Education YouTuber & Blogger | English Studies PhD

Top 5 Tips for Using a Digital Planner (including Good Notes tutorials)

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In my last post, I described how I created a digital academic planner and offered two free, hyperlinked PDFs that you can use to try out this digital system. If you don’t have a digital planner yet, I suggest going to that post first and downloading one of the planners. Or, if you’d prefer a digital notebook to bullet journal instead, head over to this post and download one. For those of you who want to upgrade to a professionally-made planner before the new school year begins, I’ll be listing my top five digital planner options/online shops in my last June post in two weeks (here). Today, though, I’m offering my top 5 tips for using a digital planner (especially on Good Notes). If you want to find out how to make some basic digital stickers and learn about what tools you should definitely be using when planning digitally, this post is for you.

I’ve created a few tutorials for this post, though I just want to disclaim that I used iMovie for the first time to create them, so they probably aren’t the best tutorials you can find online. Still, I worked to make them as accessible as possible by going step by step through the creation processes and captioning one of the videos, as well. Of course, I soon found out that YouTube captions videos for you automatically, so a couple of the videos don’t have captions built in, but you can add them if you want or need them. [At least I’ve gained a new skill for my future video-making projects.] As I screenshot the videos on my iPad, make sure you are watching them as HD videos on YouTube, as the edges of them seem to be cut off when in SD.


Bonus: Creating Page Templates using Keynote

This bonus video is for anyone looking to create their own page templates using free apps.

Making Stickers in Keynote by Masking Shapes

If you want to make your own stickers, but feel like you don’t have much artistic talent, the free Keynote app is for you. In this video, I go over how to use the icons available in Keynote as digital stickers in your planner. I also show you how to add a bit more color/texture to these stickers by using either your own photos or free stock photos you can find online. The photo I used in this video is from this site. I like this site (pexels) in particular because the photos save to my photos app, which means they are easy to find when using Keynote. I download the medium size versions of the photos, as I find them to be high enough resolution without taking up so much space on my iPad. Of course, I also delete them off my iPad once I’ve used them for whatever icons/shapes I want.

Using the Lasso Tool in Good Notes

You can use one of the blank tabs at the top right of the planner as a section for your planner stickers. By keeping them all together, you can just use the lasso tool on the images whenever you want to move one or more into different pages in your planner. In this video, I demonstrate how to use the lasso tool to move images, as well as how to resize images to fit where you put them. Keep in mind, you can also lasso text that you’ve written or typed out. You can lasso a whole page spread and copy it to a new page spread, for example. The options are pretty varied, so definitely check out this tool in Good Notes. This is also the tool you would use if you decide you want to label the tabs at the top of the planner or rename the project tabs on the right side of the planner. Here’s a video showing how to do that option. Or, create bookmarks on Good Notes for each tab, which is even easier to accomplish. Just go to the first page of each tabbed section and add a bookmark to each page with the title you want for that section. The title won’t appear on the tabs, but all you’ll need to do is click the thumbnail icon, go to your bookmarks, and tap on the one you want to go to.

Using the Magic Eraser App on Online Stickers

This is my favorite app to use for digital stickers that you find online. A lot of people post free PDFs of planner stickers that are meant to be printed out and used in paper planners. However, this free app allows you to “erase” various parts of images in your photo library. In this video, I show you how to use this tool on a PDF image that I downloaded from the best website for free planner stickers. You can find so many free stickers and layouts on Pinterest, so definitely take some time to explore before turning to etsy to buy accessories.

Other Tips

Get a Stylus

I’ve heard amazing things about the Apple Pencil, and I’m considering whether I want to get one or not. I’ve heard they only work with the new iPad Pros or the 2018 iPad, though, so definitely make sure to check if your iPad is compatible before buying one. The great feature of that particular stylus is its palm rejection ability, as it allows you to write comfortably on the iPad screen while it only picks up the touch of your pencil (and not your wrist). Without this feature, writing on an iPad screen with a stylus is extremely difficult, as when part of your hand touches the screen, writing isn’t possible. There are other smart stylus choices out there, so some research would be best here if you don’t want to invest in an Apple Pencil (or you have another type of tablet). The stylus I’m currently using has no tech features and has a soft rounded tip. It’s not the best stylus to write with, but it still gets the job done for the little writing I actually do in my planner. I’m a text box user, as my handwriting is terrible in any form.

Use a Cloud Service to Save Your Planner

On my iPad, my planner in Good Notes is automatically backed up on iCloud. I only use my planner on my iPad, but I’ve heard from other digital planners that they use their planner across different devices by using a Cloud service to store their planner. I believe using the planner on different devices can cause some issues, so you might want to do some research if that’s a path you want to take. Just make sure you are saving your planner, so that nothing gets accidentally deleted.

Final Thoughts

I hope these top 5 tips for using a digital planner prove useful to you. There are plenty more out there, just check the usual options: YouTube, Pinterest, Etsy, Facebook Groups. [Rather start an Etsy shop than buy from one? With this referral link, you can get 40 free listings when you sign up to create your shop!] In my next post, I’ll discuss some great digital planners I’ve found in my research for this month’s posts, along with a video (among many) that goes over the creation process in case you want to make your own digital planner. If by that point you feel digital planning is for you, then I definitely suggest considering an upgrade to a professionally-made planner.

If you have your own tips about digital planning or Good Notes, please share in the comments below!

Have a digital planner, but not sure how to use it? Here are five tips for using a digital planner, including Good Notes video tutorials. #digitalplanner


  1. Mindful Literacy

    Great information and advice!!! Thanks. Mark

    • Erika Romero

      Glad you found it helpful!

  2. Missi

    Erika, this is a really good article! I really need to beef it up in the tech department when it comes to organizing my digital life. The most I do is save my many files to “folders” on my desktop. I do use Google Docs and some of Google’s other stuff, but the apps you mentioned, I’m really going to take the time to explore one or two. Seems like a bit of a learning curve, but I’m sure that they’d make my life easier in some way.

    • Erika Romero

      I use Google Docs for file organization, too, and for drafting my academic writing. I definitely do think Good Notes is worth the price, though, if you tend to annotate a lot of PDFs or enjoy creative digital work (or even taking notes digitally). If you do end up giving Good Notes a try, downloading one of the digital planners from my last post can give you a hyperlinked PDF to experiment with without risking any of your own work. There are a few other digital planners/notebooks/PDFs you can find online, as well, which is the topic of my next post.

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