Best Digital Planners for 2022
Need to get more organized in 2022?
Digital planners might be the right answer. These digital tools can help you keep track of your yearly goals, monthly progress, and daily tasks.
However, unlike their physical counterparts, digital planners offer enhanced navigation via hyperlinks and can be modified to fit your needs using customizable layouts and templates.
In this article, we’ll focus mostly on PDF planners that you can use with notetaking apps like Goodnotes, Notability, or Noteshelf, but we’ve also included details about digital planner apps and other productivity tools you might want to consider.
Now, let’s get to it.
Table of contents
1. Paperlike Digital Planner by Paperlike
- Simple, minimalist design
- Modular goodies coming soon
- Cheapest planner on the list
To kick off our list, let’s take a quick look at the new Paperlike Digital Planner.
This planner is a free downloadable goodie from Paperlike and, if you’re just looking for the basics, this planner will have everything you need to get organized in 2022. The planner itself is comprised of four basic pages:
- Yearly Overview
- Monthly Planner
- Weekly Planner
- Daily Planner
Unlike some of the more sophisticated (read: expensive!) planners out there, the Paperlike Digital Planner is designed to be a simple and straightforward planner without a ton of extra frills.
This is key for a few reasons. First, it’s entirely possible to import additional pages to the Paperlike planner and customize it to suit your needs. Second, we’re planning to release modular packs in the future (Soon™) that you can use to customize our planner.
For now, though, you’ll be able to plan your weeks using the weekly overview by jotting important events in the time slots. This can also be done on the daily pages, which also offer a to-do section and a priorities section to help you stay on top of your day.
If you’re new to digital planning or you’re just looking for a no-frills, no-cost solution to digital planning, try out the Paperlike Digital Planner before you start sinking cash into the planning habit.
You might find everything you need without spending a cent.
Download the Paperlike Digital Planner right here.
2. The Flourish Planner by Flourish Planner
- Big focus on goals and “big picture” vision
- Awesome monthly and weekly planner layouts
- Great self-assessment tools
Chock-full of interesting graphics and cool layouts, the Flourish Planner is a great planner if you’re looking to keep that big-picture focus.
This planner offers a brainstorm page for every month, as well as a yearly vision board and sections for your big goals around different aspects of your life, including career, personal, health/fitness, and others. You’ll even find action plan worksheets to help you figure out what steps to take in order to achieve those goals.
In our view, this planner really stands out for its monthly, weekly, and daily planning layouts. All the sections on these pages are nicely boxed and easy to skim, so you won’t have any trouble making sense of where to find your information after you’ve written it down.
In particular, the monthly section offers a “My Focus” and a “Goals” section where you can reinforce and work toward the goals that you set up as part of your yearly overview. This is something that so many planners miss, and it’s nice to see that the goal-oriented focus trickles down into the planner subpages.
But, while there’s a lot to love about the Flourish Planner, there are a few downsides to consider.
Despite the competitive price, this planner isn’t as robust as some of the others on the market. It doesn’t come with any cover or stickers, and the navigation menu — while serviceable — isn’t as comprehensive as the other planners we reviewed. It lacks content around meal planning and fitness tracking, and it offers no custom sections for users to dig in and create their own content.
The Flourish Planner also doesn’t offer a weekly or daily planning page for each day by default. The template is there, but you’ll have to duplicate the page each time you want to fill one out. If you’re looking for pre-formatted pages for each day or week, this can be a serious drawback.
Another frustration is that, unlike every other planner we reviewed, the Flourish Planner includes pages in both horizontal and vertical formats. This means that, in order to take full advantage of your screen real estate when interacting with the planner, you’ll need to constantly flip your screen upright or sideways to match the page layout.
Lastly, as much as we love the unique graphics at the start of every month or section, these images become frustrating to deal with while navigating because the bookmarks are linked to those pages. This means that, when you navigate to a new page, you’ll always have to swipe to the right at least once in order to get to the page you actually wanted to see.
If you’re someone who likes to get directly to work, many of the approaches that the Flourish Planner relies on to look and feel different might be a dealbreaker for you.
