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April 22, 2010 / theatregrad

Online Note Making/Management Tools – The perfect way to keep track of everything and anything? (Part 1)

I will admit to allowing electronic devices like my laptop and my phone rule my life; my phone is my alarm clock, stopwatch, music player and on the go internet provider whilst my laptop is my everything from an entertainment suite and means of communication with the wider world.   So given all that it seems to make sense that a digital notebook would be the perfect way to keep track of all those little scraps of information.  Are online notebook programmes the perfect alternative to keeping notes in many notepad documents on desktop or post it notes over desk.  Is this the cloud computing solution to organising my life.

I’ve always been terrible at keeping track of things.  I’m a very disorganised person.  At school I never made it to theend of the year without losing my homework diary.   My efforts at filing important documents are always in vain,  everything is piled into one box so it takes forever to find anything.  I spent my first year of university making notes in lectures and then losing them so when it came to revision time I had a notebook of mixed up scribbles and scraps of paper.   I started from the beginning with my revision making notes from textbooks but thankfully that process works for me. By 3rd year I had refined my system slightly with the purchase of a super notebook. With built-in dividers and handy document pockets to keep loose paper safe I was able to be a more organised student.  It did work so with the pukka project pad I have one area of life sorted  however there is still the problem of trying to keep track of all the bits of information collected each day; the names of bottles of wine at a bar, quotes, inspirational moments, phone numbers, page numbers…

Essentially notebooks do not work for me, no matter how good my initial intentions were.  Without fail they always become a mishmash of notes in no real order that never get reread because they seem useless.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could search a notebook like you can your inbox?  Then I discovered you can with an online notebook. I’m generally a lot better at keeping my electronic affairs in order, my photographs are organised into appropriate folders and my delicious bookmarks are tagged properly which makes everything nice and easy to find.  Unlike my most recent P45 which does not come in electronic format!

Why use an online notebook?

An online notebook can be:

  • personal web archive
  • research tool
  • travel planning
  • digital filing cabinet – virtual scraps of paper/post its filed away

They cam be a solution to the problem of piles of unstructured information – telephone numbers, recipies, quotes and other snippets of information can be brought together in one searchable repository.  For those whose lives revolve around all things digital it seems like a very attractive tool.   In an ever increasingly electronic world most people I know are more likely to have a phone to caputure information on the go than a pen & paper.  We might take a photograph of the bottle of wine in a bar to remind ourselves what we drank, or make a note of a name somewhere in our phone but the result is bits of information scattered all over a device that was perhaps not initially designed with that function in mind.  So what should we do with those bits of information to make them more usable, so we can search them and access them again.   Put them in a big online filing cabinet of course!

Of course for some people the notebook will always remain king, or the diary or a word document but I think I’m in great need of an online notebook else my head might explode from attempting to retain too much information.

In the next post I am going to explore some of the online notebook platforms avaliable…

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