It's not hard to understand why people love digital note taking apps these days.
Most of our work and social life has moved "to the cloud".
Apps are also more intuitive and easy to use than ever before, and the benefits over paper - unlimited "pages", synchronization across hardware, easy access from all your connected devices, etc. - push people in this direction all the time.
On the other hand, though, truly productive people know just how devastating digital apps can be when it comes to your workflow.
Digital devices are very "busy", filled with distractions, and even the best note taking applications are distracting in one way or another.
Paper, on the other hand, has unlimited opportunities when it comes to your creativity. You can create linear notes, you can draw and doodle, you can make mind maps. The sky's the limit!
If you'd like nothing more than to skyrocket your productivity with a great notebook, you'll love the tips and tricks we share below.
Learn Faster By Writing Slower
One of the biggest advantages for your productivity - especially when you're looking to learn something new - is also one of the biggest drawbacks of writing in a paper notebook.
The process is inherently slow.
Even the fastest writers are going to struggle to put down coherent notes as quickly as they could bang away at a keyboard or swipe around on their device. At the same time, though, slowing things down a bit really helps you think through the material you are writing notes about in the first place.
There's something that happens when you are physically going through the writing process that helps the information "sink in" a little better. Pounding away at the keyboard might get more notes on the page - but the material isn't going to be trapped in your head the way it would have been if you were using a notebook.
Notes the Way You Like Them
It's going to take a little bit of time to find your "sweet spot" when it comes to paper note taking, but a little bit of extra effort - and trying different systems - will get you where you're looking to go ASAP.
Some people are going to like a more linear structured notebook, something similar to the notes they took in high school or college.
Other people are going to want to draw and doodle all over the place, illustrate their notes for visual cues, and highlight, cross reference, and "connect the dots" between different notes - something paper does better than EVERYTHING else.
The blank page can be a little daunting and even anxiety inducing for some. But your productivity skyrockets. You lean into the freedom of that blank canvas and start creating notes the way you like them.
The last little tip we want to share to boost your productivity with paper notebooks is the (very) old-school method of dog ears to literally bookmark notes and passages you want to reference later.
Creating "bookmarks", notifications, and quick highlights with modern to do applications is always a bit more involved than we would like it to be. You have to click this button, you have to swipe that input, you have to change those settings. It's a lot of work.
Finding important notes in your paper notebook, though, is as easy as looking at the pages themselves, spotting the dog ears that you've created, and then flipping to those pages instantly.
Best of all, you can dog ear different notes that are important at different points in time. All you have to do to "erase" those bookmarks is to flip the dog ear back into place. You're working with a blank slate from there again. It really doesn't get much easier than that.
Strategic dog ears combined with highlighting, visual notetaking (illustrations and doodles), and the freedom of a blank canvas can transform a simple notebook into a powerhouse of productivity.
Combine that with the fact that you can always change how the next blank page is used (something the structure of modern note taking apps makes impossible) tilts the scales in favor of paper notebooks, especially when productivity is paramount.
Sure. If you need to keep your shopping list organized before you head down to the grocery store and have terrible handwriting, a to-do application is right up your alley.
But if you're working on longform projects, trying to brainstorm creative solutions to major obstacles at work or in life, or really want to master a new skill or discipline, nothing - NOTHING - beats getting your thoughts down on paper.