This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for details.

Do you use a paper journal but are thinking about making the switch to digital journaling? Or have you never kept a journal but wonder if digital journaling might be something you’d like to try?

If you want to know more about digital journaling, you’re in the right place. I’m going to go cover exactly what it is, why so many people are making the switch, and what you need to get started. 

Digital Journaling: What it is & how to get started. #digitaljournaling #dijo #journaling

Digital Journaling: What It Is

On a very basic level, we’re moving from paper journaling, planning, and goal-setting to paperless

Rather than buying notebooks and bullet journals, we’re switching to digital papers and interlinked files. Instead of grabbing a new set of pens, we’re downloading fun fonts and seeing how many ways we can use one pencil or stylus. 

It’s important to recognize that digital journaling is not the same as using a planning app to type and set reminders. Digital journaling is the same habit of journaling, writing, and reflection, only it’s happening on a new surface with new tools.

On a deeper level, digital journaling is the practice of writing everything down and getting all the benefits that come with putting your thoughts down on paper.

You can accomplish things like-

  • Higher goal success
  • Improving your working memory
  • Managing stress
  • Working through trauma
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Releasing tension
  • Improving optimism

– to name a few. The benefits of journaling are far-reaching. You’ll get the same benefits of journaling with a digital journal as with a paper journal – only you’re going about it in a more sustainable way. By creating sustainable habits, you’re likely to accomplish even more and stick with it.

Why Make the Switch to Digital Journaling?

In the last seven years, the paper crafting and planning / journaling industries have merged. You can see this by walking into any craft store, bookstore, or even Walmart. You’ll find aisles of planners and journals of all sorts, accessories, stickers, and more. Planning and journaling have become more than making lists – it’s now an outlet for creativity and expression. It’s a place to keep your dreams and goals. It’s a way to get your priorities in order and live your best life.

So why make the switch to digital?

With any kind of explosion of an industry, we see consumption fly up. Maybe you’ve collected an impressive supply of washi tape or sticker books. Perhaps you’ve bought planners that you only used for half a year, then shoved in a drawer, only to turn around and buy more planners – as motivation. Many of us see a new planner as a way to kickstart our journeys to health and fitness, self-care, organization, or reaching our goals.

Womans Desk Image

Personally, I’ve found my stash of paper planning and journaling notebooks and supplies is having the opposite effect. Instead of feeling the benefits of journaling and finding time for self-care, I’m overwhelmed. The unused journals and supplies are wasteful and take up too much space. I don’t feel organized at all – I feel drained. 

Making the move to Digital

Obviously, I love to buy all of this stuff, but the thrill of buying something new is so short-lived. I go into the purchase with grand plans, but it’s a motivation jumpstart that is simply not sustainable. The motivation you feel from buying new tools only lasts for so long. We end up with piles of unused supplies, washi tape that no longer has any stick, stamp pads that have long gone dry, and cabinets full of stuff cluttering up our houses and our lives.

And the real kicker? Our lives are not changed by owning all of this stuff – which was kind of the purpose in the first place.

The value is not in amassing journals and supplies. The value is in the act of journaling: writing down your thoughts, reflecting on your day, listing the things you’re grateful for, setting down your goals, and check off those action steps. We don’t need a lot of supplies for this. And that is what makes digital journaling so sustainable.  

3 Smart Reasons to Try Digital Journaling

1. Creating Sustainable Habits

The cornerstone of habit creation is making your new habit easy. Creating a space for paper journaling supplies, hauling them all out, cleaning them up – all of this stands between you and the habit you’re trying to create, the actual journaling part. Paper journals can be beautiful, but they take so much time and effort to create. Many of us give up because it’s too much work.

Going digital streamlines the creative journaling process. With digital journaling, you only need to have two things: your device and a stylus. These are things you probably have with you most of the time. Everything else that you want – whether it’s photos, stickers, or scrapbook supplies – is right there in the cloud. 

Having everything with you in one easily-accessible place makes it easier for you to make notes when inspiration strikes. You don’t have to go through a detailed process to write in your journal. Instead, pull out your device and stylus and get to writing. Since it’s so easy to do, you’ll be more likely to create a sustainable habit. Simply put, if it’s easy to do, you’ll be more likely to do it. 

