DEV Community

loading...
Cover image for How do you keep notes?

How do you keep notes?

Madza
Discussions. 💬 Tools. 🛠 Resources. 📚 All things productivity. 🎯🚀💯
・1 min read

Keeping notes at all times is extremely important, so you can track down your thoughts and ideas. Whether inspiration strikes when you're at home or on the go, a note-taking app offers an easy, convenient way to store all this information in one place.

My first note-keeping app was Sticky Notes. I liked how fast and easy to access it was. Tho it became pretty hard to manage larger blocks of information quickly and I really missed some richer formatting options.

Next, I moved to Google Keep. I really liked the UI and the fact that all my ideas were synced across devices, tho I noticed it was the slowest compared to other tools mentioned below.

Sometime later I moved to Trello for planning and Evernote as a note-keeping for larger blocks of information (article drafts, etc). I really liked the simplicity of Trello and the clean UI of Evernote.

My current note-keeping solution is Notion. I like how incredibly feature-rich it is. It's an awesome all-around organizing tool, tho requires quite a lot of learning to understand which patterns work best for you.

Could you please elaborate a bit on what note-keeping solutions have you tried and what works best for you?

Discussion (73)

Collapse
hwbuk profile image
hwbuk

100% Notion - After reading this article a couple weeks back, the way they structured their Notion for everything not just noting!

Collapse
fasani profile image
Michael Fasani

Will check it out

Collapse
inegrus profile image
Ioana Negrus

Hey, I'm using Bear and I really like it. You can save the notes based on tags, you can specify the programming language for a code block and it will be coloured like in a code editor and it super easy to search for what you need. I'll attach a few screenshots.
image2
image

Collapse
siddhantk232 profile image
Siddhant Kumar

I have tried notion and it is great. But I really do not need those extras, I am more of a do everything with markdown kind of guy. That is why I use Joplin, it uses dropbox and google drive (and others) for synchronization.

Collapse
markadell profile image
Mark Adel • Edited

I use Trello for long term and day to day to-do lists.

For taking notes from articles/books/courses/etc I use markdown files structured inside folders by their category, I keep them in a private GitHub repository. To update my notes I use sublime text as it's very light-weight compared to VS code. For sublime text I use Markdown Preview package which allows me to view the markdown output in browser tabs, and Terminal package to open the terminal in my current folder so I can quickly push my new changes to GitHub.

Collapse
190245 profile image
Dave

For me, it depends on what the note is relating to.

Most things start out on my Oynx Boox, be that my scribbled handwriting that no-one can read, or diagrams. I can then sync them across to the laptop whenever I like.

If it's work related, and I have the work laptop with me, notes are taken using Typora in markdown (with Mermaid for diagrams).

Main advantage being that my Ubuntu laptop indexes the content of the notes & makes it globally available for searching.

Collapse
eaich profile image
Eddie • Edited

Full disclosure - I built this, but to answer your question, this is what I use now for everything.

I draft blog posts, write notes, manage personal tasks, manage full-fledged projects with my teammates on it - crucialhuman.com/products/project/.

Collapse
birdo profile image
Birdo

Looks awesome, I'll give it a try.

Collapse
javaarchive profile image
Raymond

Do notes sync in realtime? That'd be amazing for one of my collanrative projects

Collapse
eaich profile image
Eddie

They will in a couple weeks. We are currently testing the feature - paperworkspace.com/roadmap

Collapse
phuc1111x profile image
phuc1111x

So creative, i think i love it

Collapse
kvanrooyen profile image
Keagan Van Rooyen

Is this site still live? The link seems to be broken for me

Collapse
eaich profile image
Eddie • Edited

Hi thanks for asking. It has been rebranded as "Crucial Human Project" and you can find it here - crucialhuman.com/products/project/ and the notes taking feature has been split off into a separate product called Writer (to be released).

Thanks!

