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My favourite "productivity app" is not an app at all. It's a plain old notebook. I write down any notes and actions I need to take, and strike through them once finished. It has a nice benefit that I can scribble notes, draw lines between ideas, sketch out diagrams, etc.

I'd agree with you, but the killer feature digital notes have, for me, is the quick and effortless searching.

Paper notes work better for small, in-the-moment things.

For tasks, this might be the plan for the next few days, where everything fits on the same page.

For notes, those might be scribbles to help solve the problem at hand.

Larger and more long term things start benefitting from searchability indeed.

I end up with far more useful notes on digital mediums than paper, unless it's something I need to sketch.

I’m in your camp. Apple Notes somehow fell into this gap for me. For me the ability to format, add images and screenshots and easily share gave it an edge over plain text.

I loved notes for years but switched to Bear in the last few months in order to get sane Markdown export.

I couldn’t ever find a nice way of exporting (and backing up) my Notes notes. There was an IMAP storage option but that meant losing formatting options.

You can try Exporter. I've been using it for some time now to export Apple Notes to markdown and then checking into a git repo. Caveat: it doesn't export attachments or tables.


I'm also using Bear for note taking. It is a great tool that includes a nice way to export documents with style. One thing I struggle with is taking notes for things not related to work. This might be because I have a separate set of notes for work and not work. After reading the article I've decided to try and use one diary for everything. One note per day, but all in one place.

A few things I miss for this to be really good are:

1. Folding. A single file will be long. Being able to fold the major sections (# Work, # Private # Projects) would be really helpful. It seems Bear is planning to add folding.

2. Security. One can select all notes under a given tag (for example #Diary), but if they contain an attachment - for example an image, the password based encryption can't be applied.

I have been using FSNotes for the past year, but feel ready for something more polished; so now I am trying Bear. Thanks for the tip!

Did you look at FSNotes before switching to Bear yorself?

My own note taking is too fragmented right now, being split between org mode, FSNotes, and Apple Notes. It’s a bit like having clothing with too many pockets: I am too often unsure where to look for a particular note.

Yup. I miss this too. I tried OCR for all my written notes, it just doesn't work.

You can use your own writing to create a font set for OCR to recognize off of. Will doing a better job off a data set trained off of your own writing.

I've done some minor OCR to scan my bank PDF statements. I use tesseract iirc, there are different training sets to use. You can build a training set from your own writing.

Nothing has ever beaten the Newton Messagepad for me for this (certainly the last models made, the 2100).

I really wish a modern Newton existed. Evernote started off quite Newton'y (Newton team members were on board) but I fell off quite early.

I found that using an iPad with the Pencil has been a great middle ground. The OCR in the various Notes apps (including stock) is able to recognize my horrendous writing (it’s really bad).

What notes app have you settled on? Annotating images was a key for me.

I use GoodNotes and it's astonishing how well it recognizes my hand writing.

I use GoodNotes.

I agree. I first try to keep my commitments down to a point where I can remember things. When I can't, I like the flexibility of pen and paper for jotting, scribbling, and sketching.

When I've run large meetings/reviews, I would walk around the room after things got underway to gauge how people were reacting to the discussions. The people with laptops would be working on unrelated material. Unfortunately, these would often be the senior reviewers.

I tried everything and kept coming back to pen and paper. On the right side if the open notebook is an organized todo list. On the left side are notes and diagrams that I come to during the day.

I had a stroke last May and the only long term side effect (thankfully) is that my handwriting needs to be 2x the size to be legible, making my notebook obsolete.

Will try a todo.txt soon. I love simple.

Agreed. I tried using the "pencil" on the iPad. Writing on glass doesn't feel as satisfying as writing on paper at all, despite the iPad being very very responsive. I also started using an ink pen to slow down my pen strokes so that I think more before I put things down. Oddly that's changed how structured my thoughts are.

I personally use a journal + pen, but I've heard that matte screen protectors for the iPad can make it feel a lot more like writing on paper. Just a suggestion.

I use a notebook as well but mostly for hashing out design ideas. It's a great pleasure to just sit with a coffee at a cafe with just your notebook drawing system diagrams. No distractions from online. However, I still keep track of work in a text file since it's much faster to type things as I'm working at a machine. (Obviously it's not great for drawing ideas though!)

Same. I've used a loose type of bullet journaling for most of my software development career and it's the only workflow I've been able to stick to that I feel increases my overall output.

Same for me. My note book is A4 sized (lots of space), has a hard cover (easy to write with while out "in the field") and the pages are not easily removed (so I don't loose notes).

While I do write a lot of notes in it, I also like to draw block diagrams and high level designs of systems.

While some of this could be done on a tablet, I also try to reduce the amount of screen time on my eyes. I started this habit since starting my Masters 10 years ago.

Me too. A4 sized grid notebook, and I use it in the landscape position. My notes are a mix of schemas and written text. When I'm happy with my work I take a picture of it using the Evernote app and upload it to its cloud. Curiously enough, the app applies some sort of "filter" to the picture that removes the original grid lines, making the drawings cleaner, which is convenient sometimes.

It's great, I tried replacing it a few times with apps but it just did not feel right, sometimes pen and paper is just faster

Pen and paper is great but if it's something I want to hold on to, I have to add it to my digital system. Sometimes that means taking my written notes, doing some editing, then saving digitally. Other times it just means taking a snapshot and saving that.

I still use Evernote for my long term storage (although I do worry about the long term viability of the company) and it does a pretty great job of finding and indexing text (even handwritten text) in images. The search operators are also pretty great.

Same. I love my analog tools despite working my entire career in computers/software.

do you use a full sized A4 pad ?

I tried tiny (A6, A7) notebooks and they frustrate me.

My brain prefers scribbling but I have to admit that I'd love something that connects idea to realization directly (the good old bidirectional modeling app)

I use Muji A5 notebooks paired with muji 0.7mm tip pens. I hated carrying a notebook and writing in it until I found this combo.

thanks, ill review and report asap sir

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