A reusable and sustainable note book
Ad- This is a collaborative post with RocketBook however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Disclosure- This post was written by my partner.
For the last 15 years I have worked within the environmental sector, working with organisations to help them manage and reduce their resource consumption. Often this included organisations considering the amount of paper they used, putting in actions and changes to systems to help reduce paper waste.
Over time, my role changed and adapted, and I moved into a consultancy role where I travel to different organisations to conduct reviews of their buildings and help them to identify opportunities to make improvements to reduce the amount of energy they use. This helps the organisation reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs.
When I attend the organisations building, I need to make a series of notes which are then copied across into an electronic document and saved within their files and because the notes are stored electronically, the paper notes are destroyed once completed. As such, I get through around 3-4 notebooks every year.
That was until a colleague asked me if I had ever heard of a Rocketbook. I was always aware of the concept but had not specifically heard of these books, so I did some research, and the concept is exactly what I was looking for, a notebook that I could reuse, but more importantly, one that would transfer my notes into an electronic file so I could quickly and easily store a digital copy.
I had already tried taking digital products, using my phone or a small tablet, where I could type my notes straight into an electronic file or use voice transcribing, but found them awkward on site, and in the end they ended up making the entire process longer. Nothing seemed to work better than a notebook with quick hand.
Rocketbook offers a range of different books and I went for the fusion A5 Executive notebook as I need a smaller notebook while I am walking round. The booklet has a series of templates including, a to-do list, a weekly calendar, monthly calendar, planning and idea template, dot matrix, and lined paper. Each page has a QR code in the bottom corner that allows the page to be scanned into a digital document.
How the Rocketbook works
You need to download the Rocketbook App and sign up to the system. This is your main email address and general details. The app takes you through the basics in terms of how to set it up, and there are ‘How to’ videos on the Rocketbook website should you wish to look at any other information. Essentially, you can link a range of different destinations, Google Drive, Dropbox, Trello, general emails, etc.
There are a series of icons within the app which are also located on the bottom of each page. Each icon can be linked to a different destination, so in the A5 booklet, you can setup up to seven destinations, although I believe other book types may offer more, linked to each icon.
To speed up the scan destination, simply circle the icon at the bottom of the page linked to the required destination and it will automatically send the scanned pages to that location. You need to ensure that you circle all the pages within the appropriate scan.
It is worth playing around with this for a while to get the hang of how it works but the process is very quick and simple. One point I think is worth noting, as I discovered it by accident – and a lot of frustration – is that if you write over the icons, even the loop of a ‘Y’ or ‘J’, the scan will consider this a circled icon and send that page to the relevant destination. This was annoying as the marked icon was different to the location I wanted, and it kept splitting the scan up.
Real world use
The book works as expected and is a good replacement for any notebook. The use of the scan and digitalisation of the notes is so useful and saves me a lot of time not having to re-write the notes into an electronic document. The linking of the icons has helped with this, and you can also use Smart Headings, so the files are already named as you want them.
That side of things is great, but there are a couple of snags that are not deal breakers, but certainly need to be considered.
The pen takes 15 seconds to dry (roughly), so if you are scribbling notes in a meeting and need to quickly turn the page, you do have to wait, or you will smudge the last part of your notes. Is no worse than working with a fountain pen, or similar, but can be annoying when you forget.
The pen is not waterproof (at least for the Fusion book) as this is how you clean the page. As a consultant, whilst on site, I need to look around the external elements of the building whilst making notes. In the UK where the weather is not always sunny, this can be problematic, so an element of care is needed, as the page will smudge heavily and even lose part of the notes – as a note, do not wipe your page if it gets wet, as that will destroy everything.
When you scan your page, you have two options; to either scan a picture of the page or transcribe the page into a digital notebook page. The transcribing does work, but it does depend on how neat your handwriting is. My quick hand is not the clearest at the best of times so the transcribe, while it does pick up a good portion of the writing, does require some editing for it to make complete sense.
You have to use their special pens in order to use the book. So far, I have not yet run out of ink, but they are not necessarily the cheapest pens to replace, also should you run out and not have a replacement to hand, then you cannot use the book. I do therefore recommend that you purchase in a handful of pens and replace them every time you start using the last of your pens.
It does state this within the pack, but do not leave writing in the book for a long period of time. It is hard to describe, but having left writing on the page for around 4 weeks I still noticed almost a ghostly image of the writing before when I finally cleaned the page. It was nothing serious as once I wrote over it with something else you couldn’t see it, but I imagine that with time it would get worse (not something that I want to test however).
I really enjoy using this book. While there are some things that need a little more consideration that you would otherwise not necessarily concern yourself with using a standard pen and notebook, to reduce the use of paper and to scan and send pages digitally, quickly and easily, the Rocketbook is fantastic.
They are more expensive than traditional notebooks, at a cost of £35 plus the cost of the replacement pens, but I don’t need to buy another notebook again, which on average was costing me about £16 a year, so within two years I have made my money back and it saves me around 1-2 hours of transcribing weekly, which alone more than pays for itself. Plus, it helps to reduce my paper waste and means I can be more sustainable in my activities.