Notes – I’m always making them and I guess you are too. From a hastily scribbled name or phone number to the details of a book or article you found interesting, or even that brilliant idea you’ve just had that will make your fortune, there are many notes and ideas we need to jot down every day.
And there are good reasons for committing them to paper: the act of writing something down is the most powerful mechanism we have for enticing that nugget of information to lodge at least temporarily in the mind; and, when you inevitably do forget that vital snippet, having it written down means it’s never completely lost. As long as you can find it again easily, that is.
For years my method of note taking was best described as haphazard. I had notebooks of various shapes and sizes, all on the go at the same time, and all for different purposes – from tiny memo books right up to the full-blown spiral-bound jotter pads I used at work. I tried to always have pen and paper to hand and thought that so long as I had something written down, the job was done – I’d always be able to get at the information when I needed it.
The result? All sorts of notes, in all sorts of places. The problem was that I could never easily find information when I wanted it the most.
If any of this sounds familiar, but you don’t feel you’ve found the answer yet, let me introduce you to the solution: note taking software, the 21st century solution to your information needs.
Perhaps the best example of note taking software is Evernote, which lets you capture notes, web pages, links, and even images, regardless of the system and hardware you are using. You can create different notebooks to classify your notes into, and you can tag notes for later retrieval. The search tool lets you find notes based on text or tag searches. And best of all, it is synchronised with your free online evernote account. If you have more than one device, your notes sync effortlessly.
Linux users needn’t miss out entirely either. Nixnote is an open-source clone of Evernote, written in Java. This synchronises to your online Evernote account. Alternatively, there are many open-source linux note takers – my favourite for it’s simplicity is Tomboy.
So, if you don’t already use note taking software, then you are missing out on a major opportunity to improve the way you collect your ideas and information, organise them, and find them again when you really need to. You still have to manage all of this, but because it’s all in one place, the job is so much easier.
Claiming that a piece of software will change your life is a pretty bold statement to make. But, in the case of note taking software it just happens to be true.