3. All-in-One Digital Planner by forLittleLion
- Multiple layout options
- Comfortable, boxy layout
- Awesome fitness & finance sections
If you’re looking for a planner that keeps everything neat, tidy, and organized, the All-in-One Digital Planner might be a top pick.
This planner features a comfortable index and some of the best working templates out of the planners that we reviewed. You’ll find a battery of templates, including a budget planner, a habit tracker, and a fitness tracker. These sheets are also designed to be duplicated so it’s easy to customize the planner in a way that works for you.
Even though this is an undated planner, it’s designed in a way that feels both intuitive and easy to navigate. The monthly overview offers a blank five-week spread. It’s up to you to write in the dates on each box.
However, the navigation for each day sits at the top of each month, so all of the pages are still linked. This means that, while you’ll need to write the days in manually, everything is simple and easy to connect after that.
We found the daily page layouts to be a bit disorienting because of how the layouts are boxed together.
The layout features a daily calendar that runs from 5 am to 9 pm, along with a focus, priorities, and task list section.
A full third of the page is used for notetaking and scribbling, which might feel excessive, depending on your planning style. If you’re an interactive planner and you’re constantly doodling and scribbling notes onto the page, the extra space might be useful if you prefer a more organized daily page.
Outside of the standard calendar pages, this digital planner offers a well-rounded set of template pages to help you track nutrition, wellness, fitness, and goals.
You can set up 30-day challenges, create a reading or movie log to keep track of where you invest your time over the year, add passwords, contacts, birthdays, and more.
It’s a lot!
But, while this is a great all-around planner, it could use a touch of color in a few places to help you distinguish between different sections of the page.
On pages like the meal planner or the fitness progress tracker, where multiple entries fit on a single page, it’s easy to correct this with a highlighter in your notetaking app. Unfortunately, this won’t work on daily pages — and that’s really where a splash of color would make all the difference in the world.
That being said, if you like minimalist layouts and well-considered design, definitely consider the All-in-One planner as your go-to solution.
4. Classic Pastel Digital Planner by Amethyst & Garnet
- Most comprehensive life planner we looked at
- Less costly than most planners we saw
- Two-page spread for daily pages
- Dozens of well-designed template pages
Looking for a classic take on a physical planner? The Classic Pastel Digital Planner has you covered.
This planner comes with a kitchen sink of templates and features all dressed up to look like a classic spiral planner.
Granted, we know that the spiral graphic that splits the centerfold of the planner may be a matter of taste, but even if it’s not your style, this planner is worth considering due to the incredible amount of flexibility it has.
This planner offers 84 template pages split between seven categories and includes space for monthly plans, reviews, financials, tracking, and more.
Because this is a dated planner, monthly pages are already linked, so you can start using the planner immediately and with minimal setup. Plus, the day planner pages include minimalist touches of color that streamline navigation and make the layout feel more open and approachable.
One of the coolest design choices you’ll see is how the planner layout changes based on where you are in the book.
Take a look at the image above and note how the monthly calendar tabs are all located on the right-hand side of the image. But by the time you get to July, half of the tabs have moved to the left-hand side of the planner, adding another dynamic to the navigation that you can use to move around the page.
The Classic Pastel planner also takes a different approach from most other planners when it comes to working with extracurricular topics like wellness or productivity.
When you tap on any of the subject pages at the top, the planner will take you to a menu selection page where you can navigate immediately to the template section that you’d like to use.
From there, how you approach each section is up to you. Based on the layout, it may make the most sense to duplicate the template pages into a custom section and then use that custom section for your intended purpose.
Since we’re on the topic, let’s take a quick minute to cover the two main downsides of this digital planner.
The first is simple: this digital planner isn’t sized to fit the iPad screen particularly well. On the iPad Pro, the dimensions are incorrect, which leaves a fair amount of empty space on either side of the PDF. This also makes buttons more difficult to tap.
Second, navigating to some pages isn’t as intuitive as you might think. For example, the monthly review and planning pages are clearly marked on the monthly overview page, and tapping the dates will take you directly to the daily page.
