How A Digital Notebook Increased My Productivity

digital notebook

I love writing in a paper notebook. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about putting pen to paper that I enjoy. As time went on and my collection of paper notebooks piled up, I’d constantly run into problems that I knew a digital notebook would solve.

It was something that I really wanted to work, I tried hard to keep a paper notebook. I even invested in a Rocketbook Everlast to try and keep the best of both worlds. In the end, I realised in order for me to stay productive I had to make the switch to a digital notebook.

Recommended Reading: Rocketbook Everlast Review: My 1 Year Review & Why I Moved On From It

In this article, I outline the issues I had with a paper-based system, how a digital notebook solved each one, and the tools I currently implement into my digital notebook system.

Planting The Digital Notebook Seed

I enjoy learning new skills. In fact, I have a whole blog dedicated to it.

One day, I decided to improve my touch typing skills. As I got faster, I grew to enjoy typing on a keyboard. I learned the right techniques and made fewer mistakes. Compared to the written hand, I was blowing it out of the water.

Recommended Reading: How To Type Faster

Improving my touch typing skills planted the idea of going fully digital. Since I became proficient with using the keyboard, I wondered how making the switch to digital could enhance my productivity.

How A Digital Notebook Solved My Problems

Although I loved the feeling of writing in a paper notebook, I would constantly come across problems. These issues would slow me down and cause my productivity to move at a suboptimal pace.

Physical Space

It was important that I always had a paper notebook on me. If I needed to jot down an idea or make a note, the notebook was always at arms reach. The problem was, was that I would go through so many that I was running out of shelf space.

I couldn’t throw them away. Each notebook housed all of my ideas, references, and other important information.

I realised how a digital notebook would solve this issue. When compared to a pile of paper notebooks, taking notes on a computer takes up little space. Depending on the space on your hard drive or server, you could write thousands of entries before you need to think about increasing your memory. The only physical space that you need to be aware of is how much room you have for the computer itself.

Writing Space

I was a sucker for Moleskin Notebooks, I don’t know what it was but I enjoyed using them. My preference was an A5 Moleskin notebook. It was light and small enough to carry around with me.

The problem was, was that I didn’t have a lot of space to write in.

Sure, it had 240 pages, but when you’re using it as often as I do, you tend to run out of space quickly.

When using a digital notebook, each entry will go as far as you can take it. You’re not limited to the size of a page, you can write to your heart’s content.

Security

Journaling and emptying my thoughts onto paper was a regular habit of mine. However, I would often hold back since I wasn’t confident with the security of the notebook.

No lock on the notebook could prevent anyone from accessing my notes. Since I needed to refer back to my notes, I needed them to be easily accessible. If friends or family would come to visit, all they had to do was pull one off the shelf.

Depending on your technical skills a digital notebook is as secure as you want it to be. Even a simple password on your computer will deter a lot of nosy parkers.

Legibility

My penmanship would take a hit the faster I wrote. I would read an old note and not be able to decipher my own writing.

You can imagine how this would slow down my productivity!

If you plan on using a keyboard to enter in your notes, legibility will not be an issue. Depending on what service you go with, you’ll be able to resize and realign your text as well.

Money

I was a sucker for Moleskin notebooks. To a “normal” person, you would think it’s just another paper notebook, but I could tell the difference.

You know what else they are?

Expensive.

A classic 400-page Moleskin Notebook goes for roughly £19.99. That’s not a lot you might say, but when you can go through one in less than a month, it adds up.

I understand that the initial price of a computer is expensive, but in this day and age who doesn’t have a computer available to them? Your phone is a computer, you could even note-take using a tablet. You don’t need to purchase the most expensive desktop computer or laptop in order to start taking digital notes.

Speed

A lot of my time was wasted flicking through pages trying to find a specific note.

Depending on your digital notebook, searching a keyword will bring up all the relevant notes. It’ll take only seconds to find that one specific note you are searching for.

Accessibility

A paper-based notebook is limited to its physical location. I would find myself in a meeting needing to refer back to an old notebook, obviously, unable to do so as it was tucked away on my shelf at home.

Depending on your setup, a digital notebook can be with you everywhere. If your notes are connected to the cloud, you’ll have instant access with any device that can connect to it. From a phone to a laptop, you’ll always have easy access.

Digital Notebook Apps

If you plan on making the switch, then you’re in luck. There is an abundance of apps that provide a great digital experience. Below is a list of apps that I recommend or have used in the past.

Every app can be synced to the cloud, solving your accessibility issues:

Microsoft OneNote

A popular digital note-taking app by Microsoft.

Available on iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and the web.

Simplenote

As the name suggests, it’s a simple digital note-taking app that supports Markdown.

Available on iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, and the web.

Bear

A beautiful looking note-taking app.

Available on Mac and iOS only.

Notion

An all-in-one workspace that does far more than digital note-taking.

Available on iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and the web.

Evernote

One of the more popular digital note-taking apps. I had used Evernote for years before I moved on from it.

Available on iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and the web.

What Digital Notebook Do I Use?

My current system uses neither of the apps I recommend. Don’t get me wrong, all of them provide a great experience. If you’re new to digital note-taking I would suggest trying out any of my recommendations.

Privacy is my big issue with all of the apps that I listed above. I like to know where my information is stored, who has access to it and how secure it is. The idea of writing all of my thoughts down and keeping it locked away in someone else’s server doesn’t sit well with me.

If this doesn’t bother you and you trust the companies holding on to all of your notes, then feel free to try out any of the apps that I suggested.

Using only plain text files, I store all of my notes on a server that I trust. This may sound a little complicated, but trust me, it’s not.

If you’d like to know more about my system, feel free to message me here.

All you need to know is that my system is lightweight and secure. Enough for me to stay productive.

Make The Switch

I’ve outlined how switching over to a digital notebook has streamlined my system and increased my productivity, but to this day, I still miss the feeling of putting pen to paper.

I would have loved for a paper-based system to work, but in the end, I couldn’t deny the benefits of opting for a digital notebook.

If you’re experiencing similar issues, why not try going digital for a couple of weeks? You may find that the switch will do wonders with your productivity.