Every day, I’m learning something new on this journey with my digital planner. I find new and exciting ways to work with it. There are a number of things I’m finding out, like certain applications can make the PDF file cumbersome. I worried about someone being able to alter or delete what I had written since my writing was mostly done as annotations. This is basically a journey about discovering the limitations of certain applications and the never ending abilities of another application.
For instance, some limitations I ran across:
- Adobe Acrobat Reader (free version), allows for annotations but doesn’t allow for entering text upon the page.
- Adobe Photoshop Elements, allows for importing text from a single page of a PDF but is very difficult in designing graphic elements I want to add.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader (free version) and Adobe Photoshop Elements doesn’t allow for adding links, internal or external.
- Adding text in Xodo to a PDF is purely annotation, which means the text is editable in PDF viewers that support annotation.
I needed the following:
- my writing/journaling to become permanent within the PDF document, so it can’t be altered later in PDF viewers
- Elements and graphics need to be permanent within the PDF document especially when in viewers
- Be able to annotate/highlight/strike-through, etc to my writing/journaling and imported text from other sources and have it recorded/searchable in the PDF document
This still takes 3 applications but the way it is done is now completely altered and will make my final journal/planner more functional and permanent as an archival artifact.
I was up late last night playing around with this change in my process and this morning I successfully used it for my morning Bible study. By the way, it was one of Boho Berry’s digital journal videos which gave me the idea for the change in my process. Here is my page from my Bible reading this morning, using the free planner mentioned in my previous post:
The bible text comes from a free downloadable NLT bible in PDF format. The planner is one of the free digital planners I’m using. If you bother to take the time to read my notes and reflections forgive me for the personal content. I am a bit nervous in sharing it since it is so personal but I wanted to show how versatile a digital planner can be (without blurring stuff out) for so many things.
I wanted to have the chapter in the bible next to my notes and reflections. With the change in my process I am now able to highlight not JUST the scripture but I can also highlight my notes and color code them to match so I can easily find the verse which supports the notes I made. This is very much like what I’m doing in my journaling bible by hand but now it is all digital, AND in a PDF document which can be searched so I can find any references I might be looking for. I can read it in a PDF viewer, like any PDF document and search ALL content.
Below is a couple pages from another free digital planner I will be using in 2019. I found this planner “Sirena” through the Friday Freebies in Boho Berry Digital Planners Facebook group and is by Chanel Fana. The original page looks like this:
I altered it to look like this:
I learned I don’t like To Do lists when I started working with a bullet journal. Whether I did them daily, weekly or monthly, they were too repetitive and made me feel like I was a failure because I didn’t complete everything on my list and often pushed things out several weeks or even months. Therefore, I changed my list to “What I Did Today” which makes me feel a whole lot more accomplished and productive.
In order to track the things that are time sensitive, I will most likely create a page with those time sensitive items listed so I don’t forget something important that needs done. I’m good at keeping these things in my head but occasionally I need reminders.
The year at a glance original page looks like this:
I altered it to look like this:
One of the reasons I altered it was because I didn’t have the fonts used by the creator so when I imported the PDF into my application, the font defaulted to the Arial font which also altered the way the dates lined up and appeared. The other reason I altered it was because the weeks in this planner started on Monday and my week starts on Sunday. This planner also has monthly calendars I will also need to change and I’ll probably adjust the daily pages as well just because my dailies are really just journaling about my day.
It might be obvious to some but not all, why I am not just creating my own planner or using the planner as it is. When I started, all I wanted to know was whether it was worth my while to use one but I needed it to function for my needs. I was fairly sure I wouldn’t like it and wouldn’t stick with it, so finding one already created was a simple way to find out without having to go through creating all the graphics needed to make it LOOK and FUNCTION like a digital planner, especially since I’m working from a desktop computer and not from a tablet or iPad. iPad seems to have an abundant of choices to use for digital planners, while the desktop (Windows) is fairly sparse, unless you want to spend a crap load of money. I had to find out how feasible it was.
