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.
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, the 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.