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A Hybrid System for Note Taking & Productivity

In a perfect world all the necessary systems for being productive would live in a single space. For now, this hybrid system can help you get things done.

Guillermo Gonzalez
Guillermo Gonzalez
4 min read
A Hybrid System for Note Taking & Productivity
Photo by BENCE BOROS / Unsplash

My system for productivity is a combination between analog and digital. It involves the following:

  1. Note-taking: Notebook
  2. Storage & Organization: Notion
  3. Tasks & Projects: Asana
  4. Calendar: Google Calendar

In a perfect world, all these systems would live in one single place. I would love a system where I can take hand-written notes; there's data that shows that taking notes by hand has an advantage over digitally taking notes. But taking notes by hand is not useful when trying to store, easily access, and organize those notes. Which is why I use Notion as a sort of a second brain, where I store notes, databases, systems, etc. Notion however is not awesome as a task and project management system, which is why I use Asana. But Asana is not a great calendar system (unless used for projects). And I need all these different things to be efficient in the things I do.

So, after searching and searching for a solution that would bring all these together, I have come to the realization that we are not there yet.

For now, I just have a hybrid system. And to be honest, I am okay with that. I have been in the process of simplifying and decluttering my life in many different areas, including the amount of technology I use, and this hybrid system has helped me. I have been doing this for the last 5 years, and so far it has worked well. It's not perfect, but it works for me.

Here are a few thoughts on how I personally use Notebooks and Digital systems to take notes and be efficient in my personal line of work.

The Notebook

My notebooks over the last 3 years. At first, I used to throw away the notebooks that I had already used, but then I started saving them.

It all starts with the Notebook. Simple as that. A good old-fashioned notebook. The notebook has stood the test of time. There is a reason why, as much as we try to get rid of it, the most successful and efficient people I know still use pens and notebooks for notes.

My preferred Notebook is the Moleskine Classic. Here is a link where you can find exactly the one I use. I have tried (I think) everything, from small notebooks to large ones, from planners to physical calendars, etc. I always come back to this one. It's the simplest and best. I like to use Moleskine because their notebooks are quality and durable. I have spilled coffee on them, food marks, dropped them, and my toddlers have tested them in their own way as well, and they stand strong every single time.

I preferred the dotted paper because it helps for sketching and drawing notes, quadrants, concentric circles, etc.

The dotted paper is ideal for note-taking because it allows you a greater amount of freedom for not only note-taking but also sketching and drawing.

I also make sure to buy the 400-page notebook simply because I use it a lot and I want to make sure that I have enough pages to note-take as I please.

The Note-taking System

My personal note-taking system within the notebook is simple. First, I take advantage of the two colored ribbons that come with the specific notebook mentioned above. Other notebooks don't have two separate ribbons, which is another reason why I prefer this notebook specifically.

I leave one ribbon on a page where I write Tasks or ToDos that come to mind as I am taking notes on meetings, or as I am on the go. These are the Tasks that cannot be entered into Asana (my preferred task system), but I know I need to take care of them at some point. Second, I use the second ribbon, I leave it on the current page where I am taking notes.

Notion - Second Brain

After using my notebook, when back in my office, I try to transfer all the relevant information to my Notion app. I use this app as sort of a second brain.

The truth of the matter is that as useful as notebooks are, they are not convenient when you are wanting to find information. Having your notes in a digital platform, you can move that information faster, you can organize it, tag it, copy and paste it, etc.

This is where having a good digital storing system will help. You can use things like Google Drive, or your personal collection of Word documents, Evernote, email, etc. They all come with their pros and cons, but what matters here is that you can take those notes away from paper into the cloud and secure it somehow. As mentioned before, I personally prefer using Notion (my favorite app of all time).

Tasks & Project Management - Asana

As awesome as Notion is, I have found it to lack massively in being a good Task manager. You can do it, but it's not quite there yet. Here I chose Asana. I have tried almost every ToDo and Task Management software out there, and I have found Asana to be the best for now. It's not too complicated, and it connects with other systems very well. You can create subtasks, deadlines, etc.

Google Calendar

Finally, and to tie it all together, I use Google Calendar. Notion and Asana have Calendar options but let's face it, there really isn't anything like Google Calendar. My work uses G Suite, naturally, it's easier to use Google Calendar than something like Apple. As a supporting system to this I use the app called Fantastical, which allows me to have an awesome and efficient calendar experience in all my devices.

What are your thoughts? What kind of systems or tools do you use to be productive?


Guillermo Gonzalez Twitter

Computer Science graduate. Served in many churches as a Youth Pastor and Executive Pastor. Now I am the Lead Pastor of Mariners Church in Santa Ana, CA.