A natural evolution
When I devised the Zen-Journal system, I intentionally designed it to take advantage of the strengths and time-saving capabilities of a digital device. Personally, I’m a Mac so I use an iPhone X, an iPad Pro, and a MacBook Pro. These devices are by far superior to my brain and analog notebooks when tracking my flights, schedules, appointments, and contacts.
But starting about six months ago, I began an experiment whereby I only used my iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil to create and sustain my Zen-Journal in an all-digital format. That may seem like a betrayal of the entire analog planner premise that Zen-Journal grew out of. I get that. However, it seemed inevitable given the increasingly digital aspects of our society.
It began when I purchased and downloaded the GoodNotes app from the Apple App Store. I looked at a few apps before deciding on this one. It allows me to create individual and unlimited notebooks (if that’s your thing), seamlessly view my Zen-Journal on my iPhone via iCloud, and allows bookmarks, pageviews (as in the example above) for easy scrolling and locating pages visually, as well as multiple page layouts and paper types.
It was a natural evolution of the system I created and still use. So what are the results of this experiment?
At first, I liked the feel of the Apple Pencil on the iPad glass. It’s like writing with an ice pencil on a mirror. That’s how smooth and effortless it is to create, sketch, and write on the iPad. But I’ve also found that this ice-like writing experience doesn’t have the same tactile sense of satisfaction as a pen and paper notebook. I still can’t decide if this is a positive or a negative. I’d like to think I’m open-minded enough to embrace this change, but at age 60…well, I’m kind of set in my ways in some respects.
There are some screen protectors on the market (see Paperlike) that give you the sensation of writing on paper, but the drawback for me is that it greatly hinders the screen clarity when watching a movie, looking at videos, etc. Because I use my iPad at work and at home, this isn’t an option for me.
Searching for ideas and pages
If you use your Zen-Journal like I use mine (every day with some days containing 10+ pages or more of notes, ideas, and sketches), the unlimited pages at your disposal will feel like a dream. Just swipe right and a new blank page appears. A few taps can insert a photo, a PDF, or a new page type and/or layout. If you use the bookmark function (kind of like the ultimate TOC), then searching and finding the right idea, page, or sketch is very fast. Even if you failed to enter a bookmark for that one life-changing idea, scrolling through the thumbnail page views is nearly effortless and very fast as well.
It’s always available
Even if my iPad isn’t with me (this is so rare I can’t even imagine it), my notebook and all its pages are in the GoodNotes app on my iPhone X. Because my Mac, iPhone, and iPad files are in iCloud, if I create a note in my Zen-Journal on my iPhone, the notebook is automatically backed up within a few minutes of creation. If I want to share an idea on my phone during lunch and my iPad is on my office desk, no problem. I just open GoodNotes on my iPhone and the Zen-Journal is there.
Going forward… with a bit of rationalization
At this stage of experimentation, I don’t see myself returning to the pen and paper version of Zen-Journal. I also don’t see this as a betrayal as I mentioned earlier in the post. Instead, I see it as still maintaining my focus on using the Zen-Journal system of planning in my notebook of choice. (see my comment below for an UPDATE)
But who knows…I just found my lost fountain pen so… 😎
Because Zen-Journal can be used with any notebook -whether it be a $0.99 spiral bound purchased at Walmart or a $100 leather bound journal from Levenger– it can be used in any format. Zen-Journal’s strength, in my humble and obviously biased opinion, is that it takes advantage of digital technology.
Using it in its analog format, your schedule, contacts, collections and all the things that used to require migration from notebook to notebook stay digital and follow you wherever you are. By transitioning to a completely digital notebook, I’ve found that function is enhanced even further.
I’m interested in your take on this experiment
I’m just one user who’s posting his experience. What’s your reaction to this transition from analog to digital? Could you see it working for you? Your comments are always welcome.