Categories
Technology

Tools of the moment

It’s been a minute since the last time I took stock of my notetaking/productivity apps, so here’s where I stand currently:

  • I still use paper. The reporter’s notebook I got last Christmas is good for my occasional work-based bullet journaling.
  • Feedly has been my RSS reader of choice for years now. To further declutter my email inbox, I also use Feedly to follow many email newsletters (shout-out to Substack and Buttondown for their RSS-friendly design; boooooo Mailchimp).
  • I went deeper into WorkFlowy, which has remained delightfully clean and minimalist even while adding a bunch of new features. I transferred my Book Notes & Quotes there, along with old conference session notes and other reference things that fit as bulleted lists.
  • Once I realized my files were awkwardly split between Google Drive and Dropbox, I decided to commit more fully to the former and put the latter on ice. Once essential, Dropbox now seems superfluous.
  • I stopped using Simplenote because other tools filled its role, and Apple Reminders because its syncing sucks.
  • I started paying for 50GB of iCloud last year before I upgraded to a new iPhone, mostly for photo backup.
  • I use the Office 365 suite for work. It’s fine.
  • My calendar situation remains annoyingly bifurcated between Google for personal and Outlook for work. The only place all my events appear together seamlessly is in the iOS Calendar app, which isn’t ideal.

See my other “of the moment” series.

Categories
Design Technology Writing

My favorite notetaking apps

C.J. Chilvers wrote about the pros and cons of popular notetaking tools. Out of the four he features—Apple Notes, Evernote, Ulysses, and Bear—I have used two previously, and none currently. So, having already examined my favored podcasts and newsletters, here’s a look at the tools I do use and why I use them.

Paper

The once and future king of all notetaking apps. I keep a plain, pocket-sized Moleskine in my backpack for odds and ends, a larger journal as a daily diary and scrapbook (previously a Moleskine classic hardcover and currently a Zequenz 360), and a good ol’ composition notebook for my filmlog.

WorkFlowy

Dynamic, lightweight list-making with blessed few bells and whistles. Perfect for hierarchical thinking, tasks, and anything else you can put into a list. It’s built for marking tasks complete, but I use it mostly as an archive for reference, split between Work and Personal. Plus a To Do list at top for quick capture of tasks.

Simplenote

Good for taking quick notes in plain text. I often use it for first drafts of blog posts, taking book notes, and whatever else I need a basic text editor for. Helpful when trying to remove formatting from text you want to paste cleanly elsewhere—”text laundering” as I call it. Clean, simple, works well on the web and mobile.

Google Drive

For when Simplenote isn’t enough. Good for collaboration and as a document repository. Among other things my Logbook spreadsheet is there, as are lots of work-related docs, random files shared with my wife, my archive of book reviews, and my Book Notes doc filled with (at present) 121 single-spaced pages of notes and quotes from 108 books.

Apple Reminders

Used mostly for sharing shopping lists with my wife, because it’s easy to regenerate lists from completed items. Unfortunately it doesn’t sync well between devices without WiFi, which is a bummer when we’re out shopping.

Google Calendar

Google, don’t you ever get rid of Calendar. I mean it. Some former Google products had it coming, but you’re gonna ride or die with Gmail and Calendar, ya hear?

Dropbox

Essential for quick and easy file backup. Through referrals and other incentives over the years I’ve accumulated 5.63 GB in free storage on top of the 2 GB default. I’m using over 95% of it.