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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  • Matt Steen

    I am interested to hear a little more about why you gave up on the ipad. I may have missed that somewhere. Do you see it becoming a serious tool, or will it end up being a novelty?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I wrote about this a little bit in Three Questions You Should Ask Before You Buy an iPad 2. Because I create so much content, it really didn’t fit my workflow.

      • Extreme John

        Same problem here Michael. I did get some excellent use out of Dragon Dictation for iPad which at least helped speed up the note taking and blog writing process.

  • RJ Fish

    In response to your question, if I’m taking notes on a personal level that will only be viewed by me in the end, I type right into Evernote. However, if there is any type of collaboration needed, I use Google docs so the notes I take can be accessed, shared and edited, without me trying to keep up with email threads. I haven’t found it a problem using two places for the same purpose, yet. Thanks for the information.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Are you aware that you can share Evernote notebooks? This helps on the collaboration side. You just have to make sure that all the collaborators are using Evernote.

      • Thomas Baart

        Evernote sharing, while easy, can get annoying though. The people I work with in my project just can’t seem to be convinced to use, nor even register for Evernote. The new share feature of Evernote does help a bit though. Not a problem with Evernote itself – just with the people :)

        • Michael Hyatt

          People are always the X-faxtor that technologists have a hard time accounting for.

  • Mitch Joel – Twist Image

    I still love the combo of iPad and MacBook Pro. I have been told by many that if I did shift to a MacBook Air that the iPad would be less useful.

    Regardless, I use the Noteshelf app with a stylus for the iPad and it’s amazing. The app syncs with both Evernote and Dropbox.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I tried the stylus for a while with the original iPad. I found the strokes too thick. Have they fixed that with the iPad 2, so that the lines are thinner? Thanks.

      • Mitch Joel – Twist Image

        I’m using the first iPad. The trick is to use the “magnified” toggle and the wide-ruled paper. You’ll see the difference with that mode.

        • Michael Hyatt

          Thanks, Mitch. If I get an iPad 2, I’ll have to try that.

        • Joe Lalonde

          Mitch, thanks for posting that. I’ll have to look into it as we just got an iPad and stylus.

          • Luke Lenichek

            What stylus do you guys us? I’m looking for one any suggestions.

          • Joe Lalonde

            We got a really cheap one Luke. It didn’t work out too well and went back to using the iPad without a stylus.

          • Luke Lenichek

            thanks Joe for the reply.

      • Joe Martino

        I use an iPad2 with a stylus. Mitch is correct that that the magnify tool is a tremendous help. I would also add the stylus matters. I’ve tried Acer and Boxwave. Boxwave wins hands down. I have nearly replaced my moleskin, which I used for years. I am a counselor and even use my ipad to take notes in session with no lag time in the note taking. When I print them (which is rare) it looks like my own hand writing.
        I love how it has enhanced my workflow and note taking. It is so much easier to index and search now. There is also a difference in the apps. I use NoteTakerHD the most. Ghostwriter is another fine app. The moleskin app is too clunky and penultimate is a decent app for quick writing and easy categorizing.
        I also use Evernote.

    • Richard E.

      Totally agree with the Noteshelf application. I’ve tried several and the ability to “zoom” to type and have the zoomed area scroll and carriage return is pretty ingenious. Allows my handwritten notes to look just like I wrote them on paper. But when I do occasionally use paper, I scan them in using JotNot Scanner Pro on my iPhone. Another great app. Both work well with getting “stuff” into my Evernote!

  • Paul Evans

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’m still 100% Moleskin. From my office chair I spy 9 current notebooks. (My other 50+ are behind me on the bookshelf.)

    As for meeting notes, they all go in one notebook. If there is a date involved I add it to my Google calendar.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    I go by the age old method of taking notes in physical notepad. I have a master notebook wherein I take notes subsequently one after another.

    I am not a tech geek. I think I should move towards a paperless office system.

    • Michael Hyatt

      With a scanner and Evernote, it really is possible!

      • Uma Maheswaran S

        Thanks Mike! I should be trying this.

      • Tyler Stanton

        Just curious why you scan your notes instead of just taking pictures of them. File size?

        • Michael Hyatt

          I have answered this several times in the comment thread above.

          • A B


          • A B

            Ah – when you said “above” you really meant “below”. OK.

          • Michael Hyatt

            Oops. Sorry about that.

  • Alicia Scott

    Aaaaah – VERY helpful. I have been using Evernote for a while – but haven’t been BOLD enough to THROW away my physical notes. duh. And I CAN. wheeee. I HAVE taken snapshots (with my iPhone) and dropped them into Evernote. Is there a reason you recommend the scanner over a snapshot from say an iPhone? Either way – I think my biggest leap will be tossing the paper! :-) THANKS for this, Michael and Happy Monday!

    • Michael Hyatt

      For me, the scanner is faster and more accurate. I have a difficult time getting a steady picture with my iPhone.

      • marci p

        have you tried the CamScanner app? it does an amazing job (much better than the camera itself) and links directly to Evernote. don’t get that throw away deal, but lots cheaper then a scanner.

        • Michael Hyatt

          I have not tried that.

    • Michael Hyatt

      By the way, tossing the paper is immensely liberating!

      • Scott Smith

        Isn’t it? I’ve been converting notecards and other documents to Evernote over the past week or so. Amazing how much I have tossed! (Then why is my desk still such a mess…)

      • Alicia Scott

        THANKS – cannot wait to adopt the paper-LESS method. :-)

    • Robert Ewoldt

      I don’t know that I’m ready to toss the handwritten notes yet, either. There’s always that distrust of technology–that something will crash, or it won’t backup properly.

  • David Santistevan

    I use Evernote as well except instead of using a scanner I simply take a snapshot of my meeting notes with my iPhone. I suppose it’s a cheaper alternative to buying the scanner. Putting actionable items immediately into your task manager is so important, otherwise I never remember anything from the meeting!

  • Anonymous

    I’m also loving Evernote. My number one use? Praying. It is a great place to store common prayers, passages, songs I like to pray. Additionally, it is a great place to keep up with requests and needs in prayer. I used to use a Moleskine for this, but that was tough to edit as needs changed.

    Evernote rocks. And since I have an iPhone, I always have my prayer lists with me.

  • Mark Martin

    It’s interesting to me that you wrote on this topic today. I have been considering writing a blog post about how I still use paper for a lot of my note taking. I agree that there is something valuable about physically writing a note.

    I currently write notes from my Bible reading and sermons I hear in a simple Mead spiral bound notebook. At the office, I write a lot of my notes on a blank 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and file it in a file folder. That’s probably a little old school for a young guy, but I find that it’s easier to get it off my mind and into my system if it’s a physical piece of paper than if it’s in a piece of technology. I easily get distracted and find it takes more of my brain power to remember where a note is in a piece of software.

    I’ve recently begun use Evernote more for screen clips. I find the tags useful in helping me organize what I clip. It helps me capture what I find on the internet.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Dale Schaeffer

    Michael I love your stuff but this seems to be far too many steps to be efficient and maintainable in the long term. I think you might be just as happy skipping the scanning and using your camera on your phone and uploading the image. I’ve been doing this for over a year and find it a manageable workflow, and with far less steps.

    • Fokke Kooistra

      I thought pretty much just like you but the simple use of the ScanSnap is just amazing. I still use occasional camera shots in my workflow.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I tried using my iPhone for a while. If that works for you, great. I like the quality of the scans better than the photo from the iPhone. Since the scanner sits next to my computer, I find it very quick—as fast as the iPhone method. I also scan every piece of paper I used to file, including receipts.

  • Dave Baldwin

    Okay this is a lot to digest! I’m going to have to look at each resource and see how I replace it with what I am already using in that area of work. It looks intriguing and worth the digest time. I am so glad you share these productivity posts with us. Thank you Michael.

  • Fokke Kooistra

    Hi Michael, great tip! Do all Ecosystem notebooks have the perforated pages? I prefer using a flexi version.

    • Michael Hyatt

      It appears so. You can check the Barnes & Noble product page here. You can also visit a local B&N store and make sure.

