Episode 54 Executive Function and Tablet Note Taking Apps

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Episode 54 of the executive function brain trainer podcast

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Erica: Welcome to the Personal Brain Trainer podcast. I'm Dr. Erica Warren.

Darius: And I'm Darius Namdaran and we're your hosts. Join us on an adventure to translate scientific jargon and brain research into simple metaphors and explanations for everyday life. We explore executive function and learning strategies that help turbocharge the mind.

Erica: Come, um, learn to steer around the invisible barriers so that you can achieve your goals. This podcast is ideal for parents, educators, and learners of all ages. This podcast is brought to you by goodsensorylearning.com, where you can find educational and occupational therapy lessons and remedial materials that bring delight to learning. Finally, you can find Dr. Warren's many courses at, uh, learningspecialistcourses.com. Come check out our newest course on developing executive functions and study strategies.

Darius: This podcast is sponsored by dyslexiaproductivitycoaching.com. We give you a simple productivity system for your Apple devices that harnesses the creativity that comes with your dyslexia.

Erica: Hey, Darius, how's it going?

Darius: Going well, Erica.

Erica: Excellent. What are we talking about today?

Darius: Well, we're going to talk about executive function and, um, taking notes on tablets, because it's a whole different experience. This whole world of taking handwritten notes and also digital notes and this whole hybrid notetaking where you're still manually processing it by hand, by drawing, writing, et cetera. But you've got the advantages of digital, and how does that all affect executive function? And, um, I thought it would be good to zoom in on taking handwritten notes on a tablet.

Erica: Yeah, I love this. I have a variety of students that are going back, either back to college or starting in college, and I find that with all of them, I like to have this discussion about tablet notetaking because, yes, it kind of hits a lot of boxes.

Darius: Yeah. And then from the work perspective, I see a lot of, uh, 35-year-old, 45-year-old, 50-year-olds who are like, I just have to write things down in meetings. But I'm now getting to the limit of having piles of notebooks that I leave at work, and then I have to bring them in home because I'm working from home, and I use up that notebook, and then I can't find it again. That whole kind of cognitive load of postits, notebooks, sheets of paper, backs of envelopes, all of these things, which are absolutely valid and important for kind of processing, but we need a way to bring them all in together into one digital space. And so there's this kind of tension with people where it's like, I really love my paper journal, and I like writing things out, but I also need it digitally. But then I also like writing. I don't mind writing on a tablet. So there's a whole range of kind of this I would call hybrid notetaking, where it's still physical and handwritten, but also digital, or the potential to be digital. And, um, the tablet sits in the middle of that world, and it's super useful.

Erica: I think my favorite feature about these is the searching feature. You can literally just search for a word, and every single document that has that word in it will pop up as a possible option. And it just makes finding things so brilliant and even through images. So even if you take a photograph of your notes, it will find the word in a photograph, which is extraordinary.

Darius: Yes. And handwritten notes as well. Obviously, we're talking about handwriting. It will search handwriting. If your handwriting is absolutely atrocious like mine, it can find it a bit difficult, but it's surprisingly effective. I think my wife, I've convinced my wife to get, uh, an iPad, a $325 iPad for work. And the only thing she uses it for is taking handwritten notes in meetings. And as a coach, she just flicks through different people's notebooks and say, right, okay, I've got my Erica notebook. And she opens up an Erica notebook and continues on the meeting notes and handwrites it all. And she's got all of her notebooks with her, and she really loves it. And so I think the real power of tablet notes for executive function is this ability for people to continue on their existing way of working and carry on writing notes but having them as digital notes they can find. So they got the best of both worlds.

Erica: Yeah. Uh, and I think what I like about it is the digital notes bring in more senses. M and we've often talked about making things more multisensory or multi-processing. Right. So that we are honoring more processing areas. And I thought it would be kind of interesting to talk about how it addresses more processing areas. So, for example, your digital notes can be auditory because you can have them read back to you.

Darius: That's, uh, right.