Thread Thread
kvanrooyen profile image
Keagan Van Rooyen

Amazing! Thank you, I had a brief look on my way to work and it looks really good. Great work

Collapse
avicndugu profile image
avic ndugu • Edited

I used to use whatever notes app that came with the phone. Big mistake: you can't search them or transfer them to another device. I currently use simplenote by wordpress team that works like charm. It has markdown inbuilt, its searchable and can be synced across devices.

Collapse
zilti profile image
Daniel Ziltener • Edited

I am using Org-Mode, and sync the notes between my devices using Syncthing. On the desktop, I view, edit and search them with Emacs, and on my Android I have the Orgzly app.

No servers, no being-at-the-mercy-of-a-corporation, no cloud, just simple, structured text files :)

Collapse
ekafyi profile image
Eka • Edited

I have Notion; I use it for big-picture "systems" stuff (finances, bills, domain renewals, health & household stuff).

I have a private Github repo for daily logs, divided into "work" and "life" (the latter for anything outside of work). They are short and loosely inspired by bullet journal.

For nearly everything else I use Bear. Quick notes, long notes, learning notes, copy-pasted stuff, post ideas, resources, etc. I tried more elaborate setups but I always fell back to this setup. I used to have my bookmarks in Notion, but I just found it easier to make tagged notes on Bear.

Collapse
abdurrkhalid333 profile image
Abdur Rehman Khalid

In My Case, I always tend to use a Notebook or a Register and a Pen while learning a new skill or thing. And I am a fan of writing down things by hand as I think that the muscle memory of hand is linked to the memory skills.

For the Planning purposes and in order to organize the work-related tasks I use Evernote as it is simple and you can access your notes and summaries on multiple devices in a very convenient way. I also have tried to use the Trello and it is nice I have to say that but it sometimes gets messy and complex so I have not used that very much.

I have always tried to note down things that came into my mind while riding the Motobike at a slow and steady speed, and things during lectures and learning that I think are important and I can forget those easily.

Collapse
downey profile image
Tim Downey

In the past I've tried OneNote, Emacs Org-Mode, physical notebooks, etc.

But I have trouble keeping up with it. These days I make use of scratch buffers in my editor, will Slack myself small tidbits, and, on occasion, write a short post in the notes section of my blog. I'll do that if it's something that if its something I had to lookup and had trouble finding -- who knows maybe it will help someone else!

Collapse
dangoslen profile image
Dan Goslen

Honestly, I still stick to a notebook that I carry around with me all the time.

I write my daily goals, to-dos, etc. on it in the morning and carry it around with me all day. Any meeting notes or things I need to remember I put in there.

The downside is that it isn't searchable. However, I have found I hardly ever go back to my personal notes for things from several years ago (even when I used Evernote) and instead go to the things like Wikis for a product, comments in a user story in Jira, etc. This just means that important notes that I wrote down from a meeting I have to put in a place closest to the context it was about - which is technically duplicate work.

I don't mind it, however, because I still write down what I think was important on any given day, and if it was really important I have copied the note to a more permanent place closest to the context it was about by the end of the week.

Great conversation starter! Fun to read all the approaches and tools in this thread!

Collapse
birdo profile image
Birdo

Hey Madza!

I've pretty much experienced the same journey as you regarding note keeping.

Except when I purchased an iPad (incl. Pen). The App I use is GoodNotes. An iPad w/ pen works especially great for brainstorming since you can scribble shapes anywhere oh the canvas and combine them with hand-written text and screenshots.
But that's about.. I dislike the organization of the "notes" within GoodNotes since it's all about folders within folders - where you lose track of the "whole" easily.

So right now I'm in the middle of building my dream note-taking & TODO structure within Notion. I'm not only using Notion for note taking (e.g. university or projects) - I'm also using it for personal planning stuff and ideas.
I think I'm going to combine Notion with GoodNotes "sketches" i.e. importing them into Notion.