    • Jason Davis

      I just went to B&N and picked up my Ecosystem notebook. The smaller size than the one Michael uses is also perforated. I tended to stay away from notebooks because of the mess it made when I pulled the pages out. Thanks for the fix Michael

  • Dana Britt

    How very helpful–thank you so much!

    I use Evernote for just about everything since I got it about a month ago–thanks for that, too! ;

    I like taking research notes by hand, for one thing it seems that what I write by hand I remember easily. Additionally, I truly get some kind of fulfillment in writing by hand–with a medium point red pen on sturdy Moleskine paper.

    I don’t know why this idea of scanning did not occur to me before. Thanks again!


  • Sutton Parks

    Hand write them paper, and it they’re important, I then type them onto a word doc. You’re method is more efficient, however by typing them I do get to review them again. I need to start using Evernote more.

    • Michael Hyatt

      The great thing about Evernote is that everything is searchable. And it’s all in one place.

      • Chad Morreau

        I think I’m following your tips. I’ve moved to an Ecosystem notebook. Love it. Scan notes in. Love not having to find the right notebook. But I can’t get my handwritten notes to be searchable. Any ideas why they aren’t?

        • Anonymous

          This had me lost for a while too.  I contacted Evernote and was informed that the system only tries to recognize handwriting in jpegs.  I was scanning everything as a pdf and so it would only look for typed words.  I haven’t tested it with jpegs because I’m lazy and I don’t have that many hand-written notes that need to be searchable.  But if you are scanning your notes as pdfs, that may be your problem.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Sutton, I was thinking the same thing. Typing the notes in could help with retention of the information.

      • Steven Cribbs

        I have done this a lot with notes/highlights from books – the transfer process gives me another opportunity to get into the information without being bogged down in the reading. Unfortunately, the process can be time-consuming (which is probably why I have done less of this recently).

  • Anonymous

    As an Architect, I always have a sketchbook with me for creative work. I also need to take project related notes in meetings, calls, jobsite visits, etc. and I like to take personal notes in sermons, seminars, journaling, etc. – for a while I contemplated & tried to segment this life and have one project notes journal, one sketchbook, and one personal journal – WAY too cumbersome as you can probably imagine (when do you NOT need more than one of those with you).

    I’ve also wanted to go digital & as paperless as possible – I’m still searching for the perfect ipad ap for note taking, sketching, etc., but even if I find it, I believe the iPad will prove too cumbersome (if I drop my sketchbook on a jobsite, no prob, but if i drop my ipad…)

    I tried the Livescribe pen – GREAT features (watching the notes change color while you listen to the audio so you can tell where the audio and notes sync is pretty cool) and perfect for field measuring an existing house we’re doing a renovation to, etc., but again, cumbersome – the pen is too large to be comfortable, there are limited paper options, and it’s a ballpoint pen which doesn’t lend itself to sketching

    I’ve settled on a Strathmore letter size sketchbook with a heavy duty book cover from Hippo Leather in Seattle – I love the idea of Moleskine, but I’ve never been able to adjust to the small format – I (try to) note the date and subject of each page in the bottom right corner, which is an easy place to scan as you flip through the book looking for a page. I also flag important pages related to ongoing projects with color coded post-it tape flags and when I finish a sketchbook I label the spine with the start and finish dates and add it to my sketchbook archive, which I reference on occasion.

    Not a very “paperless” system, but at least it’s an effective way to combine my various note taking needs into a single paper system. Now to get more paperless…

    I am using Evernote and Nozbe, both thanks to your excellent blog posts, but need to increase my use of them and integrate them more into my workflow. I wouldn’t mind being able to throw my notes away once they’re in Evernote, but I’m not sure I’d throw away originals of sketches unless I have high-resolution scans of them. since my sketchbook does not have perforated pages, I currently limit my transfer from sketchbook to Evernote to select information (something I’d like to change) & rely on iphone pics or hi-res pics with my DSLR or flatbed scans, depending on the quality of image needed.

    Perhaps I need to look into new sketchbook options – if I found a perforated option that suited me, I could dispose of the notes as you do, but keep the sketches in a 3-ring binder.

    Thanks for this post – great information (& information that I can act on) as usual!

  • Pamela Hamza

    Wow! What a blessing! All of your notes have been so helpful to me – it’s a daily challenge as a Homeschool, part-time working, small business owner wife and mother! Evernote, MacBook, iPhone, moleskin – I’ve got these and I can do this! Thank you for the encouragement friends…

  • Geoff Webb

    Hmmm. Thought kindling as ever, Mike.

    Question: Do you make any kind of distinction between Note-taking/Planning and Journaling/Writing in your system?


    • Michael Hyatt

      Only in the Evernote tags.

      • Steven Cribbs

        In Microsoft OneNote, I have used multiple notebooks and folders within those notebooks to distinguish projects, notes, etc. So, am I seeing correctly that the only or best way to do that in Evernote is with tags?

        • Michael Hyatt

          You can also use Evernote “Stacks” to organize groups of notebooks.

          • Steven Cribbs

            Thanks Mike!

  • Karl Mealor

    Why the Fujitsu ScanSnap? What justifies the price?

    Just curious…

    • Michael Hyatt

      The thing I like about it is that it is double-sided. This is huge for me. Also, the ability to feed paper into it is the easiest I have seen.

      • Karl Mealor

        Thanks for the recommendation. The double-sided feature is a huge plus.

    • David Manning

      I’ve also heard from other sources that this scanner rocks!! Don’t know if I can make recommendations here, but when you purchase it from it comes with an amazing software package that is a big productivity bonus!

      • Michael Hyatt

        Good to know.

  • David Manning

    MacBook Air question: Do you use this machine exclusively for all of your work or are you synching up with a more powerful iMac to do “heavy lifting”.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I use it exclusively. Don’t be deceived by the specs. They are not that impressive. But the performance is actually better than my MacBook Pro (which I still have). I think this is due to the flash drive. Software seems to load and run faster. I also use a G-Drive slim to store my music and photos.

      • David Manning


  • Carla

    my boss insists we all go paperless and it has been stressful for me bc I like to write all over my notes as the discussion progresses so I can put comments near ones that seem to resonate for me later in a discussion or event. this sounds like a real solution. I still use my MacBook and some times even take my old orange clamshell when one of the teens needs to be note-taking and does not do well with paper but doesn’t own a laptop. the Word works great for her. Then I have used a thumb drive to put her work into my work (teens collaborate to create curriculum for an after school program and I mentor them). I do love paper and pencil so this sounds to me like the way to go. Thanks!

    • Michael Hyatt

      It’s definitely worth trying. Thanks.

  • Matt Esau

    I was also a lover of Evernote for a long time. I discovered about 8 months ago and haven’t looked back. I did a side by side and it seemed that springpad did everything evernote did and then a whole lot more. I don’t work for them or have any interest in promoting them other than I love their product! Check it out! It would work just fine with the workflow Michael is suggesting.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I have had several people recommend SpringPad. Thanks.

    • Karl Mealor

      Has anyone else tried both Springpad and Evernote? Preferences?

    • Jim Whitaker

      I agree. I switch as well. It is a great system. My only concern was the lack of back up and desktop app, but I understand that in the next several weeks that they will offer this through Chrome app.

    • Joe Lalonde

      I’ll have to check out Springpad.

    • Robert Ewoldt

      This is interesting; I’ll have to check out SpringPad.

    • Steven Cribbs

      Does anyone know how this would compare with Microsoft OneNote?

    • Mark McElroy

      I switched to SpringPad for 30 days to see if I could make the jump from my current system. SpringPad offers two intriguing features I like: the insertion of related links in notes you create (save a movie title, and SpringPad will supply links to reviews, downloads, etc. of that movie) and weekly summary emails that remind you of what you’ve been saving lately. In the end, though, I’ve gone back to my old system. The auto-generated links felt more like advertising (and often weren’t to vendors I use), and the interface didn’t feel fast enough for me to be comfortable there. I do miss the summary emails, though, and wish Evernote would offer this an as option. The downside of an “everything box” like Evernote is tendency to toss things in there and, ironically, forget them. The summary emails drew my attention back to my latest additions and encouraged action on them.

