In this post, when I talk about using my iPad to go paperless and syncing notes, I am referring only to my personal notes; no client or otherwise confidential information is contained in these notes.
When I first started working as a speech-language pathologist one of the first things I did was buy a professional looking, briefcase style bag. After attending a few staff meetings, council meetings, and continuing education events I realized that I needed some folders in my bag to keep the various pieces of paper organized and, if needed, on-hand. Said bag became very heavy, very quickly, and carrying it around was a pain in the back.
I needed to find a different solution, so I started filing papers more quickly. Inevitably, however, I didn't have notes with me when I needed to refer to them for meetings.
Along came the iPad. My husband accidentally bought two first generation iPads when they came out. He was going to sell one, as he didn't think I could use it, oh how wrong he was! I use my iPad (I now have the 3rd generation) all the time and not for playing games - I use it to be more productive. In fact, if you were to look at the apps on my iPad you might see that I have an addiction to productivity apps.
One of my most favourite apps that I use regularly is Notability. This app has literally saved my back, as I no longer feel the need to lug around a small filing cabinet in my bag.
Various file types, such as: Word, Google, and PDF documents, can be imported into Notability. Once a document is in Notability it can be marked up using hand-writing, highlighting, or text. Photos, figures, sticky notes, and web clips can be added to the document. You can also make recordings as you mark-up the document.
Within minutes of trying Notability, I realized I needed a stylus. I immediately made a trip to London Drugs, tried out a couple of the styli that they had on hand, and bought one. I used that one for a while, but I was never truly satisfied with the squishy tip, as it didn't feel pen-like enough for me.
One day, while killing time in an airport iStore, I came across the Adonit Jot classic stylus. It was exactly what I had been looking for: something that more closely resembled the feeling of writing with a pen. I have since purchased the Adonit Jot Pro from London Drugs, which now stocks a range of Adonit Jot styli. The biggest difference between the Classic and the Pro is the sound dampening tip, which makes it significantly more quiet when it makes contact with the iPad screen.
The Adonit Jot stylus is the perfect companion to the Notability app. Compared to writing with pen and paper it took a little while to adjust, mostly to getting the right angle on the disc (see the picture of the disc tip above). I am now able to use the two so quickly together that I feel like it is just about as fast for me to write with Adonit Jot Pro and Notaility as it is for me to write with pen and paper. I sometimes find that it will get a bit glitchy - usually this happens if my screen is in need of a cleaning and once it happened when I needed a new disc tip for the Adonit Jot Classic (I have not had this issue since switching to the Pro).
Part of why I like Notability so much is that you do not need to worry about brushing your hand on the iPad screen if you use the "zoom writing mode". What this does is creates a box that you can place anywhere on the page. The zoomed in area is accessible along the bottom edge of the iPad screen for you to write in. As you get to the end of the zoomed in area there will be a shaded green space. Once you lift your stylus from the shaded green space, it will tab the zoomed in area over so that you can continue writing on that line. Once you get to the end of the page, and lift your stylus from the green shaded area, it will return you to the start of the next line. This works well if you are writing across the whole page. If you are marking up a handout from a PowerPoint, and only want to write on half of the page, you can use the green shaded area as a way to remind yourself to move the zoomed in box to the next line.
I have created different sections in my Notability notebook for: Professional and Personal notes. Under Professional I have various tabs for different meetings that I attend, continuing education, councils, special interest groups, and more. I also use it while I am reading journal articles to highlight important pieces or jot down my notes right on the article, just as if I were reading a paper copy.
Notability has various options for backing-up your notes. I use Google Drive to keep my notes backed-up, but there are also options to use Dropbox, Box and WebDAV. Of course you can share your notes via email. There is now a Notability app for iPhone, so you can sync and access your notes across devices.
As long as I work in my current position, I will never be truly paperless, but with these two tools I can significantly reduce the amount of paper I use and carry with me. It also helps me to stay organized. I always have notes on-hand, and am able to refer back to previous meetings easily, when others do not have their paper notes on their person.
I recently purchased the newest Adonit stylus: The Adonit Jot Script Evernote Edition. I haven't had a chance to try it out properly yet, but I plan to do a "Going Paperless (part 2)" soon, to let you know how it works. I'm pretty excited as the tip on the Jot Script looks like it will provide an even better pen-like feeling. I also have a good feeling that a "part 3" will happen after I get one of my Christmas gifts... so stay tuned!
How do you keep your notes and handouts organized? If you use a tablet to take notes, what stylus and app(s) are you using?