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The Best Note Taking Software for the Paper Note Taker

The Best Note Taking Software for the Paper Note Taker

    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

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    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.

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    Evernote

    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.

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    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 Smartpen

    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.

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    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.

    (Photo credit: take notes via Shutterstock)

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    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 February 15, 2019

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

    Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

    Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

    So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

    Joe’s Goals

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      Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

      Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

      Daytum

        Daytum

        is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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        Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

        Excel or Numbers

          If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

          What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

          Evernote

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            I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

            Evernote is free with a premium version available.

            Access or Bento

              If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

              Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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              You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

              Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

              All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

              Conclusion

              I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

              What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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