Managing Task Management

My workflow has been in flux. Until recently, I relied on Apple’s Notes and Reminders apps to track my thoughts and tasks; now I’m migrating (cautiously) to Microsoft’s OneNote and To Do apps (I briefly tried Todoist as well). When you add, “Try a new to-do app” to your to-do list, which to-do app should you put it on, your current one or the new one(s) you’re trying? It’s a most meta question, I guess, for getting things done #GTD.

In researching the whole idea of task management, I’ve found there are various methods; it partly depends on your own mind’s natural way of thinking. While I think there’s no single “correct” way to manage tasks, there is a best way that works for each individual, and there are generally a few over-arching approaches.

One well-known method is to use the Eisenhower Matrix (see here, here, or here) to determine priority status of certain tasks and thus how to handle them. Each task falls somewhere on a scale of importance and/or urgency. In other words, some tasks are more about want-to-do than need-to-do, and they’re also either dated or not, like a project that has a specific deadline versus a task that can be procrastinated forever.

Finding the right to-do app is, of course, a task unto itself; I think it’s important but not urgent. You likely already have a task manager app; everyone’s needs and styles differ. Basically, all task apps are similar, as they feature checklists of tasks that can be organized in a number of ways, and they each have a particular way of handling dates and reminders. After finding your ideal to-do app, you then must consider how you’ll use it.

You could put all your tasks in a to-do app, including sub-tasks as well. This means your task app will have a huge number of things-to-do. That high number may be daunting to you. To counter such overwhelm, you could instead only add high-level tasks, noting only the big picture; any sub-tasks or details can be then placed into a note-taking app for further management. This is somewhat disparate though and thus has its own drawbacks. It’s up to each person to decide how they like to do to-dos.

How do you like to do to-dos?

I was trying a new-to-me thing in which I kept only my urgent to-dos (tasks that have dates or reminders attached to them) in my to-do app, and all my non-urgent to-dos in my notes app in organized checklists. I see a large number of tasks in my notes and a very small number of tasks in my to-do app. But this approach for me started to break down because once a task becomes urgent or otherwise planned (eventually), it must move to a new app (manually). The cross-app work is too much for my three-pound brain; task duplication becomes a problem. In short, I may move all my tasks into my to-do app and get them organized there.

That said, I also like to keep project checklists with my project notes…hmmm. The only good solution I know of that effectively combines both Notes and Tasks is Evernote, but it costs money. It might be worth it… If you have any advice here, please leave a comment below.

We all manage tasks in some way, and while some folks take an intuitive hands-off approach, others seek the perfect task management system and mastery thereof. Most people are somewhere along that spectrum. I hope my example is somewhat informative and that maybe you can improve your own way of doing all the to-dos.

Now I can check off, “Blog this post.”

Share how you’re getting things done.

Evernote Is Ever Better

We live in a world of mobile apps. Many companies make different types; pick your favorite! As a nerd, I like trying out apps. And I’ve flip-flopped again. In search of the ‘perfect’ Notes app, I went from Evernote to Keep and…I’m back on Evernote!

Evernote_Lockup_Primary_RGB

Noteworthy Return

First of all, I had rediscovered Evernote last October with enthusiasm. Read about that here. Then I kept being drawn to Google Keep. Check it out.

But now I’ve been spurred to switch back to Evernote full-time. The catalyst was the company announcing its totally new app for iOS.

Naturally, this nerd took note.

Looking at Evernote again, I liked what I saw! There were some new-to-me things:

  1. The web interface looks and works better than ever. That’s not hyperbole.
  2. The Android app widgets are great.

Web App

Since refinding Evernote last year, I knew the company was updating the browser interface. Yet it had a few issues – growing pains – so I felt I couldn’t rely on it. That was a bummer. But now it looks like all those issues are fixed; the web-app experience on my Chromebook has been stable and consistent.

The refreshing layout is attractive: clean, elegant, and simple enough. And its features are great too. For example, it has basic text editing options that Google Keep lacks. Also, it has…folders! Of course, they’re called, “Notebooks.”

One of the biggest yet most basic reasons I’m back on Evernote is to utilize its folder system to store my notes. You know, because – a place for everything and everything in its place. The approach is simple: notes in notebooks (and notebooks in stacks if you like).

Also, there’s a tagging system, so besides organizing notes into broad notebooks, I can label notes with more detail. This lets me sort stuff into categories and sub-categories. And it comes in handy for filtering or searching, so I can find the notes I need.