  • Mark Entzminger

    For once I feel ahead of the curve. I’ve been using Evernote and my Fujitsu ScanSnap for some time, but I don’t take handwritten notes. Primarily because I type faster and I can read my typing later. My handwriting is so sloppy typing is the way to go. However, the MacBook Air is not an option for my office, so I take in my Apple Bluetooth keyboard and type right into Evernote in my iPhone 4. My workflow has me organizing the notes into areas of responsibility and they are all tagged with “Meeting Notes” or just “Notes” for easy finding.

    If I get an official email summary from a meeting I simply select File>Print>PDF>Save PDF to Evernote. This allows me to keep a copy of the notes whether I have my computer with me or not.

    Evernote is a lifesaver!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I use the File>Print>PDF>Save PDF shuffle, too.

  • Jeff Goins

    I use Evernote if I want to keep the notes. If I’m just brainstorming, I’ll use a yellow pad. Still trying to find a system that I love.

    • Steven Cribbs

      I am with ya – I love being able to ‘draw’ notes on my yellow pad; yet, like the benefits of the technology side. Still looking for that system that will help me become more effective in the overall process.

  • Dr. Frank Buck

    While I have been keeping my calendar and to-do lists digitally for over a decade, I use a paper journal for taking notes during meetings, phone calls, conferences, etc. As I write, I place an asterisk beside anything that is not just a piece of information, but is something for me to do.

    At the end of the day, I review the notes, asking the question, “What do I need to DO about this?” Anything with an asterisk is highly visible, and I either do the action or create a task in Outlook. If I know I will need to refer to an entry later (for example, I am going to follow up with Same about our phone call 2 weeks from today) I create a new to-do in Outlook and add in parentheses today’s date beside the task. When I see the task 2 weeks for now, the date in parentheses sends me back to the date on the journal on which the notes were taken.

    At the end of each month, I update an electronic “table of contents.” It’s simply one Word document where I enter the month/year and a key word or two for each entry beside the date. A picture is worth 1,000 words, so here is an example:

    That “Daily Journal Index” is in Dropbox, so I have access to it from any of my devices or from any computer with Internet access. Old journals are saved forever. As a retired school administrator turned consultant, my journal was a life-saver. With it being paper-based, and bound in a single notebook, nobody could accuse me of doctoring notes or leaving out any parts of my notes.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I have a set of symbols that I use in my note-taking. I have documented it here.

  • Kenneth

    Hey Michael,
    Thanks for sharing. I’ll share a method that I find cheap that has been very useful to me.
    The camera that is in the iphone is extremely good. What I do is I take pictures of any handwritten notes that I want electronic. These can either be viewed later on the iphone or synced onto a computer. When you print them, they are very clear. With this, I don’t need to buy any equipment except form my iphone which I already have.

    I am a Texas physician and was shown this method which has helped me tremendously. I take pictures of important notes that can be reviewed later in a few seconds when taking care of a patient. Also recently, I went to a local library because I’m researching a book that I’m writing.
    They told me I could use the books in the library or make photo copies at 25 cents a page or get a card and wait six months to be able to take the same books home with me…

    After I had spent several dollars on the library photocopier and was out of money, then that necessity gave birth to a thought that saved me tons of money. I decided to take pictures of the pages. With that I took pictures of every page of a few whole books (in lieu of photocopying). I was easily able to download this into my computer and arrange the books into folders. The pages are chronological since I took them one after another. I can read them on the computer directly or print them on my home photocopier that is way cheaper than 25 cents an hour and get very good quality prints.

    This works well for handwritten notes like I mentioned. And the beauty of it is you can carry them around with you and easily access them…

    Hope this helps someone.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve done the same with library books that I can’t check out for expert witness consulting research – that was before I started using Evernote but if I were doing it again I would add them to evernote.

      Last week, my dentist gave me a piece of paper with instructions on using & caring for a mouthpiece he made for me and instead of keeping the paper, I took an iphone pic and added it to Evernote and gave it back to him. of course, he pulled out his ipad and asked me what ap I was using so he could look into it :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kenneth. From the comments here, it sounds like many people are happy with the iPhone camera solution.

      • Bethany Planton

        One of my colleagues used the iphone camera to scan books she was translating to use in a curriculum for an orphanage. She loved it. It saved her a lot of time versus putting the pages in the printer scanner.

  • Edmund

    Investigating a recommended fast and effective plain-text system at
    Thought is to capture early into a searchable format. They also support TODO items, deadlines, timestamps, and scheduling. I think it might be useful to authors.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I love the simplicity of this!

  • Lantz Howard

    I am constantly amazed how you push the simple innovation of collecting notes. I am still using the Moleskin. I like this idea though. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lantz Howard

    Oh yeah…how does Nozbe compare to Action Method? Have you used Action Method by chance?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I did look briefly at the Action Method. It appeared that I would have to modify my workflow to use it. I am really attached to my own modified-GTD workflow, so I wanted a system that would adapt to me. I found that in Nozbe.

  • John Richardson

    Great article, Michael. This is one reason I love my iPad 2 so much. It now can scan directly into Evernote with its built in camera. This works so well with written notes, handouts, and a big one for me… white board outlines and diagrams.

    I still love paper (there are a lot of meetings where electronics are prohibited), but the ability to scan documents into the cloud is huge. As you mentioned, Evernote will scan the import for recognizable text, so it’s a good idea to put the author, date, and title on the document so you can search for it later. Overall this combo works very well and allows me to throw the paper away at the end. Priceless!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I love the neatness of almost-zero paper. When I recently moved out of my office at Thomas Nelson, I went through my old files. It was amazing, how little I needed to keep.

      • John Richardson

        I use an under desk recycle bin that I empty every few weeks. It allows me to keep the paper for a while in case I need it for something, yet out of my sight. This has allowed me to transition to a paperless desktop without the worry that I’ll throw something irreplaceable away.

        • Michael Hyatt

          Great idea, John. Thanks.

  • Michael Paddy

    The art of writing and penmanship is going the way of the Do-do! Sad but true as I tap, tap away at this comment I realize that my illegible writing has increasingly worsened since 1986 when I first started using a word processor, graduating over the years to PCs and laptops. Sure I can blame the infrequency of a pen in my hand pressed against paper as the cause for my “chicken scratch”, But I realize that anything can improve with practice and discipline.

    After my father passed away in 2006, he left behind numerous scraps of paper that I have come to cherish. Handwritten words, notes and reminders meant for him so he would not forget people’s names, places he had been, and things he liked, I came to realize it might be cool to do the same.

    So I too, a moleskin fan, started carrying one in my hip pocket. Opening my moleskin you will find everything from prayer requests, songs I hear and wish to download, peoples’ names, addresses and phone numbers, even sketches of things I wanted to try and remember, one prominent sketch of a large funeral I presided over trying to figure out the seating configuration fitting 300 people into an area that had yet to see that many people.

    I love the idea of writing again and try to do it as often as possible, but I would not throw away the paper. Perhaps another generation like me to my Father might find the notes interesting, maybe bringing some sense of comfort to see their father, grandfather’s thoughts pen on paper, randomly written for their eyes to see. (And who knows…if writing continues to be less and less important, my rambling musings might become and antique worth millions).

    • Karl Mealor

      I’ve thought about this as well, Michael. If something happened to me today, there are a lot of notes that I have stored on Google docs that may as well be gone forever. They may not mean a lot to most people, but certainly there are some items that one of my daughters might find meaningful.

    • Jeff Randleman

      For these reasons exactly is why I journal. My kids will one day have a stack of notebooks and they can say “This is who Dad was.” Pretty powerful, if you ask me.

    • Michael Paddy

      Yes I journal also, but there is something about the quirkiness of my dad’s naotes that speak to me as well abou thim which is not edited by him. I do not think my Dad thought one day my kid will read this which makes it so entertaining…a side of my Dad that sometimes alluded me.