My Notion "Landing Page" (wip):

landing page

University TODOs (filtered table):

univ. todos

Actual Notes:

actual notes

nothing interesting here but:

Notes in GoodNotes (iPad):

ipad GoodNotes notes

Collapse
jingxue profile image
Jing Xue

For short and quick notes, I just use my iPhone's Notes app. It's literally at my finger tip almost all the time.

For long standing, accumulative, Indiana-Jones's-notebook-level notes I keep them in Google Doc. I haven't used EverNote in years so maybe it has gotten better, but when I did use it the editor felt buggy and sluggish.

When I'm working on a client site, project-related notes must be kept on client's network of course. For those I use OneNote.

Collapse
scrabill profile image
Shannon Crabill

I also use Google Keep. However, I'm not sure if I can export my notes as a backup, which is a little concerning. Other than that, I keep written notes in my bullet journal and sometimes in Google docs or Text files on my harddrive.

Collapse
ecognito profile image
E Cognito

I use QOwnNotes. It is a cross-platform desktop app (a real desktop app, not electron). It stores everything in markdown text files and can automatically version control with git - so your data is already in a portable format. Can also synchronise with Nextcloud if you want.

Collapse
szam profile image
Samuel Grasse-Haroldsen

I've always been a big fan of org mode in emacs. It takes a while to get used to the workflow but it become second nature, and I like the collapsible lists/sections and the formatting. You can also export your files to other formats eg. html, md, latex.

Collapse
stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee • Edited

Keep initially, then Trello.

Text notes, such as blog post ideas, marketing copy, etc start as Keep notes. Lists of links are gathered as Keep notes with checkboxes.

Once I've got structure more organized, I move them to a Trello board.

Collapse
lxndrlawson profile image
Alexander Lawson

Joplin. Synchronise options... File system, OneDrive, Dropbox, Nextcloud, WebDAV.
You are not tied to any platform.

Collapse
markinapub profile image
Mark J Daniels

I have always struggled to find the perfect note taking app for me - Currently, I'm blending a bit between Trello and Evernote; I like the OCR in Evernote too, if I hand write a note and then scan it in to the app. But they all have flaws that make them imperfect solutions.

Collapse
andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

I am using Notion as my overall command centre for note taking because it is literally multiple apps in one. It has databases, kanban boards, wikis, calendars and reminders. Honestly this is an app that all developers should be using.

Collapse
sharadcodes profile image
Sharad Raj (He/Him) • Edited

I finished this theme today itself

dev-notes-theme.netlify.app
😄

Collapse
mattschwartz profile image
Matthew Schwartz

Note taking has been a huge burden for me for many years. These days at work I use OneNote. But for my personal stuff I have tougher requirements.

Products come and go, and I want to keep my notes forever. Exporting into a convenient format is a must. I prefer something that works well offline. And if it's stored "in the cloud" I want it encrypted for everyone but me.

So these days I use text (markdown) files stored on my home NAS. They're organized into folders and I can "attach" any files by dropping them into the appropriate folder. I can access it when away from home over VPN. It's not the most convenient solution but it meets all of my requirements.

Collapse
mrrcollins profile image
Ryan Collins

I'm with you, I moved to .markdown files and .taskpaper files a couple of years ago. They were in Dropbox, but now I keep them in a private Git repo. I get all of the niceties of version control while also being able to edit them on any device. Plus it's available offline.

My go to editor is Vim with the following plugins: vim-markdown, vim-pencil, Goyo, and taskpaper.vim. But, everything is in text, so I can use any editor.

For snippets and autoformatting of journal entry dates, I use text expansion through Espanso. Originally I relied on the editor, but then that limits what editors I can use.

I have a few aliases set up to launch Vim with particular files. I have a tips.markdown file that I use to store code snippets and other nuggets of help. The je alias automatically appened the next argument to the Journal file using the correct date format: je "This is a journal entry".

For tasks I usually use two files in .taskpaper format: daily.taskpaper and today.taskpaper. The daily.taskpaper file has repeatable tasks that occur every day. today.taskpaper is my main to do list. Other projects may have their own .taskpaper file, it depends on the project.