Tags and Notebooks help me order my mixed thoughts; they’re a sweet combo!

In contrast, Google Keep has only a labeling system to sort notes – no folders at all. It’s less ordered and looks like a big spread-out pile of colored post-it notes. I get it, but it’s just not how my brain works. I like simple, but not oversimplified.

Widgets

On my Android smartphone, the Google Keep widget is practical but ugly. While appearance is subjective, I think there’s some objective fact to this. The translucency, tight text, and limited empty space all make it look like a phone book clipping (remember the Yellow Pages?)

On the other hand, the Evernote widget is pleasing to view. Not only does it look very nice, it’s highly customizable! You can tailor your Evernote widget in a number of ways.

For example, besides choosing what notebooks you want to see or save notes to, you can change the widget color, which action buttons appear, arrange their order, and show/hide images or tags.

Web Clipper

The Web App and Widgets are fantastic. And I’ll add one more thing – Web Clipper. It’s just awesome! Web surfin’ and note nerdin’ are super nice with this powerful and elegant capability. It’s easy to learn and use, giving you several options to capture content from a website and make a note of it.

Grab a whole site, grab only a windowed portion of it, or just grab the link to it. And you can add tags and remarks right in the clipper window. The clipper makes it easier to note things without jumping between two apps.

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#Everbetter

Evernote is a company dedicated to one thing – notes! It’s their singular focus, so they aim to excel and achieve success at it. All their eggs are in the notes basket; they don’t want to drop it.

Google, Apple, and Microsoft offer fine Notes apps, but note-taking is not their bread and butter. These big companies want to offer everything so they can be your one-stop provider, trapping you in their ecosystems – walled gardens. It works, but I think it’s easier to trust a company and service that’s purpose built to provide the thing you need.

Evernote’s popularity and utility have fluctuated over the years. But course correction began in January 2019. Ian Small, CEO, has led the company on a huge and sincere effort to fix things for the better. And for the future.

There’s even a dedicated behind-the-scenes video series on YouTube that shows what and how Evernote is improving; I enjoyed it!

Entrusting your personal thoughts to a notes app and service is as important as backing up your kids’ pictures to a photos app and service.

Evernote’s committed effort to earning my trust, and my notes, is noteworthy.


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Keep Is A Keeper

Good Options

What do an elephant and a light bulb have in common? They’re both logos for jotting down your thoughts to help you remember or process them later. There’s much good to say about writing notes by hand, but if you’re into digital note-taking, then there are several good options to talk about. The one I wanna focus on is Google Keep (the light bulb!), because as much as I like Evernote (the elephant!), I keep coming back to Keep (you know I had to do that).


Weighing The Two

Last year when I ditched my iPad and switched to Chromebook, I upended my workflow. I had used Apple Notes and Ulysses to write all my “stuffs.” Both were great, but they were pretty much Apple-only. And when you go Chrome, you’re going Google

The first obvious new choice for my notes was Google Keep. But its differences from most digital notes apps made the transition uncomfortable. Or maybe not noteworthy. So, for journaling, I ended up settling with Journey. And for the rest of my note-taking, I landed on Evernote. I was so enamored with Evernote, I blogged about it!

After the shiny newness of Evernote wore off, I began to encounter some challenges. First, as I wrote my draft of a Novella for NaNoWriMo, I had quite a bit of frustration with simply typing into the Evernote web app. The cursor would jump randomly and inexplicably to the top of the page or seem to disappear for a moment. My flow of writing would derail. After this happened across many days, my confidence in Evernote’s reliability was shaken.

The other thing about Evernote that trips me up are the multiple interfaces. The web interface has three possible setups: an old one, a new “Classic Editor” one, and a beta version of that. Then there’s the Android app sprawled out on my Chromebook. Finally, there’s the iPhone app version. Not only do they look quite different from one another, they do not have feature parity! One version will have “word count,” for example, but another won’t. So I had trouble sticking to one version.

Over several months of using Evernote, Google Keep was ever present on my Chromebook and iPhone. For certain types of notes, Keep works best. Mostly, it excels at short temporary notes like digital Post-It notes. Also checkbox lists! That makes Keep sticky. It’s simplicity gives it utility. So I kind of ended up using Keep and Evernote, plus Journey, to record my thoughts. Of course, I also use Google Docs for blog drafts. This spread of apps and services is a bit much.