  • Jim Whitaker

    Your colleague must have been extremely happy to get you old iPad and that was nice of you to recognize that you did not need it and pass it on to someone else who could use it. I have to really agree with you about the benefit of the physical act of writing. I have been working on my M. Div. for the last few years and I tried processing notes by typing them and by writing them. I notice that I retained more of the notes by physically writing them down. In some cases, I could barely read my writing because I was going too fast, but had instance recognition of the notes once I started to read some of the words and sentences. Then to help with the paperless part, I got a all in one, HP scanner printer. So currently I scan them into my computer and use paint (the cheap man’s way to consolidate) to copy and paste the JPEG scans into and create one document that I have for the notes. If it is something that I use for occasional reference and do not need access to virtually then I just store it on the computer in folders I have set up for it. If I need it virtually I use to have the documents available to me. I can also share with to others who are working on projects with me. I have Nozbe, but the lack of an Android apps has help me back from being able to really use its functionality. So for task I have been using (I know that you don’t like the lack of a desktop client, but it is in the works. As of 4/22 Springpad indicated that they have created a backup system using HTML and that “In a matter of weeks, we expect to release offline access for all users, utilizing html 5 via the Chrome browser.”) So far so good with this system.

  • Colleen Colleen

    This sounds exactly like what I need. I’m always scrounging around my notebook for brainstorming notes. I have to make notes on paper when I’m coming up with a new idea.I just can’t do it on the computer for some reason, but I’m always wishing I had those notes on the computer. I’m going to give this a try. Thanks, Mike!

    • Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome, Colleen. I also just ordered Gail the same scanner. We are going to share a couple of notebooks in Evernote, so that we can both scan into them (e.g., receipts, invoices, etc.)

      • Robert Ewoldt

        I really have to look into this scanner… it sounds fantastic!

        • Michael Hyatt

          It is really slick. I just ordered one for my wife.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Thanks for the information on how you process your note taking.

    I currently have quite a few half filled notepads around the office, truck, and home just lying around. I find writing it out helps a lot in my retention of the information I physically write down.

    • Jeff Randleman

      I agree. I remember things better when I write them, even over typing them. I just need a way to collate those thoughts into a system where I can locate them easily. Lots of great ideas here…

      • Joe Lalonde

        If you were to import them into your computer like Michael does, you may be able to use OCR software. It would import your handwriting as text that you could edit and search.

        • Jeff Randleman

          Looking at ways to do just that. I just might purchase this scanner the he recommends. I would be able to put it to great use…. But learning the new system is the hard part. Once it’s become a habit, I’m good. It’s the transition that kills me.

          • Steven Cribbs

            It’s definitely the developing the habit part that is hard for me.

          • Jeff Randleman

            I hear ya!

  • Sean

    Thanks for the great info, Michael! I had never even heard of Evernote. In fact, I’m still using a bird who carves my notes with his beak into a stone tablet (the “original” tablet). Not only does it take forever, but can get pretty messy as well. Thanks again.

  • Daniel Decker

    Great tip! Thanks.

  • Richard E

    I am also an Evernote user and a past Things user for my GTD system. Like you, I got tired of waiting for Cloud sync from Things. I looked into Nozbe and it looked pretty powerful, but I was put off by their price. $90-120/year seemed way too high to justify when other apps can do similar. For any readers interested – check into Omnifocus if you want a powerful and flexible GTD solution. Although it’s a steep purchase price – it’s non-recurring. Or for those more on a budget, like myself, I landed on Appigo ToDo and currently use it on desktop (via the ToDo Online web-app), iPhone, and iPad – and all are all in sync via the cloud.

    Would still like to check out Things when they get the cloud sync completed, but I have a feeling that might be 2013. :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t get what is taking Things so long on their cloud sync solution. They claim that it is very complicated, but, obviously, others have figured it out. I’ll bet they have lost quite a few customers in the meantime.

  • Kevin Pashuk

    If you love Evernote and paper… You should explore getting a Livescribe Pen ( … They have married the two technologies together incredibly well. By having voice recordings linked directly to my hand-written notes, then saving it to Evernote… I have even more ability to find, retrieve and remember crucial meetings, interviews, etc. This pen is the missing link between paper, recording devices, and retrieval.

    I’ve had one well over a year and would not go to any meeting without it.

    • Jeff Randleman

      Thanks! I’m going to look into this!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I did buy one, but I felt that the pen was too big. I always felt like I was being sneaky in a meeting with it on. Probably just me, but I cold not get comfortable with it.

      • Alicia Scott

        Agreed. I bought one – used it a bunch, recorded meetings, etc – but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the hassle (for me personally). The pen was big, and the notebooks that I had to write in were pretty cumbersome as well. But for other folks – the LiveScribe pen might be fabulous. I love the concept of it and the technology of it is pretty neat – but practically it didn’t seem to work.

  • Naomi

    I currently use the <url= smart pen system for note taking where I want to convert my notes to something electronic. You need to use the notbook paper that is sold with the pen. Basically, you get a pdf of the notes you take with the pen and you have the option for recording conversations. This helps me during my project meetings because I can play back the conversation to find things I missed writing down.

    What I haven’t figured out how to do is to convert the written notes into something I can then edit. I can save and search and even share the notes I make with Livescribe, and I have heard there are third party apps that will allow the notes to be converted into something that can be edited, I just haven’t looked too deeply into these items.

    If I used a Mac at work, I would definitely look into Evernote and scanning my handwritten notes. Sadly, where I work they are Windows all the way.

    • Kevin Pashuk


      There’s a 3rd party app for converting Livescribe’s hand written notes to text (

      I did try the trial version and it worked as advertised. I do find that my notetaking in meetings has changed significantly with the pen. By having the pen record (with full disclosure to meeting participants BTW), I tend to take briefer notes of the key points being discussed. Being able to point to a word and jump directly to that point in the meeting has saved me from pages and pages of notes. In certain cases I distribute an electronic version of the notes/recording that users can view with Livescribe player software, or I post it as a PenCast.

      Using the Livescribe software, your handwritten notes are searchable across all of your notebooks… (e.g. I remember when someone mentioned an idea involving “hamsters”. I can quickly find (even with my handwriting) all the times I wrote “hamster”. Combining this with Evernote extends my journals way beyond the paper version.

      It may not be the tool of choice to create editable notes, but for researching ideas, keeping track of meetings, conferences, etc. this is a great tool.

      • Robert Ewoldt

        I’ll have to check out LiveScribe.

    • Jeff Randleman

      I use Evernote on both a PC at work, and a Mac I carry with me for writing/blogging. It’s great across both platforms.

  • Randy

    I use ActionMethod by Behance for meeting notes. Their moleskin/notebook called ActionJournal and their ActionMethod App is a great way to brainstorm as well as capture action-steps. More here:

    (Plus, the pages of the ActionJournal are perforated for easy tear-out and scanning into Evernote!)

    • Michael Hyatt

      That really does look cool. Love the pages!

  • Wes Roberts

    Hey…Michael: Can you please tell us some of your good reasons for giving up the iPad and engaging the Macbook Air? I’m considering the iPad…BUT…smiled when I read your blog post today…saying, “Slow down, Mr. Roberts, until you get all the facts!” I know you are one of the 10 busiest men on the planet…but would welcome knowing your wisdom in what you chose. Thanx…and be aware of all the blessings coming your way on this day! …Wes

    • Michael Hyatt

      I wrote about this a bit in a post entitled, “Three Questions You Should Ask Before Buying an iPad 2.” Because I create so much content, the iPad just wasn’t a good option for me. But it works beautifully for others. I think it is all about knowing what kind of computer user you are and what your workflow will look like.

  • Jeff Randleman

    Great information!

    I’ve also been using a Moleskine but have found it cumbersome to go back and locate notes from the past. The longer ago it was, the harder to find what I need… As a youth minister, camps are a big part of the yearly planning, but many times my notes are a year apart. I tried using a dedicated journal for just camp topics, but I’d forget to bring it with me to the meetings.

    I love the idea of using Evernote to store these notes!

    Thanks for the input!

    Also, I enjoyed your post on effective note taking to which you lonked in this article. Is there a particular reason why those comments are closed? I would have loved to leave a thought or two there… Just wondering. Thanks!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t know why those comments are showing closed. It must be a glitch. They are showing open in WordPress. I have written Disqus tech support to see if they know. Thanks!

  • Lee

    Hey Michael – great post as usual. I do have a question… Is there a specific reason that you use Nozbe for task management instead of keeping everything in Evernote? I found a great post on how to use Evernote for GTD at I find that keeping all my notes and action items in one application is a tremendous benefit.

