Tablet and Pencil

I’m a note taker.

I’ve used various size notebooks and pens over the years to take notes in meetings, church, school and anywhere. I’m usually found with a small notebook and pen with almost all the time.IMG_3333

I take notes for two main reasons. The first reason is to capture whatever information is being presented. The second, and the one I think is most meaningful to me is that I stay better focused. When taking notes, and even sketchnoting,┬áthe material being presented, I’m much more focused and dialed into what is being shared.

The problem with written notes and notebooks is searching for content later in a notebook or even searching for which notebook contains notes you might remember. I’ve found myself numerous times trying to find something I’ve written down in one of these notebooks and I have to search through book after book. And I don’t always find whatever I’m looking to see.


There is a certain joy in writing things down, but the problem is finding things later and even years later having the document with you as you’ve changed books or notepads. Searching is a huge problem. A huge problem.

Over the years, I’ve tried several alternative tools or technologies to capture notes. I think I’ve bought and tried special electronic pens and paper twice but couldn’t get them to work well. And, at times, I’ve tried really hard to just type notes on a keyboard, but that has drawbacks like noise, lack of fast editing and the inability to sketch something quickly. I’ve just not found anything that works.

Two weeks ago I purchased an iPad Pro, an Apple Pencil and based on the recommendation of my dentist daughter, Noteshelf 2. This week I attended a conference where for 2 1/2 days I took handwritten notes on the Ipad in session after session. I ended up with 46 pages of electronic paper notes.



  • I took pictures of screens that were shown up front, they didn’t handout files in advance, and then dropped them into the document.
  • I took pictures of handouts in one session and pasted that entirely into the document.
  • I rearranged text as speakers went along so if they started talking about a point before they titled it, I would drag their points down the page later so I could put a proper title on it where I wanted it.
  • I drew pictures and diagrams.
  • I underlined and highlighted.
  • I did lots of erasing.
  • I boxed in key points.

In the two days, I found myself editing on the fly quickly and smoothly without derailing my focus or distracting anyone around me (I think). And as I became more comfortable with the tool, I tried new things like sketching and adding pictures. I found the whole process to be rather easy, fluid and fast.

I think this technology has arrived. The one thing this app(Noteshelf 2) doesn’t seem to have is a writing-to-text feature and a search capability on that text. There may be other application that can do this. This eco-system, as it stands today, seems to have mostly solved the writing capture process. Loved it. Recommended.