But what about the weekly review? You only can access that by tapping the week title on the monthly overview page or by tapping the weekly overview on a daily page, and that’s it. If you overlook a small button or link, you could completely miss out on a useful tool that you might have otherwise used.
However, don’t let those minor drawbacks deter you if the look and feel of this planner catches your eye. It’s an awesome tool you can use to organize your life.
Plus, as an added bonus, it’s cheaper than most of the other planners on our list. That makes it a great starting point if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck.
5. Daily Digital Planner by Laurel Studio
- Comprehensive walkthrough and setup
- Goals-focused approach to planning
- Designed as a build-as-you-go planner
Want to create a digital planner that’s adjustable and customizable on the fly? If so, the Daily Digital Planner may be the perfect planner to suit your needs.
This planner places extra emphasis on custom sections, goal planning, and planner design — to the point that the first 30 pages of the PDF are just there to help you get everything set up!
But, while that might feel a little bit tedious, the payoff is worth it. Once you know how to use this planner, you may never need another one.
After the setup is complete, you’ll be presented with a selection of template pages that you can use to design the perfect planner.
Of course, the planner templates are completely separate from the pages that you’ll use for daily planning. You’ll find those along the right-hand side of any page, listed in vertical-chronological order.
The “Year at a Glance” page gives you direct navigation to any of the monthly overview pages. It can also provide a quick way to check your calendar dates, provided that you take the time to fill in each box with the appropriate dates.
The monthly calendar and daily pages are where you’re likely to spend most of your time planning out your days. But, while the monthly planner is pretty straightforward, the daily planner can be a little overwhelming at first due to the layout.
The daily planner page is divided into three sections and offers coverage for your top priorities, to-dos, and daily schedule. The rightmost third of the page is split into two boxes where you could doodle, take digital notes, or even drop some digital planner stickers in to illustrate a major achievement or point of interest.
One important navigation tip here: on the monthly, weekly, and daily pages, you’ll find a more comprehensive navigation bar at the bottom of the page. It’s very easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. Once you know it’s there, navigation across any part of the digital planner is a breeze.
As far as downsides go for this planner, it’s more limited in terms of design and layout than many of the other planners that we reviewed.
Laurel Studio offers a variety of different planners and different layouts, all sold from their online shop, but they’re each treated as a different product. For some planners, like the student planner or the teacher planner, this makes sense. But if you’re looking for a single purchase option with a ton of variety, this planner probably isn’t it.
The other potential drawback comes down to your level of commitment. More than any other planner we reviewed, the Daily Digital Planner feels very much like a “build-as-you-go” planner that requires heavy customization and an elongated setup process.
The designers compensate for this with good documentation (including video tutorials!), but if you’re not in the mood to build the planner you want to use, another option from our list might make more sense.
What do I need to use a digital planner?
Digital planners are designed specifically to help you organize and plan your life.
To do that, you’ll need to interact with your planner on a regular (read: daily) basis using tools that you’re comfortable with. This will include a digital tablet, a stylus, and a digital notetaking app that feels good to use.
At Paperlike, we recommend the following setup:
- Apple Pencil 2
- Pencil grips (for longer planning sessions)
- Paperlike (for a better writing/drawing experience)
- Notetaking app (Goodnotes, Notability, or Noteshelf)
Regarding notetaking apps: the vast majority of digital planner designers prefer the GoodNotes app due to its ease of use and the ability to import cool stickers, but any app that will allow you to import and mark up PDFs will get the job done.
Digital planner vs paper planner: Which one is better?
Paper planners have been around forever, and they have some upsides and downsides when compared to digital planners.
For starters, paper planners are physical objects. They’re another thing to carry around in your bag or purse and, like so many other physical objects, they can only perform one function and are difficult to customize. Paper planners are also typically dated based on the year and need to be replaced once their coverage dates expire.
On the other hand, digital planners are far more flexible. They can be customized by duplicating pages, adding stickers, or importing templates. Many digital planners are also undated, meaning that you won’t have to buy a new one each year unless you want to. You can simply duplicate the original file and use it again the following year.
So what’s the downside to going digital?
