10 Ways Digital Notebooks Can Improve the Way You Work

Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by Stephanie

When I discovered digital planners and digital notebooks, I was instantly hooked. Seriously, this opened up a whole new world of awesome for me. I sing the praises of going digital all the time. Let’s check out some different ways that digital notebooks can improve the way you work.

All of these are experienced by me on a regular basis in my business, teaching, and personal lives. Personal note: I still also use traditional notebooks as well. For all of you holding out because you just love the feel of pen to paper, I hear you. You CAN use both! I like to call myself a hybrid planner. Things that work better digitally go digital. Things that I would rather have in physical paper go there. This changes all the time for me. The thing that you’ve got to understand is that it’s okay to switch back and forth because you have to do what works for you! If you want to learn about the pros and cons of both, check out my post on digital vs. traditional planners and notebooks.

So here’s a preview of 10 ways digital notebooks can improve the way you work:

  1. Endless pages.
  2. Import images easily.
  3. Import PDFs easily.
  4. Take notes on images and PDFs.
  5. The color-coding options are endless. – No… seriously they are.
  6. The ability to send your notes and pages to others.
  7. Copy and Paste and Duplicate – AMAZING!
  8. Only one device is really needed.
  9. Many free options are available.
  10. In combination with other apps and devices, the possibilities really are endless.

Now, let’s dive into this world. I promise that it will open you up to a world of possibilities!

10 Ways Digital Notebooks can improve the way you work; two iPads with digital notebooks on them.

Digital Notebooks Have An Infinite Number of Pages

Have you ever been working through something and run out of pages? Or, have you ever started a project plan and then realized that you wanted to put another page in the middle of what you were doing before? With digital notebooks, you can arrange and rearrange all the time. If you don’t like how something is organized, you can change where it is with a touch and swipe. You can also add pages and templates anywhere in your digital notebook! The possibilities are endless!

A note: When a file gets big, and I mean very big (I still haven’t encountered this in my own experience), it can get a bit laggy where loading pages takes longer. This is when you have hundreds and hundreds of pages with lots of images on it. Digital planners who use a LOT of stickers and have a daily page for every day of the week sometimes encounter this. So, I don’t really consider this a setback.

Import Images Easily

A lot of what I will show and describe here is based on my experience with GoodNotes and an iPad Pro. Not everyone who uses digital notebooks and planners uses an iPad and GoodNotes, but what I’m saying here is true for most tablets and PDF annotating apps. Adding images is super easy! On the iPad, I can split my screen and drag images from my web browser. You can copy and paste. You can also grab images off of your camera roll on your device. It is super simple. Check out my split screen below.

Split screen of apps on iPad Pro with digital notebook.
Using split-screen view with Safari and GoodNotes5 on my iPad Pro.

Import PDFs Easily

One of the best things about using digital notebooks is the amount of content out there for everything. Let’s say you find a really cool journaling page or a fun looking calendar that you want to fill out. Oh man, it’s a printable calendar… I can’t put it in my digital notebook. Um… yes, you can!

Importing a PDF is easy and you can either insert it as its own page or put it in as an image on one of your pages to write on!

Taking Notes on Images and PDFs

This might be an obvious advantage, but I still thought I would mention it. Taking notes on images and annotating PDFs has never been easier. You can put an image in and make notes right then and there. I use this all the time when I’m trying to come up with product ideas or changes. I pull in images of what others have already done and circle things that I like, things that I don’t, highlight parts that I think I could do better, and so much more.

Digital Notebook picture with a labeled image of a ukulele.
Writing directly on an image is so easy in digital notebooks.

For this, I grabbed the image off my browser and labeled all my parts in seconds!

The Color-Coding Options In Digital Notebooks Are Infinite!

Seriously… any color you want, you get. Most apps come with preset colors and custom palettes like those below. Did you notice though, that there is also a spot to put the hex code?! Seriously every color you can imagine! In good notes that is the color of text, highlighters, shapes, and pens. If you want colors, you can have them.

The possibilities are endless! Do you see this?

The Ability to Send Your Notes and Pages to Others

This is perhaps one of the best advantages of digital notebooks. You have the ability to export pages to others. If they have the same app, in GoodNotes you can send them the actual GoodNotes File. Otherwise, you can export pages as PDFs or Images for people to see. Seriously, you can email it directly from the app! It is awesome!

Copy, Paste, and Duplicate

Have you ever created something like a chart or a drawing and wanted to duplicate it? In a digital notebook it is as easy as clicking a couple of buttons. Duplicate pages, copy text, and copy images. It is so easy and saves you so much time, especially when you find things that work well for you.

Only One Device Needed, But It Can Work On Many

Another awesome thing about digital notebooks is the portability of them. You only need one device to work on… but it works on multiple. Most of these apps will update and work with all of your devices. Unlike your purse notebook, your work notebook, and your home notebook… you know all the little ones you keep around for each area. (I do still keep a small notepad in all of these places, but anything I write down gets transferred into digital later anyways.) 

With my digital notebooks, I can open up the GoodNotes app on my phone, on my iPad, and on my computer. That is so handy! I can see everything wherever I am and I can keep everything in one place. Now, I do have multiple notebooks, but it’s awesome that I can switch between them easily within the app.

Many Free Options Are Available

There are many free note-taking apps and PDF annotating apps available. A few months ago, GoodNotes released that they were even going to do their app for free (with limited features and notebooks). A lot of apps like Notability, ZoomNotes, NoteShelf, etc. are free. Some, however, come with a limit on how many files you can have on there, pen colors, fonts, writing-to-text features, and other options to let you try it out.

As far as notebooks themselves, there are a lot of places online, my site included that have free digital notebooks to try out. Check out this one from my collection of freebies:

Digital Notebook Freebie Creating Time For Life

The advantage of these over the ones that come native with the apps are the hyperlinks and the look of them as well as the many templates that come with different ones people have created. There are a million different colors, themes, templates, topics, etc. that you can purchase as well! Check out my pastel, boho, or pretty florals notebooks in my shop.

In Combination With Other Apps and Devices, the Possibilities Are Endless

I am a huge fan of Apple products and how they talk to each other. For example, the universal clipboard in Apple is AMAZING for digital notebooks. I can be working on my Mac and copy an image from there and put it in my notebook on my iPad. You can copy text from your notebook on your iPad and paste it into your Mac. You can search for something on your phone and paste it into your notebook on another device.

My other favorite thing to do is use Procreate. This is a digital art app that is a powerhouse if you like to draw and create on your iPad. I will often draw something or do some fun iPad lettering in Procreate and drag it into GoodNotes to use on my planner.

This also works with the split-screen view on your iPad as well. For things like digital stickers and images, I can have my files open on one side and just drag things over to my digital notebook. I love it.

Final Thoughts

If you are curious at all, you should definitely try out digital notebooks. It can be an awesome tool for you! Their portability and accessibility are awesome. The fact that you can customize the crap out of them is also amazing. I’m so glad I have learned how to use this technology in my life. Below, I put a few images of pages out of my various digital notebooks for you to see how you can use them in your life!

In the above pictures you can see a grade book, a planning page for my teacher planner, planning out a quilt, and color-coding all my stickers so I know where I’m putting them in my sticker book.

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