    • Michael Hyatt

      No, that’s just not something I have look at.

  • Karen Davis

    Thanks for the post! My goal is to go paperless as much as possible by the end of the year and I’m having a hard time letting go of my notebooks even though I love my iPad. I do have a Livescribe Pen, but I’m going to look into the scanner. I also love the idea of using your iPhone to take photos of my notes—who knew?

  • Richard Burkey

    Thanks to your recommendation, I stared using Evernote about 6 weeks ago. I love it and have become an advocate. My wife uses it for recipes. I use it for everything from clipping blogs, illustrations, stories, ideas, itineraries, agendas, meeting notes. It has provided a great way to capture information and file it in multiple folders if desired.

    I started with the free one but quickly upgraded as I realized the advantage to saving larger files. I like the scan idea for traditional paper. I think I’ll start using that for home repairs and tax documents.

    • Michael Hyatt

      It is great for tax documents, especially receipts.

  • Robert Teague

    I’ve found Microsoft OneNote to be a far superior product; with my multi-touch laptop I have so many different ways of interacting with it; mouse, keyboard, stylus, or just plain using my fingers. I also sync’s perfectly with my phone.

    • Dshick

      I am also a huge OneNote fan. It is where I keep nearly all of my notes. I also have a dropbox account where I save certain reference documents that I might need via iPhone when I don’t have my laptop or am not near my desktop.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I loved OneNote when I was on Windows. I wish Microsoft would make a Mac version.

  • Spence Smith

    Between you and Randy, I need to get my head around Evernote and really figure out how to make it work for me. Great post!

    • Michael Hyatt

      You will be glad you did!

  • Blair Howell

    Thanks Mike for the tips. I have been using Evernote for a couple of years now – recently more in the last year since upgrading from their free account – and I absolutley love this program. At one point I had several places (I think at least 7) where I would store things and eventually it got too crazy to manage. Now everything is in one place. I still struggle with the paper copies though! I have been trying Toodledo for tasks but will take a look at Nozbe for its functionality as you highlighted in your post. Cheers!

  • Randy

    Thanks for this post, Michael. This one will prove to be for me one of the most helpful as it helped put a few pieces of the productivity puzzle together for me.

  • TNeal

    I’m now an Evernote fan thanks to an earlier Michael Hyatt post. In fact, before I read this post, I had just copied a video link into my Evernote files. Great program for the right price–free!

    I’ve gone from highlighting books to copying stuff straight into Evernote. Makes my illustrations and quotes a lot easier to find and retrieve.

    Mike, I’m still not ready for scanning (unless it too is now free) but, as usual, you’ve put something in the percolator for future reference. I guess I need to copy this post to Evernote.

    • Robert Ewoldt

      I’m a huge Evernote fan, as well, due to the Michael Hyatt post. This site is a a great source of information!

  • Alan Mowbray

    I give in.
    After months of ignoring you on the qualities of Evernote, I have just created my account, DL’d the Windows app, and already, created two folders.
    As an organizer, I am an apprentice at best and my natural “roll with it” instincts have an automatic resistance response to planning. Is it possible to be allergic to organization?

    So now, sir, you join the ranks of “Organizers I Choose To Listen To” –my wife being the only other member of this exclusive list… a dubious honor at best. ;-)

    Um, I would send you the suitable for framing award document, but I seem to have misplaced it.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Congratulations, Alan. Good for you!

  • Gregory R Heman

    All this tells me is that I have to catch up with all of you. Technology is like the tide. You never want to turn your back on it.

  • Joshua Madden

    if you have an iPhone, and I’m sure Blackberry, you can use the App JotNot Pro so you do not have to use the scanner. JotNot has helped us a ton on HR. We take pictures of documents with our phone in JotNot and then send or save in Evernote or Simplenote. Could save you a bit of time.

  • Paul Reese

    Personally, I too feel that there is something intrinsic about writing on physical paper that has yet to be effectively replaced by a tablet or similar device. What I have found, instead of using a scanner, is to use the LiveScribe system of pen and paper products. Not only do I capture my handwritten notes, but it captures the audio of my meetings, and syncs them with the handwritten notes so I can review both later. And from the LiveScribe Desktop software, I can upload one or all of my pages from my LiveScribe notebooks to Evernote.

  • Karl Mealor

    Loved the post. Going to check in to Evernote soon.

    I also prefer writing things down manually. It helps me retain information. I do need help organizing my notes into some sort of system.

  • Charlie Riley

    Why didn’t you use just @livescribe? Seems so much simpler

    • Michael Hyatt

      I have one. I just found it too bulky and intrusive in meetings. if they ever make a normal pen-sized one, I’ll take another look.

  • Jmhardy97

    Thank you for sharing these great tools. I am always looking ways to be more organized and productive.


  • Cyberquill

    I never get to the point of taking notes I could later process. Every time I’m on my way to a meeting, someone pushes me in the pool.

  • tonychung

    Michael: Funny how without knowing it, I’ve been following the same technology path as you. I first found your blog when I ventured into the Tablet PC realm in 2006. I lost touch, then switched to Mac in 2009, only to find out you already did. Lately I’ve been working with a company that builds iPhone and iPad apps, so I get to play with the hardware on the job. In the immortal words of U2, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

    Nothing beats OneNote on my Tablet PC. My dream machine would be a convertible tablet built on the 13″ MacBook Air with a touch screen. I loved my Tablet PC but hated the short battery life (now down to 6 minutes), and the weight (especially with the slice battery).

    I have no idea why OneNote is not out for the Mac–MICROSOFT: I can set up a meeting to discuss porting OneNote for Mac; you already know who we are.

    While I enjoy using Evernote, I’ve always find its organizational system too structured for my liking. OneNote gave me more options for storing research notes. I especially like that it indexes audio and handwritten notes for faster searching.

    In response to the entire “stylus” thread, the app matters. Most apps cannot handle fast curves. I’ve tried a number of them, but only one of the sketching apps does a good job with curves.

  • Anonymous

    This may have been mentioned already, but I don’t really feel like scanning over the 100+ comments.

    Why would you keep purchasing notebooks, write on the paper, scan the paper, and then throw away the paper? Why not just buy a tablet or whatever so you can jot down notes directly on the computer, as opposed to wasting supplies and creating more garbage? I feel like scanning into Evernote should be used for cases where you end up with paper from other sources than yourself.

    I probably won’t come back here to see if you reply to this, but if you feel like answering anyway, send it to @Gromble on Twitter.

    • Michael Hyatt

      For me, it is because there is something about the physical act of writing that helps me retain the information. Why not a tablet? I have yet to find one that allows me to write on it in a way that seems natural. I spend way too much time futzing with the technology instead of paying attention in the meeting.

  • Amy

    I have been using Evernote for awhile now and am now going through notebooks I have had for years and taking photos of them and making them into Evernote notes. One thing I would also like to do is to recycle the notes that I have on paper.

  • PC

    You can also do this same thing with your iPhone with any number of apps that act as scanners. You can take a picture of anything and save it as a PDF. Then you can email it or text it, or yes, save it as an evernote entry.

    I also take pictures with my iphone of the whiteboard when I finish leading a leadership staff meeting and save it as an Evernote entry. I have a great iPhone app to make the picture clearer. It is called “WB Pro”

    • Michael Hyatt

      If this works for you, great. I have provided my thought on this several times in the comment thread.

  • Larrynipon

    I’m loving Livescribe.

  • Mike

    I never liked the Moleskine notebooks because I could never find anything later when I needed to without thumbing through page after page, notebook after notebook. I preferred loose leaf notes inserted into the project file that they relate to, but Evenote has done away with all that.

    I do essentially what you do, except I use plain old 8.5 x 11 ruled loose leaf and scan using a much less expensive Doxie scanner, which is also Evernote-compliant.

    I still bust out the iPad with the Zagg-Mate keyboard I bought for it (highly recommended) where practical because as good as Evernote character recognition is, searching text is always better. Even when I’m taking handwritten notes, my iPad is always handy for looking up previous notes or other content.