It's not for everyone, but it works well for me since I may be on my Windows desktop, my Mac laptop, a Chromebook, or even using my Atari 800.

Collapse
tim profile image
Tim Ma

Espanso is really cool tool. Just seems not too many discussions on it

Thread Thread
mrrcollins profile image
Ryan Collins

Yeah, I don't know why it isn't being talked about more. It's pretty good, and getting better every day. The developer is pretty active on getting feedback too.

Thread Thread
madza profile image
Madza Author

I need to look it up ✍

Collapse
valdevweb profile image
valdevweb

Markdown is the best solution for me too. I worked on Evernote for a long time but there's no syntax highlighting and it's not as straightforward as markdown. Markdown is fast and easy to write. I use mkdocs, git and netlify so I can access my notes from everywhere

Collapse
zilti profile image
Daniel Ziltener

Markdown is a bad format for notetaking, because it doesn't have any concept of semantics or structure. It is a language purely for formatting.

Collapse
gcgbarbosa profile image
George C. G. Barbosa

Well, some people would disagree.
I think markdown is good bc it has a very small footprint, and most of what you write is going to be natural language. Natural language has a lot of semantics and Unicode is going to stay around forever, meaning that is a secure way to store your text.

Collapse
amankrishnatrey profile image
amankrishnatrey

Do you use Port forwarding to access your VPN? Is it safe?

Collapse
mattschwartz profile image
Matthew Schwartz

I run VPN software directly on my router, so no port forwarding is required. It's the safest thing available on a non-commercial home network. :)

Collapse
stephanie profile image
Stephanie Handsteiner

I keep my notes in an analogue notebook, the good old brain<->hand connection.

Collapse
xs005 profile image
Chris Sun

Mainly use OneNote, like the function to get website snapshot, and automatically paste url of the source.

Collapse
krazikarthick profile image
Karthick Raja

Hii..

At first I used OneNote (which was very clean & professional note taking tool). And then I siwtched to Evernote since I ichanged my windows mobile. Now I'm using Zoho notebook since I cannot use Evernote in my office due to company policy & rules.

I feel ONENOTE & EVERNOTE are best.

Collapse
juanfrank77 profile image
Juan F Gonzalez

I've been using Foam for the past 2 weeks and it's been awesome! I've even contributed to the project and have found good ideas to use in my own workflow.

It's far more flexible and overall better than anything I've used before... Notion, Evernote, OneNote, etc...

Collapse
jessycormier profile image
Jessy Cormier

Something like Foam is Obsidian ( obsidian.md/ ) This software was a game changer for me. The linking your notes ability just like Foam is fundamental. These guys also have a plugin ecosystem that's healthy. The community is fantastic as well.

The only thing you need to bring to the program is a plan on how you want to organize your notes.

Collapse
juanfrank77 profile image
Juan F Gonzalez

Yeah for sure. It was mind-expanding for me when I found about it last August. The app is great and the community as you mentioned is even better.

On the other note, I feel like giving that much flexibility for the workflows is both an upside and a downside. But is quite flexible to try other ways to organize notes (unless one has a ton of them haha)

Collapse
qoyyuum profile image
Abdul Qoyyuum

I used to use Notion until I hit that free block limit. Then I moved back to using Google Keep and Trello. I take my thoughts and store them in Google Keep as rough drafts. I then take these drafts and put them in the specific Trello cards that I have. I have a board specifically for personal goals like health, wealth, education, family, etc. And I store and arrange my keep notes in there. Similar for side projects, ideas and inspirations. For note taking I use a speech-to-text Gboard input to google keep, so if I happen to have any shower thoughts, its quickly recorded.

Work wise, everything is in email. I write meeting notes directly in the email and send them out as soon as the meeting is over. I bring my phone and a bluetooth keyboard to these meetings, fire up my gmail and start writing. Why my phone? My laptop dies out in 2 hours. My phone can last a day and more on a full charge.