Finding the free digital planners was a God send. In the first day or two I was able to play with them in their original format just to see if they were functional on my system with apps I had or could afford. Since it was functional, the rest was about whether I could alter it for my needs. There will never be a planner exactly the way I want it to be, digital or paper, so altering it is a necessity.
Since I’m not selling the planner and only altering it for my personal use and the planner is free, I felt I could share one or two pages here so you could get an idea of what I’m writing about. If you are interested in this planner or the other one above, I recommend joining Boho Berry Digital Planners group. You can find them in the resources provided in the Friday Freebies.
I am SO VERY GRATEFUL for the digital planners which people have created and share freely. Doing so enabled me to explore digital planners without spending any money since I wasn’t sure if this would be something I would stick with. I also wasn’t sure if I could find software within my price range which would allow me to do the alterations I needed for my purposes. The digital planners I have come across are reasonably priced so I might find myself buying one at some point in the future, if I don’t want to create my own. Even so, I would still have to alter a purchased digital planner for my personal needs.
As it turns out, I only need to purchase one application and it is a one-time fee under CA$70, unlike many applications today which are cloud based and now require monthly/yearly subscription fees. For someone on a restricted budget, I am so thankful I can still find applications I can download and use on my computer. I totally get the need for cloud based applications but I feel these companies are doing a disservice to those who don’t need it or are restricted financially. Okay, I’m getting off my soapbox. lol
You might be wondering how much time this takes compared to a handwritten journal/planner or just using MS Word like I was using. There is, of course, a learning curve which means it will take some time initially to learn how to work with the digital planners and which software/apps you prefer to use. The time it takes to learn depends upon your current skill level with the computer/tablet/iPad you are using and how comfortable you are with working with and altering graphics.
I do recommend trying several different applications (you can usually download free trial versions) if they are within your budget. I have some older software programs to experiment with which I purchased when I had the money. These programs are now cloud based so I don’t have the more updated software. They were enough to use for comparison with other programs so I could determine which programs worked best and whether I wanted to spend the money to upgrade any of them or buy a different one. Discovering a far less expensive program was another God send (it was mentioned in the Facebook group by someone). This program is much easier to use than the more expensive ones which means it greatly reduces the time to learn it. It also means once I’ve learned it, the time to create my pages from beginning to end is fairly equal to if not better than making them by hand. I was only using the bare nuts and bolts of MS Word so it was no where near as pretty. Any increased time in my planner to create beauty makes my artist’s brain sing with joy.
I was able to do my morning bible study in the same amount of time I was doing it before when writing my reflections in MS Word and adding my notes in my journaling bible. This can easily replace that process without increasing my time with that task.
My daily journaling may take more or less time depending on how creative I get. Even if it takes a bit more time, it will be worth it because of the added benefits I get with having it all in a searchable PDF format. I can’t stress this enough. Granted MS Word is searchable but I had some in MS Word and some in handwritten form. I went to MS Word originally so I could ease the strain on my wrist when I was doing my morning pages. Then I realized I could search it when I wanted to refer back to past entries. But my bible studies and my calendar which has my appointments, work schedule and bible reading noted in it, was handwritten. These were not searchable which made it really difficult to find anything I need to go back and reference. I tried indexing but that didn’t help. Plus, I can have all my journals in one place.
What can I say, I’m a digital girl at heart, and it turns out I was wrong. Digital planners/journals ARE for me, they satisfy my artist, writer and analytical minds.
Well, here is a bit of an update. I discovered if I save my PDF in Xodo as a flattened file then all my entries I made in Xodo are made permanent and can then be selected to be highlighted, underlined or other things. It also reduced the size of the file significantly. The good thing is I can still open the PDF up in my graphic designer program with all its layers in tact.
Okay…. so….. I’m learning more than one thing in a day…..
In case you are wondering, the graphic designer program I found is called Affinity Designer. Every time I work with it, I’m amazed with its functionality.
The three programs I’m using on my Windows 10 computer for working with my digital planner are:
- Affinity Designer
- Foxit Phantom PDF
I tried a few others but these gave me the functionality I desired and are within my budget.