I don’t know if it’s Keep’s simplicity or something else; somehow I kept getting drawn to it. Weird? Maybe. But true. Keep’s simple interface is totally consistent across my iPhone and Chromebook: web app, iOS app, Android app. And although Keep is simple, it has some super handy and powerful features. But maybe the biggest advantage it employs is its omnipresence – its integration into Google’s other apps.

When in Google Calendar, or Gmail, or Docs, you will also find Keep. Off to the right side, in a consistent and persistent slide out column, Google Keep’s notes appear. You can read or copy text from them and vice versa. One surprising ability lets you save an email from Gmail into a Keep note as an attachment. One more great feature lets you automatically turn your Keep notes into Google Docs. Like I said, super useful stuff!

So I found myself at a strange yet not surprising switch on the track. Stay on the Evernote train, or go all aboard the Keep locomotive. Using both is simply too much for me. I need simpler. And while Google is notorious for killing off some of its products or services, I believe Keep has proven to be an indispensable part of Google’s platform and is here for the long haul.


Pick One

The Evernote app is still on my iPhone and Chromebook. But I’ve slowly started to transition fully to keeping all my notes in Keep. But it’s hard to let Evernote go because it still has many strengths. Yet this is what I do. I try different techy things, I rely on some for a long time, then I switch things up, keep things fresh. For now, Keep is a keeper.


Do you switch things up, or have you stuck with one tech solution for many years? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Taking Note Of Evernote

Notable

Is it possible to geek out about notes? Would that be nerding out instead? Either way, as I like to trek through tech, I look for the best solutions. Many companies offer apps, services, or entire ecosystems. One that is the epitome-of-noteworthy is Evernote.


Best Notes Ever

This month, I re-discovered Evernote. The last time I really used it was 2014. Since then, I’ve relied on first-party apps: Apple Notes or Microsoft OneNote or Google Keep. I’ve switched between these over time, depending on the main computer I was using. (I’ve tried Simplenote and used Ulysses too.) They’re all great in their own ways, having pros and cons.

But Evernote sticks out. Unlike the big-three, it’s a third-party solution from a company dedicated to the task at hand: note taking. It’s mission is a singular focus on using notes to organize your life. This is Evernote’s expertise.

Also, I’ve been fond of the green elephant for a long time.

Being a blogger, writer, and thinker, I love jotting down or typing up what’s on my mind. It gets my thoughts out of my head in front of my eyes to see. It’s a satisfying process of organizing my brain.

Simply put: I note my notions.

All The Goods

The first thing that surprised me when I started trying out Evernote recently was the interface. It’s much cleaner and leaner than years prior, yet I found all the tools and features one might want. It’s polished now, and as I began using it, I noted (ahem) how easy it is.

Evernote uses a simple folder (called Notebooks) plus tagging system for organization. You can even have Stacks of Notebooks. To me, this makes a lot of sense. I’ve used apps that employ only a folder system and apps that utilize only tagging. While simplicity is a virtue, Evernote gives the option of both. It’s neither too little nor too much.

One of Evernote’s most impressive features is the Web Clipper. The thing is awesome! It’s easy to add it to your web browser. What I love about the clipper are all the options to share anything on the web to Evernote with precision and ease.

Let’s say you’re doing research online and find an article with a quote you want. You can grab the whole web page, just the quote alone, or simply bookmark it, to name but a few options. Then, without leaving the web page, you can file the content into any of your Evernote folders, tag the content, and add remarks to it. And this all takes place inside a simple elegant drop down window in your browser. It’s incredibly useful and well done!

All that is cool. But how reliable is Evernote? Can you trust it with the fruit of your mind? To that I can say in the span of about 10 days, I’ve added over 100 notes into various folders with tags, links, web clips, and have applied some text formatting. And I’ve done this on the iPhone app and both the Edge and Chrome browser on different computers. So far, everything has been syncing flawlessly.

Finally, one of my biggest reasons for relying on Evernote is because it’s cross-platform. Being a third-party service that works on the web and in smartphone apps, I can use it in Apple-land or in the Google-verse, for example. Evernote is cloud-first; I like living in the clouds.


Note To Future Self

I’ve jumped onto different note-taking platforms over the years. I gravitated towards the built-in notes app on whichever device I had because of its system-level integration. The default app is the easiest to choose and use.

Now I’m hoping and planning to stick with Evernote for the long haul since I can take notes on any device (iPhone, Chromebook), and because it has shown much improvement over time. Evernote will likely stay great or become greater.


What’s your fave note app? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!