Collapse
tobiaswhetton profile image
Τobias Whetton • Edited

We (@acnebs and I) are building our own take on a note-taking / knowledge management solution, Supernotes that might be of interest.

The difference with Supernotes is that everything is based around our unique note-card format, which are themselves nestable, taggable and linkable. There are no files and folders. Each and every note-card can also be shared with permissions that you set, making it really easy to collaborate on your thoughts with your friends, family and colleagues.

Would love to hear what you think!

Collapse
mdiori profile image
Matheus de Castro Diori

I really like notion, but not having a offline option made me search for another option. Then i found the good old Tiddly Wiki, it wasn't easy at the beggining but now i love it.

Collapse
jehrhardt profile image
Jan Ehrhardt

I have recently started to use Jupyter notebooks for that. The VS Code Python extension allows me to open Jupyter notebooks directly in VS Code. I push them to Github, where they are also rendered.

The notebooks contain Markdown and code that can be executed directly from the notebook. So I can use them for trying things out. There is support for all kinds of programming languages.

The only disadvantage is the missing support on mobile devices.

Collapse
yankee profile image
Yankee Maharjan

Was maintaining markdown files on Notable using Dropbox for syncing.
Now, completely moved to Notion .

Collapse
petargitnik profile image
Petar Gitnik

I started with Sticky Notes. But after some time, it cluttered my Desktop. Now it mostly depends on what do I need notes for. Persona notes in notepad on mobile (though migrating them is manual process when changing phone). Trello for personal projects, and good old plain paper for all other uses.

Collapse
vredchenko profile image
Val Redchenko

I used to be a fan of Boostnote, and there's a desktop client for Github Gists called Lepton

Collapse
im_sivakumar profile image
Shiv

I use notes.

Collapse
titansatya profile image
TitanSatya

I am using Notion (notion.so/). It has lots of inbuilt templates which makes note-taking easier.

Collapse
alexdeploy profile image
Alex

Trello and Notion

Collapse
pgronkievitz profile image
Patryk Gronkiewicz

I was using markdown for quite long time. Now I'm using Emacs' org-mode and it is wonderful. Taking notes is pure satisfaction, especially with inline images.

Collapse
gcgbarbosa profile image
George C. G. Barbosa

I use todoist + github. Todoist for tasks and things that I want to be reminded of. Github for my journal and stuff.

Collapse
danielpichel profile image
Daniel Pichel

Heavy Notion user here. I am basically using it for everything: Bucketlists, Todos, Projects, CRM, Pocket-Replacement and managing code snippets 🤓

Collapse
maykonmorais profile image
MaykonMorais

Notion to write some concepts that i learn and Todoist to manager my tasks

Collapse
tahmidrana profile image
Tahmidur Rahman

I used google keep a lot. Now I am in love with notion. Its incredible

Collapse
jasterix profile image
Jasterix

Right now I use notebooks + anki for review. For non programming notes, I also use native Notes app

Collapse
thomasbnt profile image
Thomas Bnt

Good question, since 3 weeks, I use Notion for everything.

A Trello + Google Keeps + and moore.

Collapse
f1lt3r profile image
Alistair MacDonald

You should check out WorkFlowy.

Collapse
itachiuchiha profile image
Itachi Uchiha • Edited

I use Trello + Google Keeps + Notable.

Collapse
siddheshshankar profile image
Siddhesh Shankar

Started using notion after reading your blog. It's an ultimate thing to use. Transition from sticky notes to notion is next level thing. Organising task is very easy. Interface also looks cool.

Collapse
lilgemvincent profile image
Gemma Vincent

Notion is amazing 😊

Collapse
vlasales profile image
Vlastimil Pospichal

Trello with 50+ boards.

Collapse
jlouzado profile image
Joel Louzado

Tiddlywiki for me. After many years of trying out various apps, I feel like this one-page solution has unbeatable robustness guarantees.

Collapse
madza profile image
Madza Author

I've been promising myself to start using it for so long now 😀😀