Digital Journaling

2. Eco-friendly Sustainability

My next reason, one that we should all be a little more conscious about, is eco-friendly sustainability. The impact on the environment is one of the biggest complaints I see in the paper crafting community. There’s so much waste.

Digital journaling means less paper, fewer supplies, less unused stuff lying around, less in the trash, less clutter…just less. It’s a mind shift for a lot of people, especially ones involved in the paper planning or crafting communities where more is more. There’s always a new, fun tool to buy or a glittery new something or a shiny new other thing. It’s easy to end up with so. much. stuff. 

Digital journaling cuts down on the amount of waste you create. Additionally, as people become more conscious of our effect on the environment, there will be a push to move more and more things online so that we can manufacture less. 

3. Financially Sustainable

You could argue that all you really need to start a journaling habit is a notebook and a pencil, and while that is true, very few people stop there. You can see that very clearly in the planner community – the unending search for planner peace. I can never find a planner that does everything I need, so I wind up buying more and more. I always either have too many unused planners or I try to keep up with several planners to cover all of my needs. Neither of these is a sustainable habit.

Or, maybe there is one perfect planner that will keep everything you have going on totally organized. But how many planners will you buy and try before you find that holy grail of a planner? And if you do find it, you’ll be committed to buying it year after year to keep up. It can get expensive.

I would not recommend that everyone run out and buy an iPad to start a journal. If it’s something you already have, then you’re ready to move your planners and journals to a digital format.

All of Your Digital Supplies are Sustainable & Non-Consumable

You can start digital journaling with a few basic tools and add to your collection if you want. The great thing is that your digital crafting supplies aren’t consumable like your paper supplies. You can use undated journals multiple times, stickers, and washi tape now lasts forever, and you have access to every color, shape, and style pen that you’ll ever need. Most purchases are usually a one time cost.  

Digital Journaling

What You Need to Get Started with Digital Journaling:

You really don’t need much to get started with digital journaling. Get started with a couple of basics and add new things as you develop.

The Basics:

Hardware: You’ll need an iPad and an Apple Pencil, or another type of notebook and stylus that allows you to write. While you could work without a stylus, you won’t get the handwritten experience that you may need to get the full effect of journaling.

Software: You’ll also need a notetaking app, AKA a PDF annotation app. This is a one-time purchase, usually around $8. I use GoodNotes, but there are many others available as well. The most important thing is to get an app that will sync between all of your devices – phone, tablet, and computer – so that you can access your journal, notes, and plans everywhere.  

Digital Journaling Beyond the Basics

Once you have your tablet, stylus, and notetaking app, you can then move into some additional items. If you have shiny object syndrome when it comes to paper journaling, don’t worry. There are plenty of shiny objects here – only they’re digital.


If you’re starting out, you might consider picking up a tutorial to make sure you’re making the most of your device. You can also learn how to use any accessories you want to include in your digital journal.

Digital Journaling Templates

You can find all sorts of journal templates to use with your app. These templates are hyperlinked to make navigation easier – you won’t have to scroll through every page. It might help during your transition to find templates that are similar to the paper journals. There are many different styles, including planner pages and journaling prompts.

Woman with iPad

Digital Accessories

You don’t have to give up all of the things you use to make your journal attractive. You can find stickers, washi tape, and journal covers to buy. All of your related files are kept in the cloud and can be pulled from for use whenever you need them. There are sets online that are made specifically for digital journaling, or you can pick up some personal-use clipart that you love.


I love using all kinds of fonts in my journals. There is a slew of cool fonts available for personal use at no cost.

Digital Journaling Can Help You Get Rid of the Clutter & Develop Sustainable Habits

If you’re ready to develop journaling habits that you can actually sustain, digital journaling might be the answer for you. You’ll have a journal that’s always within reach and all sorts of materials that are a swipe away. You can shift your attention from keeping up with all of your paper supplies to actually focusing on the act of journaling

Once you truly begin to use a journal in the way it’s intended, you’ll finally be able to get all of the great benefits you want. You can achieve your goals, organize your life, focus on self-care, and develop a more positive, mindful attitude. Digital journaling can help bring about the change you’ve been looking for.

Check out the easy-to-use journaling templates in our shop. Each is designed for open-and-go journaling in GoodNotes or the PDF annotation app of your choice.

or visit the DiJoShop on Etsy