Friday, September 23, 2011

The Evolution of My Evernote and Moleskine System

A couple years ago, I wrote about how the Moleskine was killing my Evernote use. I'm happy to say that Evernote has survived the ordeal and even has me still paying the monthly subscription. Now they co-exist peacefully. However, it's not until recently that a harmonious balance came into existence.

There are two things that drive my use of these two note-taking options; ease of use and quick access. I love Evernote's endless supply of storage and the ease with which I can find material. However, entering information is not always quick unless I am at the computer.

The majority of my Evernote entries come from my mobile phone. Typically, they are in the form of a photo. While the Android app allows me to upload images, text, voice notes, or other files, manual entry of long notes is cumbersome. Voice notes are pretty good; but to make them searchable, I need to transcribe them at some point.

The Moleskine wins out with long note-taking and drafts of some of my work when I am away from the computer. To do the same thing would be extremely slow on my mobile phone.

Here are the rules I follow in how I take notes when I am away from the computer.

  • If possible, take a picture of information for storage in Evernote. Upload it.

  • If the text cannot be photographed, then write the information down in the Moleskine. Take a picture afterwards. Tag and title it for later retrieval.

  • If driving, I don't use the Evernote voice notes. It's easier to call a private Google Voice number, which transcribes most of my message correctly. I can copy and paste or forward to Evernote for later retrieval.

  • PDFs and other files are increasingly being stored on Evernote as the cloud storage I was hoping Amazon S3 could be. This way I can access, download, or email to anybody.

As for writing down tasks, I made a video of how I've used my Moleskine to track my To Do list. The list has moved to my Evernote account. I find that I can easily copy and paste items that were not completed from one day's agenda to the next. This is much easier to do than hand writing the lists. It is also a much better way of tracking what I have done in the past. Each day's agenda is moved to the Journal folder as a record of the day.

With respect to journaling, I do append notes to my day's agenda as needed. I am unable to tick the check boxes using my phone; but I can definitely add text to the note.

I create a new agenda for each day one week in advance. Some days have tickler items on them so that when that day rolls around, I have the item listed already. I also have tickler pages on Evernote for every month. I start to depopulate the monthly page as each week rolls around by copying and pasting the to-do items into the daily agendas for the week.

There is an Evernote page with Someday/Maybe and Waiting items where I keep track of things I want to do someday and things others are doing for me.

All this may seem confusing if you're not accustomed to the GTD methodology and unfamiliar with Evernote. I assure you that the process is more streamlined than using my Moleskine.

I've tried all kinds of To-Do list managers; but the main drawback to all of them is that they either do not synchronize to the web automatically, or they synchronize too much, making them too slow for simply marking an item done. I like Google's To Do list; it's fast and accessible anywhere. The downside is that it does not keep a history.

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