The Digital Notebook Experiment

This is something I’ve been meaning to try for a long time now, but I’ve been putting it off because I’m honestly not sure how it’s going to go. I’ve seen plenty of images online of people who keep digital planners, and more and more people use digital notebooks for school and university. Every time I see it, my curiosity is piqued. So I’ve decided to try my hand at using a digital notebook. Only a digital notebook. No more paper and pen. At least not for a little while.

Now, I love my notebooks. I’m a bona fide stationery addict and I own far too many. I’ve talked at length on here about how I use my notebooks, and how I’ve created a system that works for me. I don’t ever see that changing. A notebook is crucial to my organization and workflow.

But seeing how I’m trying to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle and reduce any clutter, I thought it might be interesting to try keeping a digital notebook for a while. Save on paper waste and all that.

So, How Am I Doing It?

I use a Samsung tablet that uses an S pen for my digital drawing, so with a new app and a notebook pdf that I purchased from Etsy, it was easy to convert. I knew I wanted to continue writing by hand, which is why it was important that I use my tablet for that.

The program I decided to use was the Xodo app which allows me to edit and annotate pdfs. I use a digital notebook that I purchased online that includes internal links and dot-grid pages so I can write on it like it was a sheet of paper, and keep all my notes organized. And because it’s digital, it’s super easy to make edits and swap things around, which is a serious pro.

Also, because I use a Samsung Note phone, I can access and write in my notebook with just my phone as well. But for the most part, I am considering my tablet to be the actual ‘notebook’.

The Details of the Challenge

I want to give this an actual shot, so I’ve given myself some restrictions. The first is that I have to use my digital notebook whenever I want to write something down – that includes sketching, brainstorming, story plotting and bullet journaling. Anything I would normally pick up a pen and notebook for I now have to do in this new digital version.

This also means that where possible I need to carry it with me, both to encourage my using it and to prevent myself from grabbing the nearest pen and paper.

Finally, I want this little experiment to last for a while to give myself the most extensive experience that I can. I’ll be carrying around my digital notebook for the next 8 weeks. We’ll see what I think about a digital notebook system at the end of November.

Am I Abandoning the Classic Pen & Paper?

Honestly, even if this goes really well, I can’t see myself giving up the paper notebook. There is something about the tactile experience that a tablet cannot replicate. And there is that uniquely satisfying and bittersweet feeling when you fill a notebook. A digital notebook has no end. I can add as many pages as I like and keep it going forever. Or at least until my tablet can’t handle the size of the file anymore. And that’s just not the same. The proper notebook takes up physical space and bookends a certain period of my life in a way the digital one just won’t. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does change how you think about it and why you use it.

All the same, I’m excited to compare both experiences. I want to know how different it will ultimately be. Will I be more productive? Less? More organized? Will I include more notes? I want to know if using a digital space – one that I can carry with me anywhere and change at any point – can lead to any improvements to my current system. Or if there is a way I can incorporate both. It’ll be interesting to see what my results are.

Let’s Chat!

Would you ever consider using a fully digital system? What’s your favourite notebook? Let me know down below!

Author: Alyssa Flynn

Alyssa is a writer of fantasy and sci-fi, a certified geek, and a blogger over at Alyssa Lost in Space. She is currently writing her first novel which she plans to self-publish in Fall 2020.

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