The latest research shows that taking handwritten notes (versus typing notes on a laptop) helps us learn better and retain knowledge longer. However, what do you do with all those handwritten notes, which pile up over the years?

Marie Kondo, in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, encourages you to integrate the learnings into your life, then throw the notes away.

Kondo says, “It’s paradoxical, but I believe that precisely because we hang onto such materials, we fail to put what we learn into practice.”

She’s right, however, knowledge in our daily lives comes at you quickly – faster than you can process it – and sometimes it’s nice to have that external memory to refer to.

How to Digitize & Organize Your Notes

Today, it’s easier than ever to digitize your notes. Digitizing allows you to free up space in your home and access the notes from anywhere at anytime.

The easiest way to digitize your notes is with your smartphone. Take a picture of each page and upload them to the app of your choice.

Purge Handwritten Notes

Google Drive “Getting Things Done” Folder

I use Google Drive to organize my notes. I take plenty of notes by hand while I read on the bus. Until now, I kept them all in a folder and only had access to them when I was at home. Now, I have a folder in Google Drive called Book Notes and under that, I have a folder for each book I’ve read that includes my handwritten notes, plus any extra materials that I’ve found to be useful in connection with the book. For instance, I recently found my Getting Things Done notes, plus a copy of the workflow and weekly review instructions; all of them hidden away in a folder I never checked. Now, I can look at these any time on my laptop or phone. I’ve already shared the workflow with one of my co-workers who happened to ask how I keep my inbox at zero all the time.

Everyone has their favorite place to store documents. Lots of people swear by Evernote, which allows you to upload handwritten notes right in the Evernote app and easily organize them with a plethora of other documents.

I also use Trello quite a bit, which allows you to upload photos into cards that can be moved around between lists (To Do, Books to Read, etc). I use Trello for my master to do list.

Purge Handwritten Notes with Trello

Disney To Do List, Neatly Captured in Trello

Purge Handwritten Notes

Once you’ve uploaded the notes, you’ll never need the physical copies again. Recycle them and reclaim some space.

Be Picky

Digitizing can take a long time if you are uploading, for instance, a whole semester’s worth of notes. Look for the main pages that explain the important points from a class or book and just upload those. You’ll never want to sift through a whole notebook’s worth of notes again – who has the time?

Digital clutter is still clutter, so as you’re uploading your notes, be picky about what you keep. If you haven’t used the notes in years and can’t think of a reason to pull them out again, get rid of them. Marie Kondo would be proud.

What are your favorite apps for organizing your digital notes?