I’m a notebook junkie. I’m currently toting a rather fetching Leuchtturm1917 in a very fetching orange. After much experiementation over the years, my pen of choice is the Pentel Sign Pen, usually in blue or black.

I love the immediacy of paper and pen. I love the tactility. It helps me to think, to explain, to share. And it’s the only part of my working life these days that is paper-based. I honestly cannot remember the last time I printed something out.

This week I’m trying to see if I can replace the Leuchtturm and Pentel combination with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. It’s going to be interesting to see how I get on.

I’ve toyed with pen-based computers for many years. I learned Graffiti, the stylised writing system that was the main UI for the Palm Pilot. I used shonky styli on Windows CE palmtop computers. I’ve tried “inking” on a few Windows devices over the years. But I’ve always come back to a notepad.

I’ve been using the iPad for around a month now, and have been very impressed. I’ve not quite ditched a more conventional laptop (that’s an experiment to come later), but am interested to see if I can make myself completely paperless.

It’s important to understand quite how the notepad fits into my life, because it has been a source of confusion for many advocates of digital pens in the past. I’m not using a notepad to create data.

For me, primarily, writing is an act of learning. Research has shown that the act of taking longhand notes aids memory in a way that taking verbatim notes by typing (or, according to journalists I know who still practice the dark art) or in shorthand. I might occasionally refer back to my notebook, but it’s rare.

20170904_085543The other major notepad use for me is as a portable whiteboard. Too many years working in management development, I guess, but I like to sketch pictures to help explain concepts when I’m working with others (or even, sometimes, when I’m working alone).

Will the iPad and Pencil be able to provide similar functions? Alongside the hardware, the software I’ll be using at this stage is Evernote, Google Keep and Paper. Other app suggestions are most welcomed.

Right, here we go. Wish me luck…

6 thoughts on “Going notebookless

  1. Good luck!
    I’m very interested in hearing the outcome of this. I’ve never quite worked out what it is that brings me back to paper every time so if you can shed any light, that’d be great!

  2. I’ve been paperless for a few months now having got the 105″ iPad Pro and the pencil. I love it. I love Goodnotes and the ability to lasso bits of text or diagrams and move them around, and that particular app’s ability to convert my scrawl into searchable text is remarkable. I miss the texture of paper, and keep a FieldNotes in my back pocket, but otherwise it’s been really successful.

  3. I have been a dedicated Microsoft OneNote user for years now due to its written text to search, very cool whiteboard capture and ability to sync across every corporate and BYOD device [including virtual desktops] that I use … currently a Mac, [virtual] Windows7, iPad (Air) and iPhone … via SharePoint but I recently ditched using it for written notes as it just doesn’t have all those qualities that you describe and I’m now becoming a Moleskine ‘fanboy’.

    Most regular ‘stylus’ for iPads pretty much suck except my stilo 6R but that’s more for sketching in Adobe Ideas than note taking. I do wonder if using an iPad Pro with Pencil would be a better experience as but I’m not convinced yet, to part with cash. Look forward to your findings Matt.

  4. I made the switch away from a notebook to iPad about four years ago. You might want to check out Notability which has been a consistently good and useful app for me over the years, both for taking written notes and marking up/signing PDFs. I don’t have an iPad Pro yet and the best stylus I have found is the STABILO SMARTball 2.0, usually less than £10 on Amazon.

    Good luck with the experiment! Ditching your written notes is a gateway drug to buying a Fujitsu ScanSnap and going completely paperless…

    1. Left hander Stabilo just acquired for £7.84 on Amazon, thanks for the ‘tip’ … switch to OneNote and you iPhone or iPad becomes your scanner, job done.

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