Erica: Or. M you can record the audio and listen to it again. So it can be auditory that way. Of course, it's visual because there's a visual depiction that you have, but you can make it even more visual by adding imagery that you can just literally drag into your notes from the Internet or from a, uh, teacher's slides or whatever, or a, uh, diagram that you may have, or a photograph. You can also make them sequential, and the way that they're stored is sequential. And I think you have options of being able to store them by date. I'm sure if you wanted to alphabetize them you could, but you have all these different ways of organizing where you can organize by name, you can organize by folder, you can color code. It's amazing how fun it makes organization. Let's see, what else? So it could be simultaneous because you're able to see all your folders in one glance. I guess it's logical, reflective, because there is a certain logic to how you're organizing things. How can it be tactile? Well, with tablets you have choices. You can type, you can handwrite on the glass, but of course they have these sticky screens that go over your iPad that makes it feel more like paper. Yeah, there's one called paper like, but there are many of them. So you have the option of typing handwriting or even voice typing. So you have many different options on how to get the information down, but there is that tactile component, and you can draw, you can doodle, you can still doodle on your notes, but if your doodle got in the way, you could make it smaller or you can make it bigger, you can change colors, you don't have to have 15 colored pencils with you that you're moving in between, or uh, one of those ten colored pens and you're having to push, oh no, it's the wrong color. Not a big problem. If you write something in your notebook the wrong color, you can't change it, but on a tablet you can.

Darius: Well, that's a really massive deal for a lot of people, the ability to erase, because a lot of, especially if you think differently, because you think, oh, there's another way of doing this, or that's not quite the right way. Now I've written it and erasing it on paper and so on can be so hard and rearranging things. And maybe your ideas come out randomly. Well, no problem, I'll select that, and I'll move it and so on. So that ability to adapt and that cognitive flexibility, because sometimes when I'm teaching children how to mind map on a piece of paper, what I've learned now is that they should use friction pens, so they draw the mind map out and they can erase it and move things around because it removes that kind of permanent feel. Oh, the moment I touch my pen to the paper, that is the permanent location of that word or symbol, and I might get it wrong, I might get it right. And so there's this hesitancy that slows down the whole notetaking, mind mapping process, which is erased the moment you can erase it. And you've got that backup plan. Oh, I'll just try it and see if it works. I'll keep with it. If it doesn't, I've always got the option of moving it. And, um, you've got that on speed on a tablet, which is incredible.

Erica: So I'm going to stop you for a second, because a lot of people may not know what a friction pen is. A friction pen is spelled F-R-I-X-I-O-N. Just so you know. And these pens are erasable pens, and they're erasable because the ink is sensitive to heat. The eraser, uh, on the back, is great because you'll never lose it. It never gets smaller. All it is, is rubber. And when you're rubbing the rubber against the paper, the friction causes heat, which makes the ink disappear. And I don't know if you know this, Darius, but if you actually then put what you have erased in the freezer, do you know this?

Darius: I do.

Erica: So cool. You put it in the freezer, it will actually come back. So I'll never forget this time. I had a student who did this beautiful drawing with her friction pencils, or pens, they call them both. And her father laminated it, right. Heat made up, and it disappeared. And she was devastated. And I said, do you still have it? Look for it, put it in the freezer. And she was like, what? But I have so much fun. I'll bring my hairdryer out and make things disappear. And kids love it because they can write secret notes to each other. But if you were to leave your notebook open outside in the sun, it would probably disappear. So you have to be a little bit careful with the friction pens, but they're super cool. The other thing I wanted to stop for a, um, moment. You had said in passing, you can select, when you're using digital notes, you can select it and move it. And I just wanted to stop for a second because people that have not experienced tablet notes don't know what that means. Basically, they have, like, a lasso tool, and it's almost like a rope that you can just draw a line around whatever is in the way. Maybe you took some notes, and you ran out of space, and you want to move something over, you can lasso it, and then it selects all that text, and you have the choice of moving it on your page so that you can move the text. You can also make it bigger or smaller, which I love, because I often run out of room on my page, and that enables me to kind of reorganize things when I don't have enough space. But I just thought I would stop and define those two things because there might be those in the audience that don't know what a friction pen is and don't know what you mean by, oh, moving the text.

Darius: Yeah, I mean, I think it's useful to just go back up to the big level with regard to executive function and also to introduce some learnings from the area of processing and dyslexia into this, too.

