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8 Reasons Why Livescribe is the Best Tool for Taking Digital Notes

8 Reasons Why Livescribe is the Best Tool for Taking Digital Notes

    A couple of weeks ago I discussed different ways that note-takers can take more effective digital notes as well as some of the pitfalls of digital note-taking. Being a student, more than part time programmer, and someone who is extremely forgetful when it comes to household and family duties, capturing ideas and actions that need completed is more of a necessity than a nicety.

    I have tried a ton of digital tools for notetaking in class, in meetings, and otherwise. I have found that there is one clear winner that has changed the way that I take notes and review them for the better.

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    Being productivity geeks you have probably heard of the Livescribe Smartpen system and have also taken a look at some of their convincing marketing videos on their website. If not, the Livescribe pen is a way to take paper notes on special “dot paper” that stores them digitally in the pen and syncs them with digital recordings of what is going on around you while you are writing. The notes can then be then transferred to your Mac or PC for review and searching.

    I was first extremely skeptical about this system and didn’t pull the trigger on buying a pen until early in 2010. Having had a full year with my Livescribe pen, I can say that I won’t be taking notes any other way in the foreseeable future. That being said, let’s look at 8 reasons why Livescribe is the best way to take digital notes

    Computers distract

    I have found that laptops in class or meetings are too distracting as it only takes me 10 seconds to jump on a WiFi network and get sucked in to Engadget. Writing is natural and keeps your from being distracted by the recesses of the interwebs.

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    Reviewing is actually useful

    Reviewing notes is difficult, mostly because the stuff that we write down doesn’t make any sense to us after we write it. This is where the beauty of recording and writing with the Livescribe comes in. When you want to review something from your notes, just tap the note and listen to what was going on at the exact time. Simple and powerful.

    Evernote integration

    If you are an Evernote premium member you can sync your notes to Evernote through the Livescribe Desktop. Nothing like having your notes anywhere you are with Evernote.

      Livescribe Desktop on Mac, Windows, iOS

      Having Livescribe as a cross-platform piece of software is essential for me as I switch between Windows and Mac all day long. Also you can download the Pencast Player iOS app which allows you to view all your online Pencasts with audio.

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      Search

      The downfall of plain written notes is that they aren’t searchable. Livescribe Desktop allows you to search your notes and uses optical character recognition to find what you are looking for. Something that I do constently is mark next actions with TODO. When I am reviewing my notes I just search for TODO and drop the action items into my system.

      Impress your colleagues and friends!

      I’m only half serious on this one. One of the coolest things is showing Livescribe to someone, especially someone that takes a lot of notes like managers or professors. As soon as they realize that you can record while writing and then export your notes to PDF or share them with someone else via the web, you can see the wheels in their head start to spin.

        Lined journals for those notebook-loving types

        Oh, but you are one of those hawdy-tawdy Moleskine-packing, Ernest Hemmingway types and the thought of using some other type of notebook just turns you off. Well, you are partially in luck as Livescribe gives you the choice of “leather” bound lined- and unlined- journals that you can use. I have to say that the quality is pretty-darn good; even notebook snobs will be impressed.

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        Sharing notes

        Sharing notes as “Pencasts” online is probably the single-greatest feature of Livescribe. You choose what recorded session you want to upload from your Livescribe Desktop and then send the link to who you want to see your notes. You can also control the access to your notes by making it private and inviting certain people or by making it public for the world to see.

        Conclusion

        As you can see there are many benefits to taking your digital notes via a Livescribe Pen including less distractions while note-taking, cross-platform use, useful reviewing, and easy note-sharing. If you are looking for a cross between taking notes by hand and having the digital power of search, sharing, and audio tied to notes, then I can’t recommend anything better than Livescribe.

        More by this author

        CM Smith

        A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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        Last Updated on June 17, 2019

        40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated)

        40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated)

        Over the years here at Lifehack, we’ve discussed plenty of apps that you can use to improve your overall productivity.

        There are certain ones that many of our contributors and editors (past and present) have adopted over the long-term — there are always the stalwarts that stick around. But there are also new apps that crop up every day, adding more and more depth to the app category.

        Some of the apps are incredibly plain and simple, while others are more robust and offer more features than you can shake a stick at. And everyone has the one they prefer.

        It’s been our job (and still is our job) to keep abreast of all of the productivity-type apps out there. As a result — and as a bit of a refresher — we’ve put together a list of 40 best productivity apps for iPhone (all categorized based on their functions) to provide you with an all-in-one resource for you.

