Saturday, 6 August 2011

Things 8 and 9: Organisation inspiration

I would describe myself as quite an organised person. I never turn up late for, and certainly never miss, appointments, and I never forget to do whatever it is I should be doing (at least, not the really important stuff anyway). I manage this by having a reasonable memory, supplemented by an elaborate system of notes and to-do lists, scrawled in various notebooks, on loose bits of paper and on wads of post-it notes stuck around my monitor and on my desk at work.

While this works perfectly well, it is not the most efficient system and I am definitely open to alternative methods which are more streamlined and generate less paper waste. Let's have a look at the contestants shall we?

Google Calendar

I have briefly tried Google Calendar for this Thing and, to be honest, I'm not sufficiently impressed to use it permanently. For one thing, I don't really like the look and feel of it compared to the calendar in Outlook (which may just be a question of unfamiliarity). For another, my Outlook calendar is shared with a number of colleagues and I don't want to keep two separate calendars (while I'm sure there is a way to sync a Google calendar with Outlook, I just can't be bothered to find out what it is). I can see how the ability to embed your Google Calendar into a web page is useful if you're an institution or group and want to display your calendar to lots of people but... I don't need to do this.

I also have concerns (this may be unnecessary paranoia on my part - although perhaps that's what they want me to think) about the amount of knowledge Google increasingly has about me and my comings and goings. I use Google Reader as my RSS feed aggregator, so Google knows all about my blog-reading habits; I use Google Blogger as the platform for this blog, so Google knows what I'm writing; I have a Gmail account, which, if I ever actually used it, would mean that Google knew all about my contacts and correspondence. And now I'm going to keep what is essentially an online diary, so Google knows what I'm doing and when and with whom? It's like: back the hell OFF Google, give a girl some space why dontcha?

So I'm afraid, sorry Google Calendar, but it's a no from me.


On the other hand... Evernote, you're through to the next round!

I hadn't heard of Evernote before this Thing, but after just a couple of weeks I've fallen for it, and fallen hard. Oh Evernote, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1. You are brilliant simply as a means of creating and editing text documents. I much prefer using Evernote over Word as it saves regularly, syncs my documents so that everything is up to date on both my work and home computers, and is easily searchable. I also find Evernote's notebooks much more easy to organise and control than Windows folders. I've now started a notebook where I keep drafts of all my cpd23 posts and am increasingly using Evernote to create and store work documents as well.

My notebooks and tags in Evernote

2. You've helped me to create dynamic, workable to-do lists. Previously I wrote a daily to-do list by hand in a notebook and crossed items off as I went. Each day's list started on a new page. This worked ok, but was a bit cumbersome, particularly if I didn't finish (or indeed start) a task on the assigned day and then had to squeeze items on to later lists. Referring back to previous days' lists was also what is technically termed "a faff". In Evernote I keep a note called "To do list" that contains a week's worth of daily lists. I can therefore see much more clearly what I've got to do in any given week, and can add, cross-out or delete, and re-arrange items easily. And, again, as I use Evernote on both my home and work computers I have access to the most recent version of the list pretty much whenever I need it. (I don't have a smart phone, but if I did Evernote would be on there too.)

3. Your web clipping tool is fun to use and is an elegant way to save, refer to and search snippets of web sites.

4. Tagging! I love me some tagging - that's why I have over 200 tags in my library and wept hot bitter tears the day they withdrew their tag radio stations. I have been diligently tagging all of my Evernote notes because a) tagging is F.U.N. y'all and b) it makes my notes easily findable and sortable (infinitely more so than the mountains of paper notes I previously used).

And there are many Evernote features that I haven't begun to explore yet - you can use it to save photos and scanned images, or audio notes, and you can set it up so that your email is forwarded into Evernote, and you can integrate it with your Twitter account and use it to capture tweets. There are some handy "how to use Evernote" posts here and here, but just Google "I use Evernote to..." for lots more.

Finally, you can even buy Evernote T-shirts! Is it totally sad that I really, really want one? (Actually, I think I know the answer to this already.)

Me in my lovely Evernote T-shirt (NB: may not actually be me)


  1. Great post and definitely makes me want to use Evernote more! (I share your Google paranoia - if I died tomorrow Google could probably recreate an exact working replica from all the information it has about me...)

  2. Thanks Archel. Yay, I'm pleased my shiny-eyed evangelising for Evernote is working!