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Transition Painlessly From Paper To Evernote

Transition Painlessly From Paper To Evernote

For many people, the transition from paper-based notes, be they personal or professional, to an electronic note-taking application (such as Evernote) is a painful one. The discomfort is sometimes borne of the not-easily-dismissed stress of adopting a new approach to taking notes when an existing system has worked somewhere between sufficiently and superbly for many years and is familiar, comfortable, and reliable. And, with few exceptions, paper notes in a reliable workflow don’t end up lost or corrupted by data errors. In other cases, the discomfiture may be a result of too many available choices among solutions, and little desire to spend the money or time to investigate the options, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each, and finally settle on an app to replace a paper system.

I’m going to suggest two solutions for avoiding this stress during the transition, and these solutions will allow you to return to a strictly paper-based note taking system any time you like without having lost anything along the way!

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Keep your paper notes

First, don’t eliminate your paper notes. They’ve served you well for years, presumably, or you wouldn’t still be using them. Continue to use them. Take notes, jot ideas, sketch designs, draw little connecting arrows to relate ideas to each other. Do whatever currently works for you, and do it on paper.

If you aren’t currently tagging notes when you take them on paper, consider starting now. They aren’t searchable, of course, using an electronic system (yet), but you can quickly skim the bottom line of pages in a notepad and look for tags far quicker than you can read the titles of multiple notes.  For example, if I had been drafting ideas for this note in my Moleskine pad, I might have tagged the bottom of the page with #lifehack #evernote #paper-transition or something similar. The use of the hash mark (#) to indicate a topical tag may be unfamiiar to you if you’ve never seen Twitter posts or content streaming from Twitter to a news site. Fear not; all the # sign does is indicate a topic tag follows it. You don’t need to use the mark as long as you always write the tags in the same section of the page and only use that section for topic tags.

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However, it would make me really happy if Evernote would figure out that converting such handwriting to actual tags for existing tags within Evernote is a really good idea. More on that in a bit…

Start using Evernote

Really. Just start using it. Download it to your smartphone or tablet, or browse to evernote.com from your computer. You can save pretty much anything you want in Evernote as a note:  an actual note, a list, a checklist, a photo, a web clipping, a set of URLs as bookmarks, etc. Steve Dotto has a great video demonstrating several awesome uses of Evernote in an easy-to-follow format. Play around with Evernote after watching the video. The app is free (unless you want to upgrade to premium for the astoundingly low price of $5 a month). You don’t need to stress at all about using the app instead of your paper notes. Just play with the app’s features. And, if you like Moleskine notebooks, Evernote and Moleskine have a great deal where you buy a Moleskine notebook for basically what you’d pay for it anyway, and it comes with three months of free Evernote premium. A bonus is the size of these notebooks is configured to be readily compatible with the Evernote photo-taking feature. Regardless, it is fully capable of taking whatever photos you want to upload.

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The following recommendations worked for me, and they’ve worked for quite a number of other people to whom I’ve made these recommendations. They don’t work for everyone, but with some modifications to suit your personal work style, they ought to work for you.

  1. Take your notes on paper, the way you’re accustomed to doing. Jot a quick topical tag or two at the bottom of the first page of a set of notes about a given subject or meeting.
  2. Take a photo of each note page with your iPhone or Android phone camera. You can leave it as a photo or convert it to a PDF using something like Scanner Pro for the iPhone, which is what I use. If I’m in a hurry, I leave it as a photo.
  3. Do whatever you would normally do with those paper notes to save them—file them, add them to a topical folder, or leave them in your notebook. Don’t do anything to change how you currently treat your paper notes.
  4. When you have time, preferably soon, use Evernote to add a new note about your note-taking subject (say, a meeting), and add the photos of your paper notes or the PDF of your paper notes to this new note. You can also add additional text. Take the time to tag the note with a few significant keywords. You can use them for search later. Evernote will also convert handwriting or text in your photos to searchable text. Title the note something meaningful for the way you take notes and refer back to them. You can always change this later, even by creating additional notebooks for major subjects, or personal vs. work, or however you segregate your major note groupings. Remember to include the page number (if your notebook has page numbers) for where you can find the paper note.
  5. If you need to find notes quickly, or even if you have some time, use Evernote first to search for them. You will locate them more quickly, and often Evernote will find other notes you may have forgotten about but to which you want to refer.

The result

Even if you never eliminate your paper-based note-taking system, you will have added one of the most reliable cloud-based backup methods available to your note-taking method, gained the ability to search your notes, and enabled the ability to find your notes from any internet-connected computing platform you may be using.

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I’m going to suggest two solutions for avoiding this stress during the transition, and these solutions will allow you to return to a strictly paper-based note taking system any time you like.

Take care, and enjoy life,

Andrew

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Last Updated on May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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