Erica: Okay.

Darius: Because, big picture, I've got clients who go to the British government through the access to work scheme, for example. And they say, I need the assistive technology of a tablet, like an iPad, to take notes in a meeting. And they go, but you've got a laptop. And they go, yes, I know I've got a laptop, but typing up notes just doesn't help me internalize the notes. And actually, there's been research done on this that handwriting notes gives you 20% more retention and understanding of the meeting and also of the notes. The, uh, tendency when you're typing notes is to type too much and to go into transcription mode. The tendency when you're handwriting is you emphasize the processing of the information. More writing, less focusing m on keywords, bullet points, concepts, and so on. And so it's interesting speaking to assessors, these assessors who assess the needs of specific people with dyslexia or adhd, et cetera, when you start to explain to them, look, I process information by writing that, uh, physical movement of writing and deciding to move your hand and body in a certain way. It's a way of embodying that information that is way more grounding than just typing on a keyboard, a few finger presses. So, for a lot of people, and maybe listeners included, is that there's something very powerful when it comes to processing information about writing it out by hand. And writing things out by hand is slower than typing for most people, but there is something very powerful about internalizing and making it your own. So I kind of split up information management into two realms. There's the typing realm, which tends to be where you capture information. It's like you put it into a database of your computer or whatever. When you go into handwriting, a, uh, journal or handwriting notes, your kind of digesting and internalizing that information. And so I think there's a real difference in how you approach information compared to typing and, um, handwriting.

Erica: Yeah. And I think you're absolutely right. And I think the research does suggest that. But it's interesting that we understand that whenever we're doing research, they're looking at the average person. I do have some students that process better through typing, and largely because handwriting is slow for them, and these are people that are hyper fast processors and they're touch typers, and so for them, typing is better.

Darius: I, uh, totally get you, but who I'm speaking to right now is those people who feel in this digital world that they're like, I feel left out because my main mode of being is taking notes and writing postits and writing journals and drawing things and so on. But so many people who feel like that, me included, and that's why I'm quite passionate about this, is that the digital world is like, well, type it out. And I'm like, well, I don't process by typing stuff out. I process by hand. Where do I belong? Where do I fit into this world? And if you're thinking that, I highly recommend you buy an iPad and put onto an app like Good notes or notability or OneNote and start writing your notes out by hand like you're used to, and you'll go, uh, ah. I finally feel a place in the digital world where my way of processing belongs.

Erica: Yeah.

Darius: And I think a lot of these people who feel that do prefer to process by typing, and there's a lot of people quite happy typing, and they're perfect for them. Absolutely perfect. There's absolutely no need for them to handwrite. The last time they handwrote something was when they had to write a check or sign a contract or whatever. Uh, they don't have a pen nearby or anything. They're just like, I just type it out on my phone or my computer, or if they've got a tablet, they'll be typing out with a keyboard on their tablet. They're like, I can't be bothered writing on it. But there's a whole other set of people, I would say good chunk. I would say, especially the middle-aged realm of people where we're so used to processing by writing, that, uh, you don't need to feel like your executive function has to be compromised by going, gosh, I've got to type everything out again on my office computer. And it's just deadly for me, and I don't feel any connection to it. But if you introduce a tablet, it will really help you connect into the digital world and also improve maybe some of your executive function.

Erica: Well, what's great about it is it hits on everything. You can voice type, you can use a keyboard, you can hand type, you can pull in images. You can really do it all. And I get it. I think within our generation and older, where there's just a resistance to even learning it, there's this massive resistance of, no, I don't want technology. I don't want anymore. I want less. But in fact, it's all about executive functioning. It's all about being able to manage the load. The fact that you can get notifications, that it communicates with you. If you can't find something, it finds it for you. If you can't locate it, you can locate it with another device. It really is a massive time saver.

Darius: Absolutely. And, uh, you know what's interesting, going back into the bigger picture, I've got three devices. My laptop, my iPad, and my iPhone. Okay. My MacBook, iPad, iPhone. And it's interesting because I realize I think differently depending on the device I'm using. So I have noticed on my MacBook, I do a lot of administration. On my iPad, I do a lot of thinking, and on my phone, I do a lot of capture and communication.