The barrier to entry can be high, especially compared to paper planners. You’ll need a digital tablet, like an iPad or Android device, and a stylus.
This cost is offset by the fact that your tablet can be used for so much more than digital planning. However, if that’s the only reason you want to purchase an iPad, the price to go digital may seem outrageous by comparison.
What’s the deal with stickers?
Stickers are part of the Elements Tool in GoodNotes, which allows you to save and reuse image files rather than constantly being forced to copy/paste graphics across your text.
In a nutshell, stickers are the decorative graphics you might want to use. In GoodNotes, you could load them into the Elements Tool and then use them to mark up anything from study notes to daily planners.
Many of the digital planners you’ll see on the market come with a sticker pack that you can load into GoodNotes — but you can also find tons of other sticker packs out there that aren’t connected to any separate product.
GoodNotes even created a list of 11 digital sticker packs to help you get started.
Note that you can also use stickers in other apps (they’re just images), but how you do that may vary from app to app. Notability also supports stickers, but with Noteshelf 2, you’d have to import them using Split View on the iPad.
How do I get started using digital planners?
With the PDF planners like the ones we’ve been talking about, you’ll need to purchase and download the planner and then import that file into the notetaking app of your choice.
The exact process for importing will vary from app to app, but this is typically done using the Share & Export buttons on your iPad or Android tablet.
Depending on the planner you purchase, there may also be additional instructions required to get started. Some planners come with a variety of different layout options, so you may need to select which planner works best for you.
Most of the time, instructions for how to access any extra files or formats are included when you purchase your planner if they are available.
How does navigation work with PDF planners?
Digital planners are essentially huge PDF files that have been linked together using hyperlinks. The links are what you’ll use to navigate when using your planner.
But, when you import your planner to your notetaking app, your links may not work at first.
If that happens, don’t panic!
Most notetaking apps have two separate modes: an “edit” mode and a “read-only” mode.
In “edit” mode, the links are disabled so that you can write on your documents without accidentally tapping a hyperlink and jumping to a different page.
To navigate, you’ll want to switch your setting to “read-only” mode. This is typically done by tapping a specific icon in the app toolbar. Once in “read-only” mode, you won’t be able to write anything, but you should be able to use the hyperlinks to navigate!
When you reach the page that you want to write on, switch to “edit” mode and start writing.
Where can I shop for digital planners?
While there are a ton of great digital planner creators online, Etsy tends to be the go-to place if you want to buy a digital planner.
You may also find some on social sharing sites like Pinterest (also a great place to find interesting templates and extra stickers for your planner).
What about digital planning apps?
If PDF planners aren’t for you, there are other planning solutions out there that might be a better fit.
Here are a few popular apps that have transformed some aspect of digital planning into full-blown apps:
- Zinnia Journal & Planner
- Structured - Day Planner
- Planner Pro - Daily Calendar
- Fabulous Daily Routine Planner
Some of these apps offer Mac-compatible versions or may have cross-compatibility with iPhone and Apple Watch so that you can sync your planner across all of your devices.
You can also find other apps out there designed around different systems, like bullet journals and to-do lists if PDF planners just aren’t your style.
Be sure to check iOS compatibility if you have trouble downloading them. You may need to be on newer versions of the iPad operating system in order to take advantage of all features.
What else do I need for digital planning?
The biggest accessory we’d recommend is the Paperlike.
Our screen protector is designed to add roughness and friction to your display so that you aren’t writing on a glass surface (which is a real pain if you want your handwriting to look neat and tidy).
With Paperlike, every pen stroke will be more precise, and the improved control will reduce hand fatigue.
You might also want to grab a pack of our Pencil Grips if you’re planning to do a ton of writing and notetaking. The Maximum Comfort Grip makes longer planning sessions a breeze.
Grab Your Paperlike Planner Today!
And there you have it: everything you need to know in order to get started with digital planners in 2022!
If you’re just starting out, we’d recommend downloading the Paperlike digital planner first because it’s free and easy to use.
We’ll be expanding our planner in the future, so be sure to sign up for the newsletter when you download it so that you can stay up to date on all our latest goodies and releases.