Digital Planning: Exploring the Marriage of Analog and Digital

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What if there is a way to marry analog and digital experiences?

Most of you may have known me as an avid fan of Bullet Journaling (i still am). However, I am in this season where I am now currently working in an office and found myself using my Bullet Journal less. So now, I am exploring the idea of using digital planning as a new system I could adapt so that I could bring my notebook and my pen anywhere.

Is Bullet Journaling Obsolete?

Digital Planning

My BuJo practice entails only the simplest method as presented by Ryder Caroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal Method. I don’t have amazing instagrammable spreads on my Bullet Journal. Most of them are just following the system as described in the book. Just simply my Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, and Daily Log. Yes, I don’t even have a weekly log.

I am still using my Bullet Journal at work. However, I tend to fail to capture events, tasks, and notes in most parts of my day. It’s either I don’t have it at the moment, or I captured my notes using my phone.

The Role of the Tablet and a Stylus in Digital Planning

I recently acquired an iPad Mini 6th Gen with an Apple Pencil, and that’s where my interest in digital planning started. I started watching YouTube videos of creators who are using their iPads as their planners/journals.

It is quite interesting to see because it seems like it is marrying my analog system of bullet journaling and using digital tools. This kind of productivity system entails writing by hand, which I am a huge advocate of. Writing by hand is proven to bring me higher retention for my memory. It also allows me to better take time to think since writing by hand is slower than just hitting keys on the keyboard.

I started scouting the best note-taking apps for digital planning, so I started exploring options and settled with Goodnotes. Bought a simple digital planner that I like from Etsy and started using it.

Digital Planning: The Experience

close up photo of an ipad
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At first, I was still starting to get a grip on flipping pages and using the linked pages for my collections. It was really difficult. Grasping over the tactile feedback of paper is irreplaceable by any digital tool.

One of the good things about digital planning is that I can somewhat replicate the experience but using a digital tool. Flipping pages feels unnatural, but it takes time to get used to. Of course, writing feels unnatural too! Yet, in my experience, there is some stylus that works well on a glass that somewhat replicates the experience of writing on paper. S-pen feels more natural than Apple Pencil. Well, this is another story in another article.

Writing on a PDF with links is really awesome since it feels like your journal/planner goes with you wherever you go. The downsides are there will and will always be a time when you need to really zoom in and zoom out, especially when writing by hand. Since it doesn’t just simply replicate an A5 notebook, this could be both a blessing and a challenge as well.

Digital Bullet Journaling

Since I am a fan of the Bullet Journal Method, I also tried using the BuJo system in a digital setting. First, I tried to use an app that can replicate an A5-sized dotted notebook. Then use it as I would normally use my Bullet Journal.

The roadblock I encountered is that the number of bullets may not be sufficient as it varies again on your current screen aspect ratio. Using a Digital BuJo on an iPad doesn’t replicate the same experience on an iPad Mini. Much more difficult to say on an Android Device.

Hence, I gave up trying to replicate the Bullet Journal core experience and I think getting a Digital Planner makes more sense since it already has some linked pages.

So if you are like me considering Digital Planning by replicating the experience of a Bullet Journal, I doubt that this would be a pleasant experience.

Bullet Journaling is best described as a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system. – Ryder Carroll

The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future

I am still not giving up on the Bullet Journal Method (yet) because it is the productivity system that stuck around me the longest. The benefits of using paper and pen still outweigh the efficiency of most digital tools in my current workflow. Yet, I am not closing my doors and still keep Digital Planning on my radar as my primary notebook replacement.

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