Erica: Right.

Darius: So I think of my phone as a capture device. I think of my iPad as a thinking device, and I think of my MacBook, uh, as an administration device.

Erica: Yeah, that's a cool way of thinking about it. And what's great about it is these devices communicate with each other.

Darius: Yes.

Erica: Uh, that's the trick. And then I think if we also dive in a little deeper and look at the different parts of executive functioning, that would be a fun thing to do. Like, how does digital notetaking help with cognitive flexibility? Because you can go back into your notes, and you can change them. Now, normally, when you handwrite notes, you can't change them. Uh, you have to rewrite them, which can have some benefits, but many people don't have the time. But you can take notes that you even do in class, and they can be quite messy and cluttered, but you can adjust them, and you can add color to them, and you can change your handwriting to type text, and you can just have a lot of fun creating those new ways of organizing the content, which, in a way, makes your notes more flexible, but also gets you to be thinking more cognitively flexible about how to produce your notes in a way that really help you to learn them. We've looked at cognitive flexibility. What about inhibitory control? How could digital notetaking help with inhibitory control?

Darius: Well, one of the interesting examples of all of these three areas are digital journaling. Okay. So there's a huge thing in the world of the iPad, which is, you know how in the old days you would have, like a, uh, calendar and you'd write up your calendar, or you'd have a file of fax, and you'd flick over paper sheets and you would unclip sheets and move them in different places, and you'd write in your calendar and you'd have a list of shopping lists and you'd have, uh, a divider and so on. Well, people have created these digital versions of those on your iPad. So you can still draw up your beautiful notes and color it in and put little stickers on it and really prettify it and Instagram it and just spend a great deal of time just dwelling and, uh, artistically drawing some key pictures and words. And for a lot of people, that process of journaling in this way, where you're not journaling by writing, but you're journaling, I've not got the right term for it. What's it called? Do you know what it's called where, uh, you buy these PDFs that cost like $20 or $50 just for one PDF, and you import it into your iPad, and then that's your whole year. You've got your weekly calendar, your daily calendar, and you write it in.

Erica: No, they're like templates you can purchase. You can even get them on Esty. They're all over the place where people have already created these templates that you can then bring into your notetaking.

Darius: Digital planners. That's what they're called.

Erica: Sure.

Darius: Digital planners, yes.

Erica: I even sell one. It could be digital. I mean, ultimately, it's a planner that I created, um, on PowerPoint, but then you can personalize it.

Darius: Yes, well, actually, a lot of people create these digital planners on PowerPoint because the hyperlinks still work inside of, like, they import it into Notability or Good notes, and they've got all that functionality, uh, but they can write on it comfortably and so on. Anyway, it's a huge, big thing in the world of iPad, and I highly recommend you getting one of these free one or paid one and importing into Good notes or notability and playing around with it. Because for a lot of people, for them to think through things, they either need to speak or they need to draw. And so that process of just doodling and drawing and coloring in and doing some spirals as they're thinking about something just slows their mind down enough to process the week ahead or the month ahead or a health issue or something like that. Now, I'm not saying this is for everyone, but often the people who want to be a little bit more reflective, who want to slow down a little bit, be more meditative, that process of handwriting and drawing, um, and so on, um, really does that.

Erica: Well, I love to use it for my private practice. So if someone fills out my intake information, I throw it into Good notes, which is the one that I like to use, and then I can take notes on top of it. Or even if I'm giving an assessment and I have the assessment recording tool, I scan it or photograph it, put it in good notes, and then I just write over the top of it, which is great, because I hardly ever print anymore, because I don't need to. Yes, I scan more than I print now.

Darius: Yes.

