My Day-To-Day: Taking Notes

When it comes to taking notes, I’m a bit obsessive about it. In fact, I used to carry a notebook with me everywhere – literally – in case any kind of idea, thought, or something I forgot to do (or needed to do) struck me wherever I was.

For me, it wasn’t enough to jot down a note in whatever piece of paper I had available – I needed I make sure I had a “catch all” notebook of sorts. This is a habit that I developed in college (in fact, I actually still have some of those notebooks in a drawer!) and has persisted ever since.

Despite the fact that I don’t think I’ll ever really stop using notebooks, I have been trying to go as digital as possible. Case in point: Not long ago, I shared how I take notes using Bamboo Paper.

But for quick little notes, personal reminders, and ideas, that’s a bit overkill right?

Taking Notes with Notes

Since I’ve been using Reminders as my app of choice for getting things done, then it doesn’t make sense in my workflow to actually use it for notes. Besides, that application is meant for checking things off of a list – notes can be a catch-all of sorts for anything you need to remember.

So as I’ve continued to try to go as digital as possible while also having information in sync across all of my devices, I’ve started using Apple’s Notes application more and more.

Using Apple Notes as a catch all

Using Apple Notes as a catch all – even for the idea of this blog post!

Nothing terribly novel about the idea, is there?

After all, I’m using Notes to capture, ahem notes. But the thing is that this works really well when I’m on the go and I’ve got my laptop with me in a presentation, I’ve got my phone with me when I’m out with family and/or friends, or I have my iPad with me when I’m taking notes on a talk or something like that.

As you can see in the screenshot above, I’ve got notes dating back to June (and honestly, long before).

Sometimes this require that I hop in and remove things or it reminds me to make updates to older notes in order to make sure I’ve not forgotten something; other times, I simply delete it. I don’t necessarily consider anything that’s in Notes to be sacred – it will either move to an action item in Reminders, move to a more fleshed out note in Bamboo Paper (or, yes, sometimes a physical notebook), or it will be deleted.

What About Categories?

That said, I still have to categorize things. As you can see in the shot above, sometimes I have ideas for Plugins or projects, sometimes I have ideas for projects, other times I have ideas that are related to work, but I’ve not really fleshed them out.

Once an idea comes to some level of fruition, I’ll normally tag it using the following format:

[Category] Name of the Note

And since we are culturally becoming more and more used to searching for things, and since Notes organizing things in descending order, this makes it really easy for me to find various ideas for work, personal stuff, or projects that I jotted down, but couldn’t remember, say, the exact title – just under what category it fell.

This Won’t Work For You

As with nearly every single other post in this series, I’m not claiming that this is the way for you to manage your notes. This is just how I’ve had success with managing things on the go, and how I am willing to continue to share how I manage my day-to-day.

In fact, I still have a moleskine that I bring with me because, you know, moleskines don’t ever need recharging and there is something about doodling and jotting down ideas on paper before moving them anywhere else.

Regardless, I’ve had a lot of success using notes and a system for categorizing things for the majority of the past year and see this as a staple of my day to day workflow.

7 Comments

Uber quick + on the road notes = Google Keep

Tasks + notes about tasks (day to day) = Wunderlist

Long term, categorized and archived (stuff I want to look up days/weeks/months from now) = Evernote

    Are you on Android, by any chance?

    If not, my curiosity is piqued on Google Keep and why you like it. I’ve tried Wunderlist (twice even). And Evernote’s just too complicated for my workflow despite my trying it three times.

I was also a Apple’s Notes user but without a proper app for Android I moved to Evernote (which is overwhelming..), but now I use Simplenote! I just love simple things.

    I’ve tried three times to get Evernote to fit into my workflow and I can’t do it. It does too much for me, so that why I opt for theses small, focused, simple apps – just like you said :).

As an Android/PC user I mostly use Keep, but I have enough resentment towards Google over the whole Reader fiasco that I’m trying to switch to Simplenote.

Ideally I’d love to find a self-hosted, opensource solution.

I finally settled on Workflowy after trying too many to-do apps. It works great for me except for when I’m working through a more complex list or if I want to re-use it and simply mark my place. Then I end up in hell Excel.

    Thanks for the link – gonna have to check it out, for sure.

    And I totally understand wanting to avoid Excel. Spreadsheets. Bleh. Although I will say I think Apple’s Numbers is a better solution, but I’m not trying to start any religious wars on operating systems of software ;)

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