I’m an analog girl and I don’t do digital planning. If you’ve been on this blog before, you know. You know it IN YOUR BONES. There are pages and pages of posts devoted to leather notebooks and planning systems.

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a laptop and coffee on a table with the text "Digital Planning for Creative Business Owners"

Well, turns out that I’m an analog girl until I’m not.

If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught me, it’s that there are no rules, no one is who they say they are, and we’re all going to Hell in a hand basket, so it’s best to keep your eyes on your own paper and do what you need to do to thrive.

That’s why I’m going digital.

Yeah, there was much gnashing of teeth about this, and not the normal 2020 teeth gnashing I read about in the New York Times. (Apparently we’re all doing it out of stress because it’s 2020, and in our sleep we’re grinding and cracking our molars.)

But I knew I needed to adjust. I’m not the same person I was when I started this blog.

Hell, I’m not the same person I was in April.

So, it’s with all that in mind that I’m bringing you a huge, life-altering announcement.

I am a digital planner now. And I’m going to show you how I do it.

Wanna see how an analog girl went digital? Share on X

If you hate digital planning, maybe you need to check out all the old paper planning posts I have?

Why Digital Planning

So, we live in what the past would consider to be the future. (HASHTAG REAL DEEP MARISA.)

And that means that a lot of things are digital. Some of them are helpful, and some of them aren’t. (Like, if you can give me a good reason why McDonald’s wants to pay workers minimum wage, an amount that is absolutely not enough to afford to live in any American city, but also requires them to have an email address and to apply online, then I’m all ears.)

(Also, if you’re going to try to comment that minimum wage is low because it’s for kids to work at crap jobs before they go off to college, I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that  I don’t deal with revisionist history anymore. Minimum wage was literally created to keep labor practices fair so that adults could afford to live. Full stop. Do some research, and then come back and read about digital planning. The 2020 version of Marisa doesn’t suffer fools gladly.)

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Since I now work for myself, I’ve been planning digitally almost exclusively. And since a lot of my work revolves around softwares and systems that enable me to work for efficiently, it’s just time to switch it over completely.

I tried to fight it, and I found myself doubling and tripling my planning efforts because I had to put so much time into checking Google Calendar, Calendly, Asana, and my planner. I think I would be able to still use a planner if I wasn’t working for myself, though.

Because as a college instructor, there was a ton of digital scheduling, but when it came to my own work, it was something that I could put in my planner or on paper to do lists.

Now, all the client work is scheduled in Calendly, and that transfers to my Google Calendar. And Calendly actively checks my Google Calendar to see if I’m available before it lets someone schedule anything. This means anything I have planned needs to be in the Google Calendar, and not just a paper planner so I don’t accidentally double-book myself.

So any episodes of The Lost Ogle Show podcast I record, meetings with the Create Your Purpose Collective, doctors appointments, and all that other stuff is always in Google Calendar, and it makes it so much easier for clients to find appointments with me. And I don’t have to spend time putting things in one place and then putting them in another. I can just do it from my desktop or my phone, and life is super easy.

There are a lot of moving pieces of this system, and I’m sure it will change a million times, but let’s talk about what it looks like right now.

So, we live in what the past would consider to be the future. (HASHTAG REAL DEEP.) Share on X
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What My Digital Planning Looks Like

001: Sarah Steckler’s The Daily Productivity & Brain Dump Book

LOL if you thought this whole system was going to be completely digital.

I can’t get thoughts out with a keyboard and mouse the way I can with pen and paper. There’s something about birthing the ideas with paper, and then moving them to digital. That’s just how my brain works, and it’s probably because I’m an old millennial who remembers a time when we had to write our papers by hand, then take them to the computer lab to type.

So, I will be using this book at the end of my work days to write out what’s on my mind for the next day. Then, I will use that brain dump to formulate a plan.

002: Asana for digital project planning

My projects these days are huge. Gigantic. Humongous. Other synonyms as well.

There are a lot of moving pieces that go into building eCourses or creating marketing plans, and that’s where Asana comes in.

So, I create a separate project for all the things I have going on, and then I create sections and tasks for each project. I’m sharing that in the video above, by the way.

This enables me to get everything out of my head and into a plan, and I can move stuff around and see how all the due dates interact with each other better than I could if I had a 200-task project in a paper planner. Like, I wouldn’t even have a calendar view for that.

I also feel like this is the critical step that will keep me from over-scheduling or believing I can knock out more than I actually can in a day, just because I’ve broken everything done so much, and I can really see what’s going into the project, which is something that I didn’t always do with paper.

003: Google Calendar for month/day at-a-glance

I mentioned above that Google Calendar is what Calendly checks to see my availability. But I love having it because I can see what days I have something going on, and what days I don’t. And it’s great because I can access it from my phone and just put in a meeting or a call.

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But also, it’s really great because any time someone sends me an invitation to chat via Google Hangouts, Zoom, or whatever else video chatting software there is, it goes straight to my calendar and then I have the link ready to go.

004: Calendly for digital client scheduling

And did I mention when a client schedules something with Calendly, then it goes to my Google Calendar too? (After checking to make sure there’s time in the Calendar, obvi.)

I had previously been using Acuity for scheduling, and then realized I was paying a ton of money for that. So, I switched to a more basic tier of Calendly, and then posted those links in Podia, something else I was already paying for. Then, Calendly doesn’t have to integrate with a bank account or accept payments, because Podia does.

This took some finagling of the highest caliber and outside-the-box thinking. But suffice it to say that I’m saving over $300 a year by using Calendly for scheduling and Podia for payments and email marketing.

(If you want to know more about this, just let me know.)

But now, everything is more user friendly for me, and I feel more on track.

NBD, just saving my business around $300 a year by making these tiny, HELLA CONVENIENT changes. Share on X

005: This Slay All Week printable

Look. It’s hard to switch over. I like having this week-at-a-glance thing with spaces for the events and the to do items.

It’s only a dollar, and if you buy it, you can have your life together like me. Or probably more than me, honestly.

And That’s How I’m Planning Digitally

Like I said earlier, there are probably going to be a billion changes and tweaks I make. But for now, that’s what’s working for me.

Are you a paper or digital planner? Do you think you could make the switch? What do you hate the most about your planning system? What do you wish was easier about how you plan?

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