I tend to find I write notes in a variety of apps—handwritten notes on paper or in Apple Notes on the iPad, quick typed notes in iA Writer or Tot, research in Roam Research, detailed notes to save long term in Notion. Each app has its benefits and feels like it fits that specific note-taking stage better, but then I also end up needing to search across multiple apps whenever I’m looking for a note and can’t remember off-hand where I wrote it.
Do you have any strategy to get all your notes together in one place? Do you just force yourself to use a single notes app, or do you have a workflow to move notes between apps at different stages? With hand-written notes, do you take a photo of your notes and add them to an app, or screenshot digital handwritten notes?
Would love to hear your note management strategies!
An article in The Information recently did a review of note-taking apps(https://www.theinformation.com/articles/tech-execs-are-obsessing-over-note-taking-apps-we-tested-them-out), and my response there is similar to what I'll post here:
I have two needs: 1) a personal knowledge archive / second brain and 2) collaborative note-taking and sharing of meeting minutes with my colleagues
I've used Bear for years and I still love it. Tried Notion & Coda and abandoned them both for notes / knowledge capture. I still use Coda as a low-code rapid app thingy (spreadsheets on steroids). I'm diving into Roam now and holding out hope for Athens. Worst case, I'll keep using Bear, but if there are gains to be had with a PKG then I am open to migrating. App speed and fluidity is important to me, which is one reason I haven't been able to stop using Bear. Hosted solutions in the cloud make for janky writing surfaces IMO
My team piloted Hugo.team for collaborative note-taking and sharing. Hugo had all the right goals, but bad execution. We recently switched to Fellow.app and are MUCH happier. Fellow's own website is targeted at manager-managee relationships (1-on-1 performance reviews, goal setting, etc). We do not use it for this at all. The platform is great for our sales teams to capture notes during a call with a customer (sales CRMs like Pipedrive have this, but they do not make polished writing surfaces). We use Fellow for all of our non-engineering meetings (which use Atlassian products instead).
Finally, I know OP asked about notes and not Todo's / Action Items, but Fellow's handling AI's across teams has been better than Todoist's own business plan. Todoist AI's lacked context; we had some janky automation to embed backlinks between Todoist AI's and their corresponding meeting minutes ... but it just sucked. Having meeting minutes and action items in one app has been transformative.
In summary: yes, I'm trying to move towards "one app for notes" as OP asked, but I have two categories of notes (private notes vs collaborative business notes), and each requires a different tool.
I’m using The Archive (https://zettelkasten.de/the-archive/) as my primary note-taking tool.
Inside the app, I’m writing everything that’s just for my eyes. For client work where I share information, I cannot use this tool (but I have Basecamp for that purpose).
The Archive has it’s own cross-linking feature and allows tags.
Plus: Files are stored in plain Markdown and I can move the folder that is including all files wherever I want. Right now, all files are being synced through Sync.com (a privacy-aware Dropbox alternative).
If I want to integrate images, I’m using a "media" sub-folder, uploading them there, and adding the filename as a reference into a new note.
For me, close to 100% control about my data is what matters most to me.
For notes and for reminders I am currently using 1 tool as much as possible which is Notion. If I find some notes which is still in a tool which I am migration off of (for example Google Keep) then I move that into Notion.
(Plus I also use Todoist for todos, events and recurring tasks.)
It would be great if features from Todoist would be available in Notion as well (or the other way around or in another app). This would make it more easier to review content and keep order.
Currently I am not using handwritten notes anymore since a long time. It is hard to manage them. I guess at some point there will be better tools for (digital) handwritten notes. Do we need them until then at all or is better to take notes with Notion for example which limits us (possibly in a good way to be more organized compared to handwritten notes)?
I'm the founder of slite.com, originally a note app for teams that expanded to much more. In the early days of it, I spent a massive amount of time thinking about this topic.
The generic term "note" actually encompasses hundreds of different habits, and the beauty of digital is we can shape products and form factors to fit perfectly each of them.
In a personal environment, I personally have 3-4 apps holding content:
- Google Keep to store ideas. The fluidity of creation, the great visualisation of docs, the form factor made for short content makes it great for that.