        For Getting Things Done

        1. OmniFocus

        This app is, while pricey, considered to be one of the (if not the) most robust and full-featured productivity apps on the market.

        Download it here.

          2. Forest

          Train yourself to put your phone down and stay focused on the task at hand by playing with this planting game. It’s fun and will help you achieve more.

          Download it here.

            3. Things

            Another robust choice, this app is a favorite amongst “productivityists”.[1]

            Download it here.

              4. 30/30

              Recently covered here at Lifehack

              , 30/30 is a newcomer to the game that incorporates lists and timing of tasks into an elegant and easy-to-use interface.

              Download it here.

                5. Any.Do

                A beautiful-looking app that is both easy on the eyes and your wallet.

                Download it here.

                  6. PocketLife Calendar

                  This calendar app is specifically designed to be stylish and super easy-to-use. You can organize your life easily with different modern features.

                  Download it here.

                    7. Asana

                    We’ve covered Asana here at Lifehack

                    , and it is being actively developed by a strong team committed to making collaborative task management a more efficient and effective experience.

                    Download it here.

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                      8. ToDoist

                      This app keeps track of everything – from simple errands to your most important projects – so you can get it all done and enjoy more peace of mind along the way.

                      Download it here.

                        9. FlowTasks

                        From the folks at MetaLab, Flow is a gorgeous collaborative task management app that is easy-to-use and incredibly functional.

                        Download it here.

                          10. Calendars 5

                          This calendar app focuses on events that help you to keep track of upcoming events and tasks easily. It has everything you need to organize, track and complete your to-dos.

                          Download it here.

                            11. Clear – Tasks, Reminders & To-Do Lists

                            A fun and innovative list-making app that relies on swiping and pinching to make things happen. Clear created a lot of buzz when it launched, and might be the perfect to-do list gateway app for many.

                            Download it here.

                              12. Due

                              A robust reminders app that lets you store and maintain reminders of all types. It’s replaced Reminders for me when it comes to the basics, and it’s worth a look if you want to keep the mundane stuff out of your head and cluttering your mind.

                              Download it here.

                                13. Checkmark 2

                                I use this app

                                for location-based reminders (such as groceries I need to get or single items I need to pick up from various locations). Checkmark is simple to use and a valuable addition to my productivity arsenal.

                                Download it here.

                                  14. TeuxDeux

                                  Created by Tina Roth Eisenberg and Fictive Kin — Teux Deux is simple and incredibly stellar in terms of design. If you like lists (including the popular “Someday Bucket”) and want to associate dates with tasks, then Teux Deux will be right up your alley.

                                  Download it here.

                                    15. Wunderlist 

                                    Another incredibly popular choice is Wunderlist. Part of 6Wunderkinder’s software family, it sports a gorgeous design and is incredibly functional. We’ve talked about the app a couple of times here at Lifehack, so check those posts out here.

                                    Download it here.

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                                      16. Nirvana

                                      For the GTD enthusiasts, there’s Nirvana. Straight from the source: “Nirvana frees your mind to focus on actually getting things done. If you’ve had enough of generic to-do lists, it’s time for Nirvana.”

                                      Download it here.

                                        17. Priorities

                                        An elegant-looking task management app that has received decent reviews,[2] this could be the one for you if you’re not a fan of OmniFocus or Things — especially if you need (or want) to share tasks with others.

                                        Download it here.

                                          For Building Habits

                                          18. Productive

                                          With this app, you can plan your habits with an easy-to-use interface, schedule habits for any time of the day, set smart reminders for each time of the day and stay on track with useful feedback. This app is perfect for anyone who wants to build a habit that sticks.

                                          Download it here.

                                            19. Habitica: Gamified Taskmanager

                                            You can complete tasks and build habits in a more fun way with this app. Input your Habits, your Daily goals, and your To-Do list, and then create a custom avatar. Check off tasks to level up your avatar and unlock features such as armor, pets, skills, and even quests.

                                            Download it here.

                                              20. Streaks

                                              This app follows the model of the popular “don’t break the chain method” in that you use the app to track how you are donig in the pursuit of your goal. Great for goal-setting — and an easy and elegant interface to boot.

                                              Download it here.

                                                21. Remember The Milk

                                                Another popular to-do list app, Remember The Milk has a huge following. It has plenty to offer, including the ability to share tasks with others.

                                                Download it here.

