Handwritten notes and Evernote

I never really liked typing notes into a laptop during meetings.  With my hands on a keyboard and eyes on a screen, it’s very difficult to engage with what is going on.  When I sit in a meeting and see others typing, I often wonder if they are actually making notes or just doing something else.  So I always just carried my notebook and pen where ever I went and left the laptop back at my desk.

That is, until I got my iPad.  After evaluating almost every handwriting app in the store, I settled on Noteability (after a little influence from my friend Rudi), bought a cheap stylus from Amazon and never looked back.  Here’s an overview of my workflow:

  • Take handwritten notes during the meeting on the ipad directly.  Rest it on the stand in landscape position to avoid accidentally pressing the home button, and use the zoom mode to allow yourself to write more neatly, and fit more on the page.
  • After saving the note,  Noteability is set up to auto sync a pdf copy to a dropbox folder.  
  • If the meeting had some actions, create a note in evernote and add the checkbox widget, some brief text of the action and attach the pdf from dropbox.
  • You can now do two things.  First of all a saved search called “Actions” with the query “todo:false” will bring up a list of all notes with unchecked boxes.  Once you’ve done the action, check the box and you’ll never see it again in the search.
  • The second cool thing about pdfs in Evernote is that handwriting recognition is used to index searches.  So if you search for a word in your note on the PC evernote client, it will find the note and highlight the word.  This even works on my scrawly handwriting.  Handwriting recognition inside pdfs only works on Evernote premium though – a good reason to upgrade.

I’ve converted a few people over to note taking on the ipad.  It’s still a niche activity, but for me an indispensable tool.  For a year now I’ve not carried around a single paper notepad but I can still access every note on my phone, pc and ipad thanks to Evernote.

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