Erica: And it's great for organizing my students because each student is in a little folder, and then all of those folders are in a year, and I can find things very quickly and easily. But you could see how that's amazing for higher level executive functioning, where you're planning, organizing, all that kind of stuff, it makes it really easy, and then you can find things really easily, and then you're not overwhelmed by folders everywhere. And part of it is coming up with a system, which I highly recommend, and that's something I work with my students with. At the beginning of a semester. Let's make sure everything has a place, and you have all the folders, but you can even have fun. All of these digital notetaking options, like OneNote, good notes, and notability, have really cool folders. So it's not just like the traditional folder that you see on your desktop. You can actually pick, like, a really beautiful design. And that's another thing that you can purchase. People make really beautiful notebook designs that you can purchase, but most of them have a really nice, uh, array of options where you can have really simple ones. It's just a color, or you can have ones with designs, or you can design your own on Canva and bring it in. That makes it a lot of fun, too. But the bottom line is it really helps with that higher level executive functions, which is hitting more of the reasoning and the planning and the organizing and even some of the time management. The only two that we haven't hit, really, is the working memory and inhibitory control.

Darius: Well, working memory, an interesting thing that I use with a lot of my clients, children, and adults, is the split screen function and working memory. So you can take, uh, good notes note. So you said often you rewrite your notes. So let's take the scenario where you've written something and you quite like it. You don't want to move things around; you just want to rewrite it. So what you do is you open up one instance of your notebook and you put it on the left-hand side of the screen, and you open up a blank page and you've got the notebook, and you write it. The blank page is, uh, at the next page underneath the first instance. But you just slide it up and they're side by side. Now where else could you always get that opportunity? Like maybe you took a note five days ago and it's on that page five days ago, and then you want to rewrite that note. You have to kind of hopefully get it on the right side of the page and you've got all the papers in between. And you can look at that side, or otherwise you're flicking backwards and forwards. And that flicking backwards, and forwards uses up a lot of working memory because you've got to flick over. Think about that. Uh oh yeah, I'll write that down. Flick over. Whereas if it's split screen and they're side by side, the speed of the working memory, it releases the cognitive load massive.

Erica: That's right. It doesn't require any working memory because you've got both on both screens. And I love that. I'm so glad you mentioned the split screen because it's so great for so many things when you're trying to transfer information from one thing, or even, maybe you even have your teachers slides open and your notebook open, and then you have the option of just dragging anything you want into your notes so it's really useful. Or even just having Google on one side and your notes on the other, because then you can use a, uh, thesaurus, you can look for images, you can look for what the URL links, and then you can just literally drag them right over, which is, yeah, the split screen is amazing. And of course, if you turn your tablet sideways, then it doesn't feel too small.

Darius: No, that's right, yeah, absolutely. Um, and you can also change the split screen so it's not down the middle, it could be one third, two thirds. So your reference materials on the narrower pane and then your working screen. I mean, the general principle for anyone working with their working memory and being self-aware of their working memory is it's super important in your desktop or on your tablet to split screen. When you're in this kind of two app mode where you're basically transforming information into something else, and you've got a reference on one side.

Erica: Right. And just for those people that need to know, a split screen really means is that you have two things open at the same time. But um, yes, split screens are absolutely fantastic.

Darius: And to be very precise, actually people might be imagining, oh, I know that on Windows or my Mac, we're not talking about windows overlaying on each other. The beauty of a split screen is one has complete ownership of one side, one has complete ownership of the other, and they're not overlaying. You're not clicking from one to the other and flicking backwards and forwards, which again is another huge working memory time waster of clicking backwards, clicking forwards, clicking backwards. And so this split screen function, you've got it in the MacBook. When you hover over the green button and you just hover over it, it will say, do you want to tile it to the left? And it'll tile it to the left and then you choose what you want to tile to the right. They call it tiling. And on the iPad, it's split screening. So it's something that you have to activate. It doesn't just happen; you have to choose to make that happen. And so just being aware of the value of taking a moment to choose to split screen just brings a lot of inhibitory control as well because yes, you're m immediately saying, I am just going to focus on this thing that I'm doing that involves two items and uh, I've not got other things around the side of it, like on my computer, I'm m just going to see two things. There are no other cognitive distractions, there's no other folders in my desktop, nothing pinging or beeping or whatever. So inhibitory control, it's really useful for that to go into split screen mode, both for working memory and inhibitory control.

