Preserving General Conference Notes

General Conference is always an exciting time for me. In preparation, a few weeks before the conference, I set up a Study Plan in the Gospel Library and listen to all of the previous conference talks. I also start to pray to ask that my mind and heart will be open for revelation. With the start of the conference, I am ready to listen and start taking notes. I think the above scenario is common for most of you.

My question to you is, “What do you do with your notes once the conference is over?” This is an important decision. Notes are of little value unless there is a method to retrieve them, and how you store them will impact the ease to which you can retrieve the information.

The primary purpose of this article is to help those that take hand-written notes, but I am going to start by briefly mentioning other methods.

There are two ways in which notes can be taken.

Digitally Using a Keyboard

The digital method requires you to use a laptop (computer), tablet, or smartphone. The app you use to type your notes varies and comes to personal preference. A word processor, a note app, or even the Gospel Library are some of the options.

Regardless of the medium used, the retrieval of the information is accessible. Simply open the search function and enter what you are looking for.

Hand-written Notes

Using paper and pen is a powerful note-taking technique. Studies have shown information is easier to recall when we engage our hands in the note-taking process. The problem is finding specific information at a later date.

I am sure you have had the same experience that I have had in finding specific information that is stored in your hand-written notes. Pulling down from the shelf one notebook after another in search of what you are looking for is a frustrating experience.

There is an effortless way to making retrieving of information a snap, and that is to use a scanner.

I am not referring to the scanner feature in your printer. The scanning process is slow, and sending it to your computer can result in frustration at the highest level.

I am suggesting using a dedicated scanner such as the ones made by Fujitsu, or better yet, a scanning app on your smartphone or tablet.

An excellent dedicated scanner can run $150 and up. While a scanning app starts at free and is rarely over $10.

On the free side is Scannable made by Evernote and will send your scanned note directly to Evernote. For this, to work, you obviously need to have Evernote, which has a free version. Scannable can be used with Android and Apple devices.

Genius Scan is another excellent app for Apple and Android. It will create a PDF version of your hand-written notes and then send the files to a service of your choice, such as Evernote, Dropbox and etc.

There is also Scanner Pro for Apple. It will scan your notes, and like Genius Scan, send the file to a place of your choice.

Whenever I discuss using scanning apps on a smartphone, I am asked, “Why not just take a picture of the notes since you are using the camera on the phone anyway?”

Scanning apps are programmed to take great photos of documents only. Rather than taking a picture of the surface, the note is lying on and the note. Scanning apps will automatically zero-in on only the document, then proceed to add filters automatically, so the scanned document looks like it was run through a copying machine. Another benefit is the app can save the document as a PDF, JPEG, or other formats. Also, the app can make the document searchable, and that is the key benefit of using the app.

Another Hand-writing Method

There is another medium for taking hand-written notes – a tablet. A tablet, stylus, and an app for taking notes are all you need to facilitate the retrieval of information quick and easy. These apps can index your hand-writing, or if you prefer, convert your hand-written notes to text. Another benefit is sharing your notes with someone else is a simple matter of copying and pasting.

Goodnotes and Notability are two excellent apps for Apple devices. For Android, Lecture Notes, and INKredible come highly recommended. In full disclosure, I do not have an Android tablet, and so I have not been able to test the apps.

Best Practice for Pen and Paper

After the conference, using your smartphone, scan the notes, then transfer the scanned copies to Evernote as a JPEG (or PDF). Evernote will make then make the scanned copy searchable. Tag the notes “GC” for general conference. In addition, Evernote can create a link to the document which can then be pasted into the Gospel Library.

You may want to paste the link in a note linked to a scripture in the Gospel Library because the speaker made a powerful statement about that verse.

In the end, your notes will be searchable, and instead of taking hours to find a note, it will take a few seconds.

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