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Boris Quiroz
Boris Quiroz

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[Halp!] How do you take notes?

Notes are important, as brain is not able to retain all the information. In particular technical notes, as they can help us to avoid making the same mistake twice. Or three times.

Typically, I use a regular Castelli/Moleskinke/Other (any other on sale) regular note taking notebook using an old-school tool called pen. But this proven method is not fulfilling all my needs, which are:

  • Notes must be clear (this is on my side, and solved pretty well so far)
  • Notes must be searchable

And that's where the downside of old-school method appears: There's no efficient way to search for something in a 80 pages note taking notebook. The good thing about using pen and paper is that notes seems to be stored clearly in my brain, but not bullet proof.

I've also tested digital method: I wrote a small python app that, by using tags and/or date, I can search for notes I've taken, and I've been using it for the last couple of months. The problem with this is that I use the search option more often as information is not so well retained in my brain. Maybe I just need some training?

What do you use? How do you take notes? Do you see any disadvantages in your method?

Any help or comments are welcome.

Top comments (13)

sonnk profile image
Nguyen Kim Son

This has been my quest for searching for the perfect note taking app: evernote, apple note, onenote, google keep, etc. I finally ended up staying with Simplenote which is very simple in terms of features (only text, no image, no todo list, no collaboration, etc) but is fast, support offline and search.

boris profile image
Boris Quiroz

:thinking_face: Didn't know about Simplenote. Will give it a try, as your description looks interesting as I don't use images, todo list and are personal notes so text only works for me :)

sonnk profile image
Nguyen Kim Son

Yeah this note app has been acquired by Automattic (the company behind Wordpress) as its founder is fan of this app 😃.

dave_vassallo profile image
David Vassallo

My solution to this problem is .... Github! There are probably multiple ways to use GitHub as your personal note taking repo but my current approach is to:

  • Create a separate, blank repo (bonus: you can make it private)
  • Don't commit any code... instead, every "note" you'd like to remember becomes an "issue". So everything I'd like to take a note I simply open an "issue" in my notes repo

This approach give you several advantages... it's easy to search, it's easy to add labels, it's easy to share the notes (and even have others contribute via comments), and easy to add references and addendums via comments to your own issues. Plus.... you get a GraphQL API for your notes, for free!

That was my thinking behind my own notes repo:

I use the GraphQL API to power a front-end that I use to browse my notes on my smartphone whenever I want to "revise" or have some free time:

Hope that's a good inspiration!!! :)

edmistond profile image

I do paper notes as well. I've tried digital notes - usually in something like OneNote since I prefer cross-platform access - but I find paper notes more effective in helping me think and clarify what I'm working on.

What I may try in the future is taking them on paper, but then taking 10-15 minutes at the end of the day to transcribe and organize the relevant parts in OneNote. This seems like it would solve several problems - paper to help me work through a problem, transcribing them to help with retaining the knowledge, getting it into OneNote to make it searchable.

r7e98kva profile image

I use visual studio code with markdown
It's easy to create a PDF to share if someone else forgot to note on his own
My TODO list is in notion because I like to add comments

I also tried one note, Google keep, Evernote and notion before

matthewbdaly profile image
Matthew Daly

OrgMode in Emacs is quite useful for this. It's simple to use, and uses plain text files so you can use Git or Dropbox to keep them synced between different machines. I also use it for estimates.

And that's despite being a Vim user...

abdurrahmanriyad profile image
Abdur Rahman

I have always been a fan of evernote. I have folders in different categories like reading, blogs, writing ideas, office etc.
Each time I get something around my head, i jot that down to evernote.

tarun_geek profile image
Tarun Nagpal


harittweets profile image
Harit Himanshu

I use Notion, and keep my notes in a database with pictures from my notebook. Then I apply tags on the rows so that I can find them later.

Also, I do picture, doodle based notes, so tags work for me!

pawelmiczka profile image
Paweł Miczka

I started using and it's really cool. I don't know It has search bar and design is ultra simple. They have desktop and mobile app. Check this out too:

ebogucka profile image
Ela Bogucka

I discovered Boostnote a couple of days ago and I love it so far! You can use Markdown or just save small snippets of code and organise your notes with folders and tags.