Erica: Well, and it's kind of funny because really what you're doing is you are splitting your attention in a way which is not really inhibitory control. You're actually consciously bringing up two things, but the idea is that they're both there and you're not having to find one or hold in your working memory the information from the other screen. But you can quickly move your attention from one to the other because they're there and you can communicate across them.

Darius: Well the difference actually is there's two states with a split screen. Okay? You could be doing one task with a split screen, or you could be actually splitting your attention with a split screen. So here's scenario one. Scenario one is I've got one task I am taking this information from over here, and I'm processing it over there. And basically this one task of digesting the same information but dealing with, uh, it on two different parts of you're still on the same page, as it were. Your screen becomes your working page. So you are thinking on one thing. It has two zones, but it's one thing. But then sometimes you're not approaching it with that kind of attention. You might have a document you're working on, and you've split screened it, and you're watching a video, or you've got Google there, or you've got something. Oh, gosh, yes, I better search that or whatever. And it's not necessarily related to what you're doing. So a lot of it comes down to inhibitory control. With split screen is, am I now going to go into this mode to do one thing? And I need to isolate these two items to do the one thing.

Erica: I love the split screen mode. What it does is it manages your working memory so that you have less cognitive load. As you had said before, if you.

Darius: Think about your different devices, okay. I think of the phone as a very strong working memory tool in that you capture information that's coming into your mind that might dominate your working memory and put it into a note like apple notes as quickly as possible. So I tell my clients, look, your goal with apple notes is to empty your working memory continually through the day so that your brain is open to the next thing. Otherwise, it will hold on to important information and just keep it in that temporary phonological visual spatial loop, saying, this is important, but I've not found a place for it. But the process of working memory is just keep emptying into apple notes. Now, the iPad, uh, has a quick note function as well, where you have a quick thought and you go, right, I'll just write that down quickly. And so it's designed to empty and take quick notes and write them down quickly. I don't use it very much myself, but a lot of people do who are real handwriters. So that's another way of using the tablet for emptying your working memory is just taking quick notes.

Erica: So there are these three tools within working memory. There is your inner voice, there's visualization, and then there's spatialization. And I think taking those immediate notes, those quick notes, is helping with that inner voice. But you also have the option of taking a photograph and dropping it into your notes, which is great. What if you get to class and you missed the class beforehand, and you could just take a picture of the student's notes right next to you, or even taking a picture of someone's planner. I mean, sometimes they're little details, sometimes they're big pictures, but that takes kind of that visualization, and then the spatialization is being able to organize and reorganize. So it's an interesting way to think about how the tablet really accommodates those three tools within working memory.

Darius: Absolutely. And the key thing is that when you capture all that information, it's all going into one place. We have scattered enough lives, but someone who's writing their handwritten notes in a lecture might then take their phone and take a photograph of the slide. But then there's no connection between the slide and, uh, the handwritten notes. There's no reference to it. Whereas if you lift up your iPad, take a photograph of the notes, and then carry on writing, it's there, embedded in the right place in your notes, and it doesn't just stop there. You might decide, oh, I'm going to take an audio recording of this lecture, and I'm going to take some handwritten notes. What if you could take an audio recording of the lecture, handwritten notes, all in the one notebook, and at the end of the lecture, you can move the audio recording, and it will show you in the handwritten notes where your handwritten note was, or vice versa. You could click on a point in your handwritten notes, and it'll tell you where the audio recording is. And you hit play, and you catch up on one little bit that you missed. It's so powerful, having everything in one note. So this concept of multimedia. Oh, that's a good photo. I'll take a photo. Oh, that's a good URL reference. I'll drag and drop it straight into my notes. Oh, that's a great audio snippet. I wish I had captured that. Well, you hit record, and it'll record the audio. Could you say that again? Record audio. Take some notes. You've got it. Or you could just record it right from the beginning. So this whole multimedia, multisensory kind of experience that we crave for, often, we can embed that within our notes.

Erica: Yeah. And you can go back, and you can add more images. Say you didn't like the teacher's diagram of carbon cycle, then find one that you love and integrate it into your notes. You can fill in those gaps, and you can make the space in your notes anytime to create additional notes to fill in those gaps. So, yeah, it's really cool. I often encourage my students that do digital notetaking. To prepare for the coming class, most teachers now upload their slides so the students can access the slides and review them beforehand and maybe even start your notes, get them all organized. That way you can truly listen, because nobody can truly listen to a lecture if they're multitasking, taking notes, and trying to listen. What's really nice is when you can really listen and then just elaborate your thoughts where you're making those valuable connections.

