My fellow managing editor, Mr. Vardy and I have taken a liking to paper for note taking, especially when it comes to analyzing and clarifying problems. It’s durable, simple, easy to use, has an almost infinite resolution, is aesthetically pleasing, and just feels good. Although paper is awesome for clarifying your thoughts and actions, you can’t easily index, sort, and search it, something that digital notes will always have the benefit of.
SEE ALSO: 5 Tips for Effective Digital Note Taking
So, what do you do if you are a paper note taker in an increasingly digital note taking world? Here are some of the best ways to use note taking software if you are a paper note taking aficionado.
OneNote for Windows
OneNote is a great application for taking notes, storing files and links, pictures, graphs, or really anything if you use Windows or even iOS. The great part about OneNote is that you can organize it much like a notebook with different tabs and sections as well as click anywhere and instantly start typing.
Another great thing is that if you have paper notes you can snap a photo or scan them in and store them in OneNote. Then you can easily search your notes with OneNote’s built in optical character recognition (that is, if your handwriting doesn’t suck). It’s a great hybrid approach for the paper note taker.
We wax about Evernote here at Lifehack because it’s truly a ubiquitous capture and note taking application. It works everywhere, and because of that gives you the quickness and ease of use like paper does. You can quickly add notes via your mobile device or the capture applications on Mac, Linux, or Windows.
Just like OneNote, Evernote gives you the ability to upload handwritten documents that the service will try to OCR for you. This allows you to take notes via pen and paper when you are away from your digital devices.
Circus Ponies Notebook
If you are working on a Mac and you want something like OneNote, then look no further than Circus Ponies Notebook. Notebook uses pages, tabs, and sections to make the app feel more like paper and is a great way to store a ton of information. There is also a great tool for recording audio while you are taking notes. Notebook will then map the audio to the notes that you took.
You can add charts and diagram’s to your Notebook notebooks and also “free hand” draw with some of the ink tools. Notebook also has a cool feature called “Multidex” which basically indexes all of your notes and even the changes you make to them allowing for an easier way to find notes that you may have forgotten about or “lost”.
Livescribe is a paper/software hybrid that allows you take handwritten notes on special paper that takes “snapshops” of what you write. The best feature of Livescribe is that you can record any sound that is going on around you while you are taking your notes and the smartpen will map the note taking with the sound. This is great for note taking during a lecture or a meeting where you may want to refer to what was said later.
After you have taken your notes you can upload the handwritten notes as well as the audio that is tied to it to either a Mac or PC. You can then click anywhere in your notes and the audio that was recorded at the time of the note will play back.
Your handwritten notes are also fully indexed and searchable so you can quickly locate things later on. I have found that if you are a strick paper note taker but you want the benefits of note taking software, Livescribe may be your best bet.
Note taking software for the traditional paper note taker can be a tough sell, especially when it comes to ubiquitousness and speed, but these apps are a great way to transition your handwritten note taking habits to the digital realm. If you have any good note taking software and paper note taking workflows, please share them below.
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