                                                  22. Day One Journal

                                                  When it comes to journaling, nothing really beats Day One. Its latest update added a slew of features that will make you want to start making journaling a habit.

                                                  Download it here.

                                                    For Files Organization

                                                    23. Evernote

                                                    Touted as the world’s most widely-used productivity app, Evernote an be used simply as a notetaking app or can be customized to be your GTD app of choice — among other things.

                                                    Download it here.

                                                      24. Pocket

                                                      You can save an article, video or link you want to read or watch later to Pocket from anywhere including your computer, Safari, email, and your favorite apps like Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, and Feedly.

                                                      Download it here.

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                                                        25. Sync.Me

                                                        This app identifies unknown phone calls, warns you from annoying spam calls, and adds a caller picture to your contacts from Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

                                                        Download it here.

                                                          26. Droplr

                                                          One of the most popular file-sharing apps out there today. Straight from the source: “Stay productive on the go. Droplr for iPhone keeps you in sync and makes sharing on the iPhone natural.”

                                                          Download it here.

                                                            27. Dropbox

                                                            Before iCloud, there was Dropbox. And there still is Dropbox, which is still widely used by both Mac and PC users all over the globe. It’s like having a flash drive in your iPhone. A must-have.

                                                            Download it here.

                                                              28. iDolly 

                                                              In conjunction with Dolly Drive and DollySync, iDolly allows you to edit and share your documents from your iPhone.

                                                              Since all your changes sync automatically to all your devices, the current version of a document will always be accessible because Dolly Sync keeps everything in sync. Very handy.

                                                              Download it here.

                                                                29. Soulver

                                                                It may seem odd that a calculator app shows up on this list, but this is no ordinary calendar app. Ben Brooks over at The Brooks review describes Soulver as follows: “It is what calculators would have been if they were invented at the same time computers were, instead of what we have with most calculator apps.” [3]

                                                                Download it here.

                                                                  For Working Smarter

                                                                  30. Captio

                                                                  A simple capture tool. Straight from the developers: “It’s simple. Open Captio and start typing. When you’re done, hit Send. The note is immediately delivered to your email inbox.”

                                                                  Download it here.

                                                                    31. Drafts

                                                                    A tremendous capture tool that allows for simple capture, followed by sending items to various applications such as OmniFocus, Things and more.

                                                                    Download it here.

                                                                      32. NoteShelf 2

                                                                      This is a perfect note-taking app for you. You can take beautiful handwritten notes, type, annotate PDFs, record audio & create lists. You can organize them into categories or groups.

                                                                      Download it here.

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                                                                        33. Doodle

                                                                        This app links directly with the Doodle service, which is one that allows you to plan and organize meetings far more efficiently and effectively. Lifehack contributor Steve Dotto has written about Doodle more in-depth here.

                                                                        Download it here.

                                                                          34. TextExpander (Legacy)

                                                                          I have saved countless hours of time with TextExpander, and despite its inability to be as robust on iOS as it is on the Mac, it is still a worthy app to have in your arsenal.

                                                                          Download it here.

                                                                            35. Launch Center Pro

                                                                            A quick launcher for the iPhone that doesn’t just launch an app…with some of them it can do much more. This app saves you time by launching complex actions in a single tap.

                                                                            Download it here.

                                                                              36. GoodReader

                                                                              This may seem to be an odd one to make this list, but here are plenty of reasons why it is here with this article.

                                                                              Download it here.

                                                                                37. LogMeIn

                                                                                Want to be able to control your Mac from wherever you are? Then get this app.

                                                                                Download it here.

                                                                                  For Improving Security

                                                                                  38. 1Password

                                                                                  There is simply no better password manager out there. I’ve even put together a 1Password Emergency Kit worth looking at here.

                                                                                  Download it here.

                                                                                    39. LastPass Password Manager

                                                                                    You can store passwords and logins, create online shopping profiles, generate strong passwords, track personal information in photo and audio notes.

                                                                                    All you have to do is remember your LastPass master password, and LastPass autofills web browser and app logins for you.

                                                                                    Download it here.

                                                                                      40. Truecallers

                                                                                      Identify and block spammers, search for unknown numbers and call friends easily with this app. With a community-based spam list from over 250 million users, you’ll need this app.

                                                                                      Download it here.

                                                                                        There are plenty of other options out there (and we’ve heard from readers in the past as to what they enjoyed using), but these 40 are among the best.

                                                                                        More Great Apps Recommendations

                                                                                        Reference

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