  • Quack

    Livescribe does it for me…

  • Robert Ewoldt

    I really like Evernote. I love how it syncs everything between devices–internet, mobile, and computer. I don’t know how much I would be scanning written notes into it, though. I usually have my phone present when I need to write notes.

  • Jaco

    My personal favorite is Live Scribe.

    You take notes on-a moleskin like book with a special, yet comfortable pen.
    You plug in the pen and all you notes are now also available as searchable PDF’s

    It also has a build in recorder, and uses the note pad as its control panel.


    • Michael Hyatt

      I have one but could never get comfortable with it. I found it too bulky.

  • Anonymous

    Have you tried the Motion Tablet PC? This is the best of all the tablets. I have a 12 inch and 8 inch. Amazing writing recognition. In combo with Evernote and Onenote, i can search my handwritten notes for anything. Saves me from having to scan. I have been paperless for a couple years and love it. Fujitsu scanner was well worth the money. At one point i had a Mac Tablet, cost me a ton to convert a macbook to a tablet and was just to heavy.

  • Joe Sheehan

    Mike, I have to ask – one of the features of the Moleskine notebook is that the pages will last a very long time. Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of buying a nice durable notebook to take notes if you’ll rip out the pages? Why not just use any other notebook?

    I love my Moleskine, but I also write things in there that I never want to lose in the form that I write them in.

    I’m with you on the Scansnap scanner, I love mine.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t see my notebook as a repository. I see it as a tool that facilitates captures ideas. I see Evernote as my repository. And, yes, you could use any other notebook. I just love the size of the Ecosystems one (same size as the Moleskine).

  • Joe Sheehan

    whoops…. In my haste, I missed the part about you switching notebooks to something with perforated pages. I’ll have to look into those notebooks from Ecosystems

  • Stacy Lynn Harp

    I like Evernote and have started to use it more and more, however, if I want to include a handwritten note in Evernote, I just take a picture of it and then upload it. It’s very easy to snap a good photo with my camera and then just upload that picture and voila, no scanner needed and I get the same results as if I scanned it in.

  • Pritchett4

    I have been wrestling with a good way to keep track of notes, meetings, phone calls, etc. for later recall. I do use evernote. I had used Daynotez for Palm and that worked really well for grabbing information on the run (Palm would sync to desktop), being able to filter by categories, date, etc. Had to go back and pull some documentation for an issue last year that covered about 4 or 5 years and was able to filter & print (or export). But Palm & Daynotez are dead. I get a boatload of information and need to keep it all available. It was pretty challenging to port over Daynotez to get access to files (wonder what will happen to Evernote?)

    I am thinking that the evernote +paper note book may be the way to go, but then the time and date stamps on evernote are linked to time entry – not necessarily event time & date. I tried doing this with a database for awhile, but it is a bit too cumbersome for data entry for some things into evernote and some into the database.

    Do you put one item per page on paper notebook so that when you scan that sheet there is only one item per note in evernote?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I manually date-stamp the note as in the example in the post above. Yes, I only put one item to a sheet.

      • Pritchett4

        If you were working on a book proposal with an author, and needed to document phone conversations, and all other info associated with the project, would you use evernote as the repository of information? This is a very timely topic for me, thanks for writing it and taking the time to respond to questions – Truly appreciated!

        • Michael Hyatt

          Yes, I would. In fact, Evernote now has the ability to record audio, so you could put the author on speakerphone and record the conversation directly into Evernote.

  • JD

    Not to displace any of the other notekeeping methods already mentioned – I use the Livescribe smartpen ( to record everything that I write on paper and record the audio at the same time. (not a paid endorsement) It also has a Evernote interface that I have not come around to using. I will look into scanning as well; even though I may use one method of information capture as a mainstay, I try to have many tools available to use when the need occurs.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been a user of Evernote for a couple of years, and I love your posts about it, I always get more good ideas on other ways to use it.
    By the way, does Evernote OCR work on the contents of the handwritten note? I mean, if it is an image with words on them, I know it does, but I’ve never tried with handwritten notes before…

    • Michael Hyatt

      It doesn’t seem to OCR handwritten notes. I resort to tags.

  • Steven Cribbs

    Taking notes has never been a strong suit for me. I currently use a smattering of legal pads with Word docs and, dare I even say it, lots of sticky notes for things that I need to do something with. I also end up using email a lot to send myself notes that I need reminders on.

    I am trying to convert to something a little more intentional, something that keeps everything in one place, and something that is easy to search. To that end, I have really been intrigued with an integration between OneNote and Outlook – with the ability to attach Outlook tasks and reminders onto items in OneNote (so that all the data stays within one app – OneNote).

    Anyone have ideas on doing something similar with a more cloud-based app?

    • Jeff Randleman

      I’m in the same boat. I even send ocasional emails to myself as reminders too! I’m trying very hard to get more productive. I’m considering taking a look at the GTD system to see if that helps any.

      • Michael Hyatt

        I highly recommend the GTD system. That is what I use.

        • Jeff Randleman

          I’ve glanced at it before, but how exactly does it work? Is it a book? Or a seminar?

          • Michael Hyatt

            Start with the book.

          • Jeff Randleman

            Just ordered it. Thanks!

      • Steven Cribbs

        I read GTD a month or so ago. I think I will end up doing some sort of modified GTD process. For now, I am still trying to figure out what tools and workflow will work best for me. But, the whole idea of getting everything written down (out of my head) and into a trusted workflow is huge.

        • Jeff Randleman

          That’s what I need to do too…

  • Andrea Simpson

    I use Evernote on my iPad. In long meetings, I use my external keyboard that I keep in my office. When I am done with the notes, I email them to myself and put them in a notebook. I love my iPad, but I like paper, too. May give the EcoSytems a look. Thanks for sharing!

  • Patrick Jones

    The ability to scan directly to Evernote. Is that specific to that scanner or available to all scanners?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I think it is specific to the software. I think many scanners are now including this option, but I would ask. In fact, on the Evernote page (or, as they call it, “The Trunk,”) they recommend several Evernote-compatible scanners.

  • Jmhardy97

    This was a great post. I have been reading on this to see how it can help with productivity. Thank you.

  • Jmhardy97

    I did enjoy your post on the I pad also. For me the jury is still out. I like the easy use, but I to find that I get distracted. I love it when I travel, but at home, I would much rather use my Mac.

  • TechNTools

    I prefer to use a journal where the pages are not removable. Once a month I take a picture and send to Evernote. They are still searchable while still maintaing the analog copy as backup.

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  • lance

    I use a smart pen that connect via USB to my computer. It has a function that I can drop hand written notes into Evernote. What do you think of smartpens such as live scribe? a 2gb pen (which holds 200 hours of audio and pack of 4 journals – you must use their journals for tech reasons) was less than 1/2 the price of your scanner. In the long run your scanner approach may be cheaper. Any thoughts?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I own a LiveScribe but am not a fan. I find it to cumbersome. I also felt very self-conscious in meetings. It didn’t work for me, but others love it.

      • Lmbbmw

        I agree with the self conscious part. However most of my friends know I’m a tech geek so they just see it as one of my toys. Thanks for the reply.

  • voppa

    Mike: Great post.

    I love my iPad and use it all the time for meetings.

    I have been using Evernote for a long time for info and thought capture

    I haven’t looked close enough at Nozbe. I REALLY like and the Todo app for my iPad and iPhone.

    Thanks again


  • Ole Munk

    I have tried the Htc Flyer. Their stylus works (almost) as good as normal notetaking with pen and paper. And the Scribe technology has Evernote built in.

  • Bethany Planton

    Since this is the second post I have read where you have mentioned Evernote, I decided I should probably check it out. I am throughly enjoying it. It is so easy to use, and you keep so many things organized! Thanks for blogging about it!

    • Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome. It is a great tool!

      • Bethany Planton

        I think it is definitely going to make it easier to keep track of statistics and quotes and resources that I may want to use later.

  • Hans Schiefelbein

    Great stuff. Is your printer specifically equipped to send to Evernote? I looked at some that save to a folder or a thumb drive. What are the printer requirements to go right to Evernote?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I just setup a scanner profile using the software that came with the scanner. It had instructions on the Fujitsu website.

