How to Stay Organized with Digital Planning

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What’s one of your New Year’s resolutions? For me, every year I plan to get more organized. One of the best ways I find to organize my mom life is by using a digital planner. Even if you’ve never used a paper planner before, digital planning has some perks specifically that make motherhood that much easier.

In my opinion, every mom needs to jump onboard the digital planning bandwagon in 2023, and I’m going to show you how!

Why plan mom life?

I’ve been using a planner to organize my life since I was a kid in school. After becoming a mom, the number of things I had to plan obviously grew substantially, so I kept using a planner.

We all have tons of obligations, events, activities, and day-to-day tasks. Just like we’d plan out a school project and then cross off the tasks when we complete them, planning out our day as a mom not only holds us accountable, but helps keep us on task and productive.

Why digital planning?

Even though I was using a paper planner, the issue I faced was lots of paper everywhere, and for different things. I had the kids’ school calendar stapled in there for reference, but unless I made a photocopy or screenshot on my phone, I’d have to walk over to my planner to get it. Plus, the planner wasn’t small enough to fit inside my purse, so I’d either have to use a smaller one there or transfer the information onto my phone.

Then for work or school, I’d use a separate planner, because I couldn’t mesh the two without custom ordering an expensive one. My purse and Notes app on my phone were also filled with tons of to-do and grocery lists.

I was trying to stay organized, but there was stuff everywhere. It was making my mom brain more chaotic—the exact opposite of what I was hoping to achieve.

Digital Planning to the Organizational Rescue

If only there was a place I could house ALL of these items, and could pull them out wherever. I knew there were calendar applications I could use to do these things for me, but I’m a writer and very Type-A. So the act of writing things down with a pen and crossing them off is what appealed to me about planners to begin with.

But what if there was a way to combine all of these things? An actual digital calendar with lists that allowed me to write on it the way my brain functions best? Does this also sound like a dream of yours? Then you’re with me so far.

A few years ago I did some research, and voila—enter digital planning. My planner, lists, life, and basically the entirety of my mom brain all live in one spot that I could reference whenever and wherever I needed with the simple opening of an online app. An actual dream come true.

What Digital Planning Is

It’s just how it sounds: a planner that’s digital on your iPad or cellphone. You use it just like a regular planner with a pen, highlighters, digital post-its, digital stickers, and everything that goes with it. Except a digital planner allows for more.

The Ease Digitally Planning Your Life Can Make

You’re able to link dates, pages, and documents. So you can easily click a day in the month tab and then go right to it on the day tab.

Whatever you wrote on your planner in your iPad at home, shows up on your cellphone because they’re synced through iCloud. If you made your grocery list on your couch, it’s ready on your phone when you get to the store. You can even highlight each item in the grocery aisle right on your phone as you put it in your cart, just like a regular paper list!

And just like a Google calendar, it’s searchable, because it’s digital. So if you forgot when you made that dentist appointment, all you’d have to do is search the word “dentist” and the program will pull it up for you.

Another other cool thing “planning people” like me also appreciate? The fun part of planning—the highlighters, the cool stickers we all have a collection of, and colored pens? They’re all available for digital planning, and either for free or for a minimum cost, so you can reuse them again and again!

Supplies Needed for Digital Planning

Great! I’ve convinced you thus far that your mom life can indeed be organized and more efficient with digital planning, and now you’re thinking: what supplies do I need to do this?

  • Tablet: I use an Apple iPad because it works with most apps and files, and is easily synced with my iPhone. However, Android tablets will also work with most programs and apps as well if that’s what you have.
  • Electronic pencil: I use an Apple Pencil. Use whatever works with your tablet; it doesn’t even have to be a branded one. There are a ton of cheaper options on Amazon that work fine. Just make sure whichever you choose syncs with your tablet.
  • Digital note-taking app: I use Goodnotes. I would always recommend Goodnotes over others because, generally, most programs are created to work with Goodnotes. It’s super easy to use. For a one-time purchase of about $7.00, you can use it for more than just digital planning, but it does make digital planning easy as most tech designers work with Goodnotes. Always check to see if the app you choose—including Goodnotes—is optimal for your tablet and cell phone.
  • Digital planner: I purchased mine from Etsy. There are SO many to choose from. When I searched for mine specifically, I searched for “digital mom planner” and found lots of options. Remember, no matter which option you choose, search the words “digital planner” within the title. Most digital planners are easily customizable to your needs, and some sellers will even offer refunds like mine if you feel like, after trying it, it wasn’t “the one.” They’re already generally inexpensive, but this offers more piece of mind.

Some “Extra” Supplies I Like, But Aren’t Necessary

Some extras I like that make digital planning more fun and “paper-like” are:

  • Paper-like screen protector: You definitely need some kind of screen protector if you’re writing on your iPad. But a “paper-like” one truly makes writing on it feel like you’re using actual paper.
  • Apple pencil grip: helps you grip the pencil easier for smoother writing.
  • Apple pencil tips: you can easily change the pencil tip size in Goodnotes, but a skinnier tip will make it feel like a real pen, and keep your writing neater.

Getting Started with Digital Planning

Okay, you’ve got all the materials ready. Your electronic pencil is in your hand and you’re staring down at your tablet wondering where to begin. Here’s the order of steps I’d recommend:

  1. Download and open up Goodnotes on both your tablet and cell phone. Link them through iCloud or whichever web linking service you use.
  2. Purchase and download a planner either from Etsy or anywhere else you find one you like.
  3. Open up the planner file in Goodnotes and follow the steps to get started and customize it to your liking! All planner files will have a step-by-step guide for that specific planner.

Once you’ve done all these steps you’re ready to begin and can open up these same files on your phone as well!

What if I need more resources to help me?

It can be confusing when you’re first starting out (especially if, like me, you’re also not very tech-savvy. But you don’t need to be!).

There are many guides and resources for digital planning online. You can find some usually made by the manufacturer of the planner you purchased, or on Youtube! I use Youtube guides all the time for their in-depth step-by-step videos if there’s something I want to learn how to do!

What else can you do with digital planning?

I use my digital planner for so many things! I’ve uploaded my kids’ school calendar in there, as well as their activity schedules. It’s as easy as taking a photo on my phone, sending it to Goodnotes, and then opening it up on the planner page I want. This way I can always find it when I need it!

Inside of mine I’ve also separated tabs for my own work pages, as well as added a travel planning section. It also houses my weekly schedules, meal plan, and grocery lists. I’m then able to open it up at the grocery store and get all my shopping done easily!

This is Your Year to be Organized

I genuinely can’t speak the praises of digital planning for moms enough. Even if you only attempt to try it, and then hate it, I still suggest you try it. Because when you’re the mom who can easily figure out when the half day is or look up the orthodontist appointment in two seconds, it makes you feel like you got this mom thing handled, which is something we all need more of in 2023!

For more virtual content, check out Krystle’s list of apps for mental health check-ins.

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