I commented on Rosie Sherry’s blogpost recently that I have kind of an elaborate note taking scheme:

  • Evernote for general digital note taking and catchall for pretty much anything useful, day to day work tasks and useful info.
  • Wunderlist for things I want to come back to later for blogging etc.
  • Kindle and iBook notes and highlights from whatever I’m reading.
  • If what I’m reading is sufficiently important, I’ll review the notes and highlights once done and transcribe them along with additional thoughts, observations, annotations etc into a Moleskine notebook.
  • I’ll use that same Moleskine notebook for training notes etc also. It’s a “keeper” notebook, basically. Something I’ll refer back to in the future.
  • I also have a larger Moleskine notepad for other day to day note taking, meetings, modelling/sketching/mind mapping etc. This one will get thrown away once done, after I’ve reviewed it on the off chance there’s something I want to keep.

This may seem a little fetishised, but I’ve evolved the system over a number of years now. And hey; what can I say. It works for me.

Over the course of that time I’ve tried a bunch of other approaches, including paper only and digital only. But I find a mix of the two works best for me.

I love thinking on paper, as it were, and there’s plenty of research to support the notion that writing is better for comprehension and recall than digital mediums. But dammit, I just can’t be bothered with carrying around a notepad everywhere I go when I already have my phone and/or iPad and/or laptop. Sometimes all three. And my notebook!

How do you take yours, if at all…?

Thanks for reading. Feel free to reach out via a comment or on the socials if anything resonates.

Cheers,
Simon

3 Comments

  • Dan Caseley says:

    Ditto – I’m hybrid too.
    Notes for the Mac (although damn, I wish that integrated better with things) and a legal pad. There’s something about yellow paper that works better for me.

    Conference notes get written in the free pad you’re given, reviewed and annotated the next day with actions straight into Trello, then written up to Notes a few days later.

    Meeting notes vary depending on the meeting. Project things go to Notes. Random things go to paper, because I don’t know what form they’ll take yet.

    I’d love to have everything digital and searchable, but it can’t offer the free form that paper and pen can.

    • Simon Knight says:

      I’ve not used Notes at all, and have moved away from iPhones, so Evernote works better for me. Although the interface is kinda sucky on Android, if I’m doing anything serious it’ll likely be on my iPad instead.

      Conference, workshop and meeting notes etc written, definitely. I’ve tended to find mindmapping useful for talks/keynotes etc. The mark of a good talk for me, is a sensible looking mindmap. If I can’t mindmap the talk it’s usually an indication that the talk itself wasn’t very well structured.

      It occurred to me I should share the Evernote template I use for day to day work stuff, since it’s served me well the last few years for tracking to-do’s, time, planning and general note taking in relation to work activities. Having all that info in Evernote does have the benefit, as you allude to, of making it easily searchable at a later date – so I’ll often have code snippets, SQL queries, test results, screenshots and the like in there too.

      I’ll get around to that in another post, perhaps.

  • […] was talking to a colleague recently about note taking and it reminded me of a Simon Knight blog post I read a few months […]

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