With this article I want to give back and offer some insights and recommendations for note taking. Furthermore, I want to explain why it is critical to take structured notes in order to increase your productivity and extend your brain with accessible external memory. Moreover, consistent note taking, rereading and remembering will increase your cognitive abilities.
For sure, we live in a time with abundant information. Often I thought I have a leaky brain, can’t remember enough and after some days the information seemed to be gone. So about ten years ago I started to take digital notes and got them till the current date. In addition, I learned a lot over the years and refined my note taking techniques on diverse devices as well.
The High Level Overview
What are the possibilities and techniques of note taking? I guess there are a lot.
- Physical handwritten
- Digital handwritten (Digitizer)
- Typing with the keyboard
- Recording audio or video as extension
- Making pictures
Basically the app or tool should combine and support all kind of input, structure it and make it accessible over all devices you got. Besides that it’s crucial that it is not a solely web based app and your notes must be offline available as well.
What you want after taking the notes, no matter which kind of format like picture or plain text, is to find them again. How do you do that? Bingo – full text search is the answer. That means you can even index pictures and search the text they contain. That is very valuable for screenshots or even whiteboard shots.
My Tool Recommendation
It’s a jungle out there, there are so many and also good note taking apps. So I experimented a lot and tested the features both functional and non-functional. It turned out I didn’t find the perfect app. Nevertheless, I am confident with my choice of the tool One Note, and I am sure that it’s one of the best.
One Note comes with Windows 10 by default so you should already be good to go. In the same way the app is available on Mac, iPhone or iPad and also on Android. Every version has some differences and is optimized for the type of device. Nevertheless, you can access your notebooks which automatically will be synchronized because it is powered by One Drive cloud storage. Anyway you can edit your data if you are offline it will be re-synced as soon as you are connected again.
If you don’t want your notes stored in One Drive, there is still a possibility with One Note 2016 which is part of the Office 2016 package. This version, I am using it myself, makes it possible to export whole notebooks and store also them locally which the never versions can’t do anymore.
So if you don’t use the Office package, One Note 10 and all other versions of it are for free. No subscription and no initial costs. Luckily no advertising as well.
- Easy Access
- Improves Workflow and Daily Organization
- Improves Transparency
- Fast, reliable and full search.
- Browser extension – to send bookmarks or screenshots directly to One Note. (Clip to One Note)
- Automatic Save, Never Lose Information
- Brain extension
- Save your work for later – resume at any time
- Combine all kind of digital data (videos – pictures – screenshots) in the same page and arrange them how you like.
Call To Action
Choose your device where you demand your notes the most. Download the free version of One Note and install it. Create an account or login with your Microsoft credentials. Build your first Notebook. Add a new chapter and below that, add your first page.
Now the experiment starts: My recommendation is to start with yourself. Didn’t you ever want to get conscious about your goals, values and visions? Write them down and expand them over time. Or why don’t you start to write down the things that crush you – diary style. Or kick-start your productivity if you are a digital worker, collect your research and add your comments to your notes. Forge connections through the network of information and knowledge you’ve compounded over time because that’s how you birth novel ideas.
Advanced: Buy a phone or tablet with a digital pen (iPad Pro is the holy grail) – start digital writing. Studies confirm that hand writing enables better processing and even leaves special traces in your brain that are especially suited to remember complex topics.
Hope I was able to inspire and motivate you to try that out.
Thanks for reading and wish you all the best!