I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “just grab a good old pen and paper” on the podcast. But in 2022, I went all digital with my notes—and I haven’t looked back! I feel just as strongly or even stronger about switching from paper to digital note taking in 2023.
I can’t express how much it has cleared clutter, paper, searching for handwritten information, and general annoyance from my life. And with the 2023-2024 version of the Savvy Shopkeeper Digital Planner launching soon, I want to make sure everyone understands why digital note taking is so helpful for busy indie shopkeepers.
While switching from paper to digital notes can feel intimidating, it’s well worth the effort. Let’s look at the six reasons why you should consider switching from paper to digital notes, along with the tools and software you’ll need to get started.
What is Digital Note Taking?
I spent the past five years using “good old pen and paper” to take notes for everything I did, but I started getting frustrated—not only with the volume of paper but with organizing and finding what I needed.
I would even sometimes take my handwritten notes and type them into Google Docs. Talk about inefficiency! Seriously, the systems and processes gal was failing in this area.
Then, I learned about digital note taking. I saw an ad for the ReMarkable Tablet and went down the rabbit hole.
The possibility of switching from paper to digital notes opened a whole new world for me. I learned that I could still hold a physical instrument to write, but I could write on a surface that creates digital notes rather than paper!
I was excited about the idea, but I got stuck in indecision about which hardware I would buy to make the switch.
Why Switching From Paper to Digital Notes Is Worth It
I did eventually make a decision, buy the hardware I needed, and switched from paper to digital note taking. But before I tell you about what hardware I chose and what software to use, let’s look at the six big reasons I made the switch from paper to digital notes.
1. Less Clutter
Digital note-taking has made a nice difference in my home office and on my desk.
I have a small desk, which means a small surface—and I already have a large computer screen on it. The piles of paper and little notes became SO annoying. I had paper everywhere!
Then, I would need to file all this paper away. I won’t go into detail about why or what, but what’s important to share is that these weren’t minor to-do lists or checklists. It’s vital information that I shouldn’t throw away because there’s a good chance I will want to go back and reference it.
Making the switch to digital has meant less paper on my desk. And it’s much easier to organize my digital notes into notebooks and folders!
I’m far from being the poster child of sustainability. However, I do like to do my part in being green. I even do some things at the Savvy Shopkeeper Retreat to help the earth, such as having reusable lanyards and serving meals on real china with silverware instead of disposable plates and plasticware.
Switching from paper to digital notes means I use WAY LESS paper, so I’ll check that off as a win in the sustainability column.
As an Apple user, I LOVE when all of my things just show up on each of my devices.
I have a Macbook Pro and an iPhone. And one reason I switched from paper to digital is that I knew I could access and read my digital notes no matter which Apple product I was using.
I no longer have to be frustrated that the notes I took on paper in my office aren’t accessible to me if I’m not at home. I can now see my notes no matter where I’m at because I almost always have my phone on me.
Not everyone uses Apple products, and that’s okay! There are ways to synchronize your digital notes if you’re an Android user, too.
4. Editing Capabilities
Being able to edit my notes is WAY more helpful than I ever thought it would be.
My brain can be scattered. Actually, this is the case for most entrepreneurs! So when I’m getting things out of my head and onto paper, it isn’t always in the “perfect” order.
The ability to copy and paste AND drag and drop from one page to another is incredible. And you can turn your handwriting into typewritten text!
5. Creative Note Taking
Writing your notes digitally is just plain fun! I don’t need a case filled with colored pens or highlighters to make note-taking easier to understand and read.
And can we talk about using stickers, too? Yes, digital stickers. I understand this is not as functional and helpful as copy and paste, but it is fun, especially if you’re a creative at heart.
My notes are searchable! This is revolutionary. I no longer have to struggle to find what I’m looking for.
I can search keywords in all my digital notes, and the results will show me all the notebooks or quick notes where I wrote that particular word out. Amazing, right?
What You’ll Need to Get Started With Digital Note Taking
Some of you might be thinking, “Okay, Kathy, TELL ME HOW I CAN DO AND USE THIS!”
So here’s a short list of what I bought to get this rolling in my life…
What I Personally Use for Digital Note Taking in 2023:
- iPad 10.2 64 GB, $329: You don’t need the fanciest iPad if you’re switching from paper to digital notes! I use this older 10th-gen iPad just for taking digital notes, and it works beautifully.
- 1st gen Apple Pencil, $99: I got the 1st generation Apple Pencil, but I wish I’d gotten the 2nd gen Apple Pencil ($129) as there’s no cap and it can charge magnetically.
- GoodNotes app: the free version allows you to have three workbooks, or you can pay $9.99 for unlimited workbooks. Yes, a one-time fee of $9.99 to get unlimited notes and notebooks. I hope you all realize what a crazy value this is! I have at least one dozen folders in my GoodNotes app with LOTS of notes and notebooks in each folder.
- New in 2023: GoodNotes is in beta for Android tablets!
- Cover with pencil holder, $22
- Paperlike Screen Protector, $49.99: this screen protector has a slight texture on it so you feel like you’re writing on paper. While there are knock-off versions available for far cheaper, I’ve tried several and the Paperlike is much higher quality.
If You’re Drowning in Paper, Make The Switch to Digital
I know from surveys in our groups that at least ⅔ of shopkeepers own an iPad or other tablet. And I don’t just mean an iPad in their stores for their POS. Many have an iPad for personal use.
I resisted buying an iPad for a long time, but it has been totally worth it.
My investment was around $500 in total. If you already own an iPad or tablet with note-taking capabilities, then switching from paper to digital notes will be even more affordable!
Members of Master Shopkeepers have heard all about this journey of mine, and it has prompted many conversations and tips in our group, including letting them in on a secret that I’ll be announcing soon.
I know switching from paper to digital note taking won’t be for everyone. But if you’re drowning in and frustrated with handwritten paper notes or journaling, this could be a FANTASTIC solution for you.
Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. And at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link.
I recommend certain products, software, and other small business tools because I have found them helpful. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
- Ep. 138: Six Reasons I Switched From Paper to Digital Notes
- Ep. 56: Systems and Processes
- Join Master Shopkeepers, the only territory-protected retail training mastermind for indie brick-and-mortar store owners!
- [08:22] What is Digital Note Taking?
- [13:56] Why Switching From Paper to Digital Notes Is Worth It
- [20:38] What You’ll Need to Get Started With Digital Note Taking
- [25:02] If You’re Drowning in Paper, Make The Switch to Digital