Experiments in modern note-taking

One of my first tasks upon taking my taking my current position was to keep less paper. Over the last 2 and a bit years, I have managed to rein in my papers to a drawer and a bit. But I do create a lot of temporary paper. Notes, to-do lists, documents for meetings, etc. They get recycled but I still would like to cut down on the waste.

Every so often I attempt different paper-less methods of work. The one technology I try and avoid is laptops.  Laptops are great for certain tasks, but they’re bulky, and you need space to use them. So my experiments mostly revolve around tablets and phones.

At conferences (like #CILDC) I have been using a bluetooth keyboard along with a tablet. This time, due to speed issues, I primarily used the keyboard with my phone. Which was a hilarious feeling -phone tucked away, just tying on a tiny keyboard. Writing into nothing. It works well but there are a couple of drawbacks:

  • Spelling – either auto-correct doesn’t work at all and no spelling checks occur, or
  • Jumping around – something with how the keyboard works with apps sometimes causes the input to jump around, which is incredibly frustrating.

But, that is what I have been most successful with so far.

For keeping the words in one place I tend to use:

  1. Google Docs (personal docs, and those that don’t need sharing)
  2. WordPress (blogs)
  3. Citrix (work related documents)

There are other options; an app that I have just started testing with moderate success is Google Handwriting Input.


This app allows you with stylus or finger to write text and converts it very well into text. It was very successful in converting my scrawl, including discerning capitals from lower case.

What I did have an issue with was device speed. My tablet, which has the screen size suited to writing with a stylus, is not fast enough to convert the writing. This lag make it very difficult to take notes. It is quick to work with on my phone, but the screen size isn’t big enough for a fast scrawl.

It is promising, taking notes just like you would on paper, but without having to transcribe them later.

If anyone has any suggestions for paperless working – I’d love to hear it.