How to Use Evernote with a Traditional Paper Notebook

I live in Evernote. It has quickly become one of my most important software tools. I especially liked using it with my iPad. However, I gradually stopped using my iPad after buying a Macbook Air. I ultimately gave it away to a colleague.

Notebook to Evernote Example

So for now, I have returned to a traditional paper-based notepad for taking meeting notes. Previously I used a Moleskine notebook. I have written about this also. Honestly, I don’t think you can beat it for being unobtrusive. I also find real value in the physical act of writing.

If you are just getting started with Evernote, I suggest that you buy Brett Kelly’s remarkably practical e-book, Evernote Essentials, 4.0. It will save you HOURS of learning Evernote on your own.

But how do you get these notes into Evernote, so they are accessible later? That’s the challenge.

Recently, I created a new workflow that I am really liking. Here’s what I did:

  1. I replaced my Moleskine notebook with an EcoSystems notebook. Though you can buy these directly from, Barnes & Noble retail stores typically has a full selection. That’s where I bought mine. The ruled notebook looks identical to the Moleskine with one important difference: all the pages are perforated, not just the last sixteen. This means you can tear them out and scan them. (Moleskine would be smart to replicate this.)
  2. I bought a Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner. This is not cheap, but it makes the dream of a paperless office possible. You can set it up so that scanned pages go directly into Evernote. The setup wasn’t quite as simple as I had hoped. But, now that I have it set up, I don’t have to think about it.
  3. I tear out my pages and scan them. Once they are scanned, I give the note a name that always starts with the date and then a brief description of the content, e.g., “2011.04.21 – Andy Andrews.” I then file my notes under “Filing: Notes.” (“Filing” is what Evernote calls a “stack”—or collection of notebooks.) By the way, I then throw away the paper pages. This takes courage. But my notes are secure both locally, on a backup, and in the Evernote cloud.
  4. I add any action items into Nozbe. This is the task management system that I am presently using. I used to use Things, but I grew impatient waiting for them to implement cloud syncing. Nozbe has it today, and it works flawlessly. My task lists are always available on my MacBook Air and my iPhone—or any device I log into.

The value of this system for me is that it is the perfect blend of old-world and new-world technology. I can keep taking my notes the old-fashioned way and still have access to them electronically.

Question: How do you process meeting notes? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • David Andrew

    Curious that you aren’t using a LiveScribe smart pen – you can eliminate the tearing and scanning AND convert the handwriting to text. I regularly send notes from my pen to Mail, EverNote, and my secretary and have been using pencasts to distribute my sermons withour having to involve my media people running a soundboard etc.

  • Vikilibrary

    Michael. You should start using Evernote for tasks as well. I use it and love it. Great blog by the way. Thanks

    • Michael Hyatt

      I gave it a three-week try using a system called The Secret Weapon. I found it a little too cumbersome, especially since Evernote radically changes its user interface with version 5.

  • Pingback: Challenge: Can you go paper-based for a week and survive? | DEG Consulting

  • Robert John

    WOW This was written over 2 years ago! Great to see you what you were using then!

    It’s 2013 – This is now the best method of using Evernote with a traditional notebook: It’s called CamNote.

    CamNote is a special notebook that, because of its special markings, digitises handwritten notes using the CamNote app. The app syncs with Evernote, Google Drive, and DropBox! PERFECT! THIS COMPLETES EVERNOTE! CamNote makes notes a lot more legible than any other app I’ve used – it’s camera is GREAT!

    So – Use Evernote, and download CamNote to make it perfect! (p.s. I got the A5 notebook – works perfectly with the app – crops and adjusts note image perfectly)

  • Teresa

    can u use camscanner or other app to scan notes, w/o having to invest in more hardware?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t know. I am not familiar with that app.

  • sony

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  • Shawnshack

    Have you considered a Livescribe pen, using your iPhone as a scanner or taking notes on an iPad? JK ;). I’m new to your blog and I love it! Thanks for the great content.

  • Luke Lenichek

    Hey Michael,I used the barnsandnoble ecosystem notebooks and I love that I can scan it on to Evernote. The ecosystem was discontinued this year. Is there another notebook you recommend that’s not moleskine. Thank you for you and your team.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Right now, I am not using one. I am taking all my notes directly into Evernote.

      • Luke Lenichek

        Thanks Michael

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