Ok, so last time we talked about keeping all of our projects and to-dos in one place. This time, let’s chat about all of the notes we take on a daily basis. This has become a major part of my organizational system, and it REALLY helps me keep things where I need them.
Have you ever noticed that when you write information down it tends to leave your brain. Most of the time, when I write down something I need to remember (say…a song idea or a design idea or something I need to talk to my wife about) it then exits my brain and lands on the paper. This is why it is helpful to always have a pad of paper handy (or a smartphone) when you are doing something that requires you to concentrate. Your subconscious seems to always figure out a problem for you while you’re in the middle of something you don’t want to stop. Well, I’m going to stay on task here, and tell you about my note taking system (Hint: I use EVERNOTE as part of my system).
Getting It Together
One of the hardest things for…well, a lot of people, is putting all of their information in one place. My wife spent years writing lists on anything she could find. It was a great idea for her to get it down on paper, however, our house was littered with hundreds of torn envelopes with an “important” piece of information on it. One problem that she regularly ran into was, “Where did I put _____________.” The shopping lists usually made it into her purse, but the list of our children’s desires for their birthday? Off into the abyss somewhere with all the other important-at-the-time (and important when you need them again) lists. She needed a way to get all of her information in one place, accessible when she needed it, and organized in a way that worked with her brain. I finally convinced her to get an iPhone. Now, let’s not get off on a tangent and start arguing about Apple vs Android. The point is she needed a system that worked for her.
Creating YOUR System
There are a few basic things that you MUST have in order to have an effective information collection system.
You need to be able to access it quickly.
You need to be able to recover it quickly.
You need to be able to organize it.
It must work the way your brain works.
Firstly, you must be able to write something down when it comes to you. My wife used envelopes because they were available. Your system needs to have the same ease of use. Next, you have to be able to find the information when you need it. My wife could never find the envelopes…your system needs to be a bit more organized than that. Next, you have to have an organizational system AND BE CONSISTENT. This is the kicker with organizing notes. If you don’t create a system and maintain the system, you won’t be able to find anything. Lastly, it has to work the way you think. You can have the most amazing system in the world, but if it doesn’t work the way your brain works, you will get lost in the system and never use it. I’ve been there…it doesn’t help any more than having a giant pile of napkins with ideas on them.
How I Do It
What I’d like to do is tell you how I organize my notes. This isn’t the ONLY way, and it may not be the way that works for your. I’ve never been huge fan of paper and pencil. I always lose the notes…so I stopped taking notes on paper because I just forgot them. I started using an app called Evernote. In fact, I’m writing this post in Evernote…just like every other post. That way, I know exactly where it is.
For those of you who don’t know about Evernote, it is an app that allows you to keep all of your information in one place. You can store notes, audio, pictures, maps….pretty much whatever, and store it in one place. It is very useful. One of the best features is that it keeps all of your information in the cloud, so you can access it anywhere and anytime (providing you have an internet connection with the free version).
I use Evernote primarily for notes. I have all of my ideas about posts in there as well as the posts themselves. When inspiration strikes, I can type a note on my tablet. When I want to re-read or re-visit something I wrote, I can pull it up on any device. If I need to jot something down, I have a notebook for that.
Keeping It REAL
Now we get down to the nitty gritty of how I use Evernote. I have a notebook for may things. I have a notebook for notes (big revelation there), a notebook for songs, a notebook for blogs, a notebook for voice over, a notebook for website copy. Anytime I have a new category of notes, I create a notebook, and then every time I need to take a note that falls into that category, I add it to its appropriate notebook. Evernote has an amazing app that works on PC or Mac, iOS or Android, and is accessible from any internet-capable device! I have often needed some information when I didn’t have my phone or tablet handy, and I just logged on to evernote.com and logged into my account. Everything is right there.
So there you have it! Another way to keep yourself organized, speed up your workflow, and ditch the notebooks and envelopes.