David Sparks and Katie Floyd recently released another great Mac Power Users episode: Taking Notes on Mac OS X and iOS. We’ve never had so many access points to the cloud. iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices are always with us and always on. That doesn't mean they're perfect, though.

Personally, I think the iPad is a great notetaking device. But I also agree with Katie that the iPad's greatness becomes a problem in itself: The iPad can be an attention black hole in a meeting. Everybody in the room wants to talk about it and play with it.

It’s just one example of how technology can bring new frictions to the same workflows it improves.

One Mississippi, two Mississippi…

I’ve decided that if it takes me longer than about two seconds to decide what to take a note on, I’ve probably thought about it too long.

Getting thoughts down should be natural. There are many times when I don’t have time to get out my iPad to take a note. And often if I’m using my iPhone to make a call, I don’t like using it take notes either.

Funny thing: since I’ve had my iPhone, I’ve been more apt to take notes on pen and paper. I know that I can easily photograph the note with the iPhone’s great camera and upload it to Evernote.

JotNot Scanner Pro is also a very handy app for enhancing the quality of photographed text.

More and more, I like sketching out a mind map on paper while I’m on a conference call or in a meeting. When I’m done, I simply photograph it and throw it away.

Touch screen or no touch screen, notetaking priority should remain in this order:

  1. Get the note down.
  2. Save, sync, and organize the note.

Until someone shows me how I can reverse the order of these two steps and retain thoughts, I’m going to keep pen and paper handy.

Update: I'm even more impressed with Scanner Pro. Like JotNot, it enhances photos of text, but Scanner Pro can also handle multi-page documents. Great app.