- At some point an app called Byword for writing articles. The markdown compatibility and a focus mode with nothing but what you typed on the screen was awesome for this use case
- And of course Slite for all things related to my work, my running tasks, personal thinking on what we do, on top of all things we need to share and centralise as a team.
Short answer: yes definitely multiple app for multiple type of notes 😉And when it's important enough, I do transfer physical notes to digital, and use this moment to rework on the topic, cutting down the useless bit and making the doc shorter.
I use combination of Bear, Notion, Trello and Uncluttered. I used it following purpose:
- Bear Pro as Storing ideas, Podcast notes, Writing Final Scripts because somehow i feel creative on Bear. It's my iphone note taking tool as well.
- Notion as notepad for brainstorming and research notes.
- Notion as Dashboard for frequently needed content like (User persona, Positioning, Keywords etc. needed as Marketing input)
- Trello for Feature ideas, Ad hoc Task in single board
- Uncluttered for Mac helps to store temp notes to be added fast while working on Mac.
This is something i am endup having after trying lot of experiment.
I am founder of early age startup, Fasproc.
I started out with OneNote for a few years. Then used Evernote for almost 5 years. I also looked into Notion, Quip, and Google Keep. Ultimately I've left them all and consolidated into a single desktop + mobile app - DEVONthink 3 (https://www.devontechnologies.com).
DEVONthink does feel like an organized file manager, with the ability to create notes easily and add files to a "database". There is a small learning curve , around 4-5 hours to figure everything out , but the pay off is worth it.
Some features that I really like:
- The search is one of the best I've ever used (including search inside PDF files), and matching/relevance percentages.
- A floating collapsable notes "drawer" allow for a quick scratch pad for note taking
- Syncs desktop and mobile, without any extra monthly subscription fees (I already have iCloud storage)
- Ability to have secondary backups to any disk location (home NAS setup)
- Ability to find duplicate files / same contents different name
- Built in file viewer
- Custom scripts
Some cons to it:
- It's not the prettiest of app admittedly
- The built in spreadsheet isn't the friendliest
- A little pricy for a one time cost of $99 for the desktop, and another license for iPhone / iPad edition.
Bit late to the conversation, but trying my two cents in because I finally have a system that works for me. I've been on a wander for years trying out plenty of apps and systems and methodologies. I've been burned by lost data and subscription hikes and vendor lock-in too many times.
I decided several years ago that I want to control my content with generic markdown files stored locally. Tried many mardown apps, especially Typora. Got caught up with Notion and Roam, but frustrated by lost data and slow glitchy webapps. Discovered Obsidian and fell in love.
So many positives that it is hard to list everything, but mostly it is back to generic markdown saved locally. Internal linking and tagging. Customizable interface. Active development and community. Logical organization tools.
I've been migrating notes and clips and content in as I build my own personal knowledge base. So easy to stay organized and interconnected. Syncing with Dropbox so I can read and edit on iPad, but mostly stick to laptop.
I'm a college instructor and I've started using Obsidian to build full interlinked courses with content, handouts, schedules, notes, etc. Hosting those on Google Drive because I have to. Google doesn't play well with markdown, but I can use StackEdit from any browser. I convert the markdown to HTML and upload to my school's LMS.
I've used tons of to do apps over the years. Just moved to TickTick after years with Todoist because of the integrated calendar. Quick notes get dumped into TickTick for future processing in Obsidian. These days everything ends up in Obsidian.
Keep a paper sketchbook for quick notes when away from technology. Finding that I'm using it less and less though.
So, yeah, that's what works for me.
I use four apps:
1) "Drafts" to capture ideas and thoughts immediately. Sometimes I use my iWatch dictation capabilities. Thes notes have to disappear after being processed.
2) "Bear" to hold notes that I need frequently and quickly.
3) "Roam" for thoughts regarding learning and research.
4) "Notion" for naturally structured information, mainly about projects. Sometimes I use links between "Roam" and "Notion."
For a while, I considered moving from Roam to Notion only, but Roam's automatic linking enamored me. Besides, creating a page in Roam and being able to find all the unrelated notes got me.
I am still experimenting with this scheme, but up until now, it has worked fine.
In the end, I use three tools to hold all my data.
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