I heard somewhere that a teacher has to perform several thousand tasks every school day. I don’t know how true that is, but I sure do feel overwhelmed from time to time. I find keeping track of all details of my day, keeping track of what to do and organizing my thoughts difficult sometimes. My wife would say that I am predisposed by my gender to be disorganized and unable to hold more than a few thoughts in my head at a time. Again, I don’t know how true this is. I do know that many times I have found myself in the staff room with no idea as to why I was there.
Always looking for a novel solution to the problem of holding a million things in my head, I thought I would take a few note-taking solutions for a spin. I found two that seem to work for me. Both are simple enough that I actually use them. Both use tags and a great search feature to organize everything so that I can actually find what I bothered to write down.
The first is Simplenote and works as its name implies: simply. After an account is set up, one types up their note and pops a tag on it to index it later. That’s it. For me, it works because it does not confine me with too many features or attempt to get me to conform to an interface. No links, fancy colors or features; just text, organized. Best of all, Simplenote works with the cloud so my iPad at work, my iPod at home, and any computer I use all have the same notes. That means I can get ideas down quickly before they evaporate and find them again wherever I am.
Another great option I am playing with is the popular note-taking service Evernote. Evernote is similar to Simplenote in that it allows you to make notes on any device and organizes them by tags. But it does not stop there; it allows you to create separate notebooks for, say, school and work. It allows you to tag them with the location so you can know where you took that note. It can attach pictures or audio clips, for those of us who prefer to keep track of ideas through voice recordings. It also goes farther than Simplenote with how you can format your notes and share them with co-workers and family. I’m sure there are even more features that I have not even touched yet.
So which do I use? Simplenote, which has all the complexity of a sticky-note; or Evernote, which is far more versatile? They both have their uses, but in the long run, I think I might lean towards Evernote, just because my ideas often include pictures and links and are often shared with others.
But part of me wishes that I could turn off all those features 90% of the time and just have a blank screen to fill with my thoughts, and for that, I make sure to keep a notepad handy.
If you want something with more features, my favorite website, lifehacker, has a great roundup of note-taking apps, including good old pencil and paper.