Do You Use Your Phone as a Digital Planner?
Sometimes I’m really tempted to replace my current planning system with a digital planner. What about you? Do you use your phone to plan or schedule appointments? Part of its appeal is that it is so small and easy to carry around. You always have it with you, right? And since it’s digital, it really has a lot of features to offer.
For me, one problem with using my phone is that it is so small. I’ve tried so hard to master adding things to my calendar, but most times it just doesn’t work. Maybe my fingers are too big, or maybe I should just try harder and more often. Practice makes perfect.
And I’ll be honest – my phone just isn’t as appealing to me as paper and pen. Although every now and then, my phone demonstrates just how handy it can be, and then I start thinking again about digital planning.
Why is Anyone Still Using Paper?
For a lot of people – me included – paper planners are almost an obsession. It’s something you either understand or you don’t. Those of us weirdos who like paper and pen can talk for hours about it. The feel of the paper and the way the pen behaves as you write. Is it the right weight? Does it glide or scratch? I could go on and on.
But there is science behind our madness too.
The act of writing something down makes it more likely that you will remember it. And for some reason, typing it into your computer or phone just won’t work.
I do know that the more senses you involve in whatever you do, the more you will remember it. I’m sure if you recall a vivid memory, it will bring up all kinds of things. Smells, sounds, even sensations. Have you ever had the experience of looking for something in a book or in your notes, and you can see the page in your mind? You know which side it’s on, what’s near it, and more. That doesn’t often happen on a computer.
So What’s the Best Choice?
The best choice when it comes to a planner is like a lot of other things; it’s personal and you have to decide for yourself.
Paper or phone?
These days you have a third option that you might not have known about: digital planners. They look like a paper planner – they even have stickers and some have the ability to “turn” the pages – but they’re digital. You can use it on your tablet or phone.
It is an attempt to allow people who like to make their planners pretty to also take advantage of technology and portability. It’s a very intriguing idea.
So How Do Digital Planners Work?
Digital planners combine an app – usually Goodnotes, which is a paid app – with a planner design. Goodnotes can work completely on its own, but designers have used it as a starting base for their planner.
For instance, let’s say you needed a birthday cake, but all the store had was plain ones. You could buy the plain cake, present it to the birthday boy or girl, and essentially it would work. There is a birthday and there is cake.
But you want a pretty cake for a birthday. So you buy the plain one along with some colorful frosting and other decorations, and you take it home and make it pretty.
Using a Digital Planner
It has a bit of a learning curve, but you can do pretty much anything with a digital planner that you can with a paper one. Plus you have the advantage of being able to set alerts, reminders, and more.
All of the digital planners that I’ve looked at have the ability to go from one part of the planner to another easily. Sometimes you can “turn” the pages or other times you just click on a certain area. If you have the ability to use a stylus with your device, it makes it easier. You can even add stickers to them!
I have tried three of them and I will summarize them below.
Etsy and Goodnotes
The first digital planner I ever tried was one I bought from Etsy last year. It was dated, so it was only good for the year. I wish I knew the name of it or who I bought it from (so I can give them credit), but I didn’t think to save it at the time. However, if you look at Etsy, you will find a huge number to choose from.
I was (accidentally) very smart and purchased a planner that was designed by someone who included videos to go with it, to help you get started. Even so, I found the whole thing to ultimately be more trouble than it was worth. The time I spend just trying to add an event to my calendar just wasn’t worth it.
You should also be aware that some of these digital planners only work on tablets or with a stylus. Some only work on iPads, so keep those things in mind. Also, if it only works on a tablet, are you going to be willing to take it with you everywhere? And what if you have no wi-fi? Will it work then? (My guess is that you could add events to it, but not be able to sync anything or get a reminder if it has that option.)
Recently I tried a digital planner called Artful Agenda. This app offers a free trial period of 14 days, after which it will automatically charge your card unless you cancel. At the moment, there is a special price: $35.00 annually or $3.99 a month. This is a dated planner, so you would need to purchase a new one each year.
I found Artful Agenda to be very easy to use, except for the stickers. It syncs with Google, Outlook, and most other calendars, including iCal on my phone and tablet.
It lets you choose colors, different covers, and even fonts to mimic handwriting. It offers a lot of features that you would expect to find in a paper planner, such as tracking your water, making meal plans and a to-do list, and notes. It also allows you to add extra pages and pdf files.
I found the stickers limited and hard to use. They kept disappearing and then showing up in the wrong place. And I didn’t see any place to set an alarm or reminder. While I was impressed overall with Artful Agenda, the lack of a reminder system or alarm of some kind was a deal-breaker.
24me markets itself as a “smart personal assistant” rather than a digital planner, and seems to aiming towards a younger market. Millennials? I don’t know; I can’t keep up anymore. It doesn’t matter anyway. If we like it, we can use it.
And so far, I like it. Here’s a list of what it can do:
- Sync your calendars, including Google and Outlook
- Add a to-do list – with reminders! Even better – it has an icon next to some of your to-dos. Need to make a call? If the person is in your contact list – which it syncs up with – a phone icon will appear. You can make a call, send an email, even purchase a gift – right from the app.
- My favorite? I can have a separate calendar for my bills and pay them from the app.
- You can add links to things like your bank or your utility company or even your social networks. That way, you can access them easily and get notifications from them.
- You can even add items with your voice.
I’ve only been using it for a short time, but once I get everything all set up, I think this will be my new system . I can’t believe I would ever say this, but digital planners just might help me get rid of some paper. :0
After Some Thinking
All of my bills are paid automatically (except for one because the electric company is still living in the Dark Ages) so all I need to know is the date they’re due and the amount. I don’t need the ability to pay them right from my calendar or digital planner.
In fact, I think my Google calendar can pretty much do everything I need it to do. My biggest problem are tasks. I’m not likely to put a reminder to clean the bathroom in my phone, so maybe I’ll still use paper for that.
What’s Your Choice? Paper or Digital?
I’m sure I’ve said this before, and maybe even about other things, but sometimes we just need a change. We need something new to liven things up.
Right now, that might be a digital planner for me. Who knows? Next month I might be back to paper again.
What about you? What’s your planner of choice?