Yep, that is me writing something down in a paper notebook. For someone who gets introduced as “this is Paperless Brooks”, this can throw people for a loop.
The fact is, I resisted carrying around a notebook for ages. I am a digital guy, and it seemed like a step backwards. However, I kept hearing from people that you can’t beat a notebook for on-the-go capture, so after finally being convinced by the Home Work Podcast, I picked up some Field Notes books and gave it a go.
What can I say? It is great. I still capture most things digitally, but having a notebook always on me can come in very handy.
Of course, the question then becomes: what do you do with the information when you are done? Some people just file the notebook away. Some people trash them, some people scan them.
I am sure you can guess which camp I fall into. I want to have the information archived digitally, but I want it to be searchable as well – something not easy to do with a handwritten notebook. I decided to do accomplish this with a combination of a scanning app and Evernote.
Scanning The Notebook
The best combination of these requirements and capture speed that I have found is TurboScan.
First, I use TurboScan to take a picture of a page. Often it will detect the page correctly, but if it doesn’t, I just use my finger to make sure it is just capturing one page.
Then I hit Next, and then hit the + button in the bottom-right of the screen. This will let me add a page to the document.
Then, I repeat for each page in the notebook. That might sound like a lot of work, but once you get going it is pretty fast.
When I am done, I hit the Share button in the bottom left and then instead of exporting a PDF, which is what I would normally do, I choose Email as JPEG image(s).
This will create a very large e-mail with a large number of files attached. I then send it to my Evernote e-mail address. Obviously, whatever e-mail server you use will need to be able to send a message this large.
Archiving In Evernote
When I e-mail the JPGs to Evernote, the service will import the images as one big note, which is what I want. I can then view my notebook on any device or computer that I have.
I personally put a little note to myself at the top of the note with any major events that this notebook covers so that I can tell when I am eyeballing it (it is also helpful for searching later).
Speaking of searching, part of the reason that I do all of this is that I find Evernote’s handwriting recognition to be surprisingly good. It is not perfect by any means, and my printing is so terrible that no computer (or human) could read all of it, but I am often amazed by what it can pick up.
So, that is how I capture my notebooks. Many people don’t bother, but I like having them digital and searchable. If you do something similar, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
(Photo by Rebecca Mullen)