How to Actually Use a Digital Planner
Are you struggling with sticking to your digital planner? Or maybe you're having trouble parting with your paper planner? Regardless of the problem you're facing when it comes to digital planning, I'll break it down into easy and helpful ways to implement your digital planning system into a routine that is easy, attractive, obvious, and satisfying! And maybe still incorporate that paper planner if it holds onto your heart (or bank account — no judgment here)!
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Whatever digital planning looks like for you, having a system for managing due dates, appointments, and notes is important. To start, you have to approach it with a game-plan. It may seem redundant and a bit of an overkill to plan how you're going to plan. But it is not uncommon to not know the best way, or even how, to plan. So, scribble down a game-plan. Like seriously. Right now. And you start by deciding what will be your master calendar and what will be your supporting calendar.
What is a Master Calendar?
If you're still transitioning from paper planning or would like to use your paper planner in conjunction with your digital planner, this set-up will be especially great for you. Your master calendar is where you enter in all your appointments, deadlines, due-dates — anything that needs planning & has a deadline or a tentative deadline. Personally, my master calendar is Google Calendar. I like using Google Calendar because it is automated. Even if I don't pick up or use my supporting calendar (more on that in the next section), I am getting notified of upcoming deadlines or meetings, meaning nothing gets missed or goes unnoticed.
What is a Supporting Calendar?
Your supporting calendar is where you build out those plans and write down your to-do's. For example, if you're planning for a major work proposal on Saturday, you'll enter in ‘work proposal due’ or something on your master calendar. Then your supporting calendar is where you create & plan out your to-do lists and tasks associated with the master calendar entry. My supporting calendars happen to be digital too, but you can use a paper planner as either your supporting or master calendar. My supporting calendars is my hyperlinked PDF digital planner (I'm using this one!) and my Notion dashboards.
Finding the Perfect Combination
Experiment with a combination of master & supporting calendars to see what works best for you. Just last month, I settled on a planning system for my master & supporting calendars and I've been using digital planners for three years. It's okay to switch it up and try out new systems. But a system is nothing without a routine. We can build perfect systems for ourselves — if that's even possible — but if we are putting them into action and using them to our advantage everyday with routines, it won't stick. And you may struggle to use all those templates in your digital planner and the benefits it comes with, again. Once you have a system in place or one you're experimenting with, incorporate into your routines. I have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly routines. And routines can switch up and be experimented with to but I recommend, depending on the complexity and amount of plans & deadlines you have, to establish a daily routine first and branch out from there.
Finding a Routine that Works
Every morning, I get a notification on my phone to check into my digital planner (did you know you can also use a digital planner on your phone?). My phone is always with me. Our lives are essentially on our phones. And getting notified reminds me to pick up my planner and put it to use. And so, it is routine for me to check my planner the first thing to start the day. At the end of the day, I also get notified to transfer any of my notes & tasks that have deadlines or are time-sensitive from my supporting calendars to my master. Regardless, your system will be unique. If you find only having one calendar works for you, then stick to it. No sense in adding complexity to a system that already works for you, right? Or if you're like me, living a ton of different lives, you might benefit from multiple supporting calendars. It's all about trial and error. And you're more likely to stick to a system that is obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. And not only should the tools you are using be obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying for you to use, but your method and the actual act of you planning should be too!
If you found this helpful, you might want to watch more about the master and supporting calendar system. Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter for digital planning freebies or click here for a free 10-page guide all about getting started with digital planning if you're new to the system!