step, I did not do until later because I did not know it was a feature at the time. But this is where you should definitely take the time to create your template library of pages that you will be using, such as the Today template, or other pages you should choose to replicate.

I like the Action Plan and use it at the beginning of every month for some of my monthly goals, so I included the Action Plan pages here. The bottom right hand corner has an “Options” button where you will find your “Template Library” (image 5a).

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The “+” button in the top right of the pop-up menu allows you to create a folder/category for your Paper Template.

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I used the name “Planners” so any organizing printable pages that I added could go in one place. (image 5c)

When I click the “Edit” button within my “Planners” Template folder, I am able to add (with the “+” button at the top right) planner pages from the Jacqui’s Color Your 365 Planner files or remove any pages I end up not needing (red circle next to each page). (image 5d)

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Step 6

I chose to only add five Today pages per week for each template I wanted to try out. (image 6a)

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The 4 blocks icon at the top allows you to edit the order of your pages by dragging them around or adds (“+”) pages where you want them. The first week I used the Today A template. (image 6b)

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But I found I had too much empty space and it ended up not really being conducive to my schedule.

So for the second week, I tried the Today B template. I liked the hourly schedule, but it was a little too detailed for me to use every day.

However, I find it is very helpful for a particularly busy day when I want to be sure the day flows well for me without forgetting anything! Since it’s in my template library, I can add it in on any day I need some extra structure.

For week three, I used the Today C template. The open day schedule allows me to feel structured and flexible at the same time and is what I chose to use as my main daily template.

Step 7

Now that I had my planner setup, I could start filling it in, color coordinating any appointments based on which family member it was for, and depending on the size of the area, adjusting the font size made my entries neat and legible. (image 7a)

The icons at the top of the screen allow you to insert images and text boxes (which include a few choices of fonts). (image 7b)

It also has a pen and highlighter feature. I find the textboxes work really well for me as I can change font style, size and color easily. If I’m adding more than one entry that use the same settings, the settings from the previous entry are already set up.

Step 8

I am now able to use my digital planner fairly easily. I add pages for each week before I start the week. I fill in the planner as I would a printed planner, as far ahead as I want and if I want to detail a day or week before I get to it, I can. (image 8a)

I can print any page I need if I want a paper copy to carry with me. But my favorite feature is that as long as I have the GoodNotes app and WiFi access, my GoodNotes account allows me to access the most up to date version of my digital planner. I can edit it from my iPad Air or my iPhone. I can zoom in and easily make changes to my planner. If I use the wrong color or if an appointment gets changed, I can make those changes without “ruining” my pristine calendar!

Step 9

One of my favorite pages Jacqui created, is the Habit Tracker. (image 9a) You’ll notice that it wasn’t filled in all the way for the 1st month… I was busy finding what setup worked best for me, since the Today templates also have the Habit tracker circles at the bottom.

I created a set of 8 Habits to track that color coordinate with the Habit Tracker circles on the Today template. Now I can use it properly.

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Final tips

Jacqui : Wow, thank you! That’s is fabulous Sarah, and so easy to follow.

What advice or tips would you give someone who wanted to create a digital planner using printables now that you’ve successfuly got your planner set up and working?

Sarah : There are some things that I would have liked to have known before I got too involved in setting up my planner.

First, the iPad has more colors when color coordinating than the iPhone does. So sometimes my colors don’t match up perfectly when I edit from a different device, but they both have Preset functions which helps make sure I can choose the same shade of color per device at least.

Second, I don’t have the Apple Pencil yet, but I highly recommend splurging for it if you want to use a stylus for a handwritten approach. I did try one I got on Amazon, but the Apple Pencil I tried at the Apple store seems to be more natural for handwriting in the planner. That’s why I have been using textboxes instead of handwriting my planner. At least my planner still has a neat look to it!

Also, since GoodNotes allows you to copy a page and add it as an additional page, I found that I could, for example, create a “template” for my Monday and simply copy and paste it to the next week. And more importantly, if my To-Do list for the day, which is also color coordinated, wasn’t finished, I could copy the day’s page and insert it in for the next day editing the date to match the new day.

Jacqui : They’re such great tips Sarah. Thanks so much for sharing your creativity with us today. And I’m so glad you’ve found a solution that works uniquely for your families needs. That would remove a whole heap over overwhelm from organising your day and taking care of yourself + your family.

To create a planner you’ll love using everyday, in paper or digital pick up your Digital Planner here! And plan your day with confidence + joy!

Any final thoughts you’d like to share with the readers today before you go Sarah?

Sarah : The most important thing to remember is that using a digital planner like this allows you to personalize it to YOU!

Try something out and if you don’t like it, you are able to try a different way or template without having to invest a lot of money into a whole new planner.

I’m glad I took the time to explore the GoodNotes app because I found a lot of features I love using and that make a digital planner easy to use. I love the colorful look Jacqui has given her templates and the versatility of the different templates allowed me to pick and choose what suited me best and has ultimately given me my best planner ever!

A FUSElife planner is at the heart of a productive day … buy yours + start planning today!

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