Darius: Yeah. And I think wrapping this all up. Okay. I hope that there are some of you who think to themselves, gosh, that might be a valuable tool for me for the cost of $325. When you do the maths, the amount of pens that I used to go through, ink pens and paper and journals and so on, very, uh, cost efficient. And there's one type of person this really attracts. It tends to be the crafty, creative, artistic type of mindset that really thinks to themselves, actually, maybe I should use an iPad, the really hands on type person. And one of the things that I've noticed is not just handwritten lecture notes, but in the workplace. For example, my daughter had a project to do, 20 years old plus, and she wants to paint her boat. So we thought, right, let's take a photo of the boat and draw over the top of the photo of the boat, because we can do that on the iPad. I want to create a stained-glass window for the entrance to my house. I take a photo of a stained-glass window. I want to take inspiration form. I copy it. I take a photo of my door, I overlay them, I hand draw it, I paint it in, and so on I go, that's exactly the way I want. So this space where you can prototype your thoughts. So that's why I'm kind of thinking.

Erica: Yeah, your thoughts and your plans. I mean, I can think of when I wanted to see what my house would look like with different paint colors. I took a picture of my house and then sectioned off little things and changed the colors. And I was like, oh, that's what it looks like when it's blue, and that's what it looks like when it's green. It's amazing the different things you can do when you get super creative with it.

Darius: Yeah. And so procreate is a really good app for doing that on the iPad. You can do oil painting. You can do watercolors. You can do multiple layers. Procreate is just an incredible app for an artistic person. If you're an artist, you have to have procreate on your iPad. So I would say, if you're thinking about adding a tool into your executive function toolkit, I'd highly recommend buying an iPad, a regular iPad, for $325, and get yourself and, uh, apple pencil with it and a case. And then buying Good notes or notability. One or the other. They're pretty interchangeable. But you can have a trial version.

Erica: Of both or OneNote. That one's good, too.

Darius: OpenNotes is okay. I'm not a big fan of OneNote. If you are Mac based, you need to go for good notes or notability. If you use a pc, you use OneNote, because OneNote has been designed for pc, but is also on the iPad. So if you want to live in the world of a pc, you have to go for OneNote. Or maybe good notes. But if you're a, uh, Mac, an Apple person, Good notes and Notability win hands down on OneNote.

Erica: And I thought this was the case. And it is the case. It's just recently, good notes is now also available on Windows.

Darius: Yes. So I highly recommend giving it a try and putting it into your toolkit as a professional. And like Erica's saying, in your toolkit as a student, it's, in my opinion, an absolute essential for students and very useful for professionals who like to think by writing.

Erica: And of course, it's amazing when you want to collaborate.

Darius: Yeah.

Erica: Because you can collaborate with others. You can invite them to notebooks and stuff like that, which makes it really easy if you're working with another classmate or a coworker or a family member. So, yeah, the more I step into using these tools, the more I love them.

Darius: And, uh, I have to do a shout out for fellow mind mappers out there. If you're a mind mapper and you really love doing mind maps by hand, then the iPad is the place to go, because there's so much flexibility. You can still have proper, authentic Tony Buzan style mind maps, where you've really got the richness of the multi-sensory map, but you've got the ability to erase and move and all that jazz as.

Erica: Yeah, yeah.

Darius: So great talk, Erica. Thanks for going deep on the iPad and, um, executive functions. It was you.

Erica: It was. And, you know, digital notetaking is definitely the wave of the future and really accommodates a lot of executive functioning. So if you are an executive functioning coach and you are working with people, I think we both highly recommend teaching your clientele to use this incredible tool. Thank you for joining our conversation here at the Personal Brain trainer podcast. This is Dr. Erica Warren and Darius Namdaran

Darius: Check out the show notes for links to resources mentioned in the podcast, and, um, please leave us a review and share us on social media until next time. Bye.