Are you trying to decide whether to go with a digital planner or a paper planner for your next planner purchase? There are positives and negatives to using both types of planners. Keep reading below for a full list of the pros and cons of using a digital planner.
Pros of Using a Digital Planner
- Easy to write in small spaces since you can zoom in to enlarge areas
- It’s portable so you can easily take it with you everywhere
- You can use it on multiple devices with the same app installed
- Freedom to add new pages or remove pages that you don’t need
- Hyperlinks make it easy to move around the planner to different sections
- Erase mistakes without leaving any pen marks
- They provide similar functions to regular paper planners
- The planner can be used for many different reasons, eg. bill tracking, password logging, keeping important contact information, journaling
- Often given multiple cover options at no additional cost
- Not wasting paper
- It’s quick to copy and paste tasks that you do often
- Backing up your work is much easier in a digital planner
- You don’t have to find a working pen every time you want to use it
- Digital planners can easily change font color for marking different tasks, so you won’t need multiple pens and markers
- Old digital planners can be saved for future review
- Takes up no space in your home like paper planners
Cons of Using a Digital Planner
- You may need to buy a digital pencil to use with the planner, adding to the overall expense
- There is a learning curve to using a digital planner
- Not all digital planners are made equal, so instructions are different for each
- Stickers can’t easily be used in all programs/apps
- You can’t usually flip through the entire planner prior to purchasing to see if you like it
- Can’t typically return if you don’t like it, since it is a digital file that you could still have access to
- They can be used on a phone but it would be hard to see and manipulate the pages
- If you lose the file, your phone is damaged, or the app is no longer functioning, you may lose your entire planner
- Information could accidentally be modified without realizing it
- You have to make sure your tablet/phone/digital pencil is charged at all times
- The app you view it in may not be free, so that’s another added expense
- It’s easy to get distracted on a tablet due to other apps notifications popping up
- Many apps for digital planning are only available through Apple, not everyone has an iPad
Is a Digital Planner Better Than a Paper Planner?
Digital planners provide similar functions to a paper planner, but they offer more flexibility with how you view the planner.
You can easily click a link to move onto another page or flip back and forth between pages. In paper planners, you have to physically flip the pages to find what you need.
On digital planners, there is also the option to zoom in to make it easier to read anything currently in the planner and it also helps when writing in small spaces. Paper planners are limited to the space provided, so you may not be able to make as many detailed notes.
Digital planners don’t take up as much space. You can just bring your tablet or phone with you instead of a large, bulky paper planner.
Paper planners are great to physically write in with a pen or pencil but digital planners can feel similar. It’s not quite the same as writing on paper, but there are tools that can be purchased to make the tablet feel more like paper.
Correcting mistakes looks a lot better in digital planners. You can erase mistakes without leaving any evidence behind.
Even if you want to remove features that were already in the planner that you purchased, you can just choose the white pen and color over what you don’t want. The features are still there but just covered up, so you can easily bring those features back if you ever choose to.
Whereas in a paper planner, you can definitely use white-out, but it’s obvious that white-out was used, doesn’t look as nice, and leaves a bumpy texture on the page.
One concern with digital planners is losing all of the data due to misplacing the file, your phone, or the app not working properly. This can be really stressful to lose everything you have written down for the entire year.
So I would recommend backing up your data onto another format just in case. Either in a Google Docs or Word document or writing important dates and notes into a physical notebook or calendar.
A paper planner can also be misplaced, but it’s most likely still in your home and can easily be located. There isn’t the same fear of losing everything you have written down.
Purchasing a planner in digital format is typically cheaper than buying a paper planner, but you do need to have the right device to use it on, which can add to the overall expense. If you get a really in-depth digital planner, the price can quickly go up to $30 USD.
Paper planners can get even more expensive than that, but there is also a lot more that goes into making and printing a physical planner.
Whether a digital planner is better than a paper planner is up to the individual user. There are many benefits to both and ideally, you find one that allows you to organize your schedule, thoughts, and goals so that you can be as successful as possible.
Find one that makes it easy for you to remember what you have written/typed in, as well as where it will be easiest for you to access the information.
For the pros and cons of using a paper planner, check out my other post.
Are Digital Planners Secure?
Digital planners are generally secure since you are using them through a safe app.
The planners themselves are not a security issue as they are usually a PDF file, the concern would be the app that you are using your planner in.
Security of Popular Apps
There are many options for viewing your planner, including Goodnotes, Xodo, Notability, Noteshelf, and more.
On the Goodnotes website when asked if anybody except the person putting notes into documents can access the data they responded with, “No. Your privacy matters to us and nobody can read, edit, or modify any of the notes you take in GoodNotes or any of the documents you keep in our app.”
Goodnotes is the app that I would recommend using. It is easy to use and provides the most functions out of all of them, in my opinion. I have no concerns with the safety of my data.
Their website is showing up as not secure as of July 2021, there are also complaints of the app crashing. However, I have used Xodo in the past and had no issues with it. Xodo is a free app, which is great but typically this means it won’t be updated as frequently, which could lead to security issues.
On the Notability website, they say that “You can create a Notability password to lock subjects within Notability. Notability’s password will automatically sync between iOS and Mac even if you don’t sync notes across devices.” They also mention that “at the moment, it’s not possible to password protect a note only OR the entire app.”
Side note: Subjects are basically just folders, so your planner could be put into a subject, and then you would be able to password protect that subject. This will give you extra protection in addition to locking your tablet or phone.
You can set a password on Noteshelf to make your digital planning more secure.
You can backup your data to Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Evernote, etc.
Extra Security Options
If you don’t want anybody gaining access to your planner, make sure that your tablet has a password on it. Then nobody can get into the tablet to access the app.
Is it possible that an app could be hacked? Sure, but unlikely and what information would they pull from the planner anyway?
Don’t keep bank details, login information for areas where they could gain access to bank information, government sign-ins, and anything else that could be detrimental if the wrong person were to access that data.
Chances are, even if the information was pulled from your planner, the information wouldn’t be share-worthy and nobody would gain anything from doing so.
So basically don’t put anything that is very personal, make sure your tablet is locked, and don’t give your tablet to other people to use and you should be fine.
How Popular Are Digital Planners?
Digital planners are becoming much more popular these days due to the many options that are now available out there and the ease of use.
It’s great to be able to easily add pages and make the planner into whatever you want. They also provide more flexibility with how long you can use them.
Creating a basic digital planner yourself is also more simple these days and can save the yearly cost of purchasing a new planner. Plus it acts as a never-ending spot to track important moments and events in your life.
New apps available make it more likely that people will turn to just using a digital planner because it’s so simple and seamless. As more apps come out, the process will only get easier.
However, digital planners are still a fairly new concept that people are slowly trying out. It’s sometimes hard for people to go away from processes that they have been using for many years and many people still love the feel of a pen on paper.
There are no exact numbers of how many people have made the switch to digital planners, but based on my research, I would estimate that 15% of planner users have made either a full or partial switch to digital planners. Many continue to use both just for peace of mind.
As you can see, there are many positive aspects to using a digital planner. They are so versatile and fun to use. They make it so much easier to take along with you and add more pages to truly make it your own planner.
Paper planners don’t offer the same flexibility, so this could make a digital planner more ideal for many people.
They are both great, but you just need to determine what will work best for your needs. You may even find that using one of each will be beneficial for different purposes.