Digital note-taking and digital planning may be on your radar by now, but if you haven’t tried an annotation app yet, you might ask why bother? You already have a calendar in paper format, or it is digital such as Apple’s Calendar or Google Calendar. Here are my own reasons for using GoodNotes, one of the few major annotation apps known globally. It is presented as a declaration of love for all things neat and organised in notes and project plans, lists, and more. (What can I say? Productivity of this type is a bit of a passion quite honestly.)
Reason 1: GoodNotes Is Digital
Digital calendar means synchronised calendar across devices.
I have used many types of paper calendars in the past, tried techniques such as Getting Things Done (GTD) and Bullet Journal, and my favourite digital calendar was iCal before Apple ruined it by removing To Dos into their own Reminders app.
I was no longer able to set iCal up by GTD principles of categorising by day-specific tasks, time-specific tasks, or next actions. In iCal, my To Dos had been colour-coded to belong to different calendars such as school, work or home, so clicking between two separate apps felt like a really stupid way to waste time, in addition to losing the connection between a calendar with a notes sidebar in the same app. But back to GoodNotes!
Background In Paper Calendars
When using a paper calendar, I always had to carry it with me in order to know my current and up-coming stuff.
This worked to an extent when its size was still reasonable, but once I graduated to Moleskine notebooks in which I began to build my customised calendars, those were too cumbersome to bring along constantly.
With these past experiences in mind, digital has always felt as a relief somehow. It is very seldom that my iPhone has remained behind, usually by mistake.
Writing By Hand
But this train of thought isn’t done yet. I kept missing the handwritten aspect of paper calendars, combined with the now discontinued Uniball micro-tip black pen that was my absolute favourite choice, thanks to no bleed through Moleskine pages.
Once the pen situation got too difficult due to not discovering an adequate replacement, I found it much easier to try to make digital work.
A pertinent side note is that I am a hardcore fan of office supplies, and finding the optimal calendar solution. Stuff like bleeding pens, unsharp tips etc. get me in nothing but a bad mood. Once a satisfactory pen solution was nowhere to be found, I hoped digital would grab my interest permanently.
In 2019 after a lot of exhausting back and forth between paper and digital, I stumbled upon GoodNotes notebooks on Pinterest.
This expanded my know-how into a whole new world of iPad screens versus iPhone screens, styluses and Apple Pencils, digital annotation apps, digital note-taking and digital planning.
I had no idea any of it had existed for a while by then, so imagine my surprise when finding something as nerdy as beautiful lecture notes by university students across the world, shared on Instagram on hashtag #goodnotes. It was glorious.
And yet when attending lectures at local open-university business school Hanken, nobody else was taking notes on an iPad. Oddly, trends usually land rather late in Finland for some reason. But I digress.
Reason 2: GoodNotes Is For Font And Handwriting
It may sound a bit cryptic when I state that GoodNotes is for both fonts and handwritten scribbles, so Reason 3 discusses the implications of this Reason 2 further.
Let me just say in continuum of my earlier point about missing handwritten notes in digital calendars that GoodNotes stepped onto the scene just as I was getting very frustrated about not managing to keep nice notes anymore.
Investing in an Apple Pencil became a personal paradigm shift in my note-taking. Everything changed.
Not only was I able to keep a digital calendar on my iPhone with me at all times, but notes could be added to it via font on the iPhone, or font and handwriting on the iPad. Once I finally got around to installing the app on my iMac, I was able to view everything on the desktop screen, too, as well as add the occasional note to it via keyboard.
This still feels like some of the best parts of technology of today.
Reason 3: GoodNotes Is For Elements
What elements? GoodNotes allows the user to import for example digital stickers from external sources, made by indie designers on commerce platforms such as Etsy and Creative Market.
Digital stickers are exactly what they sound like: cute/fun/etc. traditional stickers gone digital, often in PNG format.
Where physical stickers are “one-time sticky”, digital stickers can not only be used many times by moving them around on a digital page, but you can also copy-paste them and resize them as needed.
GoodNotes adds to user friendliness by letting you import these stickers to an elements section from which you can access them easily.
So not only do elements include stickers, but you can keep stuff like weekday or month labels, small monthly calendars, list stickers, and more handy in this part of the app.
Implications Of Elements
What does this mean? If you have recurring tasks such as bill payments, dog walks, tax dates, water intake, chess nights with friends, inventory updates, and more to keep track of, you can create labels, also called stickers or elements for these. In your own handwriting. Or using a font of choice. Such as a brand font.
But wait, it doesn’t stop there! You can use colour coding for all labels (I have a heavily colour-coded calendar…), including multiple brand colour palettes if you are a parallel entrepreneur like I am.
Into A New Gear
The past week my GoodNotes game has stepped into new heights, once I have ended the slightly messy notes by introducing numerous labels for various recurring stuff, both personally and professionally.
Are you still convinced keyboard is best? Hehe. Rephrased, not only are these elements about an improving visual impression, but they save ridiculous amounts of time.
While iCal, later Calendar, allowed me to duplicate events, there was no place to save them, except by making them uniformly recurring for example weekly. Or look them up and duplicate them, all manually. What a time suck!
Reason 4: GoodNotes Is For Hyperlinks
You know how you turn pages as long as it takes to find a specific page in a paper calendar? Or scroll in a digital counterpart? Yes, it takes some time each day of our lives.
Did you know that one minute daily means half an hour on a monthly basis, or six hours yearly? Six hours turning or scrolling…
And then there is something called a hyperlink. In digital note-taking and digital planning, the hyperlink is a small miracle.
When in viewing mode (not editing mode), you can easily jump from page 5 to page 1034 with one click thanks to these internal links. And in the next moment, from that page with its planner section back to page 78, where there is a spot for the current month.
In large calendar PDFs, hyperlinks increase productivity immensely. My daily jumping happens at least between year, month and day views, if not other pages.
And if I have to go back to a date in the previous month from my current spot on today’s page, I simply click to the monthly view of that month, then click to the day in question. No random turning of pages or scrolling until a day is found.
Reason 5: GoodNotes Is For Old And Current Calendars
How many of us carry our old paper calendars with us? Personally I don’t know of anyone.
In this case, other digital calendars such as Calendar for Mac get the job done, so the argument stands against the paper alternative only.
It is just a nice thing though, to know that information about finished projects are at my fingertips in GoodNotes.
GoodNotes is obviously so much more still, but these reasons are the primary ones I have. In terms of productivity, they are also massive in impact.
What works for one person might feel appalling to someone else. The nice thing about GoodNotes is that you can completely customise the blank slate that the app is when opening it the first time. You can use own calendars, built from scratch, or you can choose someone else’s PDFs only. Or a mix like I do.
When syncing everything via iCloud (and doing regular backups!), you don’t misplace notes the way that a paper calendar can always be destroyed or lost.
So that is it for now about my appreciation of GoodNotes. Tell me, have you considered trying it? Or are you happy with your current solution? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Photo credit: GoodNotes.