  • Dave Baldwin

    Okay I got everything ordered. Already love Nozbe. Looks like Evernote will be good, but need to read more, but it’s downloaded. I ordered the EcoSystems note pads. The only thing I changed on that was ordering the ones with the graph paper design. I’m sort of funky that way, but they are still perforated pages.
    I ordered the scanner with my Amazon Prime account so will be here on Thursday!
    So here I go! Let’s see how much more productive I can/will be.
    Thank you Michael!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Dave. Good for you!

  • J. Ben Deaton

    Michael- I love my Scansnap. Another tool you might like to try in conjunction with your Scansnap is Hazel. Hazel is an automatic file-moving program that many people use in conjunction with a go at a paperless office. You can create all types of folder rules where it will watch a folder and perform various actions based on what files hit that folder.

    An example: I have rules where I’ll get a certain form or bill, save it as “bellsouth.pdf” (for example), and Hazel will see that file hit my inbox, rename it “Year-month-Bellsouth-Bill.pdf” and move it to a Bellsouth folder. All this happens automatically.

    You may prefer Evernote for EVERYTHING you scan, but I prefer to have some things just automatically stuffed somewhere else where I can easily find if needed.

    A few related links:

  • Anima Eterna

    Nice use, Do you know the eBook Evernote Essentials. Most interesting for Evernote power use! Have a look here: (affiliate link)

  • slashBlue

    I use my iPad. It is unobtrusive unlike a laptop. The note then get’s mailed to Outlook and added as a task in my todo list.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like a great strategy. I’ve been using Things as well, but haven’t missed the cloud syncing because of my workflow/environment. But Nozbe looks intriguing.

  • kenna

    Just out of curiosity, do you find that you’re spending a lot of time scanning things? I love the actual process of writing on paper, but I seem to forget about things I write and they scatter. I love the idea of having everything digital, but then I wonder if I shouldn’t just type them in the first place.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Nope. Not much time at all.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for reviewing this system you are using. I am transitioning my note taking to my iPad and have been trying various things to do this with. I stumbled on to an app of the Moleskine notebooks and downloaded it. This is a pretty cool app because it allows you to take both typing notes and use your finger to diagram or draw on the same screen. I haven’t found a way to move the notes to say Evernote yet, but I am looking.

    I like the app Penultimate to take notes on because it allows for “notebooks” that look like the moleskine notebooks on my iPad. I however may have to try out your system with the scanner.

  • Bobby Shaw

    Hi Mike,

    I have a ScanSnap as well and it works great. But recently I purchased a LiveScribe pen and notebook sent. It literally transfers everything on the written page to my pen and records audio as well which comes in handy for going back and listening to talks to make sure I did not miss details. Then I upload to Evernote with one click.

    Check it out!

    Bobby Shaw

    • Michael Hyatt

      If you read back through the comments, I have commented on this a few times. I have a LiveScribe, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with it. Thanks.

  • Stephanie Hodges

    I started using Evernote after hearing you mention it various times and absolutely LOVE it. I also do love the physical act of writing. Another thought – one of my in-laws made fun of me over the holidays because I was copying a recipe by hand. He said, “Why don’t you just take a picture on your phone?” I honestly hadn’t thought of it. It may not always be as clear and professional as scanning, but pictures can sometimes do the trick.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Indeed, they can! I sometimes do this, too.

  • Jay Graves

    Thanks for this. I have recently gone back to my old Franklin Planner because I just couldn’t do the online thing – no program seemed to work for me. But I tried Nozbe and it seems fantastic. Already use Evernote and love the integration. Nothing beats a ScanSnap and tying it all together is genius.

    I also am trying your EcoSystems suggestion but find it too thin – but the perforations seems to be exactly what is needed for my ScanSnap. Have you tried Black n’ Red? They have an A5 wirebound with perfs. Still small but provides a hard writing surface.

    Again, great post. Exactly what the doctor ordered!

    Jay Graves

    • Michael Hyatt

      Black n’ Read sounds like a great resource. I haven’t tried them.

  • L Walls

    I have had an Evernote account for about 2 years and have done next to nothing with it. Thanks you for the Evernote Essentials link . . . now I have a better idea how to make Evernote work for me!

  • Christian Ray

    Michael, I love Evernote, and I bought the ebook thanks to your recommendation.

    I do find it hard to believe that I would find the paper route efficient.

    I haven’t gotten my iPad yet but I think it’s going to be my main way of on the go note taking. Thanks for being so generous with your experiences in organizing your life.

    Also thanks for the free Andy Andrews book. I wrote a review of the first book here ( and will do the same with The Final Summit. God bless.

  • Christian Ray

    Forgot to say. I use evernote in conjuntion with ReQall for notes and to do items. Re Qall has an amazing voice recognition and GPS integration and can be connected to EN through a thing called Relevant Items on Re Qall that points out all EN items that might be relevant to your ToDo list. Very cool.

  • Schmid Andreas

    that is good! thanks… i recently started taking notes digital. evernote is great. i use my cell-phone instead of a scanner. however i’m somehow worried that… suddendly evernote won’t exist anymore. or there is a newer, better product which i can’t transfere my notes to…

    i remember john maxwall having a system since 30 years where he collected a huge amount of thoughts, stories and ideas. i’m not sure i’ll be able to use evernote (or any other digital storage) for this long…

    any thoughts on that?

  • Linda

    I am also a big note taker. I often get teased at work about being old school. While I write in my notebook, others are typing a way at their computers. The writing process enables me to remember the information for a longer period of time. Many times we have had internet issues at work and had to rely on my notes for meetings. I’m so glad to find other note takers out there in the business world.

  • Justin Lukasavige

    Evernote – I love you! Every day you do more than I thought you ever could.

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  • Neil G


    Have you compared Nozbe with Franklin Plan Plus online (Clolud Based Task List)?

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  • Fernando Almeida

    Thanks for sharing a possible workflow for paper notes. I struggle at times in taking computer to a meeting and run the risk of rendering it ineffective due to the distractions that a computer with wi-fi bring. But, taking a notebook was not adequate for me, since that means double work in typing notes to the computer after the meeting.
    You present an interesting solution to this dilemma.

  • Keith

    If I take analog notes I just snap a picture with my iPhone4 and toss it in Evernote. I’ll grab a pic of the whiteboard and record an audio memo once it’s over if I have any loose thoughts.

    I’m looking for good tips for using Moleskin notebooks on an everyday basis. (I run my tasklist in toodledo, calendar in gCal, and wondering where my Moleskin fits in beyond being a spiritual journal.)

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  • Philltran

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the Snapscan. I was on the fence of getting one. Specifically the neat receipts package.

    If bolt on a shredder you have the perfect paperless workflow.

    Right now I use a scanning app on my iPhone that saves to evernote. It’s convenient on the go but is a slow process.

  • Tyler Stanton

    Never mind. Had I read two inches further down the page I would have seen your answer.

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  • Ken Askew

    OmniFocus—Things—Nozbe; why all the tool changes Michael?

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s over about a 5-year period. I am always looking for new ways to improve my workflow and be more productive. You could say it’s a hobby.

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  • Staci Clarke

    Hi Michael,

    I LOVE Evernote too! As for your process, I use the LiveScribe Echo Pen to write in a notebook. These are uploaded simply by connecting the pen to the computer via USB. Not only does it scan the notes & audio if you recorded some, but it also sends those notes to Evernote on your instructions. This is really the ultimate combination of “best practices”.

    Staci Clarke-The Maxmizer

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  • Bill

    Are you familiar with
    as an alternative to Nozbe? I had someone recommend but you seem to recommend Nozbe. Would love your thoughts before I jump in. Thanks!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry, I am not.

  • Jcavins

     What size Ecosystem notebook do you use? What size Ecosystem notebook do you use? 

    • Michael Hyatt

      I use the Ecosystem “Author” notebook. It is 5¼” x 8¼”.

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  • Graham Brenna

    This is great Michael! Thanks for taking the time to create these posts about how you use Evernote. I love this app and have it sync’d with my iMac at work, my MacBook Pro, my iPad as well as my Android phone. I use it primarily for taking notes in meetings, which I do right on my iPad. I am very interested in getting rid of all the paper in my office and I think I am getting closer to being able to stomach the $200+ for a scanner that works with Evernote. I will get there someday since my whole office knows that I really dislike paper and clutter.

  • Douglas Ring (Home)

    Regarding the Fujitsu ScanSnap hardware.   I’ve been considering this purchase and am operating in a blended family of Mac/PC.   Obviously I’m a new reader to your site… but am assuming you went Mac.
    Could you share the model you went with, and what software setup issues I might have to deal with?

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  • Gretchen Goldsmith

    Mike, have you seen the Livescribe pen?  Forgive me if I’m telling you about something you’ve already tried and blogged about, but it’s new and exciting for me.

    Livescribe is how I get handwritten notes into Evernote. I don’t need a scanner. It has built in handwriting recognition, so it can search handwritten notes easily. Just $139 or so. You use special paper, including nice journals that resemble Moleskin. But if you run out of the paper, you can print the dot-paper off any 600 dpi laser printer. Incredible fast and cool, and it syncs with Evernote.

    BONUS: Here’s the kicker. You can go back to a page in your journal later and add a couple notes in the margin and your Livescribe pen will add those notes to the page automatically — no scanner, no deleting the old page! 

     –Gretchen Goldsmith

    • Michael Hyatt

      Gretchen, yes, I actually have one. However, I found it too clunky for my use. The size of the pen didn’t feel comfortable in my hand, and I felt awkward in meetings using it. If they ever make a thin one—normal pen size—I will have another look. Thanks.

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  • Robin Wentzel

    Aloha.  Would recommend your taking a look at the LiveScribe pen as there is now a collaboration with Evernote.  

    • Michael Hyatt

      I commented several times on this above. (I know it’s a lot to go through.) I have a LiveScribe pen, but I am not a fan. I found the pen too bulky and awkward. I know some people swear by it, but it did not work for me. Thanks.

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  • John Mayson

    This blog post finally pushed me to do what I should’ve been doing all along.

    Since the mid-90s (actually earlier, college, but I sadly threw out all of those notebooks) I’ve carefully kept notebooks.  I primarily used National Brand lab notebooks, but I have used everything from Moleskine to free ones from vendors.  I broke down and bought a Doxie portable scanner and have been scanning everything into Evernote.

    Those notebooks were so beautiful on my shelf, but I had to tear the pages out to scan them easily.  Today about half of them are in Evernote and they’re far more useful there than on my shelf.  I have decided the best notebook for me is the inexpensive black and white composition notebooks.  I still cringe at ripping pages out of a $17.99 Moleskine.  I don’t flinch when I’m doing the same to an 89 cent composition notebook.  :-)

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Anonymous

    I like using Penultimate for my iPad. I use it for taking notes in church, staff meetings, song ideas, etc. Each topic has it’s own notebook.

    It takes some getting used to, but provides me with the action of writing and storing electronically. I then can email the page to Evernote or a whole notebook. The only drawback is  writing with the Pogo Sketch takes some getting used to. Once you have it mastered, it’s pretty awesome! :-)

  • Eddie Gilbert

    Hi Michael. Just found your blog pages on Evernote, and appreciating the insightful posts. Thank you!

    Can you please help me out by clarifying your current position (based on your experiences & personal determinations) regarding taking notes using paper (EcoSystems notebooks) and scanning them vs. typing notes directly into Evernote on an iPad. Although topics #3 (“How to Use Evernote with a Traditional Paper Notebook”) and #4 (“How to Use Evernote with an iPad to Take Meeting Notes”) are both “How to” articles, you do offer personal reflections in each that, taken together, seem at odds: in #3 (here), you say you find value in the physical act of writing and that even though you liked using Evernote with the iPad you gave it away after buying your MacBook Air; in #4 you discuss liking typing better than writing by hand with legibility being a factor, and several other direct advantages of using the iPad/Evernote combo directly. I’m sure this is due to time sequencing, with one winning out over the other, but these do not appear to be time-stamped, and I’m having a hard time figuring out which is more recent, and hence where you now stand.

    So, after now having used both approaches, which approach have you landed on as “best” for you, and can you please comment as to why (in the spirit of resolving the seeming confusion that someone reading both posts for the first time, like myself, might have)?

    Again, many thanks.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I am currently using the Ecosystems Journal for the reasons I stated in that post. Thanks.

  • CAR

    I agree that taking notes the old fashioned way (paper and ink) is often the best way to go during meetings.  But, by using a Livescribe pen/notebook combo you can have it both ways.  I’ve been using Livescribe for a couple of years now and have loved it.  But, it just got better:  there is now an Evernote app for Livescribe!  This mean that I can automatically send all of my Livescribe notes to my Evernote account.  No more scanning, no more converting to pdf and e-mailing or otherwise transferring the notes to Evernote.  It is all now very seamless.  Check it out!

  • MattCandler

    While I haven’t had an opportunity to test this myself, another way to get handwritten notes into Evernote (including notes that sync with audio from a meeting) is through a Livescribe Smartpen and corresponding Livescribe Moleskin-type journals and paper.  This however, does not allow for a scanner to be used for other purposes such as receiptsa nd miscellaneous documents.  

  • Anna Lam

    I currently have the first generation iPad. While it’s proving to be quite useful for entertainment, I’m finding that the old-fashioned notebook to be better suited for capturing ideas.

  • JT

    Have you tried Producteev for your task management? Curious on comparison to Nozbe. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry. I have not.

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  • Christopher Andrews

    As an alternative to a full-size scanner, I purchased JotNot Pro for 99 cents for my iPhone. This app syncs with your Evernote account. What is amazing is that you can be anywhere, take a photo of a handwritten note or any piece of paper right from within JotNot. Then you hit the process button and it optimizes the photo into a real scanned file. It turns your iPhone into a or table office environment and it syncs with Evernote! It’s useful when your camera won’t send a good picture into Evernote, JotNot will give you a perfect scan or for those who don’t want to buy a scanner.

  • Sheffner

    Off-topic: how do you make that Evernote Essentials blurb appear in every blog post? Do you use a widget or have you tampered with the template code? (I’m a WordPress user.)

  • Diana Santos “aka” Eizu

    Amazing tips!!!

  • Dgriffin13509

    this is great stuff, i write in my downtime at work and need to get it inot text so i can post it as content to my blog, i believe your method gets me on the right path


    Michael, I’m so glad I’m not the only one to replace my iPad (my wife is the proud owner of it) with a MacBook Air. I write about it here:

    Thanks Michael, I love this stuff and learn something everytime I come here.


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  • Travis Penner

    $29 FOR A 95 PAGE BOOK?  You have GOT to be kidding me.

    • Michael Hyatt

      You’re not buying a commodity, like a pound of butter or a gallon of gas (where volume is important); you’re buying a solution to a problem. How much would it cost you to learn this on your own? If less that $29, great. Go for it.

  • Amber

    Just thought I’d let you know, they’re releasing a Moleskine notebook designed to integrate directly with Evernote using an iOS app. It may make your physical note taking/import into Evernote easier. Details can be found in the Evernote Trunk and also on Moleskine’s website.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, I actually ordered this when it was announced. I want to give it a whirl.

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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.

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  • 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

    Keep sharing ideas …. Your valuable ideas will help newbies to grew up into professionals….. This ideas will make newbies to become more efficient in the field… So share more and more……!!! Make Money , Blogging Tips

  • 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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  • gponym

    Hi, thanks for the useful post on going paperless. In 2011 you used and like the Fujitsu ScanSnap–is it still part of your workflow today? Or do you use a different scanner most of the time? Or none?
    (reposted–looks like disqus registration process lost original post)

    • Michael Hyatt

      I use the Evernote scanner now.

      • gponym

        hmm, thanks.

  • kenomullings

    Hi Michael, have you tried the Bullet Journal system? I currently use a modified version with Moleskin. I may check out EcoSystem when this book is full.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I haven’t tried it, but I am familiar with it. It looks very efficient.

      • kenomullings

        Over 100 days and counting with Bullet Journal for me. I’m big on Evernote and keeping everything digital but since I’ve gone back to analog, I find that I’m more purposeful with my planning – all that writing I guess. What I may end up doing though is add a picture of my Index pages to Evernote.
        BTW, thanks for responding :)